Posted by: Nick | Thursday 29 January 2009

Some Helpful Hints For Dealing With School Based IT Support

1. When you call us to have your computer moved, be sure to leave it buried under half a ton of postcards, baby pictures, stuffed animals, dried flowers, bowling trophies and children’s art. We don’t have a life, and we find it deeply moving to catch a fleeting glimpse of yours.
2. Don’t write anything down. Ever. We can play back the error messages from here.
3. When an I.T. person says he’s coming right over, go for coffee. That way you won’t be there when we need your password. It’s nothing for us to remember 300 screen saver passwords.
4. When you call the I.T. Support, state what you want, not what’s keeping you from getting it. We don’t need to know that you can’t get into your mail because your computer won’t power on at all.
6. When I.T. support sends you an Email with high importance, delete it at once. We’re just testing.
7. When an I.T. person is eating lunch at his desk, walk right in and spill your guts right out. We exist only to serve.
8. Send urgent email all in uppercase. The mail server picks it up and flags it as a rush delivery.
9. When the photocopier doesn’t work, call computer support. There’s electronics in it.
10. When you’re getting a NO DIAL TONE message at home, call computer support. We can fix your telephone line from here.
11. When something’s wrong with your home PC, dump it on an I.T. person’s chair with no name, no phone number and no description of the problem. We love a puzzle.
12. When an I.T. person tells you that computer screens don’t have cartridges in them, argue. We love a good argument.
13. When an I.T. person tells you that he’ll be there shortly, reply in a scathing tone of voice: “And just how many weeks do you mean by shortly?” That motivates us.
14. When the printer won’t print, re-send the job at least 20 times. Print jobs frequently get sucked into black holes.
15. When the printer still won’t print after 20 tries, send the job to all 68 printers in the company. One of them is bound to work.
16. Don’t learn the proper name for anything technical. We know exactly what you mean by “my thingy blew up”.
17. Don’t use on-line help. On-line help is for wimps.
18. If the mouse cable keeps knocking down the framed picture of your dog, lift the computer and stuff the cable under it. Mouse cables were designed to have 20kg of computer sitting on top of them.
19. If the space bar on your keyboard doesn’t work, blame it on the mail/NT/ network upgrade. Keyboards are actually very happy with half a pound of muffin crumbs and nail clippings in them.
20. When you get a message saying “Are you sure?” click on that Yes button as fast as you can. Hell, if you weren’t sure, you wouldn’t be doing it, would you?
21. When you find an I.T. person on the phone, sit uninvited on the corner of his desk and stare at him until he hangs up.
22. Feel perfectly free to say things like “I don’t know nothing about that computer crap”. We don’t mind at all hearing our area of professional expertise referred to as crap.
23. When you need to change the toner cartridge in a printer, call I.T. support. Changing a toner cartridge is an extremely complex task, and Hewlett-Packard recommends that it be performed only by a professional engineer with a master’s degree in nuclear physics.
24. When you have a lock to pick on an old file cabinet, call I.T. Support. We love to hack.
25. When something’s the matter with your computer, ask your secretary to call the help desk. We enjoy the challenge of having to deal with a third party who doesn’t know anything about the problem.
26. When you receive a 30mb movie file, send it to everyone as a mail attachment. We’ve got lots of disk space on that mail server.
27. When an I.T. person gets in the lift pushing £100,000 worth of computer equipment on a trolley, ask in a very loud voice: “Good grief, you take the lift to go DOWN one floor?!?” That’s another one that cracks us up no end.
28. When you lose your car keys, send an email to the entire company. People out 200 miles away like to keep abreast of what’s going on.
29. When you bump into an I.T. person at the supermarket on a Saturday, ask a computer question. We do weekends.

30. Don’t use e-mail or that new easy to use electronic mail form that’s on the screen the instant you open internet explorer, we prefer to find random bits of paper with vague details on them shoved under our doors. Alternatively stop us in the corridor and say one the immortal phrases “Whilst your here” or “whilst I remember..”
Heck if you can’t remember then I won’t and whilst I’m here? Were you going to wait until I left to talk to me? Neat trick.
31. Keep using your projector, that garbled warning message about temperature and lamp life isn’t for you, it must have been that last PowerPoint that someone else displayed and now it’s stuck in the projectors memory.
32. Save those documents to your desktop, it saves space on the server and means we don’t wear out the backup tapes as quickly.
33. Save the school money by bringing in your nephews old 60 MHz Pentium that he stopped using when he went to university in 1996, we can always do with a new door stop.

34. Computers are just like people. Give them coffee, and they’ll speed up.
35. Technicians love walking around needlessly, and nothing excites us more than when you walk to our office and ask us to walk back to your own classroom to fix a problem with your portable laptop.
36. Of course, being technicians we are able to fix any mechanical, electrical or physical problem with anything in the school.
37. We love it when we are referred to as “that it guy” or “the computer people”, and would ask that no-one even bother to learn and use our names ever again.
38. Despite the consuming amount of time and effort we put in to keeping the hundreds of PCs, laptops, printers, photocopiers, network and software packages running smoothly for you to use as you like, we are (of course) primarily here to remove 35 paper jams a day, and are delighted that you do not know the difference (and can’t choose between) A4 and A3.
39. When representatives of a company come for an important meeting, it’s no bother for us to come and help you teach your lesson instead of meeting with them.
40. We deeply appreciate being able to have all four walls of our office within reaching distance when sat down, as we have lots of space to hang up the wonderful amounts of hand-written, scrawled notes that you leave for us.

41. Call us any time of the day or night. We’re geeks and therefore don’t require a social life. We’re always at a computer, and can access your home wireless, and configure your ISP settings remotely. If we do happen to be away from a computer, we can visualise whatever random software package you’re using and talk you through it. Also please feel free to pass our details on to your great aunt, cousin, neighbour or that random guy in the pub who sits muttering in to his beer. We have no friends of our own, and would love to chat to them while we sort out their PC for free.
42. Got a power cut and need to use your PC? Let us know, there a secret battery backup that will power you’re PC, your internet connection and the entire infrastructure of your street if needed, and we’ve got the password!
43. When we’re sitting looking puzzled at a PC we’re not busy we’re probably playing FreeCell, just ask us whatever you need to.
44. If there’s a major problem that has taken out the entire network, and we’re frantically trying to find the cause, keep phoning us and asking how long it will take to fix. The interruptions will help focus us and your constant calls telling us that you need to send an urgent birthday email to your aunt Doris will make us go faster.

45. Nag us constantly about that inkjet printer jam; we’re not capable of remembering or prioritising workload so it helps to have someone on our backs 24/7. Remind us twice as often if it’s something that you probably could do yourself, have done in the past or simply can’t be bothered doing.

46. If there is no power to your PC, don’t bother checking any other electrical devices whatsoever and calling the caretaker, call IT straight away.
47. And then when we come down and inform you there’s no power, sigh and tut at the fact we don’t know the location of every fuse box and trip switch, despite us not having anything to do with the electrics

48) Please check that you have enough printer credits before you come screaming at me that every printer in the building is broken.
49) If the main server goes down please all tell me that you can’t access your e-mails as this will be my new priority.
50) Please go out and buy the most expensive piece of crap software that the school budget can buy without consulting me, I’ll be glad to take all of the blame for its faults.
51) Please don’t tell us that we “must have the best computer in the world at home” when you know exactly how much we get paid.

52. Please tell us on a regular basis that you cannot logon onto the internet. It never works for anyone else on the staff either as they all have the school email system as their home page too.

53. Please wait until 30 minutes before your presentation to ask us to make a PowerPoint with music. We have a library of every music track ever created, and never have anything better to do than make a PowerPoint file.

54. Please tell us 5 minutes after assembly starts that you need the PA system lighting rig, 20 mics. We all have the ability to bend time and space. We have a spare TARDIS just in case!
55. Don’t give any notice for anything. Ever. We have an unlimited supply of cameras discs, and any other paraphernalia you could ever need.
56. The server randomly changes peoples passwords so when you are convinced that you haven’t forgotten it, it’s the server feeling a little bit vindictive.
57. Send a kid to fetch us with no more explanation than Mrs. Smith needs you now. Being summoned like a slave does loads for our confidence and makes us want to come and help you.
58. Don’t check any wires on your laptops connection to the projector. Especially the VGA cable. They all carry huge voltages and you could get electrocuted. Best leave it to a professional.

59 Please come and moan at me because you can’t get the internet on your laptop – DO tell me it is broken and DON’T under Any circumstances notice that you are logged on locally, not to the network.

60 Please do send me panicked emails about that urgent document you saved on your laptop at home that, for some reason hasn’t appeared in your documents folder at school.
File synchronization works over telepathy and is routed by magic, honest. You can of course speed up that transfer by telling me about it in caps on your email. Or of course actually plugging the laptop into the network will fix it immediately.

61. Moved school or retired? Feel free to continue e-mailing me with your personal PC problems or better still drop buy one of my MP style surgeries that I hold in the local community centre on a Tuesday evening (6:30-8:30) where I give advice to any Tom, Dick and Harry that has any question even vaguely I.T. related. Free scones and tea will be supplied.

62. If you accidently delete or save over an important piece of work, under no circumstances should you make use of the ‘previous versions’ tab in Windows
63. In the event of #62, please don’t ask for a restore immediately, wait at least 3 months then run in demanding a restore 10 minutes before you need it.
64. Mashing the left mouse button over the icon is a sure-fire way to get it to load quicker, especially if it is running an update!

65. Please do call us to urgently fix a PC so that every pupil in the class you’re babysitting can go online to play games, we love nothing more than urgently fixing PCs so they can be used for non-educational use……………
66. Please do then call us later on in the day to block a games site pupils spent ages finding in your class earlier in the day

67: if a link on a webpage is taking it’s time click it again, and again. The browser realises that you’re in a hurry and makes it load faster.
68: Google is the internet. If for some reason you cant access Google, don’t try any other page. It isn’t worth it. The whole thing will be down.
69: Yes please. (Somebody had to say it!)
70: Got a problem with the crud software you bought. Don’t worry we’re experts at getting software designed for windows 3.1 to run on XP. If not we’ll reprogram it for you.
71: Don’t bother saving work. If you close the document and click no to save, we can get it back.

72. Feel free to store your personal MP3 collection on our expensive servers, we’ve got plenty of free space anyway and at least they’ll be backed up for when you screw up your own PC.
73. My tools, sorry I meant “our” tools – feel free to borrow them at any time without asking, we’re caring, sharing types – heck next time just borrow my car to go home.
74. Leave you’re computer logged on, especially when there’s pupils around – they can make sure that no dodgy types go near it and trash all of your data.

Regular (as it were) Prices:

Calling me with a question — £10
Calling me with a stupid question — £20
Calling me with a stupid question you can’t quite articulate – £30
Implying I’m incompetent because I can’t interpret your inarticulate problem description – £1000+punitive damages
Questions received via phone without first trying help desk – £10.00
Calling me back with the same problem *after* I fix it once – £100
Insisting that you’re not breaking the software, the problem is on my end somehow – £200
Asking me to walk over to your building to fix the problem – £5/step
Asking me to drive to another town to fix your problem – £50/mile+gas
If you interrupt me while I was reading news – £25/hr
If you interrupt me while I was trying to actually fix somebody else’s problem – £45/hr
If you try to hang around and get me to fix it now – £50/hr
If you expect me to tell you how I fixed it – £60/hr
If you’ve come to ask me why something isn’t working that I’m currently working on – £70/hr
If you’re asking me to fix something I fixed for you yesterday – £75/hr
If you’re asking me to fix something I told you I fixed yesterday, but never did fix – £85/hr
If you’re asking me to fix a quick patch that I made that didn’t work – £95/hr
If you’re bugging me while there’s another admin in the room who could have done it for you – £150/hr
Making me trek to your office to fix your problem then leaving immediately after hanging up the phone – £1500.00
Calling up with a problem which “everybody” in the office is having and which is “stopping all work.” Not being there when I rush over to look at it and nobody else in the office knows anything about it. – £1700.00
Explaining a problem for 1/2 hour over the phone BEFORE mentioning it’s your personal machine at home – £500.00
Self-diagnosing your problem and informing me what to do – £150.00
Having me bail you out when you perform your own repairs I told you not to do – £300.00
Not telling all of your co-workers about it – £850.00
Explaining that you can’t log in to some server because you don’t have an account there – £10
Explaining that you don’t have an account on the machine you used to have an account on because you used it to try to break into the above server – £500
Forgetting your password after it was tattooed on your index finger – £25
Changing memory partitions without informing me first – £50
Each time you call and start out by saying “I was fooling around on my computer when …” – £50 + £ 10 /hr to fix the problem + £ 30 /hr to clean up after you.
Installing programs without informing me /getting permission first -£100 per program
Technical support for the above programs – £150 per hour (regardless of whether I know the program or not :))
Calling me to tell me that none of the users in your group can log on without telling me that you placed an order to remove applications for those users £25
After I find out that you placed the order to DELETE all of your users £1,000 (including £4,000 discount for the hilarity factor)
Leaving files on desktop – £5 per file, £10 per day the file is left unclaimed
Bringing in your own copy of the original Norton Utilities v1.0 to fix a brand new machine – £200
Putting feet up next to workstation after ten mile jog through NYC streets – £50
Spending 30 minutes trying to figure out what your problem is, and another 5 explaining how to verify and fix it, only to hear you say… “So that’s what the little box that popped up on my screen was telling me to do!” – £40
Dealing with tech support requests for obviously pirated software – £25
Dealing with “How can I get another copy of [obviously pirated software]? Mine just died.” requests – £45
Having to use the “We’re really not the best people to talk to about that; why don’t you try calling the number on the box in which you bought it?” line – £55
Actually needing to explain copyright law to you after you failed to get the hint in the previous response – £95 (includes instructions for getting freeware replacements from the public file server)
Having to point out anything that’s on the wall in a typeface larger than 18 points – £15
If I wrote the sign – £45
If it’s in a 144 point font and taped to the side of the monitor facing the door – £75
Reporting slow connection by passenger pigeon packets to MPEG archive in Outer Slovakia as a Mosaic/Netscape/Gopher/FTP client problem – £25.00
Reporting it more than once – £50.00
Reporting it more than once and implying slothfulness on tech support’s inability to solve problem – £200.00

“Hardware Problem” Prices:

Figuring out you mean floppy drive when you say hard drive – £50.00
BEFORE I order your replacement hard drive – £250.00
Telling me that you don’t have a hard drive £50
Spending 15 minutes to find out the size of your hard drive (includes walking you through the process) £100
Telling me that you don’t save anything to the any of the drives, you “just push a button and it goes off into computer land.” £50
Fixing your “broken” mouse with a mouse pad – £25.00
Fixing your “broken” optical mouse by rotating the mouse pad 90 degrees -£35.00
Fixing your “broken” optical mouse by taking off the post-it note someone has put on the bottom. – £50.00
Fixing a “broken” mouse by cleaning the rollers – £50.00
Fixing your “broken” printer with an ink/toner cartridge – £35.00
Fixing your “broken” ANYTHING with the power button – £250.00
Fixing the “crashed” system by turning the external disk back on – £200.00
Fixing the “hung” system by plugging the ethernet transceiver back in – £375.00
Fixing the crashed name server by plugging back in the SCSI cord someone accidentally yanked out on Friday afternoon when the ‘real’ sysadmin has just left for a two week vacation – £400
Visiting your old university and fixing the broken PC by plugging the monitor lead back in – £50
Spilling coke on keyboard – £25 plus cost of keyboard
Spilling coke on monitor – £50 plus cost of monitor
Spilling coke on CPU – £200 plus cost of motherboard swap plus hourly rate of £150 per hour spent reinstalling the system
Cleaning the mouse with spit and sleeve – £50 plus cost of sleeve plus cost of therapy 🙂
Chewing on the end of the graphic tablet stylus – £25
Listening to your network troubles, suggesting that you check to see if you are plugged into the network jack, hearing yes, trying five other things, asking you to identify your plug type, listening to you drag furniture, and hearing a sheepish, “Oops. Nevermind.” – £35 (including discount for polite apology)

Beeper Prices:

Beeping me when I’m out with the significant other – £50
Beeping me when I’m out of town and I took pains to insure that help files were left all over and that diagnostics had been run on all machines before I left – £100
Beeping me more than once to tell me that the printer’s offline and the fix is to press the On Line button – £200
Beeping me more than once while I’m asleep – £50 per beep
Beeping me and not identifying yourself within the first 5 seconds – £25
Beeping me and then changing your story / denying you placed the call / hoped I would forget who caused the problem – £500

Special Rates:

Dealing with user body odour – £75.00/hour
Dealing with user not familiar with the primary language spoken at site – £50.00/hour
Dealing with user who is (self-proclaimed) smarter than you are, but still calls every other day for help – £100.00/hour
Dealing with computer hobbyists – £125.00/hour
Questioning the other prices ……………………………£50



  1. Ha! I’m sending this on to my dear friend Fredrik, who’s suppose to be our IT-edu resource (i.e come up with all the brill sollutions to our educational needs, buying the software, teaching us how to use it) but has ended up being an administrator/technician. He’ll be chuffed to know that teachers are as stupid elswhere in the world too!

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