The demise of Skylab by Thomas Suters

Up there in the sky so bright,
I wonder who’s seen you tonight.
With a glow from your first stage shell,
And a glint from a piece that fell.

I see you’re trying for one last chance,
But I think you’ll hit Earth at a glance.
I hear your orbit has rapidly fallen,
A bit pre-mature, but perfectly normal.

Where you crash they still won’t tell,
Perhaps NASA is trying to dispel.
They say you could land in W.A,
But definitely not in the U.S.A.

The experts say that you are quite stable,
But I think I’ll see you from my dining table.
The odds of you hitting are six hundred billion,
Yet those of a car are only one million.

Some people are making a frightening warning,
So please pass over again this morning.
Your in the good books of history,
If only you break up over the sea.

The remains of Skylab crashed to Earth in Western Australia in 1976 after serving in Space for 15 years.


The Pulse Of Life by Russel Baker of the New York Times

Russel Baker of the New York TimesI feel good about me. Running 5, 10, 20 kilometres every day makes me feel good. Learning Serbo-Croatian while I’m running makes me feel good.

You can do that now – learn Serbo-Croatian while you run, I mean – if you buy a portable cassette player with earplugs.

You can learn Urdu or French if you prefer.  Or listen to Everything Beethoven ever wrote. Efficient living – like learning Serbo-Croatian while I’m running – really gives me a lot of satisfaction with myself.

I feel good about living at a point in time when a person can learn Serbo-Croatian or Urdu or listen to Everything Beethoven ever wroteat the same point in time he or she is building their bodies. It makes you sorry for people born before this point in time.  They couldn’t build their bodies or language skills or their musical culture.  I feel good about my pectorals, my triceps and my abdominal’s.  Since working out on my new weight machine, my body has become a body I’m proud to be seen in.

When shaving with my designer shaving cream imported from Sweden I love to see the healthy glow on my skin.  I feel good about my skin glow.

It means my inner organs look just as good as my pectorals, triceps and abdominals.  I read that a person who feels good about his skin glow is actually feeling good about his liver and lungs because unless these organs look terrific, your skin will never glow.

I feel good about my liver and lungs.  Some of my favourite reading is liver-lung literature.

A girl once phoned me “Come to my place and we will read aloud some antique Frenchman’s erotic tales,” she said.  I told her I was having too good a time reading “How To Develop Liver And Lungs You Can Be Proud Of“.  She never phoned again.  She was probably ashamed of her liver and lungs.  I feel good about myself when I think of smokers and gin drinkers abusing their lungs and livers.  They have to lie when they go to the doctor, but I can say, “Don’t take my word for it, doc – get out your scanners and x-rays and tell me if you ever saw prettier liver and lungs than what’s under these fantastic pectorals and abdominals.

I feel good about thinking about me, not just because of my great health and my efficient program of self-improvement, with the running and the Serbo-Croatian lessons going simultaneously. Of course, my leisure hours spent reading up on internal organs has brought me inner peace, not to mention considerable knowledge of the human body.

What makes me feel especially good about me, though, is the ingenuity with which I got loneliness out of my life.  The solution was on a car lot.

I feel wonderful about me“, I told the car salesman.

With those fantastic abdominals and that skin glow bespeaking liver and lungs never abused by weed or booze, you have every right to“, said the salesman.  “I, bet you can speak a little Urdu, too.

Serbo-Croatian“, I said.

But despite all, you are lonely.

Well, a girl did phone me once, but …

But she would have interfered with your self satisfaction.  Say no more, friend, but merely gaze at this.

It was a car.

Not just a car“, he said.  “Listen.

It was a car that talked.

Now I am never lonely.  If I want conversation I start the engine and, without fastening the seat belt, start to drive.  “Please fasten your seat belt“, says the car.

If I do so, the car says “Thank you.

I feel good about having a car that is courteous.

If I refuse to fasten the seat belt;… it does not fulminate.  It holds its tongue.  Perhaps it is sulking, but at least it is silent.

If I stop the engine and step out of the car it says, “Don’t forget your keys“, and after I take the keys it says “Thank you.

Not at all“, I reply.  “I am the one who should say ‘Thank you’

If I am in quarrelsome spirits, I get into the car, start the engine and drive away without quite closing the door latch.  At this the car can be relied upon to say, “A door is ajar.

Don’t talk stupidly“, I snarl.  “A jar is a container, usually cylindrical and glass.

After lecturing the car, I close its door tightly and it says “Thank you“;… I dislike this humble response to my scolding.

A car that felt good about itself would be a bit more arrogant.  I wonder if its liver is in tiptop shape?

Russell Baker won a Pulitzer Prize in 1979 and Showing him winning the award, for his book “Growing Up” and his commentary in the New York Times.  He is a former columnist and correspondent for The New York Times and the host of Masterpiece Theatre.  His books include The Good Times and Growing Up.

Sheep may safely graze

A shepherd was herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of the dust cloud towards him. The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and asked the shepherd, “If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?”

The shepherd looked at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looked at his peacefully-grazing flock and calmly answered, “Sure.”

The yuppie parked his car, whipped out his notebook and connected it to a cell phone, then he surfed to a NASA page on the internet where he called up a GPS satellite navigation system, scanned the area, and then opened up a database and an Excel spreadsheet with complex formulas. He sent an e-mail on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, received a response. Finally, he prints out a 150 page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized printer then turns to the shepherd and says, “You have exactly 1,586 sheep.”

“That is correct; take one of my flock.” said the shepherd.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and bundles it into his car. Then the shepherd says “If I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my animal?”

“OK, why not.” answered the young man.

“Clearly, you are a consultant.” said the shepherd.

“That’s correct,” says the yuppie, “but how did you guess that?”

“Not hard.” answers the shepherd. “You turned up here, without anybody calling you. You want to get paid for an answer that I already knew, to a question I never asked, and you don’t know anything about my business. Now please give me back my Lhama….”

Flying in Seattle – by Martin Hager:

There was a pilot flying a small single engine charter plane, with a couple of very important executives on board.  He was coming into Seattle airport through thick fog with less than 10 metres visibility when his instruments went out.  So he began circling around looking for landmarks.

After an hour or so, he started running pretty low on fuel and the passengers are getting nervous.  Finally, a small opening in the fog appears and he sees a tall building with one guy working alone on the fiftieth floor.  The pilot banks the plane around, rolls down the window and shouts to the guy “Hey, where am I? To this, the solitary office worker replies “You’re in a plane.” The pilot rolls up the window, executes a 275 degree turn and proceeds to execute a perfect blind landing on the runway of the airport 5 miles away.  Just as the plane stops, the engine’s fuel supply runs out.

The passengers are amazed and one asks how he did it.  “Simple” replies the pilot, “I asked the guy in that building a simple question.  The answer he gave me was 100 percent correct but absolutely useless, therefore I knew that must be Microsoft’s support office, and from there the airport is exactly 5.3 miles south-southwest.”

Why did the chicken cross the road? – by Bill Starke

KINDERGARTEN TEACHER:  To get to the other side.

ARISTOTLE:  It is the nature of chickens to cross roads.

KARL MARX:  It was an historical inevitability.

CAPTAIN JAMES TIBERIUS  KIRK:  To boldly go where no chicken has gone before

LOUIS FARRAKHAN:  The road, you see, represents the black man.  The chicken ‘crossed’ the black man in order to trample him and keep him down.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.:  I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

FOX MULDER:  You saw it cross the road with your own eyes!  How many more chickens have to cross the road before you believe it?

CHARLES DARWIN:  Chickens, over great periods of time, have been naturally selected in such a way that they are now genetically disposed to cross roads.

EDMUND FREUD:  The fact that you are at all concerned that the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

ALBERT EINSTEIN:  Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road moved beneath the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.

COLONEL SANDERS:  You mean I missed one?

OLIVER STONE:  The question is not, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”  Rather, it is, “Who was crossing the road at the same time, whom we overlooked in our haste to observe the chicken crossing?”

ERNEST HEMINGWAY:  To die…  In the rain.

PLATO:  For the greater good.


HIPPOCRATES:  Because of an excess of phlegm in its pancreas.

SADDAM HUSSEIN:  This was an unprovoked act of aggression and we were quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it.

TIMOTHY LEARY:  Because that’s the only trip the establishment would let it take.

MOSES:  And God came down from the Heavens, and He said unto the chicken, “Thou shalt cross the road.”  And the chicken crossed the road, and there was much rejoicing.

JERRY SEINFELD:  Why does anyone cross a road?  I mean, why doesn’t anyone ever think to ask, “What the heck was this chicken doing walking around all over the place, anyway?”

PRINCE MACHIAVELLI:  The point is that the chicken crossed the road.  Who cares why?  The end of crossing the road justifies whatever motive there was.

BILL GATES III:  I have just released the new Chicken Office 2003, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your chequebook.

RICHARD MILLHOUSE NIXON:  The chicken did not cross the road.  I repeat, the chicken did NOT cross the road.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON:  The chicken did not cross the road ..  It transcended it.

BUDDHA:  Asking this question denies your own chicken nature.

ANDERSEN CONSULTING:  Deregulation of the chicken’s side of the road was threatening its dominant market position.  The chicken was faced with significant challenges to create and develop the competencies required for the newly competitive market.  Andersen Consulting, in a partnering relationship with the client, helped the chicken by rethinking its physical distribution strategy and implementation processes.  Using the Poultry Integration Model (PIM), Andersen helped the chicken use its skills, methodologies, knowledge, capital and experiences to align the chicken’s people, processes and technology in support of its overall strategy within a Program Management framework.  Andersen Consulting convened a diverse cross-spectrum of road analysts and best chickens along with Anderson consultants with deep skills in the transportation industry to engage in a two-day itinerary of meetings in order to leverage their personal knowledge capital, both tacit and explicit, and to enable them to synergise with each other in order to achieve the implicit goals of delivering and successfully architecturing and implementing an enterprise-wide value framework across the continuum of poultry cross-median processes.  The meeting was held in a park-like setting, enabling and creating an impacted environment which was strategically based, industry-focused, and built upon a consistent, clear, and unified market message and aligned with the chicken’s mission, vision, and core values.  This was conducive towards the creation of a total business integration solution.  Andersen Consulting helped the chicken change to become more successful.

Lord of the Rings – from Danny Lee

A computer wizard, paid a man a visit.  The man mentioned that he had recently installed Windows XP on his PC.  The wizard saw how happy the man was with this operating system and grabbed the mans CD.  To his astonishment and distress, the wizard threw it into the microwave oven and turned it on.  The man was upset because the CD had become precious to him, but the wizard said:  Do not worry, it is unharmed.  After a few minutes he took the CD out, gave it to the man and said:  Take a closer look at it.

To the mans surprise the CD was quite cold and it seemed to have become thicker and heavier than before.  At first the man could not see anything, but on the inner edge of the central hole the man saw an inscription, in lines finer than anything the man had ever seen before.  The inscription shone piercingly bright, and yet remote, as if out of a great depth:

4F6E65204F5320746F2072756C65207468656D20616C6C2C204F6E65204F5320746F 2066696E64207468656D2C0D0A4F6E65204F5320746F206272696E67207468656D20 616C6C20616E6420696E20746865206461726B6E6573732062696E64207468656D

The man could not read the fiery letters.  No, the wizard said, but I can.  The letters are HEX, of an ancient mode, but the language is that of Microsoft, which I shall not utter here.  But in common English this is what it says:

One OS to rule them all, One OS to find them,
One OS to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

Y2K Back to the Future

Tech 1:  I have fitted an Imram Flux Capacitor to my Datsun 1600 in the event that we need to go back in time to address any Y2K issues retrospectively.  I have aligned the tachion paraconduits, and retrofitted the phase shift harmoniser.  The only issue left is that I cannot get the darn thing to hit the 80 mile an hour mark.  Any clues?

Tech 2:  Drop it from a helicopter.  80 miles per hour translates to 37 metres per second (approx).  With gravity providing a constant accelleration of 9.8m/s2, it should take 3.77 seconds of free-fall (say 4 seconds to allow for the drag coefficient of a Datsun 1600 – which is about as aerodynamic as a house-brick) to hit the lofty velocity you are trying to attain.  The other bonus is that the Datsun will probably come out of this looking better than it did prior to the drop.

The Y2K Cobol Programmer

There was a COBOL programmer in the late 1990’s.  For the sake of this story, we’ll call him Jack.  After years of being taken for granted and treated as a technological dinosaur by all the UNIX programmers and Client/Server programmers and website developers, Jack was finally getting some respect.  He’d become a private consultant specializing in Year 2000 conversions.  He was working short term assignments for prestige companies, traveling all over the world on different assignments.  He was working 70 and 80 and even 90 hour weeks, but it was worth it.

Several years of this relentless, mind-numbing work had taken its toll on Jack.  He had problems sleeping and began having anxiety dreams about the Year 2000.  It had reached a point where even the thought of the year 2000 made him nearly violent.  He must have suffered some sort of breakdown, because all he could think about was how he could avoid the year 2000 and all that came with it.

Jack decided to contact a company that specialised in cryogenics.  He made a deal to have himself frozen until March 15th, 2000.  This was a very expensive process and totally automated.  He was thrilled.  The next thing he would know is he’d wake up in the year 2000; after the New Year celebrations and computer debacles; after the leap day.  Nothing else to worry about except getting on with his life.

He was put into his cryogenic receptacle, the technicians set the revive date, he was given injections to slow his heartbeat to a bare minimum, and that was that.

The next thing that Jack saw was an enormous and very modern room filled with excited people.  They were all shouting I can’t believe it!, It’s a miracle, He’s alive!.  There were cameras, unlike any he’d ever seen and equipment that looked like it came out of a science fiction movie.

Someone who was obviously the spokesperson for the group stepped forward.  Jack couldn’t contain his enthusiasm.  It is over? he asked.  Is 2000 already here?  Are all the millennial parties and promotions and crises all over and done with?

The spokesman explained that there had been a problem with the programming of the timer on Jack’s cryogenic receptacle; it hadn’t been year 2000 compliant.  It was actually eight thousand years later, not the year 2000.  But the spokesman told Jack that he shouldn’t get excited; someone important wanted to speak to him.

Suddenly a wall-sized projection screen displayed the image of a man that looked very much like Bill Gates.  This man was Prime Minister of Earth.  He told Jack not to be upset.  That this was a wonderful time to be alive.  That there was world peace and no more starvation.  That the space program had been reinstated and there were colonies on the moon and on Mars.  That technology had advanced to such a degree that everyone had virtual reality interfaces which allowed them to contact anyone else on the planet, or to watch any entertainment, or to hear any music recorded anywhere.

That sounds terrific, said Jack.  But I’m curious.  Why is everybody so interested in me?

Well, said the Prime Minister.  The year 10,000 is just around the corner, and it says in your files that you know COBOL.

Technical Support Instructions

  1. Don’t write anything down.  We can play back the error messages from here.
  2. When a tech says he’s coming right over, go for coffee.  It’s nothing to us to remember 4000 screen saver passwords.
  3. When you call us to have your computer moved, be sure to leave it buried under half a ton of postcards, baby pictures, stuffed animals, dried flowers, bowling trophies and Popsicle art.  We don’t have a life, and we find it deeply moving to catch a fleeting glimpse of yours.
  4. When you call the help desk, state what you want, not what’s keeping you from getting it.  We don’t need to know that you can’t get into your mail because your computer won’t power on at all.
  5. Don’t put your phone extension in your emails to the help desk.  We need to keep an eye on the address book performance.
  6. When tech support sends you an email with high importance, delete it at once.  We’re just testing the public groups.
  7. When a tech is eating lunch in his quad, walk right in and spill your guts right out.  We exist only to serve.
  8. When a tech is having a smoke outside, ask him a computer question.  The only reason why we smoke at all is to ferret out those clients who don’t have email or a telephone line.
  9. Send urgent emails all in uppercase.  The mail server picks it up and flags it as a rush delivery.
  10. When you call a tech’s direct line, press 5 to skip the bilingual greeting that says he’s out of town for a week, record your message and wait exactly 24 hours before you send an email straight to the director because no one ever returned your call.  You’re entitled to common courtesy.
  11. When the photocopier doesn’t work, call computer support.  There’s electronics in it.
  12. When you’re getting a NO DIAL TONE message at home, call computer support.  We can fix your line from here.
  13. When you have a dozen CGA monitors to get rid of, call computer support.  We’re collectors.
  14. When something’s wrong with your home PC, dump it on a tech’s chair with no name, no phone number and no description of the problem.  We love a puzzle.
  15. If you hate your mouse, get some other pointing device and discard the manual.  We know all the keyboard accelerators.
  16. When a tech tells you that computer monitors don’t have cartridges in them, argue.  We love a good argument.
  17. When you get a message about insufficient disk space, delete everything in the Windows directory.  It’s nothing but trouble anyway.
  18. When you get a message about a hard disk controller failure, and then you reboot and it looks okay, don’t call tech support.  We’d much rather troubleshoot it when it’s dead as a doornail.
  19. When you have a tech on the phone walking you through changing a setting, read the paper.  We don’t actually mean for you to do anything;  we just love to hear ourselves talk.
  20. When a tech tells you that he’ll be there shortly, reply in a scathing tone of voice: “And just how many weeks do you mean by shortly?” That’ll get us going.
  21. If you have a 14-inch monitor that says VGA on it, set the display to true color, 1024 x 768.  You’ll never again have to worry about people reading confidential files over your shoulder.
  22. When we offer training on the upcoming OS upgrade, don’t bother.  We’ll be there to hold your hand after it’s done.
  23. When the printer won’t print, re-send the job at least 20 times.  Print jobs frequently get sucked into black holes.
  24. When the printer still won’t print after 20 tries, send the job to all 68 printers in the branch.  One of them is sure to work.
  25. Don’t learn the proper name for anything technical.  We know exactly what you mean by “my thingy’s outta whack”.
  26. Don’t use online help.  Online help is for wimps.
  27. If you’re taking night classes in computer science, feel free to go around and update the network drivers for your all your co-workers.  We’re grateful for the overtime money.
  28. When a tech makes popcorn, help yourself while he’s checking out your access rights.  And we keep chocolate in the top drawer, too.
  29. When you have a tech fixing your computer at a quarter past noon, eat your lunch in his face.  We function better when slightly dizzy.
  30. Don’t ever thank us.  We’re getting paid for this.
  31. If you’re a student, feel free to bring in all your friends from uni and have your Daddy complain to our boss when we won’t let them use the scanner.  We had no friends when we were at uni; that’s why we’re such a bunch of tight-lipped little twerps.
  32. When a tech asks you whether you’ve installed any new software on this computer, lie.  It’s nobody’s business what you’ve got on your computer.
  33. When a tech finds the porno pictures in your Recycle Bin, tell her you’ve never seen those before.  We couldn’t tell that stuff if it kicked us in the face.
  34. If you have NT, feel free to change the local administrator’s password to “blow” and promptly forget it.  We like installing NT.
  35. If the mouse cable keeps knocking down the framed picture of your dog, lift the computer and stuff the cable under it.  Mouse cables were designed to have 45 lbs. of computer sitting on top of them.
  36. If the spacebar on your keyboard doesn’t work, blame it on the mail upgrade.  Keyboards are actually very happy with half a pound of muffin crumbs and nail clippings in them.
  37. When you receive the new Yanni CD for your birthday, shove it into any slot on the front of your computer.  We like getting physical with 5.25 floppy drives.
  38. When you get a message saying “Are you sure?”, click on that Yes button as fast as you can.  If you weren’t sure, you wouldn’t be doing it, would you?
  39. When you find a tech on the phone with his bank, sit uninvited on the corner of his desk and stare at him until he hangs up.  We don’t have any money to speak of anyway.
  40. Feel perfectly free to say things like “I don’t know nothing about that computer stuff”.  We don’t mind at all hearing our area of professional expertise referred to as stuff.
  41. When you need to change the toner cartridge, call tech support.  Changing a toner cartridge is an extremely complex task, and Hewlett-Packard recommends that it be performed only by a Professional engineer with a master’s degree in nuclear physics.
  42. When you can’t find someone in the government directory, call tech support.  Due to budget restrictions, we double as 013.
  43. When you have a lock to pick on an old file cabinet, call tech support.  We love to hack.
  44. When something’s the matter with your computer, ask your secretary to call the help desk.  We enjoy the challenge of having to deal with a third party who doesn’t know anything about the problem.
  45. When you receive a 30-meg movie file, send it to everyone as a mail attachment.  We have lots of disk space on that nasty old mail server.
  46. Don’t even think of breaking large print jobs down into smaller chunks.  Somebody else might get a chance to squeeze a memo into the queue.
  47. When your eyes fall on the family pictures on a tech’s desk, exclaim in a flabbergasted tone of voice: “YOU have a child?!?”  We need to be reminded of how lucky we were to ever have got laid.
  48. When a tech gets on the elevator pushing $15,000 worth of computer equipment on a cart, ask in a very loud voice: “Good grief, you take the elevator to go DOWN one floor?!?”  That’s another one that cracks us up no end.
  49. When the Finance folks are printing a 100-page spreadsheet on the LaserJet, send your black and white print job to the colour printer.  We get the black toner for free.
  50. When you lose your car keys in Canberra, send an email to the entire department.  People in Perth like to keep abreast of what’s going on.
  51. When you bump into a tech at the grocery store on a Saturday, ask a computer question.  We don’t do weekends.
  52. When you see a tech having a beer with a member of the opposite sex on a Friday night, walk right up to them and ask a computer question.  We don’t do dating; the reason why we have that horny look on our faces is because we’re discussing the new Intel processor.
  53. Don’t bother to tell us when you move computers around on your own.  Computer names are just a cosmetic feature in NT 4.0; they won’t be doing anything useful until the next major release.
  54. When you can’t access some shared directory on your boss’s machine, just tell us that you’ve lost your X: drive.  We know all that off by heart.
  55. If you need to buy a computer for your daughter in high school, feel free to pick our brains while we’re taking a leak.  We’re good at talking shop while holding onto things.
  56. If your son is a student in computer science, have him come in on the weekends and do his projects on your office computer.  We’ll be there for you when his illegal copy of Visual Basic version X.0 makes your Access 9X database flip out.
  57. When you bring your own personal home PC for repair at the office, leave the documentation at home.  We’ll find the jumper settings on the Internet.
  58. We’re aware of that problem with computers just sitting there and not doing anything.  We’re confident that with the next service pack they’ll be able to dance the jig.
  59. The correct location to store important files is the Recycle Bin.  It’s just like a real office, where you keep your tax receipts in the blue can under your desk.
  60. If you miss Windows 3.1, find the line that reads “shell=explorer.exe” in your SYSTEM.INI file and replace it with shell=progman.exe.  It makes troubleshooting infinitely easier when we ask you whether you have a Start button at the bottom of your screen and you truthfully answer us that you don’t.
  61. If you curse every morning when you start to type your password and the Virus Shield splash screen pops up in your face, disable the Virus Shield.  Again, this is just like real life:  If you don’t like condoms, don’t use them.
  62. If you hate PCs, get on the Internet and download one of those desktop enhancements that make your computer look just like a Mac, down to the sad faces replacing verbose error messages.  We find it refreshing to troubleshoot the nuances in that sad little face instead of some cold forbidding hexadecimal integer.
  63. When you detect a French accent in a tech’s voice, switch to French.  We don’t mind that your level of fluency is that of a Mildly retarded 4-year-old; you don’t make a whole lot of sense in your own mother tongue either.
  64. We don’t really believe that you’re a bunch of ungrateful idiots.  It hurts our feelings that you could even think such a thing.  We wish to express our deepest gratitude to the hundreds of clueless losers portrayed herein, without whom none of this would have been remotely possible.

True Stories from Technical Support

Has the System been down long?Tech Support:  The tech asked her if he was “running it under Windows.”

Customer:  The woman responded, “No, my desk is next to the door.  But that’s a good point.  The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window, and his is working fine.”

Tech Support:  “OK Bob, let’s press the control and escape keys at the same time.  That brings up a task list in the middle of the screen.  Now type the letter ‘P’ to bring up the Program Manager.

Customer:  “I don’t have a ‘P’.

Tech Support:  “On your keyboard, Bob.”

Customer:  “What do you mean?”

Tech Support:  “‘P’ on your keyboard, Bob.”

Customer:  “I’m not going to do that!”

Overheard in a computer shop:

Customer:  “I’d like a mouse mat, please.”

Salesperson:  “Certainly sir, we have a large variety.”

Customer:  “But will they be compatible with my computer?”

Tech Support:  I once received a fax with a note on the bottom to fax the document back to the sender when I was finished with it, because he needed to keep it.

Tech Support:  I work for a local ISP.  Frequently we receive phone calls that start something like this:

Customer:  “Hi.  Is this the Internet?”

Customer:  “So that’ll get me connected to the Internet, right?”

Tech Support:  “Yeah.”

Customer:  “And that’s the latest version of the Internet, right?”

Tech Support:  “Uhh…uh…uh…yeah.”

Tech Support:  “All right…now double-click on the File Manager icon.”

Customer:  “That’s why I hate this Windows – because of the icons – I’m a Protestant, and I don’t believe in icons.”

Tech Support:  “Well, that’s just an industry term sir.  I don’t believe it was meant to”

Customer:  “I don’t care about any ‘Industry Terms’.  I don’t believe in icons.”

Tech Support:  “Well…why don’t you click on the ‘little picture’ of  a filing cabinet…is ‘little picture’ OK?”

Customer: [click]

Customer:  “My computer crashed!”

Tech Support: “It crashed?”

Customer:  “Yeah, it won’t let me play my game.”

Tech Support:  “All right, hit Control-Alt-Delete to reboot.”

Customer:  “No, it didn’t crash; it crashed.”

Tech Support:  “Huh?”

Customer:  “I crashed my game.  That’s what I said before.  I crashed my spaceship and now it doesn’t work.”

Tech Support:  “Click on ‘File,’ then ‘New Game.'”

Customer:  [pause] “Wow!  How’d you learn how to do that?”

Tech Support:  We received a call from a woman who said that her laser printer was having problems:the bottom half of her printed sheets were coming out blurry.  It seemed strange that the printer was smearing only the bottom half.  I walked her through the basics, then went over and printed out a test sheet.  It printed fine.  I asked her to print a sheet, so she sent a job to the printer.  As the paper started coming out, she yanked it out and showed it to me.  I told her to wait until the paper came out on its own.  Problem solved.

Tech Support:  I had been doing Tech Support for Hewlett-Packard’s DeskJet division for about a month when I had a customer call with a problem I just couldn’t solve.  She could not print yellow.  All the other colours would print fine, which truly baffled me because the only true colours are cyan, magenta, and yellow.  For instance, green is a combination of cyan and yellow, but green printed fine.  Every colour of the rainbow printed fine except for yellow.  I had the customer change ink cartridges.  I had the customer delete and reinstall the drivers.  Nothing worked.  I asked my co-workers for help; they offered no new ideas.  After over two hours of trouble shooting, I was about to tell the customer to send the printer into us for repair when she asked quietly, “Should I try printing on a piece of white paper instead of this yellow paper?”

Tech Support:  A man attempting to set up his new printer called the printer’s tech support number, complaining about the error message: “Can’t find the printer.” On the phone, the man said he even held the printer up in front of the screen, but the computer still couldn’t find it.

Tech Support:  And another user was all confused about why the cursor always moved in the opposite direction from the movement of the mouse.  She also complained that the buttons were difficult to depress.  She was very embarrassed when we asked her to rotate the mouse so the tail pointed away from her.

Customer:  “Hello?  I’m trying to dial in.  I installed the software okay,and it dialled fine.  I could hear that.  Then I could hear the two computers connecting.  But then the sound all stopped, so I picked up the phone to see if they were still connected, and I saw the message, ‘No carrier,’ on my screen.  What’s wrong?”

An unfailingly polite lady called to ask for help with a Windows installation that had gone terribly wrong:

Customer: “I brought my Windows disks from work to install them on my home computer.”  Training stresses that we are “not the Software Police”, so I let the little act of piracy slide.

Tech Support:  “Umm-hmm.  What happened?”

Customer:  “As I put each disk in it turns out they weren’t initialised”

Tech Support:  “Do you remember the message exactly, ma’am?”

Customer: (proudly) “I wrote it down.  ‘This is not a Macintosh disk.  Would you like to initialise it?'”

Tech Support:  “Er, what happened next?”

Customer:  “After they were initialised, all the disks appeared to be blank.  And now I brought them back to work, and I can’t read them in the A: drive; the PC wants to format them.  And this is our only set of Windows disks for the whole office.  Did I do something wrong?”

For a computer programming class, I sat directly across from someone, and our computers were facing away from each other.  A few minutes into the class, she left the room.  I reached between our computers and switched the inputs for the keyboards.  She came back and started typing and immediately saw a distressed look on her face.  She called the tutor over and explained that no matter what she typed,nothing would happen.  The tutor tried everything.  By this time I was hiding behind my monitor and quaking red-faced.  I typed, “Leave me alone!”  They both jumped back as this appeared on their screen.  “What the…” the tutor said.  I typed, “I said leave me alone!”  The kid became upset.  “I didn’t do anything to it, I swear!”  It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud.  The conversation between them and HAL 2000 went on for an amazing five minutes.

Me: “Don’t touch me!”

Her: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hit your keys that hard.”

Me: “Who do you think you are anyway?!”

Finally, I couldn’t contain myself any longer, and fell out of my chair laughing.  After they had realized what I had done, they both turned beet red.  Funny, I never received more than a C- in that class.

Tech Support:  This guy calls in to complain that he gets an “Access Denied” message every time he logs in.  It turned out he was typing his user name and password in capital letters.

Tech Support:  “Ok, let’s try once more, but use lower case letters.”

Customer:  “Uh, I only have capital letters on my keyboard.”

My friend was on duty in the main lab on a quiet afternoon.  He noticed a young woman sitting in front of one of the workstations with her arms crossed across her chest, staring at the screen.  After about 15 minute he noticed that she was still in the same position, only now she was impatiently tapping her foot.  He asked if she needed help and she replied “It’s about time!  I pressed the F1 key over twenty minutes ago!”

Customer in computer shop:  “Can you copy the Internet onto this disk for me?”

Email from a friend:  “CanYouFixTheSpaceBarOnMyKeyboard?”



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