You know you were part of the tech industry in the 90s if…

You know you were part of the tech industry in the ’90s if …

1. you remember when Bill Gates did that blue-screened Win9x release onstage at Chicago Comdex.

2. you remember that there was a Chicago Comdex.

3. you were jealous of your friend’s NeXT.

4. you used a cool device that you held in your palm that made you learn how to write each letter a different way, and it changed the world. Continue reading

Funny Tech Support Questions

So you think you’re computer-illiterate? Check out the following excerpts from a Wall Street Journal article by Jim Carlton —

1. Compaq is considering changing the command “Press Any Key” to “Press Return Key” because of the flood of calls asking where the “Any” key is.

2. AST technical support had a caller complaining that her mouse was hard to control with the dust cover on. The cover turned out to be the plastic bag the mouse was packaged in.

3. Another Compaq technician received a call from a man complaining that the system wouldn’t read word processing files from his old diskettes. After trouble- shooting for magnets and heat failed to diagnose the problem, it was found that the customer labeled the diskettes then rolled them into the typewriter to type the labels.

4. Another AST customer was asked to send a copy of her defective diskettes. A few days later a letter arrived from the customer along with Xeroxed copies of the floppies.

5. A Dell technician advised his customer to put his troubled floppy back in the drive and close the door. The customer asked the tech to hold on, and was heard putting the phone down, getting up and crossing the room to close the door to his room.

6. Another Dell customer called to say he couldn’t get his computer to fax anything. After 40 minutes of trouble-shooting, the technician discovered the man was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it in front of the monitor screen and hitting the “send” key.

7. Yet another Dell customer called to complain that his keyboard no longer worked. He had cleaned it by filling up his tub with soap and water and soaking the keyboard for a day, then removing all the keys and washing them individually.

8. A Dell technician received a call from a customer who was enraged because his computer had told him he was “bad and an invalid”. The tech explained that the computer’s “bad command” and “invalid” responses shouldn’t be taken personally.

9. An exasperated caller to Dell Computer Tech Support couldn’t get her new Dell Computer to turn on. After ensuring the computer was plugged in, the technician asked her what happened when she pushed the power button. Her response, “I pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happens.” The “foot pedal” turned out to be the computer’s mouse.

10. Another customer called Compaq tech support to say her brand-new computer wouldn’t work. She said she unpacked the unit, plugged it in, and sat there for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen. When asked what happened when she pressed the power switch, she asked “What power switch?”

11. True story from a Novell NetWire SysOp:

Caller: “Hello, is this Tech Support?”
Tech: “Yes, it is. How may I help you?”
Caller: “The cup holder on my PC is broken and I am within my warranty period. How do I go about getting that fixed?”
Tech: “I’m sorry, but did you say a cup holder?”
Caller: “Yes, it’s attached to the front of my computer.”
Tech: “Please excuse me if I seem a bit stumped, It’s because I am. Did you receive this as part of a promotional, at a trade show? How did you get this cup holder? Does it have any trademark on it?”
Caller: “It came with my computer, I don’t know anything about a promotional. It just has ’24X’ on it.”

At this point the Tech Rep had to mute the caller, because he couldn’t stand it. The caller had been using the load drawer of the CD-ROM drive as a cup holder, and snapped it off.

Recession Not As Bad As It Seems

daily disaster
I get frustrated that every morning over the last few months, I get up, I pour a cup of coffee, then sit down to peruse the news sites and email. It has been overwhelmingly negative. Even the days when our savior, Barack Obama, was elected were overshadowed by the calamity of passing proposition 8. Indeed, the poor economy has an effect on everything from food prices to your job, but the media would have you think that the United States is coming to an end. Don’t believe it.

You have choices and great opportunities ahead, especially if you work in the tech industry. Take a look at this CNET article by Don Reisinger

Back when I was a public company auditor (yes, you read that correctly), I quickly realized after discussing business with top-level executives that few were prepared to meet the challenges that (at that time) seemed unlikely to affect us again. They believed that the economy would continue its rapid expansion, consumer spending would rise by staggering amounts each year, and we would all profit greatly.

But over the past few months, the walls have started closing in and we find ourselves in a recession. Notice I didn’t say “historic recession” or “calamitous recession”, but simply, “recession?” It’s because a recession, by its very nature, is open to interpretation. There is absolutely no proof to show that this recession will be as bad as the Great Depression even though some news stories like to throw that in and even though times are tough and uncertainty in the market is rampant, companies need to remember that a a recession is only as bad as they make it out to be.

The Consumer Electronics Association announced Thursday that it has revised electronics forecasts down for next year after witnessing sales that were on-par with last year. Growth is expected to be 0.1 percent — 3.6 percent lower than it originally forecast.

I’m sure that figure spreads fear through the industry and companies will look at an expected drop in sales as an event that could destroy the market. But instead of fearing what may come, companies should capitalize on this time and allow others to fear for the worst, while they use that as an opportunity.

The term “recession” means very little when taken at face value. Sure, we hear it on the news every night and seeing how some folks react makes it easy to believe that a recession means the end of the world. But if we remove ourselves from that frame of reference, we quickly realize that recession, by its very nature, doesn’t mean we should panic or believe that the world will end. And ironically, it’s the Western world’s corporate culture that feeds this.

Did you know that Asian countries, especially Japan, believe a recession is both good and bad? Japanese organizations feel a recession reminds them of the mistakes they made, makes them more aware of business opportunities, and view the time as an opportunity for action, not reaction. Maybe that’s why the recession of the 1970s created a world environment that saw Japanese organizations take a leading role in innovation, and thus, profits.

But it’s that idea — action versus reaction — that tech companies need to focus on. If they want to beat CEA forecasts and turn the industry around, they can’t simply react to “expected economic downturns” without finding a way to use it as a business opportunity. After all, while every other company is fearful and tightening belts, why shouldn’t other companies view their competitor’s weakness as an opportunity to invest in better products, take a leadership role through product or price, and deliver the products people want to those that are buying them?

Tech companies need to realize that although times are tough, they can achieve great things and reemerge on the other side of this recession much stronger if they realize that recessions are only damaging if they’ve failed to respond to consumer desire.

So what can companies do, exactly? Although each is different, the solution isn’t necessarily unique to every organization.

For one, it’s time tech companies eliminate products, services, or entire divisions that are simply not performing. Why keep something that has no value to the consumer?

Secondly, they need to start evaluating the market far more effectively and find out which consumers are buying and what those people want. Maybe Mac sales are on the rise today because a certain, profitable portion of the market wants a high-end machine with greater potential for longevity. If so, Dell and HP can get rid of most of the cheap machines they offer and start focusing on more capable computers.

Thirdly, companies need to stop being so short-sighted. What does it solve by worrying about 2009 when the possibility for a recovery by the end of next year or early 2010 are so high? It’s OK to invest money now as long as a company is armed with the knowledge that it will yield a positive return a few years from now. Sure, the company might take a hit next year, but remember when I said all of its competitors were running scared? When the recovery hits, those competitors will need to play catch-up.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, if the tech industry wants to thrive during this recession, company executives need to realize that changing their perception of the current state of affairs is the key to success. Failing companies only see the worst of what a recession offers, while successful organizations recognize the worst, but see the benefits of a recession. Successful companies know that applying the same strategies they employed during a boom are useless in a recession and understand that knowing consumers, improving the operation, and creating compelling products are the integral elements in a successful strategy. Granted, there are macro-economic issues that are beyond a company’s control, but for everything else — the vast majority — it’s how executives perceive a recession that will determine a company’s success.

Say what you will about the “severity” of this recession, but when I look at macro-economic indicators, I see opportunity. Unfortunately, most of the tech industry sees nothing and feels fear. And the longer that lasts, the longer the industry will suffer. Companies in this space have an opportunity to do great things, increase consumer spending, and carry the entire economy. It’s time they realize that.