Tech Support for Friends and Family

I had a discussion this morning with a graphic designer friend on her, ah, let’s call it distaste for PowerPoint presentations. That, of course, led to the story of a STIRRING PowerPoint I had to create recently. Drop shadows were involved. She wanted to know if Comic Sans was also involved. I said no, but I had something even better. The person I did the presentation for had his Word and email default font set to Comic Sans. Sigh.

That made me remember a time when I was a trainer for a retailer. We were installing a new computer/point of sale system in the stores, and I taught people to use it. I occasionally had issues with some of the older employees who maybe didn’t have the level of comfort with technology some of the younger employees had. During one session, I noticed a woman sort of stuck in the middle of a practice transaction. I went to see what was going on, and she said she was ready to check out—to total the sale—but the register wouldn’t let her. I said, well, in order to finish the transaction, you need to tell it to “total”, a word chosen specifically because there is a “total” button on the register. She turned to the register and said—out loud—“I’m ready to check out.”


It seemed only fitting to have the following conversation this afternoon with a person I’ll call Mr. Spacey.

Mr. Spacey: I’m trying to go to this website, but when I type it in, I get this weird thing and then it goes back to my homepage.

Me: Hmmm. Not sure why it’s going back to your homepage, but my first guess would be the site isn’t compatible with your browser.

Mr. Spacey: But it takes me back to my homepage.

Me: I think you just need to try another browser.

Mr. Spacey: But I’ve been to this website before.

Me: Okay, but try another browser.

Mr. Spacey: But it takes me back to my homepage.

Me: Just try another browser.

Mr. Spacey: I’m not using a browser.

Me: If you’re looking up a website on the Internet, you have to be using a browser.

Mr. Spacey: What’s a browser?

Me: Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera. All of them are installed on that computer.

Mr. Spacey: I’m using Firefox.

Me: Okay, try Chrome or Explorer.

Mr. Spacey: But I’ve been to this site on Firefox at Dan’s.

Me: Well, Dan’s version of Firefox is probably a lot older than that one.

Mr. Spacey: You don’t know that.

Me: No, it’s an assumption based on the fact that Dan never updates his computer, is running XP Service Pack 1, and always has viruses because he doesn’t know how to install antivirus software. Look, some sites won’t work in some browsers, but Explorer has a thing that usually allows  sort of uncompatible sites to be viewed. It’s an icon in the toolbar that looks like a page with a rip in it. Plus pretty much every site on the planet is Explorer compatible.

Mr. Spacey: I have no idea what you just said. You don’t need to get snippy, but I’ve used Firefox for this site.

Me: Look, try Explorer. Please? Then if it doesn’t work, we’ll go from there.

Mr. Spacey: Well…I guess. (types) That worked.

Me: What a surprise.

Mr. Spacey: You think I should try it in Firefox now? Since we know it works?

Me: (Repeatedly bangs head against plaster wall.)


Just spit it out, already!

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