A few years ago when I was working as an I.T. Helpdesk Analyst on a fairly long-term contract, the Company decided that the staff should have access to an Intranet Page in order to share interesting stories, ask questions of other departments and that sort of thing. Departments such as Information Technology and Human Resources were also asked to provide interesting articles.
This blog was in full swing at the time meaning that my “writing muscles” were fully flexed and raring to go, so I decided to make some useful contributions to submit to my Manager, who had been given the job of coordinating and editing anything submitted by our team. I must admit that I wasn’t expecting the response I received!
“Are you mad?” he exclaimed. “If we go explaining to our computer users how to do this stuff themselves, half of us will be out of a job!”
Plainly he wasn’t at all interested in said users bettering themselves in any way – in which respect he was not at all like me. My personal philosophy with regard to computer usage has always been to ensure that people know as much about their operation as they are capable of knowing. It is for that reason that I spend my Tuesdays at Peterborough Library voluntarily teaching the “incomputerate”.
The two such articles that I penned for that abortive series of helpful articles remained filed and unloved on my USB memory stick until I decided to resurrect them here. The second part will follow shortly.
I hope it is of some help to you in either home or work computer use.
The view from the Service Desk – #1 – On and off and on again!
The title of this article is (as anyone over a certain age will know) from the 1988 song “Burning Bridges” by Status Quo and should give you a bit of a clue as to what it will be about. It is my custom when writing my own blog posts to utilise appropriate song lyrics in this way when possible.
Thanks to the cult TV comedy “The IT Crowd”, the question “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” has entered popular culture in what, from the point of view of Computer Helpdesk Staff across the country, could be seen as an unhelpful fashion.
Well, for one thing, WE know that in some instances YOU are waiting for US to say it and are anticipating having a bit of a giggle at having made us ask! And, when you think about it, there are not many other ways you can word it!
On many, many occasions during my more than 15 years in IT Support I have asked “The Question” only for the following exchange to take place:
Caller (in a fed up voice): “Oh, they told me you’d ask me to do that!”
Me: “So, have you done so?”
Caller: “Uhh, No.”
Me (thinking to myself): “Well if you KNEW you were going to be asked………!”
Me (aloud): “OK, would you mind doing it for me now, please?”
Those conversations have taken place with employees of many companies but I thought that you might like to know exactly why your IT Service Desk asks you either to log out and back in again or, on occasion, requires you to shut the PC down completely and restart it.
The short answer to that is, quite simply, that in about 95% of the situations where we make the request…. IT WORKS! This means that if you take the lesson in the conversation above to heart and try restarting the computer before calling the Helpdesk – you may not have to.
I think of PCs as something like cars; most of the time you just push the button (or turn the key) and away you go with no problems!
At other times you start up your car (or Computer) and nothing happens at all! When that happens you call the AA\RAC\Green Flag\local garage (or Helpdesk) and an engineer is sent out.
And then, in between those two extremes, there is the occasion when you have something bad in your petrol and while the vehicle starts, it splutters and does not run smoothly or well until you start it up again and give it a good burst of throttle to clear it. It is the PC equivalent of this “Grit in the carburettor” problem that prompts most of the calls that are fixed by a restart. Some tiny process or other (and there are hundreds such small processes kicking off each time you start the PC up) gets skipped during the PC start-up but runs perfectly at the second attempt – that is to say after TURNING IT OFF AND ON AGAIN!
So now you know why we ask and I hope it no longer seems like a silly question.
[Alfie’s real name]
Service Desk Analyst