Tech Life Did it work?

How Can I Help You?

Being computer literate means getting asked to help. I’m happy to help. I believe the less you fear your computer, phone, or tablet, the more you’ll get out of it, so, absolutely, How can I help you?

However, this free tech support does come at a cost. I have a system for evaluating a problem which is accompanied by colorful inner monologue. The following flowchart explains both the details of how I triage a problem, how I might fix it, and how and why I’m likely to swear while I’m helping.

How I triage a software issue

Download the larger version.

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15 Responses

  1. Chris 13 years ago

    You missed the last box – go out and buy a bigger, faster, better box and brand new operating system (only to see the same issue occurring in the next week…)

  2. MattO 13 years ago

    So one of your boxes poses the quetions “Am I going to learn anything?”, but most of your steps to resolution don’t teach you anything; They just cycle the power in different ways. If a triage step works you go strait to done. I see how this works as great triage system, but it doesnt seem like you would learn much. Not a lot there to keep the original problem from happening again. Just restarting is a kinda cop out solution. It never takes you to a place where you get a server that stays up for more than 3 weeks(as long as your stop learning after restarting). Just some thoughts.

    I too will reach a point where learning is a secondary goal behind getting back to work though.

    Love your writing, A CompSci prof had us read Managing Humans in school and I’ve been hooked ever since.

  3. Brooks Moses 13 years ago

    Matto: Restarting may be a cop-out solution, but if it fixes the problem, then the problem probably wasn’t very interesting or worth more effort.

    If in three weeks you have a problem of “this server has crashed twice in the past three weeks”, then you have a problem that restarting won’t solve, and you end up in a different place on the triage chart.

    I’d also contrast that with my problem that, about once every four to six months, my laptop bluescreens a couple of times. I’ve spent a few hours in desultory attempts to diagnose the problem, including complete wipe-the-OS-and-reinstall cycles and serious hardware diagnotics but it’s still there. With reasonable save habits, it costs me maybe three hours of work (worst case) when it hits, and I’ll be using the laptop maybe a couple more years — so, rough estimate of 12 hours total. It would take me a lot longer to really solve the problem, and in a couple of years the laptop will probably be worn out anyway.

  4. Ben Rosengart 13 years ago
  5. Alli Rense 13 years ago

    I am currently fighting the very strong urge to send your chart to some of my clients. Must resist!

  6. Steve Downey 13 years ago

    Also XKCD: Success

  7. Is the triage diagram an ironic broken image? Because that’s how i’m seeing it.

    Do I need to do some triage on this post perhaps?

    * has your image been updated recently?

    * has your max traffic quota been met?

  8. Not… clear what happened. Files have been replaced.

  9. TechieSidhe 13 years ago

    Is is possible to get a work safe(r) version minus the f***ing and s**t?

  10. BurlyJ 13 years ago

    Matto! “Consult Google” is a learning strategy. However, in classical flow charting (1980s) all decisions are shown in diamond boxes. Actions are in rectangles.

  11. sent post to wife – she got a kick out of the comments section ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. This post ..and especially Matto & Brooks’ comments reminded me of IT Crowd’s famous “Have you tried turning it off and then on again” line ๐Ÿ™‚

    Check this:

    then netflix it.

  13. Girl Bored At Work 13 years ago

    I work tech support. This pretty much describes my job!

  14. Thomas Radmoore 12 years ago

    This single post was able to get more riches than many other short posts I read so far. Great job.

  15. Rayna Ramsay 2 years ago

    Before “Reinstall” I would recommend some good old cache clearing as reinstalling doesn’t always clear out what could also be an issue.