I think we should really do something about Mondays. I mean, I don’t think there is one person out there who actually likes Mondays. I’m surprised we even keep them around. I’d say that on average they probably cause more unhappiness in everyone’s daily lives than disease, natural disasters, reality TV and lack of parking space at the mall. Someone should do something about it. I’m just saying.
On this fine Monday morning I decided that we should all sit around and complain. And so, I made this thread where we tell out best IT stories that feature annoying lusers who are to stupid to live. I’ll start it off, and you can join in at any time in the comments.
Wireless is Down
One nice summer day I was sitting at work, and productively banging my head against my desk hoping that this will maybe kill some brain cells, and allow me to relate to my users better. I assume it was summer, but frankly I don’t remember because I spent most of my days inside a cubicle, far away from windows and other sources of light. It could have been winter – it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I got a call, and had to answer it.
The company I worked for employed a lot of people who worked away from the main office. Some people telecommuted from their home offices, while others would travel and work from wherever. The guy on the other side of the line was just that type of the user, and he had a problem connecting to the internet. Of course since he was away from the office, the issue was more likely related to his ISP than us, but we were the first line of support for these folks. In situations like these, we were simply supposed to make sure that this is not a PEBKAC issue or a hardware failure. So we would troubleshoot whatever we could on the client side – check their settings, see if the hardware works, etc. If this was not a hardware/software/configuration issue we would just advise them to call the ISP.
But, a lot of networking issues can be magically solved by power cycling your router and gateway appliance. So I routinely would do this exercise with our employees. In best case scenario it resolved the issue and saved them lots of time they would otherwise spend waiting on hold with their ISP. In worst case, they already have performed the first troubleshooting step the ISP support would try.
Sometimes however you got a user who did not know what a router or modem was. They basically did not concern themselves with such issues, and tasked their spouse or son with network setup and/or talking to the ISP. So it was not uncommon for me to have to describe the device to them – you know, a little box with blinking lights and some cables sticking out of it. Some people had it set up in the living room by their media center. Some had it in their basement where the main phone box was. Some had to search for it a little bit. The guy on the other side of the line, had absolutely no clue.
In fact, he was confident that there is no blinkenlights box in his apartment. So I decided to hand him over to his ISP. I asked who handled his internet connection. He responded:
“I thought you were”
In fact, he informed me that he was planning to call us and complain about the signal strength. You see, few weeks ago he had a strong signal and could access the internet in any room. But at some point the signal dropped, and he was able to work only from the kitchen. Then the signal dropped entirely. Surely, this is no way to run a business.
Did I mention this guy was located somewhere in Texas while our office was in Jersey? Somehow he got it into his head that we magically beamed “the internet” to him, across half of the nation. It took me almost half an hour to explain to him that we don’t actually do that, and that he was probably leaching off his neighbors internet all this time. I told him that he should look into some inexpensive broadband internet plan – suggesting calling his Cable company to see if they offer it. The company may even foot the bill for him. When I was hanging up, I had the impression that he did not believe me at all. Turns out he called my supervisor right after our talk who basically told him the same thing. He never mentioned it again.
Once upon a time, I was sitting in my cube contemplating whether I should commit suicide or just get some ice cream. If you have never worked in IT you probably won’t know, but these two things go hand in hand. When you work with users, you face the most extreme manifestations of human stupidity every day. It is frightening, and incredibly depressing. When faced with such unspeakable horror, most people reach for alcohol or drugs, but we IT folks are way past that point. You can only abuse these substances so much, until you build up almost complete immunity. Also, it is a bit difficult to be condescending and rude to the users when you are too drunk and stoned to even move. And since that is a crucial part of the job, we are left only with the two alternatives listed above.
I personally was leaning toward ice cream, but then a wild luser appeared and ruined my day. The creature that entered by cubicle was carrying a poorly maintained laptop that sported various cracks, grease stains and brown smears of unknown origin. Apparently the device stopped booting, which was not surprising considering it’s poor condition. I quizzed him on some of the standard troubleshooting questions on my checklist like:
Did you sit on it? Did you drop it into the toilet? Were you using it in the shower? You know, standard stuff. If I had a penny for every time someone at the company forgot that the laptops are not waterproof I would have like… Five pennies.
Turns out that the luser didn’t do any of that. The laptop just stopped booting on him, and he didn’t do anything to cause it. He didn’t install any software, he didn’t even touch it. It’s funny but when something breaks every fucking lusers will swear up and down that he was not even in the same room when it happened. I mean, it’s not like I will blame them for doing it just like I wouldn’t blame a mentally challenged person for accidentally saying something inappropriate. They just don’t know any better. But knowing how you broke the computer will help me fix it – so making up an alibi on the spot is counter productive. In fact, it is also stupid because I will find out what you did sooner or later.
The filthy computer was throwing up the NTLDR missing error when I booted it up. So I launched Knoppix and started poking around only to discover that the error was right. NTLDR file was not there. Neither was boot.ini, pagefile.sys and all the other garbage that resides in the root of the system drive. I asked the luser about it, and he scratched his head and said:
“Actually, I wanted to ask you about that stuff. I found all these useless files on my C: drive, and I figured that they were just taking up space so I deleted them.”
Apparently my friend read on the interwebs that you can reclaim hard drive space by deleting your temp files. The article showed him how to make windows display hidden system files and he went on a cleaning spree. Apparently he deleted pretty much every hidden file and folder he could find that was not in use. Then he used the machine for the rest of the evening, and powered it down for the night.
It didn’t even cross his mind that deleting bunch of hidden fucking system files could be in any way, shape or form related to his NTLDR Missing error message.
Needless to say, I skipped ice cream that day and committed ritual suicide in the employee bathroom. Twice.
Your turn kids. Post funny IT stories – they don’t have to be job related. Feel free to make fun of clueless friends relatives as well.