Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Technology Reference Interview

Aiight, here's the skinny. IT locks down our patron computers pretty tight, and rightfully so. After setting up several LAN parties at Pitt State, setting up my wireless network at home, and fixing friends upon friends upon friends computers...locking a computer down isn't a bad thing. Add in LIT has to maintain nearly 500+ computers...I'd want as many of them the exact same as possible myself.

With that said, the IT department has disabled the right-click context sensitive menu (which, ironically, reminds me of macintosh mice, but that's the PC guy in me). I can understand why, because if you right click several spots on the PC, you can format the hard drive, change computer files for more trouble, and who knows what else.

I'm sure there are other reasons why they do it, and I don't care what they are, but I do respect it because I know there'd be times I've had my own "ya know...I shouldn't have done that" moments.

Can you get around it? Nope, I emailed them several years ago about the keyboard shortcut to it, and they've disabled that too. Kudos to IT.

So, patron comes in and has written instructions from her computer-nerd sister and needs to do some stuff on the PC. A IS person helps this patron out, but I can imagine once the phrase "right click" comes into play, the IS mind shuts off. No doubt, somewhere in their mind, "right click" equals "call the trainer," "call LIT," or "call someone young." (all right, the last one might be an exaggeration).

So, I get the call. "This patron needs to do some right click stuff, and since the PCs have that disabled, can you come out and give her a hand?"

Extreme - More than Words is NOT a good ranting song. *shuffles* Rob Zombie - Scum of the Earth? *evil grin*

I don my nametag, help Edh figure out the capital of South Africa and what time it is there in 30 seconds or less, then dash out to the floor. IS person points me in in the right direction. I walk up, introduce myself, offer my hand and the patron shakes it. I then take a knee, let the patron drive, then we get down to business.

Did she need to create a function in Excel? Did she want to save an image off of the internet to disk? Did she want to see what Word could offer for a misspelled word?


She wanted to copy her resume from Word to an online form.

Inside...I fume. Outside, I remain calm. This woman is applying for a job.

*Run Lola Run Soundtrack - Somebody Has to Pay*

So, she says she's in a hurry and is getting frustraited trying to highlight everything with the mouse. I explain the security reasons why the right click is disabled, but everything she needs to use is in the Edit menu at the top of the screen.

Edit > Select All
Edit > Copy
Edit > Paste

She needs to copy her cover letter as well. She masterfully finds it in her own hotmail account and opens it up.

Edit > Select All
Edit > Copy
Edit > Paste

After she gets this done, she writes down the steps she used to perform her copy/paste stuff. No problem at all, part of training is making your student self sufficient. Take as many notes as you like.

Patron rants about having to fill out her name information all over again, even though it's in her resume. I explain to her that odds are her name is getting added into a contact database, so that when the company she is applying to does a search in their database for skills or experience, her name will come up on the list.

She was happy to hear that.

A couple fields about legalized citizenship and miltary history and she was in business. She said jokingly that she could have been here all day and not figured that out, and I joked back that now that she was done applying, she can stay all day and do more fun stuff.

I asked if she needed help with anything else, and she said no, but had to dash out to go run some errands.

Did it bug me that I got called? Not when I got the call.
Did it bug me to help a patron? Heck no, ask and ye shall receive. It's called Customer Service.
Did it bug me that I might be late to the lunch I had scheduled with my Mother? Nope, Mom knows I'm a self sacrificer and she wouldn't want me to say, "sorry, can't help, gotta eat."

I don't know if the staff person only knew the "right click" method of copy/paste, if the staff person feared the patron was going to do something harmful to the computer, or if the person didn't follow through with the reference interview and asked, "Well, what are you trying to do with the right click menu?"

They called me for a copy/paste job. That's what bugs me.

I know in my classes I show three ways to use said feature, the long way by using Edit> Copy/Paste/Select All, right click method, and the keyboard shorcut. I also make the joke that "if anyone tells you that you HAVE to use any one of these options and leave me their name and addres... *taps the back of one hand into the palm of another*"

It's a joke, but Microsoft prides itself on redundancy. In a lot of ways, redunancy is a bad thing.

But when something is disabled for security purposes...

*laughs* Rednex - Cotten Eyed Joe

But when something is disabled for security purposes, and you still want to perform a high level of customer service, you can't rely on a Stephen King looking Football Lineman looking bohunk to be at his desk.

The big question is if the staff person asked the patron what she wanted to do, and the patron replied, "I need to copy something from Word to a resume thing on the internet," would the staff person had said, "I'm sorry, but that's been disabled on these computers."

And..if the staff person had said that once...would she have said it again, or has she said before?

Questionable thought through this post:
"They called me for a copy/paste job." -- for some reason, my mind wants me to associate this as some sort of "technology booty call." Makes me feel kinda unclean. *chuckle*

*Blue Man Group - Exhibit 13*


scott said...

Ugh. I can relate to your post, Doctor. I hate that shit. Kudos to you for not ripping the spine out of the offender.

Erica Reynolds said...

the tech booty call is too funny...

i know exactly what you mean...(although I think it's awesome how patiently and gracefully you react...)... but I have to think it will get better soon...I'm so, so excited about all the new folks who have recently started/will be here soon...