April 18, 2001 7:05 AM   Subscribe

Helpdesk fun.
posted by dfowler (35 comments total)
That was really funny. I liked:

"When he tries to long on to lotus notes the hour glass pops up, and just pause the login script pops up, and is not receiving no error message."

Also, sometimes I wonder if people where I work are calling the helpdesk complaining about leisure stuff like they can't watch mpegs or hear any mp3's out of their speakers. "Metafilter just won't come up!" Are there really people that call asking to have "Quiketime" installed for them? I hate the word savvy, but clicking a link, I can do that.
posted by mblandi at 7:35 AM on April 18, 2001

I spit out my coffee, was laughing so hard...Fabulous!
posted by mapalm at 7:46 AM on April 18, 2001

Oh... my... God... That was funny.
posted by starvingartist at 7:48 AM on April 18, 2001

Brilliant. I want more.
posted by hijinx at 8:00 AM on April 18, 2001

That was good stuff. We had a woman come to our team as a print designer (read: no web experience). We all helped her in her conversion, and tried really hard to educate her in different techniques, etc. Much to our disappointment, however, she could never just "GET" anything. She used to call HTML pages "Dreamweaver Files." I can completely sympathize with this guy.
posted by Hankins at 8:06 AM on April 18, 2001

Oh, I can throw in a story, even though I'm not helpdesk.

Yesterday someone told me about a problem one of our clients was having. She was trying to use an application on our site, "but the window kept going behind everything and you know how that is, so she had no way of getting back to our site." Eh?

I opened up five IE windows to try to grasp some idea of what the problem was - figuring it was a case of having multiple browsers open. "No, not like that. It's when you visit a site and then the site becomes all covered with windows and you can't get back to it." Like this? "No. But she wanted to know if it was a problem with our site - would we even know if our site had a problem like that?"

I promptly got up, walked over to the wall, and drove a hole in it with my head.
posted by hijinx at 8:10 AM on April 18, 2001

Oh alien that was good. My asthma's playing up tonight and this violent laughing is hacking up my throat. Oh I'm going to die. Still, you get that.

One can understand consistant misspelling which is why that one made me cough solids.
posted by holloway at 8:18 AM on April 18, 2001

My favorite part is that the CaseID# is thirteen digits long. Thirteen. Way to prepare for the future! I wonder what they're going to do when they get the ten trillionth case.
posted by MarkAnd at 8:20 AM on April 18, 2001

You think this is bad, my BOSS writes memos like that. We spend hours trying to decode it all.
posted by Outlawyr at 8:34 AM on April 18, 2001

Have you seen Tech Support Who Knew? It's the blog rantings of someone who apparently works for a major ISP. Some funny stuff there as well.
posted by radio_mookie at 8:49 AM on April 18, 2001

Head and shoulders above all other helpdesk humor I've ever seen. I'm wondering what's up with all the 'havening', though. I guess George thinks that you add 'ning' to all verbs. I wonder if he's a native English speaker.
posted by darukaru at 9:38 AM on April 18, 2001

From the Faq:
I assure you, George is a native English speaker. He is 100% American. He was born and has for his entire life lived in Houston, TX.
posted by snowmelter at 9:46 AM on April 18, 2001

Props to the Houston educational system!
posted by acridrabbit at 9:48 AM on April 18, 2001

Maybe it's in the water?
posted by starvingartist at 9:57 AM on April 18, 2001

that was funny.

i am havening a good day now.
posted by o2b at 10:10 AM on April 18, 2001

fellow responsible for linked pages writes:

> You find there are generally two types of people who work
> desktop support--those who do it because they have no
> ambition and are lazy, and those who desperately want to
> be system administrators, but are too inexperienced. I
> am currently in the latter pool.

I'm only a few steps farther down the same road. After working helpdesk-only for a bit over two years I've just become an NT domain admin and also sysadmin of a departmental AIX server. Persevere, helpdesk isn't forever!

On the other hand, with the taste of many moons worth of garbled helpdesk tickets and confused users fresh in my mouth, I wonder a couple of things:

1) about "George" -- do a lot of people really have major problems getting what he's trying to say?

It's easy to poke fun at somebody's grammar and spelling but somehow I didn't have much trouble understanding what most of these tickets were about, or at least making an educated guess about what the problem might be.

For example the first one, " getting explannation mark on her anti norton virus service." OK, we understand, y'know. There's a little yellow splat superimposed on the Norton AV shield icon in her systray. Norton isn't happy. Well then -- on a network, NAV is surely being run on a server. So is the service running? Or perhaps is the "load Norton Antivirus services" box unchecked on the user's client? Or has someody disabled scans on the client? Or is the NAV client installation just hosed so that it needs to be un- and re-installed? You can check the server from your desk (or if you don't have rights, you can phone the network person who's responsible for NAV services.) You can check the configuration issues on the phone with the user ("Click the 'Start' button. Do you see the 'Programs' folder? Put the cursor on the 'Programs,' folder, OK, good so far. Do you see the 'Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition' folder? Great, put the cursor on that one. Now do you see the 'Norton Antivirus' icon? Great, click it once. Has the program screen appeared yet? Super. Now, do you see a little box labeled 'Load Norton AntiVirus Services'? Look carefully, take your time, nobody's rushing you. Does the box have a check mark in it? And while we're here, can you please tell me what's printed next to the words "Parent server:"? etc. etc.) Now, maybe none of these things is relevant to what the real problem is, but going only by George's trouble ticket, the above is what I'm mentally primed to try first. I'm tempted to conclude that the George pages amount no more than an instance of the Spelling Flame.

2) About the George pages author (who writes re. screenshot 15, "This is one of those problems where you go down to the user and say, "Okay, now, the Helpdesk wasn't very clear as to what's happening down here. Would you explain it to me from the beginning?") JFuller wants to know what's so hard about saying this?

Frankly, those phrases right there are my own Weapon Number One, I use them umpty times a day -- and I can't help noting that twenty-something months of calmly applying Weapon Number One is one of the main things that got me an NT domain administrator password and a Unix server to run. I can't help wondering how much closer this dude would be to, say, a Solaris or Redhat certification if he'd devoted all that funny-page-building time to homework instead.
posted by jfuller at 10:41 AM on April 18, 2001

I am diening with laughter.

You know, usually it's Stupid User stories, but har-de-har-har!
posted by briank at 10:42 AM on April 18, 2001

Wow. This made me count my blessings. I have some pretty frustrating users, but none of them can touch this guy.
posted by frykitty at 10:51 AM on April 18, 2001

wasn't there a thread a few months back about the link between bad spelling and grammar in email and the position within the organisation, with the worst email communicators being at the top?

The answer is simple then, George wants to be president of the company.
posted by mutagen at 11:23 AM on April 18, 2001

jfuller -- i think part of the guy's point is that poor George is Tier 1 support. it's george's job to make Tier 2's life easier. well, that's not quite the right word for it. Tier 1 support is supposed to do all the basic troubleshooting so Tier 2 doesn't have to.

everything in your Step One is great stuff. but it's stuff that Tier 1 is supposed to do.

what's amazing is that george has apparently been working there for over a year. i can't understand why he hasn't been fired for incompetence already.

although to be fair -- we are seeing only selected entries.
posted by fuzzygeek at 11:26 AM on April 18, 2001

Thats great... I have seen these George type characters in action before.

Scary isn't it?
posted by racer271 at 11:33 AM on April 18, 2001

> everything in your Step One is great stuff. but it's
> stuff that Tier 1 is supposed to do.

Difference in philosophy, I suppose. I basically don't trust anybody to do my problem diagnosis for me, especially not over the phone where they're limited to whatever info they can pry out of the user -- which, y'know, may not be the Best Information In The World.

I really wouldn't need anything more from George than he appears capable of giving. All I want from the folks who answer the phone is name of person with problem, department, and phone number, together with the naked fact that they've asked for help. If by chance something does come through the helpdesk loud and clear ("user says he's getting a spool32 illegal op when he tries to print from Acrobat v.4. No other application is having problems") that's just gravy -- and I still want to see the problem happen with my own eyes. Unlike mobs of IS support types I don't at all mind getting off my butt and going out and visiting users with problems. If an employer discourages this and insists that many or most helpdesk calls be closed over the phone then the quality of tech support will drop like a stone and it won't be either the helpdesk's fault or the users' fault. It will be the fault of the employer, because trying to do desktop support by ESP instead of by hands and eyeballs (i.e. this Tier 1 and Tier 2 business)is a 5 watt idea to begin with. It will cost more in festering, half-fixed problems and lost productivity than it will ever gain in immediate savings.
posted by jfuller at 12:05 PM on April 18, 2001

I've seen some really arrogant and unhelpful IT/techsupport people before, and some clueless users. And unfortunately, sometimes I fall into either category. Sure, there are just plain evil and stupid people out there, but more often than not there's something systemic going on--people are overworked, or the software really does suck, or someone is entering the wide world of computers and hasn't yet built up the same vocabulary that you have. I have an office assistant in our department who is really undermotivated, and freaks out the slightest changes in her system. She'll yell, "I hate this computer! I hate it!".

This after her user id in the novell login was supplanted temporarily with my own after I had installed something for her.

I would guess, (and I am playing pop psychologist here) that what she really hates is her inability to understand what is happening, at being forced to constantly learn new things at work, and of trying to learn a new language but not realizing that is what she has to do.

She has large scars on her wrists from a botched CTS operation.

Sure, she could engage in all sorts of "seven habits" behavior and change her life, her attitude, her knowledge level, but I don't think it's going to happen. How many people reinvent themselves in midlife? How many without college degrees do this? Change happens slow.

I've also been the "luser" on occasion, and gotten pissed off at the seeming arrogance and unhelpfulness of IT. Sometimes they're overworked, and sometimes they're jerks.

Has anyone ever experienced really good tech support before? The best support (what I should be doing more of) is teaching people, slowly and patiently. But that kind of work takes a long time, and people don't want to get taught, and you may have to re-image 70 machines that day, or there may be a virus outbreak . . .

Anyway, just thought I would vent about the recurring luser/IT meme.
posted by mecran01 at 12:13 PM on April 18, 2001

JFuller, I'm sure you're really cool and really good at your job, but I think the creator of the web page has a point. George's job is to write a trouble ticket, and George's trouble tickets are rife with incomprehensible mistakes, typos and misspellings. No matter what you think of the page creator's griping or the tacit disapproval you seem to have towards his work ethic, you have to admit, George is really bad at his job. Yeah, you can kind of puzzle out what problem the user might be having, but why should you have to put up with "havening" and "quike player" on trouble tickets? The creator of the web page probably wishes that George would just write down "name of person with problem, department, and phone number, together with the naked fact that they've asked for help".

And as for the comments about phone support, I have to say that frankly, I don't always want the IS guy to get off his butt and come over and do his psycho jinjitsu on my computer to make things happen; sometimes I just want to phone up and get a walkthrough on how to install the printer, so that the next umpty-million times I have to install printers, I'll know how to do it myself.
posted by Zettai at 12:15 PM on April 18, 2001

I wonder if George wears one of these?
posted by thatwhichfalls at 12:29 PM on April 18, 2001

I, too, shot soda onto my monitor reading this, but alas, I found that the person who mocks George so boldly has made a pretty newbie mistake on his site. In linking to some page explaining what sneakemail is (something the person uses to probably hide their address and prevent spamming) they inadvertently linked to a file on their local hard drive:

D:\Documents and Settings\perrin\My Documents\My Webs\myweb\sneakemail.htm.

Ooops. So much for "sneak."
posted by ltracey at 12:46 PM on April 18, 2001

> sometimes I just want to phone up and get a walkthrough
> on how to install the printer, so that the next umpty-
> million times I have to install printers, I'll know how
> to do it myself.

Helpdesk here. If your outfit gives you networked Laserjets with static IP addresses (a printer test page obtained from the printer front panel will tell you this) you can download the latest JetAdmin from HP and set up a printer port that goes direct from PC to printer via TCP/IP. Instructions in the download. This trick is especially useful if you're a Novell shop and your print queues and/or queue administrators tend to be flaky. End run around problem. P.S. If happen to you work for Athens Regional Medical Center in Athens GA, I didn't tell you this.
posted by jfuller at 1:13 PM on April 18, 2001

Zetta, I don't think JFuller wants to come and wave his chicken over your computer while you go grab a coffee, I think he wants to come, see the problem, and be able to explain it to you face-to-face, answer any successive questions you may have without dealing with ticketing bullcrap and actually be able to teach you something in the process.

My most common tech support technique (when I was doing it) was to sit with the user and have them do the work and the clicking, unless I learned that there was something seriously seriously wrong that only a chicken-waving ritual could fix. Then I'd tell them to go grab a cup of coffee.

But often as not, they would watch anyway and ask questions, to which I would do my best to answer. While I don't think it's a feasible way of doing tech support everywhere, if you're a helpdesk jockey in a reasonably small company, teaching the user is a much more efficient way of reducing your work load then being a master of voodoo.
posted by cCranium at 1:16 PM on April 18, 2001

I don't think JFuller wants to come and wave his chicken over your computer

I had to read this three times before I realized it wasn't supposed to sound as dirty as it did.

It's been a long day.
posted by Skot at 1:53 PM on April 18, 2001

> I had to read this three times before I realized it wasn't
> supposed to sound as dirty as it did.

Hey now! My chicken is as clean as they come.

posted by jfuller at 2:21 PM on April 18, 2001

My favorite confused user problem of late:

User: "I have this error on my machine. It says my Internet is not optimized and I am supposed to click OK"

Me: Uhhh, that's an Advertisement...
posted by internal at 2:38 PM on April 18, 2001

"about "George" -- do a lot of people really have major problems getting what he's trying to say?"

From page 5: "[User] would like to have access for her laptop login access multi user acces for that laptop and" [sic]
posted by CrayDrygu at 3:08 PM on April 18, 2001

This link is fitting for today's Suck column.
posted by redleaf at 4:55 PM on April 18, 2001

"That's his official diagnosis, by the way. No error messages, no description, just "hay wire". Perhaps I've seen too many movies, but when I read that a computer is going "hay wire", I immediately think that the damn thing has grown arms and is flinging office supplies at people."

I work for an office supply company and that made me laugh so hard i cried :)

Cheers for the link, it's made my day.
posted by Zool at 5:11 PM on April 18, 2001

My favorite confused user problem of late:

User: "I have this error on my machine. It says my Internet is not optimized and I am supposed to click OK"

Me: Uhhh, that's an Advertisement...

hey! i've gotten that call!
posted by fuzzygeek at 3:58 PM on May 4, 2001

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