Naive User Stories

Naive User Stories

Bluegrass For BreakfastComputer Stories from a Field Service Engineer

    When I worked for a company that had a contract with 3M, 3M had asked me to
write them a memo describing why we were having problems with diskette
failures. I said in the memo that the disks were failing due to head crashes.
‘If the customers would just clean their heads periodically, we wouldn’t
have these problems,’ I said in the memo. One customer responded with ‘What
kind of shampoo do you recommend?’


    An end-user hotline received a call about a bad software disk. They asked
the customer to make a copy of the disk and mail it in to the hotline.
A few days later, they received a letter with a mimeographed copy of the
disk. Since it was a double-sided disk, both sides of the disk had been


    AComputer Operator says as she is lifting an RP06 disk pack from the drive: ‘Gee,
how much does one of these weigh?’

Me: ‘It depends on how much data is on the disk….

The operator believed it.


    I had a similar experience while working as a student operator at Michigan
Tech. One particularly trying afternoon, the computer was merrily crashing
for a number of reasons. After about four such spectacles, we broadcast
that the computer would be down for the remainder of the afternoon. There
was a resigned groan from the users and they began to file out of the Centre,
except for one comely young woman with wide blue eyes who wandered up to
the counter and queried:

‘What’s wrong with the computer?’

Too tired and irritated to give her a straight answer, I looked her
straight in the eye and replied: ‘Broken muffler belt.’

A look of deep concern wafted into her expression as she asked: ‘Oh,
that’s bad. Can you call Midas?’


    I work for University Computing Services answering questions about any and all
aspects of computing here, and as a result I run into some truly astonishing
mental densities… A few excerpts from the Helpdesk:

Caller: ‘What’s the name for when you’re entering data into the computer?’

HD: ‘Data Entry.’

Caller: ‘Thank you!’


    Overheard in a student computer lab:

Client (raising hand and waving frantically): ‘The computer says
‘Enter your name and press RETURN.’ What do I do??’

Lab Assistant: ‘Enter your name and press RETURN.’

Client (as if a revelation has struck): ‘Oh!’


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