rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (from Ken Cox)
It was 1994, and I was working for a small weekly newspaper. One fine morning, the lady who handles subscriptions called me up to say that her computer had “gone crazy”, and that I need to help her right away. Being the closest thing to desktop support that the small paper had, I dropped what I was doing and went to see what she meant by “crazy”.
When I stopped in her office, I noticed that her screen was filled up with line after line of ever-expanding “r”s. Looking down at her keyboard, I saw that the “r” and several other keys were stuck down. Turning to her, I asked the obvious: “did you spill anything on your keyboard?”
“No,” she said defensively, “of course not!”
Not buying it, I unplugged the keyboard and investigated a bit further. The keyboard was a big, fat, old number from an Apple Macintosh SE/30, which was easily opened up with a screwdriver. As I worked on the screws, I noticed a strong odor that I couldn’t quite place; it was sweet, but chemically.
When I pulled the back off the keyboard, I just about lost it. You see, this woman often ate at her desk, and I suppose crumbs must have fallen between the keys. This must have attracted ants, and from the look of it, a whole colony must have set up shop inside. The whole thing was filled with dead, black ants, and a few bits of food.
Recoiling in horror, I marched back into her office and told her what I found. She came clean, and said that while she keying-in subscriptions, ants had started coming up through the cracks between the keys. The best course of action, so she figured, was to empty half a can of bug spray on the keys. And that was the smell I couldn’t place earlier: RAID Home and Garden Insect Spray, the very can which was sitting on the shelf next to her desk.
Apparently, that took care of the ant problem, but by the next morning the bug spray had dried to a sticky film which fouled the keys. Being completely grossed out, I would have gladly burned the remains of the keyboard in the parking lot, but I settled for lobbing it in the dumpster and scrubbing my hands for twenty minutes.
An E-mail Program (from Lukas Z)
It's not too often that we get emails from the contact form, so I assumed this request was a test or a joke of some sorts.
From : ----------@-----.com To : firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: 1 -------------------------------------------------------------------- Hello Dears Request I search an E-Mail Program with which I can send an e-mail to all people on this world is there something like that ???????? were interrested in a program like that.
To our surprise, it was a very real request. If we could develop a program to send an E-mail to *@*, they would pay hundreds of dollars — it only seemed reasonable and fair, since they received messages from "people they doesn't know" each and every day.
Support Requirements (from Allan Holtzmann)
I was browsing various job openings at the government, and wondered what exactly is required to work for the Feds...
Remote Support (from Arne Heldal)
I was standing behind the service counter when a very stressed-out old man approached me. I had only been in retail electronics sales for a little while, but it didn't take much to realize he was not a happy camper.
He was lugging a huge, 32" widescreen television. This was before the flat screens– in fact, even before the 40" televisions. Back then, 32" was the largest CRT television you could get, and they were as deep as they were tall and heavy as hell.
“This stupid TV doesn’t work,” he angrily said, waving his finger at the box, “I had to lug this stupid thing back downstairs, back to my car, and back in the store!”
I apologized, and tried my hardest to calm him down. Eventually, I was able to diagnose the actual problem: pressing the power button on the remote didn’t turn on the television.
“Are you sure the television was plugged in?” I asked.
“Of course! I’m not an idiot.”
“The remote doesn’t come with batteries, did you—”
“Yes, yes, yes!” he interrupted, “I told you, it just doesn’t work.
I rolled the TV behind the counter and plugged it in. I took the remote control and opened up the back just to make sure there were batteries. Sure enough, the batteries were in place… nicely wrapped in the plastic they came in.
Thankfully, he realized his mistake and left me alive.
Remote Support (also from Arne Heldal)
In addition to service counter duties, I often found myself on the floor, selling televisions and stereo equipment. One day, a fellow in his early forties asked me for help on choosing the right television. That was my job, so I followed him to the wall where all the models were, and he pointed to a seemingly random model and asked me, "does it have colors?"
It was 2000, and all the televisions were on. Showing the same channel, In color. "Yes," I politely replied, "it has colors.
He seemed pleased, and asked me his next question. "Does it also have BBC?"
I explained that it depended on his setup at home — cable, satellate, air — and not the television.
He quickly became annoyed and asked me again; "yeah, but does it have BBC?".
Not knowing what else to say, I once again repeated that it depended on whether he had cable. It didn't help.
"Stop this nonsense! Can't you just tell me whether it has BBC or not?!!!".
I realized I had lost, so I just said that yes, the television supports BBC. He looked at me as if I was a fool and a liar, mumbled "OK" and then left. I don't think he bought anything, but that was probably just as good.