NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2005
Bass’s Computing Factoids
There are unrelated things I pick up in e-mail that are terrific
—but not long enough for an article. Here are a few of them.

by Steve Bass,
Contributing Editor, PC World; and author of PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition
(click to email author)

Two Tech Support Classics
This first alleged tech support transcript just made me LOL. And no, I don't know if it's true, but it sure sound as if it is...--Steve

I had been doing Tech Support for Hewlett-Packard's DeskJet division for about a month when I had a customer call with a problem I just couldn't solve.  She could not print yellow.

All the other colors would print fine, which truly baffled me because the only true colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow. For instance, green is a combination of cyan and yellow, but green printed fine. Every color of the rainbow printed fine except for yellow.

I had the customer change ink cartridges. I had the customer delete and reinstall the drivers.  Nothing worked. I asked my coworkers for help; they offered no new ideas.

After over two hours of troubleshooting, I was about to tell the customer to send the printer in to us for repair when she asked quietly,  "Should I try printing on a piece of white paper instead of this yellow paper?"

This one is true. It’s from a product manager at Canon who replied to my e-mail and asked to remain anonymous.

Steve, this is a true story from when I was with Canon Printer Division....

One of the things they like you to do is go out to Virginia and sit on the support phones with a tech and go through the experience of solving user issues.

The call I was fortunate enough to be in on came from a doctor who refused to believe that his ink cartridge was empty (Sometimes, even though the cartridge is empty, you can still see ink in there). After going though all the cleaning techniques, the tech reassured the doctor that it was most likely empty and that he would have to purchase a refill cartridge.

Twenty minutes later, the doctor called back and asked us for our fax number. A few minutes later, here comes a strange view of the ink cartridge proving his point. He had actually taken the ink cartridge and X-rayed it!

“The doctor inisisted that his inkjet cartridge wasn’t empty. I decided he was correct.”

P.S. We sent him a complimentary set of ink.

Free Tech Magazine
I recently received the premier issue of TechNet Magazine, The Microsoft Journal for IT Professionals. His first magazine included a URL to share with colleagues for a free subscription  at http://technetmagsubs.com>. If you're not an IT professional, just pretend to be one -- they won't know the difference. (And yes, ethical issues aside, you'll have to lie when answering some of the questions.)

Amazon's Customer Service
Have you ever been frustrated trying to find someone--anyone--to deal with when resolving an Amazon order? Here's a link with contact details rarely seen on Amazon's website. That's right--phone numbers for customer service. There's also a nifty rant that'll make your blood boil as well as contact info for eBay's customer service. http://snipurl.com/bqb3

Hello, Dilbert?
Some people shouldn’t be allowed to use computers. Here are two examples extracted from actual e-mail. --Steve

A buddy of mine said she just showed her boss how to minimize an open app. She was astonished that he's been closing each app whenever he wanted to look at another one. It was a real revelation for him! (And to think he's the one making the big bucks.) --Steve

You think that’s bad? The head of a legal firm where I maintain their network.... Big boss complained his WinXP computer would always "lock up".... went to his office to find he had ACT open 5 times...thought the "-" button closed the application. He then re-opened it the next time he needed it.... --Bill

Makes Me Want to Head for Wendys
This has been floating around e-mail for about six months. It’s heard to tell if it’s true – or just funny. --Steve

Recently, when I went to McDonalds I saw on the menu that you could have an order of 6, 9 or 12 Chicken McNuggets. I asked for a half dozen nuggets.

”We don’t have no half dozen nuggets," said the teenager at the counter.

”You don’t? I replied.

”We only have six, nine, or twelve,” was the reply.

”So I can’t order a half-dozen nuggets, but I can order six?” I asked.

”That’s right. So I shook my head and ordered six McNuggets.”

PC World Home Office
Many of you have asked if I could start sending links to my PC World articles, something I used to do. Here 'ya go:

Supercharge Your Software: Windows Wonders

I wrote the Windows portion of this article.


Hassle-Free PC

Add Zip to Your Internet Connection: Save time with no-brainer tweaks, cheap fixes, and smart download tools.


Steve Bass is a Contributing Editor with PC World, a 23 year veteran of PIBMUG, and a founding member of APCUG. He’s also the author of the second edition of PC Annoyances: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things about Your Personal Computer, O’Reilly Press. Check out a sample chapter at http://snurl.com/sample_annoyed2. It’s available on Amazon at http://snurl.com/annoyed2.

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