Tag Archives: tech-support

Pac-Man Tech Support

On May 21st, the folks at Google decided to celebrate the little yellow dude’s anniversary in a very big way: by embedding a playable Google Doodle. The Doodle allowed you to play Pac-Man to your heart’s content throughout the day. It was such a hit that the game remains playable on Google.

One woman wasn’t quite as amused by the tribute as we were. Apparently, she had trouble studying because the game kept playing itself in the background. The sounds were distracting her to the point that she called tech support – either from her ISP or computer manufacturer.

It’s a good thing the tech person on the phone was well aware of the Google celebration. I cannot imagine the hilarity that would have ensued if he didn’t know anything about it. When you hear the silences on his end, you can’t help but wonder if he was busy gobbling up monsters himself.

Tech Support Ethics Question


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This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of GoToAssist. All opinions are 100% mine.

It’s super simple to help someone with their computer issues remotely. What happens, though, if you’re in the middle of a tech support session using GoToAssist Express, and you can’t solve the problem they’re having? Do you charge for the time you have already put in?

Unless this issue was addressed in a written contract, then no – you shouldn’t charge the customer for that time. Why not, you ask? That user is going to trust you to fix their problems. Let’s say you believed you could fix their problem remotely. It’s a matter of good faith, trust and their belief in your ability to solve what ails their computer. Even if you’re an hour or two into the issue, and there’s seemingly no way out, it’s not something you should charge them for.

As a professional, it’s your job to have the answers. If you don’t, then you need to make your best effort to find them. If you’re an hour into a job and you’re stumped, step away and do some research, or call on a trusted colleague. It’s okay to admit you don’t know the solution. The person on the other end will respect you far more for admitting you don’t know everything than they would if you tried to flub your way through.

It’s okay for you to say the problem can’t be solved. But it’s not okay for you to bill the client for that time. It’s not fair, unless the client has agreed in writing ahead of time that this was acceptable. How would you feel if you took your car to a mechanic. The mechanic tells you that they have no idea what is wrong or what it will take to fix the car, but they give you a dollar amount to get the job done anyway? You would be furious!

Ethically speaking, unless you’ve defined how a procedure would go and how much time you would spend on it (in addition to the cost), it’s best to admit you don’t know. Either step away, admitting you cannot fix it, or suggest an alternative. Let them know you can give up, do additional research, or give them a referral to someone else. Don’t just try to get money from them and leave them hanging.

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How to Transfer a Tech Support Desktop Sharing Session


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This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of GoToAssist. All opinions are 100% mine.

If you are a computer tech who works via remote desktop connection, chances are you’re using GoToAssist Express. No matter how smart you are or how long you’ve been working with computers, you don’t know it all. Others, however, may know things that you don’t. This is where GTA Express can really come in handy. The program happens to have a Transfer feature, allowing you to quickly (and easily) hand the connection – and the problem – over to a colleague.

Once I’ve enabled this particular feature through my Account Manager, I can set up the Transfer function inside the software. After that has been done, I only have to click a single button to transfer a remote session to another person. There’s no need to disconnect the session, nor to put the customer “on hold”. It will happen instantaneously.

You don’t even have to be working at the same company or location as your colleague. You both need to be running GoToAssist Express. The other tech can be located halfway around the World, and using a different operating system than you OR the customer.

GoToAssist Express is an amazing and powerful tool. The software will help you grow your business, by saving you both time and money.

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Tech Support to Parents

Why is it next to impossible to give tech support to your parents, even if you’re using remote viewing software? 🙂 Love ’em, but…

MikeQuinn: Hey, I am working on a project for a company called CentraStage they hope to make the remote support for parents a bit easier

about 22 hours ago

mgwolf13: My parents wait for our visit to cram 1 yr of tech support into our visit. I&#39m a gadget & sw geek and husband is microsoft.

about 22 hours ago

hdunnett: @chrispirillo: Helping parents with IT challenges. Got that T&#39shirt!

about a day ago

techcom: I rememeber years ago trying to coach my Grandma over the phone to use a mouse; she held it up to the screen!

about a day ago

electronicmusic: there is a biz model a parental tech support ….

about a day ago

dev_random: generatinal divide to the digital power

about a day ago

sufferfest: cuz they do stupid shit. My dad trashed his entire applications folder. Why? He couldn&#39t tell me…

about a day ago

kevinlcc: for my parents, it&#39s not so much support as “Hi, we have a problem, please fix it while we watch tv.”

about a day ago

djbruce: because they just don&#39t get it. i got my mom on google chat and that took 2 days.

about a day ago

DonRoberts: It&#39s not impossible, but I find being Tech Support for my remote family members requires the patience of a saint…

about a day ago

The_Creeper: Same story here, so I tend to just fix whatever needs it for &#39em instead of trying to talk them through it =P

about a day ago

stephenfisher: Oh man. I hear you. The problem is so many companies give realy bad support and we&#39re often the better option.

about a day ago

PassTheBoll: Giving tech support to them period is impossible,actually.

about a day ago

whatmakesexpert: @CaliLewis @Pistachio @ijustine So, Tell us.. What Makes YOU an Expert? in 140 characters or less..

about a day ago

susiehk: Too true! RT: @chrispirillo: Why is it next to impossible to give tech support to your parents, even if you&#39re using remote viewing software

about a day ago

RelevantMom: I hear a fair amount of sighing and colorful language when my husband has to perform this service.My que to head for the hills

about a day ago

Obscura: A few years back I suggested my parents go to the local small town computer store and hire a geek to come out and fix things.

about a day ago

EdibleApple: no kidding! I think parents in general are the only people who use a quintuple click when trying to open something

about a day ago

anthonyryan: HA! Been there far too much. Parents won&#39t ever understand our generation apparently

about a day ago

alfredtwo: No kidding! Doing tech support for my Dad remotely has me looking to buy a plane ticket to do it in person.

about a day ago

rajtilak: I believe that parents are born technologically challanged. They don&#39t acquire it, it&#39s their birthright.

about a day ago

tamegoeswild: with you on that. I usually have to pop a few blood pressure pills afterwards.

about a day ago

IrrationalArt: do you know a mac app that works like Afloat (window transparency) only for non Cocoa applications?

about a day ago

ZoliErdos: C&#39mon. I can&#39t do it in the same room:-(

about a day ago

simpso1ja: Funny you would say that. Just last night, I shut down remote desktop app and port on mom&#39s machine. Local support only…

about a day ago

JasonLandals: It&#39s even worse when my mom calls me at work for tech support. I work corporate IT and she gets the work version of her son…

about a day ago

charlyjl: the term Patience takes on new meaning when helping parents (and siblings) with tech problems.

about a day ago

wmcleanw: I&#39ve been there.

about a day ago

divinjohn: second that!

about a day ago

alliecine: lol it will never be easy

about a day ago

chrispowell: that is why i am glad that my dad is a geek

about a day ago

Windows 7: Problem Steps Recorder


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I never thought I’d say this again – but I’m looking forward to the next version of Windows. In playing with Windows 7, I’ve discovered features that will prove very useful. You’ll definitely fall in love with this particular feature. The Problem Steps Recorder will come in quite handy and be something you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.

If you’ve ever been trying to do tech support to other users via the Internet or telephone, you know how difficult it can be. You may feel like you’re going crazy, trying to make them able to clearly define and describe the problems. Most of the time, it’s not the user’s fault – it’s just not easy to put the problems into words. The Problem Steps Recorder will change all of that.

The tool is an easy-to-use (yet advanced!) variation of screen capturing software. It’s almost like a print screen, of sorts. It has this little advantage of documenting all of the mouse clicks and key strokes that are being done. It grabs all of the technical mumbo jumbo, and ties it all together into a nice little report for you, the tech person, to read.

Ahhh, the report. The reports are amazing! It is actually an XML page which shows each step of the user’s actions, including screenshots with those items highlighted! You can look at the report “as is”, or in a slideshow. Heck, if you’re feeling really frisky, you can dig into the XML to look at every fine detail!

I just… can’t say enough about this feature. It’s practical. It’s useful. It’s easy to use. It’s about time! Kudos to the dev team at Microsoft. This is a definite win!

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Things to Remember When Calling Tech Support

Geek!This is Gord’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Have you ever worked in Tech Support? I have for the past 7 years. Now, I know that the highest suicide rate for a profession is air traffic controllers. I’m not so sure they took into account those of us who work the trenches of tech support every day. There is quite often someone on the line who makes me ask my co-worker if they managed to get a gun past security so they can shoot me. What’s so bad about working in tech support? Just a few simple things to keep in mind next time you call…

  1. Yelling gets you nowhere. We know you are frustrated, we know you are having a problem. Why else would you be calling? I can’t recall a customer ever calling in just to tell me “everything is working fine, just though I’d call and let you know.” We are there to help you. It’s much easier to help you if we can communicate in an adult manner. Oh and when you yell we just mute the microphone and mock you to our coworkers or start cussing.
  2. Read the warranty. You’re not getting a new product because you’re having your first problem ever. You’re not getting your money back when you’ve had the product for 6 months and have now decided you don’t like it. The warranties cover defects in manufacturing and workmanship. They do not cover your frustration of how much time you’ve spent on the phone with us or how many times you’ve called in for support. Stop asking for the ridiculous to happen.
  3. It’s tech support, not computers 101. We are NOT there to teach you how to use your product. Having a problem with a mail merge? Don’t know how to burn a CD? Unsure of how to add an attachment in your email? Well you know what? TOO BAD! We are there to make sure you product is in working condition. If you don’t know how to do something, check the help file, take a course, google it or ask your 12 year-old nephew.
  4. Did you write down the error message? So you’re calling for some help because you received an error message on your screen. Great that will help us find a resolution to your problem faster. When we ask what the error message says, “I don’t know” is not the correct answer. For the love of all that’s good, write down the message. Better yet call us with the message on your screen, when it happens.
  5. Be in front of your computer. Now this is the biggest one of them all. You want help. Be in front of your product or at least within a reasonable walking distance of it. No one can help you when you’re at work or on vacation and your product is at home. Tech support is a two-way street, yes we can help but we need your participation. There is no magic way for us to access your product. There is not a hidden button that we can press to fix the problem. Odds are the resolution to your problem is more than “turn it off and turn it back on.” Be in front of the computer. Is that too much to ask?

So want to make someone’s day go a little better? Next time you call in for tech support keep these things in mind. If you do, the person on the other end may sound a little less frustrated. We want to help you, that’s why we are in the business. Please help us help you.

PC Questions and Answers

I received this email from “Helen” earlier today, and I wasn’t really sure where to being dispensing advice – since it seems she’s starting at ground zero. It was a bit overwhelming, so I thought you might be able to pick your favorite question(s) from her list and answer with your own opinion(s). You should know that the original message came in ALL CAPS, so I had to do some converting to make this more presentable:

Chris, I am emailing you because I happened to run across your website as I was doing some research and trying to get some current information on what the best video equipment to buy is, if you want to do a web show via youtube, webcasting or even to incorporate a video window and video show on my website, if I had a website. LOL! I am a pretty smart gal, but the problem is I am not computer savvy or technologically advanced at all! I have pretty much no idea what I’m doing on a PC. I simply roll the dice every time I turn this beast on and hope nothing goes wrong or I don’t click the wrong button and everything goes haywire.

To add insult to injury, I am deaf, so this makes it especially hard when I’m trying to communicate with someone in person. I am 46 years old and was actually born with perfect hearing, and had perfect hearing throughout my entire life until 2001. I went completely deaf in 2001 after unknowingly taking a medication which had been given to me by my doctor. I am able speak really good because losing my hearing did not in any way affect my speech. I just can’t hear. I lost my hearing about 7 years ago. I was 39 years old when I lost my hearing, so I could hear fantastic up until that time. Let’s put it this way. If your doctor ever wants to put you on a medication, make for darn sure you know exactly what the side-effects are, because it could cost you something very precious in your life. When this happened, I didn’t just lose my hearing, I lost everything that was most important to me in my life. So be very careful what you put into your mouth.

I can communicate perfect while I’m online because it’s all done by typing and keystrokes. I also manage pretty well when I’m on the telephone also, because I have a TTY machine, along with the assistance of a tyy operator, who does all the translating for me. The tyy operator tells me everything the other person is saying, and then it is displayed on a small monitor on my TTY machine.

One of my dreams is to actually find someone who has invented voice regognition software that I can easily install in 2 small laptops, so I can communicate directly with people in person. All the other person has to do is speak/talk into one laptop, then it automatically reads/diplays out on the other laptop’s montior, much the same way a TTY machine does – minus the TTY operator! LOL! I live in a completely isolated world, never really genuine part of, or belonging to/in the deaf world or the hearing world. It’s a very lonely existence, and if I could remedy that in some small, but very effective way, it would change my entire world; my direction; my options; my ability; and my purpose in life. It would restore 95% of the life I once knew, minus the music I loved.

It’s pretty much impossible for someone like me to become self educated on PCs, the web, browers, tech instructions or support, and everything else that is going in the computer world, because you must be able to hear what they are talking about or explaining. I really feel left out and unable to enjoy all this great, new, advanced technology now availbale when I can’t even hear anything. There are no computer deaf schools, so I am basically on my own. Everything I have found out so far, I have done so on my own. They say PCs are now so simple for everyone to use that a five year-old can operate one. They claim all you have to do is turn it on and click! Yes, it’s pretty easy… until you experience your first pc problem. Then something that was supposed to be so easy, becomes really complicated, really fast! LOL! I’ve had many problems come up where my PC would freeze, my processor would stop working, my printer spooler quit on me, my index file went missing all of a sudden after I uninstalled a program, continual error messages, unlimited problems with aol interent service, PC running super slow, problems getting a connection on line, and many other types of problems. I’ve had to buy five different PCs in the past two years because I could not fix the problems, and of course the problems did not crop up until after the warranty lapsed. I think these PC companies rig their machines to start having problems after the warranty period is expired, because this has happened to every single PC I’ve owned. And once it starts having problems, it goes from bad to worse, and of course I don’t have anyone around to help me fix whatever the problems are.

You seem to be very PC savvy, techincally advanced, very educated and well informed, and that is why I am contacting you in the hope that you can, and will help me. There are things that I long to accomplish and do on the computer, but I do not even have a basic understanding or how it all works, and what is what. I know very little about PCs; Just enough to get by. I really want to be as computer smart and advanced as you.

Can you recommend where or how I should start?

I would also love to have a little political talk show to discuss politics and news – something I’m very, very good at.

Anyway, if you would be kind enough to help me just a little bit, to become a better educated member if the computer world, I would deeply appreciate it. And if you could give me some information on what the best video equipment, camera equipment, lighting, sound, etc, is that I should buy to go on youtube, I would also appreciate it. I want set up a little studio and go on youtube, but I have no idea what the best video/camera equpiment, lighting or sound equipment, extra computer equipemnt, software, etc., Is, or where to get it. I also have no idea how to get on youtube or facebook either.

I am so computer ignorant, that I don’t even know what the difference is between a web browser, java script, firefox, adobe flash, and an internet provider?? I can’t even get some type of my own files, or files i’ve downloaded from the internet or other sources to open because a message window will pop up and tell me I don’t have a compatiable program to open it. I have no idea what that means or how to recify or resolve the problem. I am on aol, so isn’t aol my web browser??

You see, I told you, I am computer illiterate. LOL!

I know that you must be extremely popular and exteremly busy, but any bit of time, recommendations, referrals, or help you could give me, would be extremely appreciated.

These are just a few of the things on my wish list, which I would like to know; Know how to do; And would like to accomplish on my pc, such as:

1. Learning how to properly use, operate, and trouble-shoot my pc, browsers, software, hard drives, etc., Including all the definitions, meanings, and terminologies relating to and about computers.

2. Learning how to build or install, and operate my own website, and who I need to contact to get on the “WWW”? Who’s in charge and oversee’s the entire “WWW”?

3. I would like to know what I need to do and what I need to buy, in order to do webcasting, and what equipment I would need to buy for webcasting? Who do I contact to get a channel on the internet?

4. Learn how to establish an eBay, YouTube, Facebook, and a Twitter account. Once I have these accounts, I would like to learn how to install their programs and properly operate them.

5. I would like to know what the best computers, monitors, keyboards, accessories, video add-ons, software, security, ISPs, etc., are, and where to buy them.

6. I would like to know what the best software is and who the best software companies are, if someone wants to air thier own show on YouTube and webcasting? I would also like to know what equipement is need for that, where to buy it, and how to operate it?

7. What are really good, high tech websites for staying up-to-date on all current computer issues and Internet news?

Chris, I don’t know what a server, Web browser, processor, or anything else is, in a computer, or how it all works together. I don’t even know how to text message from a computer or do much of anything using my PC. How do you get people’s text addresses if you want to send them a message?

In closing, I want to thank you for your time and any help, recommendations, and suggestions you can offer me, and looking forward to hearing from soon.

Is PC Tech Support a Gamble?


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When something goes wrong with your computer, how do you diagnose it? Do you start with making sure cables are plugged in properly, and then test components one-by-one? Why not do it the easy way from now on? Just roll the dice and let them tell you the problem.

The PC Diagnostic Dice are available from ThinkGeek for only $20.00. They’re a must-have for all of the IT people in your life.

IT-support personnel have a difficult job. Constant phone calls and emails from people barely smart enough to operate their computers can grate on you after a while. Before too long, every support phone call sounds the same.

As you get older, you realize that people don’t necessarily want to know exactly what the problem is. What they really want is assurance that someone is there, listening, and is ready to come to their aid. The chances that you can actually walk them through fixing their problem is minuscule – you’re going to have to take a visit anyway, so why bother putting in the effort now?

With the new PC Dice diagnostic system, give your users the reassurance they need while maintaining your sanity. Just a quick toss of the dice, and all the information you need is right there. Three dice describe the problem, the culprit, and the solution.

According to the dice, you need to rush off now and fix your modem… or was it your cable? Maybe it was the little doohickey that hangs down inside the whatchamacallit.

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Top 5 Tips for Calling Computer Tech Support

Here are some excellent tips to help you the next time you need to call Technical Support for your computer, sent in by a community member who works for Dell XPS Premium Support.

  • Be Patient. As technical support agents, we have a wealth of information sitting at our fingertips. But before we can access the information, we have to pull up your account info, verify authorization to work on the computer, check the warranty status, document the case, and get a multitude of information from you before we can actually fix your problem. Be patient while the agent is trying to keep track of five different things while keeping you happy.
  • Be Cooperative. I wish the easy button was real, but it’s not. And while some problems can be fixed in three or less clicks of the mouse, you might have to get your hands dirty, and your fingers callused. If you are expecting someone else to do all the work for you, go to the Geek Squad. We do the best we can do over the phone, so work with us as we work with you.
  • Be Ready. If you call Technical Support, you likely have a problem. Saying “my computer doesn’t work” is not helping anybody. Be ready with the serial number on your machine (like Dell’s “Service Tag”), any error codes you might have, and as much information as you can gather regarding the problem, like what programs are running, under what circumstances the problem occurs, and what operating system you have. Being ready also involves being at your computer. Don’t call if you aren’t at your computer, ready to troubleshoot.
  • Be Time-Conscious. Your problem, no matter how small it seems to you, may take a long time to fix. So if you have to pick up the kids from school in 15 minutes, call after you get back. If you are expecting a phone call from your mother, call Technical Support after you have talked to your mother. And if you have a time frame, let us know so that we have our expectations set as well.
  • Be Patient. I can’t stress this enough. That’s why it’s the first and last. Alpha and omega.

The Kind of Tech Questions I Get Every Day

Let’s try this email from Paul:

hi Chris happy holidays to you and your family. I’m a big fan of yours I’ve been watching you since the early days of tech TV call for help. I enjoy your streams , here is my question I am considering doing a live video stream myself and I was just wondering what kind of a web cam should I use or get and what kind of microphone to use and if you can give me any pointers and suggestions thanks Chris

They’re all the same – every single Webcam vendor on the planet. There’s absolutely no difference between them. Get what you can afford or based on the features you like most. To every one of those companies, you’re nothing more than just another email address in the crowd – they have no unique relationship with you, nor do they want one. You are not special to them.

Here’s a question that just came in from Alex:

Hey chris, I’ve been wanting to buy more RAM to maximize how much I can do on my PC. Now i am one to go for the cheap, But good quality products. So i was wondering, What brand would you recommend and how much do you think it would cost? Any suggestions would be great.

They’re all the same – every single computer memory company on the planet. There’s absolutely no difference between them. Get what you can afford or based on the features you like most. To every one of those companies, you’re nothing more than just another email address in the crowd – they have no unique relationship with you, nor do they want one. You are not special to them.

And now, a question from Tony:

I also had a question – Which is the better anti-virus/internet protection between Norton, McCafee, AVG, or Kaspersky? I am currently using McCafee and Kaspersky but the subscription is coming to an end. Please help me decide which one is the better/best one.

They’re all the same – every single security software title on the planet. There’s absolutely no difference between them. Get what you can afford or based on the features you like most. To every one of those companies, you’re nothing more than just another email address in the crowd – they have no unique relationship with you, nor do they want one. You are not special to them.

I really don’t know how to answer these questions properly.