Friday, August 17, 2007

Where's the Any Key?

Plugging in…

Keyboards. Typists know them well. Computer keyboards have a few extra keys, for your benefit, though that might not be terribly obvious. You know the keys I mean, F12, CTRL, Scroll Lock, Alt, Pause, Break, to name a few. Not all keyboards are alike either. Some have programmable keys to quickly access email, the Internet, or the music player. What they ALL have in common though, is the delightful "any key".

Software and hardware documentation is sometimes, shall we say, obtuse. Other times, it is clear as day. A novice learner is generally inclined to be VERY LITERAL when reading or following instructions for something that is unfamiliar to them. Herein lies the problem with the "any key". I stopped counting the times I was asked "where's the any key"? Taken literally, my clients were scouring the keyboard for a key with those exact words on it. I never felt comfortable asking a client how long they searched for it before they called and learned that "any key" literally meant press ANY KEY on the keyboard in front of you.

Admit it, you too searched for that key - one time or another, didn't you?

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is it turned on?


Really Safe Computing

Plugging in…

I completely forgot about this little ditty until a friend recently reminded me of it. The Tutor was tutoring a large group of sales people from a well-known athletic shoe manufacturer. This was in the early days of computing, when floppy disks ruled the storage roosts. During a discussion about sharing files, the topic of computer viruses arose. One young man raised his hand and asked if the plastic case the 3.5" floppy disk was stored in, was enough protection to keep a virus out of a computer.

When the general laughter from his colleagues finally stopped, I answered, as seriously as I could, that NO, the plastic sleeve was not considered a computer condom, just a sleeve to protect from dirt and dust. I was adamant that one must remove the floppy disk from the sleeve before inserting it into the floppy disk drive.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is it turned on, is it safe?


Friday, August 3, 2007

Just the Fax, Mam

Plugging in…

So what happens to your fax/modem when you ditch the land-line and go full blown cellular? Nothing happens, which is exactly what happened to a client just this week.

The land-line was disconnected through the phone company, but no one thought to unplug the phone cord from the phone jack leading from the phone jack to the all-in-one printer. Never had the fax failed before, so the unsuspecting user was quite put out when a time-sensitve document needed to be faxed immediately.

Everything "looked" correct, things were all plugged in and turned on. Almost. I got the frantic phone call. And I remembered the recent disconnection of the land-line. A fax machine must be connected to a live line. Period. End of discussion. My client? Took the document to a local business and asked to use their fax machine.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is it turned on, is it a live phone line?