Computer Questions

For any of us who have done technical support, this should bring back
some (fond? :-) memories.

Stories about luser questions compiled by, (Neil "YoYo" Pawson).

These are taken directly from postings on the news so the style varies
quite a lot.  Distribute freely as long as my name remains as the list
compiler and the list of authors at the end is left unaltered.

Contributers listed at the end.


Or, there was the customer who couldn't get her disk to go into the
drive once she had formatted it.  After a long conversation, the tech
finally went onsite, only to discover that, like a well organized
person, she was putting a label on each formatted diskette -
completely over the shutter as well.


We had a customer call us once, saying that they were having problems
getting their new disks to work in the machine. It turned out that the
customer thought they had to TRIM THE 5.25" DISKS DOWN to fit in their
3.5" drive... fortunately the 3.5 drive wasn't damaged...


And another user was all confused about why the cursor always moved
int he diretion oposite the movement of the mouse (when she moved her
mouse left, the cursor went right, etc.) She also complained about how
hard it was to hit the buttons. She was quite embarased when we asked
her to rotate the mouse so the tail pointed AWAY from her...


I remember when my new Amiga arrived (way back in 86!).  I had a class
to go to, but my roommate was kind enough to set it all up for me.
When I got back from class, he was having a great time playing with
it.  His only problem was using the mouse.  Turns out he was holding
it in his hand and rolling the ball with his fingers!  I don't even
remember how he was coping with the mouse buttons.


I was working for a computer retailer in Denver when my supervisor
received a phone call from a very irate customer.  According to this
man, he had purchased his computer two days before, had read the
instructions, and had performed a backup of the hard drive exactly as
instructed.  The problems started the moment he reformatted his hard
drive to test his backup.


>First revision of user manual includes :

>     Insert disk A
>     Press ENTER
>     Wait for reply LOADING EXECUTED
>     Insert disk B
>     .
>     .

>Following a complaint by a user, the second revision reads :

>     Insert disk A
>     Press ENTER
>     Wait for reply LOADING EXECUTED
>     Remove disk A
>     Insert disk B
>     .
>     .

When I worked for Reuters, I saw some truly idiot proof user manuals
along these lines.  Reuters has a lot of rack-mounted PCs all over the
world in places where the local tech-level is zilch.  The field
service guides for these things explain how there are 7 wrong ways but
only one right way to insert a 5 1/4 inch disk into the right slot
(let's not talk about the wrong slots!).

They also explained techno-babble such as 'disk-drive door' so that
people wouldn't interpret instructions such as 'Insert disk A into
drive and close door' as an instruction to close the door of the room
they were in.


I was at GE Consulting's Training and Education Center in Albany, NY
taking a course on the PC.  Well, there were some inexperienced PC
users there, so we had to go through the "basics" for them (ie, the
do's and don't's of disk handling)

Well, according to the instructor, there had been one student who had
driven up from Bridgeport, CT (corporate offices are there).  He had
stayed at a nearby motel overnight, leaving his briefcase in the trunk
of the car.  (Oh, let me add that it was sub-zero weather at the time
of this incident).  In the morning he arrived at T&E, opened up his
briefcase, took out a floppy disk, inserted into a drive... then
*c-r-a-c-k*!!!  It shattered into little pieces.


How about the young computer salesman giving some client a
demonstration of the new electronic word-processor? He loads up a
large document, and says: "watch this!". He hits a couple of keys, and
converts every "i" in the document to an "a", making the text

"And it you can change it all back, just like this" he proclaims,
subsequently converting all "a"s back to "i", including those that had
been "a"s originally.

Of course, it happened to a friend of a friend of mine.. :-)


A computer kept crashing, and every time service was called, it worked
fine.  It turned out that one of the users would come in, sit down at
the console and put his papers and stuff on the top covering the
cooling vents.  When it crashed, he'd pick up his stuff and leave,
removing the evidence.  Service people didn't figure this one out
until they decided to watch him work to see why it crashed.


"One Saturday morning about 9 A.M., a BBN Vice-President in charge of
selling our Telcomp commercial service arrived at our PDP-1 computer room
hoping to be
able to use the computer for a demonstration.  He found a note on the PDP-1
PERIOD'.  This note was left there by one of the programming bums who had just
succeeded in making run a Lisp version of the DOCTOR program (based on ELIZA as
developed by Weizenbaum).  However, the VP thought that this note indicated
that this teletype was linked with the one in my [Bobrow's] home, since I often
used the computer all night.  Therefore, he started typing to `me', but in fact
was typing to this version of the DOCTOR program.  The following conversation

  VP:        Do you think that I can use the computer this morning?

  TELETYPE:  Why do you ask?

  VP:        I might be able to make some additional telcomp sales.

  TELETYPE:  Why aren't you sure?

  VP:        My prospective customers have never seen a demonstration
             of the system.

  TELETYPE:  Does this mean very much to you?

  VP:        Of course it does.

  TELETYPE:  You seem very positive of that.

  VP:        This is ridiculous.

  TELETYPE:  What do you mean this is ridiculous?

  VP:        Is there any reason why I can't use the computer now?

  TELETYPE:  Tell me more about your prospective customers.

  VP:        Please dial me up on 491-1850

Note that after that remark the VP did not obey instructions and left
the period.  Therefore, of course, the computer didn't answer him.  This
so infuriated the VP, who thought I was playing games with him, that he
called me up, woke me from a deep sleep, and said:

  VP:        Why are you being so snotty with me?

  BOBROW:    What do you mean why am I being snotty to you?

The VP angrily read the dialog that 'we' had been having, and couldn't
get any response but laughter from me.  It took me a while to convince
him it really was the computer".


Well, I work as a Student Assistant in the computer center here at
Dartmouth, where about 95% of the students have macs, and the dumbest
question we've ever gotten had to be from a student who walked in one
day with a troubled look on her face. She explained that the little
lightbulb in her mac screen had burnt out, and she wanted to know
where could she get a replacement bulb for it... ;-) ;-) ;-)


Taken from the "Sydney Morning Herald" 15 Jan 90:

''A [Sydney] reader recalls his time in Zimbabwe, when computer setting
  was installed at the country's main commercial printers.  A supervisor
  from the hot-metal printing days had always used a mallet to jog the
  linotype machines back into action, and found that old habits die
  hard.  The result?  A technician flown in from Johannesburg to repair
  a badly bruised computer.''


A friend of mine worked as a computer operator in a company with a
large IBM computer.  One day, they called in the repairman for a
faulty console.  When the repairman arrived to check out the problem,
he noticed that some of the keys of the console keyboard were stuck
down, in the shape of a closed fist.  His comment: "We can fix this,
but it will not be under warranty."


A Dell technician received a call from a customer who was enraged
because his computer had told him he was "bad and an invalid".  The
tech explained that the computer's "bad command" and "invalid"
responses shouldn't be taken personally.


Another Dell customer called to say he couldn't get his computer to
fax anything.  After 40 minutes of trouble-shooting, the technician
discovered the man was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it in
front of the monitor screen and hitting the "send" key.


Another Dell customer needed help setting up a new program, so a Dell
tech referred him to the local Egghead.  "Yeah, I got me a couple of
friends," the customer replied.  When told Egghead was a software
store, the man said, "Oh, I thought you meant for me to find a couple
of geeks."


Yet another Dell customer called to complain that his keyboard no
longer worked.  He had cleaned it by filling up his tub with soap and
water and soaking the keyboard for a day, then removing all the keys
and washing them individually.


An exasperated caller to Dell Computer Tech Support couldn't get her
new Dell Computer to turn on.  After ensuring the computer was plugged
in, the technician asked her what happened when she pushed the power
button.  Her response, "I pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and
nothing happens."  The "foot pedal" turned out to be the computer's


Another customer called Compaq tech support to say her brand-new
computer wouldn't work.  She said she unpacked the unit, plugged it
in, and sat there for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen.
When asked what happened when she pressed the power switch, she asked
"What power switch?"


AST technical support had a caller complaining that her mouse was hard
to control with the dust cover on.  The cover turned out to be the
plastic bag the mouse was packaged in.


True story from a Novell NetWire SysOp:

Caller:    "Hello, is this Tech Support?"

Tech Rep:  "Yes, it is.  How may I help you?"

Caller:    "The cup holder on my PC is broken and I am within my
           warranty period.  How do I go about getting that fixed?"

Tech Rep:  "I'm sorry, but did you say a cup holder?"

Caller:    "Yes, it's attached to the front of my computer."

Tech Rep:  "Did you receive this as part of a promotional,
           at a trade show?  How did you get this cup holder?
           Does it have any trademark on it?"

Caller:    "It came with my computer, I don't know anything about
           a promotional.  It just has '4X' on it."

At this point the Tech Rep had to mute the caller, because he could
not take it anymore.  The caller had been using the load drawer of the
CD-ROM drive as a cup holder, and had snapped it off the drive.


People who I know contributed, there are others who are anonymous and
some who don't know they have contributed ;-) (Gerardo Nevarez Moorillon)
anil@cessna (Anil V. Narwani) (Alan White) (Jonggu Moon)
barry@temss2 (Barry Hollander) (Brian Willan) (Cary Abend) (Alison Rosenstengel)
cs884@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Steven Lam) (Donald Desrosiers) (Edmund C.Greene) (Brendan Hassett) (Robert Edge) (HAMELIN_KENNETH_J) (Mark Harrison) (Shane Hebert) (Don Hutton) (Hymie!) (Bobby Billingsley) (Jack Cooper) (Josh J Fielek) ("Johnson") (Kristofer  Munn) (John Mechalas) (Alex Currier) (Neil "YoYo" Pawson) (Peter Chapman) (Pat Brouillette) (Roy Dictus) (Richard B. Christensen) (David E. Fox) (Shawn Holmstead) (steve shah) (jt -- John Thompson) (Michael Tsurikov)
@amtvtec.UUCP (Brian T. La Rose)
Jim Carlton

Submitted by: Neil Pawson @ to the Oracle Humour Service

Back to the archive...

This message was sent on 4 Sep 1996