Being unpaid tech support to family and friends sucks. But it can also lead to some pretty funny, bizarre and awkward moments. For our recent comp giving away 20 copies of Kaspersky Internet Security 2012, we asked you what your most amusing tech nightmare was. These are your stories. *dun dun*.
Thanks to all those who shared their tales (some edited for length and clarity); it was tricky to pick 10 winners. I’ll be in touch later today.
Woodsdog gets straight to one of the most common issues:
I love it when everyone calls you up to fix the computer. No probs, drop it off and I’ll get to it when I can. Oh I had to format it to remove all the bloat, malware and add-ons on your computer cause someone’s been looking up p0rn. Oh, really, they look at the Dad… Mmm dad doesn’t use the computer… oh shit it must be innocent little Johnny. He's only 12… well that’s my job done, you explain to him looking up p0rn will destroy you computer, that’s not my department. Good luck with that…
While Sarah had a dirty problem of a different kind:
In the middle of a late night gaming session, there was a bright spark from my desktop and my Pc and all the flat lights went out. After a moment of panic in the pitch black and a reset of my lights I got my flat lights back on but the PC wouldn’t boot, and the power point wasn’t even powering my monitors. Got my brother who is more techy then me out the next day and I suggested that the power supply had been blown ( location of the spark) we opened it up, and found a black scorch mark on the inside casing and a matching one on the board. A little bit of shaking found two halves of a cockroach that had managed to crawl into the power supply ( can provide pics if required). Luckily enough one new power supply later and we fixed my PC.
Nothing can top that, right? Wrong. Just ask welbot:
worst one I ever had to fix was several years ago I got a call-out to an old guys place. He said his computer just didn’t want to turn on anymore. So I head on out to his place to have a look. Get there and the pc is on the floor under his desk, buried under mountains of crap. This guy was a hoarder. :| After 10 minutes of pulling crap out of the way so I could get to the case, I finally managed to drag it out, took the side off, and was greeted with a rotting rat carcass :| I almost hurled! The rat had gnawed its way through the back of the case and made itself a nice little home in there :0 No idea how long it’d been in there, but that was way more than I needed to see.. I told him to clean his place up and call me when he learned to respect his computer and himself a little better ;)
As Andrew explains, sometimes we just want to be loved:
Not the worst tech disaster but a funny one. GF’s uncle kept running into the issue of a contact on skype always going offline as soon as he logged on. GF’s family have told him that the person is going offline when he see’s the uncle come online (avoiding him). He doesn’t believe that’s the case and wants the IT guy to *fix*
Other times, tech support is like trying to put a round peg in a square hole. Right Paul?
Mum asks me why her USB stick is not working. I go and check where it was plugged in her laptop. She plugged it in the Ethernet jack.
Seems age is no barrier either. According to Az:
My mate's computer had been sitting on the ground for over 6 months “not functioning” as there was no video output. Discussed at school every now and then, a new graphics card was purchased, every possible solution failed. I went there, couldn’t work it out either. Then had a look at the back of the TV it was connected to, and instructed it be set to HDMI 3 Rather than PC. Suddenly it worked. Pants were shat. And this was rather interesting as we probably both have similar skill levels working with computers. All that time – 6 months – it was the TV set to the incorrect input.
Then there are those amongst us, those patient few, who do this stuff for a living. Bless your souls. But as Andrew points out, sometimes the customer is not always right:
I used work for an electronics retailer and had two very loud mouth customers returning a motherboard/cpu/case combo claiming it didn’t work. One of them went as far as to say he was an engineer for a large computer manufacturer and knows what he is talking about. I popped open the case to find that although they had managed to screw everything in place they had not connected any of the power cables. I asked what looks wrong to him and he told me “The fans aren’t spinning”.
A couple of cable connections later and a press of the power button had two very embarrassed “engineers” leaving with their tails between their legs.
dbliss reckons ignorance my be bliss:
A work colleague comes up to me asking if i can fix her laptop, described issue, sounds like a typical virus so i take the job. Next day she comes in with the laptop, or what would be left of it after an apocalypse. No left side hinge or corner body, hardly discernable keyboard letters and a start-up noise that can only be described as arcing. However she only wanted the virus problem fixed so i said i would do that. After 15 mins of some good ol’ operating system tlc my attention turned firmly to the hinge and arcing noise that had been pi**ing me off for the past 15 mins (slightly OCD). Foolishly i pulled the laptop apart only to find the entire heatsink blocked with human remains and the soldier on the power port fractured. 4 hours later i had redesigned the entire hinge, re soldered the power port, fixed the heatsink and learnt a valuable lesion, when people ask “are you good with computers” you say “what’s a computer” and drool.
Fistbeard McTavish recalls yet another face palm moment:
Working at a school, when one teacher brings in her Macbook. “Fistbeard, it doesn’t turn on! I was in the library just using it, and then the screen went funny, so I shut it down and restarted it, but nothing!” Weird… So I decided to have a look, doing the usual tests. Seeing if it was charged, making sure the brightness wasn’t set to “off”, you know… the usual issues I come across working with teachers. Finally, after 10 minutes of me trying to figure out what was wrong, Teacher said this: “Oh! I might have had it sitting on the big magnet in the library, could that have caused it?”
And finally, Leigh offers a nice technical solution (and a little bit of ass kissing). It worked:
A new employee joined our team and was given a new laptop I had built for him the day before. All was fine, everything installed. He takes it home and about 2 hours later I get 10 emails from the epolicy server, Virus Found! Virus Found! He brings it in the next day, with some crazy internet spoofing virus that casually redirects every 5th request to some phishing site and populates your screen with “PC Security Essentials 2011″ windows. Ran a combofix scan, ccleaner, all was well. He comes back the next day with another virus! In disgust I just downloaded the Kaspersky bootable virus scanning distro, ran a scan and everything has been fine since! Love Kaspersky!
Congrats again, and check out the 10 winners from Lifehacker for more horror stories.