Similar Symptoms, Exactly the Same Problem

I should probably be used to this by now, and to some degree, it’s actually understandable. Users tend to think that similar symptoms means they’re having the same problem as the last time they had a problem like this. I can understand how “can’t print” is the same to them every time, even if the last time the problem was that the printer wasn’t mapped and this time the problem is that their connection to the printer has crashed. What I can’t figure out is why they think “document failed to print” and “printer is out of toner” are the same problem.

But it’s worse than that. Users don’t know the difference between “shared drive failed to connect” and “you don’t have permission to access said drive”. I’ve had people say “I can’t access my shared drive”, only to find out that they have never had access to it, but felt they needed it (or were told they did) and expected it to magically show up and/or let them in. Oftentimes, after such permission has been granted, they’ll have an issue where the computer loses connection to those drives, and even though there’s a clear message saying “failed to connect to shared drives”, they call us up and complain that someone removed their access.

We recently had an office migrated to a new server. The people in this office are…well, they’re special people. They go beyond “don’t know much about computers” and have headed straight into “how do they function in the modern world”. Migrating them to a new server, and the calls this caused, was fresh Hell. It’s still going on. I’m on the opening early shift today, and twice already I’ve gotten calls from people who have normal “failed to connect” errors (probably caused by a refresh in the night) that both times has been solved with a simple reboot, but because they fly into panic mode whenever they “can’t get to my files!” which is how they all phrase it, they’re sure it’s that we took their access away.

Apparently They Think They’re Famous

A breed of starfish that is getting worse (in fact, it’s pretty much all of them now) are those who literally think that if they tell me “Hi, it’s Dave from Luserville”, I’ll know exactly who this is and there is no need to tell me their last name.

We might have three Dave’s in one location alone. Or, failing that, we might have three to five locations in Luserville that “Dave” might work at. And for whatever reason, it’s getting increasingly annoying to have to ask them for their last name, not because it takes so much effort to do so, but because it takes so little effort for them to just tell me their full name when they call. I also detest the assumption that I’ll know exactly who they are. There are maybe five users whose voices are instantly recognizable, or who work in a small enough location that I will instantly know which of them is calling.

But here’s an example of why they should never assume I know who they are: I have a user who calls frequently and for the longest time she was the only one with her name who called, so “Hi, it’s Brunhilda” was usually enough to go by. For the record, Brunhilda (not her real name) was the designated liaison for IT in her office, not just a trouble-magnet or -maker. However, one day I was well into a call with another Brunhilda before I realized I wasn’t talking to the one I generally hear from (even their voices sounded alike!).

So, please, starfish, tell me your first and last name, please!

People really do think we’re magicians…

It’s early. I’m the only one here. Hardly any offices are open, but we have to have an early guy both in case someone does call and also to work on imaging computers, and this week that’s me.

I’m in the middle of imaging three different machines when I notice there’s a ticket in the queue, and it’s not one of those automatically generated warnings that I can essentially ignore. It’s a VIP asking me to remote to a user’s computer and figure out why she keeps losing connection.

Okay, a few things…

First, I cannot remotely connect to a user’s computer without their permission. Even if I wanted to. Our program prevents this. And needless to say, this VIP did not have the login credentials I would need to get into her computer.

Second, even if I could, an issue like random disconnects is something that should really be looked at in person. Sure, I can check settings, change any that look wrong and do a network analysis, etc., but chances are good that it’s something environmental causing this issue (and the fact that she’s the only one having it doubles the chances that it’s something physical and near her).

Third, if she really is losing connection like this, and I’m connected to her remotely, I’ll lose connection as well, and that means getting her to log me back in, etc. once her connection is restored. Even doing something like an IP release/renew would cut me off from her computer.

I called the VIP, who seemed surprised to hear from me. She literally thought I could remote into that computer, work my magic and fix it. In fact, she specifically wanted it done now because the user is in meetings all morning and she thought it would give me all the time I needed to root around looking for a solution! Yeah, sorry, but the user not being there makes things harder, not easier. Even for issues that aren’t about connectivity, there might be restarts necessary, and I might need to login as the user, meaning the user has to be there in case I can’t get reconnected or we need their login.

But apparently I’m a magician and I should be able to figure out a way around these things…

Mr. Button-Pusher

A while back, I had this one user who seemingly called me on a daily basis, who I will refer to as Mr. Button-Pusher because he had an unerring ability to push every one of my buttons.

He started off on the wrong foot right away when he called to complain about his new laptop. “The guys that set this up didn’t put nuthin’ on it,” he neeped. “I mean, it’s just a basic install. I got nuthin’ I need on here. This happens every goddam time, they send these laptops to us and they never have the stuff we need on ’em.”

Now, this pissed me off something fierce, because I recognized this guy’s name and I knew that I had been the one who set up this laptop for him, and I made sure he had all the pre-loaded software requested loaded on it before I sent it to him. This included MS Office 2016, 7-Zip, Citrix (already set up to use single sign-on) and some company-specific software that is a major bitch to install, and takes forever, but we do it and do it well.

What I don’t do, however, in fact what I can’t do, is arrange his desktop so that it looks just like his old one did. I also can’t migrate any files he might have saved to his HDD on his original laptop or browser favorites, for the simple reason that I was never given his original laptop. This isn’t some oversight; this guy’s location is nowhere near me (our desk is literally six guys for the entire company, and multiple locations just don’t have onsite service at all) and he wasn’t supposed to send the laptop to us. Generally stuff like what he wanted is done once he gets the laptop, plus he’s really not supposed to be saving his important stuff on his HDD. That’s why they have personal drives on our network, but of course, this guy is one of those users who didn’t even know saving to a networked drive was an option, and was also one of those guys who assumes that if he doesn’t see a shortcut for it on his desktop, assumes it’s simply not there, whatever it is.

Thus, he was certain that he didn’t have his apps (even though a few of them actually did have desktop shortcuts) and was pissed that I couldn’t magically pull his files and browser shortcuts from his old laptop to the new one. I patiently sat on the phone with him for nearly two hours helping him get all that done. It wouldn’t have taken nearly so long if the guy had just shut the hell up and let me do my job, but no, he kept blabbering about our poor service and how every time he calls us he has to call back later because something else has gone wrong.

Which brings me to another major button he pushed: several times during calls with him, something else would go wrong on his end. One time it was his Citrix randomly crashing to the point where I had to reinstall it. Another time he put his laptop in a dock while talking to me and his left monitor started to flicker with lines running through it. Still a third time, at least an hour after he talked to me, the background color on one of his apps “randomly” changed. All three times he was certain that I had done something to cause it. This pissed me off for two reasons: one, I’m quite sure that in at least two of those cases he caused the problem himself and two, in none of those cases had I done anything to his computer that was capable of causing the kind of problem he was having.

The Citrix problem actually began after he’d spoken with a different tech who had uninstalled/reinstalled his Citrix and the user apparently felt like he hadn’t done it right and did it again later himself. Incorrectly. The monitor issue likely wasn’t his fault, but how on earth could I, several hundred miles away from him, cause just one of his monitors to start flickering, especially since I literally had yet to do anything on that call other than check his network connection settings? (The initial reason for his call was intermittent connectivity.) The third time, I am quite certain he changed the color himself, and of course, reacted to this minor change as if it was the end of the world, and had some choice words for me when I got the call.

Another major button he pushed was how he would call about one thing and then bring up several little issues during the call, demanding I fix every one of them before I get off the phone. This pisses me off because 90% of these “issues” weren’t issues at all, just stuff that bugged him, like his connection being slower on his mobile hotspot than on the corporate network, or his home page being different than the one he liked (as if this wasn’t something he could change himself), or his dislike of the default viewing pane layout in Outlook. Of course, every different thing he asks me to help him with requires me to log a separate ticket for it, and if the issues themselves are a waste of my time, all those extra tickets are doubly so.

Phone-Induced Amnesia

CaffeineHead here, old soldier from back in the days of the site, back then a wide-eyed young pup, now a cynical old fart. In the ensuing years since the site, I’ve lost one wife, gained another, went from having two cute little kids to being Dad to two young adults and one sweet little toddler through whom I cling to the notion that there is still some good in the world.

I also don’t deal with the general public anymore, but work an internal IT position where I speak solely to company employees, which makes the following situation even more head-shake worthy.

Presumably, these people use their computers every day. They log into their accounts, launch their apps, check their email, yada yada yada. They know instinctively how to do everything they need to do on their systems to the point where they could do it in their sleep.

Until, that is, something breaks, and they have to call IT. Then, suddenly, they forget how to do anything without explicit instructions. I mean, even on stuff they do every day.

Me: Okay, I’ve killed your citrix session and it looks like the new one launched successfully. Here, I’ll open your [Citrix App] for you. Can you put your password in please?

Starfish: What’s my password?

Me: Whatever one you use to login to [Citrix App].

Starfish: I…I don’t think I know what it is…

Me: What do you put in there when you first launch the app every day?

Starfish: …I…um…can’t you put it in?

Me: We don’t store your passwords as doing so would be a breach of security.

Starfish: Well, I really can’t remember. Can you login for me?

And the song and dance starts again with any other thing I have them check. And $deity forbid I need them to reboot, especially if I plan on getting reconnected to their screen.