A while back I worked at a company that had a large number of satellite campuses. Each site had all their own equipment, staff, server, etc. The larger sites would have a part time staff member or a tech on payroll that was given 10-15 hours a month in order to take care of any issues they had. For the small and medium sites, however, we’d just take the “techiest” person on staff and dub them the site tech. It went about as well as you’d expect, but it was better than nothing.
There was one “tech” though, that always made our days worse. He was a dedicated techs and thought he knew way more than he actually did, which is fairly common. I’d much rather work with a secretary who says they’ve never seen a router before than someone who has every cert under the sun on their email signature, but can’t use that knowledge in the real world.
Anyway, I digress…I call this guy up and say “Derp–the battery backup feeding the rack in your server room sent me an email this morning and is reporting bad batteries. I’ve ordered replacements at BatteryMart and gave them your name. Pick the batteries up when you can, print out the instructions I sent you (complete with pictures for each step), and change the batteries out before business hours.”
“No problem, inebriates!”
I’ll take a quick second and say that of my skills, documentation is the one that I take the most pride in. I actually enjoy writing up documentation and put a great deal of time into it. Knowing the audience is important in proper documentation…if the audience isn’t technical or has a history of being dummies, then I’d make sure to spell out every single detail and step. This is what I did in this case
The next day I get in and have a blatantly dickish message from him. “inebriates, you ordered the wrong batteries for our battery backup! They didn’t even fit in the slot. I wasted a whole morning trying to work through your mistake!”
Crap. Did I have something documented wrong?
I call him up, confirm that their model was the model I thought it was and start troubleshooting. So there’s two batteries right? And you put them together just like the instructions said? Does it look like this?
And I send him this picture.
Derp says, “Yeah, it looks kind of like that…but the ones you bought are wider and not as long.”
I have no idea what he’s getting at, so I ask him to take a picture and send it to me. The picture he sends me has the batteries together just like I had in my instructions…but he had been trying to force them in the wrong way. Kind of like if you were trying to put a DVD in your computer vertically instead of horizontally…
I say, “Turn the batteries 90 degrees and give it another shot.”
“I’ll be damned”, he says. “Your instructions never said what way the batteries had to be put back in.”