Have you tried turning it off and on again...?
Date Added: 28 Feb 2012
Added By: Andy Malcolm
Graham Linehan’s entertaining televisual delight, “The IT Crowd”, has done more to shape the general public’s perception of business tech support than any other single thing that has ever occurred in the history of computers. Sometimes we have visitors to the hallowed towers of Breakwater IT and I think they are genuinely surprised to find a relatively organised office full of people doing actual work rather than sitting around playing World of Warcraft in their pants. And of course, the oft cited refrain of “Have You Tried Turning It Off & On Again?” will gain the humble support technician exceedingly short shrift when rolled out amidst a discussion with a client on how to resolve a particularly niggling problem they have with Microsoft Excel. The fact of the matter is that “Have You Tried Turning It Off & On Again?” in the IT Crowd is a measure to get rid of the customer so that Roy can go back to posting on Friendface. In the real world, it is more of a last ditch get out clause designed to get rid of the problem for an hour, a day, even a month. Because the chances are that if such a problem happened once, it’ll happen again, and rebooting a computer does little other than clear the poorly machine’s memory of whatever junk has accumulated since the last time it was booted (sometimes by an actual boot containing an irate foot) in frustration.
So whilst there will be occasions where this escape pod will be jettisoned, please be fully aware that if you are told such a thing by a Breakwater IT employee, they merely need 5 minutes to go and buy a sandwich or go to the loo. Or it’s been a staggeringly hectic morning, and if this “fix” allows the user to get back to work, and the engineer to get their head together and manage their bulging call queue for a short while, it’s a good thing. The problem may well have to be revisited in the near future, but the paramount thing that (in my experience) users most want from their computer, is for it to let them get on with whatever task is at hand. There’s always a lunch hour or late in the day for a seemingly baffling issue to be pondered upon and resolved without the pressure of feeling that you are wasting someone’s time.
So, on the next occasion that this cliché is rolled out to you, don’t just think of Moss and Roy, setting fire to their computers, but of Tim going to get a sandwich, or Cory fielding his 20th phone call in the past hour, or Harriet who’s just spent her lunch hour looking at a troublesome ticket for a user who is desperate for Word to stop crashing so they can meet a 5pm deadline.
P.S. If your computer locked up whilst reading this entry, “Have You Tried Turning It Off & On Again?”
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