Funny and Humorous Technical Support Tales and Stories

Submitted Tales From Technical Support

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That matters?
Posted 02/09/2015 by Rich

Many years ago I worked for a company which made fuel injection equipment. I was the supervisor and lead technician for the R&D department's Electronics Lab. I maintained all of the calibration equipment.

One day, somebody from the production department called me and told me they needed to use my inductance meter, because theirs was "obvuisly not working right."

I took my LCR bridge and some standard inductors up to the area to check. First, I measured each standard inductor, and their meter checked to about 0.1%.

The production supervisor said "That can't be right. It started showing wrong values for the coils we're testing."

"Well, maybe there's something wrong with the winer or the coils."

I had them bring some old coils from stock, and they read very close to spec, but the new ones, which we verified by removing and counting turns, showed 10% too high, with the same number of turns.

I then asked for the alloy specs on the old and new wires. The production supervisor brought them to me. The old coils were made with a bronze-copper allow, and the new coils were made with a copper-nickel-cobalt alloy. I told the supervisor "The new wire is the wrong alloy."

"That matters?"

"Yes; when the new alloy contains ferro-magnetic materials."

It turned out our purchasing agent had got "a great deal" on about 1,000 pounds of wire. He had to send it all back and order the correct alloy.

No speaka dah Windows
Posted 02/15/2015 by Rich

Last week I got another call from a fake support technician claiming he was from Microsoft and he wanted to help me fix my Windows errors. I get these calls about twice a month, and nothing works. I strung him along:

FakeTech: "I'm seeing you're getting a lot of errors on your computer."

Me: "No; not really."

FakeTech: "I see you're running Windows."

[Oh--what the Hell?]

"Um no; I have Linux all over the house."

FT: [Click!]

I guess he didn't have the tool set to take a Linux system hostage. I think I'll tell the next one I'm running a Vax mainframe.

I was only trying to help!
Posted 02/17/2015 by Rich

My very first computer was a TRS-80 Model III, with all the bells and whistles I could afford. I set up a Fortran program to do a very long, complex Fourier Analysis and print it to my high-resolution graphics printer program.

I was living with my parents at the time, so I could save up for college (I had an AS degree, and I needed a BS degree). At work, my mother called and told me: "I heard a noise from your room, and looked in. Your printer was making a weird noise (printing) and the computer had something strange on it (the Fourier Analysis I was doing). I was afraid somebody had hacked your computer (not at qall possible), so I unplugged everything.

It took me a few hours to correct the damge, since I was only using floppies, not a HDD, but I still told my mother not to touch my computer unless it was on fire.

"But I was only trying to help!"

We need this done by an expert
Posted 02/18/2015 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

Several years ago, I worked closely with an engineer who ran, among other things, a large source server for his team. Because of the large volume of requests, his server had four 100 Mbps Ethernet cards. When his team moved to a new building, he asked for access to the wiring closet so he could make sure that the four extra Ethernet cables were properly connected to his new office (private office for source code security). He was told: "No--we need to make sure this is done by experts."

When he came in the following Monday, his desktop computer and all four NICs from his server were plugged into a 10Mbps hub! He checked to see if the new Ethernet cables had been pulled in, but they weren't. He contacted the help line for installation, and was told they'd done exactly what was asked. When he pointed out that his move request explicitly stated that he needed five 100BaseT connections, not one 10BaseT connection, the "expert" said: "I don't know what you're talking about."

He placed several support calls, but every time they contacted the "move desk," they were told that his system had been moved and installed as requested.

Fortunately, he had moved into the building where I worked, and I had cable room access. We took a quick meeting with his manager and mine, and explained what we were going to do.

It only took about two hours, because there were plenty of spare pairs available.

When someone from the move desk finally came by, he told the guy "We already fixed it ourselves."

"But you can't do that."

"Well, clearly, since we did, we can."

A little knowledge...
Posted 02/19/2015 by Rich

About twenty years ago, I started working at Microsoft. One feature of NT was the ability to send notifications from one computer to another. Several employees used this feature to send messages to others, and UPS and backup software used it to send information to selected users. Unfortunately, using this with a wildcard could be a problem. Somebody ended up sending notifications to all members of the corporate domain, and other people sent back "don't do this" to EVERYBODY. A weak later, this no longer worked, as the corporate network managers locked down the ports used by this service. Then they needed to allow exceptions, when UPS notifications started bouncing, and important servers went down because nobody got the notification that they were running on emergency power.

Garbage In...
Posted 02/24/2015 by Rich

About 20 years ago, my wife started her new career as a Public School Teacher. The first semester, she kept all her class records in a grade record book. When parents would come in to find out why little Johnny was failing, she'd show them his records, and note that he'd only turned in two of 20 pieces of work, and didn't get passing grades on either. They did not understand.

For the second semester, I set her up with a very nice shareware grading program which used a simple database for all of the students' grades and provided a very nice suite of programs for grading, plotting grades, etc. I set this up on a laptop computer with a nice color printer. Now, when a parent came in about Little Johnny, she'd call up a "student's Record to Date" report and print it out. It showed all of the same information, but in a pretty-printed color page. Parents would look nod, and leave to go beat little Johnny senseless (I can only hope).

When she asked, I told my wife "It's Garbage In, Gospell Out."

"I thought it was 'Garbage In, Garbage Out.'"

"Well; yes--but that applies to people who actually understand what the computer is doing. For most people, computers are the purest of Black Magic, and they're afraid to ask a question which shows how stupid they are.

Comcast Service
Posted 02/25/2015 by Jeff

Me: I accidentally deleted an email today and went into the Trash folder in my Xfinity account. Clicked on Restore Deleted mail. I highlighted the mail but saw no way to restore it (no right click available. So called Comcast Help line.

Agent: What is your issue?

Me: Explained above.

Agent: You need to reset your password.

Me: That's not the problem.

Agent: Need to perform a Refresh.

Me: Makes no sense. There must be a way to select and restore.

Agent: There is a box to check.

Me: None there.

Agent: At top of the box with all your deleted emails, there is an icon.

Me: There's just a gray horizontal bar with no icon.

Agent: Has to be an icon.

Me: Accidentally dragged the mouse in the grey box and finally I see an icon to the left. When I clicked on it, then checkboxes appeared to the left of the deleted emails. When I checked the applicable box, then I could move the mail to that Inbox.

Me: Twenty minutes on the phone for this simple matter.

Lost in Translation
Posted 02/26/2015 by Rich

A colleague at Microsoft told me that the message "The program has performed an illegal operation..." message was poorly translated into one of the Slavic languages. Idiomatically, it translated to: "The program has performed a criminal act and will be executed."

No more Blue Screen
Posted 02/26/2015 by Rich

I worked closely with several Microsoft Engineers who were working on Windows 2000. One of the programmers claimed he'd finally eliminated the BSOD. He'd changed a few bits in the core code, and then built a custom version of Windows 2000 which had a Red Screen Of Death! I suggested he see if he could come up with a Plaid Screen Of Death.

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Tales from the Techs
February 2015
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