TECH SUPPORT TALES #7

YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE THE STORIES THAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ....BUT THEY ARE ALL TRUE!*

It will never cease to amaze me how silly and befuddled some people get with their computers. Every day thousands of people turn on their computers (or try to) and come across a problem which they think they understand. The results of their actions can be amusing and often hilarious. And let's not forget the boneheaded Techs we all have to endure from time to time.

*** WELCOME ***

to issue #7 of TECH SUPPORT TALES - the publication which proves that stupidity breeds humor. This issue of Tech Support Tales has been sent to 943 email subscribers around the globe by the Tech Support Tales Prize Patrol.

So what's new? OK, so I didn't move to Atlanta after all. It's a long, unpleasant story and if I get started on that topic, I may very well go on a rant and you'd probably all cancel your subscriptions. Let's just say, my options are wide open at the moment.

I've been receiving a ton of submissions lately and a truckload of subscription requests. Aside from the usual methods of distribution (and redistribution), I attribute this sudden surge to Tech Support Tales showing up in the info-mac-archives and on the latest AMUG BBS in a Box CD ROMs. With all the new tales I have waiting to be included here, I may end up having to go to a more frequent publishing schedule. Of course, I don't want to discourage anyone from not sending in more stories. Keep 'em coming!

Enjoy! =:-)

-Eric Hausmann

Editor, Tech Support Tales

junkspill@aol.com

TO SUBSCRIBE: I'm not using a fancy-schmancy mail server, so please don't send me any cryptic mail server type messages...a simple note with the words "Subscribe Tech Support Tales" in the subject field will do the trick. If you need copies of any back issues, let me know and I'll send them your way. And as always, if you have any of your own stories that you would like to see in a future issue, please send them along!

Send all submissions mail, comments, rants, complaints and extra drum scanners to:


junkspill@aol.com

Thanks to the following individuals for sharing the tales you are about to read:

AFC Chip@aol.com, frank@english.microserve.com, Cyn000@aol.com,

GSubG13er@aol.com, CWMcIntoJX@aol.com, kerry@ucla.edu, jasonv@strata3d.com, briefsmc@BESPO.LAAFB.AF.MIL, ABColes@eworld.com, Alan123@aol.com, bc546@freenet.carleton.ca, LCOCKERTON@aol.com, MacShackNY@aol.com, CKLINE@mwnjpo1.mwnj.mwhse.com, Suzanne_Courteau@Macworld.COM, mrc@magic.mb.ca.

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LETTERS TO TST

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A little encouragement never hurts. After Downloading TST #6 I must encourage you to keep doing what you are doing. This is hard to believe, funny stuff. One could almost believe that it came from the pages of "Ripley's Believe It Or Not".

-DeweyMax@aol.com

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Great stuff! I have installed all the files in the National Capital FreeNet's PC Users SIG menu for all the techies to laugh at! I laughed so hard I fell on the floor and nearly broke my propeller! -xx995@freenet.carleton.ca

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#6 made me smile on an otherwise terrible day. -robmb@one.net

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Thanks for this incredible e-zine of yours. Tech Support at MacWarehouse uniformly loves TST!

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Hey there... Just got TST 6 and I and several others have been rolling over the "Netjunkie quiz"!! John Scalzi is to be commended for his insightful and oh-so-humorous look at net junkies everywhere!

<G>-6923@mgs.com

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SIG-O-MANIA!

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I am Pentium of Borg, Division is Futile, You will be approximated!

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"Life starts at '030, fun starts at '040, impotence starts at '86" keyboard not connected - press F1 to continue

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Users: Can't live with them, Can't shoot/stab/maim/send them all to /dev/null.

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TOP 10 SIMILARITIES BETWEEN SYSTEM ADMINISTRATORS & SANTA CLAUS

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1. Santa is bearded, corpulent, and dresses funny.

2. When you ask Santa for something, the odds of receiving what you wanted are infinitesimal.

3. Santa seldom answers your mail.

4. When you ask Santa where he gets all the stuff he's got, he says, "Elves make it for me."

5. Santa doesn't care about your deadlines.

6. Your parents ascribed supernatural powers to Santa, but did all the work themselves.

7. Nobody knows who Santa has to answer to for his actions.

8. Santa laughs entirely too much.

9. Santa thinks nothing of breaking into your $HOME.

10. Only a lunatic says bad things about Santa in his presence.

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Relax, its only ONES and ZEROS!

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Many years ago when I first started fixing Apple equipment, (Apple II's were still popular to give you an idea of the time) a customer fresh over from England brought in their Apple II that had a 220 power supply in it. They had a step-up transformer to use it in the states, that they also brought with them. I hooked up his equipment, checked it out, and fixed whatever had been wrong with it.

Now, at the shop, we just left a collection of AC cords plugged into an

outlet strip, and let the other ends dangle until we needed to plug in another piece for repair. Because of habit, when I was done with the AII, I unplugged the cable going into the power supply, and left it dangling. I then brought over the next customer's system, popped the cord into it, and fired it up.

I thought it was odd that the image on the CRT was rolling vertically, since that wasn't the problem described. I realized my error when I looked in the open AII and saw smoke starting to curl out from under the edges of the power supply, and the 220v converter still sitting on the bench!!!

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I have a Mac Bigot friend that convinced the other IBM people at his company that when the token ring network went down, it was due to someone removing the cable and the token falling out. He actually had businessmen on the floor looking for it. I think he eventually stated he found it himself to avoid getting lynched.

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I teach Macintosh courses at COMPUSA. In one of my classes an artist finally acquiesced and decided to do some of her work on a computer. She went out and bought all of the top of the line equipment. She could not however figure out how to change the font size so she would type in what she wanted, print it out and scan it in a different percentage then paste it into the document.

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I got a guy who was trying to remove a 4 meg SIMM from his LC III so he could install an 8 meg SIMM. He complained that he was having trouble with it: It appeared to be soldered in. I asked him if he had released the SIMM from the clips; he said he had to rip one of them off. He said the ends could wiggle free, but the middle looked like it was soldered in. I tried to understand what the hell was going on in his Mac...the weirdness went on for at least five minutes. Grasping for some semblance of reality, I asked how much memory his LC III had.

4 meg.

He looked at the directions again - "ohhhhhh...you gotta take it out if you have MORE than 4 meg." He was removing the SIMM *slot.*

Of course, he asked if he should just solder it back down.

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A woman brought her Macintosh LC520 into my shop to have more memory added. This was all fine, but she said she the computer kept running out of memory at startup. I found this to be rather interesting and decided to fire it up at the counter while she watched.

After plugging in the computer to the wall and a keyboard and mouse I hit the power button. The computer sounded to life and the screen lit with the "Welcome to Macintosh" box on screen. This was immediately replaced by the Mac/OS picture and a status bar that was progressing as the extensions loaded. As the bar approached the end she said "See the memory is all full", I looked at her rather confused and asked where she would have gotten that Idea. Apparently one of the know-nothings at the local computer superstore had said that that was what the progress bar meant.

Needless to say she was rather angry at them for the erroneous information. She ending up not buying the RAM but was thankful for our good service.

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I work for a prominent online service and was talking with a fellow employee. He asked me where he could find QuickTime for Windows. I told him to try apple.com. He had a puzzled look on his face for several seconds. Then he meekly said "You do mean the net site, right?" I said "What ELSE could I mean?!" He replied "I thought you meant like command.com - the DOS file"

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I work at the computer store on a campus. A few weeks ago, we had a customer call in and ask the following:

"I'd like to buy the Internet. Do you know how much it is?"

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A few months ago a lady started to call our Tech support department over and over again. She couldn't get a DXF file to import into our 3d program. After exhausting the Tech Support pool, I was asked to see if I could help this lady. I promptly asked here to send me the file that she wanted to bring into our 3d program. After receiving the file I look at it and found that it was a 2d DXF file. I called this woman to inform her that she could not import a 2d file. She responded by screaming that she wanted her money back if our program couldn't automatically make a 3d object out of here 2d CAD drawings.

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I was working for a major college in our area and we had a real neophyte end user that was constantly having problems with her PS/2. I went over to find out what was wrong. I wanted to find out what program she was running. I asked what software she was using and she replied: "Software, oh, we don't use software". Needless to say I was totally amazed, I guess her computer is telepathic.

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"Welch Hall computer assistant; may I help you?"

"Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect."

"What sort of trouble?"

"Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away."

"Went away?"

"They disappeared."

"Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing?"

"It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type."

"Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?"

"How do I tell?"

"Can you see the C:\> prompt on the screen?"

"What's a sea-prompt?"

"Never mind. Can you move the cursor around on the screen?"

"There isn't any cursor: I told you, it won't accept anything I type."

"Does your monitor have a power indicator?"

"What's a monitor?"

"It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on?"

"I don't know."

"Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that?" [sound of rustling and jostling]

[muffled] "Yes, I think so."

"Great! Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged into the wall."

"Yes, it is."

"When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?"

"No."

"Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable."

[rustle rustle] [muffled] "Okay, here it is."

"Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer."

[still muffled] "I can't reach."

"Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is?"

"No."

"Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?"

"Oh, it's not because I don't have the right angle-it's because it's

dark in here."

"Dark?"

"Yes-the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in

from the window."

"Well, turn on the office light then."

"I can't."

"No? Why not?"

"Because there's a power outage."

"A p-!"

[ARGH!]

This woman was good friends with my supervisor. She's now also my wife.

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A customer saw me handling some floppies, and remarked: "How do they get the words small enough to fit on there?"

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I tried sending email to 1.404.123.4567 but the emailer wouldn't let me."

That's a telephone number!

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This lady bought a computer from us, about a month later, she came in and asked us to install a soundcard which can support CD-ROM drives. So we installed a SB PRO for her... Then about a week later, she brings the machine in, and starts ragging us out because her CD-ROM isn't working, and "It wont eject the disk"

I look at the computer... "But you don't have a CD-ROM drive!?" she points at the 5 1/4" disk drive and says "What kind of computer salesman are. you? Can't even recognize a damn CD-ROM drive when you see one?"

Seems she had decided her 5 1/4" floppy drive was in fact a CD-ROM, and since the CD fit in quite nicely, it HAD to be a CD-ROM. She figured we messed up her sales order, so she wanted us to install the soundcard so she could use her "CD-ROM"

Long and short of it... The drive was destroyed, the CD was destroyed... And all the technicians were laughing for a few hours...

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I am a software installer for a large healthcare information systems company that produces products for the AS/400. On a recent install, shortly after going live with the product, I needed to copy a new file to the live environment. In order to do this I needed to have all the users off the system. Rather than just shutting it down, I sent a message to all the terminals that read "Please sign off by 17.15. If you do not sign off voluntarily, your job will be terminated. Thanks." I sent the message and about five minutes later, I received a call from the most irate ICU nurse I have ever talked to. She demanded to know who I was and who I worked for. I explained to her that I was employed by the hospital to install their new system. She basically ranted and raved for a couple of minutes and told me that my message was the most obnoxious and rude message she had ever read. She then hung up on me. I asked two of my colleagues to read the message and both of them thought I was quite polite. After all, I did say "please" and "thank you." I had the system down for about an hour and then brought it back up. I called the emergency room to make sure that the fix I had put in was working. The nurse informed me that it had but then asked me if she were going to be fired. "Excuse me", I said. She asked again, "Am I going to be fired?" I told her I didn't know what she was talking about and then she told me that she wasn't the only one worried. She then explained she had been on the system when it was taken down and she thought that meant losing her job! I couldn't believe it! I explained to her that the term "job" was a computer term meaning the program you were currently in. It suddenly dawned on me why the ICU nurse had been so rude and why, I found out later, the nursing supervisor and the head of Information Systems had been beeped! I send out a message over the system apologizing. The next morning, I ran into the CEO and CFO of the hospital who thought the whole thing was hilarious and took to calling me the Terminator. They told me that anyone that stupid, deserved to be fired.

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We have a service contract at a local college. I got a call one day from someone who said that their Mac IIsi was having a problem. Upon questioning him, he said that whenever he typed on the keyboard, the image on the monitor was shaking. All sorts of monitor problems ran through my mind. I asked him if it was only when he typed and he replied yes. Well, since it was a contract, I figured we'd better go see what was happening. My tech called me about 10 minutes after arriving and reported that the problem was not the computer, but his DESK. The desk was vibrating when he typed on his keyboard. I am still shaking my head on this one, I can't believe any person on the face of the earth could miss that one. The sad thing is that this guy has Dr. in front of his name and is a professor at a major college.

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A customer called in at MicroSystems Warehouse and said he needed to speak to a tech immediately. I asked him what the problem was and that I might be able to help. He says, "Are the SIMM slots located in the back of the computer?" I asked him if he needed help installing the chips. He says, "No. I installed them and the computer just isn't recognizing them." I said to him, "Where did you install the chips?" He says, "I removed my sound card and put them in there."

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SuperMac records a certain number of technical support calls at random, to keep tabs on customer satisfaction. By wild "luck", they managed to catch the following conversation on tape.

Some poor SuperMac TechSport got a call from some middle level official...from the legitimate government of Trinidad. The fellow spoke very good English, and fairly calmly described the problem.

It seemed there was a coup attempt in progress at that moment. However, the national armoury for that city was kept in the same building as the Legislature, and it seems that there was a combination lock on the door to the armoury. Of the people in the capitol city that day, only the Chief of the Capitol Guard and the Chief Armourer knew the combination to the lock, and they had already been killed.

So, this officer of the government of Trinidad continued, the problem is this. The combination to the lock is stored in a file on the Macintosh, but the file has been encrypted with the SuperMac product called Sentinel. Was there any chance, he asked, that there was a "back door" to the application, so they could get the combination, open the armoury door, and defend the Capitol Building and the legitimately elected government of Trinidad against the insurgents?

All the while he is asking this in a very calm voice, there is the sound of gunfire in the background. The Technical Support guy put the person on hold. A phone call to the phone company verified that the origin of the call was in fact Trinidad. Meanwhile, there was this mad scramble to see if anybody knew of any "back doors" in the Sentinel program.

As it turned out, Sentinel uses DES to encrypt the files, and there was no known back door. The Tech Support fellow told the customer that aside from trying to guess the password, there was no way through Sentinel, and that they'd be better off trying to physically destroy the lock.

The official was very polite, thanked him for the effort, and hung up. That night, the legitimate government of Trinidad fell. One of the BBC reporters mentioned that the casualties seemed heaviest in the capitol, where for some reason, there seemed to be little return fire from the government forces.

O.K., so they shouldn't have kept the combination in so precarious a fashion. But it does place, "I can't see my Microsoft Mail server" complaints in a different sort of perspective, does it not?

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Current and previous issues of TECH SUPPORT TALES are available via e-mail request at junkspill@aol.com. ASCII and ye shall receivii! Portions of TECH SUPPORT TALES also appear in MacSense, the Macintosh ezine every month.

To be included in an upcoming issue of TECH SUPPORT TALES (and other possible publications), send your letters, tech stories & computer jokes to: JUNKSPILL@AOL.COM

Until next time...I leave you with a word from a former Vice President of the United States:

"There is nothing that a good defense can not beat a better offense. In other words, a good offense wins."

*to the best of my knowledge - honest! =:-o

c 1995 Eric Hausmann. Tech Support Tales is a registered trademark. You are encouraged to redistribute this document freely by uploading it to other BBSs and online services. Photocopying & faxing of TST is also acceptable. Please keep in mind that I'd like TST to be kept in its original state and remain unaltered. Please do not put Tech Support Tales on your Web pages. There will be an official TST WWW site coming soon. If you are a book, magazine or electronic publisher and are interested in reprinting any part of TECH SUPPORT TALES, write me & I'll have my people contact your people for a PowerLunch meeting.