Monday, May 18, 2009

Computers, Ignorance, Paranoia, Tech Support, and Humor

"Computer Stupidities"

" 'On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.'
-- Charles Babbage (1791-1871)

"The following is a large collection of stories and anecdotes about clueless computer users. It's a baffling phenomenon that in today's society an individual ... can sit down in front of a computer screen and instantly lose every last shred of common sense he ever possessed. Complicate this phenomenon with a case of 'computerphobia,' ... You will read stories in this file that will convince you that among the human race are human-shaped artichokes futilely attempting to break the highly regarded social convention that vegetables should not operate electronic equipment...."

It's broken down by topics and sub-topics, like
  • Systems
    • Piecing It Together
    • Mincing Words Operating Systems Icons Hardware Requirements Backups Programming
There's even
  • Role Reversal
    • Stupid Tech Support
    • Stupid Salesmen
I found one tale, under Emergencies - Paranoia - that reminded me of a call or two I handled during my tech support days:

"I was once using the generic telnet program on the library computers to check my mail on UTM (the local university) with Pine. The computer-inept librarian walked up behind me.
* Her: (shrieking) 'WHAT ARE YOU DOING???'
* Me: 'I'm checking my email--'
* Her: 'It looks like you're breaking into the computer!!'
* Me: 'No really -- I'm checking my mail.'
* Her: 'But that's not HOTMAIL!!'
* Me: 'I don't use hotmail. I use--'
* Her: 'But EVERYONE uses HOTMAIL!!'
* Me: 'No, my account goes through UTM. My email account ends with--'
* Her: 'But that's not what MYYY UTM looks like!!' (apparently referring to the UTM web page)
* Me: 'Yes, I'm telnetting. It's another way of accessing--'
* Her: 'I think you better shut that off. You're breaking into the computer.'
* Me: 'But I--'
* Her: Turn it off. I don't believe that "checking mail" story.'

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