It turns out that the user did not have a floppy drive, but that his machine had an open drive bay through which he inserted floppies. There was a pile of them at the bottom of the case.
I try to apply incredible magnitudes of patience in these cases. Usually these people are older and may feel left behind, self-conscious, or embarrassed. I don’t want to add fuel to those anxieties. I just want to help them achieve their goal.
Knowing how to operate equipment and understanding how to troubleshoot it are very different things. It's exactly why IT support, car mechanics, or electricians still exist.
Some people think that knowing how to use a computer makes them experts, then they start spreading that "knowledge", and IT support ends up with all kinds of seemingly stupid calls where someone is (or took the word of) such an expert. Other times people just want to be helpful and play back what they heard from the IT personnel during the last case because that appeared to be similar for them, even if the issue was radically different.
While that's certainly true, there's plenty of stories out there (and I've experienced a few myself) of people who just refused to use basic common sense, reading comprehension, or understanding of physics 101 when dealing with computers.
If you're going to be lazy keep dropping dishes while you wash them or send the lawnmower over a big brick.
Joke's on us?
Alexa, tell me how much the times have changed.
"Unplug it and blow on the connector" is a classic, the point is not to blow on the connector, it's to give the user an excuse to actually check the connection / fit after they've told you they have already despite there being 99 chances out of a 100 they have not.
*I used scare quotes because I strongly suspect the first line tech support don't know it's going on. I suspect someone is frantically fixing things in the background and no one has officially reported any outage.
There is a double edged sword here. IT support people are taught (or learn quickly) not to trust the user. In the sea of users who think they know better there will be occasional user who knows what they're doing but it's hard to tell them apart. So in comes the script, applied as a matter of procedure.
For Windows to Windows I made extensive use of Microsoft Garage's Mouse without Borders .
I had some pre-installed games on my PC. I noticed shortcuts to games are only 1-2kb while the executable files are in MBs. Since both things have same icons, same names they must be the same thing right? I deleted the executables and copied shortcuts to where they were to save some precious space for my PC. And I didn't even test things before hand, I permanently deleted all my game exes and then tried starting running a game, which obviously failed.
Thankfully the place where my parents bought our PC reinstalled my games.
We got an Amiga 500 back in the late 80's, it's all setup with word processing and spreadsheets working fine, the games were incredibly hard though. Most games had these dark patches where there were hidden pieces of floor, except sometimes they'd disappear and you would die, so for these games you had to memorize exactly where all the floor was. For some games it was mostly fine, for others it made them almost impossible. I was only 5 or 6 and it was the only games machine I'd ever played.
Fast forward a few years and the computer is no longer an expensive investment, or threat to children, or whatever it is that made my parents have it in their bedroom, so we moved it. As I picked up the monitor I accidentally pressed a button on the back the toggled the graphics mode and when the machine turned on I could suddenly see all my games in full color. In retrospect it affected many other things too.
The only saving grace during that period was that so many games were ports from the speccy or commodore 64 with a limited color pallet.
(Of course, the tech support guy was promptly fired.)
I alone used to be “The IT” for a small e-commerce company, but it was young (very few people over 30).
People can just be absent minded sometimes.
One person contacted me claiming that they couldn’t get new email. After going to their PC and asking her to show me, she opened her mail client and then closed a dialog asking for her new password since she has changed it.
Another had “weird mouse behaviour” she had a Mac and couldn’t click on anything without a context menu popping up. I came over and assumed that the mouse had its right button stuck, but, no. A stack of papers was resting on the control key.
He got he invoice by email, printed it, scanned it, and then attached the thing in a new email.
The weird part is that he's been using computers for years, even before the Internet. I can't imagine the trouble he had finding out how to scan, where to find the file and how to attach it.
Actually he still doesn't understand the difference between email and a browser.
>Tech Support: "Tech support. May I help you?"
>Customer: "Yes, my microwave isn't communicating with my computer correctly anymore. I'd like to bring in my microwave and my computer."
Sadly with IoT this may be a true case nowadays.
From - http://rinkworks.com/stupid/cs_misc.shtml
> Nothing worked after that. Every program he tried to run would load WinZIP first. He couldn't even run REGEDIT to delete the association.
Happened to me.. :) One of those Windows 95 days!
That just has to be made up.
Reminds me a lot of how narrow-minded a lot of people are in tech. Everyone who knows a bit more than you is a wizard and everyone who knows a bit less is a moron.
This seems to reside in a different category than some of the other stories here in this thread. I'm trying to make this distinction since, if we're honest, the UIs that we're all building are not always as good as they could be for the common user.
Edit: Reading through some of the stories on that website I see real user issues described as stupidity:
Under "Email Magic":
I actually had this emailed to me once:
"Help! I can't find your email address. What is it?"
Modern email clients and web interfaces hide known email addresses and just show the name. Good to know that I typed the address correctly, but actually finding out the actual address may not be intuitive.
First, most of them are probably urban legends, and I'm not too keen on them. (That's a slippery slope argument, so feel free to dismiss it, but I don't know how far 'that grandma overthere who sued to put her cat in the microwave' is from 'that pizzeria basement where people run sex rings')
Second, the overal tone of stories is "IT people who know about computer stuff" vs "clueless non-IT people who don't know about computer stuff".
Now, there is a huge source of humor and irony in people who claim to be expert at something, when in reality they don't have a clue.
And sometimes, the misinterpretation of computer jargon by non-IT experts can be rather poetic. ("It said I would have 98 windows. Where are the windows ?")
But I claim, that, most of the times, in those stories, the joke should be on us (IT-people), not on them.
Especially since those stories are from the mid-90s to early 2000s the non-IT people were not "clueless". They were never taught how IT "works".
And let's face it, IT does not work.
They probably had references to how things are supposed to work. 60s household technology. Toasters. Light bulbs. Vaccuum cleaners. Fridge. TV sets. Washing machines. Even cars.
Those things "worked". The vendor would show you the thing, you would turn around it for a while, get how it works, and go on with your life. And you would be able to explain it to you kid, and your neighboor.
And yeah, you might have no idea how your car engine worked in the details. (Although, you probably did. Your military instructors explained it to you, because your car and the jeep with which your father freed Europe worked the same.)
But you knew rather intuitively that if it started making weird noises, you would bring it to a technician who would be able to do something.
And car do not break that often unless you do stupid things like running into a tree or mixing up gas, right ?
Introduce 90s computers.
You would pay good money to buy it. No one would explain it to you (because vendors were probably as clueless as you were.)
You would not be trained how to use it - cause it would change in 2 years anyway.
You would be required to know how to use it, or you would start to fear loosing your job.
You don't have the words to talk about the things.
You have no mental model about the "normal behavior".
Or what made a machine "better" than another.
Or what made a machine "compatible" with another.
And, let's not forget one tiny little details: THOSE THINGS BARELY WORKED AT ALL !!!!
The number of hilarious bugs, stupid behavior, counter-intuitive UX, border-line ripoff software should be humbling to us.
Anyone read "The insane are running the asylum" as a programmer and wanted to cry ?
Anyone had to explain to their father that "yeah, now that I have installed Windows 95, if you want to switch the computer off, you need to click on 'Start' first..." ?
So, yes, confused people were calling customer support to try and get support, because they had other things to do with their life, and for some reason, the market had decided they had to do it through one of those computer thingies that are slow, expensive, buggy and talk to me like they don't know the meaning of words.
In an ideal world, we would have made computers simpler. More compatible. More standards. Maybe a bit less powerful, but basically more real-people friendly.
The market had no incentive for that.
But now, at least, we have trained people no to bother calling IT support anyway - because IT-support people are expensive, and it's better to have clueless minions on that side of the phone to, only paid to make user waste enough time to accept that the insane behavior of the computer is actually normal, and that it's really their fault.
And, since software eats the world, people have now graciously stopped expecting anything to work at all.
To paraphrase Stroustrup:
"If only my computer was as simple as a my car", one wished !
"If only using my computer was as easy as using my phone", one prayed !
"If only software was as straightforward as laundry", one lamented !
"Careful what you wish for", said the programmer.
"Your car is now a computer with wheels, that will show your speed to be `NaN mph`."
"Your phone is now a pocket computer, that will let you make lousy phone calls if you're lucky, between software updates."
"And your washing machine is now a computer, so now you won't know with program to use - but that's okay, you don't know at which temperature you're supposed to wash that shirt anyway. Go ask your mom."
We taught them that.
So yeah us ! Let's have some fun mocking the peons!!
Or maybe re-read 'Fondation' on our e-reader - provided the last DRM software update did not break it, of course.
I would file that under technically correct.
Cool site. Reminds me of the daily wtf. Haven't visited that for quite a while.
"I went on the internet, and I downloaded so fast I blew out my printer."
I had a customer with a problem getting his mouse to work. So I tried asking him about his COM port settings and so forth.
Tech Support: "Ok, do you have a internal modem?"
Customer: "I don't know."
Tech Support: "Um...do you have a modem at all?"
Customer: "I call the Internet sometimes."
Tech Support: "Do you plug a phone line directly into the back of the computer?"
Tech Support: "Ok. And is this a serial mouse that isn't working?"
I explained to him what a serial mouse was, and he agreed that his mouse was a serial mouse.
Tech Support: "Ok, do you know what COM port your mouse uses?"
Tech Support: "Ok, well do you know what COM port your modem uses?"
Tech Support: "Uh, do you have any other serial devices that plug into the machine, like a graphics pad, external modem, etc?"
Tech Support: "Uh. Well, I'm gonna have to guess here, but your mouse should be on COM 1, and your modem is probably set for COM 2."
Customer: "What do you mean guess? I told you everything you need to know! Now quit messing around and just tell me what I need to do
to fix it!"
Anyone who concludes from this exchange that the customer is an idiot should NEVER do tech support.
It shouldn't take more than a couple of questions to gauge the customer's technical knowledge, and then adjust your questioning to match. For example:
Tech Support: OK, first we need to find out what kind of mouse you have. Follow the cable going from the mouse and take note of where it's plugged into the back of your computer.
Tech Support: Alright, now, you need to remember where it's plugged in because you have to plug it back in the same way, and be careful not to plug it in upside down because it won't fit that way. Now I want you to unplug it, look at the socket it was plugged into on the back of the computer, tell me whether the socket is rectangular or circular, then plug the mouse back in the same way you found it.
Customer: OK... It's rectangular
And now you know it's a serial mouse. Now you can ask things like "Do you have a phone line connected to your computer? or is it connected to a box that's connected to your computer?", etc, then lead them through looking at Trumpet Winsock configuration and COM port config and even IRQs if necessary.
How you ask your questions makes a BIG difference to how helpful the responses are likely to be. Good tech support people ask good questions. It's a skill that can and must be practiced.
You're asking for people who are both good with computers, and good at talking to people who are clueless with computers, and very patient and empathetic on top of that. And finally, you want to pay them peanuts for this job.
Exactly how many people do you think you're going to find who are actually good at this, and want the job?
I use a series of -1-days in conjunction with websockets to deliver the latest hemmorhaging-edge experience, streaming the rendered byte stream straight to your monitor.
Sir, can I get you to click on the circle with the line ...