Semantics – you’ve heard it a million times.

I had a client come in and say that another tech had “fixed their hard drive, it’s a silver one” (they were here to pick it up).  Since said tech was off sick, I ended up dealing with it.

So I went through the stack of hard drives on the desk, spent about 15 minutes looking through every one of the jobs there and could not find it. Trying to squeeze every bit of information out of them I finally found the issue. “Its a silver Apple one”…. oh, you mean this big tower here….

Next time I should ask them what they want their “screen saver” set to…sorry, I mean ‘wallpaper.’

Next up: The fire department gets a call about the firewall…

I remember about 6 or 7 years ago I worked for a computer repair centre. We used to have a ‘wall of shame’ in the tech room, where basically if any of us came across a particulary brain dead client we would stick a copy of the work order on the wall for the rest of the employees to see.

(A bit of background, the client was a big corporate client of ours but they were working out in the middle of nowhere. It was a 6 hour round trip for our technicians at $90 per hour travel time, and a minumum charge of 3 hours on-site time at $150 per hour at a priority service charge)

My favourite one on the wall of shame went something like….


Client called to report that one of his servers is making a beeping noise. This call is urgent. He authorizes a priority service call for repair.


Advised client to replace batteries in fire alarm



[Picture Source: shingst (CC)]

Computer support can only do so much…

This was during the early 2000s, when things like spyware and malware was really still in the ‘OMG’ phase. I get a call from a really desperate sounding man.

Me: Thank you for calling (broadband company) My name is Daniel, may I have the phone number on the account, area code first please?

DC (desperate customer): Oh thank God! Ya gotta help me!!
Me: Yes sir, just give me your phone number, and I’ll open your account
DC: She’s due home in an hour!!!! I’m in so much trouble!!!

After much wrangling and finally getting his phone number, I ascertain the problem: This gentleman had received high speed internet two days before his wife left for a business trip for two weeks.

Evidently, he’d done absolutely nothing the entire time she was gone except surf porn. Lots and lots of porn. Lots and lots of porn = Lots and lots of spyware, malware, adware, viruses, etc…to the point where his browser had been hijacked, his computer would barely run, and he was getting pop ups when his Internet explorer wasn’t even running. Usually in these cases, I am required to use my best judgement. i.e. – foist him off on someone else as *their* problem. But I was wanting to test out my mad skills, so I set to work.

Anti-virus program? he didn’t have one, install one! Anti-spyware? didn’t have one. Let’s install one! Let’s install two! he found 29 viruses, and 351 pieces of spyware.

Feverishly, we worked together, restarting the computer over and over, slowly chipping away at this veritable porn paradise. Finally, with fifteen minutes to spare as to when his wife was due home, we’d scrubbed his registry clean and got his computer all squeaky shiny again.

Feeling proud of myself, after he thanked me profusely, I hung up the call and thought nothing more of it. However, friend a of mine at work stuck his head over the cubicle a couple months later and said, “Uh, hey, did you work with some idiot who kept looking at porn on his computer?”

“Uh, yeah, why?”

“Dude’s on the phone. Guess he jacked everything up again, and his wife wants a divorce.”


[Picture Source: jamaisdeux (CC)]

Contest Upate

The voting stage of the made-up IT term/phrase is here! Cast your votes now becasue it closes on Friday at Midnight!

Prize Update: We had to change the prize. Our legal team (imagine two bald IT guys and one with hair) have come to the conclusion that we cannot give out food items as prizes. Instead the winner will receive an awesome Fail Desk Tee-Shirt.

[polldaddy poll=”6130295″]

IT is also about helping…we don’t always hate our users

This comes from one of our female readers, so the last story here has a bit of a different feel… – Rob

For the first few years of my professional IT life, I was the jack-of-all-trades for a small business, including all sysadmin duties on top of developing and maintaining all aspects of the website, and being in charge all marketing for it as well.  I decided to switch jobs because I wanted to have a life, and jumped to a large web development shop to narrow my focus.

As I was (and still am) more interested in user experience and front-end development, I ended up in the “Creative” part of the company that developed the front-end.  So it was populated with UX’ers, HTML developers and graphic designers. When word got out in the department that I actually understood the mysteries of computers, my new colleagues would quietly check with me first before embarrassing themselves with our internal support desk.

In the ensuing months, I patiently showed them how to remove the lint from their mouse rollers (this was the early 00’s), to check for the Caps Lock light when they couldn’t log in, to check their cables (the cleaning staff regularly loosened cables with less than gentle cleaning) and to make a circuit of our three network printers to make sure they had selected the correct one and/or there was enough paper and toner before they declared the printer wasn’t working.  The IT department learned to love me since their support calls dropped off dramatically (and also because I regularly brought them offerings of triple-chocolate espresso cookies ;) ).

But my most memorable experience was when I came in early one morning, and found one of the graphic designers – a really nice but scary looking pierced/tattooed monster of a man who looked like he belonged in a motorcycle gang – sitting at my desk near tears.  Knowing I came in earlier than the other Creative staff, he had been waiting for me for the past 45 minutes  He had come in 2 hours earlier to finish up a project that was due by 12 noon, and “couldn’t get his computer to work”.  The screen was “all black” no matter how many times he rebooted.  The computer was also making “funny chugging sounds”.

As we walked to his desk, I started asking the usual questions about cables and power cords and such – he had checked everything.  I was beginning to think that maybe the hard drive was actually fried until I sat down and powered up his computer, saw the POST message and then the “chugging” started.

I shut the computer down and ejected a floppy disk from the A: drive.  The poor designer’s face was vacillating between utter relief and absolute mortification. I quickly rearranged the boot order and assured him I wouldn’t tell anyone. (And haven’t until today, over a decade later ;) )

[Picture Source: leyla.a (CC)]