Friday, January 23, 2015

The double

I usually find it enjoyable solving the patrons' small computer and Internet problems. There are a few automatic, recurring ones that are resolved with the snap of a finger, or perhaps I should say, with the click of a mouse; someone turned off the sound, or the print button is here. But a surprising number of computer problems have their unique aspects, and so present themselves as little puzzles. I really like puzzles, especially the easy kind that I can impressively solve.

Today I was noticing how common the double problem is, or, functionally, the double puzzle. There is the initial problem, and then there is the misguided thing the patron did to try and fix it, which creates a secondary problem. These must be untangled one after the other, especially when the patron confesses their deeds only under direct questioning.

A man comes to my desk. The screen on his computer suddenly went black. Can I help? Sure, I can help. This one sounds pretty easy, but one never knows. We get to his computer and the screen does indeed look quite dead. My diagnosis? A loose cable. I fiddle and jiggle under the screen. That's it. The power plug was loose. The power returns, and just as I'm about to get that Lone Ranger feeling and walk off into the sunset, it becomes clear to me that the screen, though now powered, is getting no signal. How odd. I look at the computer tower. It is off.

I turn it on.

"Did you turn off the computer?" I ask the gentleman I am helping.

"I might of." He answers quietly.

I tell him the computer will take a couple minutes to log back on and then I'm on my way.

Thank you masked man.

Aw, any especially intelligent genius would have figured it out eventually...

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