More from Aviation Maintenance: The Ace

More from Aviation Maintenance: The Ace

This is a bit of a weird one, not really regular tech support but...kinda supportish in that there were computers, and I supported my buddies who were rather unhappy. So...moral support?

One sunny day in Kandahar, I found myself entering into the Blackhawk clamshell to procure a torque wrench and some adapters from their tool room. The mechanics of that company had hit a lull in their work and had looked for various ways to fill their time. In the tool crib, I discovered that the mechanic assigned to be the attendant had brought his own PC and browbeaten a ‘friend’ into bringing one as well and they’d set up an impromptu LAN party…of sorts.

When I came in the guy at the computer by the door had just stormed away in disgust, having lost a bet or some such with the attendant. In front of the computer was a joystick and up on the screen was a WWII flight simulator. Paying it little more than cursory attention, I requested my tools. While I waited for the other attendant to fetch my tools the first attendant started in on me. For the purposes of this, let us call him ‘Ace.’

Ace was…an interesting character. He was sort of the Scrappy Doo of Maintenance, minus all of his redeeming qualities. Always talked about how he was the best at whatever and always had a story to one-up whatever you might have just told. At one point he walked around literally tooting his own horn—the kid had brought a trumpet with him on deployment and couldn’t stop talking about how great he was at that as well. I wanted to strangle him every time I saw him.

Ace: “Hey, ZeeWulf, bet you can’t beat me.”

ZeeWulf: “Eh? Beat you in what?”

Ace: “This game here. I’m the best pilot here, I should have been a fighter pilot!”

ZeeWulf: “I see. That’s really nice. Hope you have fun with it.”

Ace: “You wanna have a go? I’ll bet I can beat you.”

ZeeWulf: “No, I really need to get back to the shop…”

Ace: “What, you chicken? You can’t handle me? Come on, give it a shot.”

A couple of the guys from the Maintenance company were in the room as well and started cheering me on. With a sigh, I gave in.

ZeeWulf: “If I play your little game, will you give me my tools?”

Ace: “Sure! Let’s sign them out now!”

We filled out the paperwork to sign out the tools and I plunked myself in front of the second computer with a sigh. Because it was Ace, I decided not to let him in on my little secret.

You see, I wasn’t reluctant to try his little competition because I was afraid of being beaten; I didn’t view him as worthy of my time. Growing up and in high school in particular, I had gotten into flight simulators via my uncle, an Airline Pilot. Falcon 4.0 and the entire Janes catalogue were my companions. I had also been heavily into online X-Wing Vs TIE Fighter competitions for the club I was in. Unbeknownst to Ace, back in my room, nestled under my bunk was my own desktop, complete with my Cougar HOTAS and rudder pedals.

ZeeWulf: “Okay, so, how do you play?”

Somehow, I managed to keep my face straight as I asked that. I managed to keep my expression neutral-annoyed through the ‘tutorial’ I was given, and then out of the kindness of his heart he set me up with a plane—some French WWII pig. I noticed that when he went back to his screen to set up his end of the match, he’d given himself an ME109—one of the great fighters of WWII. Thinking about the guy who’d just lost his bet, I was onto Ace’s game now. He’d goad people into playing him, counting on their ignorance and a stacked (flight) deck to make an easy kill and an even easier buck.

I wasn’t annoyed anymore, now I knew I was going to have to teach this kid a lesson.

He started up the sim and we were spawned in the air, several klicks away from one another. Knowing that if I tried to fly right at him (one guy had been detailed to ‘explain’ to me the map interface and keymapping), the French excuse of a flying object was toast against some of the best the Germans had. I would need to trade for some serious altitude so I’d have the energy available to stay inside his loop and take him out. I turned to angle slightly away from him while I gained said altitude and climbed to flight ceiling while Ace…appeared to head directly towards me.

Well, this would be easier than I thought.

Taking benefit of my huge energy advantage, I was able to swoop down on him before he even realized where I was. He started cursing while I quietly kept to the inside of his turn. Finally, leading just right, my instincts cried out and stroked the trigger once, and the ammo-counter on screen burned down a single digit. Never before had I made a shot like that, and never again would it be repeated, no matter how hard I can try.

There was a cry of confusion from his station.

Ace: “What happened?! Where’d my screen go!? It went black!”

I looked up and over the monitor at him, kept my face straight.

ZeeWulf: “Huh. Headshot.”

With that, I gathered my tools and left, saying nary another word. Come to find out, in a rage Ace tore down his set up and took it back to his room and never spoke of challenging anyone to that again.

That is the most beautiful way to take down someone like that. Don't make a huge fuss, just kick their ass and walk away in a silent victory stride while they fume and act a fool.

I had a roommate like that once... Declared himself "king of the PlayStation" and would challenge everyone to one on one matches of whatever he was playing. It was annoying, so I would always decline.

One day, he was just ridiculously annoying - turns out, he'd just completed the single player campaign on this new FPS game he'd just got, so naturally he was annihilating everyone he challenged; they'd never even played it before. And he decided that he was going to challenge me - and he would NOT let it go. Finally, I gave in. "Fine, what's the game?"

I should mention that, at the time, I was part of a six PC gaming LAN with the neighbors. We'd play Unreal Tournament, Quake 3, etc. into the small hours of the morning - FFA UT with 50 Godlike bots was so much fun. Occasionally we'd get together and ruthlessly murder each other in N64 Goldeneye (proximity mines on all of the spawn points leading to a single kill becoming a six kill chain, such an infuriating play, or mining a specific doorway then jinking someone else to walk through it... Good times). So yeah, I was pretty good at FPS games.

But this guy starts in with the smack talk. He's the greatest, my defeat is inevitable, the whole super villain monologue.

The title screen loads. We're playing Quake 2.

It took me 2 games to master the switch from keyboard and mouse to the PlayStation controller. I lost the first round 10-20, narrowly lost the second 18-20, won the third 20-1, and was leading the fourth 18-0 when he threw the controller across the room and ragequit.

That was a good day.

He never challenged anyone to a PlayStation game again in my presence.

Taught a friend that. He was the "HALO king". Built a LAN with separate tvs facing away so there was no screen drift (when you watch the other player's screen to aim). All was good once I showed him that tanks make great countersnipers when the sniper camps. Had to aim 5 clicks high, but hearing that "NOOOOOO!" followed by "Streak Ended!" is Bee-YOUT-iful.

Ace: “What happened?! Where’d my screen go!? It went black!”

That, my friend, is called losing.

Wonderful. :)

Remember when I said I don't do industrial machines?

Remember when I said I don't do industrial machines?

I've got a new job! The shop slowed way down over the summer, a lot more than summer usual, and is being slow to pick back up, so I cut back to part time hours and picked up another part-time job. Doing what, you may ask, that's relevant to TFTS?

...Sewing, of course. I was hired partly as a stitcher, and partly for my tech skills. I spent part of the first week of training with the actual techs, learning machine basics (so much for my avoidance of industrial machines!) and am something like Tier .5; I'm the one all the other stitchers come to when they have a problem, and it's my responsibility to sort out minor issues and pass everything else up to Ed, the actual tech. The boss has made it very clear that the other stitchers are responsible for their own basics though-thread and bobbin changes, new needles, jam clearing, and other minor issues.

This project is still in its infancy. Well, more like still in its embryonic stage. Theoretically, we're supposed to launch November 1st, but I'll eat the next garment off the flat seamer if we actually do. (Somewhere out there is a team building a website for our custom-ordering portal, and to them I give my deepest condolences. We're at opposite ends of the same, ever-changing project.)

So, in the meantime, practice. We've got a ton of precuts from the previous contractor who was trialing the project before bidding. (In the end, they didn't.) None of them are to pattern spec, and the pattern has changed on a near-daily basis since then anyway, but for practice with the machines, they're fine.

There are only a half dozen of us, and one of those is cross-training from the main business as backup. I already know who my problem child is going to be-meet Sandra. She's a nice enough lady; a long-time sewer, although not pro, and a school 'counselor' during her regular job. She is also the most scatterbrained person I've ever met in my life.

Because this project is so new and still in flux, we all have notebooks. Eventually they'll give us a process to follow, partly based on our input, but until then we've been creating our own. The notebooks all go in the same basket, and the last person out for the day puts theirs on top, because they'll have the newest changes. We all know to check each other's notebooks for those changes, which, as I said earlier, are happening daily, some days near hourly. My notebook has pages (and pages and pages) of notes about the machines, too, which everybody else knows to check for needle size info, which way to thread what (may the gods have mercy on your soul if you thread the flat seamer left to right instead of right to left, because I certainly won't) and various other bits of necessary useful info.

We all know this, except Sandra. Who called me five times yesterday, in the first hour she was in, in between texting me a flurry of badly lit, out of focus pictures of whichever machine she's forgotten everything about this time.

In that hour she asked about how to change the bobbins in two different machines (one of which doesn't even have a color change), how to turn the vacuum on the serger on, how to thread the elastic through the binding foot, how turn the rotating foot on the grosgrain machine, how to turn down the speed on both the serger and the binder, and how to use the pneumatic snap setter without having to push both buttons at the same time. I got short with her over that one, when she demanded I come down (we're actually in the same building-gotta love networking!) and show her how to bypass the safety buttons. (You put the snap pieces in the die, center the fabric, then push down on both buttons at the same time, neatly keeping your hands out of the way of the pneumatic press.)

I will be talking to the boss about this when I go in today. A. this was all stuff we learned the first week, and B. the answers to most of her questions are in the notebooks not 30' from her, and C. damn, helpless much??

By way of contrast, on Wednesday Carlina said, "Hey, I broke a needle in #2 (a flat seamer) yesterday, replaced it, checked the rest and rethreaded. It sews fine, but just so you know." Which is how it's supposed to be.

Fortunately for my blood pressure, she only works a couple days a week.

eta: I didn't have to go looking for the boss, she came looking for me. I didn't realize that Lili was working last night too, and she left a note for Bosslady because she thought Sandra was calling Ed...y'know, the guy who charges money for this sort of thing. Plus Lili was annoyed that Sandra was spending all her time texting and not sewing, without realizing she was texting me. I showed Bosslady my phone log and the text string (which I'd kept), and when she got to the part about bypassing the safety buttons, she clouded up like an August thunderstorm. Those of us in today got called into an impromptu safety briefing (complete with a demo about what happens to things caught in the snap setter), and informed that bypassing any safety procedure once will be grounds for a write-up; twice will be cause for dismissal. Since I don't know whether she managed to bypass the buttons or not, I suspect she's only going to get a lecture about it. That, and managing her own basic tasks on her own. And I'm getting paid for the hour I spent on the phone, which is nice, too. Thus endeth my week.

I would flat out refuse to work with anyone who asked me how to bypass a safety device.

Treat it like when people scream for their lawyer on a CSR call.

"Sorry, but going against company safety policy is illegal, and I will have to ask you to start talking to legal. And possibly a mental hospital".

Unfortunately, since this user is texting, there is not satisfying click at the end.

"How do I bypass dead man's switch for this transformer?"

"Give me a minute and I'll call you from the other side of the street"

She legit asked you how to bypass a safety device?! Holy FUCK she's an accident waiting to happen.

The Broken Monitor a.k.a There's nothing on the screen

The Broken Monitor a.k.a There's nothing on the screen

Hey Reddit, one for when you're, well, you know, "redditing" (don't forget to wash your hands)

the usual cast of characters $Lead - a research lead who has a reputation as a bit of a dragon $Me - an IT goblin $peon - a hard put upon PA who has obviously been chewed by the dragon a fair few times in the past and, I suspect has been used as local tech support in lieu of actual tech support

A couple of years ago I was covering for a colleague who was off sick. Standard stuff, we've all done it. Keep an eye on the queue, maybe clear some backlog if you can, make it easier for them coming back, the ususal.

So I was sitting watching the queue drinking my coffee soup when a seemingly innocent ticket popped in for them. It was marked urgent, cos they always are. apparently this user had previoulsy had some work done on their machine, a profile overload so they had the unneccessary files from their desktop and roaming appdata removed. However, since then, about 2 days prior, their second monitor stopped working. "Easy enough", I thought, "it's probably cables, it's always cables."

off I trundle to the other building, which is in an old converted Edwardian house, ring the bell, get in and ask around where the user is. It turns out this user is a research lead and is known for being a bit controlling (side note someone I used to work with was now working under them as a researcher and told me all this over coffee the next day).

Now, if you've read any of my previous tales, I'm not one to do things in the natural customer service order. I found out her room was out in the back so just wandered on through, knocked on the door and nobody was in so I wandered over to have a look at the computer. there it is, sitting happily, an office document on the main screen (landscape) and nothing on the one on the right (portrait) just blackness. Just as I'm about to get my hands on the computer I hear a voice

$Lead: excuse me, can I help you? $me: Hi, I'm Nightwing, come to look at your computer apparently the screen isn't working? $Lead: ah yes, hello, any idea what it is? $me: afriad not, I've just got here I haven't had a chance to have a look yet. $Lead: well, I'm very busy right now, so can you speak to $peon and set up an appointment to come back later in the week $me: I can but it would take me less then 2 minutes to have a look at some $Lead: sorry, no, I'm too busy, speak to $peon and make an appointment $me: ....ok, no worries

so I head back to the main office and find $peon, easily identifiable, the only guy in the office and he's looking over his monitor with a look of dread and apprehension. I tell him what happened and ask to make an appointment

$peon: she's free on thursday (this was monday) $me: *slightly agrieved at the treatment and tone from $Lead * thursday is grand, any time just to make sure she's absolutely free> $peon: she's got half an hour free from 2pm $me: perfect, I'll see you then

the next couple of days go buy, a few tickets come in and all get sorted pretty quickly, it's a quiet time of year so nothing stressful, but still I'm hoping my colleague turns up to sort out the ticket from monday but it looks like they've taken all week to recouperate

thursay, 159pm, I'm standing back outside the building, waiting for the clock to change on my phone to 2pm, because when annoyed, like all IT, I'm nothing if not petty. 2pm and I ring the bell, I'm let inside, and when wandering through see my old mate and have a quick natter, all the while she's side eyeing the door waiting for the lead to come through to find out who's chatting. I can see that nobody is in the room from where I'm standing. after a minute or two the lead comes out of the kitchen with a cup of tea in their hand.

$Lead: can I help you, oh wait, you're here to look at the computer, it's free now so just pop in and have a look at it, I'll be in here $me: overly cheery no problemo

I wander in with the feeling that someone has been watching too much Downton and has gotten used to ordering people around and look at the cables. But.. hold on, these cables are fine, and there's power... I open up the screen resolution page and there's two monitors detected. I click the identify button and a big number one appears on the left monitor and a big number one appears on the right monitor. I move the mouse across and there it is on the monitor, happy as larry. We all, of course realise what's happened, but I'm going to enjoy this.

I get out of the chair, walk into the main office room and say, maybe a little too loudly

$me: I'm sorry, I can't seem to find a problem, are you sure it's this computer that's got a broken monitor and not another one? $Lead: yes, it's definitely that one, it hasn't been working for about a week and a half now and it's really impedeing my ability to work $me: Well can you show me what's wrong please, I can't find a problem with them monitors.

without waiting I turn back around and walk into the office and stand to one side. I'm followed in by >$Lead and $peon who still looks like a hunted animal

$Lead: there, you see there's nothing on the screen $me: I know, but what's the problem? $Lead: talking like I'm an idiot I should be able to open documents and have them on the screen $me: you can $Lead: what? $me: you can I grab an open document and drag it across to the other screen like I said I don't see the problem looking back I see $peon has gone a bit wide eyed $Lead: ....how did you do that? glances over at $peon who I'm really starting to feel sorry for $me: I just got hold of the window at the top and moved it across. Is... was... was that the problem? $Lead: well it's been black since the profile over quota error $me: hmmmm did you used to have a background image? $Lead: yes, it was the ocean $me: right, so all that's happened is your background picture has gone... I'll just leave now then. Bye.

On the way out I passed my old mate and she asked if it was done that quickly, so I gave her the TL/DR of this story, so everyone could hear, which is

TL/DR user has lost their background picture so they think their monitor is broken because it defaulted to a black background

I feel like this user could have been a real b#$!h, but somehow you got the upper hand.

acitvating slow_clap.exe

because when annoyed, like all IT, I'm nothing if not petty.

This has got to be one of the truest statements I have ever read on this subreddit.

Yeah, but I giggled a bit when I typed it

More convinced of her own importance and haughty with it

Monday Morning Heart Attack

Monday Morning Heart Attack

This happened not too long ago, back when Office 365 was having major issues with connectivity, especially in sunny old UK.

We have a half and half terminal server setup. Some people use local desktops, the roamers/hot deskers (about 30 people or so) use the single terminal server (we're hoping to upgrade next year, different story!)

Anyway, I'm called up fairly early into my day, before I knew anything major was going on, the first user had been off for a few weeks so thought the issue was that initially. D = Me!, U(1,2,3) = Users!, C = Culprit...

U: Hey D, could you pop upstairs, my E-Mails aren't downloading - they're on my phone ok.

D: Sure thing, I'll head up now.

Off I pop, blissfully unaware of the issue I'm going to walk into.

A bit of back story half way through, I'd been doing some maintenance on the night before (windows updates, that type of thing) - remember that, it's important!

I get to the users desk, sure enough, no E-Mail for two weeks, thought it was catching up, saw the usual "Unable to Connect to Exchange in the bottom".

OK I thought, odd...restarted Outlook, usual stuff, nothing helped.

U2: hmpf Why is Outlook not working?!

User 2 wasn't aware I was sat right next to them, Monday morning, can be forgiven, it was 9:10am now.

U2: Oh it's fine, it's restarting now, that'll fix it.

At this point time seemed to slow down as I knew that U2 was a terminal server user. I quickly glance over to her laptop, sure enough, nice Restarting... message.

I look back at the laptop U1 is using, sure enough...Restarting...

Now at this point I have only been in the job less than a month, I know my way around their infrastructure and things and know what to do without problems, but when the terminal server restarts at 9:10am, with all directors in, my heart stopped, then started going really quick. The next thing:

U3: scream D! The server says it's restarting!

D: I know! I'm working on it.

Trying to keep my cool I rush back to my desk and load up the Hyper-V Manager, sure enough the terminal server had rebooted. Cue phone call from satellite site saying everything has gone.

U4: Do you know the server has restarted?

Struggling to hold back the sarcasm...

D: Yes I'm aware of that, I'm working on it now.

What felt like a lifetime passes, must of only been a few minutes. And the server is back and running fine. I let everyone know and get straight to investigating.

Now at this point every user is aware what the terminal server is, that it's a shared environment and what they do can affect other users, so cue the phone call from me to the user who restarted the server.

D: Hey there C, how are you?

C: Good thanks, did you know we all just got kicked off?

D: I did, that's why I'm calling actually, did you click on anything odd this morning?

C: Well I got a popup in Word that said I had to restart to finish installing updates, I know you were doing maintenance last night so just hit yes.

D: Ah right ok, did anything else popup when you hit restart?

C: It said something about other users being logged on, but just hit OK on that.

D: Right...OK. Well you restarted the entire system and kicked most users off and lost their work...I don't think too many people noticed with it being Monday but just give me a call if anything like that happens again please?

C: Oh s*** really? Sorry! I'll call you next time! Sorry! click

I couldn't be too hard on her really, I then calmed down after about 3 cups of coffee and a cry in the corner.

The annoying thing is, what it was after a bit more digging was an update to Office AFTER the Windows updates went on the previous night, this seemed to circumvent every block that was in place to stop standard users rebooting the server - the reboot action seemingly took place under the "SYSTEM" user, which is a slight pain.

I was quite lucky in the fact that it was a Monday morning, it was early (we open at 9am) and nobody was really awake that would shout too loud.

One thing I did appreciate and makes me laugh, the CEO was logged onto the server at the time working away, I got an E-Mail from him during this fiasco basically saying: "Hey D, I've been kicked off, think the wireless has gone" and 10 minutes later "Hey D, it's back again!"

TL;DR - Weekend maintenance causes pain and misery the next day because of annoying updates...

It's a bit early in october for horror stories. Users shouldn't have rights to reboot a terminal server.

Edit: missed the part about the restrictions that were already in place

Exactly - they don't. Tested it with a lowly user and they can't.

Something about that update just went "Screw you and your access rights" and just rebooted it using the system account.

Well, it sounds like you have a pretty good environment there. I can see this going horribly wrong in a different environment.

I don't see the point in getting angry. Different people have different interests. They don't fully understand computers the same way I don't understand what they do in their job.

Shouting wouldn't achieve anything, unless they burned the server to molten pile of metal...

Any Colour You Like...

Any Colour You Like...

This happened this morning.

User called up saying that their $0X MFD wasn't printing in colour. and that they couldn't find the option to turn grayscale mode off. No bother, I show the user how to open up 'Devices and Printers' right-click on the printer, open up 'Printing Preferences', go to 'Image Options' and....


OK, well it looks like grayscale isn't on after all. Ah! But $0X have management options wherein accounting codes are required to print in colour. That's gotta be it. OK, so open up the management window and... everyone's allowed to print in colour. No accounting codes.

Dang. Well, OK, let's grab the hostname and open up the web utility and see if there's any settings on the printer itself that might explain this. Just minimize this and this and oh, an open print preview window...

$Me : Umm... is this the document you're trying to print?

$User : Yes, that's it

$Me : There isn't any colour in it

$User : Huh?

$Me : It's just black text on white. There's no colour in the document

To their credit, they did apologize profusely and were suitably embarrassed. I'm disappointed in myself for not checking the basics.

EDIT: Formatting

I'm disappointed in myself for not checking the basics.

Ah, don't sweat it, you did check the basics, but you did not account for (pun not intended) user error.

On second thought, for an IT guy, that should be the most basic level... hold on...

Didn't mention in the story but it's health sector IT, so there's absolutely no training in computers at all. "The basics" include making sure they're facing the screen.

Are they doctors, or only administrators?

I'm imagining a routine checkup by one of those doctors that starts with the following brief conversation:

"New symptom: the patient has lost his entire body! This is a major change in his condition, so I recomm--"

"Doc...? I'm over here, doc! Turn around!"

Jesus Christ.

This user must be related to one of my co-workers. Co-worker tried to print a black and white picture in color, couldn't understand why it wouldn't work because the item he took a picture of was in color.

Took a while to convince him that since he took a black and white photo, there wasn't any color data in the image, and it would only print in black and white. I gave him a box of crayons so he could color it in, he was less than amused.

Breaking Deadlines

Breaking Deadlines

I forgot. I forgot that working for a software house meant that if you antagonise your customers then they go elsewhere. I forgot that the directors go out of their way to appease those who make the most noise - and this is the reason why we have a high help desk staff turnover.

One of the help desk girls sidles up to my desk with a look of defeat on her face, clutching a print-out of a support call with some hand written notes added.

HDG: Smith Medical say that they need Government Secure Integration by this date for compliance reasons. Is that something that we can deliver?

The CTO of Smith Medical is a shouty kind of guy who's reduced many a helpdesk person to tears or quitting. He's callous enough to keep score of the number of technicians he's made quit because they obviously can't do their job. Apparently that number is 17. He also understands that when presented with irrefutable evidence, he has to back down.

Me: The GSI module is at least 3 months away but mandatory compliance isn't until April 2019. I show her the government website which clearly states the compliance dates and phases.

Armed with this info, she returns to the desk.

The next day, one of the Directors asks me to sit in on a phone call. It's the CTO of Smith Medical, who we'll call George.

George: GSI module. One of your tech staff suggested that we didn't need it, but we require this live on our system by 1st September. Our government and Medical compliance certification requires it. I want you to fire her as she's incompetent.

Boss: She's not incompetent, she's actually a good technician. The government website states April 2019 is the deadline by which all notifications must be done through the internet, We will beat that deadline by at least a year.

George: we don't care. We literally can't work without it. The paper solution closes on 1st September.

Currently, medical communications with central and local government are sent by paper form to the relevant government department. Smith Medical either write theirs by hand or have some other printing solution because they would spend an extra £10 per user per year license for our firms module. However, they can still input the information directly onto a website.

Me: George, DPG here from the development team. My team can give this top priority and drop everything else to get this done, but there's a full test schedule to go through so we know that the data will be submitted correctly. If it's wrong, you'll get a fine. Until we can get this tested, you can just enter the data live onto the website. Would that be a good compromise?

George: not acceptable. Our data clerk doesn't trust the internet so she won't use it. Look, we don't care about the testing. Just get it to us.

Boss: if you can send us a signed fax stating that you'll pilot this for us and agree to skip the full testing and use the untested, uncertified module on your system then we'll put a rush on this for you. Bear in mind that your contract excludes bespoke modules, so you'll need to meet the full development costs of £25,000. I'd need a signed invoice for that too before we can proceed.

George: Whatever. It's important

One Month Later...

Somehow, we managed to compress 3 months of development into 3 weeks and performed our development testing, which it scraped through. Our Technical author wrote a manual and a step-by-step guide. Minor pixel mis-alignments were not fixed, there are three spelling mistakes and the error handling is ropey but I plan to rewrite portions of it before the end of the year. The installation happened on the morning of 4th September (as it was the Monday and the customer didn't want an installation on the Friday). I sat back and waited.

Sure enough, a visit from Support at just after midday.

HD: Smith Medical can't send notifications and requests through their GSI Module. They're getting a 'bad gateway' error.

Me: That's not one of our errors. Sounds like an HTTP error code. get them to check their internet settings and try again.

After lunch I get the story from the support manager. The woman submitting the documents- who distrusts the internet - has it disabled on her pc. Despite the customer specification, user guide, help features and previous email chain mentioning it, she's attempting to send data over the internet to a Secure web portal using reversible encryption, all without internet. She also has an old computer (running windows Vista) that's so slow it can barely run our software. The message encryption takes her 5 minutes per message. It should take around a second or so. They also want a refund, which the director will not be honouring as "they insisted".

Update: Boss rang me today (Sunday) and told me that after he met with George from Smith Medical on Saturday and showed him the transcript of the call, that they knew it had to be sent over the internet. Their clerk is going on long-term sick as she distrusts the internet and won't be forced to use it. I feel really sorry for her - it's not her fault, but her boss is an ass.

17 help center agents out of work for "incompetence", but he'll pay 25k for the whims of that clerk? Why is he making his mom work at all?

Good to see a DPG on TFTS again. Is it bad that I keep hoping bad things happen to you so you get to write about them here?

Ahhh - so you're the reason for my bad karma ;)

Damn, that's a horrible boss. Getting 17 people to quit is nothing one should be proud of.

Also I do feel a little for this poor lady. I cannot understand why she doesn't trust the internet or if she just isn't comfortable with using it because she lacks proper training.

Does your software work on Vista? That's so old and useless even without someone distrusting the internet it will probably crash. Their it doesn't sound great, but maybe that's a bit on the boss.

It's all tech supports fault!!

It's all tech supports fault!!

Hey everyone, first time ever posting to TFTS. I'm also on mobile so I'm sorry if formatting is weird.

So to preface this, I'm a college student working at one of the many help desks on campus. I've been working here for just over a year now but this story takes place when it was like my second or third week on the job and I had just started taking calls.

$Me - A lowly college student working at a help desk. $Client - The guy who thinks nothing is his fault.

It was roughly my third week on the job and I had just finished reading through our extensive training documents. I got in to the HD about 15 minutes before it opened. Nobody else was in yet and almost right as I walked in, the phone rang. I picked it up because anybody who came in to the section of the school we support before 10AM clearly meant business.

$Client (basically screaming into the phone): "I got here this morning and my computer was frozen on the lock screen! No matter what I did I couldn't get it to open. Now I unplugged it to get it to work and it won't turn back on! Why the f*** do we pay you if you guys keep wasting our time."

$Me (trying to calm $Client down): "I'm sorry sir, can you please explain to me what you did to try to power the computer back on?"

$Client (still screaming into the phone): "What do you think I did?! I pushed the power button and nothing happened!"

$Me: "Okay, just give me the room number and I'll be over there in about 10 minutes."

$Client gives me a room number and I head over to check out the issue. When I got there, I realized the room number he gave me wasn't for the room that $Client's computer was in, but instead a room for a student employee computer. $Client was sitting at the student employee computer looking red-faced and confused. He was having trouble logging into his email through the web client.

$Me: "I'm here to look at your computer."

$Client: "It's about d*** time. I need to get things done today and all you guys do is waste my time. We pay you to keep our computers up and running but it seems like they're always broken or slow!"

We recently upgraded several departments and this guy actually had one of the newer computers already that was 5 times faster than most people had.

$Me: "I'm sorry sir, I know tech can be an issue sometimes but I'm here to try to fix it."

$Client went on berating me about our tech support for about 30 minutes before finally logging off of the student computer and showing me to his office. He was still berating me about how bad he has it when I walked over to his computer, plugged it back in, and hit the power button. Everything worked just fine and I had him log in so I could get back to the office. $Client just got really quiet after I plugged the computer back in, especially since he was just telling me I'm a huge waste of his precious time.

So TLDR, a client spent almost 45 minutes of his time telling me I'm wasting his time instead of giving me 30 seconds to "fix" his computer.

In a good company, you'd be able to tell your manager who would tell his manager that client was unprofessional.

In a normal company, I'd start telling people "you're being abusive, so I'm going to record this interaction for my safety. "

Oooh, that’s a good one. “I’m recording this call for managerial review.”

Just plug it back in as slow as you can without making it obvious that youre doing it slow deliberately to make sure they notice how stupid they are.

Good start. Next up a policy that you can interrupt after a minute with "I'm ending this call since you aren't ready to work on your computer problem, call back when you are ready" and hang up. For everyone who gets abusive, not just this guy.

This guy needs to be banned from submitting help requests.

Roommate's Convoluted Crap Setup Helped Me Save a Computer

Roommate's Convoluted Crap Setup Helped Me Save a Computer

So at the time of this story, I'm both in college for Computer Networking and working as an intern for the college's IT department. Living on campus, I'm put into a room with a classmate from the same major.

This kid was as great roommate, but he did a lot of dumb shit with his personal computer. There was some issue with his old case, so instead of replacing it, he just laid out all the equipment on his desk and ran it that way. Motherboard, hard-drives, everything was just open on his disk. I once caught him sticking a key into the motherboard, and after asking what the hell he was doing, he explained that it was how he turned it on. The key completed the circuit and sent the power-on signal.

I cringed so hard at this and wrote it off.

Fast forward a couple weeks later, I get a call to the library regarding a computer that won't turn on. I get in there, hit the power button and nothing. Disconnect the power cable and press the power-on again to clear any charge, then reconnect and try again. Nothing. I thought back to my roommate's apparent dumbassery, and figured, "Why not?"

Opening the case, I disconnected the connection from the power button to the motherboard. Very lightly I used a key to jump the connection like my roommate had, and to my amazement, the machine turned on.

The power button had failed. We got a new button and replaced it in minutes, returning the unit to service.

"If it's stupid and it works, it ain't stupid" had never made so much sense to me...

Maxium 43. If it's stupid and it works, it's still stupid and you're lucky.

-From the The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries (which is very entertaining)

Words to live by. My favorite has always been "If violence wasn’t your last resort, you failed to resort to enough of it."

Mine is #37: "There is no such thing as 'overkill'; there is only 'open fire' and 'reload'."

I had a $150 steel server case, not sure what brand or model but it was great, had that thing for almost 12 years. Well one day the power button doesn't work, so of course I open the case and just disconnect both wires and then run them outside through a gap in the case and when I wanted to start the computer I would just touch the 2 together. Problem is when I didn't pay attention and place a paper plate on the computer when it was empty and it pushed the wires together and the game of Diablo 2 Median XL ended quite abruptly to say the least.

Threaten to Email Your Boss? Don't do that! I'll do it FOR you!

Threaten to Email Your Boss? Don't do that! I'll do it FOR you!

Happy Friday

In my environment, we have a system whereby you call Technical Operations (hybrid NOC, level 1 group, NOT ME), then they you say who you are, and we give a callback. No callback? No ticket. Our staff is highly trained to hang up on you if we can't verify who you are. When you can't be verified by that, you call your manager, who then has to verify you and your number for a callback. Colloquially, we call it StaffAuth.

I grabbed a special ticket.

Title: Authentication Issues

Urgent?: Yes

Urgency Reason: My boss wrote: i'm a stakeholder in DR/BCP. I can't have my team unable to access!

Description: I still am not receiving calls or text messages to authenticate me. I did receive an unsolicited call from Chicago last Saturday. My phone is not blocking any Chicago numbers. My cell phone number is

I'm confused, to what exactly do you need authenticating? VPN Authentication? Identity Authentication? Authentication of a Signed 1999 Topps Randy Johnson card? Exactly, I don't know and can't decipher based on current information. So I do what any good tech might do, I reached out and asked.

I get the ticket returned with clarity about calling for StaffAuth. I didn't look at the ticket for 4 business days and get a message back from her:

I really need this issue fixed, do you have an eta for my Manager? Thanks

I do my due diligence, but the troubleshooting is simple. If your number is correct, and in the correct format you will receive a phone call. If you have no signal, you will not receive a call. If you have blocked our numbers, you will not receive a call. If you reroute your number, you will not receive a call. I confirm her number and inform her of as much. But something feels off; I remember a few weeks ago my colleagues had a similar problem with someone just flat blocking our numbers. I asked about it, and wouldn't you know, its the SAME USER. I'm no fool, I know what the problem is now.

I get an email back this morning:

I went down to get my phone checked and all possible numbers were unblocked by Bob Ross, regardless it needs to be worked out because I need to authenticate. If you are not able to assist let me know so that I can inform my supervisor.

Oh no! Don't threaten me with contacting your manager!!!!!

I'll do it for you! I send an email back, this time with my manager and her manager as CC:

Please bring your phone down to Desktop Services so we can physically troubleshoot.

The turnaround was amazing! I got an email back from her, having removed the managers from the chain saying that she has removed a bunch of numbers from her blocked list and that she would like me to test.


It worked. But I'm not done yet. You threatened me, and implied my incompetence. I added those managers right back to the email, stating EXACTLY what the fix was.

having removed the managers from the chain

Ahh the ol "If I remove the manager CCs from my reply, maybe they won't find out it was my fault."

I wouldn't have put them back if they hadn't started. Also, I kinda told them EXACTLY what the problem was.

EDIT: Also, the ol' if I remove them hopefully the tech guy won't notice and when he thinks he is emailing to managers it will just go to me as a response.

Problem is doing that to the tech guy

I deal with some off-shore users occasionally and many of them got impatient when their issue was not resolved 30 minutes after sending the initial email. I loved when they inevitably Skype messaged me and included three different levels of bosses because it was live proof that all my complaints about these users were true. Not that my bosses didn't believe me, but the users themselves were the driving catalyst in improving the issue handling workflow. We make them go through official channels now and the amount of problems has dropped considerably.

Ok, now just hit "restart" aaaaand you killed it (PART FREAKING TWO)

Ok, now just hit "restart" aaaaand you killed it (PART FREAKING TWO)


Deep breaths. This just happened. Same user, blames issues on how I needed to give her that new laptop.

As stated in Part One (whyyyy) this user is a trainer for this company. She has been using computers potentially longer than I have, and is in charge of training people in her department on how to use various software.

Or she's supposed to be. After this I'm a bit suspicious.

This morning I had a ticket that text was cut off everywhere. She had gone into Control Panel - Display and messed with the display sizes, and didn't understand what she was doing. Quick fix, told her to leave it alone.

Then I kept getting messages and emails from her all day complaining if she clicks on Chrome, she gets the home page. Myself and another tech she spoke to told her that's normal, the browser is supposed to open to the home page.

But she kept complaining about it.

She also sent me screenshots of Internet Explorer saying the Chrome icon defaults to the home page then asks to install Chrome. I assume this means she couldn't tell the difference between the blue E and the giant colorful beach ball.

I told her that wasn't chrome, but I still kept getting emails.

Eventually, about half an hour ago, I finally caved in when I caught a break in the queue to remote in and see what she meant.

I watched her open Chrome, load the home page, then slowly type www.google.com into the search bar.

User: "SEE? Chrome keeps loading the home page!"

Me: "yeah, that's what it defaults to. If Chrome wasn't doing this on your last system, then your last system had an issue"

User: "forget it."

She doesn't understand - and still doesn't - that Google, the website, is separate from Chrome, the browser.

I told her this but she disconnected and never responded.

I've reported all these issues to her manager. If she doesn't understand how to unplug a mouse, and if she can't tell you what a web browser and a web page are, why is she a trainer?

TL:DR - Trainer doesn't know how to unplug a mouse, use Google, or use web browsers. But is comfortable to change control panel settings that group policy doesn't have locked down. Then not know how to undo them.


I hope the manager takes care of this and doesnt just blame you for having to replace her computer. She sounds like an idiot whos stuck in her ways

So far the manager has been cooperating and asking for training materials (which she should know... Not me...) and any ideas on how to help.

The user isn't looking good right now. Even the manager said not knowing how to unplug the mouse was something else. Thank God for chat logs, this is exactly why I email and chat with my userbase more than use the phone.

CYA and log everything folks, this is why.

Please let us know if she gets removed from her trainer position. I've had to deal with people training me for jobs they had no idea how to do and it is the most frustrating thing.

"So, you're supposed to do this thing by going through twenty unnecessary steps."

"... Couldn't I just do these two steps instead?"

I've reported all these issues to her manager. If she doesn't understand how to unplug a mouse, and if she can't tell you what a web browser and a web page are, why is she a trainer?

Careful. Politics might end up with this blowing back on you. I hope their manager understands this is best for the company. I've noticed that not all people think that way, and they will protect others who don't deserve it.

Try one of these subthreads