I realize that computer techies get a lot of guff from the rest of us.  I'm as big an offender as you are.  And truth be told, some of them deserve it, because there are a lot of Nick Burns guys out there in the world.  A part of my job involves being my company's network administrator, and I try not to be Nick-like, I really do. But sometimes... well... 

...like when a co-worker claimed that the computer had "eaten" her floppy disk and "wouldn't give it back."  Then twenty minutes later we found the disk shoved in between the CPU and the monitor that was sitting on top of the CPU, rather than in the floppy disk drive.

*Heavy sigh* 

A bunch of us use a portable notebook computers so we can travel with it, but when in the office, we connect it to a docking station so we can work on a large desktop monitor and real keyboard. When we come in the office we pick up the cord that runs from the docking station and plug it into a USB port on the computer.  All the peripherals are then connected to the laptop with one plug.  It looks a little something like this:

See, when you come back into the office with your notebook, you just take the cord from the docking station and plug it in the computer.  Then the external monitors, mice, and keyboards all kick on and take over control of the notebook and everything is copacetic and wonderful.  We've had these in use for over two years.

The other day a co-worker called to me that her computer crashed and what should she do.  This is always a dubious statement, because "not functioning in the manner to which I am accustomed" is not the same thing as "crashed," but you often don't know that until you sit down in front of the machine.  Hence the "Mooove!" which usually comes out of my mouth in the form of, "Can I drive your computer for a minute?"  I asked what she meant and she said she thought the computer was on because she could hear it humming, but the monitor and keyboard and mouse wouldn't work.  I usually try to suggest what they can do over the phone so a) people can learn to do it themselves when I'm not available and b) I don't have to get out of my chair because me=lazy, but something wasn't right about what she was describing so I walked down to her office to take a look.

I sat down and saw that the notebook was running - if you opened it, the internal monitor showed everything running normally - so the display just wasn't kicking up to the external monitor through the docking station and I couldn't figure out why.  We've had a couple of these docking stations go bad and that was my first.  I leaned back to think about it for a minute and happened to glance at the whole system.  Something seemed off.  So when I took a closer look, I realized that the docking station cord was, in fact, plugged in, but it looked like this:

She had plugged the cord from the docking station back into the docking station.  So no big wonder why the monitor and mouse wouldn't work.  Plug the cord into the computer where it goes?  Voilà, everything works!  We all had a good laugh over that one. Ha Ha.

Last week, I bought a couple of new computers for the office and had a problem with one of them.  I had to call the company I purchased them from and speak to their technical support department.  I hate to call tech support, primarily because I am good at fixing things when I can visually point to and see and touch the thing that is wrong, but describing something to someone about a computer over the phone is a great weakness of mine - whether I am giving the instructions or receiving them.

I spent over two hours on the phone with this guy, who was as perplexed as I was about why this one thing wouldn't work, but he persevered and together, we figured it out and fixed it.  While we were waiting for downloads and restarts and whatnot, we started talking. He told me about where he lived (Florida, in case you were thinking something else) and asked me about what I do.  He told me he had a son who was in the military.  I told him that my husband had been in the air force.  He eventually told me the whole story about how his son was injured in Iraq, watched his commanding officer die in the same explosion in what sounded like an excruciating experience, and then his subsequent three-year long rehab and drug addiction. I could hear a supervisor in the background urging him to wrap up this call as quickly as possible, and I could hear his long pauses in the narrative, in what I assumed was a need to not be talking about personal matters as the supervisor walked by.  I never encouraged him to stop talking to me.  I just waited.  We eventually fixed the problem and as we went to hang up, I thanked him and said, "When you speak to your son next, please thank him for his service for me."

He responded with, "Only if you tell your husband the same."

Sometimes those nameless customer support voices on the phone are pretty okay.