9 Types of Computer Users
- El Explicito:
"I tried the thing, ya know, and it worked,Advantages: Provides
ya know, but now it doesn't, ya know?"
interesting communication challanges.
Disadvantages: So do
Symptoms: Complete inability to use proper nouns
Case: One user walked up to a certain Armenian pod manager and said, "I
can't get what I want!" The pod manager leaned back, put his hands on his
belt-buckle, and said, "Well, ma'am, you've come to the right place."
- Mad Bomber:
"Well, I hit Alt-f6, shift-f8, Cntrl-f10, f4,Advantages: Will try to
and f9, and now it looks all weird."
find own solution to problems.
Disadvantages: User might have
translated document to Navajo without meaning to.
Symptoms: More than
six stopped jobs in UNIX, a 2:1 code-to-letter ratio in WordPerfect
Case: One user came in complaining that his WordPerfect document was
underlined. When I used reveal codes on it, I found that he'd set and unset
underline more than fifty times in his document.
- Frying Pan/Fire Tactician:
"It didn't work with the data setAdvantages: Will usually fix
we had, so I fed in my aunt's recipe for key lime
Disadvantages: 'Fix' is defined VERY loosely
Symptoms: A tendancy to delete lines that get errors instead of
Real Case: One user complained that their program
executed, but didn't do anything. The scon looked at it for twenty minutes
before realizing that they'd commented out EVERY LINE. The user said, "Well,
that was the only way I could get it to compile."
"Last week, when the moon was full, the clouds wereAdvantages: Gives insight into primative
thick, and formahaut was above the horizon, I typed f77, and lo, it did
Disadvantages: Few scons are anthropology
Symptoms: Frequent questions about irrelavent
Real Case: One user complained that all information on one of
their disks got erased (as Norton Utilities showed nothing but empty sectors, I
suspect nothing had ever been on it). Reasoning that the deleted information
went *somewhere*, they wouldn't shut up until the scon checked four different
disks for the missing information.
"Will you look at those...um, that resolution, quiteAdvantages: Using the cutting-edge in
Disadvantages: Has little or no idea how to use
the cutting-edge in graphics technology.
Symptoms: Fuzzy hands,
Real Case: When I was off duty, two users sat down in front
of me at DEC station 5000/200s that systems was reconfiguring. I suppressed my
laughter while, for twenty minutes, they sat down and did their best to act like
they were doing exectly what they wanted to do, even though they couldn't log
- Miracle Worker:
"But it read a file from it yesterday!"Advantages: Apparently has remarkable luck when you
'Sir, at a guess, this disk has been swollowed and regurgitated.' "But I did
that a month ago, and it read a file from it
Disadvantages: People complain when scons actually use
the word "horse-puckey".
Symptoms: Loses all ability to do impossible
when you're around. Must be the kryptonite in your pocket.
At least three users have claimed that they've loaded IBM WordPerfect from
"Well, this is a file in MacWrite. Do you knowAdvantages: Bold new
how I can upload it to MUSIC, transfer it over to UNIX from there, download it
onto an IBM, convert it to WordPerfect, and put it in three-column
Disadvantages: Makes one wish to be a garbage
Symptoms: An inability to keep quiet. Strong tendancies to
make machines do things they don't want to do.
Real Case: One user
tried to get a scon to find out what another person's E-mail address was even
though the user didn't know his target's home system, account name, or real
"Well, first I sat down, like this. Then I loggedAdvantages:
on, like this, and after that, I typed in my password, like this, and after that
I edited my file, like this, and after that I went to this line here, like this,
and after that I picked my nose, like this..."
Willing to show you exactly what they did to get an
Disadvantages: For as long as five or six
Symptoms: Selective deafness to the phrases, "Right, right,
okay, but what was the ERROR?", and a strong fondness for the phrase, "Well, I'm
getting to that."
Real Case: I once had to spend half an hour looking
over a user's shoulder while they continuously retrieved a document into itself
and denied that they did it (the user was complaining that their document was 87
copies of the same thing).
"I need a Mac, and someone's got the one I likeAdvantages: Flatters you with their high standards for
reserved, would you please garrote him and put him in the paper recycling
Disadvantages: Impresses you with their obliviousness to
other people on this planet.
Symptoms: Inability to communicate except
Real Case: One asked a scon to remove the message of
the day because he (the user) didn't like it.