I realise that this isn't personal, so I'll jump in with my thoughts
Post by Alan Pope
Post by Matthew Macdonald-Wallace
I work on a helpdesk as a day job supporting windows 2K/XP and an
AS/400. Most of our users know how to use a computer to get their job
done and that's it. Any errors at all (from "my computer won't switch
on" to "the internet's gone down!!!!") are reported to us and we
basically tell them (after three, 1...2...3) "Have you tried switching
it off and back on again?" which, as it's windows, usually fixes the
Arrrgh! No it doesn't!
For many issues it makes the problem (and hence the user) go away. It's a
quick bodge to make the user stop calling. It is the typical helpdesk
response in pretty much every company I have been in for the last 15 years.
Nobody bothers to analyse a problem to figure out what the underlying issue
is anymore. If it takes more than 30-60 mins to "resolve" a problem most
companies just re-image (format and reinstall from a known good image) the
hard disk and forget it.
I have written scripts (in vbscript - eurrgh!) to remotely change
aspects of the registry based on google searches and the MSDN/TechNet
knowledge bases, I've had heated discussions with people who are in
higher positions within the team than me about how to fix certain
problems and the fact that we need to have test rigs to confirm the
fixes before rolling them out company wide, however frequently when I
produce a fix, I'm told that I'm not allowed to deploy it because it
hasn't been tested.
Without permission to deploy the fix, that leaves us with the three
options you gave (plus one more):
1) Leave the problem as it is and live with it
3) Re-image the PC
4) Clear your temporary internet files
Whilst I agree that frequently a number of helpdesks do not employ
highly trained staff - or indeed provide the training required to
improve or retain staff - quite often the fixes provided by MS or
Google simply do not work. An example of this is the current issue I
and about 20,000 other across the globe have encountered with SVCHost
causing the CPU to run at 100%. I have tried every registry hack and
hotfix I can find. I have rebuilt my machine twice and rebooted it
several times - it turns out that this is an issue with Microsoft
Update/Office 2003 and that it should be fixed by a patch issued by
MS. I have installed that patch and I still encounter the same
issues. I have fed back to Microsoft about this and it still has not
By contrast, in Edgy I was frequently receiving an error with
Gnome-Settings-Demon failing to start and hogging my CPU on startup.
I found on the Ubuntu forums the fix: apt-get update/upgrade and it
started working immediately.
To summarise (because I didn't realise just how much I'd been
rambling...), yes, a lot of helpdesks use workarounds instead of
fixes, however quite often this is to do with politics and a lack of
leadership/training as opposed to a lack of knowledge. Also, the fact
that sometimes (and frequently I'm finding) the patch released by the
manufacturer either completely fails to work or creates another problem.
Thanet Linux User Group
matthew at truthisfreedom.org.uk
GPG KEY: http://pgp.mit.edu:11371/pks/lookup?op=get&search=0xFEA1BC16