If this laptop is so portable, where's the keyboard, huh? HUH?

Un-hinged user needed some basic education

On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, in which The Register tries to liven up Fridays with reader-contributed stories of tech support traumas.

This week, meet "Norman" who just last year took a frankly astounding support call at the law firm where he then worked.

"One of my users called to complain about her upgrade from an old desktop to a new laptop."

"She had been promised an improvement in speed as well as the added functionality of it being portable," Norman told The Register. "She was now fuming and could not fathom the portability aspect of it."

Norman asked what was awry and was told "It barely fits in my bag and is completely unwieldy."

Which didn't sound at all like the experience of using a modern laptop, so Norman asked a few probing tech support questions.

"It turned out that the user had been literally unplugging everything from below the monitor and trying to take that home," Norman told us. "Even the additional battery pack and docking station, which were so heavy it was ridiculous."

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"Stifling a giggle I explained that the laptop was portable and could be used by itself, without all of those peripherals."

That very sensible advice elicited a response to the effect that if Norman was so smart, why couldn't he explain how the user would get on without a keyboard and mouse.

At this point Norman was unable to resist being just a little narky.

"There is a hinge at the back of the laptop," he explained, "and if you open it up, all will be revealed."

Norman told us the user laughed derisively again, then went very quiet. Next came an awed whisper to the effect that "ohhhh …. There's a keyboard in there…".

"I lost it at that point, made my excuses and hung up," Norman told us.

"I've been working on service desks for 20 years and never, ever had I considered that in 2017 that could happen!"

Have you had to explain something extraordinarily obvious to a user or client? If so, write to On-Call and we might use your story in a future column.

While we're here, we've had the idea to write a serious On-Call Meltdown/Spectre special exploring how readers reacted, then acted, to fix the twin threats. As ever, feel free to write with your stories. I'd like to tell three or four interwoven tales explaining how responses played out, how you dealt with any downtime, how Intel's patch messes impacted your efforts and how you plan to live with Spectre. ®

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