Computer Users

I was surfing one of my favorite message boards this past Saturday when I stumbled upon a bizarre question: someone asked what font and text color other people used in their emails.

I suppose the font question isn’t all that strange, as there was some variation in the responses. But the people who replied universally used black at their font color, which seemed to surprise the OP… who uses teal text in his\her emails.

I started imagining what the “teal text” poster was like, and then expanded the thought to several other types of computer user I know:

THE “COLORED EMAIL TEXT” USER

– Is typically female.
– Has pictures of her kids, grandkids, and\or cats as desktop wallpaper (bonus points if it’s a picture of the grandkids holding the cats).
– Said wallpaper is usually stretched to fill the desktop, making the kids look like extras from Deliverance.
– Has crayon drawings by her kids\grandkids on the wall of her office or cube. These are usually signed by the artist, allowing me to surprise her by figuring out that her password is “Justin” or “Madison”.
– Has 300 icons on her desktop.
– Her browser windows look like this:

Overloaded Toolbar
– Has Weatherbug installed.
– Was probably the person who invented the saying “somebody’s got a case of the Mondays!”.
– On the plus side, one of her desk drawers is normally a candy stash.

THE “COMPUTER ILLITERATE” USER

– Could be male or female.
– Is usually older.
– ALWAYS calls the help desk and says “I got some error message, but I didn’t write it down”.
– When you ask them to “click the Start button” they interrupt you with “slow down, we’re not all computer geniuses like you!”
– Since they can’t take directions over the phone, you ALWAYS have to go to their desk.
– If you have remote access, they’ll call over their co-workers to show them how you’re moving their mouse remotely… no matter how many times you’ve done this for them before.
– While you carry out some mundane task (like changing a setting in the Control Panel), they’ll look at the screen in wonder and ask “WHERE did you learn all this STUFF??”
– If a document doesn’t print for them the first time, they’ll hit the print button a hundred times… because attempt #93 might work.
– May be a nice person, but if they say “hehehe – I’m computer illiterate” one more time, you’ll gouge their eyes out.
– Is probably the reason “Do not drink this” warning labels were put on bleach.

THE “MY TIME IS IMPORTANT” USER

– Could be male or female.
– Is usually in sales, and is almost always high enough in the company to demand (and get) “instant help” from the help desk.
– Usually has a laptop.
– Stares at you and\or looks over your shoulder the entire time you’re working on the laptop.
– Reminds you every three minutes of an “important meeting” he\she has to get to.
– Based on their browsing history, you’re pretty sure their “important meeting” involves fantasy football, online poker or LinkedIn.
– If it takes more than 10 minutes to fix their laptop, they get on the phone to purchasing to order a new one.
– You will always fix their computer within 2 minutes of them completing that order.

THE “I DON’T UNDERSTAND METAPHORS” USER

– Usually female, although males aren’t unknown.
– When you try to explain to the user that hard drives are like filing cabinets, and files go into folders inside the filing cabinet, user will stare at you like a deer caught in headlights and say “but it’s not a filing cabinet, it’s a comppppputer“.
– For some reason, has 5 Word shortcuts and 4 Excel shortcuts on their desktop.
– Always refers to their computer as the “CPU”, “hard drive” or even “power supply”, but never just “computer”.
– Although they don’t understand your metaphors, they always get a belly laugh out of the fact that “uninterruptible power supplies” and “United Parcel Service” have the same initials.

THE BOSS

– Historically white males, although females and minorities are becoming prevalent.
– His assistant will call the help desk wanting immediate attention, then call every 45 seconds thereafter asking where the technician is.
– Has unopened copy of the latest Who Moved My Cheese? type book on his desk.
– Gets a new computer every 3-4 months “because of the crap you IT guys put on these things”.
– The “crap us IT guys put on these things” is actually malware from gay porn sites.
– On the plus side, the boss typically has meetings all day and is the help desk’s top priority, so you can waste as much time as you want “fixing the problem”.
– Another plus: no explanation generally necessary to your superiors in IT: “The boss looking at gay porn again?” “Yep.” “OK.”
– Small plus: pictures of hot “trophy wife” on desk.
– On the minus side: you can’t actually tell the CEO or CFO to stop visiting gay porn sites, so the issue is danced around for months on end.
– Historically speaking, many of his help desk calls involve some dumb gadget (like a Palm Pilot or Blackberry) that no other employee had and yet was somehow “vital” to his existence.

THE SOUTHPAWS

– Is male or female.
– Is left-handed.
– Has entire cube and PC set up for left-handed users, including the mouse, which is on the left side of the computer and has the right and left buttons switched via Control Panel.
– Apologizes constantly about being left-handed.
– Always has a problem you think you can fix with a few mouse clicks, but in reality it takes 20-30 minutes. At some point, you get sick of using the mouse upside down, so you change the buttons back to the right-handed settings.
– Despite friendly and apologetic manner, will complain to your boss when you forget to set the buttons back to the way he\she had them.
– If male, he will inexplicably always like “oddball” college sports teams, and has posters for Wake Forest football, Valdosta State basketball, or [insert the name of your state’s 4th most popular college sports team here] on the wall of his cube.

THE “LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS” USER

– Typically male.
– Knows more about computers than most office workers.
– Revels in using obscure programs to “help the open-source community” or “stick it to Bill Gates” or “because I like to tinker”.
– Computer constantly breaking down because of: a) all his “tinkering”; b) all the well-intentioned (but poorly thought out) security measures he has on his system; or c) due to all the hacks he has to use to run VisiCalc and Bank Street Writer under Windows XP.
– Says things like “I hate Vista, so I installed XP on my desktop at home… then got malware from Facebook”, not realizing the irony that using IE 8 under Vista would have kept him from getting infected in the first place.
– Always asks questions about telnet, gopher, and other technologies that no one’s used since 1993.
– Complains that new iPhone cannot sync to computer via RS232.
– Subscribes to Maximum PC or Wired or some such rag so he can be up on the latest lingo like “email blast” or “alpha pup”.
– Should never be put in charge of purchasing hardware. Trust me.

THE MP3 GUY

– Usually male.
– All his computer problems revolve around the fact that his hard drive is crammed full of MP3 files, leaving only 14MB of free space.
– Has posters of “edgy” artwork by people like H.R. Giger on his cube wall.
– Always wants to talk about skydiving or the latest trance band from Belgium.
– Spent more on paintball gear than you spent on your last car.
– Has a “thing” for Bjork.
– Has an impressive collection of “desk toys”.
– Always has taskbar on top or side, never on the bottom.
– Is somehow related to “The Boss” or the “My Time Is Important” user, so office politics forbid you from simply deleting the music files.

THE HOT RECEPTIONIST

– Is always female.
– Is always young.
– Is always hot.
– Not especially intelligent, even though she may be on summer break from a Seven Sisters school.
– Despite being young and Internet savvy, she has never heard of multiprotocol instant messaging apps like Trillian or Digsby, so she installs Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, Google Talk, and ICQ to keep in touch with her friends.
– Actually has few computer problems, because she spends every spare minute texting or using Facebook.
– Is also somehow related to “The Boss” or the “My Time Is Important” user, so hitting on her is a career-limiting maneuver (CLM).

THE LINUX GUY

– Typically male, most often white.
– Has a smug feeling of superiority about using Linux that he mentions at cocktail parties, in the elevator, and every other inappropriate place you can think of.
– Is the first to say “well, if you didn’t use Windows…” when someone mentions a computer problem they’re having, even if the problem has nothing to do with Windows itself.
– Has drunk so much of the Linux Kool-Aid that he genuinely thinks that using APT-GET to download a video driver, using SUDO to manually edit 19 config files in 17 different directories, then restarting x is “so much easier” than clicking “Next” a few times in Windows.
– Although he’d never admit it, has just as many problems with Linux as he did with Windows.

THE UNIX GUY

– Almost always male, almost always white, almost always in their 50s, almost always fat. Beard is required.
– Although you’d think he’d get along with the Linux Guy, he actually doesn’t, because Unix Guy admins multimillion dollar mainframe-type computers. Desktop PCs, no matter the OS, are just “toys” to him.
– Actually runs Windows at home, because he wants something that “just works”. He typically turns on his home computer after work, checks his email, then powers it off for the evening.
– Always has a hobby like woodworking or glass blowing, and has an impressive collection of tools and hobby-related paraphernalia.
– When Windows and Linux people start arguing the merits of their operating systems, Unix Guy only wants to talk about the latest woodworking or glass blowing tools.
– Doesn’t need posters of IP routing tables or the OSI model… because he’s done this for 40 years, thankyouverymuch.
– Unix Guy’s wife always sells Avon, Amway or Tupperware, and he is always passing around catalogs at the office.

THE NEW MAC USER

– Usually male, but often female.
– Is a long-time Windows user that recently switched to Mac.
– Has same insufferably smug attitude as The Linux Guy, but only has a tenth of his knowledge.
– For some reason, always writes OS name as “MAC”, then gets mad when people tell him that “MAC” stands for Media Access Control or is a cosmetics company.
– When explaining a basic Internet procedure to them, will roll their eyes and say “this is why I bought a Mac”, as if using an FTP client or troubleshooting an SMTP issue is somehow magically different for Macs.
– Easily identified by “hipster” clothing and posters for liberal causes in his\her cube.
– Is the “Office Crusader” who berates other employees for not recycling empty drink cans or cutting old faxes into scrap paper. Also constantly hassles the purchasing department about buying “Fair Trade” paper clips.
– Cooks stinky vegan food in the office microwave.
– Probably gets drunk on the weekend and eats hot dogs.
– Agonized about whether to put the Apple or Obama sticker in the back window of his\her Prius.

THE OLD MAC USER

– Usually male, but often female.
– Is in a field like desktop publishing or graphic design, where Macs have been the standard since 1988.
– Hates The New Mac User as much as anyone else.
– Has a long memory of time when Apple’s products were “insanely overpriced” and “insanely behind the times”.
– If male, has a Windows PC at home so he can play games, even though he loves Mac.

THE FRANKENPUTER USER

– Is male or female.
– If male, probably develops databases for the company’s ERP or CRM system. If female, is the one office admin that knows what the hell is going on, and the company would probably fall apart if she took a day off.
– Despite the fact that they do the most important work for the company, they are using a Pentium II 300 with 256MB of RAM and running Windows 95 on a computer that’s been put together from bits and pieces of older computers the company has long since gotten rid of.
– Despite the fact that “The Boss” or the “My Time Is Important” user gets a new computer every 3 months, there’s somehow never enough money in the budget to buy these poor people a new computer.
– I will move heaven and earth for these folks.

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