Staffers at an army base are issued with electronic signature cards for signing financial reports, and there are the usual settling in problems. One common issue, according to IT working there: the cards aren't marked "This side up", and they can go into the readers four ways -- but three won't work. "I'm called into my boss's office, and he's frustrated trying to get a document signed, and I can see his card is in upside down," says IT. "This calls for all my diplomatic skills -- I don't want to embarrass him. So I get on the phone and call myself and pretend to be troubleshooting. As usual, this elicits a user trip to the coffee area. While he's gone, I flip his card -- and all is well when he returns."


This user is on the road, so it's his assistant who relays a trouble report by e-mail to the helpdesk: "He is having problems with the screen shaking on his laptop." IT replies: "When will he be back in the office? This may not be one we can fix remotely. Assistant's e-mailed response: "Never mind. The building was shaking. The computer is OK."


This company offers several ways to contact IT for help, ranging from an intranet ticketing system to emergency pagers. "I got a panicked call directly from one user who had tracked me down via a company receptionist who was aware of the emergency pager schedule," reports a support pilot fish on the scene. "At the same time, I noticed a 000 emergency call had been placed from the same user's office moments before. Upon investigation, he confessed that he had intentionally dialled 000 in an attempt to contact our emergency technical support line. Needless to say, it's doubtful the local emergency dispatch centrea had access to a service to assist this particular caller."

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