Archive for April 2008

Tips for handling end-user blunders with finesse

April 28, 2008

Bill Detwiler published a great post on TechRepublic last week on this topic.  And since I’m exceptionally busy right now (I’m working full time, in school full time, writing an article on rural e-commerce, have a wife and a 7-month-old, and am trying to learn golf), these last few posts have been referrals to other blogs that catch my eye.  They can usually say it better than I can anyhow. =)

So here’s a link to the post, and a preview too: “If you spend any time in IT, odds are you’re going to run across a few shocking examples of computer mistreatment. End users, even well-intentioned ones, can do some pretty wacky things when trying to “fix” their computers. …”

“Successfully handling end-user bloopers requires technical know-how, finesse, and above all professionalism. It’s also a key quality for IT support leaders. … Regardless of the environment you’re operating in, the following 10 tips can help you turn your next customer mistake into a positive experience.”

It’s a great post for any IT pro – have a look.


Excellent Article on LinkedIn do’s and don’ts

April 21, 2008

Liz Ryan wrote this excellent article on professional social networking.  I network on Facebook, mainly because most of my friends of former years do.  I didn’t start for professional reasons, but I am making a few professional connections here and there.  But lately I have been considering joining LinkedIn.  It’s a profession-oriented social network.  Of course, you probably already know more about it than I do.  But if you do, you need to read this list.  And come on, you know she’s right.  So much common sense just might change the way we interact… =)


First on the list! That’s a first for me.

April 16, 2008


I was checking out my blog stats, and saw that someone found my post on printmig through a Google search for “printmig printers.”  So I had to see where I came up on the list.  Actually, I came up second!  I was surprised that I came up even higher than the MS site you can download it from.

So my wife and I were visiting tonight about the blog, and we checked Google again, and – lo and behold, this little tiny blog comes up first for that search now!  Keep up the clicks!

A bit of opinion from an online student/IT pro

April 15, 2008

The BCC Center for Teaching and Learning posted this today, and being an online student as well as an IT professional, I had to check it out.  It’s a presentation regarding the use of technology in learning.  I was especially interested in the graph re: the change in technology ownership by students from 2005 to 2007.  I have ideas about this, and I thought that the comment section wasn’t the place to share them.  So here goes.

Technology-augmented learning comes down to this – college doesn’t force me to learn.  I want to learn.  And I do it because I want to (or even because I need to), not because I have to.  “Needing to” and “having to” aren’t the same thing.

Technology (for me) is a comfortable and reliable way to access a vast body of information.  But skimmers will skim, loafers will loaf, and learners will learn.  And educators will continue to consider the best ways to give information to learners.  A podcast of your class lecture doesn’t mean much if you skipped the last six classes.  In the same way, you can’t depend on your instructor to include all the pertinent information in a powerpoint for you.  That’s not education.

Hats off to a great presentation.  I like the way it presents a balance between the current technology explosion and the need to ensure quality learning under the newer mode of information exchange.

Just as a note, if you are a self-motivated learner but can’t attend traditional school (for me, it’s because I live in a small town, but it could be for any reason), check out Western Governors University.  They rely much on the student to work on their courses and allow the student to use their creativity in learning enough to make the grade.  Like any school, loafers and skimmers can get through, but I like the way WGU does it.  It’s more like real life (i.e. you have a goal to meet, here’s a few resources to get you started on the way to meeting it.).

Vista UAC “designed to annoy users” per Microsoft manager

April 15, 2008

This is ridiculous.  We all knew that Vista had problems.  I made the mistake of buying it for my latest build and have regretted it numerous times.  And one of the most – well, annoying – features of Vista is UAC (User Account Control).  And now we know why they did it.

According to, Microsoft group program manager David Cross admitted at a recent conference that “the reason we put UAC into the [Vista] platform was to annoy users – I’m serious.”  Somehow they felt that annoying users would cause independent software vendors to write more “secure” code so that it would not trip the UAC prompts.

The second annoyance is that he states some rather slanted statistical information.  He states that:

  • users don’t blindly accept prompts, according to their information
  • only 12% of users actually disable UAC

OK, here’s my rant about this.  MS only bases this on OPT-IN information.  That means that if you’re smart enough to not opt in (I NEVER opt in – if they want post-production beta testers, they should give them the software free!) then you aren’t telling them that you turned all their garbage off.  And to be honest, it’s probably the folks who know better than to opt in that also know to turn UAC off.  Not to mention that his statistics don’t tell us anything, because we don’t know how many people opted out!  I’m one of the ‘didn’t opt in’ users, and I will tell you this: I blindly accept prompts, and as soon as I figured otu how to turn off UAC, I did.  Take that, Mr. Biased Statistics.  I bet there’s fifty thousand more just like me.

OK, rant is over.  Really, I don’t think it’s just UAC that annoys us – it’s Microsoft.  This was in keeping with their track record.  But then again, if we all used Ubuntu, I wouldn’t have a job.  So thanks for being annoying, and thanks for finally admitting it.  But really – don’t use partial stats to try to prove something.  That’s worse than just annoying.

I got the tip on to this article from TechRepublic.

So You Wanna Break Into IT? (Part 7 – Customer Service)

April 14, 2008

If you cringe when someone says “customer service,” IT may not be the thing for you. In my side work as a technical consultant, service is a large part of my position – I would say as much as 60%. And really, the goal of IT is to add value to the business. You can’t do this if you make the customer feel incompetent, if you appear incompetent to her, or if you stress him out just by being there. There are numerous frightening stories out there about bad CS, and I would suspect that many a business has been damaged or destroyed because they didn’t care about the customer.

And customer service doesn’t stop with the customer – direct reports (and perhaps supervisors too) are customers. My current supervisor is awesome – he feels that we need to provide incredible customer service and top-notch issue resolution. Beyond that, most things are very flexible and common-sense. He empowers us to make decisions about the issues we face, even in an entry-level position (which is especially important with me being some 2000 miles away). It’s so logical. I know not all managers are like that, but it makes for a great working environment here.

This is the last post in this series.  Thanks to all of you who came back and read the whole thing.  I will still be writing on tech topics, so keep coming back!  I’m always on the lookout for other tech blogs, so if you have a site of your own, let me know in a comment and I would love to check it out!  By the way, don’t put more than one or two links in your comment – WordPress automatically blocks comments with too many links.



Let’s Break the Record!

April 11, 2008

So we’re on track to break my weekly record!  We are 20 pageviews away from surpassing my prior highest number of views in a week.  I guess the So You Wanna Break Into IT posts were a good idea.

Just a quick note to say thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the posts.  If there’s a particular topic you would like to know about or if you have a support-related problem you would like help with, post it in the comments and I will be glad to consider it.