Friday, 25 February 2005

The Height of IT Illiteracy

I work for an ICT department in a local Council. This means that even though we do not any technical support (this is outsourced), we are the first contact of the users (lawyers, who are apparently notoriously IT phobics) when they have a problem with their PCs.

A few month ago, they hired a new person. A guy who is probably about 150 years old by the looks of him. I am sure he is a perfectly good lawyer (I hope anyway), the proof being that they have just promoted him team leader. The problem is, this guy would not recognise a computer if it hit him in the face. Now don't get me wrong, I am not trying to say here that this has something to do with his age. My own mother, who is over 70 years old, has recently, gone to a few classes on how to use Word before boldly buying a computer and is now regularly sending me emails. She also does here genealogy things with the thing and is considering buying a digital camera. Of course she is not proficient but she is the proof that you can do it if you want.

When we get a new user, we usually dedicate half an hour to train them on our case management system (a database) and to explain to them how the shared drives work. And this is more than enough for most people. This guy required more than a day's training. That is when we guessed that there might be a slight problem. They sent him to an internal course called "discovering PCs" or something like that, introducing people to the use of a PC. That is when we started receiving phone calls for this guy, asking us (wait for it) how to send emails. We explained it to him, told him to take notes on how to do it but that did not prevent my colleague to have to go to this guy's office one day to sent an email to.... himself.

Thinks seem finally to improve after we complained to our managers who probably had a word. I don't know. We had a distinct feeling that the guy was not cooperating fully in the process (he was even rude sometimes on the phone, complaining how the whole thing was a waste of his time and swearing in the process).

That was until this morning that is. Yesterday, a big-ish office move took place in th building with people swapping desks and sometimes computers (keeps people busy I guess!). (there was a bit of drama there already with a locum (temp) lawyer, refusing to move, blatantly lying sevral time in the process, (no manager was, of course, willing to make a decision to force her to move) and then moaning that she felt undervalued because a permanent member of staff had requested to sit where she finally agreed to want to sit and because she had not been consulted on the subject. That got my adrenaline going I can tell you. Especially as I was asked at the last minute to oversee the move.

Going back to our lawyer friend. he was part of the move yesterday and find himself in a new office with new computer (which had been in this office all along). This morning, he rang the facility manager complaining that the "bit that goes on the floor" (the tower) was missing and that his computer was not connected properly. You can probably see the punchline coming now. I told the facility manager who had rang me, that I could bet the base unit would be on the desk, under the screen. And guess what: it was!

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