Tag Archives: Computer trouble

1980s TV Stars you swear work in your office

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The 1980s was a fantastic time to grow up.  The career paths were seemingly endless.  I was drawn to those trying to help society by fighting crime independently.  Remember Hawaii-50, how they were cops in Hawaii.  In the 80s they took it one step further and had Magnum PI who got to choose who he wanted to help spending the rest of his time hanging out in a mansion with his posse in shorts and a Tommy Bahama shirt.  Michael Knight was driving a talking car, MacGuyver was saving the ladies with his gum wrapper neutron bombs.  The A-Team; even Michael Landon was bringing us on the Highway to Heaven.  When society was fixed it was chill out time.  I call that work-life balance.

I went away to college and found out that everything I had watched in those halcyon days had no career prospects – not even Dukes of Hazzard.  Well, not all my voracious TV study was in vain because one day I would learn that many of the characters I met on TV I would see again someday in real life (just not necessarily the cool ones).  Perhaps you have co-workers like these characters in your office too.

Wesley from Mr. Belvedere

The fact that Mr. Belvedere never backhanded Wesley was kind of touching in a I’m-just-a-kid-one-after-school-special-away-from-getting-that-I’m-annoying kind of way.  But we know adults like this.  The ones that ask a million questions so they can stick you in front of your boss when you trip up on one.  Or the folks that CC everybody in upper management, lower management, basement management so you’ve got to answer to everybody while they take a two hour lunch.

 

 

Edie McClurg in like every role she’s ever done

This is the really nice lady in your office who traps you in the copy room or at the coffee station and a seemingly innocent conversation about knitting somehow winds up with you calling Bonnie the Admin Assistant to God’s new hairdo something you saw on Jerry Springer one time after a stage fight.  You think maybe Edie was so pleased that I complimented her on her advanced crotcheting technique that she would maybe not roll over on me.  Then around 2:00 Bonnie and her ugly hairdo give you the stink eye and you have your answer.

 

 

Vinnie from Doogie Howser, MD.

Poor Vinnie – he was the less smart, less good-looking friend who didn’t even have a computer.  Doogie moved on awhile back, but Vinnie’s still kicking around.  He’s staring down error messages on the old PC, smacking the keyboard around a little bit when he gets frustrated, and generally making sarcastic comments when people complain about his work.  He likes to complain a lot about management, but the only thing they’ve done wrong is let him continue to hang around.

 

Aunt Jackie from Roseanne

Jackie is the perfect encapsulation of a contractor.  There are times when Jackie is the smartest, most logical person in the room at Roseanne’s house because she has some objectivity coming in from the outside.  There’s other times when you get to know her and it’s clearer why she isn’t married and doesn’t have kids.

 

 

 

Ted McGinley in like every role he had in 1980s

Ted is the guy who is in management and is probably in a role that is higher than his actual abilities because he’s so good looking.  He kind of kicked around different places after college maybe until he was around 40 and needed the 401K.  As long as he’s not your manager let the guy have whatever he wants.  He’s pleasant when you talk to him.  He just, from most accounts, doesn’t quite know what he’s doing.  They keep putting him on the brochures anyway.

 

 

Delta Burke’s character in Designing Women

Strangely enough the people who didn’t pay attention to you in high school still can’t seem to hear everything you say now that you’re an adult.

“Here’s the idea that I came up with.”

“I don’t think that’s the best use of resources.”

“Why thank you, it is the best use of resources, isn’t it? What’s your name again?”

“Major Dad and I wasn’t complimenting you.”

 

Bob Newhart from Newhart

There always seems to be at least one old guy in management who is afraid to change.  It’s because he knows once things change it could prove he’s not really that capable.  Mr. Carlson from WKRP in Cincinnatti is another example of this.  Now certainly if you’re working with Les Nessman or Larry, Daryl, and Daryl you’ve got your work cut out for you.  He’s a likeable guy, but frustrating as hell.  Everybody’s on Keurig and he’s holding on to that Mr. Coffee that Joe Dimaggio gave him in 1984.  Let’s move froward with the times.

 

Janet from Three’s Company

Poor Vinnie?  Poor Janet – she’s trapped in a world where she’s competing with Suzanne Sommers instead of just being herself.  Why were there so many neurotic woman characters in 1980s TV?  Joanie from Happy Days, Dianne and Rebecca from Cheers, Mrs. Garrett, Marcie from Married With Children, What’s her name from One Day at a Time.  It’s possible that the hairspray and shoulder pads led to some unintended side effects, but we’re over that now, right?  Not quite all of us.  There’s a few Janets out there that work really, really hard and get nowhere because they give off a nervous vibe.  When they release once a year there’s crying, there’s overindulging at the Christmas party, there’s squeeling tires in the parking lot.  This craziness is certainly not limited to the women in your office.

 

Judge Harry from Night Court

We get it – you like magic tricks and practical jokes. We get it – you love Mel Torme.  We get it – you’re responsible for trying criminals.  Actually we don’t really get that part given that you can’t stop being silly for ten seconds.  Yes, the fun guy is in your office.  Whether it’s sports or You-tube or wrapping your stapler in Seran Wrap he’s there.  It’s fun during a coffee break.  It’s exceedingly annoying when there’s a deadline.  He never quits.  Night Court has so many characters you can see every day – the sleezy Dan Fielding, the neurotic OCD toting Christine Sullivan, Mac the guy who’s there for a paycheck, Bull Shannon, the freakishly tall guy who people keep raving about, but you don’t really know anything about him other than he’s really tall.

 

Dwayne Wayne from A Different World

Who can forget Dwayne Wayne with his flip down sunglasses checking out the ladies? He’s ditched the flip downs, but he’s still stylin’.  Why’s he stylin’ at your office – who the hell knows?  By day he answers phones, but at night he is Miami (at least that’s what he tells you when he’s in the bathroom checking his look in the mirror.  How he could be Joe Smooth in this part of the state you’re not really sure.  He lives in a whole ‘nother world, A different world, dare I say, with tanning beds and manicures!

 

 

Corey Feldman

No really – Corey Feldman works at your office.  He’s the one that drives that beat up Toyota who parks it way out because that’s where the shade is and his creditors are not.

Corey says everything’s going to be alright

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If George Clooney was in IT they’d put him in the basement too.

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The plight of the poor IT professional.  Thirty years ago there were no IT people.  They all worked at IBM and other software companies.  They were the cutting edge of a cool, sci-fi, Tron-like world where there was no doubt they would own those people who once made fun of their amped up graphing calculators and mastery of their joysticks.  For a wonderful moment in time there was a binary bubble.  Then Apple and Microsoft decided to put a computer in everybody’s home…and car…and phone.

These computers are just a fad! I’ll be on TV foreva!

In the 1980s everybody’s dad was Tony Danza pulling out the old ball glove pretending they could still play.  In the 1990s they gave up on that crap.  Now they could be a hero to the family if they brought in a PC.  Now everybody knows about computers – even old people!  But where has all of this knowledge gotten us to?  It’s kind of like when you give your dog peanut butter.  He likes peanut butter, but you really think it’s just funny to watch him smack his lips and shake his head back and forth.  We like our computers, but the real entertainment is when people can’t figure out how to use them.

Enter Donna Double Click.  She’s the nice woman you work with who, just has no luck with computers.  It doesn’t really make any sense because she’s had a PC in her house for years, but you ask her send out a meeting request and she says ‘I know you’ve shown me this before, but can you show me how to do that again?’ You suck in a deep breath and say ‘Of course I can because you’re a nice woman.’  Later on, of course, somebody is steamed about something and exclaims, ‘God, she’s such a dope!’  Then the Donna stories come out.  How she called IT when she couldn’t get rid of the lines in Microsoft Word and they had to explain to her that she was in Excel.  How IT got stuck there for an afternoon as there were 178 automatic updates that hadn’t run on her computer because she didn’t realize that turning off the monitor didn’t actually turn off the computer.  And the seemingly daily struggle of the demons within her computer making the icons either far too small or Super Mario big.

Donna’s not even that old.  You can’t blame people who had worked for twenty years before a computer even landed on their desk to be a little slow on the uptake, but it doesn’t seem to be that – there are just some people who don’t get it.  Then there’s five accountants huddled around a computer trying to figure out why the screen won’t move up and down.

It’s tedious at times (especially for IT), but at least Donna asks for help.  Kevin Keyboard Shortcut never asks for help until the Blue Screen of Death hits.  Then you get ‘Dammit, this computer sucks.  My last one was so much better.  What’s IT’s number?’  IT comes up and grabs the computer and then you see neither IT nor Kevin for the rest of the day.  The problem is that Kevin knows how to do stuff on the computer.  He’s got like 15 printer options because he can add one without prompts.  He’s accessing networks that aren’t really his.  Yeah, he gets error messages, but most of them are just warnings; they’re not critical or anything.  Then IT asks him what happened and he’s suddenly pretending to be as oblivious as Donna Double Click. ‘I don’t know.  It just kinda popped up.’

IT should really just monitor some of these people’s screens all day.  They might if they weren’t stuck running to the planning meeting only to find out one of three things:

  1. The presenter figured out the fix to his problem which probably means something else will soon be screwed up.  For every check box clicked there is an equal and opposite critical error message to be dealt with
  2. The solution to the problem was so dumb that it had to be a practical joke because no one who is potty trained or can tie their shoes should have missed it.
  3. The network is actually screwed up in which case there is a shitstorm brewing in emails.  Sitting here and pretending to try to fix this, while people keep telling me how yesterday their computer wasn’t working either, might be the best thing I can do for my own sanity.

Yes, most IT people didn’t seek it out as a profession, but getting blown around from company to company like dandelion feathers wasn’t cutting it as a programmer.  Or the company they working for blew up and this is a job.  There are two rules in the job as IT professional:

  1. Like a magician you can tell people what you’re doing, but never teach them how to do anything.  It saves you and your buddy’s jobs in the basement plus teaching is for training.  IT only trains their own.
  2. You are a data collector.  Sure, figuring out diagnostics and solving problems is cool, but really you just need stories to share.

Sales conferences, at times, are like the movie Bachelor Party, you know with Tom Hanks before he got all Saving Private Ryan on us.

“God, the owner was freakin’ ancient with like mummy breath.  You know like the mix of dentures and that Robitussin you can only get in Canada.  He’s been jerking us around for three years.  I finally just said to him flat out.  ‘You could have had us at $20 a unit two years ago.  What the hell are you waiting for?  For us to throw in a pack of Tic Tacs for you and your wife? OK $35 a unit and one pack of Tic Tacs.’  I actually wrote the Tic Tacs right on the sheet.”

“No, you didn’t do that, Barney!”

“I most certainly did and he took it!”

I imagine IT conferences are a little more subdued

“Yeah, I was trying to fix this guy’s network connection and I jumped on the phone for a couple minutes and suddenly a screen saver pops up and it’s a naked woman…who might just have been his manager.  I hit the mouse and we pretended like nothing happened.”

“Was she hot?”

“Not bad.”

“You should have said, A little pre-meeting scouting?”

“Yeah, I shoulda said that – damn.”

Poor IT personnel, their stories will make you frightened to ever turn on your computer, but they can’t tell anybody.  They just fix your little hiccups and go back to their basement cubicle monastery in the shadows of the junked computer parts closet.

Screw national administrative assistant day (OK, that’s a good idea too), but IT needs a pat on the back once in a while too.  Who would play a good IT pro in a movie?  Are you the IT Hall Monitor on your floor helping to fix everybody’s computer issues before calling in the big guns or are you the saboteur who uses a broken computer as an excuse to leave early?  IT has a dossier on everybody – what does yours say?