Gotta Love these Support Calls

Don’t you just love these kinds of conversations. I pick up the phone and I hear this:

User: “I’m having a problem. I knocked off the computer and now the dell things comes up…”

Working at a small accounting company company as one of the very few employees with technology background means that you get to wear many hats. My main focus here is to do in-house development with PHP and MySQL and system administration. But on most days I’m the only person who can help Joe Luser with his “comming up dell problems”. So I take a deep breath and ask the guy to explain to me what exactly is happening.

User: “I knocked the laptop off the table by accident, and it fell on the floor. And now the dell comes up and nothing else.”

I check the notes. Shit! This fucker got a brand new laptop like 2 weeks ago! And I’m saying brand new, out of the box, styrofoam and static bag wrapped new. And he probably already wrecked it. I politely ask him to elaborate on the “dell problem”. I’m guessing he is getting stuck on on the POST screen with the Dell logo – which is not good. Freezing during POST test is usually indicative of bad memory or a damaged DIMM socket. And I think we are “saving” money by not buying the accidental damage warranties these days. Sigh…

User: “Well… I start it, and the dell comes up, but I don’t see the icons. I see the mouse icons and I can move them. And I see Dell, but I don’t see the icons.”

Oh boy… This is like listening to Senator Stevens explaining the internet. It’s not something that you dump something on. It’s a series of tubes. Not a truck. Apparently this guys tech vocabulary consists of “dell”, “icons” and “mouse”. So my task here is to identify what does he mean by Dell.

Me: “So… Do you just see the Dell logo on a black screen with a small white progress bar on the bottom?”
User: “Yes… Welll… No… Well… It’s kinda black but it’s also gray and has like stuff”
Me: “So… Is it more like a photo? Like a picture?”
User: “Yes! Like a picture and it says Dell”
Me: “So… You’re saying that you are seeing the Windows desktop but no icons. And you can see the mouse pointer and move it. Is that correct?”
User: “Yes… I guess. I see the mouse icons, and Dell. So yes.”

Ha! I solved it! I solved the riddle of the mysterious “Dell that comes up”. Now what? It looks like the machine freezes on windows startup. And it was caused by a some aerial acrobatics that ended with crash landing on the hardwood floor. He probably busted the hard drive just enough to give windows issues while booting, but not enough to kill it completely.

Me: “Is the machine frozen? Can you still move the mouse? Can you do Alt+Ctrl+Del?”
User: “Hold on…”

I hear some clicking in the distance. Then he comes back.

User: “It came up”
Me: “What? The task manager?”
User: “Huh? No, the icons. It’s working now”
Me: “Oh, so windows finally loaded. Ok. That’s good. See if you can reboot and check if it takes this long to start up again.”
User: “Ok. I’ll call you back. Thanks.”

He called me back few minutes later and reported the system is working just fine. I have no clue what happened, but I’m glad he didn’t break the laptop. I told him to stop by for a checkup once he finishes the job and is back in the area.

[tags]tech support, icons, mouse, dell is coming up, dell[/tags]

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