Firefox Deletes Printers! from Arthur

Back when I did tech support, one of my customers was a master of BSing. Well, more an apprentice — he has all the words down, but couldn't quite string them together into anything coherent. He's told me to "double delete the TCP stack" more than once. Also, he claims to program operating systems in his spare time and to be one of the inventors of the internet. Something about his support calls leads me to believe he may be exaggerating...

Customer: One of your guys installed this Firefox and it broke my printer, can you give me a direct link to the driver?
Arthur (googling the Canon MP780 driver): No problem, if you just go to Google and search for-
Customer: I don't want to do that. Can you just give me the direct URL?
Arthur: Actually, it's kind of a long URL...
Customer: That's fine.

Rather than repeat a long URL, I made a shortcut on tinyurl.

Arthur: OK, type in T I N Y U R L . C O M / J H D W A
Customer: It's not working!
Arthur: Are you sure you spelled it right? T I N Y-
Customer: ...Oh! Tinyurl! T I N Y U R L / J H D W A? It's still not working.
Arthur: Did you get the .com after tinyurl?
Customer: *angrily muttering incoherently before hanging up the phone*

He called back just a few minutes later...

Customer: It says I can't install this driver because it exceeds 128 characters!
Arthur: I-
Customer: This is a known issue right on the Mozilla website that when Firefox is installed it disables your printers and redirects it to an omni page!
Arthur: Really? I've installed Firefox on hundreds of computers and never heard of this problem. Can you send me the link so I can alert my other customers? This is a major issue!
Customer: Well I've been spending all day trying to fix this printing problem and I'm trying to make money...
Arthur: Yes, I understand that is a problem. Did you maybe download the 64 bit version of the driver instead of the Windows XP one?
Customer: Oh... yeah, let me try this other one and see if it works, Thanks.

The customer was also embarrassed to realize that he hadn't tried a crucial troubleshooting step — double deleting the TCP stack.

All I Hear is Static from D. T. North

To help myself get through college financially, I worked as a Hardware Support technician for the University's Computer Services. One day, on my phone rotation, I received a phone call from a man who was rather annoyed that he couldn't access his e-mail from home. Our school had a dial-up system (it was the mid-90's) where students could log in to check their e-mail.

"...All I hear is static," the man proclaimed. Trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, I assumed that his modem speaker was simply left on after he connected. I proceeded to give him instructions as to how to turn off the modem's speaker when he cut me off. "I don't have a modem."

Trying to be as polite as possible, I explained that he needed to have a modem to access the system and I gave him recommendations for certain brands. The phone conversation ended well, and he was on his way to the store.

A little over an hour later, I received another irritated call from this man. "The guy at the store says I need a computer for one of these things," he said.

"That's correct, sir. I'm sorry — I was under the impression you had one. May I ask, sir, how is it you were hoping to read your e-mail?"

"I thought there would be some nice undergraduate student that would read it to me."

Needless to say, the poor guy was very embarrassed.

I Didn't Ask (also) from D. T. North

Our university computer center was pretty well equipped considering the time (mid-90's). We had color printers, laser prints, solid media (wax) printers and so on. But these cost money to use. As a service to our students doing research, we also had a printer area with high-speed dot-matrix printers. Anyone could print to them, and one of our staff would separate the pages and place them in bins numbered to match the computers they came from. One day, one of my staff came to me a little concerned. Apparently, one of the students was trying to print pornography to the dot matrix printers.

Now, if you've ever tried to print any image to a dot-matrix printer, you'll know that it will stretch a 640x480 image out to span several pages that then have to be reassembled horizontally and vertically. Needless to say, it was illegible. First of all, I was greatly surprised that my staff was able to determine the nature of the print job. Beyond that, I was now faced with the uncomfortable fact that I needed to talk to this guy.

In the most obscure corner of the lab, I approached the man. "Sir, I would greatly appreciate it if you would refrain from viewing pornography here in the computer lab. And I would especially appreciate it if you didn't waste paper and resources trying to print this stuff up."

"Well, can I at least get what I printed?"

I handed him the packet of paper and couldn't resist adding "are you sure you want these? This isn't exactly great viewing quality."

"Oh, no, it's fine," he said in an excited tone. "These look awesome pinned up on the far wall of my bedroom."

That, of course, was a statement (and an uncomfortable image) I wish I hadn't been party to.