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My top 6 simple things the Average computer user doen't know how to do

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+warwagon    13,095

I realize I make money off stupid people, but it's refreshing to give phone support once and a while to someone who actually knows where the address bar is.

1) Address Bar

The Address bar, it's been around since the dawn of the internet, yet very few people know where it's located or how to use it. Part of this idiocy is due to the fact that when most people want to go to a URL (example www.espn.com) they do so by typing it in MSN.com, Google.com or yahoo.com and click the on the first search result. At the end of the day I find it far easier to have the user do Windows key + R and then type in the web address than it is for them to locate the address bar.

2) Highlighting text, copy and pasting

It became apparent how many people didn't know how to copy and cut text when helping people register Avast home edition 4.x in person or over the phone. Once they received the Avast registration key in their inbox I tell them all they have to do is highlight and copy the registration key (and I point to it, and tell them it's the key located between the "cut here" lines) and paste it into the Avast registration box. What usually follows is this blank look on the users face asking... How do I do that?

3) Installing Hardware printer / webcam extra...

While I make money off installing hardware for people, I find it amusing that a user will spend $50+ on a webcam and then pay an extra $64.20 for me to drive 20 miles and install it for them. Run the CD, plug the webcam in, Presto!

4) The Desktop

Some users when you say the word "The Desktop" have no ****ing clue what you are referring to. It's only when you use the words "Pretty picture" ( Go to the pretty picture behind everything) they start to figure it out. Sometimes though people are so dim, it takes a little more explaining. You have to use words like "Main screen" or "The first thing you see when you turn on the computer". Sadly some never figure it out and you drive across town to show them that "This is the icon you use to open your mail".

5) Backup

You'd be suprized how many people do not know what a thumbstick is. They always ask me how a thumbstick works, like it is some kind of voodoo. If I'm lucky enough that the person remembers the days of the 3 1/2 inch floppy, I tell them it's just like using a floppy except it hold a lot more and instead of Drive A: it's a random drive letter. I swear to god most users could have a novel 3 years in the making and would have never back it up.

6) Windows Updates

Most users swear to god that they will not get an Virus if they use antivirus. Little do they realize that installing updates is even more important. It's not uncommon to find Vista Sp1 machines even today that have not been updated to sp2. A friend of mine said she just checked her roommates computer and her roommates vista machine was missing 16 critical updates. I think half the problem is by default windows installs updates at 3am and a lot of people turn off their computers when they go to bed. I think Microsoft should change it to 3pm. In this case the "roommate" turned off windows update.

Well that's my list, but I would love to have other people contribute to this list. Tell me your stupid stories.

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betadan    9

I work as phone support and i have to say i agree whole heartedly with #1. IMHO the search bar is the bane of my existence.

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david    51

My customers can't find the start menu. The button on the bottom left hand of your screen.

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+warwagon    13,095

My customers can't find the start menu. The button on the bottom left hand of your screen.

I know for years you could tell them "Look for the green "Start" button. Then in vista and 7 they had to **** it up and make it an orb.

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+devHead    1,986

+1 on #1! I can't tell you how many people I've seen use Google Search box for typing URLs! And then they click the link on the search page. I showed someone once that if they type the exact same thing higher up in the real 'address bar' it will bring them to the page and they don't have to make an extra step. They said, yeah, but i like it better this way!

I have to say that another thing average users don't know is the difference between downloading software and installing it. I've had so many times someone say they downloaded a program, and when it finished downloading, they couldn't understand that it wasn't installed.

'No, you have to double click that file now to start the installation.'

'Oh, really? Well, that's a lot of steps!'

But they have no problem using two steps to get to a website. It's kinda hilarious.

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Syanide    618

I once met a girl who turned the computer off by plugging the cable out of the wall.

:(

  • Facepalm 1

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+warwagon    13,095

+1 on #1! I can't tell you how many people I've seen use Google Search box for typing URLs! And then they click the link on the search page. I showed someone once that if they type the exact same thing higher up in the real 'address bar' it will bring them to the page and they don't have to make an extra step. They said, yeah, but i like it better this way!

I have to say that another thing average users don't know is the difference between downloading software and installing it. I've had so many times someone say they downloaded a program, and when it finished downloading, they couldn't understand that it wasn't installed.

'No, you have to double click that file now to start the installation.'

'Oh, really? Well, that's a lot of steps!'

But they have no problem using two steps to get to a website. It's kinda hilarious.

yep I had one guy download malwarebytes he said he kept trying to install it over and over but he could find it his computer

Upon remotely connecting into his machine this is what I saw in his firefox download box

mbam-setup(1)

mbam-setup(2)

mbam-setup(3)

mbam-setup(4)

mbam-setup(5)

mbam-setup(6)

mbam-setup(7)

I once met a girl who turned the computer off by plugging the cable out of the wall.

:(

Someday she will turn on her computer and see a nice blue screen of death saying "Unmountable Boot volume"

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primexx    372

5) Backup

You'd be suprized how many people do not know what a thumbstick is. They always ask me how a thumbstick works, like it is some kind of voodoo. If I'm lucky enough that the person remembers the days of the 3 1/2 inch floppy, I tell them it's just like using a floppy except it hold a lot more and instead of Drive A: it's a random drive letter. I swear to god most users could have a novel 3 years in the making and would have never back it up.

i've never heard anyone call it thumbstick. try "usb drive", i've found most people automatically associate "usb" with flash drives.

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+warwagon    13,095

i've never heard anyone call it thumbstick. try "usb drive", i've found most people automatically associate "usb" with flash drives.

I've heard it called thumbstick, USB drive, Flash drive.

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The Rev    413

Ok, seriously, this post is WAY too pompous... I understand most end users are Idiots, but still.... Many things wrong with this post....

I realize I make money off stupid people, but it's refreshing to give phone support once and a while to someone who knows actually knows where the address bar is.

1) Address Bar

The Address bar, it's been around since the dawn of the internet, yet very few people know where it's located or how to use it. Part of this idiocy is due to the fact that when most people want to go to a URL (example www.espn.com) they do so by typing it in MSN.com, Google.com or yahoo.com and click the on the first search result. At the end of the day I find it far easier to have the user do Windows key + R and then type in the web address than it is for them to locate the address bar.

2) Highlighting text, copy and pasting

It's easier for a dumb end user to use the run command? Seriously, the address bar is so obvious.... most people dont make this mistake.

It became most apparent on how many people didn't know how to copy and cut text when helping people register Avast home edition 4.x in person or over the phone. Once they received the Avast registration key in their inbox I tell them all they have to do is highlight and copy the registration key (and I point to it, and tell them it's the key located between the "cut here" lines) and paste it into the Avast registration box. What usually follows is this blank look on the users face asking... How do I do that?

3) Installing Hardware printer / webcam extra...

While I make money off installing hardware for people, I find it amusing that a user will spend $50+ on a webcam and then pay an extra $64.20 for me to drive 20 miles and install it for them. Run the CD, plug the webcam in, Presto!

4) The Desktop

Some users when you say the word "The Desktop" have no ****ing clue what you are referring it. It's only when you utter the words "Pretty picture" ( Go to the pretty picture behind everything) they start to figure it out. Sometimes though people are so dim, it takes a little more explaining. You have to use words like "Main screen" or "The first thing you see when you turn on your computer". Sadly some never figure it out and you drive across town to show them "This is the icon you use to open your mail".

5) Backup

You'd be suprized how many people do not know what a thumbstick is. They always ask me how a thumbstick works, like it is some kind of voodoo. If I'm lucky enough that the person remembers the days of the 3 1/2 inch floppy, I tell them it's just like using a floppy except it hold a lot more and instead of Drive A: it's a random drive letter. I swear to god most users could have a novel 3 years in the making and would have never back it up.

It's a thumb drive dude.... :-p

6) Windows Updates

Most users swear to god that they will not get an Virus if they use antivirus. Little do they realize that installing updates is even more important. It's not uncommon to find Vista Sp1 machines even today that have not been updated to sp2. A friend of mine said she just checked her roommates computer and her roommates vista machine was missing 16 critical updates. I think half the problem is by default windows installs updates at 3am and a lot of people turn off their computers when they go to bed. I think Microsoft should change it to 3pm. In this case the "roommate" turned off windows update.

16 critical updates is not a lot... That's two months of updates max.....

Well that's my list, but I would love to have other people contribute to this list. Tell me your stupid stories.

......I dunno dude.... Sounds like youre jaded by the job you're in.... You're losing your passion for computers because of the bull**** you have to deal with.... None of this is very shocking, and its certainly not monumentally difficult to solve these problems.... I think u need to take a lesson from Dudeism and just take it easy, man... :p

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+warwagon    13,095

A) Yes it is a lot easier for them to use the run box, hard to believe but its true.

B) 16 Critical updates is a lot. They call them Critical Updates for a reason :rofl:

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+longgonebn    74

Yea would have to agree, either 12 months worth or 1 months worth, 16 critical updates is quite a bit.

I get amazed by this stuff all the time, even stupider things, and I don't even do that line of work. But fixing friends and family computers shows me enough troubles lol

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ahmz    28

bman, where did you get those little icons in your sig?

/offtopic

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HawkMan    5,232

And the fact the people NEVER use copy/paste or even know how to do it is why it's not a priority in WP7.

I always found it funny way back when at school when I was at th eback of the computer room as some of the health or academic classes had computer class at the front and the teacher told them about copy and paste and you had marvelled expressions like "You can DO that", I guess it took them about 2 seconds after class to forget again.

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+longgonebn    74

bman, where did you get those little icons in your sig?

/offtopic

Got them from Rappy awhile back. Not sure where he got them.

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zhangm    1,333

I know for years you could tell them "Look for the green "Start" button. Then in vista and 7 they had to **** it up and make it an orb.

I'd argue that it is easier in Vista and 7, since the Start orb has a distinct shape; most people know what blue is. Most people know what a circle is. If you tell a user to click the blue circle at the bottom left hand corner of the screen, you'll probably be OK.

Two other things; I think that support specialists blame users' ignorance despite their own inability to effectively communicate concepts. Computing terminology isn't particularly easy to grasp. Scrollbar, titlebar, icon, menu, double-clicking; these things that we understand and take for granted actually are specialized vocabulary. Scrollbar and titlebar are just normal words with -bar added to the end. An icon is something that they see on TV. A menu is what they order from at a restaurant. Double-click? Do you mean click with both buttons at once, because that is what the words mean at face value.

The second real shocker is that end users don't actually need to know any of this to use the computer to accomplish tasks. They can sit down, click on an icon, open up a program, crunch numbers for 8 hours, and then leave to do better things. A computer is no more holy than plumbing, or the circulatory system, to the end user. They expect it to function well enough to perform some task. If it doesn't, they call the tech specialist, the plumber, or the doctor. Realistically, when you get hired as a user support specialist, you should be expected to "make things work" without the end user having to know jack **** about what an icon is.

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thechronic    185

The expression "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" springs to mind. Countless times i've been asked by a family to fix their computer as their teenager son has broken it, only to find the arrogant, jumped up, testosterone pumped, know it all will give me advice and pointers while i repair it. Some insist on 'sparring' with you..

Kid "Why are you not using the AOL Browser? You get lots of colourful icons and it says Welcome"

Myself "Oh i prefer to use Firefox, its simpler and lighter on your Systems Resources"

Kid "My Nan has Resources"

Myself "Oh Really? Well my Nan is a triad and unless you shut up, she'll be sending you fish through the post"

Kid "MUM, the computer guy is being mean"

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+warwagon    13,095

The second real shocker is that end users don't actually need to know any of this to use the computer to accomplish tasks. They can sit down, click on an icon, open up a program, crunch numbers for 8 hours, and then leave to do better things. A computer is no more holy than plumbing, or the circulatory system, to the end user. They expect it to function well enough to perform some task. If it doesn't, they call the tech specialist, the plumber, or the doctor. Realistically, when you get hired as a user support specialist, you should be expected to "make things work" without the end user having to know jack **** about what an icon is.

That's what my dad says. Though my response to him was, well think of it like a car. I honestly don't know jack about a car or how to fix one, but if a car repair guy asked me about a my battery I would know what he was talking about and where it was at on my car.

How many people were do not know where the battery is located on their car?

Sort of the same thing. Just like for windows users, not asking them to reinstall windows just like the car guy isn't asking you to rip the transmission out of your car all he just asked about was the battery.

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+longgonebn    74

My father has said the same thing many times. Just because I know it and seems trivial, does not mean that it is. Though I think in this day and age, end users should know at least the things talked about in this thread. It should be common sense, but it's not.

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zhangm    1,333

That's what my dad says. Though my response to him was, well think of it like a car. I honestly don't know jack about a car or how to fix one, but if a car repair guy asked me about a my battery I would know what he was talking about and where it was at on my car.

How many people were do not know where the battery is located on their car?

Sort of the same thing. Just like for windows users, not asking them to reinstall windows just like the car guy isn't asking you to rip the transmission out of your car all he just asked about was the battery.

I don't think the battery example is quite valid. The term battery is in common usage, and isn't privileged in any specific field. It is like asking the end user about whether the power switch on the computer is flicked on or off. They are probably able to figure it out, even if they didn't previously know where the power switch was.

An example of privileged vocabulary would be me asking you whether you had the F508 mutation, and expecting you to know off the top of your head, since it is your own body.

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+Frank B.    7,151

I'd like to add another thing Joe Average can't do: Multitasking.

There are people who seem to be unable to run more than one app at once. Or browse with more than one tab open. They'd run one app - their mail client for instance - shut it down, open the next one and so on.

Don't get me started about running apps in windowed mode... that's a totally alien concept to most people.

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+longgonebn    74

I think the thing I have the most trouble explaining these days is torrent and p2p programs. People just don't seem to get it, or takes them quite awhile to get it.

Which that makes me think, do regular users even know how to edit a programs settings?

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Aquafox    0

BRILLIANT :D everything there is so very true! especially #1. What i've also come across is that if a customer asks me to do something for their computer (e.g. a complete format/reinstall of XP/Vista - incorrectly labelled a "reboot"), and something doesn't work or all their files are missing (despite the fact that they have been warned nearly "6 times that everything is deleted when you format your PC"), they automatically assume that you've done something wrong. :angry: ...right.

I'd like to add another thing Joe Average can't do: Multitasking.

Face it. If they can't do it in real life, how are they ever gonna do it on a computer :devil:

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peacemf    59

its easy for those of us who were born into or with computers, and have been using them since childhood.

For the older generation, it seems like a puzzle, im completely confused at how difficult they find it. Just ask them to find the START menu on WinXp, they will have difficulty........

Wonder what the next generation will be able to do that we would have such difficulties with?

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xpablo    136

As a computer tech myself, I know what you deal with.

I have no friends now, all I have are clients who call themselves my friend, to try for free support.

The most anoying of them all is my father in law, I have known the man since 1989 and he was a total geek

with DOS, Windows 3.11 & OS/2 he knew almost every command in DOS, he's been into computers since the '70's

He got me interested in them, I later married his daughter and went to college for Computers.

now that he's an old man and he calls me up for the simplest thing, the worse mistake I did was upgrading his pc

and putting Windows 7 from XP on his PC.

Then I have a "friend's" older sister (40+) who's just so freaking stupid, and anoying that I no longer deal with her,

I refered her to deal with Geek Squad for her computer problems, she's paying them a heck of a lot more that she ever paid me.

Also annoying is people trying to find their files on their hard drive and then others who ask me "when they delete a file, where does it go?" :whistle:

I could go on but people are lazy and don't think for themselves sometimes.

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