Friday, June 27, 2008

Computer Stupidities

One day, a customer called, asking how to access the site.

* Tech Support: "Well, just go to [url]."
* Customer: "How do I do that?"
* Tech Support: "Type it in in your web browser."
* Customer: "Huh?"
* Tech Support: " you have Internet access?"
* Customer: "Huh? No. No Internet. I don't even have a computer."
* Tech Support: "Ok, sir, you need a computer and an Internet account to access web sites."
* Customer: "Oh. Well, it didn't say that when I mailed in the membership card. I want my money back."

This conversation took place through email.

* Customer: "I need something off the web, and I don't have any way to use a browser!"
* Tech Support: "There's a browser called 'lynx' that you can use from a shell." (gives a brief description of how to use it)
* Customer: "What's lynx? I need a browser!"
* Tech Support: (again mentions lynx and says how to use it)
* Customer: "I need a browser. If you can't help me, get someone else to answer my emails."

* Student: "I'm not on a web site. I'm on"

I was browsing the Internet when my friend came over and said he made a website. He told me to go a particular URL. When I went there, though, the browser said it was invalid. So I went to Google to search for it, and when I got to Google, he said, "Oh yeah, that's my web site."

I used to work at the IT Support Desk for a university. A librarian at one of our libraries was surfing the web one day and came across a site that said it was best viewed using the Internet Explorer browser. So she called me and said she needed a "browser" to view this site, and could we install a browser onto her system?

I told her that if she was viewing the site already, she was already using a browser, but, unsatisfied with that answer, she went over my head to the Directory of Libraries and said that we were being uncooperative about providing her with a browser.

While working at the university computer lab one evening, a student came over to ask me why her computer was running so slowly. She said that she was just surfing the Internet. I went over and examined her screen and noticed that she had approximately 230 separate browser windows open in Internet Explorer.

She thought that she could only use each one once.

On a recent commercial airing on U.S. televisions, 10-10-220 advertises a low-cost, long-distance choice without commitment. This one features Emmitt Smith and Elmarie Wendel in the first class section of an airplane.

At the end, ways to find more information on 10-10-220 includes their website, which they promote as simply: www.10-10-220.

I wonder how many people try to reach this and find it's not accessible?

* Customer: "What do you mean I have to dial into the Internet every time I want to go to your web site? I thought I only had to do that the first time I used this software!"

A customer, to his ISP:

* Customer: "I found this [web] page on [another service] but the name you need to get there is too long. Shorten it."

* Customer: "I am getting a 'Page Cannot Be Displayed' message."
* Tech Support: "Ok, let's try our home page."
* Customer: "That worked."
* Tech Support: "Ok, let's try another page like"
* Customer: "That worked too."
* Tech Support: "I don't see any problems then."
* Customer: "Well I tried that page I was trying, and it did it again."
* Tech Support: "What's the site's address?"
* Customer: "(address).com."
* Tech Support: "Hmmm. It looks like the site is down."
* Customer: "Yeah, I know it is. Can you fix it now, please?"
* Tech Support: "It's not one of our sites, so we can't fix it."
* Customer: "What do you mean you can't fix it? You are my Internet provider. You should be able to fix it."
* Tech Support: "No, we cannot. We do not own that site."
* Customer: "Let me speak to your supervisor. You're just stupid and trying to brush me off."

We have a minor help site for the easiest to answer questions, and we're always telling customers to go look at that first before phoning us. Anyway, my colleague was on the phone, and I overheard this conversation:

* Tech Support: "Yeah, just go to our website it's at www.[our company].com...yeah, three w's, then a dot, then [our company], then a dot then 'com'...yeah, that's right. . . . What do you mean, how do you spell 'dot'?"

* Customer: "Whenever I try to go to your sports site, I end up at this other page. I even typed the correct address in the bar to make sure that I got there."
* Tech Support: "What browser are you using? We need to check to see if your browser is new enough to view our sites."
* Customer: "Well...I must be using the newest browser. I'm using Yahoo. I think they'd update their browser! Hold on. Let me check Alta Vista really quick."

This happened to me when I was in high school. I was in the computer lab, and I overheard the lab moniter telling someone that if you bookmarked a page before it had finished loading you'd only get the partially loaded page every time you visited it from your bookmarks.

On day my English teacher was trying to teach the class how to do research on the Internet.

* Teacher: "What browser do you use to get on the Internet?"
* Student: "Internet Explorer."
* Teacher: "No, no...the browser that you use to get around the Internet. Which do you use?"
* Student: "Microsoft Internet Explorer."
* Teacher: "You connect with Internet Explorer, but what is your browser? You know, Yahoo, Webcrawler...?"

And for the rest of the semester he insisted that a search engine was the same thing as a browser. And every time he said it, I dug my fingers in the desk to keep from screaming at him.

In my job on the helpdesk of an ISP I get a lot of callers who are ignorant and proud of it. I think they have decided that since they weren't born with computer knowledge, it's too late to learn anything now.

Yesterday's customer was having problems with his email. I have given up asking, "What is your email client?" because I just get questioning grunts.

* Tech Support: "What icon do you click on when you want to read your email?"
* Customer: "No. I just use inbox."

Through a leap of sheer intuition, I decided he was using the mail program on his browser. Now I needed to know which browser.

* Tech Support: "What do you see on the page?"
* Customer: "Well, your company's web page is on here."
* Tech Support: "What's in the top right hand corner of your screen?"
* Customer: "An X."
* Tech Support: "What's under the X?"
* Customer: "An N."
* Tech Support: "Ok, so you're using Netscape mail."
* Customer: "No, Alta Vista. I go to your home page, then I click on the links page, and then I click on Alta Vista. Then I go down to the inbox. It's right next to the wheel thingy on the bottom."

I searched the site. I can't find any wheel thingy. I got him to describe exactly where this wheel is. Yes, it was on the bar on the bottom border of Netscape. He was using Netscape mail. I did tell him he didn't have to go to Alta Vista to use Netscape mail. The frightening thing was that he had been using the Internet for years.

I'm a librarian/network administrator for a large community college. We have 36 workstations in our library, ostensibly for research purposes, and we use Internet filtering software, due to some students viewing pornography in the library. Part of my job is to check Internet histories for attempted accesses to sites of this kind. One recent night I was doing this and discovered that a student had typed in -- THIRTEEN TIMES -- "www i want to buy a cd dot com."

I work for a small ISP. One day I received a phone call from a very angry customer who switched to us from another provider. He had problems installing our software. It took a long time to walk him through fixing the problems, because he had no computer skills (even though he was a programmer for the last 30 years) and rarely did what I asked him to.

I thought I actually made him happy until he asked me to change his Yahoo username and password. He assumed that since we provide access to the web page that we must control it as well. To this day I still hear that he calls in from time to time to yell at other techs because they won't change his Yahoo username and password.

* Customer: "I can't get to the page. The address is: htt p://[site]/~user/~home.htm.

Sent to our tech support email address:


There was an URL floating around a while ago that pointed to a site that had a card trick on it. I sent the URL to my mom.

The web page asked you to choose a card out of a set of cards and then to click on a link. That link took you to a page with a new set of cards. The page stated that the card you picked was now missing from the set, because the site had read your mind and knew which card to remove. The way the trick worked was that none of the cards in the first set were in the second set -- the second set contained similar cards to the first set, but none of the same ones. Many people first think that the web page somehow determined what card they had chosen even though they had done nothing on the computer to indicate any particular card.

A while after sending the link to my mom, I sent her an explanation for how the trick worked. She sent back email saying that she and her husband were rolling on the floor with laughter because they had spent the last half hour trying to fool the computer using various methods. One of them was this: her husband would go into another room in the house. Then my mom would call him on his cell phone using hers and tell him all the cards. Then he'd tell her that he'd chosen one -- but not tell her which one -- and then she would click on the link. They were frustrated and befuddled that the computer still "knew" which card to remove even though they had gone to great lengths to separate the person that chose the card from the computer.

Emailed to the owner of a web page:

I got here by some nefarious route. I was trying to get to [an email address] or other similar sites. I distinctly dislike being hijacked in cyberspace to see something I did not ask to see. If this happens again I will make a formal complaint to my local federal district attorney. Thank you. Do not do this again.

A customer emailed the following to his ISP:

hello, I have just published my first web page. What is my address? Never mind, found it, thank you."

A standard format for web sites containing images is to have a front page full of thumbnail images, and you click on the thumbnail image to get to the corresponding full-sized image. The reason you do this, of course, is to reduce the loading time and required bandwidth for the front page. Some people don't understand this. I've seen a few thumbnail pages where the thumbnail images have the same file sizes as the large versions -- they just appear smaller on the page.

Two students, who had spent the better part of their class hour bragging about their computer skills, were becoming increasingly frustrated while browsing the Internet. They were trying to access a site that didn't exist, but they were absolutely convinced the trouble was something else.

* Student #1: "The damn keyboard locked up again!!!"

Actually, a page was loading.

* Student #2: "Here, you have to pull the wires out." (yanks network wires out of the back) "When that happens, just pull those wires out and shove 'em back in. Does it work now?"
* Student #1: "No, it says, 'Reading File...Done.'"
* Student #2: "Oh, ok...that means your keyboard server is down. There's nothing you can do about it."

I taught web design one summer to a group of underprivileged teenagers. At the end of the informal course, the "course assessor" (a senior academic who was formally in charge of the course but knew nothing about computers) came to see the students' webpages. Upon looking at the first student's monitor screen, she exclaimed, "Oh, that's beautiful!"

The student looked perplexed. I walked around to look at the student's screen, and saw...the Windows 95 desktop. The student hadn't yet displayed her webpage. The academic was praising the beauty of the desktop.

I'm a high school senior. One day, we were partnered with another class to do an Internet project. Web site design is a hobby of mine, so I happily displayed one of my pages to my partner in Internet Explorer. My partner, in a vain attempt to scare me or tease me or something, highlighted all the text on the web page and threatened to delete it.

Being one of the people that interviews many prospective candidates for our computer consulting company, I came across many individuals who shouldn't have made it past the first screening process. One was a college student for an entry-level position in web development, and I was simply trying to ease him into demonstrating his technical knowledge.

* Me: "So tell me one of the ways in which you would try to get images to load faster in web pages?"
* Him: "I'd do it in Java."

* Student: "I can't find the place to type in the URT."
* Teacher: "The what?"
* Student: "You know the URT -- the thing that starts with 'www'?"
* Teacher: "Oh, URL."
* Student: "Whatever. Where do I type it?"
* Teacher: "On the blank line at the top."
* Student: "Where?"
* Teacher: "At the top!"
* Student: "I see no line."
* Teacher: "Is Netscape open?"
* Student: "Does it have to be?"

Our school requires all students to take a computer class. My class has to have some of the stupidest people I've ever met.

* Teacher: "Does anyone know what HTML means?"
* Student: "That means something?!"
* Me: "Hypertext Markup Language."
* Teacher: "Correct, have any of you ever used HTML?"

I'm the only one who raises a hand.

* Teacher: "Great! We'll be doing some simple HTML by the end of the year."
* Me: (bangs head on desk)
* Student: "How do you use HTML? Is it like typing?"


One evening while walking through the school hallways, a friend was attempting to impress me with this knowledge of computers.

* Him: "I can use HTML coding to do my homework for me. That way I don't have to waste time on it."

I work as the graphic/computer designer at a printshop. A while back, I got a phone call from someone who works for a major ISP who asked to have an image scanned. He said he wanted me to scan in the image to a one meg JPEG file so he could email it to people and use it on web pages. He didn't give me any dimensions, just the file size. I explained that this was rather large for use online and that even if he had a fast modem or a direct line, others might not.

* Customer: "Oh, well I want it this way because, even though the Internet won't allow you to send files that large, the ISP I work for can."