Any new technology goes through several stages on the way to general use and acceptance. First, it´s used by just a few people that understand it intimately. Then, it spreads to amateur enthusiasts. Next, it comes into general use, but most of the people using it don´t really understand it and finally, it´s used and understood by most people.
Right now, computers are in general use, but without much understanding. Most people view them as mysterious boxes; they know what they do, but not how. How they do whatever it is they do might as well be magic, as far as they´re concerned, and many of them are happy with this. They don´t think they need to know anything about what goes on inside their computers and they don´t want to. And, of course, when something goes wrong, they have no idea how to fix it. All they want is for it to be working again, right now.
This is where I come in. I do tech support for a living, and I do it well. I work for an Internet Service Provider, keeping people connected and surfing the web. I have to listen to people try to describe things that don´t make sense to them and translate what they say into something I can use. I have to go from "I can´t connect" to "the line is always busy," or "it says my password is wrong." And then, I have to talk people through finding out why and fixing it.
Many of the callers I have don´t know much about how to use a computer or how to follow instructions. Sometimes, their ideas of what´s happened or what I told them to do bear little relation to reality. Follow along with me on a tour of the other side of the tech support line and see what we have to put up with. Just remember, every story really happened to me.
Joe Zeff was born in 1949 and has been using computers off and on since 1968. He has had a number of pasts. He's been a cook, baker, pizza baker, telemarketer, tire buster and killed people for a living. (Vietnam) Now, he works doing telephone tech support for an Internet Service Provider and helps run Science Fiction conventions. You can find him almost any Thursday night at LASFS, this world's oldest science fiction club. He lives alone with a cat, Patches, and a large book collection.