Computers are afraid of me – remote problem solving

by daniel on September 16, 2008

When I was younger, I worked in computer support in Ben Gurion University of macintosh computers, used by faculty staff.

Many times a support call was received for a problem with the computer, who wouldn’t behave as expected. The regular response was to direct the user to perform some specific steps, theoretically enabling the function or performing the action correctly. Most of the time it would help, as the problem was related to incorrect steps in performing the action. In rare cases, the problem would persist, and the user was asked to bring the computer to the MIS center for fixing.

With the user performing the actions the instructions were repeated step by step. As expected, the function worked because it was performed correctly. I always joked that the reason for this discrepancy was that the computers are afraid of me and are well behaved when brought to “the doctor”.

Obviously, the actual reason is different. The user actions are done according to his wishes, even when directed remotely by someone else. If the user is convinced of a way actions should be done, external directions may not change it and the user will keep doing the things “his way”. Confronted with authority, the reactions might change and he might allow himself to receive directions from that authority. This might also relate to the type of user involved

At the end I learned not to get too attached to this phenomenon, but it still happens sometimes when helping someone.

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