In the business world, people seem to find the most bizarre reasons for calling the ICT department. Here is a list of ten that always seem to pop up when least expected. Some of the responses below are things I would never say aloud—but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking them.
That password is too hard to remember!
Few people realize that the passwords you use when accessing bank accounts, business systems and web-based email are, in fact, your signature. It's not a good idea to have a signature any stranger can imitate by guessing. That is why it's important to have a complicated password using numbers, letters, capitals and symbols. The problem is picking one that is easy to remember. Here are two ways to do that: Use a phrase as your password (IhatePasswords!), or use two words separated by a number or symbol (tree56Watch).
I only had that problem after you worked on my computer!
As computer technicians we often get this. Fifty to 70 percent of the time, this comment is made days after the initial work was completed. Of course, the user may have been downloading free music and software or clicking on spam emails—but because the technician was there a week ago, they must have created the problem.
The anti-virus is not working!
Let’s come to an understanding. Anti-virus software is only as good as its latest update. An AV program will stop 95 percent of viruses in the wild. But they are always playing catch-up—an AV program is a reactive method of protection, and there will always be a gap between existing attack vectors and the updates that allow a system to block them. That gap can be as little as one hour, or as long as 14 days. Viruses will always find a way of getting past the AV, which is what they are designed to do. The only way to protect yourself is to be ever vigilant. A little paranoia also helps.
But that’s your job!
Said in reference to tasks like emptying the recycle bin, moving unnecessary items off the desktop, and clearing out the deleted items folder of your e-mail. Good computer housekeeping is not the role of the computer technician. The computer technician doesn't know the difference between unwanted spam, and that absolutely crucial e-mail that you put in the trash folder by accident.
But this computer isn't very old!
Computers have a useful lifespan of about two to three years. After about two years, they start to slow down. This in mainly due to the fact that they have two years of accumulated crap inside their system. They also start to have problems with old hardware trying to get the most out of new software. For similar reasons, smart devices have a lifespan of about twelve to eighteen months. In most situations, an old computer can benefit from a reinstallation of the operating system. But your computer may, in fact, be getting old—even if you feel like you just bought it yesterday.
No one else has this problem
Most organizations have something called a "Standard Operating Environment" (SOE). The SOE consists of the operating system, hardware, software and utilities, including drivers and printers, that will be used by everyone in the business. The SOE is applied to all the computers within the organization, but there will always be users who have slightly different requirements. They need to print to a different printer, or they have to use high-end CAD applications. So there may be a good reason why no one else has your problem.
When someone says this to an ICT person, the best solution is to reimage the computer—in other words, delete every piece of software and start over. This does not go down well with the user.
I know a little about computers...
The user who has possesses a solid grounding in computer science and a profound appreciation for the inner workings of computers is usually the person a computer technician has the most problems with. Not because that they have that information—but because they really don't. When they have a problem, it's usually because they have (here's a technical word for you) “fiddled” with something they didn't understand. In most cases, because they did not have full access to the system, this is what breaks.
These are also the type of people who will bring in a wireless access point and plug it into the network, because they know better then the technician who set up the network in the first place. They don't understand the repercussions of an unauthorized and insecure AP on the business network.
What is a web browser?
This is the other end of the spectrum. Users who have no understanding of the technology that they are using can also be a major problem. They are the ones who will accidentally click on that link in the phishing email, or download that “fun” free program that auto-installs its own toolbar. There's hope for these people, but they probably need some type of training, especially in the arena of security.
I never visit that type of website!
Although this may sound like a fishy excuse, in many cases it's true. The user has been redirected to that embarrassing site in one of two ways. They went to a site because they were looking for free stuff—applications, movies, songs or pictures of celebrities—and fell into a well-concealed cyber crime plan. Or they went to a legitimate site that has been compromised by a hacker to redirect all people to the illegitimate page. Whether the excuse is true or false, this user should stand to use a bit more caution.
I didn't do anything!
No—they didn't click fifteen times on that icon because they just knew the fifteenth click was going to make it work. It must have been someone else. And now their computer is frozen because they have fifteen copies of the application open, and not enough resources to do anything about it. Computers are inanimate objects—they do not plan to be annoying, and they are not out to get you. If things are going a tad slowly for your liking, taking your irritation out on your keyboard won't fix it. And when it comes to real computer problems, they're usually due to an error between screen and chair—we call it an ID ten T error (ID10T).
There are many computer technicians out there who have similar stories to tell. Let's all commiserate by sharing them.
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