It’s pretty late right now, the clock is about to go past 11pm. I’ve been up since six and I have had a long day. I spent the better part of a day helping a friend move house and in the afternoon I went to a Star Wars Quiz for May the 4th (we came second place, thank you very much for asking!) I have not the energy, nor the content to talk about gliders tonight. So instead, I would like to regale you with a few stories from my time working an I.T. help desk at a local school.

My laptop won’t connect to the TV

At the school I worked at we had these TV’s that were branded as being designed for the classroom. In reality all they consisted of was a large, touch-screen TV that had a small Android box on the back of the device that had some proprietary software sprinkled throughout. One of the features of these TV’s was the “ease” of wirelessly connecting to the TV.

Well one day I get a phone call from one of the teachers who is trying desperately to connect while her 11th grade chemistry class waits patiently. So I toddled over, walking a little quicker than normal to see what the problem is.

When I arrive she is talking to the class about their lesson for the day and upon seeing me tells them to talk quietly. We have a short chat with which she tells me she has tried rebooting and no matter how many times she tries she just can’t connect.

I walk over to her laptop while she goes back to talking to her class. Straight away I can see that she is on airplane mode. Simply switching that off and trying again I connect straight away.

The speed with which I solved this “problem” causes her to stop speaking and ask the dreaded question: “What was the issue?"

"Oh, uh, one of the settings wasn’t right. I just had to change it.” I try giving her a generic answer.

”Oh, which one?” She is insistent.

”Umm… airplane mode was turned on.”

She gives me a look that says obviously and then adds, “Yeah, I turn that on to save battery.”

At this point every student has realized the issue, but she hasn’t. I have no choice but to spell it out.

”You cannot connect wirelessly when you have disabled the Wi-Fi.” No matter how polite you say it, you still feel like a condescending jerk.

When she realized her mistake her face scrunchled up in embarrassment as the students started laughing and giving her grief. I quietly exited the class and went back to the refuge of the office.

Yeah, I already tried rebooting it

This isn’t really a story, but more of a record set. If you know even the slightest thing about IT you know that step one of troubleshooting should be to reboot your computer. However, lets face it, that can be annoying. You have all your documents open, your webpages, you really don’t wanna reopen all that again.

Well, when we had people call in issues we often tell them to reboot and call us again if it didn’t work. So many times I would hear “I’ve already done that,” and I would trundle off to a classroom and look at the computer run time. Inevitably it NEVER showed an uptime that would indicate a recent reboot. So with a sigh I would reboot the computer and nine times out of ten this would fix the issue.

This story is about the highest uptime. I cannot remember details greatly because it happened back when I only had one child and I have consumed no small amount of wine since then. But I remember opening up the uptime and being shocked to find that the laptop had been up for over fourty-five days. When I told this to the teacher they told me they did restart it just before I came. I asked them how and they said “Oh, I just closed the lid then opened it again.” *sigh*

Super hacker IT man

One time I got called over to the fella’s in the agricultural department. These guys were some of the nicest guys you’ll ever know, but they were your typical country boys (I say boys but they were all old enough to be my dad). One day I get a call saying he forgot his password for a website he uses and was wondering if I could help.

It was a pretty quiet day so I decided to head over and give him a hand. Even though it wasn’t a site we supported as the IT department (it was for school stuff, but he hadn’t gone through the IT team to set it up) I figured I’d go over and at least help him walk through the password reset process.

Well, I get over there and he is using the site no problems at all. I asked him how he got on and he told me that he had saved the password in Chrome so it autofills it for him. Apparently he needed the password so he could log in on his home computer too. I asked him to log out and show me the stored password.

As I was hoping, it was simply prefilled with his username and his password entered in asterisks. I told him there might be a way I could get the password back, but it would reveal his password to me. He said he didn’t care and all he wanted was his password.

Anyone with even a slight bit of HTML knowledge will already be able to tell what I did. I simply used Chrome’s built in page inspector to change the password field from type password to type text. With one small change we had his saved password visible in plain view.

Well, as I said before, these were country boys. It was quite awhile before I stopped hearing them call me “hacker man”.

Thank you Mr. IT Man

The school I worked at was K-12. One day I got a call from one of the prep class rooms (prep is the level before Year/Grade 1). They were having issues playing a video for their lesson or something, I can’t quite remember.

After I had fixed it the teacher came over and said “Thank you Mr… Wait. What do they call you?”

Now, what she meant was do they call you “Mr. First name” or “Mr. Surname”. As an IT person I didn’t often work directly with the students, I was there to support the staff. (Now days the school also supports student laptops, but that wasn’t a feature when I was there.)

I just shrugged my shoulders and said to the teacher, “I dunno, Mr. IT Man?” I was trying to be a little funny. She turns to the class and says “Say: Thank you, Mr. IT man.”

It was very hard not to laugh at 20-odd cute little preppy’s all saying, “Thank you, Mr. IT man. God bless you!”