User couldn't open documents or turn on PC, still asked for reference as IT expert

Also misplaced cables … erm ... creatively

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ON-Call Thank Cthulhu it's Friday, because that means the weekend is at hand and we can offer you another instalment of On-Call to show what happens when support calls ruin your personal time.

This week, meet “Adam,” who once did tech support at an Australian university. One of Adam's users, who'd been in her job for a week, “came to me to tell me that the computer must be broken because it wasn't turning on.”

“It took me all of no time to solve it,” Adam wrote. “I hit the big blue power button and it came to life immediately. It turned out she'd never worked out how to shut it down, so hadn't had to turn it on, but somebody had turned it off after she'd finished the day before.”

The same user was later given some training on a piece of software that she used every day.

“After several days of training, she came back completely confident in the software, but two minutes after starting it up she asked me 'how do I create a new document'?"

“The look on my face must have been pretty special,” Adam said in his mail to On-Call. He then showed her how to do it and wondered how she'd done her job for months without being able to start a document.

And then there was the time when the user relocated to a new desk and moved her PC.

She'd plugged it all in, but nothing was displaying on either of the screens so Adam asked whether there were any lights on the screens. Yes, was the reply, but they're changing from green to orange. So Adam checked the PC was on – it was – and eventually went down to have a look to find two monitors plugged into each other, a USB mouse plugged in to an ethernet port and assorted other horrors.

Adam eventually left this job, but one day “I received a phone call from the head of a government department, who had been given my name to provide a reference about her IT skills.”

“I'd been described as her mentor and had been instrumental in helping her to develop her IT skills to the high level that she claimed to have possessed.”

Payback time: Adam let it be known he hadn't volunteered as a referee* and – a bit peeved – “found myself unable to stop myself in describing what I thought of her IT skills in a fairly blunt manner.”

The really weird thing? She got the job anyway.

“I still wonder occasionally how that went,” Adam told us.

Have you had more clueless users? Or been asked to give a reference for the clueless? In either case, write to me to share your story and you might just end up in a future edition of this crazy continuing column.

And don't forget our new attempt at turning your memories into stories: Conference Couture tries to re-tell IT history through branded tat. ®

* A bit of a British-ism, we realise: it's what people in the UK call a reference.


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