The 10 Types of Users
El Explicito - "I tried the thing, ya know, and it worked, ya know, but
now it doesn't, ya know?"
Advantages: Provides interesting communication challanges.
Disadvantages: So do chimps.
Symptoms: Complete inability to use proper nouns
Real Case: One user walked up to a certain Armenian pod manager and
said, "I can't get what I want!" The pod manager leaned
back, put his hands on his belt-buckle, and said, "Well,
ma'am, you've come to the right place."
Mad Bomber - "Well, I hit ALT-f6, shift-f8, CNTRL-f10, f4, and f9, and
now it looks all weird."
Advantages: Will try to find own solution to problems.
Disadvantages: User might have translated document to Navajo without
Symptoms: More than six stopped jobs in UNIX, a 2:1 code-to-letter
ratio in WordPerfect
Real Case: One user came in complaining that his WordPerfect document
was underlined. When I used reveal codes on it, I found
that he'd set and unset underline more than fifty times in
Frying Pan/Fire Tactician - "It didn't work with the data set we had, so I
fed in my aunt's recipe for key lime pie."
Advantages: Will usually fix error.
Disadvantages: 'Fix' is defined VERY loosely here.
Symptoms: A tendancy to delete lines that get errors instead of
Real Case: One user complained that their program executed, but
didn't do anything. The scon looked at it for twenty
minutes before realizing that they'd commented out EVERY
LINE. The user said, "Well, that was the only way I could
get it to compile."
Shaman - "Last week, when the moon was full, the clouds were thick,
and formahaut was above the horizon, I typed f77, and lo,
it did compile."
Advantages: Gives insight into primative mythology.
Disadvantages: Few scons are anthropology majors.
Symptoms: Frequent questions about irrelavent objects.
Real Case: One user complained that all information on one of their
disks got erased (as Norton Utilities showed nothing but
empty sectors, I suspect nothing had ever been on it).
Reasoning that the deleted information went *somewhere*,
they wouldn't shut up until the scon checked four different
disks for the missing information.
X-user - "Will you look at those. . .um, that resolution, quite
Advantages: Using the cutting-edge in graphics technology.
Disadvantages: Has little or no idea how to use the cutting-edge in
Symptoms: Fuzzy hands, blindness
Real Case: When I was off duty, two users sat down in front of me at
DEC station 5000/200s that systems was reconfiguring. I
suppressed my laughter while, for twenty minutes, they sat
down and did their best to act like they were doing exactly
what they wanted to do, even though they couldn't log in.
Miracle Worker - "But it read a file from it yesterday!" 'Sir, at a
guess, this disk has been swallowed and regurgitated.'
"But I did that a month ago, and it read a file from it
Advantages: Apparently has remarkable luck when you aren't around.
Disadvantages: People complain when scons actually use the word
Symptoms: Loses all ability to do impossible when you're around.
Must be the kryptonite in your pocket.
Real Case: At least three users have claimed that they've loaded IBM
WordPerfect from Macintosh disks.
Taskmaster - "Well, this is a file in MacWrite. Do you know how I can
upload it to MUSIC, transfer it over to UNIX from there,
download it onto an IBM, convert it to WordPerfect, and
put it in three-column format?"
Advantages: Bold new challanges.
Disadvantages: Makes one wish to be a garbage collector.
Symptoms: An inability to keep quiet. Strong tendancies to make
machines do things they don't want to do.
Real Case: One user tried to get a scon to find out what another
person's E-mail address was even though the user didn't
know his target's home system, account name, or real name.
Maestro - "Well, first I sat down, like this. Then I logged on,
like this, and after that, I typed in my password, like
this, and after that I edited my file, like this, and
after that I went to this line here, like this, and after
that I picked my nose, like this. . ."
Advantages: Willing to show you exactly what they did to get an error.
Disadvantages: For as long as five or six hours.
Symptoms: Selective deafness to the phrases, "Right, right, okay,
but what was the ERROR?", and a strong fondness for the
phrase, "Well, I'm getting to that."
Real Case: I once had to spend half an hour looking over a user's
shoulder while they continuously retrieved a document
into itself and denied that they did it (the user was
complaining that their document was 87 copies of the same
Princess (unfair, perhaps, as these tend, overwhelmingly, to be males) -
"I need a Mac, and someone's got the one I like reserved,
would you please garrote him and put him in the paper
Advantages: Flatters you with their high standards for your service.
Disadvantages: Impresses you with their obliviousness to other people on
Symptoms: Inability to communicate except by complaining.
Real Case: One asked a scon to remove the message of the day because
he (the user) didn't like it.
Complete Idiot - "Why can't I copy this 25 megabyte text file onto a
360K floppy disk?"
Advantages: Believe anything that you tell them, because they don't
have a clue. Often observed wearing aluminum foil
under hat or garlic around neck to ward off evil
Disadvantages: Cannot follow directions. Doesn't grasp simple concepts,
like the meaning of the word "no."
Symptoms: Holding hands under monitor during power failure,
hoping to catch letters as they fall off of screen.
Also observed playing Van Halen tape in Commodore-64
cassette drive, trying to get a transcript of the lyrics.
Most likely to have a bottle of white out next to monitor.
Real Case: User once wrote program for simulations class that
created 25 megabyte output file of every possible way to
safely put 8 queens on a chess board, using "*"'s to draw
board. Insisted that instructor wanted this printed and
handed in. (Instructor only wanted to know the number.)
User wouldn't take the hint when her access to all line
printers was revoked after trying to print this file 4
times. Decided to slip it by and print to Diablo 630
daisywheel printer. Result: 14 pages of output and a
broken "*" on the printwheel before the file and program
were deleted with the permission of the instructor.
Fourth year computer science student that couldn't figure
out that in the best case, this file would take 4965 pages
(2+ boxes of paper) and 7.6 days to print.
Career Path: Gets programming job at Microsoft writing next version
of Windows. Gets PhD in Artificial Intelligence, since
they lack any natural intelligence. Dies of
electrocution using hair dryer in pool, despite safety
labels and tags.
(The irony of this is that this individual was later hired as the Academic
Computer Center manager, and she spends her day screaming at students who
print 2 copies of their resume on a laser printer.)