One simple tech support question for Uncle Bill

by Andy Lester

Does anyone have Bill Gates' phone number? I'd like him to field some of my tech support sessions.

  1. Just now I had an AIM discussion with my sister who had conflicts with her CD Player app not letting Autorun run on some CD-ROM she was trying to install. "I'm on the software's website, and it says to go modify the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Yada/Yada/Just/Give/Up and set the AllocateCDDrive value to 0, but I don't see it."

    Wanna take this one, Uncle Bill? And explain why she has to deal with crap like this?

  2. I just restored some bookmark files from backups for my wife after her last BSOD truncated her bookmark.html file. "I hate this computer. We should take it back," she says. I have to explain that it's not the computer itself.

    At some point, we'll get her HP laptop turned over to Linux, but until then, I have the weekly-or-so cussing from the dining room table.

  3. And finally, here's one from my good old Aunt Gayle, wanting to print up her neighborhood address book. She tells me "I did the File Menu, and then Print, and I click the OK, and it says the program has performed an illegal exception. It's got this big long number. Do you want me to read you the number?" No, that's quite all right, Aunt Gayle. That's not going to help me at all.

    Maybe try re-installing Office is all I can suggest. I'm certainly not going to try to find dupe DLLs over the phone or anything. "Why does this happen?" she asks me, forlornly. Why indeed?

"Why does this happen", Uncle Bill? Can you give me an answer that I can share with the family members who use me as tech support? I'd really appreciate one.

The bigger question for the industry: Why do we continue supporting a company that sees BSODs and registry hacks as part of normal computing life for the average user?

What should I say? How do I explain it?


2004-11-15 08:28:47
I moved from NT to OS X
And my fellow workers followed....

- Jim

2006-01-31 22:45:39
Uncle Bill...
Well, I'm a Win person, though have no objection to any other OS. I'm also father of Andy, father of his sister, father in law of his wife, and brother of his Aunt Gayle. I'll say that I've not seen a BSOD on the 220 computers my teams supports in well over a year. They're all on XP Pro with a half gig (very few more than that) and 2.3 to 3.4 mhz processors. We have had occasional lockups which almost always occur because people update drivers (usually video drivers) that don't need updating. To help this and some other problems we've removed admin rights from users so that they can't do that.

Not defending Uncle Bill (despite him hosting me in Redmond for three days last week), but just saying that we've not had these problems. Lots of our staff have home computers with XP Home or Win 98 or all sorts of other crap on them. They're a whole different story, usually bad.

A number of colleagues on campus are OS X fans or Linux or BSD fans. Whether for good or evil, we standardized on the Win platform over a dozen years ago because we don't have enough staff to support multiple platforms. And with the 220 computers we have now, to say nothing of campus licensing of software, it just isn't very reasonable to change. So it goes....