Stupid End Users

True Stories From The Workbench – Part II

(True Stories From The Workbench – Part I)

Here are a couple more stories of the odd things we techie types run into now and then.

The year was around 2001, I was doing in-home/office computer work. I went to the home of a doctor that was having a very minor issue. If I remember correctly (which at my age is questionable), it only took me about 15 minutes to fix the issue. While she was writing out my check, she asked me what I did to fix the PC. I didn’t get more than a handful of words out in reply when she interrupted me with “No! Don’t tell me. You may push something out of my brain that I need”.  Now I may have only been a paramedic back in the day, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the way the brain works. I was hoping she was joking, but she looked really serious. I just let it go.

Just this past week: We use Micro$oft SharePoint here at work. (No I am not a fan). It is set (and cannot be changed) as the default homepage for both Internet Exploder Explorer and Chrome web browsers. We also have it set that the login cookie (that’s what saves your username and password) expires at a set time. This means that every now and then you will have to re-enter your login credentials to continue. So, we get a HellDesk ticket “SharePoint is asking me to log in and I don’t know what to do!”  Uh… Maybe enter your username and password and login? You know, follow the damn instructions!!!

Have any stories you’d like to share?

And this video has nothing to do with anything in this post. But it showed up all on its own, so I think it’s an omen.

Peace,
B

Twitter  FaceBook

PC Security… Again

<rant>

So once again here I am at the hands of Stupid End Users.  I have to keep reminding myself that these fools pay the bills.

I want to make one thing perfectly clear. INSTALL ALL THE SECURITY UPDATES FOR WHICHEVER OS YOU HAVE (Windows, Apple or Linux). Nothing and I mean NOTHING is more critical to the smooth operation of your computer (and even your smartphone – this applies to Android and Apple phones as well) than keeping these up-to-date.

Case in point. I am working on a laptop for one of my co-worker’s son. He claims the screen went blank “while doing school work”. Neither dad nor I buy it. Right now, his screen doesn’t work, the mouse and keyboard are not functioning properly (even with USB versions). I could not do anything (since the screen was black) without plugging in an external monitor and resetting the BIOS (the Basic In and Out System – what controls almost everything on the motherboard) to recognize the second monitor.

I still cannot get any of the usual tools I would use to scan the system for viruses (virui?), check the hard drive for errors, or even check the display properties. All of those options are missing from the system.  Normally I would do a “System restore”. This is a very nice feature that Microsoft added some time ago (in Windows ME – probably the only good thing to come out of that version of Windows). Since this machine belongs to a college student, there is a real good chance he was doing something “he shouldn’t have been doing”.

No matter how good your anti-virus/malware is if you visit “questionable” sites (and I’m not talking strictly porn – many download, or ‘warez’ sites are riddled with viruses) you run an elevated risk of getting an infection. There is an increasing problem of sponsored ads on respectable websites that are pushing viruses without you doing anything. We refer to these as “drive-byes”.

Normally you can access System Restore through the Control Panel and “Advanced Features”. Naturally, that’s missing on this machine as well. The other way to get to System Restore is by booting into “Safe Mode” and running it from a command prompt (the old DOS black & white screen where you have to type everything. Oh how I miss those days.) But for whatever goddamn reason Micro$oft took the “F8” feature out of the boot cycle in Windows 10. In previous versions, you could hit “F8” while the system was booting to be presented with a menu of boot options or just use “F5” to go straight into Safe Mode. Micro$oft, you made a stupid, stupid, stupid decision to remove that.

So now, 3 hours of working on this machine and I tell it to reboot, hoping (beyond hope) that at least the mouse and keyboard will work. What happens? My options are “Apply Updates and Restart or Shutdown”. So now I’ll have to wait for it to apply who knows how many updates before I can go back to troubleshooting. (edit: so far 90 minutes on the “Getting Windows Ready” screen).

There is a very good chance that if these updates had been applied when first available (the last update from Micro$oft was 2 weeks ago), what has crept into this machine may have been prevented. Even though this machine has a reliable Anti-virus installed (I cannot tell if it’s up-to-date though), without these security patches something can get through.

Wifey’s® office will not install any updates for fear it will “break” a program or something. Now, yes, it’s true. M$ updates have been known to cause havoc. But when that happens it’s (usually) easily reversible. A simple “roll back” (sometimes you need to go to safe mode) is all it takes. And M$ is pretty good about fixing those bad patches, either by sending a remote uninstall or an updated patch within 72 hours.

Second example.

Working on another laptop (this one city owned). The user claims the screen “scrolls on its own”. Looking at the machine when he brings it in (interrupting lunch as usual), I see it is doing just that.

Looking a bit deeper I see that there have been no updates applied to this machine since it was issued to the user almost one year ago. Now this machine could be considered “mission critical”. But instead of being out in the field, where it’s needed, and up-to-date, it’s sitting here on my desk slowing applying a years worth of updates. One update at a time. Because that’s how fucked up this machine is.

It not only needs updating to the latest version of Windows 10, it needs every security update since the beginning of time.

Also, keep any Anti-Virus and/or Anti-Malware product you use up-to-date (you do have an Anti-Virus/Malware program installed, Right?? RIGHT???), and scan your machine on a regular basis. There are many excellent free choices out there, pick one, any one. My favorite is Malwarebytes (I do not get any money from them, but I’ve been using their product for over 10 years without a single infection). They have both a free and a paid version, I HIGHLY recommend the paid version. Last I looked, if you download the free version you get a 2 week trial of the paid version, so it’s worth a look. The extra benefits of the paid version make it a good investment for your PC.

Malwarebytes has blocked very many of the “drive-by” ads I mentioned above. I will get either a little notice that says “access to <website name> blocked”, or just a blank spot on the webpage where the ad would have been.  You can also look into an “ad-blocker” for your web browser that can plug into either Chrome or Firefox (I’m not sure about Safari as I don’t have a Mac). IE and Edge users are out luck. Drop those and go with either Chrome or Firefox (I like and use both of those).

</rant>

I apologize for the rant, but it has been Monday all month here at work. My frustration level is quite high for many reasons, just not here at work. (Don’t ask me about yesterday’s useless dentist appointment)….

Peace,
B

True Stories From The Workbench

In case you don’t know, I have been an IT guy since 1995 when I retired from the Army (but I did get my first experience with computers in 1975 doing Cobol programming using punch cards. That’s when I first realized that not only am I very poor at spelling, my typing is even worse. I quickly left the programming field.)

These are just three true stories I have personally experienced over the years. The names have been left out to protect the stupid end users.

About 1995, helping a law firm with the legal version of Word Perfect. Now, this is just before Windows 95 came out, so we’re still dealing with DOS 6 and Windows 3.11 (if you’ve never heard of those versions go read about them somewhere, things were quite a bit different).

In Word Perfect, several options were accessed by using the function keys. These are the keys on the very top of your keyboard that have the letter F and a number (i.e. F10). Take a look, they’re up there. So in this version of Word Perfect (which is a program like MS Word, and at one time was much more popular. It’s still in use in some specific places such as legal offices), the use of these functions keys did many things, such as insert pre-composed paragraphs. One of the legal assistants would call the shop I worked at on a regular basis, saying her keyboard wasn’t working. We would go through the usual testing procedures and never find a fault. She would show us the “problem”.  When in Word Perfect and you had to use one of the function keys, she instead would type it out. So instead of just hitting the F10 key, she would type the letter F then 1 and 0. Which of course, did nothing but add the “F10” text to her document and not do the desired function.  We would have this call at least 3 times a month until they fired her.

Move to about 1998. This is the time frame when sound cards & CD-ROMS were just becoming standard in the PC world. One of our regular customers brought his PC in to have a sound card and CD player added. Not a tough task for our shop.  The software that came with the package had a GUI (graphical user interface) that looked like a standard stereo system you’d find in your home.

I called the unibomber gentlemen letting him know he can come pick up his PC and I will have it set up on the demo table on the sales floor to show him how everything works.  We go through the demo with no problems. I stress that the software will work “just like your stereo at home”. He claims he understands.

About an hour later he calls in and the call gets routed to me since I was the tech that did the work. First thing I ask is if everything is working correctly, CDs play, sounds are coming from the speakers etc.. No problem there is he says, but I have a question he says.  “How do I rewind the CD?” Well, that made no sense to me, so I ask him to repeat the question so I make sure I didn’t misunderstand him. He asks the question again word for word, “How do I rewind the CD?” In disbelief, I say the question back to him, “You need to know how to rewind a CD?” This immediately gets my fellow techs attention, and they stop what they are doing and gather behind me to hear what’s going on. I again tell him that the system works just like his home system. His reply was “I understand that, but if I stop a CD in the middle of a track, how do I rewind it to start over?” At this point, I had to point him on hold so we could all laugh.

It took about 10 minutes of explaining how things work, but he got it in the end.

Finally, about 1999, working for a telemarketing firm as the “IT Manager” (it was a one-man IT shop, so take the title for what it’s worth).  I get a call from one of the offices upstairs that her monitor wouldn’t power on. When I get to the office the first thing I notice is that’s dark. They usually didn’t turn on all the overhead lights, but this time all of them were off. So I ask, “Why is it so dark in here today?”, thinking maybe someone was hung over (a common occurrence). She tells me “Oh we lost power”. And you wonder why your monitor won’t turn on???  About this time the department manager comes out of his office asking what I needed. When I tell him, he just shakes his head and does the classic facepalm. Took us about 45 minutes to hunt down the breaker box to get power restored.

I have more, but that’s enough for today.  If you’d like to hear more leave me a comment, or if you have some similar experiences, leave a comment or two!

Thanks for reading.

Peace,
B