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NASA CTO Says Help Desks May Disappear

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-trash-can-therefore-no-trash dept.

Cloud 131

Lucas123 writes "NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has placed its data, from photos of Mars to top secret government information, in 10 different public or private clouds. JPL's 5,000 workers have access to that data with any mobile devices they want to use, as long as it has first been secured. Because JPL's and other workforces are becoming more mobile, a help desk as it's known today may soon become unnecessary, according to JPL's IT CTO Tom Soderstrom. 'Have you ever called a help desk for your mobile device? What do you do? Probably, the first you do is Google or Bing it,' he said. 'If you can't get your answer there, you ask your friends who are like you. For us, that's the workgroup.'"

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Help Desks are an Anachronism (0)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719602)

I want an ANSWER Desk.

More than 50% of my calls do not get an answer from the foreign sounding "Tony" on the other end of the line.

Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37719658)

Wait a minute. I'm a manager, and I've been reading a lot of case studies and watching a lot of webcasts about The Cloud. Based on all of this glorious marketing literature, I, as a manager, have absolutely no reason to doubt the safety of any data put in The Cloud.

The case studies all use words like "secure", "MD5", "RSS feeds" and "encryption" to describe the security of The Cloud. I don't know about you, but that sounds damn secure to me! Some Clouds even use SSL and HTTP. That's rock solid in my book.

And don't forget that you have to use Web Services to access The Cloud. Nothing is more secure than SOA and Web Services, with the exception of perhaps SaaS. But I think that Cloud Services 2.0 will combine the tiers into an MVC-compliant stack that uses SaaS to increase the security and partitioning of the data.

My main concern isn't with the security of The Cloud, but rather with getting my Indian team to learn all about it so we can deploy some first-generation The Cloud applications and Web Services to provide the ultimate platform upon which we can layer our business intelligence and reporting, because there are still a few verticals that we need to leverage before we can move to The Cloud 2.0.

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (2)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719700)

Bravo. I just threw up in my mouth.

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37720000)

Bravo. I just threw up in my mouth.

Only twelve year old girls use that phrase. I'll give you a pink pony if you never say that again.

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37720364)

Onlytwelve year old girls use that phrase. I'll give you a pink pony if you never say that again.

Oh boy, here we go [mylittlefacewhen.com] . You seem upset [mylittlefacewhen.com] ! You mad? [mylittlefacewhen.com]

Plenty more pink ponies [mylittlefacewhen.com] where those came from! Collect the whole set! [mylittlefacewhen.com]

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (1)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720808)

I'll give you a pink pony if you never say that again.

We already did. [wikipedia.org]

Help desk of last decade: (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719750)

You dial tech support at 1-YOU-ARE-CSOL:

Press one if you'd like to continue in English; 8 if you'd like to continue in Spanish [press]

Please listen to the following menu. Our menu options have recently changed. [a menu that does include anything you want to do is presented] You choose one out of desperation.

Please enter your social security number. [presses...]

Please enter your account number [presses...]

Please select from the following menu, which, wonder of wonders, includes "speak to an account representative" [happy press!]

I'm sorry, that number is no longer in service. Please dial our technical support at 1-YOU-ARE-CSOL. [click... dialtone]

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (1)

Tihstae (86842) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719774)

Are you presenting at Gartner IT Symposium next week? What is the session name? I need to know where to bring the rotten tomatoes. Come to think about it, it doesn't matter, every session will be this horrible.

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37720408)

Damn, 6sigma and I would have had the bingo

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (1)

Opyros (1153335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720554)

I've looked at The Cloud from both sides now!

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37722452)

And now they mostly drop the Sun?

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (1)

Dingbat1967 (988977) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720570)

Holy Cow! I just got a double-liner on my Bullshit Bingo card!

Good job!

Needs more cowbell... (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 2 years ago | (#37722808)

You forgot to add some synergy and mix in some paradigms.

          -dZ.

Not to mention.... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719632)

...calling a helpdesk is becoming more and more of an ordeal. We are actively discouraged from using them, so naturally other resources will be sought, and found.

Re:Not to mention.... (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719672)

We are actively discouraged from using them, so naturally other resources will be sought, and found.

This is the new paradigm. First you provide something useful, then you make it suck, then you say 'well, no-one is using this anymore, so we'll scrap it'.

Re:Not to mention.... (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719768)

This is why I have hated Dell outsourcing their tech support. Instead of a first world country answering your calls with the probability that they have their own computer at home being higher than a third world country, you get a third world country with a heavy accent and a book to read on how to proceed.

Have you done troubleshooting online? It is the same thing!

But this isnt the worst part, the worst part is that the normal layman that calls them for assistance, sometimes in a panic because they were working on something or something bad will happen, etc... they get some idiot who couldnt respond with actual questions, help soothe the person, or be compassionate in any way.

So, after this terrible experience, they go to work and IT there not only has to contend with the issue, but they have to deal with the assumption that we are just as retarded as those on the phone.

If people want to outsource their items, they will soon find that it was a big mistake. I already know this to be true as a medium sized business did this and they are scrambling to recover.

So go on... try it...

Re:Not to mention.... (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720128)

This is why I have hated Dell outsourcing their tech support. Instead of a first world country answering your calls with the probability that they have their own computer at home being higher than a third world country, you get a third world country with a heavy accent and a book to read on how to proceed.

Natural progression. I worked at a first-world call center for a while and found that if you do anything but read the book word-for-word you'd get punished. So moving it to a place where there was no room for the people to improvise just dropped the number of people they had to write up for "failing to follow the mandated process".

Re:Not to mention.... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720930)

> Natural progression. I worked at a first-world call center for a while and found that if you do anything but read the book word-for-word you'd get punished.

That's actually true. A friend of mine was fired for suggesting a solution to a user that actually worked, because he could see from the script that he was going to be required to give the user the wrong answer. Despite leaving a satisfied customer, he was written up for going off-script and terminated.

Re:Not to mention.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37720130)

People working in IT are stupid. Period. I work IT too so I should know. I actually have IT people who can't figure out how to exit a program on Mac or GNU/Linux system because the X is in the top left instead of the top right corner of an application screen. Our customers are smarter than that. These are not people in other countries. These are people in metropolitan USA making good $$$ with computer science degrees. Not 2 year degrees. 4 year people. I'm not surprised people think IT can be outsourced. Unfortunately the stupid people here in IT are better than the stupid people over there in IT. The people over there aren't really in IT though. They are in "I can a script to you" category. Barely. And good luck understanding them. I wouldn't be surprised if half of them didn't know how to read and simply memorized a script or two that they could go between to get you off the phone. Getting you off the phone is what they are really trying to do. They are paid by the shortness of the call after all.

that is why tech school / apprentices is better. (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720386)

CS for help desk? even more so if it's a call center driven by call times.
Even desktop support and IT admin work is very hands on and needs skills that you don't get in a 4 CS degrees.
It's like saying people in the cable system call center need a 4 year degrees in Telecommunication just to tell some one to reboot there modem
and saying that a cable guy needs a EE or Telecommunications degree for a very hand on job that is a good fit for some kind tech school and or an apprentices system.

Re:that is why tech school / apprentices is better (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720978)

> It's like saying people in the cable system call center need a 4 year degrees in Telecommunication just to tell some one to reboot there modem

Yeah, ok, but the moment it's something that can't be solved by rebooting the modem, a procedure-oriented helpdesk person is often stuck. You get into a situation where a support person is condescendingly giving basic instructions that don't help over and over again to a user who may know more about the product than the support person. Like the corporate flunky who insisted that I reenter the corporate information into my Blackberry over and over and over again when I could *see* that the BB enterprise server was not answering a ping.

This kind of stuff gives us power users the impression that you service folks are morons. And often we're right.

Re:that is why tech school / apprentices is better (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721098)

call times and script based call centers make it in to a procedure-oriented helpdesk and at that level you are better off people who are non tech and not as a staring place for techs.

att level 1 sucks they can't see that some back end setting is not right and just tell the reboot your system and you have to get past them to the next level so that guy can see that on the back end your move was not setup the right way in a back end system.

Re:that is why tech school / apprentices is better (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37722272)

English isn't your first language, is it?

Re:Not to mention.... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720946)

> People working in IT are stupid. Period. I work IT too so I should know.

Um, ok, no point in reading the rest, then.

I work in IT, and I like to think I'm not stupid. The problem is much more complex than mere individual stupidity.

Re:Not to mention.... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37722488)

Doesn't seem that complex.
The problem is most of the user problems are due to stupid reasons with stupid solutions like checking if the modem is plugged in, powered on, dead/alive etc. So naturally companies start using such scripts to provide "support".

You want smarter replies, you need "engineer to engineer" support which some companies provide. But smarter replies are wasted on users who aren't competent (they aren't necessarily stupid).

If I'm the developer/engineer that actually makes the stuff, I'd actually want to hear from the "competent in the area" people since they are more likely to be able to help me fix stuff.

Whereas which developer or engineer wants to personally deal with people who can't figure out whether their equipment is on or off? But there are often millions of such people out there, buying stuff and thus needing help, so that's why there are "hell-desks" ;).

A possible way to improve things would be to have the user opt to answer an automated "competence in the field" quiz, if the user aces it, the user "levels up" and now always qualifies for "higher level" support (unless they show incompetence/assholeness). Similarly if a user starts to show enough signs of knowing stuff to a helpful degree the user can be "levelled up".

Re:Not to mention.... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720902)

I don't completely disagree, but a few points...

Dell corporate service is still provided out of Austin, TX. It's consumer service that's provided by a single cellular phone somewhere in Vichumbe, India. So if you're buying Dell servers, you're fine. If you bought a Dell home PC, I'm really sorry.

I've done troubleshooting online with a high degree of success. But maybe not the way you meant. If you mean on the vendor's website, I agree. But does anyone seriously do that? Forums are the thing. There's a lot of people out there who are smarter than I, and also smarter than anyone in the vendor's technical support. I rely heavily on the kindness of strangers, and try to pay it forward whenever possible.

On your comment on normal layman, I could not agree more. This is the real tragedy. Computers are not an end product, they are a tool to get work done. You should not have to be a sysadmin in order to use a PC to do work unrelated to computers. This is where support classically falls down and it's a real crime. I help users out for free who have been screwed by paid support, and then I suggest they never do business with that company again. I'm running out of companies to recommend.

You're absolutely correct regarding outsourcing. It doesn't *have* to suck, but the way the industry is managed now, it usually does. It may not even be the vendor's fault -- they can get suckered into a horrible deal just like anyone else can.

Re:Not to mention.... (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721848)

That wouldn't to happen to be Stream or any AOL subisidary would it?

Re:Not to mention.... (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 2 years ago | (#37722558)

Have you done troubleshooting online? It is the same thing!

Nice, you figured it out. The trick here is to offload your support costs to "the cloud" so to speak. Crowd-source your support and get better results for minimal cost. And no recourse.

As someone who actually works in a help desk... (1)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719634)

'Have you ever called a help desk for your mobile device? What do you do? Probably, the first you do is Google or Bing it,' he said. 'If you can't get your answer there, you ask your friends who are like you. For us, that's the workgroup.'"

This is completely out of touch with the real world. Almost nobody Googles such things and most people don't have friends who they can ask about such things. When people have a problem with their mobile device, they call their operator.

Do not mix nerds like you and me who read /. with the actual general population.

Re:As someone who actually works in a help desk... (2)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719756)

Maybe that works for JPL staff. But the staff I support <i>never</I> research a problem themselves. They either call the Help Desk at the first sign of trouble without trying even basic troubleshooting (e.g. turn it off and back on again), or they sit and endure the problem for days or maybe even weeks, and <i>then</i> call the Help Desk.

Re:As someone who actually works in a help desk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37719786)

It depends on the site, at my previous job I wasn't allowed to make any changes to the software and could have been disciplined if I was caught doing so.

Re:As someone who actually works in a help desk... (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719882)

It depends on the site, at my previous job I wasn't allowed to make any changes to the software and could have been disciplined if I was caught doing so.

He's not suggesting that you delete your Outlook profile and recreate it before calling, but when you call to say that your computer won't turn on, take a couple seconds and see that it's plugged into the wall. If you're feeling adventurous, see if the monitor cable is still plugged into the back of the computer. If you're feeling *really* adventurous, make sure that the power strip that you inadvertently turned off last week hasn't been turned off *again*.

But don't file a helpdesk ticket saying "I haven't been able to access my network drives for the past 2 weeks. I have to finish a report this afternoon so you *have* to fix it right now"

Re:As someone who actually works in a help desk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37720622)

But don't file a helpdesk ticket saying "I haven't been able to access my network drives for the past 2 weeks. I have to finish a report this afternoon so you *have* to fix it right now"

I deal with this on a daily basis. It's getting to the point where I actually send links to google search pages

Getting the two mixed up is easy enough (1)

F69631 (2421974) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719846)

...most people don't have friends... ...Do not mix nerds like you and me who read /. with the actual general population.

Are you certain that you didn't mix up the two yourself?

Re:As someone who actually works in a help desk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37719866)

Your view of the general population is just as biased. I'm going to play psychic and guess that you are older/conservative.

Re:As someone who actually works in a help desk... (1)

AtomicAdam (959649) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719970)

Your view of the general population is just as biased. I'm going to play psychic and guess that you are older/conservative.

That was biased in itself. I'm going to assume you still wear diapers.

Re:As someone who actually works in a help desk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37720362)

That was biased in itself. I'm going to assume you still wear diapers.

He only wears them on the weekend. And then only for Mistress Strict.

Re:As someone who actually works in a help desk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37720488)

That was biased in itself.

I can't pull one over one you ;) It's a recursive observation.

Re:As someone who actually works in a help desk... (2)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720126)

This is completely out of touch with the real world. Almost nobody Googles such things and most people don't have friends who they can ask about such things. When people have a problem with their mobile device, they call their operator.

So... since you work at a help desk, you're basing this off of the fact that nobody calls you saying "Hey, just wanted to let you know I had this problem but I found the answer on Google!" ?

Re:As someone who actually works in a help desk... (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721918)

Would make for an easy job, though!

Re:As someone who actually works in a help desk... (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721786)

Beat me to it. And even those who do Google for an answer can't formulate the question in an efficient way, so they get nowhere. This is all based on my personal experiences, so discard as needed.

I'm sure the "Google or ask your friends" path works fine for NASA, they're supposed to be the smart ones. But then I read Bing, and then I had second doubts. Person: "How do I fix XYZ problem on my iPhone 4s?" Bing: "Buy a Zune."

Re:As someone who actually works in a help desk... (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#37722826)

In many cases, outsourcing support to your user community is feasible. Here's an interesting experiment: the next time you ask a co-worker about how to do pivot tables in Excel, or how to fill in your expense claim in SAP, or how to clear a jammed printer, also ask them where they learned the answer? Very often the answer is: "I googled it" or "a colleague told me". That is called peer support, and companies are discovering that you can boost its effects by facilitating it. My client has gotten very good results with Yammer [yammer.com] (a corporate Twitter-lookalike), and we are now starting a trial with GetSatisfaction [getsatisfaction.com] , another peer support tool which helps with finding relevant answers provided to previous questions.

This is not going to replace help desks completely, but initial results show that for the easier (tier 1 and 2) questions, answers are more accurate and come faster from peers. However, all this has absolutely nothing to do with "going mobile" or "the cloud", as JPL's IT CTO suggests.

People still need help (3, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719638)

Tom Soderstrom. 'Have you ever called a help desk for your mobile device? What do you do? Probably, the first you do is Google or Bing it,'

If that's true, then why do people keep calling and visiting my helpdesk for help with their mobile device!? "My email isn't syncing" "This thing is too slow" "This java-required website won't work on my phone, but it works on my desktop" "I reset the device like I read on Google and now I lost all of my files and applications"

Thanks, I needed that laugh (4, Insightful)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719652)

Speaking as a team lead for tier 2 support group, that's part of the premium service desk for managed IT outsourcing (ASA 30 seconds, 70% FTR kind of thing), this made me laugh my butt off.

Yes, we get crap-tons of calls from users about mobile devices. Tom is out of touch with "real" users, he's suffering (benefiting?) from massive selection bias here. His sample base is nowhere near representative of your average corporate IT user.

It's not like Tom's dealing with brain surgeons... (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720112)

....they're just rocket scientists!

Re:Thanks, I needed that laugh (1)

conspirator23 (207097) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721012)

Speaking as a team lead for tier 2 support group, that's part of the premium service desk for managed IT outsourcing (ASA 30 seconds, 70% FTR kind of thing), this made me laugh my butt off.

Yes, we get crap-tons of calls from users about mobile devices. Tom is out of touch with "real" users, he's suffering (benefiting?) from massive selection bias here. His sample base is nowhere near representative of your average corporate IT user.

Thanks for writing that for me, because that's pretty much what I was here to say. Since you got that out of the way though, that brings my attention to another point. Those pieces of information that he imagines customers finding via search tools? Who does he thinks writes those things? Programmers write code. Technical writers write manuals for code. Who writes the solutions to the problems that both these groups overlook? Why, problem solving end-user support staff do that. If you break that staff down between on-site support (aka your "desktop" team) and off-site support (aka the Service Desk/Helpdesk) it's mainly the off-site people who write those articles. What this deranged C-level imagines is that "Tier 0" support invents itself spontaneously.

Re:Thanks, I needed that laugh (1)

KevMar (471257) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721554)

Exactly, It would be nice if all of my users were rocket scientists.

Re:Thanks, I needed that laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37721820)

Even if you work with smart people it is still good to have a 'help desk'. As not everyone is an expert at everything.

Computer goes tits up? Would you rather pay the 20 an hour dude to fix it or the 160 dollar an hour double doctorate dude?

I have many times told *very* smart people 'dont mess with it we have people to do that for you and they are pretty good at it'

Re:Thanks, I needed that laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37721682)

I had a problem with the bizarreness of these statements so I googled or binged Tom Soderstrom....
Maybe he hasn't updated his linked-in to include all of his information, and I hate to come off like an education snob, but his education part seems kind of thin (3 years at Oxy in an undisclosed major(not knocking Oxy I'm sure it is awesome), and then he goes and jumps right into being a VP and seems to specialize a lot in outsourcing. If I was handed this data in a resume form I'd have some questions for the job candidate.

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/tom-soderstrom/4/100/a99

Tom Soderstrom's Education
Occidental College
1980 – 1982

(from wikipedia)
Occidental College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college located in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Re:Thanks, I needed that laugh (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37722052)

Speaking as a team lead for tier 2 support group, that's part of the premium service desk for managed IT outsourcing (ASA 30 seconds, 70% FTR kind of thing), this made me laugh my butt off.

Yes, we get crap-tons of calls from users about mobile devices. Tom is out of touch with "real" users, he's suffering (benefiting?) from massive selection bias here. His sample base is nowhere near representative of your average corporate IT user.

He's just insourcing his help desk tasks to his scientists, engineers, managers and clerical workers. Yes at NASA nobel prize winners have to do their own IT tech support. That'll cut the budget! Not a waste of their abilities at all.

FUCKWIT.

With idiocy like this, no wonder NASA is circling the drain. What a crying shame!

Re:Thanks, I needed that laugh (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 2 years ago | (#37722236)

And often when people need help with their devices they can't configure it and call with it at the same time so they need a physical visit to the help desk.

Help desks will never go away (1)

Meshach (578918) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719676)

To some users all the following are meaningless:
  • What version of Windows are you running?
  • What video drivers are you using?
  • Have you installed the latest update?

These users will always need a help desk.

Re:Help desks will never go away (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719956)

To some users all the following are meaningless:

  • What version of Windows are you running?
  • What video drivers are you using?
  • Have you installed the latest update?

These users will always need a help desk.

But any well-run corporate help desk will already know the answers to these questions.

Haiku User Responds (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720456)

  • What version of Windows are you running?
  • What video drivers are you using?
  • Have you installed the latest update?

Windows 7 Home
with Nvidia Geforce
updated today

Wrong. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37719692)

Based on my experience as a developer I can assure you people do not "Google or Bing it." They call support first. That's their job, people want answers and they don't want to search for the solution, they want support to search for the solutions. Only the tech savvy Google or Bing to find solutions because they know what to search for. Presuming that everyone has the ability to identify and to solve their own problems is idiotic.

Re:Wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37721634)

Based on my experience as a developer I can assure you people do not "Google or Bing it." They call support first. That's their job. Presuming that everyone has the ability to identify and to solve their own problems is idiotic.

But at NASA? I'm thinking a lot more of them will be able to identify and solve their problem. The rest can ask them.

(BTW, this is not to say I agree that helpdesks will or should go away. I don't)

I don't need help, I just need permission. (1)

Asmodae (1155077) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719704)

Most of the time I know HOW to fix my problem. When I call the corporate help desk, it's not because I don't know how to fix the problem, it's because I don't have permissions to do it because the box is locked down. Otherwise it's some networking issue which I don't have access to the equipment to fix.

Re:I don't need help, I just need permission. (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719766)

Most of the time I know HOW to fix my problem. When I call the corporate help desk, it's not because I don't know how to fix the problem, it's because I don't have permissions to do it because the box is locked down.

Otherwise it's some networking issue which I don't have access to the equipment to fix.

In many cases, IT is not allowed to give you the permissions to fix the problem due to regulatory requirements. Developers in particular may have access to sensitive data so their machines have to be locked down, with associated documentation and logging to show that they meet corporate build standards.

In our organization, we give local admin to most people that ask for it -- I've found that about half of the people that think they know how to take care of problems on their own, actually know just enough to get themselves into more trouble.

Re:I don't need help, I just need permission. (1)

Asmodae (1155077) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719942)

Which is what I was ultimately getting at. The reason for a corporate help desk is custom IT infrastructure, custom hardware, networks, databases, etc. It is not usually because a user doesn't know how to use a particular application. That's unlikely to change for the reasons you cite.

Re:I don't need help, I just need permission. (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719780)

other times the systems are locked due to all the crap on them.

outsourced help desktops suck so the desktop team has to pick the mess and deal with old tickets.

Re:I don't need help, I just need permission. (1)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720486)

I had to handle a situation from a rather technical guy not long ago who decided he would take it upon himself to set up an ipod for hold music. The problem is, he didn't have a charger for it. Rather than go out and buy a charger, he decided he would power it off the company file server and install the itunes software. Unfortunately, because he was a techie someone made an exception and granted him elevated privs on the server. The root volume on the server rapidly filled up with music downloads and the crash caused significant downtime in an office that is dependent on time sensitive transactions. You can't make assumptions about your users ability to drive things if you are the ones responsible for devoting overtime resources to fixing it all.

Not to be condescending, but the vast majority of users I have spoken with over the last 14 years are barely computer literate. Although it is important to understand standards and conventions, etc. and even a simple thing can get you in trouble, most people I talk to can't even read things off the screen properly. There isn't anything wrong with that, and on the other hand usually I can not begin to comprehend the business tasks they perform so we work together as a team. People just need to work together and get over their ego trip or self confidence issues with calling someone for assistance. I've been in IT a long time, and I still call technical support.

Re:I don't need help, I just need permission. (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721184)

Permission?? You have physical access; that's all the permission you need. Just create yourself a bootable CD or USB key, and then go ahead and fix your own problems.

HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH....!!!! (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719764)

"JPL's 5,000 workers have access to that data with any mobile devices they want to use, as long as it has first been secured.

Apparently that moron doesn't realize who secured those mobile devices. Hint: Starts with Help, ends with Desk.

Re:HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH....!!!! (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720040)

Which explains why they can be cracked open by a 12 year old and a handful of scripts they downloaded last night...

Bing it? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37719784)

Is that a choice people make or is it because Bing is being integrated into IE as default search engine? Last I checked, a very small minority "Bings" it.

Re:Bing it? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721882)

I do.

I do marketing work as well as my usual IT and web design for small business. I live in Florida. Old people with money who have computers but are not very computer literate and dont want to change their ways who happen to have money. Hmm I wonder which browser they use? Gee, I wonder if they opened their browser of choice if they would manually go to www.google.com and make it their default search engine? Now lets take a guess what their browser of choice defaults to on their computer? It is pretty obvious Bing analytics and adsense all the way to market.

One customer is elderly but also wants to target younger people for marraige cruises leaving from Florida. In that case I setup and showed him how to do Google anayltics as even non-IT people our age tend to know better and know what a search engine even is.

But bing is useful for older people and corporations who have restrictions and like WIndows the way it is off of the company image and OEM which defaults to Microsoft's settings.

Bing now has 20 - 25% of the US market and growing. It is growing and with Windows tablets and WIndows phones starting to take off again it will become more popular.

Re:Bing it? (2)

KevMar (471257) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721996)

if anything, I bing google and then google what I want. Because clicking in the address bar is too much work.

*on other computers of course, where google is not the homepage.

level 1 helpdesk needs to be non tech with 2 being (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719792)

level 1 help desk needs to be non tech with level 2 being the real tech desk.

Re:level 1 helpdesk needs to be non tech with 2 be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37722486)

Oh god no. Are you fsking insane? They did this at a place I was running support for. They bumped level 1 to level 2, terminated to the level 2 people, left us ground troops, and hired dips who read scripts. My workload went through the roof. No one in tier one did jack but make tickets, tier 2 just passed the buck to us, and most users after a few times just asked to be escalated to my group.

still need helpdesk (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719810)

When the corporate exchange server config needs a tweak to make it work better with firefox, or the routes advertised by the VPN are a bit excessive (our VPN routes 1.0.0.0/8, 172.0.0.0/8, and 10.0.0.0/8 via the VPN...joy), or the corporate VOIP client is acting up, or the VM you've been assigned is running out of storage space, then you still need some way to report problems and get them dealt with.

That said, as a teleworker I admin my own linux box because the corporate IT people don't handle mobile linux users (not enough of us to bother with).

Re:still need helpdesk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37722096)

This all sounds very familiar.. I think we may work at the same company. I'm from the Plano office...

Mars (-1, Offtopic)

cromustang (2485140) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719878)

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the volcanoes, valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth. The rotational period and seasonal cycles of Mars are likewise similar to those of Earth, as is the tilt that produces the seasons. Mars is the site of Olympus Mons, the highest known mountain within the Solar System, and of Valles Marineris, the largest canyon. Read more interesting articles on www.amworld.info

Who you gonna call ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37719880)

when you fubar it?

HelpDesk!

Smart Man says smarties don't need tech support... (1)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719910)

Think of the type of people who work at NASA. Now think of the type of people who work around you.
Realize that NASA's people are somewhere between slightly more intelligent then the people you work with, to massively more intelligent then the people you work with. Realize that NASA's people are probably smarter then most of the people reading this comment.
Realize what works in NASA's environment likely won't work in the vast majority of the world, not to mention America.

Re:Smart Man says smarties don't need tech support (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720030)

Think of the type of people who work at NASA. Now think of the type of people who work around you.

Realize that NASA's people are somewhere between slightly more intelligent then the people you work with, to massively more intelligent then the people you work with. Realize that NASA's people are probably smarter then most of the people reading this comment.
Realize what works in NASA's environment likely won't work in the vast majority of the world, not to mention America.

First, I don't think that the general employee base at NASA is any intelligent than at any other large government organization.

Second, I work at an organization that has many very smart people - from very bright grad students to PhD's at the top of their field. And they are the ones that need the most hand holding when it comes to IT.

Re:Smart Man says smarties don't need tech support (1)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720188)

First, I don't think that the general employee base at NASA is any intelligent than at any other large government organization.

Second, I work at an organization that has many very smart people - from very bright grad students to PhD's at the top of their field. And they are the ones that need the most hand holding when it comes to IT.

Of course, the level of support required will also depend on the type and scale of your organization's IT infrastructure. In addition, Google and Bing simply won't help if you're dealing with vendors who don't have a large installed base or online documentation.

What I'm trying to say is that NASA is such a unique environment, they shouldn't be suggesting that what works for them will work for the rest of the world.

Re:Smart Man says smarties don't need tech support (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720206)

I find the opposite to be true.

I've been in the IT industry for somewhere around 15 years. I've worked on help desks. I've done vertical systems support. I've done software testing. I've been a developer. Presently I'm working part time on a help desk while putting myself through grad school.

Smart people generally need less help and the help they need is generally along the lines of being pushed in the right direction rather than being hand-held through the process.

But perhaps you're conflating being highly educated with being smart. It is true that there are quite a few highly educated people that aren't much smarter than a box of rocks.

BING??! (3, Insightful)

AtomicAdam (959649) | more than 2 years ago | (#37719998)

"Bing it" Nobody bings... please let me conduct my experiment, if you "BING" more that twice a day, reply to this message.

Re:BING??! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37720048)

This would not be a representative sample, therefore your "experiment" would be meaningless.

Re:BING??! (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721290)

Not intentionally of course. but too many places have automatic Bing popups.

Anyway, whaty a stupid name. Bing is the guy who sang White Christmas and starred in movies with Bob Hope. Whats that got to with a search engine.

BTW what does NASA have to do with help desks? Its not like they sell products or services. Is someone going to call them up and ask how to get a picture of Uranus for their screensaver.

Re: BING??! (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721892)

I do.

I do marketing work as well as my usual IT and web design for small business. I live in Florida. Old people with money who have computers but are not very computer literate and dont want to change their ways who happen to have money. Hmm I wonder which browser they use? Gee, I wonder if they opened their browser of choice if they would manually go to www.google.com and make it their default search engine? Now lets take a guess what their browser of choice defaults to on their computer? It is pretty obvious Bing analytics and adsense all the way to market.

One customer is elderly but also wants to target younger people for marraige cruises leaving from Florida. In that case I setup and showed him how to do Google anayltics as even non-IT people our age tend to know better and know what a search engine even is.

But bing is useful for older people and corporations who have restrictions and like WIndows the way it is off of the company image and OEM which defaults to Microsoft's settings.

Bing now has 20 - 25% of the US market and growing.

Re:BING??! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37722448)

I once made a girl Bing five times in one...

Oh, you're talking about the goofy search thing from Microsoft.

Uh, like, never. I admit, I'm passively evil and use Google, except when (as is increasingly the case) results are shit, in which case my next stop is Yahoo!

After that I usually give up and chase a random shiny object I've noticed.

Yes and No (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720026)

You can get rid of level one support desks. The Rolodex flippers are easily replaced with automated systems since they are barely less brain dead than the 90% call volume making use of them. Indeed a Watson style system would be ideal. However, on occasion the other 10% of us need an answer. We need an answer that requires analytic skills and strong subject matter expertise to derive and we don't have the time to do our own research. Of that 10% perhaps another 1% of us need an answer requiring engineering/expert level skills and subject matter expertise. A Watson system might handle level two but never last line of support.

Re:Yes and No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37721910)

How about someone just post an update to the status page when something goes down. Then we all don't have to call to find out WTF is going on? Looking at you ------->>>>> status.1and1.com

Re:Yes and No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37722338)

A Watson system might handle level two but never last line of support.

Or rather, if it does handle that stage then we've cracked the final problem of AI, and it will be time to persuade the newly sentient computers to unionize and demand some time off. With fembots.

You bloody idiot: (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720036)

If my "by our lady" mobile device was working well enough to google it, I wouldn't need the help in the "by our lady" first place!

A JPLer's view (1)

ScottMaxwell (108831) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720046)

Both ends of this are wrong, at least in the short to medium term: our data's not that accessible, and most things you call the help desk for are not Googlable (if that's a word). Things like JPL's internal policies and procedures, for example -- we have an internal, Google-based search engine, but it's not able to find everything by a long shot.

Also, as it happens, our help desk is very good -- even if it is run by Lockheed Martin -- and it would actually be a shame to see it go away. This might change someday, but right now, humans are irreplaceable.

Re:A JPLer's view (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37720616)

Firstly, Tom Soderstrom isn't so much an "IT CTO" at JPL. What the heck is that anyway? He knows nothing about real IT and certainly doesn't innovate or drive technology as you would expect a real CTO to do. But he is the man who created the "IT Petting Zoo" where JPLers get to play with IT devices that other companies implemented 15 years ago and he did support the "Google Room" where the .Net devs get to hang out. He's also supported the development of "Facebook for JPL" and "YouTube for JPL"; .Net re-implementations of familiar consumer technologies.

Secondly, the internal google search engine is hampered by political, funding, and technology development issues. What do you do when you buy a company's "starter kit", designed for a 10,000 document index, deploy this prototype and find doesn't exactly meet your 500,000+ DocuShare repository's search needs, let alone the tens of thousands other documents produced by your enterprise? Cut the funding by 75% and call it production. Seriously. But those are sins committed by management almost a decade ago.

After many lessons learned, LMIT has done an admirable job supporting and working with a broken "IT" organization.

This is ridiculous (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37720096)

If you're not using your helpdesk, it's probably because your helpdesk is ineffective. Not because "you're too smart to use it."

This all sounds all very ivory tower; if you know anything about ITIL you know that helpdesks are most effective when there's a *single* point of contact for all tech issues. As some services move to the cloud this creates even more support & management points. Meaning helpdesk becomes more important for people who want to actually get their work done rather than just trying to self-troubleshoot technical issues.

They'll be around for a long time to come. (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720162)

Mobile just means more legs to potentially call about. If I'm at home, I have to (rarely) call my internet provider. Not because I'm inept, but to report/get status on an outage.

If my work VPN disables my account for one reason or another, I have to call to get it restored.

If my mail server is out (actually hasn't happened to me in the last 8 years), then I'd have to call.

It's not always about what you know/don't know how to do, sometimes you need something done that you can't actually do yourself.

Car metaphor time (2)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#37720180)

This is like the head of a chain of garages saying everyone can dismantle and rebuild their own car engine because everyone who works for him can.

Re:Car metaphor time (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721218)

Extremely good analogy: very few people who work for a chain of garages can actually rebuild a car engine, and very few people at a help desk can actually fix computer problems.

At least the guys at the garage don't ask you to shut off the car and restart it, to see if that fixes the problem.

Re:Car metaphor time (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721700)

Being on slashdot I hope you know why you're asked to restart the computer. If not, I'll give some examples of when and why I've asked people to restart the computer.

The simple answer is: restarting a computer fixes 99% of the problems 99% of the time. It's also sometimes the easiest thing to tell a user to do. Yes, really. It's easier to tell a user to reboot the computer than it is to ask them to log off and log on.

#1. Windows group policies are applied at startup and logon. Logon scripts are only run, you guessed it, during logon. Which means a user needs to log off and on again in order to get a new policy or to fix a logon-script issue (mapped drives, mapped printers). Explaining to the user to "log off" is alien to most of them. It takes longer to explain how to use the "Log Off" option than it does to simply say "oh, restart your computer!" For computer policies, you actually need to restart the whole computer.

#2. Simple network issues can be fixed by rebooting. DHCP pool out? User's ethernet cable not plugged in all of the way? Malfunctioned switch caused some ports in the data room to go down? All of these issues are fixed "behind the scenes" and then asking users to reboot fixes the issues. Do you really want to explain to every single user how to use 'ipconfig /release' and 'ipconfig /renew'? No, didn't think so.

#3. 100% CPU usage/frozen process/frozen browser tab/"slow application" usually fixable with a reboot.

#4. Memory leaks? fixable with a reboot.

oh, well as long as there's a VPN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37720648)

As long as NASA CTOs still think a VPN is all you need to secure a device, the military will continue to operate the practical (and functional) national space program.

Military scientists who use real secret satellite and spacecraft information have a very real problem in acquiring mobile electronics which are actually secure. And we do use a help desk...

Now maybe NASA can help convince the military brass that absolute security is a pipe dream, but using examples where scientists "get a free ipad" for doing their job is only going to convince the military that NASA is full of waste, fraud and abuse. Note that he did not say the scientist needed an ipad, but literally that he just got a free ipad. That's mind boggling to me. Why do we keep these guys around?

Oblivious... (1)

Tekoneiric (590239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721534)

And I bet he is one of the ones that called into a help desk during the Blackberry outage while it was being broadcast all over the news and he likely heard a front end message on the help desk line about the outage then stayed on the line to get help because he couldn't get email on his Blackberry.

aMiXncg@verizon.com (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721578)

I have rarely used a help desk. I spent much of my career in Asia and the former Soviet Union in the pre-Skype days. If I had a problem there was no one I could sensibly call and speak to in English. Mainly I have used help forums for the last 15 years. There is an etiquette to this, but the results are usually very satisfactory. Rarely do I even have to pose the question myself. A thoughtful search of a well-chosen forum often discloses a thread started by somebody with the same problem I had. In recent years a Google search often kicks off the investigation, but not always.

But once in a great while circumstances force me to call in. Usually it goes okay. But...My last experience with a help desk was an hour-long comic nightmare. My problem was that I had to call Verizon to get the passcode for their ISP as I had a non-Verizon router (Verizon branded routers have the ISP pass code built in, but I wanted to run Tomato firmware so I bought the Linksys. My instructions were to call in to Verizon to get my code. Easy peasy.)

My interlocutor was a patient and charming Phillipina working from a script in Manila. Somehow the convoluted script she used turned the original strong passcode into my permanent user name (she actually had my account open). Which, of course, becomes my Verizon email address. (Not that I would use it as I have my own anyway.) So find me now at something like aM1Xncg@verizon.com (Not the actual one since it is impossible to remember.) When I log on to their website (which is rarely) I have to use the ridiculous Mister Mxyzptlk username. It is immutable of course. Mine until I cancel my account or, perhaps, until I endure another phone call to Manila. Not. Worth. It. I would think that at JPL, or any other place that has a high proportion of scientists and engineers, you will find the in-house help desk used ... reluctantly.

The Trouble is that NASA has become a PR-outfit (1)

RStonR (2471390) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721902)

In pretty much every NASA press release I read buzzwords and phrases like "applications on earth", etc.

Some pundits even argue that the Space Shuttle was only a wasteful form of space tourism [in-other-news.com] . (I.e.: What is "payload specialist" and political science major Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud doing on the Space Shuttle?)

Now, after the Space Shuttle is history and one probe after another gets cancelled, it's not even space tourism anymore, it's purely PR.

It can be done with Gen X & Y users (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37721912)

THe issue you need is if your workstation isn't running.People can read things themselves and do a lot more than fixing a car as an analogy that someone put it.

Otherwise you need I.T. and not google an answer if the share with all the critical work files vanishes off their desktop or other work related issue that needs to get fixed ASAP so people can work.Obviously you can't give everyone administrative rights to play with sharepoint or a share on the network to troubleshoot it themselves.

Google or Bing = Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37722680)

First order logic simplification for you.

Its not exactly rocket science, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37722944)

Which is helpful, when every one at work is a rocket scientist.

I can assure you after being not the help desk, that I now get the help desk requests for dealing with peoples mobile phones.

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