Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Slingbox Fail

I got a call from a user today who has a few TVs connected to satellite TV tuners in their space.  Because of some piss poor architectural design work, the housing for the tuner boxes was located about 40 feet away from the TVs and is very difficult to access (thanks Woods Bagot).  To get around this oversight we use Slingboxes so that the channels can be changed or the tuners can be power cycled without having to fight our way into the AV rack which is, as stated above, very difficult to access.

So the user that called today was complaining about a system message that was appearing on the TVs that was coming from the satellite turner.  It indicated that some button on the box should be pushed and included an "OK" button like any cable tv/satellite tuner message.  Naturally I assumed that they had tried to clear this message and it was persistently popping up over and over again.  I told the user I would take a look via the Slingbox interface and see what I could do.

After logging into the Slingbox I opened up the virtual remote control (picture below) and pressed the OK/Select button in the center of the remote.  The message went away.  I called the user back and asked if they had tried to clear the message.  The user responded that they had tried but that clicking their mouse on the message didn't do anything.  I explained that they would have had to use the virtual remote to send the "OK" command which prompted the user to ask if they could use the physical remote and point it at the TV. I had to try and explain how infra-red signals work and how since the tuner boxes are 40 feet away around the corner, that no, pointing the remote at the TV would not have the desired effect, but that the virtual remote in Slingbox would work just fine.

I am certain now that "troubleshooting" is not teachable.  Some people are either able to problem solve, or they are not.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How do I get to "the Google" from here?

Not even making this up.  A user asked, while looking at a web browser, "how do I get to the Google from here?"  I almost didn't know what to say...

Monday, June 3, 2013

What's an image file?

A user is having trouble putting up a new banner on a Blackboard course page.  They email me saying "I tried to attach this but it is not showing now.  Can you help me?" but they don't attach anything to let me know what the "this" is.

I write back to the user and ask "What is the "this"?" to which they reply "It gave me an option to attach “this” the banner.  I created a banner in word but it is not showing me it."  They have still failed to provide me with any information about what the "this" is.

I finally call the user and ask them what file type they are trying to attach and find out that they are trying to attach a word document as the banner.  I try to explain that word documents (docx files) are not image files. I also point out that the word document that was created is an 8.5x11 document so it wouldn't be the most appropriate shape for a banner.

Seriously, how do people not know what image file is?  It's 2013!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why Windows 8 sucks

Brian Boyko so perfectly sums up the failings of Windows 8 that I'll let you hear it from him directly:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hold up...answer that question again but this time tell the truth

I had a voicemail message on Friday from a user that was frantic because they had lost a document that they spent a few hours modifying.  I figured it was a classic case of "opened from email" but you always have to be careful when making those assumptions.  I called the user on Monday and asked if the document had been opened from an email.

User: No, I create the document from scratch.

Me: So you opened up excel and saved the document to your desktop, then worked on it and then saved, closed it, and when you went to open it again it was blank?

User: No, I opened excel, worked on the document.  I saved it and emailed it to someone, then they sent it back to me and I worked on it some more, saved it, and went to attach it but it had reverted back to the one from before.  Why would our computers do that?

Me: I don't think our computers did.  So...just to be did at some point open it from your email?

User: No.

Me: But you opened it when they sent it back to you via email?

User: Yes.

Me: So at some point you opened it from your email?

User: I guess so.

Me: And then you changed it and clicked "save" and closed it down.  Then the file on your desktop did not have those modifications?

User: Exactly.

Me: Yeah, it's lost in your temp folders.

After a few minutes of digging around the AppData folder I was able to retrieve the file.  I wish users would realize that not telling support what actually happened makes fixing the problem that much more difficult.

Friday, May 17, 2013

How Do I.....?

I received this work ticket from a user, the underlined portion being the important thing:

I then, very politely, sent him instructions on how to add a new item:

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Next time, instead of using Reply All, why don't you just take out an ad that says "I don't know how e-mail works."