Computers are like people. It’s tough to see because most of them don’t have belly buttons or opposable thumbs. Even fewer grow hair or toenails, and they’re not particularly appreciative of good music (on Friday I played Gold Digger about 15 times on my computer, and NOT ONCE did I catch it singing along, any real person couldn’t resist.)
But computers must be like people, because when they do something stupid like erase a file, force us to restart, or lose a network connection—when computers do something we don’t like, we treat them like people.
We talk to them: "Um, Computer…could you load any slower?!"
We yell at them: "No You loser! Give me my files back!"
We insult them behind their backs: "I don’t have my homework. My stupid computer lost everything!"
And occasionally, when they come through in the end, we forgive them : "Oh Thank you thank you thank you!"
Because another difference between computers and people is that computers have no feelings, computers are easy to blame. Maybe you spilled hot coffee on it, or your roommate tripped on the network cable, or you’re still running windows ’98 – 1898, that is. No matter whose fault it really is, we can always yell at our computer, guilt free…
But yelling at a computer around here might actually hurt someone’s feelings. All day I use products like Windows, Office, Messenger, and Spaces (obviously). And occasionally, I run into a problem. My first instinct is to raise my fist and start yelling “You stupid &#@*! Computer!” And then I remember that the person in charge of that feature might work down the hall, next door, or even be me.
Working here has taught me that it’s more effective to send a polite email, make a quick phone call, or chat with someone over lunch about what may have gone wrong. 99% of the time, I find out that
a) The problem was my fault. The help files explain it all.
b) Yes, it’s a known issue that someone is fixing it
c) Yes, it’s a known problem, but it needs to stay that way because of some trade off until a better model is found.
The other 1% of the time, I get to hear someone say “Ooops! Good point.” and even if my file is forever lost, or my new favorite custom emoticon is gone, getting that response always makes me feel pretty smart. Smart enough that I want to find more problems – and let someone know.
Now, when something isn’t behaving the way I want, Microsoft product or no, I can calm down a bit, remembering that computers (and their applications) are like people – like the passionate people who build them.
If you need help:
1) Go to the Help menu and select Help Topics. Search for your answer.
If you don’t find the answer you seek
2) Click on Help…Send Feedback and select contact Customer Support
If you don’t get a response fast …
3) email email@example.com. We’ll try to hook you up. We’re happy to help (unless the answer is easy to find in Help. that’s what its there for 🙂
If you have feedback
1) Make a comment on the blog. Ryan – an intern in the London office is collecting all your comments regularly. (I know, he’s british, and a hip MS intern, he must have a hopin’ social life)
2) Click on Help…Send Feedback. We have people who collect all these comments and share the information out to the our team.
3) email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a general non-technical question, a blog post idea, or general thoughts about life, love, messenger, blogging, or the color orange:
1) Leave a comment!
2) Email email@example.com and again, we’ll do our best to respond.