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Unwanted Customers

I hate CIS majors.


Computer Information Systems. It's not quite a computer science degree, it's not hardcore programming or computer techs. It's more of a major that concerns itself with learning things like networking in windows, microsoft office applications, visual basic programming, and even a bit of SQL training. It's basically like receiving a degree with the windows logo stamped on it. Mostly, these majors go and become system admins for banks.


The reason these majors become such a pain in my computer technician ass is the way they interact with tech support. Putting aside the irony that comes with the fact that out of all the majors I help, I help CIS majors (people who want to make a living by working with computers) the most, they almost all have the same characteristics that makes me groan and want to leave for lunch when one walks in.


First issue: They announce themselves. They walk in, and the first words out of their mouth is “I'm a CIS major” No other major does that. I can't think of a single time where someone has walked in and said “I'm a business management/accounting/marketing/forestry/basket weaving major.” It only seems to happen with CIS majors. It doesn't matter if it's in person, on the phone or through and email; it's the first bit of information that they give to me.


Second Issue: They refuse to believe that the problems they are having is user error. It isn't user error all the time, sometimes it is legitimately a problem that is beyond their control. However, most of the time, it's something that they aren't doing or they're forgetting. This happens with most people who have problems with their computers, but they're usually willing to accept the fact that they fucked up, and sometimes they will even suggest it.


CIS majors will have a problem with accessing an online application, for example. You could flat out tell them that the issue is with their personal computer, or even something like them not clicking on a link, and they will become obstinate and continue insisting that the problem lies with the servers/web developer/ the internet in general.


Third: They technical term spam me


CIS majors like to technical term spam me. What this means is that they like to try to cram as many computer related technical terms that they can in one sentence. They even go so far as to say words that acronyms represent, like saying Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol instead of DHCP. They also like to say the whole domain name for a website. Normal people will say “google.” However, CIS majors will say “http colon forward slash forward slash www google dot com” repeatedly. Every time they refer to a website. These make talking to them difficult, tedious and annoying.


They take it a step further. They will start saying terms that don't make any sense, especially in combinations. It's not uncommon to hear them say “I am unable to map the website and access the boot command for the excel application on the secure terminal” or something like “The hypertext markup language is preventing me from booting my SQL commands into the bios.” It doesn't help that after they say junk like that I get a confused look on my face that makes them think that I don't know what they're doing. After I try to clarify what the hell they're talking about by either asking a question or repeating what they say, they think I'm a moron and I don't know what I'm doing. This causes them to keep repeating the nonsense that doesn't make sense at all, slowly in a condescending manner, using phrases like “Look, you're not listening to me” or “Do you know what you're doing?” or my favorite: “Listen Missy.” I then have to ask stupid questions to figure out what they're trying to do and where they're having their problems. It almost always ends up being something small and stupid.


Fourth: They don't read directions. I don't know why. They only work with the knowledge they already have and refuse to research. We have a website with detailed instructions (with screen shots) on how to do very common, very simple things. We even have detailed instructions, very easy to comprehend, for solutions to common problems. CIS majors often get a huge dumbfounded look when I pull up a web page that has “How to map a network drive” in front of them, with screen shots and simple language. They will sometimes say “And when this doesn't work, then what do you expect me to do?” of which I usually have to convince them to try it. Ridiculous.


Not all CIS majors are like that, I'm sure a majority aren't. I certainly don't hate all CIS majors: one of my best friends is a CIS majors. However, in a general sense, if I never had to hear the words “Excuse me, I'm a CIS major” I'd be a happy technician.




New Job

My new job has me blogging once again. I stopped with the other job for fear of crazy bosses and awkward meetings, but I have a better feeling with this job.


Anyway, I have a new job. I've had it for awhile. I am now specialized to one department, which is nice in the sense that I don't have to try to know everything there is about any computer in order to fix any problem at anytime. The downside, I'm now expected to know everything about a particular subject, enough to suddenly recall it's entire wikipedia page and all the common errors and fixes with it. It's kind of a struggle, but I think I'm doing well. My previous job has actually helped quite a bit, as we've had to stop sending away a lot of users who just have common problems that are unrelated to this department. I'm also just thrilled to be here. I have new bosses, but I actually feel like I'm friends with them. I have conversations, not just about work, but common interests and personal information. Everyone is so polite and cooperative. Everyone does their job and is qualified to do so. I'm even learning a great deal. The previous job just had a bunch of memorized facts for common problems, but this new job has me running unix commands to investigate server issues and changing out hardware. My bosses will actually sit me down and teach me things, just because they thought it would be nice to know. It's a lot of show and tell, too. When one of us discovers a piece of interesting software or a unique fix for a computer, we all gather round to learn more and ooh and ah over each other's finds. It's definitely a different dynamic. Even the title is better: instead of being a student computing assistant, I'm a computer technician, much more official.


But the job is not without it's complaints. It wouldn't really be a job if it was, we'll get to that later.

Looking for:

Single White Geeky Female looking for a Single Geeky Male.

Must be computer savvy, PC experience preferred over mac. Computer programmers/hackers/crackers preferred.

Gamers welcome and appreciated, including but not limited to MMORPGs and table top gamers. Larpers are desired.

Must be willing to date someone with partial blue hair and no experience in LINUX.

Please do not apply if you are not familiar with an OS above Windows 2000, are obsessed with mac and/or apple, do not have a personal computer, live with your parents and do not intend to move out.

Not horribly serious about this, but feel free to send a message my way.
So, we are very obviously a computer tech support place. Our phone number is listed under a name that contains "Computing Help" and we put it on fliers and websites with things having to do with technical things relating to computers.

Unfortunately, we are a 1-800 number.

That means, that when an out of state student needs to get a hold of the bursars office and they don't want to spend money on a long distance call, they call us and ask to be transferred. This normally doesn't seem like an awful thing, but when the majority of your calls are forcing you to be an operator, you get pretty fed up. As of this past semester, we are required to say "No, but I can give you the number." That makes some people really, really angry, but it's not my job to lower your phone bill.

People also see the 1-800 number and say "Hey, I have a question relating to something in the school, I'll call that number and ask it!"

Now, we're more than happy to tell you whatever we happen to know on a subject, but please understand that we are all computer geeks that don't really have the slightest idea about social/extracurricular events or sports. So when you call us and ask what time the football game starts,  we are most likely going to have the reaction of "Oh, it's football season?" We don't know a lot of things, like what dorm has the biggest rooms, how much a meal plan costs, why there is a miscellaneous $70 charge on your account, when the library is open on Saturday, why your daughter hasn't been to class, what pages your sociology teacher is having you read tonight, or who to contact about getting into soccer intramurals. So when you call us and ask us those things, we're going to say "This is a computer tech support line, I can give you the number of the people who may know though" and that's about as helpful as we can get.
I'm not an operator, I'm a computer tech. KTHXBAI.
There should be a test you have to take before you can buy a computer. Just a small test with enough questions to determine if you actually know anything about computers. If you cannot pass this test, stores like Best Buy should not legally be allowed to sell you the computer.

People will buy insanely expensive computers, costing well over $1,000 and have no idea what operating system is on it. They will have no idea what an operating system is. They will spend freakishly large amounts of money on what might as well be a plastic cube for what they know about it. That really bothers me, I mean, would you drop money on a car without knowing if it was automatic or manual? Would you pick a school not knowing if they had your major? Would you book a cruise that you didn't know where it was going? I wouldn't. Why would you spend money on something you know nothing about?

I know how to use my computer. Many, many others don't. So they call me.

I have a theory that the reason people don't know how to use their computers or anything about their computers: companies are making them too user friendly. And the minute something goes wrong, people don't even know what they name of their operating system is. THey just know that if they go "Clicky clicky" on the blue E that a box with Myspace comes up and that's all they need!

Here's what the test should have:

True or False: You need Microsoft office to get on the internet (This is a frequent question, surprisingly)
True or False: Deleting the many folders (such as system 32) that come on your computer when you first use it is an efficient way to save up space.
True or False: If your computer suddenly takes several minutes to start up, or sporadically shuts down without you making it, everything is just fine.
True or False: It is perfectly fine to cover every part of a laptop, including the fan vents, with stickers (Who needs air flow? Not computers!)
True or False: You should never, ever clean dust from a desk top tower. Ever (Let it pile up, it's like food for the computer.)
True of False: If you get a blue screen every time you use your computer, it's not an issue (It's just teasing you).
True or False: You should never, ever save your work, especially long essays, until they are finished (it saves space that way!)

What is the operating system?
 a) The collection of software that directs a computer's operations, controlling and scheduling the execution of other programs, and managing storage, input/output, and communication resources.
b) The microsoft thingy mahjigger. .
c) The place where you like, write your papers
d) Oh that? That's like the thing that says like, start? Right?

If your computer doesn't turn on, what do you do first?
a) Check to make sure all cords are plugged in and properly connected
b) Call tech support and then refuse to make sure all cords are properly connected.

If you call a tech support line, and they give you specific instructions, do you:
a) Follow them
b) ignore them and then call back about how the problem isn't fixed yet
c) Call again when you think someone else might be there, and try to get a different solution without even trying the first one.

If you get an email from someone you don't know, and there is an attachment on the email, do you:
a) delete it because it is from someone you don't know and you don't know what the attachment could be
b) scan it for viruses and then open it if the test is clean 
c) open it and install whatever it wants you to

If you get an alert that your computer has a virus, do you:
a) ignore it
b) delete it
c) tell your anti spyware software that you don't think it's a virus and let it through

If a user cannot pass this test, they should not be given a computer and should then be referred to a remedial computer class a their local community college. Hell, make this a test to get into college, because I can't take anymore college students calling me telling me that their "internet thingy" won't let them get on facebook.

Learn the basics about your computer please. It's useful, I swear.


By posting this, I am not claiming that every guy out there thinks I am ridiculously attractive and that I have men constantly drooling over me. Seriously, I'm not. But every now and then I get a guy who comes to my work and I have to help who seems to really, really be into geeky girls. As far as I can tell, it happens to every girl who works tech support.

i don't even think I'm that geeky. I just managed to find the highest paying student job on campus and apply, it wasn't because I felt a compelling need to help mankind with their computer problems.

I occasionally get hit on over the phone, which doesn't make any sense to me. I could be a pimple covered 400 pound behemoth and they would have no way of knowing (I'm not, by the way). But my least favorite times are when I get hit on in person.

It happens most often with middle aged men who are for some reason on campus. They like to hit on all the girls that work here, which is creepy because we're pretty much all between the ages of 18-23. However, there has been one very, very creepy pass made at me.

This guy was trying to use computer operating systems to hit on me. And for those of you who don't know what an operating system is, thats what things like Windows Vista and Windows XP are. They come out with different versions that do different things and act differently, and they are a fairly big deal in the computer tech support world. In fact, waiting for a new OS is like waiting for your favorite band to come to town.

Anyway, I was confronted with an in person customer one day, a guy who had brought his foreign exchange student roommate to the help desk because he needed his computer fixed and didn't speak English. As I was navigating my way through setting up a virtual private network to securely connect to wireless on a computer with Chinese language settings (as in no English, just Chinese characters, and I don't speak Chinese) the non Chinese guy, the roommate starts the conversation

OS Guy:  So, I have Windows 2000.
Me: Thats nice.
OS Guy: Have you ever seen Windows 2000? (Weird trying to be sexy voice)
Me: Yes, I have
OS Guy: Do you have Windows 2000?
Me: No, I don't.
OS Guy: Well, if you wanted to see it sometime, you could come to my place and I could show you (weird emphasis on "show")
Me: No thank you
OS Guy: So (Stretches in that "I'm trying to show you my semi formed muscles" way) I used to have Windows 3.1 (windows 3.1 is olddddd, really, really old. Obsolete even)
Me: Thats nice.
OS Guy: (Leaning awkwardly forward) Have you ever used Windows 3.1? (raises his eyebrow creepily)
Me: Yes
OS Guy: Did you (pause) like it (creepy smile)?
Me: No, actually.
OS Guy: (Sits up straight, seems frustrated that I'm not ripping my clothes off) So, whats the oldest operating system you've ever seen? (I pretend I didn't hear him as I'm trying to figure out where the "manage network connections" function is in Chinese characters) What operating system do you have? Hmmmm?
Me: I actually have Windows Vista
Os Guy: Oh really? Thats like a new one, right?
Me: Yeah, I guess I'm just interested in the cutting edge stuff. Sorry.
OS Guy: Oh.....

I might want to add that later this guy applied for a job, emphasizing his specialty in old operating systems. he was then informed that the average college student doesn't have a computer more than three years old and that the only person who has ever walked in with a Windows 2000 computer was, well, him.

he didn't get hired (insert sarcastic sniff and tear action).


Website Bi***

Almost every day, I get one caller who makes me want to run to a bar and start drinking to forget the sound of their voice. We have many people who decide to regularly call us and are so bad, just seeing their number on the caller ID makes us yearn to be on break (not to mention that they call so much we memorize their number).

Yesterday, I had an awful caller.

The woman wanted to put something up on her university designated website. All students here get their own little bit of webspace, and to put something on it, you just go to this little thing called a W drive and whatever document you put in that folder will end up on the internet. You can access the W drive anywhere by mapping it.

This womans problem started out by her being a "Yes User" which is very similar to a liar.

What that is, is that EVERY question I ask her she will say yes to. It doesn't matter if the answer is no or she doesn't understand the question, she will say yes to whatever I ask. Here is how the conversation started:

User: I need to link from page A to page B
Tech: Alright, do you already have both Page A and page B in your W drive
User: Yes
Tech: Do you have your W drive mapped?
User: Yes
Tech: Alright, and do you have a website editing program that you're using?
User: Yes, I do.
Tech: Alright, you've said that you were able to successfully map your W drive
User: Yes, I did
Tech: Alright, can you go to your W drive?
User: ummmm.....what's that?
Tech: It's the drive you told me you were just able to map
User: Oh yeah....ummm...yes,  I did that. Wait, what do you mean "maps" by the way?

Also, before I get to mention: This is the time of year where all the "intro to web design" students call us and literally try and get us to build their website for them. They will come to our office and try and get us sit down and hyperlink and adjust html code and upload webpages for them, which is academic dishonesty, and we have to try and prevent. So I simply asked her if designing this website was for a class assignment, because if it was for a class assignment we would not be able to assist her and she would have to contact her professor.

I then discover that she is getting error messages that she isn't telling us about, and she's giving us the incorrect names of folders that she needs mapped. Also, when we go to place the correct link, she's lying about what she's typing in. Also, she has all of the documents in her folder blocked so that they are hidden, and seemed to be lying about unblocking them. After, she says yes to whatever she is asked.

I'm conferring with my fellow technicians on this case because I just eventually ran out of ideas. What we do when that happens is tell you that we're putting you on hold. What we actually do is put you on mute. It's just easier, the "hold" function can turn off easily and has disconnected many users, so we click mute, so you can't hear us and we can still hear you. So when we put you on hold because we're trying to find out how to fix your problem, we can hear everything you say.

So when I put her on hold so I could tear my coworkers away from their stations and have them help me, I suddenly hear:

"Oh my god, I cannot believe this rude little bit**! She keeps putting me on hold to 'conference' without me, and then she starts out by calling me a cheater, she probably doesn't know what the fu** she is doing, oh my god!"
I have been on the phone with her for over an hour, and I just couldn't let this one slide. I took her ass off mute and said "Miss, we have to ask that to everyone who calls in about web design issues, as we have to prevent academic dishonesty."

She seemed a little freaked out that I was listening to her, and immediately shut her trap. She then said "Oh yeah, I understand."

I was so pissed off at this time that I just kept her on hold for the sake of not screaming at her. Luckily, my awesome coworker decided to give me a break and hop on my phone and try his luck.

We were unfortunately unable to help her. Seriously, even if she was nice we wouldn't have been able to help her.


Illegal Downloads

I cannot see the files on your computer. Unless you bring it in and consent to having us look at your files, I cannot see anything you do on your computer. I can't see if you illegally download anything, and I don't really care. Seriously, everyone downloads illegally. I promise. Even us techies. In fact, some of the best support technicians are recognized hackers and have the freaky hobbies of writing viruses for fun. I have worked with people with thousands of dollars of illegally downloaded software on their computer.

However, you can still get in trouble. A lot of trouble. Not by us though.

How it works:

When you download one song, you leave your download folder open for others to download from. So while you're downloading a song, there are several people in your computer downloading stuff from you. This is called file sharing (which is generally illegal). What organizations such as the Recording Industry Artists of America or the Motion Picture Association of America do is see that people are downloading from you, and then they find where your computers IP address is located and then they get you. If your computer happens to be located on campus, they call the network admins (me) and then tell us to shut off your internet and have you call us. What we do then is get a little report about what song you downloaded and the program you were using, and then you call us. We read you a little speech, tell you that if you ever do it again you're in big trouble, and then turn your internet back on.

We didn't look in your computer. If you had been off campus you would have gotten an official letter from the RIAA or MPAA saying that you owed them money or needed to go to court. You are not more likely to get caught if you're on campus. This is just what happens.

so, if you have learned anything from this, it's that you should disable sharing on all your downloading programs, because that will make it harder to get ya.

A few of the people we deal with

In the tech support business, we have a few common types of users. Not everyone fits into a category, but I'd bet about 90% do.

1) The "I don't know" users: I know that not everyone that calls tech support knows what's wrong with their computers. If they did, there wouldn't be a tech support. I'm talking about the people who can produce no other answer than "I don't know, I just don't know." Here is a typical conversation between a technician and an IDK user:
    Tech: What seems to be the problem?
    User: I don't know, I just...don't know.
    Tech: Okay, can you describe whats happening?
    User: The computer is...I don't know. It's just...I don't know.
    Tech: Is it a problem with your internet or something else?
    User: I...don't know.
    Tech: Can you access the internet?
    User: I don't know, I just don't know.
    Tech: Is your computer on?
    User: ....ummmm....I don't know.
These are very frustrating, as they rarely ever answer a question with something thats helpful. These people usually end up having a technician swing by their room.

2) Paranoid users:
    Here at the university, in order to make the network safe, we have all on campus students install a free piece of software on their computer that runs three checks on your computer: Whether you have an antivirus (doesn't matter which one), whether your anti virus is up to date, and whether you have windows updates. People with macs don't have to use this, but everyone else does. Those three things are the only things we can see, and frankly, we don't care about anything else. I will say that before we started using this software, there were a lot more virus ravaged computers in the office than there are now. We also have bought the license to an antivirus program that we offer for free to students, just so they don't have to go out an buy one. We thought it would be a nice gesture.

    We run across many, many users that think that we are using these programs to spy on them. For some reason, they think that all the technicians are sitting in the office watching your vapid AIM conversations and looking at your myspace messages. We don't really care. We just don't want to have to deal with your computer when it gets a virus.

    These people usually call when they find out they can't get internet on campus without those programs, and we basically have to end up telling them to install it or enjoy solitaire because they aren't getting on the network. We usually win.

I run into these people in class quite a bit. They are usually griping about something about the software, and I had to stop telling people where I work because they start harping on me about "big brother watching them." I remember helping one particular user in person for about thirty minutes after my shift, and having him turn around and say "By the way, I don't like how you assholes are spying on me!"
Thanks....I appreciate that.

3) Yellers: These people call for one purpose: To yell at us. We answer, start the greeting and they jsut begin with the yelling. We have no idea what the problem is, but somehow it's our fault and we should automatically know how to fix just by having them call us 7 long strings of obscenities. If it gets really bad, they don't stop or they don't tell us the problem we are allowed to hang up, transfer to a boss or sometimes, we're allowed to yell back (no swearing though). I hate these users, I really do.

4) Wanna be tech geeks: These are people who swear that because they took a basic computer class or have a computer at their job, that they are computer experts. I'm sure they know something about computers, but they don't seem to listen to anything we tell them. A typical call with a wannabe:
    Wannabe: I'm having an issue with program x, I'm pretty sure it's because of problem b.
    Tech: Well, the version of program x actually has nothing to do with problem b
    Wannabe: No, I'm pretty sure it's problem b. You see, I took a computer class at my community college/read a book on windows/graduated with a Computer Science Degree in 1970/Been using computers since I was six.
    Tech: Okay, well, how about we do some trouble shooting?
    wannabe: I already did that stuff, I know what I'm doing.
    Tech: so you've restarted your computer and checked file123?
    Wannabe: None of that will help! Do you know what you're doing?
    Tech: Sir, I can't help you unless I can (interrupted)
    Wannabe: Never mind, I'll do it myself!

5) Liars: I have no idea why you would lie to a support tech. I really don't know why. But people do, all the time. It's amazing how much it happens and what they lie about. For example:
    Tech: Is there any error message in the web browser?
    Liar: Nope! There is nothing there! Nothing at all?
    Tech: So on the page there are no letters or numbers of symbols?
    Liar: Nothing whatsoever, it's completely blank (this almost never happens, by the way, I have yet to see     a legitimate case of the blank web browser).
    Tech: Are you sure?
    Liar: absolutely, I swear that the entire window is blank.
    Tech: Okay, well that's a major problem with your computer. If the window is completely blank, you're probably going to have a to get a new one (a little lie, we aren't actually serious)
    Liar: Actually...there is some stuff. It says (insert large error message here)


    Tech: Okay, in order to fix that problem, you'll have to go to the following website and download this and     then install the file, then restart your computer. Go ahead and do that now.
    Liar: (after about THREE SECONDS) Okay, it's done.
    Tech: Miss, I really don't think you just installed a large file and restarted your computer in a couple                 seconds.
    Liar: Okay, fine.


    Tech: Okay, it looks like the RIAA contacted us and told us that you illegally downloaded a file using our         network.
    Tech: The RIAA says that you downloaded "My Humps" last week using limewire.
    Liar: okay, okay, so maybe I did.
    (I'll explain illegally downloading things later)

6) Middle aged return students: These are usually women who have decided that since their kids are out of college and they don't have much to do that they are going to go back to school. For some reason, they try to do online classes, but don't realize for some reason that those take a fair bit of work on the computer. They either have an ancient computer that isn't compatible with 98% of software, or a brand new computer that they have no idea how to work and don't know where the start button is. They don't usually know how to send email or save documents, and often don't know how to navigate a webpage or copy/paste. And they all want to tell me their life story, where their kids are, what classes they are taking, what kind of car they drive, and how much they hate technology. They are not fun at all.

Thats about it for now, there will definitely be more about users later.


What I do

I thought I would give you an introduction as to what my job is. I work 24/7 tech support for my university. We provide support for all the students, whether they are on campus, off campus, at home, on vacatio, studying abroad, etc. If they have a student user ID, I can help them with everything except for illegal activities, fixing hardware issues or reinstalling an operating system.

Got a virus? I'm your girl. Strange error message? I'm your girl. Can't successfully attach a trojan virus to an email and send it correctly? Don't call me. XBox blow up? Don't call me.

I work in a small office with about 20 other people. I have four bosses and a bunch of crazy coworkers (I'll expand on that later).

The services we offer are:

1) You call us - at any hour of the day there are at least two people waiting by the phone for you to call. We can assist you with almost any problem you've got except for the one's mentioned above.

2) Walk up appointment - you come to our head quarters, we have a technician st down and look at the problem. We try and fix it so you can walk out with your computer.

3) Check in - You can give us your computer (lap top or desk top) for a few nights and we have many technicians dedicated to the task of fixing your computer.

4) Resnet Appointment - We can actually have one of our highly skilled technicians come to your room (on campus only) and look at your computer.

Did I happen to mention that all of our services are free? Yeah, the users don't pay a thing.

Luckily, we're pretty well paid. Well, we get paid more than food services anyway.

So thats what we do here at the help desk. Any questions?