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Re: [LUG] User Troubleshooting


Excuse mangling, I sent this a while back but outlook.com fell over (and
is still partially down). Forwarding again, thanks Microsoft.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [LUG] User Troubleshooting
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2014 19:33:00 +0000
From: bad apple <mr.meowski@xxxxxxxx>
To: list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

On 28/01/14 18:50, Rob Beard wrote:
> Hi folks,
> I'm trying to put together a troubleshooting guide for users at work, kind
> of something they can answer a couple of non technical questions to aid me
> in determining what they're having issues with rather than getting e-mails
> from remote sites like "The internet is down" or my favourite one "My
> computer doesn't work".
> To be fair at work the users have a wide range of technical abilities,
> some of them know the basics to do their job, others are a little bit more
> technical and can maybe clear a paper jam or determine if they have got a
> connection to the network.  Don't get me wrong, they're smart people and
> know way more than me about their specific fields of work, just sometimes
> they draw a blank if I ask them anything remotely technical.
> I'm trying to educate the users to be a little bit (even if only slightly)
> more specific in describing their issues (the "My computer doesn't work"
> one I had today turned out to be a dialogue box coming up on Thunderbird,
> the PC itself was working fine).
> I'm hoping that eventually I'll get more meaningful descriptions and have
> an idea if the issue is just related to the one user, an office or maybe
> the entire site so I can get an idea of how urgent it is.
> I wondered if anyone knew of any generic questions which can help diagnose
> an issue, such as "My computer doesn't work" and getting it down to "I
> can't login, it's coming up with this error message" or "The internet isn't
> working" and getting it down to "it's saying there isn't a network cable
> connected but it's in there" or "I can get onto Google okay but I can't
> access the Intranet pages".
> Rob

Good luck with that... Trust me, it's never going to happen short of
assigning regular IT lessons to all staff, and even then, you'll rapidly
hit the wall of diminishing returns. You have two options:

1: Very extensive, expertly configured and bullet proof network and
systems infrastructure complete with fault logging, SMNP monitoring,
reporting agents on all network connected devices, etc. From what I've
gathered, your organisation likely can't afford the time or money for
that kind of heavy duty set-up and probably isn't big enough to require
or even particularly want all the extra overhead.

2: Teach all your users to hit "Print Screen" and copy/paste the
relevant errors into Microsoft Paint and save it as fault.X.Y.Z.jpg,
where X.Y.Z are variables such as username, date and location. That way,
the admins actually have meaningful error messages to diagnose.

I have been down your route many, many times and it simply can't be done
- this is why in my opinion probably the most valuable skill for a
sysadmin is to be able to talk effectively and considerately with
clueless end users and gently tease the exact issues out of them in as
short a time as possible (and I say that as a died in the wool BOFH
sysadmin who would rather simply shoot all my users if at all possible).

For example, I've had a client emailing me constantly for a while that
his "email doesn't work" - yes, that's right, he emails me to tell me
his email is broken. *rolls eyes*

It took two days for him to finally follow instructions and send me:

Windows Live Mail Error ID: 0x8CCC0002

After that I had him fixed in a couple of minutes. This is what you're
up against my friend. Don't hate your users (well, you can: I certainly
do sometimes but I never, ever let it show) but as you've wisely pointed
out, they've been hired for their expertise in their specific jobs, not
computing. That's your job chief!

Your best chance is to 'adopt' the brightest, most IT capable person in
each area/dept and try and make them into the contact point for the
other less able users around them. Your onsite friend will usually catch
the most obvious things (it's not plugged in...) immediately and will,
with a little coaching, soon be on top of things like screenshotting
error codes for you. But watch out, if one dept is getting a lot of
problems you will soon be in trouble with your manager because your
appointed point-of-contact staff member will rapidly end up doing more
amateur IT troubleshooting than the job they were actually hired to do.
We tried adopting this exact approach in the NHS with a point of contact
in each department and ran into this exact problem with managers
complaining that a ward clerk was now spending 50% of the day on IT.
Project was binned, all the work went straight back to helldesk instead.

Good luck, you're going to need it.


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