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Tales From the Support Crypt

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the plug-in-your-mouse-please dept.

Bug 855

An anonymous reader writes "Talking viruses, infected physical devices, and lights that go out are some of the 'problems' Panda Security's tech support service has had to face. Many of them were not a result of computer viruses, but of confused users. This proves once again, that antivirus manufacturers must make a special effort to increase user knowledge regarding computer security and malware effects." For anyone who's been on the receiving end of such questions, now's a good time to tell your cathartic tale.

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Family Provide Our Best Stories (5, Funny)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269677)

My all-time favorite true story occured when I tried to help my dad (I bet that for everyone here, our parents are our #1 support customers).

Dad reports following problem: in the last month or so, the mouse started acting strange. Every time he gestures right, the mouse goes left. When he wants to go up, the mouse moves down.

I look it up online, suspecting some virus having fun. Can't find anything.

Dad reports that he got used to the problem, he just has to gesture in the opposite way and then he can use the computer again. Not a great workaround, but it's good enough for him.

At my next visit home, I finally can diagnose the problem live instead of over the phone: Dad was holding the mouse upside down.

True story - lasted for a month before problem was fixed. My fault for not figuring it out sooner.

--
FairSoftware.net [fairsoftware.net] : where geeks create side-businesses together

Re:Family Provide Our Best Stories (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26269749)

Wether it's mechanical or optical, moving the mouse while holding it upside down wouldn't result in your cursor moving around.

Re:Family Provide Our Best Stories (1)

basscomm (122302) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269805)

Wether it's mechanical or optical, moving the mouse while holding it upside down wouldn't result in your cursor moving around.

Wrong axis. He was likely holding it so that the buttons were on the end closest to him.

Ne pas oublier ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26270061)

N'oubliez pas de payer votre taxe d'octroi de licences 495.22 , vous coq sac de transport fumer du thé!

Re:Family Provide Our Best Stories (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269863)

upside down as in the cord coming out of the bottom, not the top. Inverted on the Y axis, not the Z axis.

Re:Family Provide Our Best Stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26270133)

if he inverted the Y axis by holding it rotated 180 deg. The z axis would be its alt above the desk.

What you are looking for is 180deg of roll.

Re:Family Provide Our Best Stories (4, Funny)

ReverendLoki (663861) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269899)

"Upside down" depending on your vantage point. He was simply transposing the "directions" on the screen to the plane in which the mouse moves. In other words, his father had the mouse turned around, front-to-back.

I've actually experienced the same thing, except this was a decade and a half ago or more, so I was also informed ".. and the cord keeps getting in the way", which helped diagnose the problem immediately.

A similar complaint I fielded from the era: "The mouse's dust cover keeps getting in the way" - They just unpacked a new computer, and the mouse was packaged so the cord fed out of the plastic bag the mouse came in, so they thought the bag should stay on.

Re:Family Provide Our Best Stories (3, Funny)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269787)

When I started college I took the entry level computer class and it had a lot of women who were recently laid off from a sewing factory. The first day an older lady raised her hand and told us she was having a problem with her mouse. Turns out she had it in the floor trying to use it with her foot like a sewing pedal.

Re:Family Provide Our Best Stories (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269799)

At my next visit home, I finally can diagnose the problem live instead of over the phone: Dad was holding the mouse upside down.

True story - lasted for a month before problem was fixed. My fault for not figuring it out sooner.

Your fault? That's very generous but I'm having a hard time blaming that one on you ...

Re:Family Provide Our Best Stories (4, Insightful)

greenbird (859670) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270159)

That's very generous but I'm having a hard time blaming that one on you ...

I'm guessing you haven't had the joy of supporting users much. It was the first thing I thought of.

Had the same problem with Geek Squad (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26269815)

But they charged us $600 to chop off dad's hands and reattach them the other way round.

I would say it is best to avoid geek squad.

Re:Had the same problem with Geek Squad (4, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269911)

Wow, they got you for that much? They fixed my problem by for only $100 by selling me a special mouse pad.

You, sir, are a sucker!

Re:Family Provide Our Best Stories (4, Funny)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269897)

Heh, at least you could get a senior to use a mouse! Back when Windows 98 was the de facto OS (and therefore libraries used Win 95) I took a family friend (~80 years old) to a library because she wanted a book, and I started looking it up on the computer since the textual ERIK system was reserved for employees by that time.

She says "You know I've always wanted to use one of these things (computers)", and my natural, naive response was "Well, let me show you, its not hard...

All I got through was "sit down, and grab this - its called a mouse" and she freaked. "I don't want to have anything to do with mice", she said. I tried so hard to explain that it did not crawl the floor stealing her cheese, and it was only a name for an (optional) input pointing device, but her stuborness wore well with her old age and I just took her home.

I can honestly say that was the only day I've ever almost abandoned an elderly woman somewhere, never to return.

Re:Family Provide Our Best Stories (5, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270011)

My own personal favorite comes from the days of 5.25" floppy drives, as relayed by my own dad (who worked in IT back then).

A customer called in to complain that the software install that they were doing would always fail when it got to the second disk. The support guy ran through most of the standard procedures, and running out of ideas directed the customer to insert the diagnostics disk that came with the software.

After a short pause, the customer responded "There's no way to squeeze that in there." The support minion promptly discovered that when the customer saw the instruction "Insert disk 2", she was putting in disk 2 without removing disk 1 first.

Interestingly, in the early 90's I started seeing installation tools that said "remove disk 1 and insert disk 2". Either this story got out, or it happened more frequently than I would have thought.

Re:Family Provide Our Best Stories (1)

synnthetic (103582) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270051)

I had an English professor that learned to use the mouse upside down. She said it happened in the lat 80's in LA.. and "NO" we weren't going to teach her the correct way. Whenever we used the projector computer, we had to flip the mouse around...

Now I know why all the FPS games have a "reverse mouse aim" checkbox.

I always start with what seems to me as the dumbest possible problem. Usually I'll mention it jokingly.. as in.. "Is the power cord plugged in and the power strip turned on?"

Re:Family Provide Our Best Stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26270147)

Please put your link spam in your signature, where it can be ignored. Thanks.

Kill!!! (5, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269707)

To the people who....

1) Send me screenshots inside a word document
2) Ask what FTP is when they're supposed to be a server admin
3) Can't run a select statement but are supposed to be the DBA.
4) insist the network is up even though we don't see any packets through an *inline* appliance
5) say the problem is super urgent, but then refuse to try anything you say.

... I will be rich when I invent a device to stab someone in the face over the internet.

Re:Kill!!! (4, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269793)

> 4) insist the network is up even though we don't see any packets through an *inline* appliance

I had a user email me to ask if (a) the network was down and/or (b) if email was down.

My fondness for people diminished each day I was a sysadmin. I changed careers and am now a mortician. These days I get fewer stupid questions from my clients.

Re:Kill!!! (4, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269883)

I changed careers and am now a mortician. These days I get fewer stupid questions from my clients.

Why can't you fix hiiiiiiiiiiiim???

Re:Kill!!! (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270033)

That must be great for your new clients, what with all the free BRAAAIIINS you have to give them now.

Re:Kill!!! (5, Funny)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270111)

I've had two of those happen this month.

First case:
We got an email saying the internet was down and had been for 15 minutes. We monitor this company's connection with a constant ping (every 5 min or so). If it goes down, we'll know. We didn't get one. Plus we were able to VPN in and get on their servers.

Called the customer up. Turns out www.msn.com was busted and wouldn't load. Google, Yahoo, CNN and BBC worked just fine.

It was very likely they heard a badly suppressed laugh right before I hung up.

Second case:
Another company's internet tanks. We can't ping their public ip, they're down. This happened on a Monday, 10AM.

After dragging AT&T there on a leash so they could swap out some hardware (inside a locked box...), the net started working again, Tuesday, 2PM.

We got an email from them shortly after it came back up, dated Monday, 11AM... "Our internet's down."

I need to print both of those out and frame them.

Re:Kill!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26269797)

Word is a very handy way of assembling a collection of screenshots, what is the problem with that?

Re:Kill!!! (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269929)

Well, when making a website for a real estate agency, I had to explain to them that in order to get the home pictures up faster (no, I didn't take them), they had to give me jpegs, NOT .docs containing jpegs. And getting them out was harder than it seems, too.

Re:Kill!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26270007)

LOL!

Re:Kill!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26270013)

Word is a very handy way of assembling a collection of screenshots, what is the problem with that?

Or you could just put the screenshots in a .zip file or something...

Re:Kill!!! (4, Insightful)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270153)

Or you could just put the screenshots in a .zip file or something... And that would be handier and easier how exactly? How do the screenshots become individual files without pasting them into something first, such as Paint? That method sucks if you have several to collect. Open Word. Flip to what you need to snap. Hit Alt-PrintScreen. Flip to Word. Paste. Repeat as necessary. Save. You're not going to beat that with Paint, saving each individual shot into a specially prepared folder somewhere, then zipping that up. Work smarter not harder. What I really don't understand is how that classifies someone as an idiot.

Re:Kill!!! (1)

FoamingToad (904595) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270029)

In my experience, it's never a collection of screenshots. It's one screenshot. Usually of the entire screen, not the actual error window.

This is sent via an e-mail client. Since we're in MS land (os/x at a pinch) as evidenced by the use of "Word", then it's a pretty safe bet that whatever e-mail app the user has will support inline images. Instead, they've made you (1) open a word processor to display the image and (2) muck about with zoom settings so you can actually read the damn thing.

Also, what you generally find is that the problem description is in the e-mail, not in the document, so you're also having to juggle windows to work out what's going on.

This happens so often where I work that it just isn't funny anymore.

Re:Kill!!! (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270039)

Does your email client only allows one attachment per message? Is there something wrong with zip/tar/rar/etc. archives?

Seriously, Word is a terrible way to collect screen shots. Among other things, it often re-sizes the image to fit the page, so I end up with a 1/4-size screen shot that's much, much to small to be of any diagnostic value.

At least the new docx format stores images in a way I can read without Word -- just unzip it and pull the image files out of the media folder.

Re:Kill!!! (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270113)

What're you making, an artistic collage? Just paste the freaking things into Outlook along with an explanation of your problem and be done with it. That's like typing something up in Word and then taking a screenshot of it and opening it in paint so that you can print it. You're doing it wrong.

Re:Kill!!! (4, Informative)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269803)

Cases like this:
C: I got an error on my screen
S: What message text was displayed?
C: I don't know, I clicked it away
S: --explode--

Re:Kill!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26270207)

It makes sense. Most of the time you can click through messages and nothing appears to break. It's only after it is obviously broken that people finally give you a call.

Re:Kill!!! (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269847)

Be thankful they send you a screenshot. Windows doesn't dump screenshots to file, it puts them in the clipboard. I'd rather they sent me a screenshot pasted into Word than "the computer had an error"

Re:Kill!!! (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270059)

Screenshots in Word are infuriating because if they have Word then they have Outlook. If you have Outlook you can just paste the freaking screenshot into the message inline and save your admin some time. It drives us crazy at my work as well.

Re:Kill!!! (1)

RobinH (124750) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270227)

We had some screenshots sent in Word too... interestingly they were actual photos taken of the screen because the system wasn't hooked up to a network at the time, and they needed to email from another computer (still no reason to put it in Word... just email me the JPG) and apparently they didn't have a USB thumbdrive. Also interesting is that the problem they were having was with a virus (for real) on a computer that was supposedly not networked, and no thumbdrive... curious.

Re:Kill!!! (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269927)

... I will be rich when I invent a device to stab someone in the face over the internet.

People in category 4 will still be safe, though.

Re:Kill!!! (4, Funny)

RedK (112790) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269937)

... I will be rich when I invent a device to stab someone in the face over the internet.

But then you'll have to give support for it.

Re:Kill!!! (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269939)

1) Send me screenshots inside a word document

Actually... you wouldn't believe the amount of sys admins who sent me screenshots of the app I supported inside a word.doc (a big one too).

Re:Kill!!! (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270095)

I made it a special point to teach my sister how to send me .png screenshots after the first time she sent me a .doc containing a screenshot...

On an unrelated note, Paint is kind of dumb. I typed "ss.png" for the filename, but forgot to change the "file type" dropdown to PNG from JPEG. Took me a rather long time to figure out why my small (300x200) screenshot was 500KB.

Re:Kill!!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26269989)

Where I work it's common for our users to take a screenshot and save it using a 3rd party program we gave them. They then print the screenshot in black & white.

Then they fax the screenshot into our automated fax server which sends them a TIF image attachment which they then open and copy & paste it inside of word and then send us the word document.

Sigh.

Re:Kill!!! (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270083)

Amateurs.

I can think of several ways to add steps to this process.

Re:Kill!!! (2, Interesting)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270057)

Any chance you could also invent a way to stab people in the face over the telephone while you're at it? And I would add to your list:

6) Complain the network admin/ISP help desk that they can't get to a website [when they can get to other websites, so obviously the network isn't the problem]
7) Don't know the difference between turning off the monitor and restarting the computer
8) Don't know the difference between a modem and a network card
9) Call for tech support from their cell phone when their landline is dead, to complain that their dialup service isn't working
10) Call from their cell phone - in the car, while driving - to get support for a program that runs on a desktop.

All of these are based on real calls that I received while working for AOL tech support.

Re:Kill!!! (1)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270215)

9) Call for tech support from their cell phone when their landline is dead, to complain that their dialup service isn't working 10) Call from their cell phone - in the car, while driving - to get support for a program that runs on a desktop.

All of these are based on real calls that I received while working for AOL tech support.

I've had a lot of calls from our sales people similar to these. They work out of their home offices, so they have a lot of really odd things happen to them. For instance, a guy called because he couldn't connect to dialup. After some prodding, it turns out his voice line was down because of a storm, but he figured his data line was still working. The phone company was coming to his house to fix the voice line later that day. He wasn't happy when I told him to have the phone company check his data line when they were there.

I don't get people calling from the car about desktop issues, but I do get A LOT of sales people calling me about laptop issues while they are in the car...driving. They can't understand why I can't help them while they are driving. Forget the fact that the company policy doesn't allow talking on cell phones while driving.

Re:Kill!!! (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270167)

To the people who.... 1) Send me screenshots inside a word document 2) Ask what FTP is when they're supposed to be a server admin 3) Can't run a select statement but are supposed to be the DBA. 4) insist the network is up even though we don't see any packets through an *inline* appliance 5) say the problem is super urgent, but then refuse to try anything you say. ... I will be rich when I invent a device to stab someone in the face over the internet.

I'll never understand what it is about computers that brings out so much of what must be latent stupidity. In your list, number five really captures it. I can't tell you how common that one is although it sounds like you know from experience.

It seems like no other specialists have that problem on such a routine basis. When someone's doctor says "you have X disease" they generally don't look at him and say "no I don't." When an electrician says that something needs to be rewired, they might get a second opinion but they don't usually argue with the guy. Same deal with mechanics. With almost any other specialist it's understood that if you come to them, it's because you recognize that they know a lot more about medicine, electricity, or auto repair than you do.

What do techies get? They get uncooperative users who come to you for help and when you give it, they argue with you and bicker and drag their feet every step of the way, insisting that such-and-such can't possibly work, until it does work, at which time they complain about how long it took or they give you some bullshit about how they just tried that and it didn't work for them. Of course there are exceptions, but this is the norm and I can't understand why this applies so much more to computing. What I am talking about has nothing to do with the user's technical expertise or anything like that. It's the simple principle that if you know more about computing or networking than I do, there is no point in seeking my help. No technical expertise is required to understand this simple principle.

Anyway, for the non-technically inclined who think that we're a bunch of arrogant elitists, this is an example of why we say users are stupid. It's not because we expect them to become experts or even technically knowledgable, it's because we constantly see users complicate simple things, drop all basic standards of common sense and mutual respect, and otherwise engage in behavior that is in no one's interests, particularly theirs.

Virus (-1)

Windows_NT (1353809) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269723)

One morning i boot up my computer, and i get a really weird boot screen ... i figred it had to be a virus, so i use my friends computer, google it, and come to find out, it was just the windows boot screen :)
Happy holidays

Re:Virus (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26269951)

One morning i boot up my computer, and i get a really weird boot screen ... i figred it had to be a virus, so i use my friends computer, google it, and come to find out, it was just the windows boot screen :) Happy holidays

Hey, I've heard of that one before and it's a really insidious one! It's involved in all kinds of botnets and I heard it's even crashed and stopped ships before, not to mention that the people behind it are so violent that they're known to throw chairs. That's pretty f-ing scary man. You really should have reformatted and reinstalled, it's the only way to be sure!

Makes me wonder why they call it Windows anyway. They've got the "brittle and easily broken" part down but the window analogy doesn't work so well without the "transparent" part, which they are definitely missing.

For the more thought-impaired, trigger-happy mods I will add that this was a joke in response to a joke. If this looks like Flamebait or Trolling to you, it's because you're the joke. No, really, being so thoroughly dominated by your personal feelings about software to where you can't even entertain humor about that software without wanting to lash out by abusing the moderation system, well, that's pretty pathetic. It's a shame you don't want something better than that for yourself.

"What if Bill Gates had one nickel for every time Windows crashed? Oh wait, he does!"

Re:Virus (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270063)

Well if its Windows NT 3.x or NT 4 then yes, you will get a blue screen upon booting up.

Here's my story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26269725)

My grandpa was trying to send a fax. Turns out he was using a waffle iron with a phone attached to it.

I prefer uneducated users..... (2, Funny)

mrphoton (1349555) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269729)

I prefer uneducated users.....It does not matter what the problem is you can still charge 20Euros per hour to fix it.....

Re:I prefer uneducated users..... (1)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269753)

That's cheap. Can I subcontract you to do my bidding?

Re:I prefer uneducated users..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26269867)

Got a live one for ya! See post #26269797 above.

Question for Slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26269737)

I heard a story of a guy who went to a restaurant and received shitty service. He wanted the staff to know how he felt about the service, so when he finished his very fibrous meal he went to the toilet and performed a little number that was affectionately called "one cheek on, one cheek off". Was he out of line?

thoughts (5, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269743)

Six months of AI programming will make you think there is a God. Six months of tech support and you'll know there isn't.

Re:thoughts (4, Funny)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269801)

Six months of each will make you realize that there is a God, and his sense of humor sucks. (I still have scars from doing about six months of AOL tech support.)

Re:thoughts (2, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269829)

I would buy you a pint if I could, you poor bastard.

Re:thoughts (1)

Hokie06 (986634) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269997)

Ouch. I did about three months of phone support for disk network. Worse job I ever had.

Re:thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26269999)

LOL, the support guys at my company used to argue over who had to handle the issue submitting by anyone with an AOL address. I can only imagine the pain of ALL of the support calls coming from AOL customers.

Re:thoughts (1, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270027)

The only thing worse than using AOL has gotta be supporting the kind of people that use it.

I remember in school when were just starting to be allowed to cite online sources in our papers. I got in an argument with the librarian about how exactly the citations should work. She swore up and down that we had to include a "last updated" date as part of the citation. I laughed myself silly and tried to explain to her that 99% of pages at that time didn't provide that sort of information. She refused to back down or admit that I knew more about it than she did... I bet she was an AOL user. (As an aside, I was vindicated years later when the Little Brown Handbook including information for citing websites. It required that you include the date you visited it, not the "last update" date.)

Re:thoughts (1)

ReverendLoki (663861) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270109)

I'm with you both. For two years I did seasonal tech support with a certain well-known tax prep company, were I had the joy of supporting all those little office network setups, which were basically overly complex home offices, often setup from instructions given to novice level users.

At a prior time, I was with a university helpdesk, were it seems like a third of those I supported were 70 year old antiquities professors using a computer for the first time (and against their will at that), and another third were faculty needing support on machines needed for programs with million dollar grants.

Re:thoughts (2, Interesting)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270203)

The number of times I saw grant money go toward machines that faculty were barely even capable of using let alone fully utilizing in college is depressing. Where's my grant money for a small server farm for my rendering and compilation projects? Leaving my machine to churn for 13 hours sucks. (OC'd Core 2 Duo w/ 4 GB of RAM isn't exactly slow)

Ya, think? (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269765)

>"...antivirus manufacturers must make a special effort...

As opposed to the 'regular' effort they've gotten comfortable with over the years....? How dare anyone suggest that a product do what it should - I fart in your general dye-rection.

Know why cannibals don't eat clowns? ....they taste funny.

Foot out of jelly? (1, Funny)

hemp (36945) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269777)

Breakfast at their house must be a trip.

Har har har (5, Insightful)

SlashDotDotDot (1356809) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269811)

Maybe I'm just getting old and losing my sense of humor, but it seems like these "ha ha users are dumb" stories get less and less funny. As the audience for personal computing continues to grow, the number of senile, mentally ill or simply ignorant users will also grow. Mocking them leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Re:Har har har (1, Insightful)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269869)

Relax, it is normal to become a Grumpy Old Sysadmin. It hits us all after some time.

Re:Har har har (4, Interesting)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270071)

I have had one or two encounters with genuinely ill people in this profession. It's hard to laugh at them.

An elderly gentleman came in to the shop where I once worked and said he had some questions about his battery backup. I was called up to answer them.

I found myself at something of a loss, however, when I heard his questions. It seemed that his UPS was emitting radioactive gas that was making him ill. He knew, he said, that they used fission piles to make them work, and that all this talk of batteries was nonsense. It was clear from the way he spoke of it that both he and I were in on this little secret. What he needed, he said, was some way to check the radioactive output of the UPS. Alternative suggestions as to the cause of his discomfort were dismissed quickly; he clearly knew the source of his illness, but had to find a way to prove it before he could take proper action. I got the distinct impression he had already tried to contact the manufacturer about it.

I did the only thing I could think of: I checked with my boss to see if he knew where a Geiger counter could be found. He didn't, alas, so I gave the customer some contact information for the US NRC. This seemed to satisfy him, and he left. I never saw him again.

Not once did that old man smile. His face was deeply lined and I don't think he had led an easy life. I often wonder what happened to him, and if there was anything else I could have done to help him.

We're so smart (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26269817)

I took a call from an end user a couple of months ago, informing me she was having trouble changing her password. She was receiving an error message that said "Passwords cannot begin or end with a space."

When she asked me what to do, I focused all of my energy on maintaining calm professionalism and replied "If you're typing a space before the new password - don't; if you're typing a space after the new password - don't."

Her reply?

"Hey that worked! You guys are so smart, I don't know how you can remember all this stuff!"

Lying doesn't help... (1)

lq_x_pl (822011) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269825)

...cause I'll find out anyway.

A client with a recurring virus infection had a recurring pornogrophy habit. I don't mind return customers, but my aim is to teach them enough to not need me that often. I finally pointed out to him where all the viruses were coming from, and recommended safer surfing habits.

For a short while I worked at a school in the same capacity. A coworker brought a box to me saying it just stopped working. It wouldn't turn on. I opened up the case and saw pc133 memory crammed into a pc2700 slot. Only after pointing that out did she 'fess up to trying to upgrade it herself. No, it didn't work after the stick of pc133 was removed, the mobo itself was damaged during insertion.

There was a similar incident with a Frap spilled "near" a keyboard (stuck keys do so many wondrous things!).

Re:Lying doesn't help... (3, Funny)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270077)

There was a similar incident with a Frap spilled "near" a keyboard (stuck keys do so many wondrous things!).

I had a user who called me over to her desk and demanded, angrily, to know "why we bolt down all the monitors? Do you think we're going to steal them?" I informed her that we do not bolt or glue down any monitors, but sure enough, when I went to lift it, it felt like it was glued down. I pulled really, really hard and it ripped off the desk, to reveal a giant circle of dried coffee.

Another time, she called me over because her mouse was acting funny. I picked it up, it seemed fine, but when I took the ball out the encoders had water droplets all over them. "Why is there water in here?" "Well I spilled coffee on it so I washed it off in the sink." "Ah! well, that's the problem! Please don't ever get anything related to your computer wet" Got her a new mouse, ten minutes later, same problem, and she is angry and impatient. I came over found that there was water on the lens (replaced it with an optical) and felt her mousepad. Yep, she had also washed her mousepad.
:`-( !

Curse of the Cursed Cursor (5, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269841)

This happened at work, where we do... computer tech support. Only the names are withheld to protect the idiots involved.

One of our senior techs (yes, feel free to laugh, I know I do!) came to tell me he had a virus on his laptop. His cursor was runnign wild, an dplenty of windows kept popping open and apps being launched. He could not figure why, so his best guess was "a really bad virus."

From personal experience, 97% of people who guess "It must be a virus!" have no virus whatsoever (the reverse is also true - 97% of viral issues ar edismissed as "something weird is going on and I don't know why") so I assumed it surely wasn't one. I had him unplug his wireless mouse bluetooth dongle, which ended the problem immediately, so it was clear where the problem was coming from. I guessed bad drivers, and suggested he reinstall. Putting them fresh from the driver disk simply returned the issue.

The following day, while looking for a spare power supply, we stumbled on the answer. The wireless keyboard that came with the mouse he was using had been carelessly thrown in there, with another keyboard on top, mashing down a large part of the wireless keyboard's keys. The laptop was just doing as it was told by the keyboard all along.

Re:Curse of the Cursed Cursor (0, Redundant)

ckthorp (1255134) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269953)

Oh man, I wish I had mod points.

Re:Curse of the Cursed Cursor (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269969)

Yeah I've seen problems like this too especially from people who should know better.

My sister phoned me up a few weeks ago to tell me her laptop had just "died". Now it had been making strange sounds so I sort of expected it. I asked her to check all teh cables which she "did". I then went though the half hour process of ordering a RMA and getting it picked up from her address.

Then she text me telling me her bf had noticed the power cable had fallen out of the adapter. Wheres that internet stabbing device again?

Oh and my dad presumes everything is a virus. If the PC's running slow? Its a virus! If the mouse is dirty? Its a virus!. I think I've only ever seen one virus on his PC, as I personally locked it down.... And magically these problems just "disappear" a week or so after hes told me. So now I just nod, agree to see to it if he can't work around it and just carry on with my life...

Re:Curse of the Cursed Cursor (4, Insightful)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270045)

> the power cable had fallen out of the adapter.

A good way to overcome this is to say "sometimes some junk gets in the plugs... unplug your adapter and then plug it in again." That way if the adapter is indeed unplugged, the person doesn't have to admit it - they can just plug it in and save face by saying "oh yes, it must have gotten loose or dirty or something". Seems like a good strategy.

Random stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26269905)

O User with two high end Suns moving RAM while the box is on in an effort to transfer a RAM disk from one box to another.

O Manager demands that A/V software be installed on zSeries boxes, even though if a virus gets on an LPAR on a mainframe, someone royally screwed up. This might be understandable if a contract or some reg required this, but $100,000 for software that just sits there and fires off a glorifed "find / -name \*virus -print" from cron.

Re:Random stories (0)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270241)

User with two high end Suns moving RAM while the box is on in an effort to transfer a RAM disk from one box to another.

... I actually wonder if that could theoretically work if the RAM was hot swappable, was SRAM, and the systems were specifically set up to have a ram disk in a certain section of ram...?

No, she doesn't love you. (5, Funny)

BunnyClaws (753889) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269907)

8 years ago I had a guy at our company come up to me and tell me he got an email from a girl that said "I love you." He then said, she attached a vbs file to the email and he spent the last 10 minutes trying to get the attachment to work. He said he double clicked on it, ran it from a command prompt and several other ways but couldn't get her "love" program to work for him. The guy was an IT analyst.

Re:No, she doesn't love you. (1)

youngdev (1238812) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270073)

damn. How hot was this chick?

Re:No, she doesn't love you. (5, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270105)

8 years ago I had a guy at our company come up to me and tell me he got an email from a girl that said "I love you." He then said, she attached a vbs file to the email and he spent the last 10 minutes trying to get the attachment to work. He said he double clicked on it, ran it from a command prompt and several other ways but couldn't get her "love" program to work for him.

The guy was an IT analyst.

In all fairness, most IT analysts don't know what behavior should be expected from an actual, live woman.

Oh goddammit (-1, Offtopic)

Chad Birch (1222564) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269965)

Someone spilled idle on the front page again.

And it wasn't even samzenpus this time.

Welcome to the Internet Help Desk (1)

I_want_information (1413105) | more than 4 years ago | (#26269991)

I've had many a student like this [deadtroll.com] .

Re:Welcome to the Internet Help Desk (1)

Foldarn (1152051) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270093)

bad link?

Re:Welcome to the Internet Help Desk (1)

I_want_information (1413105) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270183)

bad link?

Nope. I've tried it twice and had it work.

Try this:

http://www.deadtroll.com/index2.html?/video/helldeskcable.html~content [deadtroll.com]

Re:Welcome to the Internet Help Desk (1)

Foldarn (1152051) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270233)

A HA! Silly javascript...

memory or video card error? (1)

Eto_Demerzel79 (1011949) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270003)

From the article:

I was infected by a virus a week ago. The virus said "you fool" through the computer speakers. I do not have bios, I do not have anything, only the motherboard (Asus k8v Deluxe) and a microphone (AMD 64-bit), RAM and graphic memory. It always repeats the same words: "you fool". I changed the bios and it continued the same. I think I know where the virus is: it is a 1MB chip of the motherboard (w55f10b). I cannot reprogram it, as there are 3 chips inside (one is an audio chip). I bought another motherboard, the same as the one I had, installed it, and also installed the microphone, RAM and graphic card. I was shocked when it still repeated the words.

Does anyone have experience with the Asus K8V. I recall at some point I had a motherboard that actually "spoke" when it could not find memory or a video card instead of the usual beeps. I'm just wondering if this one may have had the same feature. I tried the manual from the Asus site but it doesn't seem to include a troubleshooting guide (I had to use the Chinese site since the global site said "too many users").

Re:memory or video card error? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26270089)

it's called AI blabla
you can disable it in the bios

Re:memory or video card error? (1)

sgeye (757198) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270127)

I had a Soyo one that did that talked. Freaked me the hell out the first time it spoke to me.

Re:memory or video card error? (5, Informative)

Richard_J_N (631241) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270175)

Yes, I had one of these. It's a real pain, because when something is broken, you expect to hear beep codes on the PC speaker. If the speakers are unplugged, as a result of disassembly before diagnostics, then no error messages are presented. The error would probably have been "[cp]U Fail", not "You fool" - though the latter interpretation isn't unreasonable in the context!

Re:memory or video card error? (1)

rnddev (1187731) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270205)

Back in '99 shortly after the CIH virus payload period had passed, I was faced with a system that wouldn't POST. CIH would overwrite some flash BIOS' and, since the system wouldn't POST and instead played a song over and over through the PC speaker, the owner assumed this had happened to them. With a little checking they had a CPU fan that, when stopped, would play the song through the speaker and halt the boot. It does sound like something of that sort in the article's case.

Re:memory or video card error? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26270219)

I had one of the K8V (not the Deluxe, but not the base either). If you had the "Voice" enabled in the BIOS, it would tell you things. "Memory sized has changed." That sort of thing. It was Feminine and could be turned off after the novelty was gone.

the website is down (4, Informative)

Foldarn (1152051) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270035)

Yes, it's made up, but it's one of the most funny tech support bits ever made! http://www.thewebsiteisdown.com/ [thewebsiteisdown.com]

Talking virus? (2, Insightful)

rnddev (1187731) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270043)

From the article:
As if in a terror movie, some of our users claim the viruses that reach their computers talk to them in a mysterious way. Many users send us their conversations hoping our technicians can interpret them.

Seriously? I know that people get confused and that some have difficulty correctly attributing problems, but if the support staff is dismissing something like this then they should seriously re-evaluate their current occupations. I've seen several instances of VNC and other remote access programs installed that would match the claim posted by the user that a notepad application started and "it told me that it wasn't a virus, but that it is in my computer". I guess dismissing it as a "stupid user problem" is preferred over admitting that the AV software doesn't prevent things like this or that the support technician would rather burn through their call queue saying "Doesn't sound like a virus. Call Microsoft if you keep having issues. Thank you for calling."

Sometimes they are asking for it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26270067)

I don't know about Panda but many of these antivirus companies are a bit too happy to label everything a threat.
If you buy the complete package, even a cookie from a banner ad are sometimes labelled as a threat when you do a complete scan of the computer.

I can see through that and understand that they just do that to give people a feeling that they are getting something for their money. But it is extremely confusing to the average user and I have talket to serveral people who thought that their computer was infected just because of that.

You will know the enemy by his name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26270075)

Stream International

The sick mouse -- and an obligatory IT video (1)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270139)

My cousin came up to me during a holiday party and told me her web browser had become blurry ever since she plugged in a new mouse -- and she wondered if the new mouse (which needed no drivers) had installed some kind of virus.

Meanwhile, one of those great tech support videos [youtube.com] (sound absolutely required).

ID 10 T (3, Funny)

Leaky Discharge (256331) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270155)

This actually happened to me. I was helping out a customer with some software I had written. I told her to download our latest version from our website and to save it to her desktop. At this time she replied. "Goddamnit, I'm not going to tell you this again! I don't have a desktop computer I have a laptop!". I had to place her on hold while I laughed my ass off.

Chistmas Fun (3, Funny)

linkalus (1441641) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270161)

Every Christmas it falls on me to fix my grandparents computers. Usually other relatives get there before me and try to fix the problem, usually with little or no success. This past year was my all time favorite for computer problems, the computer would shut down shortly after startup. Other relatives attempted to fix it but no luck. Everyone thought it was a virus. After some looking around, I went into the bios where after digging around a little bit I saw that the temperature for the CPU was really high. Opening up the case showed why, the CPU heatsink and fan was so full of dust that there was no way for any air to move through it. Cleaning that out fixed all of the computer problems.

Not always stupid customers ... (5, Funny)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270165)

I've done a bit of support for an electronics company that also made TVs. Back in 2007 one of their newest models was a decent 40" LCD tv, HD ready etc. and fairly cheap. We got a LOT of support calls on that one because of the design of the rear of the TV.

The TV had a physical on/off switch, but the designers had decided to "hide" it between the speaker and display enclosures on the back of it. It was clearly outlined on the diagram on page 5 of the manual, but still we had a ton of calls about this particular model, because people couldn't turn it on. And invariably about half of them would complain that they already hung it on the wall and couldn't reach the bloody switch. Boo fucking hoo - read the manual before assembling your unit.

But - I had one phone call about this TV that still has me smiling ear to ear

Me: "[$Company] support, you're talking to Martin"
Very timid, baby girl voice: "Hiiiiiiii?"
Me: "Ehh ... hi?"
Very timid, baby girl voice: "My name is Pia"
Me: "Hello Pia."
Pia: "I'm four years old!"
Me: "Is your mom or dad around?"
Pia: "My daddy doesn't know how to turn on his TV"

At this point I simply couldn't help but laugh out loud. Then I hear a grown up female voice in the background

Mom: "Just go ahead and laugh, that's what we've been doing all day long"
Me: "Okay, can your dad hear me Pia?"
Pia: "He says he can"

And then I proceded to guide him to where this switch was.

It's one thing to be a stupid user, it's another thing entirely to know that there's something you don't know - at least that's what Socrates [wikipedia.org] believed.

Ghost in the machine (2, Funny)

citylivin (1250770) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270187)

I used to work in a call center. One day, one of the CSR's came to me with a problem. She was trying to write notes in a customers file but every time she put her coursor into the text field, strange words appeared. The words came as if they were typed in manually and seemed to go everywhere. Address bar, email messages, word documents. The user was convinced that someone had hacked her pc and was sending her cryptic messages like "please visit the bathroom my apple friend".

Long story short, I went to investigate but could not duplicate the problem. That is, until I watched her take a call. As soon as she started speaking into the mic the words returned, and I was able to figure out that microsoft text to speech (came with word) had been installed and enabled somehow. It was doing voice recognition on all her phones headset speech.

Repository of Computer Stupidities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#26270225)

Waddya know? This still exists: http://rinkworks.com/stupid/

It doesn't prove anything... (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270231)

...except companies want stupid people to sell stupid products to.

This proves once again, that antivirus manufacturers must make a special effort to increase user knowledge regarding computer security and malware effects.

Antivirus manufacturers must only make a profit, as markets demand of all companies. They must not do anything else. As such, to remain competitive and justify their existence, large software companies prey on this fear and fan it even further. Yes! Make sure you are protected! Don't want those evil viruses and hackers to get at your precious information, do you? Buy our $200 package which has to be relicensed every year! Nevermind the virus protection is mediocre, look at all the other useless gadgets we provide with it that make just as hard as a bad virus to work with your computer!

Morally, there should be a rather big push by multiple bodies to help educate the public about security, but there is no government body to help to do this, and no nonprofit large enough to make a dent in this. Businesses need customers, and security and antivirus companies have no interest in educating customers if it means reduced sales, which it would.

The internet is broken (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 4 years ago | (#26270235)

One of the things that still amazes me is how clever my grandparents can be in using their computer, and in some other ways how very stubborn and dumb.

They discovered on their own the wonders of internet radio, and found some stations serving up German ooompah music which they absolutely love. Pretty slick for some old folks having their first PC.

However, for months they would harass me about their internet connection/computer being *broken* whenever their radio station wouldn't come in. I tried to explain that sometimes sites (especially media sites) go down for maintenance, or reach their capacity, etc, and won't be available. However, these answers weren't acceptable to them, as the problem must be with the machine. This is, of course, despite the fact that all other sites worked, including other "internet radio" sites.

When I finally thought I had got the concept of the website being at fault through to them, they pointed out that the radio station (same station) worked fine when they pulled it through on their satellite/stereo...

I think it took another few months to explain that the satellite and internet were completely different services, but what I really wonder is why they would be insist on listening through their tinny computer speakers and not on the stereo in the first place.

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