Got an email from one of my users yesterday. All it asked was, "Can you tell me how to open this attached file?"
I checked the attachment and it was a basic PNG file. I could open it in our email program (written by a certain monopoly) with no issue. I figured if she couldn't open it, there was probably a problem with her setup, but I'd have to know what it was.
To get her to tell me the error, I told her what should happen: "You should be able to just click the icon. If you click it once, you’ll be able to preview it. If you double-click it, it will open in a graphics program."
Her response: "Thanks!"
Yep, 'tis true. She hadn't even tried to click on the icon to open the attachment.
This happened at a time when most people had dial-up internet, a few had DSL or cable, and consumer-grade routers were just starting to catch on. A non-technical acquaintance, had her computer setup seized by the police, looking for evidence they could use against her usual tech guy. They eventually returned her system, in pieces, and since her usual tech guy was now in prison (still is), she set up the system herself, plugging in the wires & cables wherever they seemed to fit best.
She did pretty well and successfully booted up, but her dialup didn't work. Then she found all the phones in the house were dead, and correctly narrowed it down to her modem - if it was plugged in, all the phones went out. She called the only other tech she knew - me.
I went over with a spare modem (God bless OfficeMax freebates), new phone cord, a long phone extension and even a new wall jack. I confirmed that the instant her modem was connected to the phone line, all the phones died. Tried a different cord, and a different jack in the next room, definitely the modem.
So I disconnected everything, pulled the tower out of the desk and pulled the modem card. I tried one more time, and it still killed all the phones... but as I reached for my spare modem... I noticed hers only had one jack, where they usually have two.
Then I noticed there were two tiny lights beside the single jack on her modem. No lights on mine.
Then I noticed there was a pair of phone jacks on another card still in her computer.
She, and more embarrassingly I, had been plugging her phone cord into her Ethernet card. A phone plug will click right in to the middle of an Ethernet jack like it belongs there. They're not electrically compatible, though, and a phone plug connected to an Ethernet jack shorts the wires and kills the phone.
It worked much better when the phone cord was actually plugged into, you know, the MODEM.
I worked for a very large IT services company that did everything computer related EXCEPT build the hardware. My Dell laptop @ work started acting wonky, and as I tried to figure out a common thread among the symptoms, a tiny whistling sound gradually made itself known. Prowling around my desk area like a blind campground raccoon looking for marshmallows, I found the whistle was coming from the power brick... which, incidentally, was hot to the touch. Not warm, hot, as in a few more degrees and it might just melt. I called our tinternal tech support line, which had recently been outsourced to the low bidder in a hot sandy country, and explained what I'd found.
Him: So you are saying the problem is that the power supply is making a noise?
Me: Yes, AND it is too hot to touch.
Him: Oh, I see, thank you for that, so you are saying that the problem is the power supply is warm?
Me: No, not warm, HOT. I'm saying the power supply is making a whistling noise AND it is too hot to touch.
Him: Oh, I see, thank you for that, so you are saying the problem is the power supply is making a noise?
Round and round we went, us some irrelevant questions about my Windows installation and network settings. After 25 minutes of circles, he figures out there may be a problem with my power supply, and transfers me to Dell tech support.
I explain the symptoms to Dell - exactly once - and Dell concludes (gasp)/that my power supply is failing. She took down my name & address and said she'd send out a warranty replacement overnight, with a prepaid label inside the box to return the bad one. We were done and off the phone in < 5 mins. I wish I could have just called Dell in the first place!
Epilogue: The next day, the DHL guy dropped off my new power supply. It worked perfectly, of course, and 20 mins later I call DHL to schedule a pickup. The DHL guy who had just delivered my package was on his lunch break at a fast food place half a mile away; he dropped off my package, had lunch, then came back to the house to pick up my return. 8-)
Repurposed a Windows XP-licensed computer for a friend's children. Explained to both parents that it runs Uubuntu, and would not run Word, etc. -- no Windows programs.
First thing they asked after they'd got it home and fired up? "I downloaded programs from [popular children's site] and they didn't work."
I was teaching a basic computer class in a halfway house. User was, oh so c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y, attempting to maneuver the arrow into position in order to click. Things worked a lot better when I had her reverse the unit so the cord pointed away from her hand.
When the system was being repositioned, the user wanted "the computer on the desk." I accordingly placed it on the desk, next to the (dual) monitors. I was corrected upon the user's return. "No," she said, "I want the computer" (indicating one of the monitors) on the desk, and the hard drive (pointing to...guess what?) on the floor." Upon venturing to mention that the computer was--yes--the big box, I was further instructed to remember that she was a non-technical and could not remember these things.
I enjoy reading Tech Tales but I wanted to share a customer's perspective. Often, when I've had a problem with a PC and called Tech support, if they can't figure out the fix, the answer is always 'reformat the hard drive and re-install Windows'. Rather than doing that task, I'll contact one of several computer savvy relatives who fixes the issue in minutes. Currently, I have a 7 year old Dell Inspiron 530 with 4GB memory which has been hanging up or freezing esp. with IE9 and Bitdefender finds no virus or malware. So I suspect other than its age, it might be a memory issue. I researched and found a seller, typed in my make and model,then called the company to verify compatibility. I was told I needed to call Dell Support. So I did that and was told that although I have 4 slots with 1GB memory each, for whatever reason the computer could not be upgraded. His suggestion was that I could clean up cache etc and boost the speed by installing System Mechanics which he sells. I decided to go to Staples to buy it and was told by the computer repair tech to not waste my money- it might screw up the PC worse, and to consider buying a new computer. So how is a consumer supposed to be able to figure out conflicting tech advice? I am going to wait until Windows 9 comes out.....