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-   -   Dear Users… (A thread for Sysadmin, Technical Support, and Help Desk people) Part 10 (http://www.internationalskeptics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=352419)

TragicMonkey 27th October 2021 05:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by arthwollipot (Post 13640044)
Many years ago (I may have told this story before) on my first Service Desk job we got a call about a sparrow trapped in the stairwell. Ever since then, "a sparrow in the stairwell" has been my euphemism for any request or task that is wildly out of scope.

"Your department needs to authorize the additional expense for sparrows before we can do anything. You'll get a quote through the ticketing system."

Pity, really, that it was a sparrow: if they'd selected "small bird (unknown)" from the dropdown it would have been cheaper, but sparrows are specifically charged higher. That's out of my hands, it's a finance decision.

BowlOfRed 27th October 2021 09:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by arthwollipot (Post 13640044)
Many years ago (I may have told this story before) on my first Service Desk job we got a call about a sparrow trapped in the stairwell. Ever since then, "a sparrow in the stairwell" has been my euphemism for any request or task that is wildly out of scope.

I know a place where the current IT ticket system has ticket in there that's a bit out of scope. The network team had a group under it for analyzing/configuring web traffic.

So the ticket asked the "traffic" team if they can get a taxi from the office to the airport at 3:15. The ticket wasn't closed until after that time though. I hope he was able to make his flight.

Filippo Lippi 28th October 2021 07:03 AM

Are colleagues that screw you over through carelessness worse than ones who do it maliciously ?

Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk

TragicMonkey 28th October 2021 08:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Filippo Lippi (Post 13641430)
Are colleagues that screw you over through carelessness worse than ones who do it maliciously ?

I wouldn't think so. Carelessness is annoying, but active malice is a threat. Depending on the circumstances it's certainly possible for a careless error to cause more damage than a malicious one, but generally I'd have to say if someone has a specific intent to cause you harm they are the worse villains.

JoeMorgue 28th October 2021 08:10 AM

Also carelessness doesn't tend to get worse with time. "Trained Helplessness" does.

That's why I don't help my customer base with minor tasks that aren't my job. It trains them to expect me to do their job for them and they WILL within a metaphysical certainty start coming to you to do more and more of their job if you do that.

Norman Alexander 28th October 2021 03:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue (Post 13641527)
Also carelessness doesn't tend to get worse with time. "Trained Helplessness" does.

That's why I don't help my customer base with minor tasks that aren't my job. It trains them to expect me to do their job for them and they WILL within a metaphysical certainty start coming to you to do more and more of their job if you do that.

Yep.

We get the same sort of thing here. Some staff who need "IT help" for just about anything computer or telecommunications don't start by phoning our expensive Helpdesk people. They start by phoning the IT person who chatted to them in the canteen who advised them how to adjust the width of their Excel columns. Their rationale is that that IT person must know EVERYTHING! about IT and phones if they can do that. And it's MUCH faster for them to get a result through that person directly than work through the arcane and slow Helpdesk system. In short, they are taking the easiest path out.

So much so that I have had calls from people two jobs and three years previously asking for help (with Excel column sizing, no less).

Blue Mountain 28th October 2021 08:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Norman Alexander
Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue (Post 13641527)
Also carelessness doesn't tend to get worse with time. "Trained Helplessness" does.

That's why I don't help my customer base with minor tasks that aren't my job. It trains them to expect me to do their job for them and they WILL within a metaphysical certainty start coming to you to do more and more of their job if you do that.

Yep.

We get the same sort of thing here. Some staff who need "IT help" for just about anything computer or telecommunications don't start by phoning our expensive Helpdesk people. They start by phoning the IT person who chatted to them in the canteen who advised them how to adjust the width of their Excel columns. Their rationale is that that IT person must know EVERYTHING! about IT and phones if they can do that. And it's MUCH faster for them to get a result through that person directly than work through the arcane and slow Helpdesk system. In short, they are taking the easiest path out.

So much so that I have had calls from people two jobs and three years previously asking for help (with Excel column sizing, no less).

Well, they're being human for doing so ...

Both the highlighted points make a good reason not to assist people with "quick" little fixes. For me, however, not helping someone with something I'm familiar with goes against my nature. And if the person I assisted starts becoming a nuisance, I can politely but firmly inform them what I did was a one-off as a favour and from now on they should be looking at other venues for help, such as documentation or the help desk.

arthwollipot 28th October 2021 08:19 PM

Our new ServiceNow environment is extremely transparent to the users, and they have a lot of access to information than they did before. Part of what I do now is to help people to use the new tools that are available to them. I'm not required to, and strictly speaking teaching them how to use these tools isn't my job, but I do so because in the end it will make my job easier.

Norman Alexander 28th October 2021 11:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Blue Mountain (Post 13642237)
Well, they're being human for doing so ...

Both the highlighted points make a good reason not to assist people with "quick" little fixes. For me, however, not helping someone with something I'm familiar with goes against my nature. And if the person I assisted starts becoming a nuisance, I can politely but firmly inform them what I did was a one-off as a favour and from now on they should be looking at other venues for help, such as documentation or the help desk.

Oh we tried that. But they have the numbers on a Post-It note stuck to their monitors. So there's no hope of ever changing their behaviour short of actually dying or changing the whole phone system.

Filippo Lippi 29th October 2021 02:08 AM

Don't you need local SME's to resolve those things?

JoeMorgue 29th October 2021 06:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Filippo Lippi (Post 13642367)
Don't you need local SME's to resolve those things?

Again I'm done explaining to people why you shouldn't go to your mechanic everytime you need to change your car's radio station.

Things the user should be expected to just know to do their job is not this complicated and only in IT do we pretend it is, again all because of this stupid idea that it's perfectly logical for people who see computers as this mystical totems beyond their understand to gets jobs that require their constant use.

If your doctor was "Tee hee, coy coy Oh I'm just not a human body person" about everything you'd get a new doctor. You wouldn't sit there while he called a biologist to explain it to him and essentially do his job for him.

Wudang 29th October 2021 10:02 AM

Can I try an analogy? 100 years ago office workers didn't think they "weren't ink people" and asked for help dipping a nib in an inkwell or sharpening a pencil again. They knew the basics of *using* the tools of their trade. They'd gone past the days if cutting their own goose quills and expected proper pens with metal nibs which they didn't make or know how to make.

JoeMorgue 29th October 2021 10:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wudang (Post 13642657)
Can I try an analogy? 100 years ago office workers didn't think they "weren't ink people" and asked for help dipping a nib in an inkwell or sharpening a pencil again. They knew the basics of *using* the tools of their trade. They'd gone past the days if cutting their own goose quills and expected proper pens with metal nibs which they didn't make or know how to make.

No they didn't. I have not yet encountered a "Oh I'm just not an X person" for literally anything but computers within anything fairly comparable to this context.

I know plenty of "Oh I'm just not into sports" people. The difference they don't get jobs as sports commentators and just expect that to somehow workout. Well maybe Deadspin who's entire business model seems to be "What if we had a sports blog, but like written by people who hate sports?"

But in seriousness only with computers can you get a job that requires you to constantly use something and then loudly declare that you don't understand them and have no intentions of ever learning how to understand them and still expect to keep the job.

Trebuchet 29th October 2021 10:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by arthwollipot (Post 13642241)
Our new ServiceNow environment is extremely transparent to the users, and they have a lot of access to information than they did before. Part of what I do now is to help people to use the new tools that are available to them. I'm not required to, and strictly speaking teaching them how to use these tools isn't my job, but I do so because in the end it will make my job easier.

Management probably hopes it'll make your job so much easier they won't need you any more.

TragicMonkey 29th October 2021 10:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wudang (Post 13642657)
Can I try an analogy? 100 years ago office workers didn't think they "weren't ink people" and asked for help dipping a nib in an inkwell or sharpening a pencil again. They knew the basics of *using* the tools of their trade. They'd gone past the days if cutting their own goose quills and expected proper pens with metal nibs which they didn't make or know how to make.

The Ink People sounds like either a really good indie band or a really bad horror movie.

theprestige 29th October 2021 12:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wudang (Post 13642657)
Can I try an analogy? 100 years ago office workers didn't think they "weren't ink people" and asked for help dipping a nib in an inkwell or sharpening a pencil again. They knew the basics of *using* the tools of their trade. They'd gone past the days if cutting their own goose quills and expected proper pens with metal nibs which they didn't make or know how to make.

Pen and ink is not analogous to computers. The thing that computer people consistently overlook or simply cannot understand is that the vast majority of people simply aren't computer people, as the tools are currently conceived of, designed, and intended to be used. It's not even a question of whether they grew up with computers. The things are just not as straightforward and intuitive as we the five percent think they are. We the five percent who naturally grok this stuff and take it for granted that everyone else can do the same.

And it's not something that can be entirely solved by just telling people to figure out how to computer better. A lot of people are already at their limit, just doing simple, predefined tasks by rote.

https://www.nngroup.com/articles/computer-skill-levels/

theprestige 29th October 2021 12:44 PM

This is happening right now. The level of detail is exactly as presented here:

DEVELOPER: I have my build automation set up with credentials for my code repository. But the job gets a credentials error. Can someone here help me with this issue?

ME: It depends what the issue is. What is the job trying to do? What happens when it tries?

DEV: It's trying to download a module.

What I'm actually trying to get at, without spelling it out like the guy is five years old, is, "what command is triggering the error, and what error is triggered?" To me, this is absolutely basic, obvious, computer troubleshooting 101. I assume that every software developer is familiar with the debugging process of "read error message, figure out what caused it, figure out how to address the cause".

But apparently this guy simply does not think that way. It does not occur to him to provide, or even think about, basic technical details of the problem. I figure there's at least a 50% chance that if he actually reads the error function call and the error message together, the solution will be obvious and easy to apply. I figure there's at least an 80% chance that I'll understand the problem and its solution instantly, the moment he provides those to snippets of text. Even though right now I know absolutely nothing about the actual details of his setup or goals.

Wudang 29th October 2021 03:26 PM

Your example in the above post is so far away from the examples in this thread I despair. I entirely get domain knowledge. I don't expect application programmers on z/OS to know the RTM2WA. Again and again and again he expects people who's job requires basic office skills to have basic office skills.
He's not talking about the vast majority of people. He's talking about that subset of people whose jobs require basic office skills, the advertised requirements of said jobs specify basic office skills.

novaphile 29th October 2021 03:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by theprestige (Post 13642775)
This is happening right now. The level of detail is exactly as presented here:

DEVELOPER: I have my build automation set up with credentials for my code repository. But the job gets a credentials error. Can someone here help me with this issue?

ME: It depends what the issue is. What is the job trying to do? What happens when it tries?

DEV: It's trying to download a module.

What I'm actually trying to get at, without spelling it out like the guy is five years old, is, "what command is triggering the error, and what error is triggered?" To me, this is absolutely basic, obvious, computer troubleshooting 101. I assume that every software developer is familiar with the debugging process of "read error message, figure out what caused it, figure out how to address the cause".

But apparently this guy simply does not think that way. It does not occur to him to provide, or even think about, basic technical details of the problem. I figure there's at least a 50% chance that if he actually reads the error function call and the error message together, the solution will be obvious and easy to apply. I figure there's at least an 80% chance that I'll understand the problem and its solution instantly, the moment he provides those to snippets of text. Even though right now I know absolutely nothing about the actual details of his setup or goals.

Unfortunately I deal with varieties of this one every day.
Not from developers, but from the userbase of the application that I support.

I see a general unwillingness to read any error message, and a pathological unwillingness to capture the error message and provide it to me.

NB. The application displays a button to copy the error.

But no, no screen shot (or description) of what the user is trying to do, no screenshot or copied text of the error.

I use Splunk to dig into the applications logs by the ID of the user that generated the error.

Imagine my joy when the error turns out to be things like typos in the userId, resulting in "User ID not found" or the user's password resulting in "User ID or password not correct".

Even more when I discover a gigabytes of .pdf files in the users windows profile, resulting in complaints that "XXXXX is running slowly"

theprestige 29th October 2021 05:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wudang (Post 13642890)
Your example in the above post is so far away from the examples in this thread I despair. I entirely get domain knowledge. I don't expect application programmers on z/OS to know the RTM2WA. Again and again and again he expects people who's job requires basic office skills to have basic office skills.
He's not talking about the vast majority of people. He's talking about that subset of people whose jobs require basic office skills, the advertised requirements of said jobs specify basic office skills.

I'm saying that most computering that we consider basic office skills, that has been marketed and normalized as basic office skills, really isn't. It's skills that require a basic computer aptitude that most people don't actually have. It's stuff a lot of people can't learn without a lot of effort, and even then some of them will never learn it well or even at all.

The Man 31st October 2021 07:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by theprestige (Post 13642748)
Pen and ink is not analogous to computers. The thing that computer people consistently overlook or simply cannot understand is that the vast majority of people simply aren't computer people, as the tools are currently conceived of, designed, and intended to be used. It's not even a question of whether they grew up with computers. The things are just not as straightforward and intuitive as we the five percent think they are. We the five percent who naturally grok this stuff and take it for granted that everyone else can do the same.

And it's not something that can be entirely solved by just telling people to figure out how to computer better. A lot of people are already at their limit, just doing simple, predefined tasks by rote.

https://www.nngroup.com/articles/computer-skill-levels/

Heck, even computer people do it. Almost 2 decades ago I was training customer technicians (at another site) on some of our equipment being installed. As always, the first thing you do when there is an error is to look at the error list to see what it is. Nope, even after just being instructed what I would find is (from the operation logs)...

Buzzer Stop
Error Reset
Run

Buzzer Stop
Error Reset
Run

Buzzer Stop
Error Reset
Run

Buzzer Stop
Error Reset
Run


Never Error List. So not even trying to find out what the error is to correct. Thing was, that was what they were used to, our competitors machines were just such crap they'd just trip errors without anything being consistently wrong. While our self recoverable errors would, well, recover themselves and be noted in the error log or just the event log. Those errors that did require a tech to recover thus needed that tech to do more than just press error reset. I had to really drill that into them. As I'm training some of the new techs these past weeks what I tell them is that while there are some errors that could be self-recovering but aren't because for various reasons you want the tech to get involved and find out what is going on.

ETA: I also usually relate some instances where what had been non-self-recovering errors were made self-recovering and bad stuff happened.

arthwollipot 31st October 2021 04:54 PM

Welcome to hell.

It's incredibly busy this morning and many staff have called in sick. Right this moment is the first time this morning that there hasn't been calls waiting 20-25 minutes or more.

catsmate 1st November 2021 12:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by arthwollipot (Post 13644207)
Welcome to hell.

It's incredibly busy this morning and many staff have called in sick. Right this moment is the first time this morning that there hasn't been calls waiting 20-25 minutes or more.

:D I have the day off due to burning accumulated leave. Long weekends until xmas.....

alfaniner 1st November 2021 04:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by catsmate (Post 13644898)
:D I have the day off due to burning accumulated leave. Long weekends until xmas.....

Maybe you can use that time assembling a legal case against Facebook/Meta for swiping your avatar! (sort of)

catsmate 2nd November 2021 03:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alfaniner (Post 13645079)
Maybe you can use that time assembling a legal case against Facebook/Meta for swiping your avatar! (sort of)

I'm afraid it's a fairly generic NAT symbol.
Perhaps I should go back to the Triskelion? Or develop a rotating Reuleaux triangle one....

Norman Alexander 2nd November 2021 04:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by catsmate (Post 13645367)
I'm afraid it's a fairly generic NAT symbol.
Perhaps I should go back to the Triskelion? Or develop a rotating Reuleaux triangle one....

First dibs goes to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. This has been their TV logo since the early 1960's.



It's a Lissajous curve, as is the Meta logo.

https://mathworld.wolfram.com/images...Curves_851.gif

JoeMorgue 2nd November 2021 05:16 AM

Alright I'm done.

If all I have is a contextless e-mail from you with the subject line HELP ASAP and nothing else, you haven't put in a valid troublecall and as far as I'm concerned you don't have a problem that I need to assist you with.

I'm just gonna sit on this one and not act and see what happens.

Gord_in_Toronto 2nd November 2021 05:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue (Post 13645410)
Alright I'm done.

If all I have is a contextless e-mail from you with the subject line HELP ASAP and nothing else, you haven't put in a valid troublecall and as far as I'm concerned you don't have a problem that I need to assist you with.

I'm just gonna sit on this one and not act and see what happens.

"Thanks for finally responding if only in this indirect way. I need HELP ASAP in how to make a trouble call. Please respond immediately. You know the number." :duck:

TragicMonkey 2nd November 2021 06:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue (Post 13645410)
Alright I'm done.

If all I have is a contextless e-mail from you with the subject line HELP ASAP and nothing else, you haven't put in a valid troublecall and as far as I'm concerned you don't have a problem that I need to assist you with.

I'm just gonna sit on this one and not act and see what happens.

If I got one like that they'd damn well better be trapped in a collapsed stairwell or something. And if they're not, they will be.

Darat 2nd November 2021 06:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue (Post 13645410)
Alright I'm done.

If all I have is a contextless e-mail from you with the subject line HELP ASAP and nothing else, you haven't put in a valid troublecall and as far as I'm concerned you don't have a problem that I need to assist you with.

I'm just gonna sit on this one and not act and see what happens.

They'll send Skippy if it's a real emergency.

JoeMorgue 2nd November 2021 06:18 AM

This is what I mean by learned helplessness.

We ask them to call the help desk or submit a troublecall through the online portal. They didn't want to do that because it took so long.

So they started e-mailing the local IT group directly. We asked them to submit troublecalls and they just don't do it.

That evolved over time to them e-mail individual IT people directly and calling/texting us on our phones.

And throughout all of that the information provided got less and less until it reach the current point where no joke, no exaggeration, the most common method of getting "troublecall" (if you can even call it that) is this kind of "I need help NOW, no I can't give you any further info" direct contact.

Hell it's not even that. The e-mail I got this morning DIDN'T EVEN GO TO ME. She sent it to another random IT tech who is on the other side of the city at a completely different site and he had to send it to me.

TragicMonkey 2nd November 2021 01:00 PM

Dear Users: the words "include" and "exclude" are opposites. If you use the wrong one by mistake when asking for some data, you really cannot blame anyone but yourself, and should not throw a hissyfit that would be unbecoming in a four-year-old.

Norman Alexander 2nd November 2021 05:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TragicMonkey (Post 13645789)
NOT(Dear Users: the words "include" and "exclude" are opposites. If you use the wrong one by mistake when asking for some data, you really cannot blame anyone but yourself, and should not throw a hissyfit that would be unbecoming in a four-year-old.)

Fixed.

arthwollipot 2nd November 2021 05:43 PM

I love the way people can create their own tickets in the portal now.

Quote:

Short Description: When I starting my laptop I am seen two light patches in black screen on the right side of the laptop.Also I am getting burning smell after sometime . But the

Description: My lap top is having some issues

Gord_in_Toronto 2nd November 2021 07:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by arthwollipot (Post 13646040)
I love the way people can create their own tickets in the portal now.

Just don't let the blue smoke out!

TragicMonkey 2nd November 2021 07:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by arthwollipot (Post 13646040)
I love the way people can create their own tickets in the portal now.

Ugh. It's a worse version of how some people use their email subject lines. Like this:


Subject: quick question
Content: long, complex question that's going to take you days of research and experimentation, with much back-and-forth between multiple parties, conference calls, and conflicting email chains that will expand in length and number of participants

Subject: thanks so much!
Content: thankless, horrible task that should not be assigned to you and when you do it they will complain about it, probably directly to your boss or higher

Subject: holiday party!
Content: we've dreamt up a mandatory activity in the most inconvenient location at the most inconvenient time, and you'll have to work extra hours to do all the work you missed, and the food will be mediocre, the activities boringly stupid, and you will emerge despising your coworkers and management even more than you do already

Subject: great work on X
Content: please do Y, Z, and W just like you did X, only different, and faster. And when you're done we'll talk about A - H.

Subject: new hire
Content: to help with the growing workload, we've hired more staff! But before they can help you'll have to train them for a year while doing all the work yourself alone in your free time. They don't have the qualifications or experience you do but it'll balance out because we're paying them the same if not more than we're paying you!

Subject: please don't go!
Content: without writing down exactly how to do everything you do now, so we can find a braindamaged golden retriever to do all your work.

arthwollipot 3rd November 2021 12:17 AM

One of my greatest joys is closing an incident with code Caller Unresponsive when there's the word URGENT in capitals in the title.

W.D.Clinger 3rd November 2021 07:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TragicMonkey (Post 13646138)
Ugh. It's a worse version of how some people use their email subject lines. Like this:

...snipped examples of subject lines contradicted by content...

Subject: holiday party!
Content: we've dreamt up a mandatory activity in the most inconvenient location at the most inconvenient time, and you'll have to work extra hours to do all the work you missed, and the food will be mediocre, the activities boringly stupid, and you will emerge despising your coworkers and management even more than you do already

That example is unlike the rest because the two words of its subject line convey all information stated by its content.

JoeMorgue 3rd November 2021 08:11 AM

I do enjoy the fact that although my company employees about 300 people the site I work at is only 4 and Headquarters is several hundred miles away so "mandatory fun" rarely comes up.

malbui 3rd November 2021 09:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue (Post 13646460)
I do enjoy the fact that although my company employees about 300 people the site I work at is only 4 and Headquarters is several hundred miles away so "mandatory fun" rarely comes up.

I'm not at all unhappy that Covid continues to mean that mandatory fun is still out of the question. Last week we received confirmation that there will be no big staff dinner at the year end because of safety protocols, but the same budget per head will be made available to department heads for smaller events. So it's ice hockey followed by Korean BBQ for my team. Full of win.


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