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I’m Glad Someone Here Knows What’s Going On

, , , , , , | Related | August 19, 2021

I manage support for mainframe computers and have done so for many years. My kids have grown up around a great deal of tech, but I’ve never taught them anything specifically related to mainframe.

I am out shopping with my oldest daughter, who is a teen, when I got a call. Since we are close to the office and it is a weekend, I just take her in with me. She can read a book and wait until the problem is fixed. It’s not uncommon when you’re the support lead, so she knows the drill.

As often is the case, one problem leads to another problem. We’ve been in the office about three hours by this point, and there are now three of us support staff in the office, plus my daughter.

All of a sudden, my daughter gets up and walks over to where my employee is working. Though he is the youngest of us three, he has at least a decade on my daughter.

Daughter: *Pointing to something on the screen* “That job is blocking up the queue. It’s sorting the records by time, but it’s trying to recalculate all the time to daylight saving and that takes longer. Just delete it and tell the Red team that they need to run job 8-B. Job 8-A only gets run on the night daylight saving switches over, and it’ll be replaced when [project] finishes, anyway. The problems on [system 1 and 2] are cascaded because job 8-A’s mucking up the times in the records in real time.”

All three of us turn to look at her.

Me: “[Daughter], why do you think that’s the problem?”

Daughter: “It’s the same problem you had on CICS4 last week.”

I may talk about my work in front of my kids more than I realised. Yes, she was right.

This story is part of our Best Of August 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of August 2021 roundup story!

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We’re Guessing It Wasn’t A Church Of Jediism

, , , , , | Friendly | August 16, 2021

Many moons ago, mobile phones did not have the ability to play whatever tune you fancied when they rang. When the technology was finally unleashed on the general public, many people went a bit crazy assigning novelty ringtones and text message alerts, me included.

One afternoon, I was having my lunch break at work and demonstrating my current choices of tones to an older colleague. She was very impressed and excitedly asked me if I could do it for her phone. We spent a good fifteen minutes choosing and assigning a ringtone and message alert.

The following Monday, my colleague approached me at my desk, face full of shame and unhappiness, and quietly asked me if I would be so kind as to revert her phone to its original tunes.

I did so, but of course, I had to ask why the change of heart, given her joy the previous week?

Colleague: “Well, I was sitting in church yesterday listening to the vicar give his sermon when I got a text, and I hadn’t turned my phone off before going in.”

I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. The text message alert she had asked me to assign? Yoda’s voice saying, “Message from the Dark Side, there is.”

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Ink On Your Screen And Egg On Your Face

, , , | Right | CREDIT: facepalmdaily | August 11, 2021

We have an electronic check-in process and have had it for many years. Part of this process requires our guests to sign their documents electronically for their rentals. It is not uncommon for them to call in for assistance with signing.

Me: “How can I help you?”

Caller: “I signed my documents, but I cannot get it to submit.”

Me: “Sure, let me help you with that.”

I walk them through it.

Caller: “I cannot get the ink off of my screen! How do I get it off my monitor?”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Caller: “I signed it on my screen with my pen, but I cannot get the ink off my monitor! This is not right.”

Sometimes there are no words to describe the things we endure while remaining professional towards the humans we serve.

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Why Working From Home Is Not An Option For Some

, , , , | Right | August 6, 2021

Our company is transitioning to working from our homes instead of the office. I am a network engineer, but my supervisors have me working extra hours as a helpdesk service agent to assist with other employees in my company who are having issues getting set up to work from home.

Me: “Helpdesk, this is [My Name].”

Employee: “Hi, I’m [Employee] with customer support. I went out and bought a [Brand] wireless keyboard and mouse, and the keyboard’s not working.”

Me: “Okay, is there a switch on the keyboard, and is it in the on position?”

Employee: *Checks over the keyboard* “Yes.”

Me: “Are the batteries in good condition and are they inserted in the correct orientation?”

Employee: *Opens the battery compartment and checks* “Yes, they are.”

Me: “Okay, good. Do the mouse and keyboard share a USB receiver?”

Employee: “What’s that mean?”

Me: “It’s a little plastic thing that you inserted into a USB port in your docking station.”

Employee: “What’s a docking station?”

Me: “It’s the device that your extra monitors and other devices connect with. It should be plugged into your laptop.”

Employee: “Oh, that thing! Yeah, the UBC thing is plugged into that.”

Me: “USB. Okay, and the mouse is working fine?”

Employee: “Yes.”

Me: “Hmm, that’s odd. You might have a faulty keyboard.”

Employee: *Annoyed* “Well that’s just great, I’m going to have to go back to the office and grab my work keyboard and mouse.”

Me: “Let’s try to eliminate some variables first. Unplug the receiver and plug it into one of the USB ports on the laptop.”

Employee: “My laptop doesn’t have any UBC ports.”

Me: “Ma’am, I have the same laptop model as you. You have three USB ports: two on the left side, one on the right.”

Employee: “Let me get my husband over here to help.”

She puts down the phone and I can hear her faintly discussing the situation with her husband. It takes a while but the two of them manage to locate a USB port and plug in the receiver before she picks up the phone again.

Employee: “Okay, we got the UBC thing plugged into the laptop.”

Me: “Okay, good. Does the keyboard work now?”

Employee: “Nope.”

Me: “But the mouse still does?”

Employee: “Yes.”

Me: “That is odd. The only thing else I can think of is to check the drivers. Can you click on the Start button?”

Employee: “Is that on the keyboard?”

Me: “No, it’s that little button on your screen with the Windows symbol in the bottom left-hand corner. You click on it with your mouse.”

Employee: “I can’t find it.”

Me: “What do you see on your screen?”

Employee: “It just says [Brand Of Monitor].”

It starts to dawn on me what’s going on.

Me: “What’s on your laptop’s built-in monitor?”

Employee: “It’s just black.”

Me: “Is there a little white light above the left side of your laptop’s keyboard?”

Employee: “No.”

Me: “Ma’am, your computer is not turned on.”

Employee: “Oh, how do I turn it on?”

Me: “There’s a little round button in the same place as the white light; you need to press it and wait for the computer to boot up.”

There was even more that I didn’t include here. We were on the phone for over ninety minutes. It took a while to get her to put her USB receiver back into her dock, too; it was like it became invisible once she inserted it in her laptop.

There are so many questions to which I’ll never get an answer. Why did she not recognize that her computer wasn’t displaying her desktop? Why did she assume the problem was with her keyboard? Why did she think her mouse still worked? And most curious of all, how has she spent years doing a job on the same computer and not have the slightest insight into its basic operation?

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Mischief By Proxy

, , , , , | Learning | August 5, 2021

I attended a private high school that issued laptops to all of its students and faculty. Of course, because we had near-constant Internet access, the school had a pretty hefty firewall put in place — amongst other measures — to ensure we were doing what we were supposed to during class. However, being a bunch of teens, many of us were also doing our best to circumvent this firewall, typically through proxies. Once one of these was found, it spread like a wildfire before administration caught on and blocked it and the cycle repeated.

I’m not sure how this is handled at other schools, but at mine, the last week before finals was solely dedicated to reviewing for them and to giving you an opportunity to ask your teachers questions about older material.

It’s this time my sophomore year and I’m in my algebra class browsing social media via one of those aforementioned Internet proxies — perhaps not the smartest decision looking back, but oh, well. Unbeknownst to me, my teacher — the very same one from this story — has snuck up behind me.

Teacher: “Is that Reddit?!”

I nearly jump out of my skin, especially since computer misuse is an automatic detention, and circumvention of the firewall can be a suspension if you get caught directly.

Me: “Um, yeah.”

Teacher: “How the h*** did you get around the firewall?! I swear, I’ve been trying to do that all year.”

Me: “Oh, uh, I use [Proxy].”

Teacher: “Thanks!”

He immediately scurried back to his desk. 

Since the first story I submitted about him, I’ve learned he didn’t even apply to the school to be a teacher; he applied to be in their IT department. Administration just stuck him in the position because he had a math degree. That fact explained a lot.

The Password Adds Up

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