T E C H S U P P O R T T A L E S # 8

WARNING! THIS DOCUMENT IS NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH MICROSOFT BOB! You may laugh just as hard as if you were launching BOB, but TECH SUPPORT TALES is not BOB, nor does it have any aspirations to be MS BOB...despite rumors that the Gatester may be spreading around. To further prove this point, I have hired Johnny "The Man" Cochran to illustrate some of the more obvious differences, should TST have to defend itself against Microsoft in a court of law.

* BOB is round...TST is square.
* BOB is yellow...TST is black and white (in most cases).
* BOB wears extremely thick glasses...TST has never worn glasses.
* BOB lives on the west coast...TST lives on the east coast.
* TST weighs about 25K and needs a pinch of RAM...BOB ships on 85
floppy disks and requires a large manual crank (batteries sold separately) to start it up.

So you see, it makes no sense, it doesn't fit. And if it doesn't fit, you must've quit.

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 #8 of TECH SUPPORT TALES - the publication which proves that stupidity breeds humor. This issue of Tech Support Tales has been sent to 1,286 email subscribers around the globe by a hired militia of armed and disgruntled postal employees.

It's not too often that people send me tech tales that send me into a teary-eyed, gut-busting, laughing fit...but I think you'll agree that some of the stories in this issue will lighten up those dry moments at the staff meeting you are voluntarily required to attend this week. Some of these tales are sooo funny, that they will be included in the upcoming action-cyber-romance-thriller flick, "USER," starring Steve Case as an evil hacker with his Atari 540ST.

In other news, the TECH SUPPORT TALES web site is open for browsing. Feel free to check it out at the following URL: keep in mind that it is under construction, so click lightly. A big thanks to Alan Herrick of Auricular for his assistance.

For all you folks in the Lowell/Boston, Massachusetts area, check out the radio show "Let's Talk Computers" hosted by Dave Sciuto and Bill Dubie. It can be heard every Saturday evening on WCAP 980 AM 7-8 pm. They have had such guests as Scott Adams, Brock Meeks, and many others. Live phone calls are encouraged and they can be heard reading some of their favorite tales from this zine on occasion. You can find out more at: http://www1.usa1.com/~scryber/ltc.html

Finally, here's your opportunity to land a job that will enable you to feel good about what you do (and send me more Tales). Habitat for Humanity International, a non-profit ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to eliminating poverty housing worldwide, is seeking Technical Support Volunteers. People interested should have Macintosh knowledge and experience (PC knowledge and experience a plus), the ability to communicate clearly and patiently, the capacity to make a minimum one year commitment, and a desire use computer skills to rid the world of sub-standard housing. Housing and food stipend provided. For more information, please send your resume to Michelle_G._Dalva@habitat.org

Enjoy! =:-p

-Eric Hausmann
Editor, Tech Support Tales

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.

BACK ISSUES: Back issues can be obtained at the Tech Support Tales web site ( or directly from me via email. Let me know which issues you'd like and I'll send them your way. In the next issue, I'll be announcing an FTP site as well. 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 copies of Windows 95 (I need the floppies) to: JUNKSPILL@AOL.COM

Thanks to the following individuals for sharing the jokes and tales you are about to read: AvelardoM@aol.com, joshr@pacificnet.net, alan_herrick@rad-mac1.ucsf.edu, Othill@aol.com, erd@infinet.com, David.B.Haseman@Dartmouth.EDU, sergior@hpcscfld.nsr.hp.com, GSubG13er@aol.com, nickzman@eskimo.com, EDUCORP@aol.com, jcn@world.net, 72662.131@compuserve.com, rwinchell@acer.com, SOOOOHAPPY@aol.com, AaprDon77@aol.com, TwistSol@aol.com, MacSenseEd.@eworld.com

Can you inform me the price of the subscription? Thank you for your service.
(Hey, I like this guy!, Ed.)

My wife is on Mac and I am on IBM - finally something we can both laugh at.

Sign me up for your list, my tech support specialty is blue haired women and the oft "JUST DON'T GET IT! ARRGG!" I could use some humor. -V760Turbo@aol.com

Please kind sir! I've had a terrible week so far, a terrible year in fact! If you could only send me the back issues 1 through 6 of TST, it would surely bring some joy to this otherwise mundane existence!
After Downloading three back-Issues of tech support tales, I am hooked. In three hours, this has become my favorite E-Zine! I'm In the Eighth grade. Being one of the few Mac users at my school, I am oft called upon to solve various Mac predicaments students and teachers get into, so In a way, I'm like a Tech-Support Rep. Mostly, This falls in to the realm of "Ben! This $&@# computer won't print!", or "Ben, why Is this printer so slowwwww?" Sometimes, However, a problem will arise that really tries my Macintosh knowledge. Case In point: One day I was In the school library trying to actually get some useful work done. A kid came up to me and said "Ben! This $&@# computer won't print!" "All right, I said, let me have a look." I found print monitor running, but printing was paused. Used to this problem, as our LaserWriters only have two megs of ram and kids often accidentally pause printing while staring at print monitor spool their document, I resumed printing without first looking at the document que. The LaserWriter responded beautifully, churning out twenty-five or thirty copies of the SAME DOCUMENT. Recognizing the kid's name, I delivered the papers to his Home Room. It seemed that it had been a busy day that morning , and the printer's memory had been clogged. When his document didn't print RIGHT AWAY, he had tried printing his document again, and again, and again.

When the bell rung to go to class, he paused the printing, leaving all twenty-something files spooled on his Mac. As I left, the teacher was reprimanding him. I sure hope that she'll teach her class what background printing is from now on!

I found #7 in the Macworld "New Uploads" area. I love it so much, it's so encouraging to think that there are more computer illiterate people than just my grandfather. I haven't laughed out loud like this since Bill Clinton decided to run for the presidency.
// Drink milk or suffer eternal damnation and hellfire //
// - Brought to you by the Evangelist Dairy Producers of America //
Dear Earthling: Hello! I am a creature from a galaxy far away, vacationing on your planet. I have transformed myself into this little .sig . As you are reading it, I am having sex with your eyeballs. I know you like it, because you are smiling. Thanks for a wonderful time.
Microsoft (MSFT) Announces
New CD-ROM Software to Aid
Consumers In Suing Itself
(REDMOND) In an effort to make it easier for computer users everywhere to file a law suit against itself, Microsoft Corporation today announced Microsoft Litigation '95, a multimedia reference library complete with 139 frequently used legal writs, briefs, templates and forms which are accessible from within other programs with a single click.

With this handy tool, a user will be able to combine elements of the popular Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office Professional desktop productivity suites in conjunction with the Litigation '95 CD-ROM package to quickly and efficiently bring suit against Microsoft for a variety of reasons, whether legitimate or frivolous.

What is new this year:

Litigation Builder
Located on the QuickSuit information retrieval toolbar, Litigation Builder provides instant access to an enormous variety of case law and civil code from within any program on the Windows platform.

Suit Wizards (tm)
Suit Wizards (tm) guide the user through the many mazes of 'legalese' required to bring suit against Microsoft, whether in city, county, state, Federal, Appellate, or Supreme Court. Localized versions of Litigation '95 will provide for the equivalent of lawsuits in any nations' format.

Year in Review
The Year in Review section highlights lawsuits, findings, settlements and other legal events of the past year which affect Microsoft, including the Justice Department suit, Judge Sporkin's refusal to approve the settlement and the Stacker suit.

All New Forms
View more than 650 legal templates and forms from around the world, 930 country -specific case law findings, and 180 bar associations. Also click a Latin legal term to hear it pronounced. Nothing could make it easier for a non-lawyer to bring suit against Microsoft.

More Multimedia Elements
Litigation '95 contains all new video for a total of 45 clips, 150 new audio clips for a total of five hours of sound, and 550 new images for a total of 3,000 pictures. The law dictionary contains more than 80,000 spoken pronunciations (the feature can be turned off if desired).

The Baby Tech Support Line
Ring Ring Ring

Hello! And thank you for calling the Baby Technical Support Line at Saguaro General Hospital. For Imminent Baby Delivery, please press 1, For regular Pediatric Questions, please press 2, For Sales and Service, please press 3, for Technical Questions regarding the Care and Upkeep of your Baby, please press 4.


Ring Ring Ring

Hello, this is Mary with Saguaro General Hospital Baby Technical Support. How can I help you today?

Yes. Ahh. I'm having problems with my new baby and my wife is out at the moment. We had our baby delivered at Saguaro about 4 months ago.

Yes sir. What seems to be the problem?

Well, I'm kinda new to this, you know? I mean, I'm here alone with the kid and I'm not sure what to do next.

OK. Tell me where you're at. What kind of model do you have?


Yes sir.

Well. It's a baby. And she's been crying for a while now.

What I mean is, can you tell me what obvious features the baby has? Does she have any defects? Is she missing any fingers, toes? Things like that?

What? Oh no! She's just your basic baby, I guess.

OK. Sounds like our Performa Model. How is the baby behaving now?

Well, she's not eating, and she's been throwing things around and crying.

In other words, she's acting normal.

All right. Have you tried Awakening her without any Extensions?

What are those?

Extensions would be any outside disturbances, such as a lot of noise, loud pets; a nice quiet environment. She needs no extra stimuli when she wakes up. She'll be in a lot better mood.

Well, I'll try that.

Have you Rebuilt the Baby lately?


Sir, babies need a lot of care and attention.

That's what my wife keeps telling me. I guess I should start paying more attention to her.

That's good.

Well, what can I do now?

Well, sir, Rebuilding the Baby is really very simple once you've done it. You're going to have to sit down in front of the baby and do the following. After you wake her without any Extensions, give the baby a bath and wash her carefully. Make sure when you wash her to not let go of her hand until you see the smiling face!

OK. Sounds good.

Then, dry her carefully and dust her.


Baby Powder, sir.

Oh. OK.

Then, place a clean, fresh diaper on the baby.

A diaper.

Yes, sir.

How do you put those things on?

It's all explained very clearly in the manual we sent to you when the baby was delivered.

I don't think we got that.

Did you inspect your shipping container carefully?

Just a second. Let me look.

(A few minutes later)

Yes! Here it is. Hey, it's got pictures and everything.

Yes sir, we go through a lot of trouble to produce those manuals. You'll find all the instructions you'll need in there. Plus we've included many tips.

OK. I'll read it tonight.

Good. Can I have your name and number please?

Jay Pegg, 555-6001.

OK. Mr. Pegg, can I have the serial number of the baby, please?

Serial number?

Yes sir. We place a bar code on each baby which helps us keep track of them. It's very helpful to us when they come in for maintenance.

(Some crying in the background)

Well, I've got her upside down and every which way, but I see no serial number.

Sir, the serial number is very small and is usually placed on top of her skull.

Isn't that dangerous?

Oh no. Not at all. Eventually it just fades away. Just brush her hair aside and it should be there.

Just a second and I'll look.

(A lot of crying and screaming now)

Uh. I've got her in my lap now. She's very strong, you know.

I can imagine, sir.

Well, let's see here. It looks like S-G-H-3-9-8 Ow! Honey, don't poke daddy like that!

Are you all right sir?

Huh? Oh, just fine. Let's see S-G-H-3 Damn! Why you little!

(A LOT of crying now)

Hello? Sir?

Just a second. Let me take this plastic dino away from her.

(Not as much crying)

OK. Here we go. It looks like, yes! 666!


Hah! Just kidding. OK, the real number is SGH35671-1/22/94. Wheh! There.

OK. I've got the number. Just let me look up that number. OK Mr. Pegg, we have you listed as living in Tempe? Is that correct?

Yes. That's right.

(Crying coming back strong)

We have no name for the baby listed. What is her name?

Uhh. Actually we haven't named her yet.

Well. It's very simple. Simply Select the Baby and type in her new name.


Yep. That's all there is to it.

Where do I type?

Well, included with your manual is a key pad which has many different functions.

Let me look. Hey! You're right. This will be a big help.

The manual explains everything in great detail, and if you still have problems with your baby, just call us anytime and we'll help.

Sounds great. While I have you on the line, the baby keeps crying all the time when the mother isn't here. What can I do?

Have you tried a Scream Saver, sir?

Scream Saver?

Yes. We recommend Scream Savers for saving your baby's voice. We have had a lot of success with sitting the child in front of a TV and turning it to C-SPAN.

Hmm. I'll try that. What do you recommend when the kid just doesn't want to go to bed? We've tried playing with her to the point were we are both worn out and the baby just keeps going.

Sir, if you look on the key pad, you'll see a small cover which opens up. There we have installed additional options. Try setting the Sleep Mode to what ever time at night you want the child to sleep. If you have other times when you wish the baby to be sleeping, such as during Friday rush hour traffic, simply press the Sleep Now mode and the child will stop screaming in your ears, and fall peacefully to sleep.

Hey! Now that's a great idea.

Yes sir. It's amazing what they are doing nowadays.

Well. Thanks Mary for all your help and I'll be sure and ask especially for you if we need more help.

Thank you for calling the Baby Technical Support Line.

____________________________________________________________ ----------------------------
Use at your own RISC

My apartment-mate (we'll call him "Mike") sheepishly entered my room, asking me if I could take a "look" at his computer. Now, he rarely relies on my Mac expertise to solve a problem; he usually takes it on as a "challenge" to solve it himself. So I knew this must be a stumper.

He turned on his Performa, and shortly after the extension parade, his Mac started beeping. Incessantly.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

We still had control of the Mac, and could open files, pull down menus, etc. But the incessant beeping was maddening. We checked every control panel for settings. All seemed O.K. We changed the error beep in the "Sounds" control panel, and lo and behold, the incessant beeping became incessant quacking.

Quack! Quack! Quack!

Annoying, so we changed it back. We lowered the volume in the control panel, and now instead of beeping, the menu bar began blinking (which is what normally happens when you mute the beep sound.)

Blink! Blink! Blink!

Obviously, first thing I tried was restarting with all extensions off.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

So, what was going wrong with his Mac? To what error was the Mac trying to alert us? And more importantly, was this a software or a hardware problem?

Mike's first guess was to replace the System Software (perhaps it got corrupted?) As he pulled out the ol' floppies, I figured I'd test if this would solve the problem. I started up from the System Software CD-ROM that came with the computer. Guess what?

Beep! Beep! Beep!

Just to be safe, I then started up from the Disk Tools. Even though it was a minimal system, with no control panels, we STILL heard:

Beep! Beep! Beep!

No matter how we'd alter or re-install the software, this beeping would not go away. Perhaps a loose speaker connection? Mike finally admitted that he'd been pulling his hair for hours on this one, and I was his last hope. Apparently this incessant beeping was plaguing him for three DAYS now, and he could no longer concentrate on getting his law studies done. I could see the psychosis building in his eyes. This was a desperate man.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

I'd ascertained it was a hardware problem, which meant it was out of my hands. Before giving in completely, Mike seemed let down that he'd actually have to bring his trusty, die-hard Mac in for _service._ Blasted Performas, I thought. Apple probably cut some corners to make the models less expensive. Weird new features, bundled software, ease-of-installation... I mean, how difficult is it to install and configure a REAL Mac?

I began to exit the room. Mike got on the phone. Defeat.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

Then it hit me. I turned around, headed back for the Performa. At the base of the CPU were two volume buttons to "ease" adjustment... and the "up" button was jammed in. With a quick jiggle, it was released, and...

Silence. Beautiful silence.

Mike asks me for Mac help all the time now.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

We had a member call up with the usual connection problems and the tech on the call was wondering why it was taking the member unusually long to do the simplest task such as selecting an item from the menubar. The member said that her cat had eaten her mouse ball and she had to move the cursor by putting her finger in the cavity where the mouse ball used to be and moving the rollers manually.
The computer service tech where I work told me he got a call from a secretary complaining that the floppy drive in her computer would work. He went down to check it out and found that she was putting the discs in WITH the plastic dust sleeves still on them. He asked her why on earth she was doing that and she said, "Well, I didn't want my computer to get a virus."
I was working at a company that manufactured inter networking hardware for minicomputers, providing in-house support for other employees of the company. One day, a user buzzed me on the intercom and asked, "is the computer down?" Since I was reading and did not actually know the answer to her question, I sat up quickly and began typing on my terminal to see if the computer had crashed when I wasn't looking. It hadn't. I replied, "No, it's up." "Well, I can't logon," was the reply. When I got to the user's office, I checked the obvious things; the terminal was plugged in and turned on, the keyboard was plugged in and the lights showed "online". I reset the terminal - no effect. I checked the terminal settings (baud rate, parity, etc.), all correct. Finally, in desperation, I craned my neck around the back side of the terminal and noticed that there was one and only one cable running into the rear of the box - the power cable. I asked the user where the other cable was (the serial connection to the mini) and was told, "Oh, it's over here. I moved my terminal this morning. Is this thing important?"
Knowing something about computers made me the department computer "Geek". That meant that I had to help install nearly all the Macintosh software for a large radiology department. It was fun to go to everyone's desk and get them up and running.

One secretary really like to chew winter green lifesavers. I told her the old story about seeing phosphorescence when the candy is crushed by her teeth. She had heard about that and had even tried it out in front of a mirror in a darkened room.

I smiled and said, "Well, you know, that chewing those lifesavers in front of your monitor will get the screen to jiggle."

She looked up with opened eyes and while grabbing here purse she said, "We'll just see."

She popped a life saver in her mouth and LO and Behold! the screen jiggled (for her).

She was amazed and I grew several levels of esteem after that incident until she caught me in the hall later and wanted to know why no one else could see the screen jiggle when she chewed her candy.

CALLER: "A friend of mine gave me your software, and I'm missing one of the manuals..."
Me: "Hewlett Packard Customer Service, this is Sergio, can I help you?" Customer: "Yes, I have a deskjet that I need to have repaired" Me: "We make several deskjets ma'am -- do you know what model yours is?" Customer: "It's a Hewlett Packard!" Me: (suppressing a sigh) Yes I know....umm, could you tell me if your deskjet is color or black and white? Customer: (pause) well....it's beige!
A guy calls because he wants to register his Macintosh Performa and needs to know where the serial numbers are on the computer and modem.

For the computer: "It's on the back of the computer." Response: "Oh, I don't think I can get around to the back of it."

For the modem: "It's on the bottom of the modem." Response: "I've got the modem attached with a C-clamp so it doesn't fall off."

All this and a speakerphone, too.

A co-worker told me this one...

Apparently, he (the co-worker) and a friend were talking. He must have brought up the subject of the InterNet, because his friend asked him:

"InterNet? Isn't that that America Online thingy?"

We receive a variety of calls on the 100's of CD's we sell. One of them is called Midnight Stranger, a game where you roam around a city at night looking for people to interact with. A guy called with problems on Midnight Stranger on a Mac. This is how the conversation went:

Customer: This program Midnight Stranger is locking up on me.

Tech: At what point does it lock up?

Customer: I don't understand what you mean.

Tech: Does it lock up at the same point every time?

Customer: I still don't understand what you mean.

Tech: Does it lock up when you start Midnight Stranger, at the middle of the game, how far into the game, where? when?

Customer: Oh, Oh, It locks up when you are at the girl's house and she's sitting on the couch.

Tech: OK, the brunette?

Customer: No, the dark haired girL.

While on telesales for a software retailer many years back a lady rang and asked, "Can you suggest the best home office accounting package? "

I answered, "In my opinion, Mind Your Own Business."

She nearly went through the roof, yelling and screaming how dare I talked to her like that.

One of our software products is often used to print addresses onenvelopes. The customer had called the printer manufacturer because every time he tried to print an envelope, the printer jammed. Apparently the manufacturer's tech support person asked, "Does it only do this in one particular program?" and our customer replied yes, only with ours.

"Well, you better call them, then," said the support person, referring to us.

As instructed the client called us and told me about the problem. I asked him to try printing an envelope and describe what they saw. We chatted while waiting for the test print. I learned the customer was in Miami, in a three day rainstorm caused by tropical depression Jerry. He also mentioned that the printer was brand new, fresh out of the box.

No luck, the envelope jammed.

Then I asked them to print the same thing on plain paper. It sailed through, printing perfectly.

Obviously the humidity had swollen the envelopes to a thickness that the new printer could not handle. I mentioned this to him and he agreed. "Why did you call me about what is obviously a hardware problem?" I inquired.

"The printer guy said to because it only happens when printing envelopes with your product."

"Do you print envelopes with any other software products?"

"No, just yours," he replied, then a long paused followed. Finally he continued, "Good point. I'll call the printer guy again."

This guy walked into our shop with a Duo and an English accent. He had this really important meeting in an hour and couldn't get his Duo to boot up. So we start it up in our DuoDock with a floppy, only to find _every_ file sitting on the desktop. Apparently he liked seeing the System Folder all the time.
A customer called a desktop publishing outfit and wanted a poster made from a color slide. It was a picture of the caller's recently deceased father with a couple of his fishing buddies in a boat. The caller mentioned there was a slight problem- in the picture her father was facing away from the camera. She wanted the photo expert to flip the negative so you could see his face. When it was explained that this would only provide a mirror image of the back of his head she became irate and screamed into the phone- "If you can take the pimples off those glamour girls why can't you put a face on my father!"
At 3:37 a.m. on a Sunday, I had just looked at the clock to determine my annoyance level, I received a frantic phone call from a new user of a Macintosh Plus. She had gotten her entire family out of the house and was calling from the neighbor's. She had just received her first system error and interpreted the picture of the bomb on the screen as a warning that the computer was going to blow up.
One particular day like any other, an older woman purchased a Macintosh dragged it home. A little while later we received an angry phone call from the woman. Apparently, she had set her whole system up without incident until she came across the mouse pad we included at no extra charge. "Which side" she demanded, "of the mouse pad faces upwards???" Despite the brightly colored red company logo emblazoned on one side of the pad, the woman scolded us for not including appropriate instructions.

Current and previous issues of TECH SUPPORT TALES are available at the TST web site ( or 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 as well as other fine publications.

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

Until next time... C:\DOS C:\DOS\RUN RUN\DOS\RUN

*to the best of my knowledge - yasure yabetcha =:-o

Copyright 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 encouraged. Please keep in mind that I'd like TST to be kept in its original state and remain unaltered. 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.