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The Lighter Side of Computing

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Written on September 2, 1999 by Robert & Karen Vanderzweerde

Appeared in Greenmaster Magazine on TBD

There is no better relief to dealing with a computer problem or issue than to look at the lighter side and laugh. Let’s share some items that not only make us smile but make us think as well.

Help Calls

Here are some true stories from those people in technical support who answer our calls:

  • Compaq is considering changing the message "Press any key to continue" to "Press the Enter key to continue" because of the number of calls asking where the "Any" key is.

  • An exasperated caller to Dell couldn’t get her new Dell computer to turn on. After ensuring that the computer was plugged in, the technician asked her what happened when she pushed the power button. Her response was "I pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happens". The foot pedal turned out to the computer’s mouse.

  • Another Compaq technician received a call from a man complaining that the system wouldn’t read word processing files from his old diskettes. After trouble shooting for magnets and heat failed to diagnose the problem, it was found that the customer had labeled the diskettes, then rolled them into the typewriter to type the labels.

  • A confused caller to IBM was having trouble printing documents. He told the technician that the computer had said it couldn’t find the printer. The user had also tried turning the computer screen to face the printer but that his computer still couldn’t "see" the printer.

And there are many more including the person, who when asked to point the mouse at something and click, picked up the mouse, pointed it like a TV remote at the computer screen, and clicked away. Isn’t English a wonderful language?

Prank E-Mails

Like viruses, people seem to get a kick out of creating and sending prank e-mails. There was one recently explaining that the post office was going to levy a 10-cent charge on all e-mails. Upon checking the names and addresses, it was determined that it was all a hoax.

Speaking of viruses … if you receive an e-mail with the subject line of "Badtimes", delete it immediately WITHOUT reading it. This is the most dangerous e-mail virus yet:

  • It will completely re-write your hard drive.
  • Not only that, it will scramble any disks that are even close to your computer
  • It also demagnetizes the strips on all your credit cards, reprograms your ATM access code, screws up both the time and the tracking on your VCR and uses subspace field harmonics to scratch any CDs you try to play.
  • It will recalibrate your refrigerator. It will hide your car keys. It will give your ex-boy/girlfriend your new phone number. It will replace your shampoo with Nair and your Nair with Rogaine.
  • It is insidious and subtle. It is dangerous and terrifying to behold. It is also a rather interesting shade of mauve.

Vacation Pay in the Year 2000

January 4, 2000

Dear Valued Employee:

Our records indicate that you have not used any vacation time over the past 100 year(s). As I’m sure you are aware, employees are granted 3 weeks of paid leave per year or pay in lieu of time off. One additional year is granted for every 5 years of service.

Please either take 9,400 days off work or notify our office and your next pay check will reflect the payment of $8,277,432.22 which will include all pay and interest for the past 1,200 months.

Sincerely, Automated Payroll Processing

The Year 2000 Solution

Memorandum to all employees

We have defined a lower cost alternative for the conversion to new computers that will address the Y2K (Year 2000) problem.

The goal is to remove all computers. Instead, everyone will be provided with an Etch-A-Sketch. There are many sound reasons for doing this:

  1. No Y2K problems.
  2. No technical glitches keeping work from being done.
  3. No more wasted time reading and writing e-mails.

Here are some frequently asked questions from the Etch-A-Sketch Help Desk:

Q: My Etch-A-Sketch has all of these funny lines all over the screen. What do I do?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I turn by Etch-A-Sketch off.
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: What’s the shortcut for Undo?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I create a new document?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I delete a document on my Etch-A-Sketch?
A: Pick it up and shake it.

Q: How do I save my Etch-A-Sketch document?
A: Don’t shake it.

New Jargon at the Help Desk

Those folks on the other end of the phone have created some humour themselves to deal with the number of seemingly inane calls they receive. Here are a couple of examples:

Brain Repetitive Injury - The psychological damage that can be done to tech-support personnel who answer the same questions over and over again.

PIBCAC - Problem is between computer and chair.

Issue - Technobabble utilized instead of the terms "bug" or "problem". Acceptable terms in current use include "known issues", "intermittent issues", "design side effects", and "undocumented behaviours".

YOYO - Term used for unsupported hardware or software (i.e. you’re on your own).

Please tell us your funny story. We like to laugh.

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