So you think you've got it bad?

The news group comp.unix.admin had a thread of Tech Support Disasters. Here it is. (Well, most of it.)

From: 75162.1330@compuserve.com (James Grigolite)
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 1996 00:29:16 GMT
Organization: CompuServe Incorporated
Message-ID: <4ccigr$70e@dub-news-svc-4.compuserve.com>

ttoews@agt.net (Tony Toews) wrote:

>gjduke@aol.com (GJDuke) wrote:

>>My company services equipment for the financial community (automation and
>>security of transactions).  

>Good story.

>Reminds me of the one about   Note: this may be a computer
>legend!

>Apparently some mainframe in Vancouver on the top floor of one of the
>tallest buildings woud go down every month or so.  But no rhyme or
>reason to it.  It wasn't time related.  After a year of this the IBM
>tech, who has an avid sailor, happened to look out a  window and
>noticed that it was one of those monthly tides, high tide maybe?  Got
>out an almanac, compared the times and it turned out to be some kind
>of a radar ship semi-permanently stationed out to sea.   And once a
>month the signal was close enough to the horizon to knock out the
>computer.  

>Now this one actually happened while I was on site.  Printer from IBM
>goes down.  Tech tries to help over the phone.  We are in northern
>British Columbia a mile from the Alaska border.   We replaced two
>fuses but still nothing.  He flies up the next day.  600 or 800 miles
>by regular 737 jet.  Then 100 miles on a Grumman Goose, the same plane
>you saw on Fantasy Island.  Tech checks printer and discovers he
>forgot about a third fuse.  He fixes it, looks out the door and sees
>the plane taking off back to Prince Rupert after it's regular 15
>minute stop.   So he really is stuck overnight with nothing to do for
>the rest of the day, and the next morning.  Whereupon he then gets
>back onto the little plane and the 737.

>So $700 or $1000 air fare, two days of a tech's time for a lousy fuse
>he forgot.

>Tony
>Tony Toews, Independent Computer Consultant
>Jack of a few computer related trades and master (or certified) of none.

I have to add my own, not as costly as yours but interesting.

I used to work for Lanier Business Products and did field service for
there word processors and printers. Got a call that everyday after
lunch this nice old lady's computer just ate another floppy disk with
all the work she had done that morning. I would go out run
diagnostics, no problem, next day same thing. I then went out and
replaced both floppies (DSDD 360kb, yeah!), after lunch same problem.
I went back out with the O'scope and manually aligned the drives
exactly the same (not recommended), next day the same problem!! So,
the next day I know it is going to happen so I arrange with the nice
lady (who is not so nice with me anymore) to meet her outside the
building, go back to her computer and show me the problem. I do
exactly this, we walk to her desk and she sits down at her computer.
She then takes her diskette THAT HAS BEEN PINNED TO THE DOCUMENT
HOLDER WITH A MAGNET and proves to me that it is still broke. Oh boy,
did I take a ribbing.

James Grigolite...St. Bernard Tech Support
www.stbernard.com


From: jsollows@direct.ca (Jim Sollows)
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 1996 17:07:09 GMT
Organization: Internet Direct
Message-ID: <4ced4o$gea@grid.direct.ca>


Here's a couple for you....

I was making routine service call to a company. Having just corrected
some software problems on one of their machines I was on the way out
the door. I happened to notice a 5.25" diskette stuck to the side of a
file cabinet with a magnet. I casually asked "What's on the floppy?"
"The year end accounting records, my boss said not to loose them
because it's the only copy we have". 

I was on the phone with a lady who was having problems installing some
software. It was straight forward enough but she sounded extreemly
frustrated. She kept saying that she couldn't get past installing disk
2. I said insert the first disk and type install. She complied and
said it worked ok. I said insert the second disk and hit any key. She
complied but said it makes "funny sounds" and nothing happens. I asked
her to take that disk out and put disk one back in. "Oh you mean I am
supposed to take OUT the first disk before I put in the second!!" was
her astonished reply.



From: brooks@bizauto.com (Brooks Hilliard)
Date: Thu, 04 Jan 1996 03:24:07 GMT
Organization: Business Automation Associates
Message-ID: <4cfhtk$ips@ixnews6.ix.netcom.com>


I was a product manager for a maker of intelligent terminals back in
the early 70s (they were precursors to PCs: having a cpu, about 64K
RAM, mono CRT video display, keyboard and random-access cassette
drives for storage . . . yes, you read it right, random-access
cassette drives . . . these babies were the biggest mechanical
nightmares ever invented, but this was B.F., before floppies).

As a collateral duty I managed Field Service (which included answering
the phone to take service calls as this was a very small company).
One day I got a phone call from a town utility office about 70 miles
away from our offices where they had installed about 5 of our units to
do the town's utility billing.  This place was known as the "old lady
farm" among my field service techs (2 of them, plus some folks off the
manufacturing line when needed) because all of the operators were
little old ladies and all were afraid of the computers.  

The complaint that day was that all 5 of their computer screens had
gone dead on the same day after several months (all of them) of
getting progressively dimmer.  The ladies said they had been turning
up the brightness more and more of the past weeks, but they were now
at the max and even that wasn't working any more.

I trotted out all the usual suspects: not plugged in, etc., but none
of the "normal" problems was working that day so, reluctantly (since
both my normal FEs were on service calls outside the city), I
persuaded the mfg. VP (and inventor and company co-founder) to give me
someone off the manufacturing line to drive down there to fix the
machines.  I also persuaded him to give me the parts (also off the
mfg. line) to take down there to fix the machines.

BTW this was winter in Boston and although there was no snow that day,
the roads were none to good.  Anyway mfg line guy drove down (about
1-1/2 hours each way) and found a very unusual problem.

See, what I haven't told you is that in front of all the CRTs was a
flip-up smoked plexiglas shield to prevent glare.  The combo of the
CRT and the plexiglas created a wicked static electricity field . . .
and that attracted dust.  You've figured it out now, of course,
nothing was wrong with the video components at all . . . the dust had
just built up and up progressively over the months dimming the
characters until they finally disappeared altogether.  The fix was
accomplished with Windex.


--
Brooks Hilliard, Principal, Business Automation Associates
Independent I.S. consulting and expert witness services
Phoenix, Arizona 
E-mail: baai@ix.netcom.com  / URL: www.bizauto.com


From: damercer@mmm.com (Dan Mercer)
Date: 5 Jan 1996 18:45:52 GMT
Organization: ClearSystems, Inc
Message-ID: <4cjrl0$h9@dawn.mmm.com>


I worked for a company that was big in the IBM communications arena.
One of our major customers got all bent out of shape because our
overseas comm link started throwing tons of errors.  He suspected
our software,  because the outage happened every Friday after 3
and lasted till early Monday.  We had just fixed a problem with
some of our software which was crashing when it did periodic record
compiling,  so they considered us the likely culprits.  Our guy
arrives on site Monday afternoon and puts in several all nighters
without finding a thing.  It's Friday afternoon,  people are starting
to leave for the weekend,  and he's just been told to stay put for the
duration,  whatever that is.  He's gazing wistfully out the window
watching a bunch of workers gathering in the parking lot below.  They
dig out a cooler of beer and start drinking.  Then,  one guyu finishes
his beer and he and another guy start going one-one-one with the
empty.  Swish,  the guy hooks the can into the satellite dish,  and
our system console behind our analyst starts to chatter with errors.
It takes him about ten minutes to locate the now very pissed off and
very rude managers who think he and our company are incompetent.  By
the time he gets them back to the data room,  the dish is half full of
cans (which one of the guys would clean out on Monday).  The execs all
turn red and stalk off without a word of apology.  Real class.

Course,  by this time our execs have left for the day,  so the analyst
gets stranded for the weekend anyway.


--
Dan Mercer
Reply To:  damercer@mmm.com

Opinions expressed herein are my own and may not represent those of 3M.


From: "Richard K. Glover"
Date: 6 Jan 1996 00:33:44 GMT
Organization: Telecommunications Services
Message-ID: <4ckg18$h0u@eccdb1.pms.ford.com>


Here's one I experienced a few years ago;

I was working on a help desk for a restaurant company that 
owns a mexican fast food chain (no, not Taco Bell).

I needed to have the restaurant manager execute a particular program to 
solve his problem (I was talking to him over the phone), and successfully 
had him select the appropriate item on the menu.  When the confirmation 
window came up with the "Are you sure...?" message, I needed him to press 
the letter "Y" for "Yes".  Sound easy?  I ask him to press "Y".  He 
tells me he doesn't know what I mean (and saying he spoke broken 
english would be way too generous).  "The letter, 'Y', I respond."  
Still doesn't get it (at this point I was wishing I'd taken Spanish 
instead of French in High School).  After going back and forth, talking 
to several different employees, I resorted to directing them to other 
letters on the keyboard, and slowly moving them toward the letter "Y".  
I thought I had the problem solved when I was able to get someone to 
recognize the letter "T".  "Press the key to the right of the "T", I 
asked.  "E?", they replied.  Argggh!  So I tried from above.  "Try the 
key below 'seis' (sic) and 'sietie' (sic) (mustering the limits of my 
spanish-speaking capabilities).  "Press, "E?", they replied.  I could 
tell I was getting nowhere.  My last resort was to decribe what the 
letter "Y" looked like.  After about 1/2 hour-45 minutes, Success!  I 
was to learn later that day (when our bilingual analyst arrived) that you 
pronounce the letter "Y" like "E" in Spanish.





From: ttoews@microage-ll.awinc.com (Tony Toews)
Date: Sat, 06 Jan 1996 00:54:29 GMT
Organization: A & W Internet Inc.
Message-ID: <4ckh6n$7mk@kryten.awinc.com>


damercer@mmm.com (Dan Mercer) wrote:

>I worked for a company that was big in the IBM communications arena.
> By
>the time he gets them back to the data room,  the dish is half full of
>cans (which one of the guys would clean out on Monday).  

Good story!

>The execs all
>turn red and stalk off without a word of apology.  Real class.

That's terrible.  The client's are real jerks.  I'da shook your guys
hand, thanked him very much, and bought him a case of beer.

>Course,  by this time our execs have left for the day,  so the analyst
>gets stranded for the weekend anyway.

Even worse.  You mean he had to hang around there all weekend anyhow?
Now that sucks big time.

Tony

Tony Toews, Independent Computer Consultant
Jack of a few computer related trades and master (or certified) of none.



From: genew@mindlink.bc.ca (Gene Wirchenko)
Date: Sat, 06 Jan 1996 05:42:05 GMT
Organization: MIND LINK! - British Columbia, Canada
Message-ID: <4cl2bq$od7@fountain.mindlink.net>


Dear Fellow Ravens of the Support Battlefield:

1)   One time a client of the company I was working for had a problem
with his A/R system.  He said that after running the end of period,
the old transactions were still there.  I said no way that could be,
but my boss insisted that I check it in the office.  I did.  No error.
So they sent me out there.  I ran it with no problem.

     Then I asked the client to do it so I could see what was wrong.
He went through the process.  At the end, he put the old month's data
in B:.  (This was a floppy based system.)

     Aha, etc. as I told him he had it wrong.  He said he did it
according to the manual.  I didn't believe him.  He got it out and
showed me the part.  He was wrong and I said so: it says to do foo.
He said that it said to do bar.  I looked at it to show him exactly
how he had gotten it wrong.

     That's when I discovered that the wording was ambiguous and it
could be taken both ways.  I, knowing how the software worked under
the hood, had taken it the way that was meant and the client had
picked the other legitimate interpretation.

2)   Another time, when I was freelancing, a client called me up
saying that a program I had written wasn't working right.  As it had
been doing just fine for months, I was suspicious.  When I got in, I
checked it out thoroughly, carefully looking for the error.  At last,
I came to the great conclusion: there was nothing wrong with the
program.  I told the client and that's when I found out he had been up
until 2:30 AM the night before.  He did pay me for my time.

3)   The old Peachtree 4 accounting system (written in BASIC) which
was the system in use in the above entries had a few interesting
features.  I found about these doing support and learning the insides
for doing support.

a)   There was a collection of routines for handling ISAM data files.
One of these routines was "Create MARIS File" (MARIS: Multi-ARray
ISam).  It had a long list of parameters to set before calling.  It
was a useful though short routine.  In all of the G/L, A/R, and A/P
systems that used MARIS, this routine was called a grand total of ZERO
times.  Whenever it was necessary to create a MARIS file, the
Peachtree programmers went under the hood and did it themselves.
There was no reason why to this; the routine would've worked fine.

b)   There was a program for repairing an ISAM data file that hadn't
been closed properly.  If you ran the program with a data file that
had only one master record, the repaired data file was corrupt.  This
happened even if the original file was correct.  The end of period
generated an incorrect data file in the same situation of one master
record.  When the Peachtree software was ported to the IBM pc, the
bugs were still there.

4)   I was working with a retailer at one point.  He got a call from a
client, an important client.  The client said that their computer
system was broken.  Retailer said to take his car and go out there.  I
said that maybe it was something that could be handled over the phone,
but he insisted that I go and right then.  Fine, it'll be a nice
drive.

     When I walked in, I confirmed what they had said and then went to
it.  I booted the system and typed a few commands.
     It was working fine and I said so.
     I was told that it was the word processor.  I started WordStar
and created a sample doc.
     It was working fine and I said so.
     I was told that it was in the printing.  I printed my doc.
     It was working fine and I said so.
     I was told that it wasn't underlining right.  I added underlining
to my doc and printed it.
     It was working fine and I said so.
     Then it came out that it wasn't underlining between words.  True
enough, the 8-bit WordStar was that way.  I worked out a kludge to get
around it.
     No underlining between words was reported as that the computer
was broken.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

C Pronunciation Guide:
     y=x++;     "wye equals ex plus plus semicolon"
     x=x++;     "ex equals ex doublecross semicolon"


From: herbr@netcom.com (Herb Rosenberg)
Message-ID: <herbrDKtq2G.E9s@netcom.com>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 1996 18:30:16 GMT


A few years ago, we had some of our branch offices backing up some 
essestial data files unto a floppy disk, and then sending theses 
diskettes into the home office, for archival.

I had one of my techs prepare a procedure that we sent out to the 
branches with step by step instructions on how to copy the data to a 
floppy, label the floppy, write protect the floppy, and them ship it back 
to use in a protective mailing envelope.

What a laugh we had one morning, when we opened a batch of diskettes 
from  one of the branch offices.  The envelope was opened and each 
diskette had the words "PROTECT THE FLOPPY" written on it in pink magic 
marker!

-- 
herbr@netcom.com


From: "Loren J. MacGregor"
Organization: The Churn Works
Message-ID: <30F01A27.46C1@greenheart.com>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 1996 19:08:23 GMT


James Grigolite wrote:
> 
> She then takes her diskette THAT HAS BEEN PINNED TO THE DOCUMENT
> HOLDER WITH A MAGNET and proves to me that it is still broke. Oh boy,
> did I take a ribbing.

I had the same thing occur at Blue Shield many years ago.  Gentleman said 
he *always* stuck his disks to the metal wall with an industrial magnet 
and he'd NEVER had a problem before.  

Years ago, the hospital for which I was then working installed a mini in 
the front lobby, behind the receptionist's desk.  After a great deal of 
work, they'd finally managed to get ALL the records from the hospital's 
five years of operation, plus MOST of the records from the previous 
incarnation of the hospital, catalogued and encoded.

Because the receiptionist also dealt with sales people and repairmen, 
directing them to the proper departments, these people were used to 
putting their equipment down on top of the mini while they got her to 
sign whatever paperwork was necessary.

One day someone came to repair the x-ray macine and, as usual, put the 
bundle of old parts on top of the mini, got his paperwork signed, picked 
up the junked equipment, and left.

Somewhat later, the receptionist tried to enter some data and found that 
the entire system had been wiped.  It took us quite a while to track back 
the sequence of events to that described above, to check with the x-ray 
tech, and to discover that what he'd removed and replaced with the core 
-- an industrial magnet weighing about 50 pounds.  

-- LJM


From: ravi_ch@hboc.com (Ravi Kumar)
Date: 8 Jan 1996 20:25:33 GMT
Organization: HBOC
Message-ID: <4crujt$cfj@isg.hboc.com>

In article <4ckg18$h0u@eccdb1.pms.ford.com>, ford!rglover3@gtwy.ford.com says...
>
>Here's one I experienced a few years ago;

[Deleted]

>After about 1/2 hour-45 minutes, Success!  I 
>was to learn later that day (when our bilingual analyst arrived) that you 
>pronounce the letter "Y" like "E" in Spanish.

A good one.  Have you ever tried to explain to computer illiterate to
type a "~" character??  Once I had to get extremely creative to communicate
how to type "~" character

1.  Type the 'tilde' char - No luck...
    'Tilde..sounds funny.. a chuckle on the other end'
2.  Type the 'sleeping "s" character...looks curly'- No luck
3.  Type the character that looks like a 'wave' - No luck
4.  Type the char that looks like a 'sine wave..analog signal' - No luck
5.  Type the shift + key which has a backward quote - It degenrates to what is
    a 'backwards quote'??  Big mistake..Now I have to explain "~" as well as "`"
6.  Shift + Left most character in 2nd row of your keyboard - Different Key board.
7.  Finally I had her type all non-alpha numeric and read back everything
    she typed and then help her identify the "~" char.
    
    She calls it the 'yin-yang' symbol...How silly of me?

It is good 15 minute rigamarole and I was never irritated so much in my entire
life.

Ravi


From: leemarsh@ix.netcom.com(Lee Marsh )
Date: 8 Jan 1996 21:19:06 GMT
Organization: Netcom
Message-ID: <4cs1oa$2dt@ixnews8.ix.netcom.com>

The Older Story:

About #%$@# years ago I was working as IBM mainframe cobol maintenance
program supporting a shared hospital accounting system.  This system
did all the patient accounting for around 20 hospitals.  The system
allowed the clerks to flag individual account for tranfer from "bad
debt" to a tape to be sold to a collection agency and written off. 
From time to time the accountant would ask that we flag a group of
accounts for tranfer.  For example all account under 10 dollars, all
account under 50 dollars with no payments in 90 days, all accounts with
no payments for 180 day, etc.  The hospital would run
aged-trial-balances before and after to verify the value of the
accounts deleted from bad-debt and tranfered.  One hospital made such a
request,  I code the the neccessary patch to the nightly update,
compiled the program, and it ran that night.  

The following morning the hospitals representative called angry the I
had corrupted all of their accounts.  He stated that instead of
tranfering the accounts and deleting them that I must have duplicated
something.  He said his bad debt had risen from 6 million to 9 million.
 I spent the rest of the morning with an angry suppervisor checking
every step I had take to program the tranfer.  Neither of us could
locate the error.  Just as a check I ran a brief report of the befor
and condition of the accounts file.  We found the error.  

Evidently the ATB indicated that the bad debt was 6 million dollars and
change; when it ran afterwards it did indicate that the bad debt had
grown to 9 million and change.  My reports said I delete 7 million in
bad debt. As it turned out the ATB only had room on the report for 9
digits.  The hospital real bad debt balance was 16 million.  

The hospital had been alerted the year before when the reports field
rolled over.

Apologies were accepted.  The hospital went bankrupt 3 months later.

The Newer Story:

Two years ago after upgrading from mini-based system to a PC/Network
based system an office called our helpdesk saying the couldn't get any
thing to run.  Why?  The couldn't find the "Any" key that the program
kept asking them to press to continue.

The Other Newer Story.

Our hardware support team had just replaced a defective monitor in an
office with an new monitor and it kept getting distortions.  Since they
had just replaced it they gave it to my teams since it must be a memory
managment problem (ie. they didn't know what was wrong with the
hardware so it must be software).  My tech went up an looked at the
system and returned 15 minutes later having fixed it.  Evidently before
the hardware tech arrived the user would clean off her desk to allow
him easier access.  After he left she would replace her stuff back on
the desk,  including the nice little circulation fan that she set on
top of the monitor.  It's motor created just enough magnetic field to
distort the screen.


From: jaw@op.net (Jeff Weisberg)
Date: 4 Jan 1996 12:36:37 -0500
Message-ID: <4ch375$5lb@monet.op.net>
Organization: OpNet -- Greater Philadelphia Internet Service

The following showed up in this morning's mail to help,
it just had to be shared

| Also, whats with the 1%, 3%..... at the shell prompt.  I thought I was 
| paying for unlimited access.


	--jeff


From: hgupta@panix.com (Himanshu Gupta)
Date: 10 Jan 1996 01:48:44 -0500
Organization: PANIX Public Access Internet and UNIX, NYC
Message-ID: <4cvngc$si9@panix2.panix.com>

I have a few funny but true stories. Some of these are stories I have 
heard from other installers who work with me, so they ARE second-hand.

1. While installing PC's on desks for a company, the secretary asks if we 
can get her an IBM PS/2 in pink!

2. Another site, an executive calls us saying his PC won't power on. We 
had just installed it the night before and had downloaded all the 
software to it, and connected it to our network, so we knew it was 
working. Well, it was possible the device was faulty and something blew. 
My partner and I went to his office, and we ask the executive what 
exactly was the problem. He picks up the mouse, points it toward the LED 
on the monitor and says, "the remote won't turn the thing on" while 
pressing the mouse button, and the he further adds, "which light am I 
supposed to point to [referring to the LED on the computer]?"

3. This is an older story I heard about from one of our System/36
analysts: They sent a software update pack of 7 diskettes (those 8 inch
ones) out to a site with a S/36. The person on site was also sent a set of
instructions on how to run the install/update. The secretary (person
performing the upgrade) called us saying that only 3 of the disks can go. 
the analyst went over the instructions with her, and she had 
performed the install exactly as the instructions had said. Our office 
then suspected that the DASDI (hard disk) was full, and she had too many 
unanswered messages causing a large message file. They dialed in to the 
S/36 and found ample room for the update. We went over the instructions 
again with her and when we came to the part"put in Disk 1-7 in the drive" 
she said that the first three were already in. We were still unclear what 
she meant until we realized that she had put in 3 disks into the floppy 
drive simultaneously, thus jamming up the drive. Ibm had too be 
dispatched to repair the machine.

4. Another 2nd-hand story: Our office had sent out a brand new computer 
running OS/2  and Comm Manager/2, pre-configured to a site. Well, on 
getting the machine, the user set it up (pretty easy -- we had marked all 
connectors & cables). We called us saying that the keyboard was 
weird...everytime he typed in a letter, he got the wrong letter on the 
screen. Well, we checked to make sure the keyboard was plugged in 
correctly, and it gave no error during the POST. Then we figured that the 
keyboard mapping was wrong, or the file was corrupt, so we sent him a 
bootable diskette with a new file, that would self-install. After the 
install went thru correctly, he still had the same problem. So we decided 
to cross-ship him a new keyboard. On getting the new keyboard (he was in 
a time-zone ahead of us) he still had the same problem. We decided to 
check his old keyboard, as we thought that the next problem would have to 
be a motherboard or keyboard BIOS problem. On opening his package, we saw 
that he removed all the key caps and arranged them in an alphabetic order 
(you can do that in IBM Keyboards...the keyboard has removable caps)!

==HG



From: itrc@igc.apc.org (Tim Mills-Groninger)
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 96 15:49:35 GMT
Organization: Information Technology Resource Center
Message-ID: <4d5opi$ocs@igc.apc.org>


A sister agency of ours had a foriegn intern working for them.  Support staff 
kept reffering to an a obnoxious employee at one of their clients sites as 
"Shit for Brains," as in, "Shit for Brains called and can't plug in the 
keyboard, someone will have to go out there..."

The intern became a regular member of the support team and gradually increased 
his customer contact.  One day someone asked him to fax something to SfB, but 
forgot to specify that he should translate the cover sheet to the correct 
name.  No such luck, and someone saw the cover sheet made out to "Shit for 
Brains."  The office was frantic, but they decided to sit it out and see what 
kind of response they got.  SfB called the next day on another problem, not 
mentioning the fax at all.  Everyone was puzzled.

A week or two later, after a site visit, they learned that clerk who received 
the fax knew who it was meant for, and just removed the cover page, and put 
the remaining fax in his box.  Everyone in the client office had the same 
opinion of SfB as the support company.




From: budatwork@aol.com (BudAtwork)
Date: 12 Jan 1996 11:57:54 -0500
Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)
Message-ID: <4d63ui$ij1@newsbf02.news.aol.com>


>kept reffering to an a obnoxious employee at one of their clients sites
as 
>"Shit for Brains," as in, "Shit for Brains called and can't plug in the 
>keyboard, someone will have to go out there..."

>The intern became a regular member of the support team and gradually
increased 
>his customer contact.  One day someone asked him to fax something to SfB,
but 
>forgot to specify that he should translate the cover sheet to the correct

>name.  No such luck, and someone saw the cover sheet made out to "Shit
for 
>Brains."  The office was frantic, but they decided to sit it out and see
what 
>kind of response they got.  SfB called the next day on another problem,
not 
>mentioning the fax at all.  Everyone was puzzled.

>A week or two later, after a site visit, they learned that clerk who
received 
>the fax knew who it was meant for, and just removed the cover page, and
put 
>the remaining fax in his box.  Everyone in the client office had the same

>opinion of SfB as the support company

We had a similar situation with a client that just would not let you off
the phone.  He would routinely call support with very stupid basic
problems and would keep you on the line for hours.  He became known in the
support group as "Dip Shit'.  One day he was working with one of our
senior techs on an ongoing problem and called for a follow-up at which
time the junior tech put the reciver down (left the line open), got the
senior tech and told him that the client was on the line.  The senior tech
said to the junior, "OK, i'll talk to Dip Shit in your Cube".  He picked
up the line and said "hello, This is W------ " The client responded, "Hi,
this is dip shit!



From: Andrew Chesterton
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 1996 19:02:44 +0000
Organization: Praxis
Message-ID: <1244021996527ntc@praxiss.demon.co.uk>


My company provided a real time control system for a manufacturing
company. The operators used color graphic displays linked to a PLC
(Programmable Logic Controller) to control the various items of machinery.
Once the plant was running, no operator intervention was necessary unless
a fault occurred.

We received a report that from Monday to Friday the system would
automatically shut the system down between 17:00 and 18:00. We were
baffled. There was no means of automatically shutting the system down on a
timed basis.

So we visited the site. Diary as follows :-

17:00 - Plant Running normally
17:05 - Operator goes for his tea break.
17:15 - Cleaning lady arrives.
17:16 - Cleaning lady cleans computers and screen.
17:16 - Plant stops.

Yep, we were using touch screens for control of the plant. It was a
miracle that the cleaning lady was left handed. If she was right handed
she would have almost certainly initiated an emergency shut down which
takes several days to clean up the mess.

Andy Chesterton
-----------------------------------------------------------------
PraxSoft - Practical Software for EDP Auditors
Publishers of The Auditor Software Package.
Have you looked inside your PC lately?
Is it all still there?          Call us on +44 (0)1226 761143
---------------------------------------------------------------




From: ttoews@microage-ll.awinc.com (Tony Toews)
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 1996 06:51:47 GMT
Organization: A & W Internet Inc.
Message-ID: <4d7kor$m2o@kryten.awinc.com>


tekkie@enter.net (Tekkie) wrote:

>#1 Our S/36 operator gets an update. It says to load the floppies. She puts 
>them in the drive and hits the big LOAD button...

At least the S/36 had a recessed power switch.  Janitor's dusting our
S/34 which has a small power switch which sticks out 1/8".  He's
looking at the terminal over the operator's shoulder and ... yup.
Interrupted a four hour run which had to be restored from backup and
rerun.

Tony
Tony Toews, Independent Computer Consultant
Jack of a few computer related trades and master (or certified) of none.




From: hantanja@xs4all.nl (Han Kalsbeek and Tanja Dekker)
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 1996 00:39:19 GMT
Organization: XS4ALL, networking for the masses
Message-ID: <4d6usn$gn1@news.xs4all.nl>


We had a complaint from a user about blancs suddenly appearing in her
typing. She told us that whenever she types and looks at her monitor
nothing happens. But when she looks away over her right shoulder,
blancs suddenly appear on the screen. It took us quite a while to find
out what the problem was. Then we realized that her heavy breasts hit
the space bar.

In another instance a man came to the system manager asking to speak
to the Lan Manager he had heard so much about lately.

In the Netherlands we have a favorite story about how to recognize if
your computer has been used by a Belgian. You'll find white-out on the
screen (it's just a story).




From: John Savage
Date: 15 Jan 1996 21:14:10 +1100
Organization: Gumleaf Smoke Signals Telegraph Co.
Message-ID: <4dd9di$nfi$1@sydney.DIALix.oz.au>


Some decades back, schools here in NSW suddenly found themselves the
proud owners of brand-spanking-new government issue computers -- and
with no idea how to use them.  After some initial hesitation, one
particular primary school summoned their collective wisdom and
fearlessly plunged headlong into the dizzying world of high tech ...

In no time at all the regional support tech had to be summoned, and
as his van drew into the schooyard, the harried technician was met
by a bespectacled 10-year-old who announced, "They're all mad here. I
*TOLD* them it wouldn't work, but no one would listen to me."

It seems that the bottleneck to everyone's mastery of the newfangled
gadget was the keyboard -- and the way its alphabet is strewn around
all over the place in a chaotic manner than none could follow. So the
teacher's had a brainwave ... and remedied the problem by prising all
the plastic buttons off the alphabetic keys and glueing them back on
in neat alphabetical order.

They took a bit of convincing that this could possibly be the cause
of their machines' crazy behaviour.

----

Another serviceman reported taking a call from a school principal
who informed him, "We think we've broken our BASIC."

Further questions ensued, but I think I can encapsulate it as:

* Stop *
  Break at Line 237

--
John Savage               koala@sydney.dialix.com.au



From: johnmc@sb.com.au
Date: 17 Jan 1996 08:08:13 GMT
Organization: OzEmail Pty Ltd - Australia
Message-ID: <4diapd$n22@oznet07.ozemail.com.au>


In article <4ckg18$h0u@eccdb1.pms.ford.com>, ford!rglover3@gtwy.ford.com 
says...
>Here's one I experienced a few years ago;
>[snip]


Here's one that I believe has happened more than once:

A user rings the support desk and says that s/he is having trouble with a 
floppy disk. The techie fobs him/her off by saying that "I can't do anything 
for you without a copy of the disk". Next day an envelope arrives through the 
company's internal mail - it contains two pieces of paper, being photocopies 
of the front and back of the floppy. Under pressure from his/her boss, the 
techie rings up the user and explains (gently) why photocopies are of no use. 
The conversation closes with the assertion by the techie that "what I need is 
the actual disk". Next day another envelope arrives through the company's 
internal mail - it contains a small metallic disk. Obviously the user has 
taken the previous day's conversation to heart, because it takes a fair amount 
of effort to pull a floppy apart and get the disk out...



From: Sally Woolrich
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 96 09:58:20 GMT
Organization: Excelsis
Message-ID: <821872700snz@excelsis.demon.co.uk>


Someone rang and said "I'm trying to log in but when I type 'fred' it
says 'fred not found'"!  Answer - they were already logged in!

Somerang and said "It's stopped".  I said "is there an error message
on the screen?".  She said "no".  I asked her to read what was on
the screen out which went "error....."

-- 
============================================================================
Sally Woolrich                    |          This mail contains my personal
sally@excelsis.demon.co.uk        |          views not those of my employer!
============================================================================



From: amtexspt@telos.ca (L. Howard)
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 17:44:54 GMT
Organization: Amtex Software Corporation
Message-ID: <4dllt0$pp2@telos1.telos.ca>


I've been working in Technical Support for 4 years now
in a games software development company.  I think I can add to
this thread of events.

1.  I had a lady who had installed one of our CD ROM games and was
getting a very common memory error.  I told her "You are experiencing
a memory problem that can easily be fixed by creating a clean boot
disk.  Do you have a blank disk that fits in your drive A:"  The phone
was silent then I heard a small voice say "I have no idea what you are
talking about."  So again I said, "Do you have a disk that fits in
drive A?"  "I still have no idea what you are talking about," she
claims.  "I don't know what a disk is, or this drive A you are talking
about."  It took me 15 minutes to describing the "slot" on the "box"
(no, no, not the monitor or "picture box") with the "little flappy
thing" covering it is the A drive.  All told, I think this call was
approx. 2 hours and my forehead was bruised from smacking my head on
the table.  How she got the game installed in the first place still
remains a mystery.

2.  I have a friend who works for a company selling fax software who
shared this story with me.  A gentleman called saying the program
wasn't working.  He went through all the customary memory checks,
program configuration, modem configuration and installation and
everything checked out.  He was at wits end when he thought "OK, let's
start from the very beginning.  Check the connection from the phone
line to your modem."  The gentleman said "Phone line??  You mean I
have to plug this thing into the phone line??  I thought these "%&!@#"
modems worked by satellite!!"

3.  A call came from a man who had just purchased one of our games and
was totally baffled how to play the game.  I asked if he had the
manual and the other pieces of the product in the package.  "Yeah,
it's all here."  "OK, take the disk marked "disk #1" and place it in
your computer."  "COMPUTER!!! You have to have a computer to play this
game???"

4.  Most commonly said phrase by someone calling for Technical Support
"But it works with everything else." This line is used for every
thing, video, memory, sound, Windows, mouse etc.  If I had a dime for
every time I heard this line, Iíd be a millionaire.  Just once I would
like to say back "I guess you canít say that now, can you!"

Laura Howard
amtexspt@telos.ca





From: cbickfor@MCS.COM (Chris Bickford)
Date: 19 Jan 1996 09:41:54 -0600
Organization: Not if I can help it.
Message-ID: <4doe42$c36@Mercury.mcs.com>


In article <4dllt0$pp2@telos1.telos.ca>, L. Howard  wrote:
>I've been working in Technical Support for 4 years now
>in a games software development company.  I think I can add to
>this thread of events.

I work for a firm that sells cross-platform middleware.  I've had some
interesting expereinces, especially when I try to support someone on a
OS that they never use.  Despite working with IS professionals, I still
hear a lot of 'it doesn't work and I didn't change anything'

A couple of more interesting anecdotes:

1 - Someone called in and said, "Whenever I send a file larger than 'n'
it fails."  Well, the person who took this call asked if there are any
errors.  "No."  Could you run the command again?  Once the command
failed, the person on the call asked if there were any messages.  "Well,
there's something about queue time exceeded, but that's not important."
(this was on a MVS system).  The person on the call explained how this
could be a problem.

2 - I get a call from some people locally.  They are currently on an
AS/400, and passed through to another machine in Boston.  There is an
OS/2 machine in Canada that does not work.  The Canada office is closed, 
but it has to be fixed.  We ended up spending two hours remotely running
commands, sending the output to a file, then retreiving the file and
reading it on the remote AS/400.  I don't remember the error, just the
joy of finally figuring out what went wrong.  This after running a
command, displaying the history for the command to a file (we log a
event history), retreiving the history, reading it, changing files on
the OS/2 machine, then repeating the cycle.

3 - Another one was where files larger than 'n' failed to go across,
sometimes.  After a bit of experimentation, it was determined that /tmp
was overrun.  Teaching an AS/400 programmer about UN*X so I could find
this out was an interesting thing.  "O.k., pipe the output to a file."
"What?"  "Um, type in vertical bar foo." "Vertical bar?"  "The one above
the backslash." "Question mark?" "The one above the enter key." "Oh.
What's that for?"
I decided that it would be easier to have him use 'vi' mode command line
typing to recall commands.  So I had to explain that.

-- 
Chris Bickford        | Strange how laughter looks like crying with no
Systems Administrator | sound.  Raindrops taste like tears without the
and High Grade Flunky | pain. - Queensryche, "Another Rainy Night"
cbickfor@{mcs,kn}.com | http://www.mcs.net/~cbickfor



From: Amir Dekel
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 1996 17:26:04 +0200
Organization: NetVision LTD.
Message-ID: <3103AC8C.5F71@netvision.net.il>


L. Howard wrote:

> 2.  I have a friend who works for a company selling fax software who
> shared this story with me.  A gentleman called saying the program
> wasn't working.  He went through all the customary memory checks,
> program configuration, modem configuration and installation and
> everything checked out.  He was at wits end when he thought "OK, let's
> start from the very beginning.  Check the connection from the phone
> line to your modem."  The gentleman said "Phone line??  You mean I
> have to plug this thing into the phone line??  I thought these "%&!@#"
> modems worked by satellite!!"

Well, I have a great Modem story for you all:
My company gives Internet Access and Tech Support and we have incredible 
calls. The best so far was a guy who called and said he had installed 
the software package and gone through all the instructions but still 
cannot connect. He keeps getting I/O errors and doesn't get to the 
login: prompt.
So we guided him all the way through selecting the correct modem port 
for the software he was using. After all this he asks - "What is a 
modem?" So we explained that it is the card in the computer that lets 
him connect via the phone line. This was a warning.
The guy had no modem installed and was trying to connect to the net!!!
So we asked him how he was thinking of getting connected:
"I put the phone on top of the computer and try dialing !!!"

This is a true story, I am not kidding, This is not a lie.
 
-------------------------------------
Name: Amir Dekel
E-mail: Amir Dekel 

http://shani.net/~adekel

'The women, How much for the women ?' - The Blues Brothers

-------------------------------------



From: itrc@igc.apc.org (Tim Mills-Groninger)
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 96 16:00:09 GMT
Organization: Information Technology Resource Center
Message-ID: <4e2pnj$iqe@igc.apc.org>


In article <4djrbi$4ai@nntpd.lkg.dec.com>,
   soley@trop32.enet.dec.com (Norm Soley) wrote:
>johnmc@sb.com.au wrote:
>
>>Here's one that I believe has happened more than once:
>
>>A user rings the support desk and says that s/he is having trouble with a 
>>floppy disk. The techie fobs him/her off by saying that "I can't do anything 
>>for you without a copy of the disk". Next day an envelope arrives through 
the 
>>company's internal mail - it contains two pieces of paper, being photocopies 
>>of the front and back of the floppy. 

In the days of dual floppy PCs we would occassionaly get calls for technical 
support, but the user wouldn't know what software they were using.  I'd say 
"Read the label on the floppy" and they'd reply that they were using Maxell...

I also had a support call where the user could not add rows or columns to a 
small 123 budget.  I got suspicious, and had him END DOWN and END RIGHT to the 
bottom right corner--sure enough, there was a single space " " in that cell, 
and no additional rows or columns could be inserted until it was erased.  I 
asked him if someone at work didn't like him, because the sheet had been booby 
trapped!


Tim Mills-Groninger
Chair, Technology Resource Consortium (TRC)  http://www.igc.apc.org/trc/
Associate Executive Director
Information Technology Resource Center (ITRC) http://www.mcs.net/~itrc/
6 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 1405
Chicago, IL 60602

voice:  312/372-4872
  fax:  312/372-7962
email:  itrc@igc.apc.org



From: mckennatec@aol.com (Joe McKenna)
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 00:05:04 GMT
Organization: McKenna Technology Services
Message-ID: <4e3i3o$dsc@news2.delphi.com>


I did support in a major call center for some time. When users would
call in, they were greeted by an audiotext that would direct their
call to the appropriate type of support personnel. They were suppossed
to use their touch-tone telephone to make menu choices. If they failed
to do so, they would be transferred randomly to an available agent. 

One caller came to me as this type of "timeout" call. The man was
fuming, saying, "The damn recording told me to press 3 for help, but I
pressed and I pressed, and nothing happened!"

When I asked him for more specifics, it turned out he was pressing the
number 3 on his computer's keyboard...

Joe McKenna
McKenna Technology Services
Internet Training & Consulting
mckennatec@aol.com




From: amtexspt@telos.ca (L. Howard)
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 1996 17:55:02 GMT
Organization: Amtex Software Corporation
Message-ID: <4e2s41$e7@telos1.telos.ca>



>"I put the phone on top of the computer and try dialing !!!"

This just supports my argument to "The Powers That Be" that we should
put right on the system requirements label:

Minimum Requirements:
386 or higher
4MB RAM or higher
I.Q. of 15 or higher!!

Do you agree??

Just yesterday, I had a guy who was having a really hard time faxing
me his AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS file.  He couldn't get the fax to
go through.  About 2 hours later I receive a fax that says (and I
quote the entire message):

"I tried to send the fax by using 613-976-5555 but a voice came on and
said I couldn't make it out, I think it said something about using a 1
in front of the fax number.  Should I use 1-613-976-5555?"

The irony is that I recieved this message by fax!!

Laura






From: daleg@fred.net (Dale Ghent)
Date: 23 Jan 1996 21:17:32 GMT
Organization: The Secret Organization
Message-ID: <4e3j9d$f5o@dec-alpha.fred.net>


I just had a person call me on the support line wondering why he could 
not send mail in pine.  He said (and I quote): "I keep clicking on the 
carrot-top and X but nothing is happening!!??".  I almost lost it. WHAP!! 
I put my LART to use.

				-Dale G.



From: TVG
Date: 25 Jan 1996 19:42:41 GMT
Organization: On-Ramp; Individual Internet Connections; Dallas/Ft Worth/Houston, TX USA
Message-ID: <4e8mfh$ao6@news.onramp.net>


Our support department is amazed almost every day by the lack of knowledge about 
computers from the people who are using them. The people we come in contact with 
every day are using our software to run their business and many don't know a thing 
about computers.

I don't know how many times we have had people calling us saying their computer 
won't work any more. It turns out that their hard drive crashed or something else 
just as disasterous. We go through our spill about what has happened, how serious it 
is, get your hardware fixed and then restore your last backup tape. Typical reponse: 
"Oh, we don't do backups. They take too much time." Now they are going to find out 
how long it will take and how much it will cost them to re-enter 3 years worth of 
business activity. And they better hurry, they probably have a payroll to do 
the next day.

Today we had a guy call saying he bought a new computer and was trying to move his 
data from the old computer to the new one. Every time he tried to copy his data 
with *.* to get everything the computer told him "Insufficient Disk Space". We'll 
his data was only about 12 meg in total size. We told him he would have to back it 
up and restore it on the new computer.

He called back a couple of hours later fumming because his data still wasn't on the 
new computer and we were wasting his time. We verified the backup disks and it 
appeared that it did indeed backup the files. We asked if he restored the disks to 
the new computer and he grumply replied "of course". We asked if he received any 
kind of error messages during the backup or the restore and he said "no, all the 
files restored, I sat there and watched it." We then went to the data directory and 
did a directory listing of all the files. There were a total of 7 files in his data 
directory, backup files 1-7. Of course it was our software's fault that COPY did not 
do the same thing as RESTORE.




From: ttoews@agt.net (Tony Toews)
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 03:29:50 GMT
Organization: A & W Internet Inc.
Message-ID: <4e9hq2$iv7@kryten.awinc.com>


Jack Beglinger in the s3x newsgroup just wrote:

I seen and installed them in remote jungle operations:
    HOW TO START S/34
	1) check oil
	2) check gas
	3) check water
	4) start generator
	5) check water again - remove any bugs.
	6) start air condisinor
	7) start the S/34

to Hotels (at that time 45 counties):
	caller: I had  a computer crash.
	support: how do you know?
	caller: the car came through the wall and hit the computer sending it
through a wall.
	support: well... print a CATALOG... did it print? YES,will everything
is fine.  Make sure they don't break and lines as the pull out the
car.
-------------------------------- end quote

I had a client in Edmonton whose building was, literally, flattened by
a tornado.  Once the tornado passed the people inside crawled a
hundred yards under the debris to get out.  The computer, an IBM S/38
was on the second floor.  The power had failed just before the tornado
hit.  The computer dropped about 12 feet.   It consisted of two units
each roughly the size of a very large desk but higher.

It was hauled out by crane the next day.  (I've seen computers being
moved before but never by crane!).  IBM pulled each board out of the
computer and dried it off.   They then let it sit over night in a warm
trailer, plugged it in the next day and it started just fine.

Tony

Tony Toews, Independent Computer Consultant
Jack of a few computer related trades and master (or certified) of none.