My PC is broken, said user typing in white on a white background

N00bs also failed to spot flaming PC, blamed mouse instead

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On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, The Register's free therapy session for those who perform tech support chores and need to get the worst ones off their chest.

This week, meet "George" who in 2002 worked in "a metal service center in Athens" that had just acquired its very first PCs to replace dumb terminals slaved to an AIX server.

A couple of weeks after the PCs were installed, a user called to report that "no cursor is moving on the screen as I move the mouse."

One of George's colleagues "grabbed a new mouse from our supplies closet and went upstairs to replace the faulty one."

Not long afterwards, said colleague returned covering what George described as "a partially flame-blackened PC in one hand and a used fire extinguisher in the other."

Flip phone and smart phone

Batteries are so heavy, said user. If I take it out, will this thing work?


"It turned out the user just noticed the lack of cursor movement, but failed to notice (and report) either that the screen went dead or that a weird glow (of the firey kind) had appeared under her desk."

And not just appeared, but destroyed the PC!

George stuck around in the job and by 2005 was dealing with the acquisition of a firm in the same industry.

The acquired company hadn't used computers at all, so George had to find training in Microsoft Office for his new colleagues.

They all "graduated" from the course, but about three days afterwards "one of the new colleagues called and was complaining about 'writing a letter in Word and not having the text show up while the text cursor is moving'. "

George remoted into his machine and found exactly what the user had described. He then looked a little deeper and "noticed he had chosen white colour for both the font and the background."

"I still can't get what he was thinking," George told us.

Things can't have been that bad, however, because George signed off by saying "I'm still working in this position in the same company."

What's the noobiest mistake you've ever had to fix for a new user? The On-Call mailbag is a little shallow at the moment, so write to share your story for your chance to feature here on a future Friday. ®


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