Finding The Task Bar Is A Real Task

, , , , | Right | April 8, 2020

(I work for a small IT service provider. I get this call one day: a new employee at a customer’s office, with whom I’m not yet familiar, is explaining that his “emails don’t work.” Basically, he can’t send or receive emails. For me to be able to connect to his computer, he has to be online, of course.)

Me: “Can you check the network symbol in the task bar on the bottom right?”

Caller: “I don’t see it.”

(Apparently, he has managed to hide his task bar and doesn’t know how to bring it back. I decide I’ll do that for him once I’m connected.)

Me: “Can you start your browser?”

(He doesn’t know what that is at first and eventually refers to the program as “Google,” so I ask him to start his “Google.” He does and says it works.)

Me: “Can you navigate to [shared folder which contains the remote support app he has to run]?”

(He doesn’t know how, even though I’d expect him to do that several times a day, that is, whenever he needs any files for his work.)

Me: “Open the Start menu by pressing the Windows button.”

Caller: “I don’t know what that is.”

(He also doesn’t know what the “space bar” is, so I describe it to him. He has an epiphany.)

Caller: “Oooh… it’s called the ‘Windows button’ because it has a symbol on it that looks like the Windows symbol!”

Me: “Can you open the Windows Explorer by typing it in the search bar?”

(He does so. But instead of the normal Explorer, he opens Internet Explorer. Naturally, he doesn’t find the nav bar which contains all the shares. It takes a moment for me to realize he has opened the wrong program. When he finally manages to find the program and run it, it won’t connect. Why? Because the computer is not online.)

Me: “When I asked you to open your browser, your ‘Google’, you told me it worked.”

Caller: “Yes, Google started.”

Me: “And you were able to open a website?”

Caller: “I didn’t try. You just asked me to open ‘Google’ and it did.”

(I realized that, since the customer referred to his browser as “Google,” “starting Google” to him just meant opening his browser. So, long story short, I had to drive there. What was the problem?

First, the Internet worked just fine. However, the customer had removed the cables from his PC and plugged them in again as he tried to fix his email problem by himself. He didn’t even know what the Windows key was, but tried to fix a computer problem. By doing so, he broke the part off the network cable plug that would normally latch it in place, so the cable was only loosely in the socket and didn’t make a proper connection.

Second, his email worked just fine. He hadn’t received any emails this day, because, who would’ve thought, nobody had sent him any. 

Finally, he had sent an email to a colleague as a test, but had misspelled the address, so he had actually received — YES, RECEIVED! — an email back with an “address does not exist” error message. However, since that was an error message, he didn’t think it’d be the same as receiving normal emails, so he still thought he wouldn’t receive any emails. And since it was an error message, he figured sending emails doesn’t work.

Oh, yes, about the task bar? It was there all along, but he has two monitors and he had looked at the wrong one. This was my first day after Christmas vacation. And I already feel like I need another vacation.)

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