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Sysadmin stories from the trenches: Funny user mistakes

We love our users, but sometimes…
War stories from the trenches

Photo by Gladson Xavier from Pexels

I was a noob IT guy in the late 90s. I provided desktop support to a group of users who were, shall we say, not the most technical of users. I sometimes wonder where those users are today, and I silently salute the staff that's had to support them since I left long ago.

I suffered many indignities during that time. I can chuckle about the situations now.

The administrator is just kidding about storing data on the network so it can be backed up

There was an engineer who refused to store files on the network drives. She stored everything on her laptop hard disk drive. This violated policy and contradicted training we’d provided multiple times. When her hard disk drive failed, it was as if she hadn’t shown up to work for six months. She came down to the IT area to scream at us. Our manager calmly handed her the policy document she'd signed, agreeing to store all data on the network.

He was on one of those web sites

What about the guy who asked me to look at a settings issue on his computer? He had a web page open, in plain sight, to a very graphic adult web site. He didn’t even have the gumption to minimize the page while I was standing there.

Computers run on electricity?

And I wonder what ever happened to the guy that called me, saying his computer just turned off. He worked at a remote site. I did all I could over the phone: Is the computer on, sir? Is the monitor on, sir? Is everything plugged into the power strip under the desk? He answered all my questions in the affirmative. So I got in the car, drove 30 minutes to get to the site, and discovered he’d kicked the on/off switch for the power strip.

I need a new keyboard

The worst one, however, was the guy who called asking for a new keyboard.

User: “Hi Damon. I need a new keyboard for my computer.”

Damon: “Okay, no problem. I’ll be right over with a replacement.”

I figured he spilled coffee on it or popped a key off of it, right? I walked into his office and looked at his existing keyboard. It had Sharpie marker scribbles all along the top, just above the Function keys.

User: “Thanks for bringing the new keyboard. I’ve been writing my password in Sharpie on the front of the keyboard. The network administrator keeps making me change my password, and now I’ve run out of space to write it down.”

He didn’t even bother to write it on the bottom of the keyboard, like the rest of his office mates.


I use the registry to set my desktop wallpaper

There was the guy that refused to make any configuration changes on his Windows 95 computer via Control Panel. He would only make changes by directly editing the registry because he wanted to show off his supposed computer skills. While his computer skills may have been decent, his typing skills were horrible. We wasted so much time fixing typos in the registry.

How about you?

Have you run into any of these kinds of stories in your IT adventures? I bet you have. Consider sharing them with us; they'd probably make a great article, too!

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Topics:   Sysadmin culture  
Author’s photo

Damon Garn

Damon Garn runs Cogspinner Coaction, LLC, a technical writing and IT project company based in Colorado Springs, CO. He has been a technical instructor for nearly 20 years, with a focus on Windows Server, Linux, and security. More about me

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