Sunday, March 29, 2009

Computer Horror Stories – Part 1

Story 1

I used to be a technician on the U.S.S. Ranger, an aircraft carrier, just before the Gulf War. A new commanding officer had just come on board, and, in preparation for our excursion out to Iraq, he ordered that we go through all our spaces and ensure that everything was secured in place, so that if we hit rough seas, or hit something explosive, there wouldn't be debris flying everywhere. Fairly standard routine.

About two days later, the Ranger's marine detachment called my shop and said, "Our computer is broken." So I head down to the detachment office to take a look. These PCs were the old Zenith Z-248 desktop models, secured with four zillion screws and weighing in at what seemed like half a ton. Our marines had taken the order to secure things pretty seriously, because they had done it with two half inch lag bolts. They had drilled straight through the case, the mother board, the bottom of the case, and the desk it was sitting on, to drop the lag bolts in place.

They couldn't figure out what was wrong, but they knew that it wasn't going anywhere.

Story 2

Fact: Boston Computer Museum sells chocolate bars shaped like floppy disks.

Fact: Three year old kids see daddy boot his computer using a floppy to play games.

Fact: Computers are warm inside...even some quite expensive computers.

I don't want to talk about it.

Story 3

I worked at a photo lab in New Mexico. Part of my job was outputing digital files to a film recorder. Everyone there was friendly, except for one woman who never seemed to like me. After a few months I asked my boss about it. He told me that before I got there, they had tried to train her to do the digital output. They even paid for her to go to a class to learn about computers. She was the only student in the class who managed to get a floppy stuck in the drive upside down and backwards. The teacher had to disassemble the machine to get the disk out. She told him she had to pound it with the heal of her hand to get the disk to go in. After that, the photo lab decided she probably wasn't the one for that position. She always resented the fact that I had 'her' job.

Story 4

  • Tech Support: "Hello, tech support, may I help you?"
  • Customer: (in a thick Russian accent) "Yes. Monitor is working fine but has sparks and smoke flying out back. Is ok?"
  • Tech Support: (blink)

Story 5

  • Customer: "There are smoke and flames coming from my computer."
  • Tech Support: "Uh, hang up, unplug the computer from the wall, and call the local fire department."
  • Customer: "That's not the problem. I need to know how to do a backup. Fastest possible method."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stupid Tech Support Calls – Part 2

Story 1

An man purchased a laptop from me. He called about a week later and said that it would no longer boot up. He brought it in, and I discovered that sixteen nicely drilled holes were in the bottom of the case. I asked him about it, and he said the machine was too hot sitting on his lap, so he had drilled these "air holes."

"Could that be the problem?" he asked.

Story 2

One day a customer called complaining that he just received his computer, but it won't turn on. When he first pushed the power button, the screen flashed and then everything died.

I couldn't do much over the phone, so I went to the customer's office. It was plugged in, everything was hooked up ok, but, sure enough, it refused to turn on. I decided to take it back and promised to deliver a new one as soon as possible. But when I went to pick it up, I couldn't.

Fearful of thieves, the man had fired some 24 inch bolts straight through the box, through the hard drive, motherboard, everything, locking it to his desk.

"Oh," he said, "I thought it was just the TV part that was important. Will my warranty cover this?"

Story 3

  • Customer: "I need a new modem."
  • Tech Support: "What's wrong with your current modem?"
  • Customer: "The Internet light is not on."
  • Tech Support: "Did you reset your modem recently?"
  • Customer: "Yes I did, but what does it have to do with it?"
  • Tech Support: "Well, resetting the modem wipes out your configuration profile, so we just need to reconfigure it."
  • Customer: "Did you not hear me? The modem is broken, and I demand a replacement now!"
  • Tech Support: "The modem is not broken. If you are willing to, we can configure it in about 2 minutes."
  • Customer: "I want a new modem!"
  • Tech Support: "We can't replace modems over a simple reconfiguration issue. All we have to do--"


  • Customer: "Now it's broke! Replace the thing already!"
  • Tech Support: "Ok sir, we cannot replace a modem that you destroyed, and your modem is past warranty, so you'll have to buy a new one anyway."
  • Customer: "!*#$(*@#%!@&#$&*(!@#*$!@*^!@#$@" (Click.)

Story 4

While I was at college (back in the days of Archimedes computers), I often helped to teach new users the ropes while the teacher concentrated elsewhere. This one sweet girl was very new, and I didn't mind that she had no concept of the mouse, the screen, and whatnot -- she soon got good enough that I could leave her to do some task and help someone else. Pretty soon, however, she was tugging on my chair, and when I went to see what was going on, she said, "My bracelet is stuck in there."


It was wedged into the floppy disk slot. Why? Apparently, the bracelet was annoying her when she typed, so she took it off. She found a small slot on the computer with a happy little door on it and just went ahead and shoved it in. Tech support had to rescue it by taking the thing apart.

Story 5

A customer had bought a computer from us about a year ago and a Voodoo 3 card just yesterday. He took it home and tried to install it but couldn't, so he brought them both in this morning. He ranted and raved, etc. He had reboxed the Voodoo 3, expecting a replacement, so we took the computer and the Voodoo 3 in the back and told him we would fit it for free. When we opened the box for the Voodoo 3, it was in a terrible state. The bit of metal that attaches the card to the case was taken off, and a wee heatsink had been scraped off the chip with a screwdriver. I reglued the sink and reattached the backplate. So we opened the machine, and tried to fit the card. Ack. Card is AGP, computer has exactly zero AGP slots. So we went back to the front.

  • Me: "Sir, your computer has no AGP slots, and this is an AGP video card."
  • Customer: "Yeah, but the card fit perfectly into the little white slot."
  • Me: "Which white slot?"
  • Guy: "There's five of them -- little white ones. There's a spare one."
  • Me: "The PCI slot? shouldn't...let me check."

Sure enough, if you remove the heatsink and backplate, turn the card around, and really hammer it into the only free PCI slot, it will just fit snugly next to the hard disk.

We explained that the AGP card was completely destroyed and he had voided the warranty on it by hacking away at it with a screwdriver. The usual mad customer vs. techie exchange ensued, but he eventually backed down and bought the PCI version instead...and got us to fit it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stupid Tech Supports Calls – Part 1

The following is just a few of the stupid tech support stories that I have found around the web.  There are a lot of them, all funny.  Enjoy!

Story 1

The place I work for charges about $100/issue for tech support.

  • Tech Support: "So what can I do for you?"
  • Customer: "I'm trying to run Live Update with Norton, and it came up to a screen with a list of updates, and it says 'Next.' What do I do?"
  • Tech Support: "Did you hit 'Next'?"
  • Customer: "Oh, it's working now."
  • Tech Support: "Anything else I can do for you?"
  • Customer: "No, that's it, thanks."

Story 2

  • User: "I've just unplugged my monitor from the wall in order to clean it without getting shocked. How do I plug it back in?"

I had about ten different responses flash through my mind, but as this guy was fairly high up on the food chain of management, I had to control myself. I said, "Align the pins with the hole, and push it into the socket." Satisfied, the user hung up.

Story 3

  • Customer: "I installed Windows 98 on my computer, and it doesn't work."
  • Tech Support: "Ok, what happens when you turn on your computer?"
  • Customer: "Boy, are you listening? I said it doesn't work."
  • Tech Support: "Well, what happens when you TRY to turn it on?"
  • Customer: "Look, I'm not a computer person. Talk regular English, not this computer talk, ok?"
  • Tech Support: "Ok, let's assume your computer is turned off, and you just sat down in front of it, and want to use it. What do you do?"
  • Customer: "Don't talk like I'm stupid, boy. I turn it on."
  • Tech Support: "And then what happens?"
  • Customer: "What do you mean?"
  • Tech Support: "Does anything appear on your monitor? I mean, the TV part."
  • Customer: "The same thing I saw last time I tried."
  • Tech Support: "And that is what?"
  • Customer: "Are you sure you know what you're doing?"
  • Tech Support: "Yes, sir. What is on your screen?"
  • Customer: "A bunch of little pictures."
  • Tech Support: "Ok, in the upper left corner, do you see 'My Computer'."
  • Customer: "No, all I see is that little red circle thing with the chunk out of it."
  • Tech Support: "You mean an apple?"
  • Customer: "I guess it kind of looks like an apple."

Then it took me fifteen minutes to convince him that he had a Mac. Even after showing him "About this Macintosh." I spent another fifteen minutes trying to convince him that Windows 98 wouldn't work on his Mac. He said it should work because Windows 98 is for PCs, and he had a PowerPC. I think he's still trying to get it to read that CD, because I never could convince him.

Story 4

A member of posted and asked for someone to write an operating system for him. It had to have all the features of Windows XP Professional. In return, he would be willing to pay $20 to $100.

The listing:

I need someone to program me a new OS (Operasting System) that looks different than Ms Windows XP etc. but has the same style. It does not need to run on a mac but all the other PCs. It's supposed to have a stylish look with clear edges etc. And ITS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE JUST A REDESIGNED WINDOWS as I'm going to sell that operating system later on. These are some important points :

It should have ALL THE FEATURES that Windows Xp Professional has. ALL the files that run on Windows XP ust also run on the BlueOrb OS. It must have a very user-friendly interface (like MS WINDOWS XP) When it gets Installed, the user needs to insert a serial number. It HAS to be HACKER SAFE! It must be quick and good looking.

Here's the listing on

Friday, March 13, 2009

Kumo (Live) Search’s Homepage to be

A couple of days ago, I talked to you about Kumo, Microsoft’s rebranding of Live Search.  Here is a picture of what the homepage will potentially look like.  Cosmetically, it looks the same as Live Search, but I’m not going to make the mistake of criticizing it and regretting it later.  We only see the face, what is underneath is more important.  We will just have to wait and see, but I’m hoping for a Google-Killer.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Who is he?

Have you every heard of Doctor Who and wondered who he is?  This video will clear everything up.

Hackers Zeros in on Apple

For many years, Windows has been the target for the majority of the hacker community.  Because of this many alternative operating systems claimed that they were safer than Windows.  The truth of the matter is that there are just too few people using alternative operating systems to make it worth it for hackers.

OSXLeopard Look at it this way.  About 90% of people who use computers use some version of Microsoft Windows.  Apple’s Mac OS has 9.61% of the operating system.  The other less than 2% is split among the many versions of Unix and Linux.  Why would a hacker waste his time breaking into an operating system that .5% of people use?  It’s more logical to do something that would cause the most amount of damage and open the most number of computers to pillage.

OS Market Share

That said, hackers are either getting tired of Windows or the security is getting better because Apple has been coming under more attacks in recently.  There have been several bugs that targeted Mac OS.  In recent news, it has been announced that Apple’s browser, Safari, is vulnerable.

Apple_Safari The annual hacker contest Pwn2Own is almost here.  Charlie Miller, last year’s winner, said that Apple’s Safari would be “easy pickings”.  He predicted that 4 people would be able to crack the browser.  This does not bode well for Apple, especially in light of their recent release of Safari 4 beta.  This is also bad news for Windows people who use Safari.  It will give hackers a back-door into Windows.

My advice: Apple should stop boasting about the performance and features of both their operating system and browser.  Instead they should hire some of these hackers to help them tighten up security in their products.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Microsoft Advertisements from India – Part 3

Let’s see how long we can keep this going.

Microsoft’s Second Try at Search

Several years ago Microsoft realized that there was a computer related market that they did not dominate: search.  They immediately moved to unseat the ruling and undisputed leader in search, Google.  They introduced Live Search and the Windows Live suite of products to do just that.

Overall, Live search has a 8.5% market share of US searches (Jan 2009)  and 1.73% international market share (Feb 2009).  Not all that great.

Recently, news has come out that Microsoft will rebrand and re-release it’s search engine.  The name, sources discovered, will be Kumo.  In fact, Microsoft Netherlands released a screenshot.  They also stated that Kumo would work with the Web Slices function in IE8.  (I will comment on this at a later time.)

It will be interesting to see what actually comes out of this name change.  Hopefully it goes better than Microsoft’s attempt to buy Yahoo for it’s search capabilities.

Kumo, Live Search rebranded

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Update on Chrome Bundling

In a previous post, I predicted that Google would give Microsoft a run for it’s money by making deals to have the Chrome browser bundled with new computers.  Today, news came out that Google is making some headway in that direction.  Google Chrome is now bundled with Real Player.  While this is a long way from being bundled with an operating system, it still shows a step in the right direction for Google.


Microsoft Advertisement from India – Part 1

I know that this is the first blog post I have written in a long time. Sorry about that. College work tends to get hectic, but now that I have Windows Live Writer I can put up posts faster and will get more up.

Microsoft has spend quite a few dollars (or rupees) advertising in India. Why not?! They have the business of almost all of the developed world, why not aim for developing countries. This will be the first in a series of Microsoft ads from India that I will post. Enjoy.