linux-l: [unix] Userology

Andreas Kotes count at
Mi Sep 30 17:10:03 CEST 1998

Mal was zum schmunzeln ;)

  der Count

----- Forwarded message -----
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 16:29:02 +0200 (CEST)
From: Mark-Jan Bastian <markjan at>
To: Undisclosed recipients:;
Subject: [unix] Userology


	   On Different Kinds of Users and How to Spot Them

The Common Idiot
The basic user. Mostly just sits in front of its monitor and drools
over some pornsite.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "Machine no work."
      S: "What's wrong with it?"
      U: "Machine no work."
      S: "Ok. Which machine do you use?"
      U: "Machine no work."
      S: "Right, I heard you. Where is your machine?"
      U: "Machine no work!"
      S: "*sigh* I'll come with you back to your room."
      U: "Machine no work?"
      S: "Go back to room."
      U: "Go back. Room."

   Frequency of appearance:
      *Much* too often.

   Suggested treatment:

The Mumbler on the Treshold
Appears at the sysadmin's doorstep and speaks very, very softly.
Sometimes it's possible to get it to speak up a little. Very often,
it'll go away at the slightest provocation.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "mumblemumblenetscapemumblemumblemumble"
      S: "Excuse me?"
      U: "mumblemumblemubleservicepackmumble"
      S: "Sorry, I can't hear you."
      U: "...can't start Netscape..."
      S: "Try clicking on the Netscape icon."
      U: "mumblemumblemumblemumblemumblemumble"

   Frequency of appearance:
      Much too often.

   Suggested treatment:

The Rabid Guesser
Barges into the sysadmin's room and starts spouting nonsense, usually
in a quite aggressive fashion. Has picked up a technical term or two
somehow, and blames everything on those terms.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "You have to do something about the collisions on the SCSI
      S: "What?"
      U: "It can't go on like this, you must fix it, now!"
      S: "What was the problem again?"
      U: "The SCSI doesn't work, that's what. And it's slow."
      S: "How can it be slow if it doesn't work?"
      U: "I don't know, you're the expert, not I."
      S: "What's the problem?"
      U: "It's slow. Didn't you listen when I told you?"
      S: "*What* is slow?"
      ...and so on until the sysadmin grows tired, follows the user to 
      its workplace and discovers that it has pulled the network cable 
      out of the workstation. Why it started talking about SCSI is
      never revealed.

   Frequency of appearance:
      Much too often.

   Suggested treatment:

The Economist
This is a *really* nasty one.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "So, what are the options for the new server?"
      S: "Well, first we have the Dungheap MT. It's larger than our
          computer room, needs the Niagara Falls to power it, it's
          ugly, it laughs evilly if you get too close to its console,
          it reeks of brimstone, Greenpeace and Exxon have made a
          joint statement cursing the moment it was created, it's
          illegal to import to most of the civilised world, it has a
          habit of sending nasty email to CEOs, its mother was a
          hamster and its father smelled of elderberries. And it
          doesn't do what we need anyway. Secondly, we have the
	  Frotzpock 3000. It's small, elegant, doubles as a coatrack,
	  draws its power from the Earth's magnetic field, it sings
	  cute little songs, spreads happiness wherever it goes,
	  cleans the floor, washes the dishes, rubs your back, reminds 
	  you of your wife's birthday, does everything we need
	  perfectly and without error and it only costs $5 more than
	  the Dungheap."
      U: "Ah, the choice is clear, then. We go with the Dungheap MT."
      S: "WHAT?!"
      U: "Well, you *did* say it is cheaper, didn't you?"

   Frequency of appearance:
      A handful per company, usually.

   Suggested treatment:
      Take off and nuke the site from orbit (it's the only way to be sure).

The Firm Believer in Trade Magazines
May be difficult to tell apart from the Common Idiot, but the
differences will be apparent if it ever ends up in a discussion about
what sort of equipment to purchase.

   Typical dialogue:
      S: " you see that the Frotzpock is the natural choice for us."
      U: "I read a very bad review of the Frotzpock in a trade
          magazine. The reviewers had great problems opening the box
	  it came in."
      S: "Well, that won't be a problem for us. I *do* know how to
          open cardboard boxes."
      U: "They much preferred the Dungheap 89. That one didn't need
          any stupid box, it just oozed in under the door."
      S: "Er, the Dungheap doesn't even do what we need the new
          machine for."
      U: "...and DungUser Magazine said that the new version's father
          only smelled *slightly* of elderberries!"

   Frequency of appearance:
      Much too often.

   Suggested treatment:

The Incessant Talker
Appears at the sysadmin's door, starts describing some sort of problem 
and just never stops. 

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "Hello I hope I'm not interrupting you I have this problem
          you see I can't print pictures from Netscape anymore even
	  though I could do that yesterday and the day before and even
	  the day before that but not last Wednesday for some reason I 
	  think it may have had something to do with the blackout that 
	  day don't you printers don't usually work very well without
	  electricity do they neither do computers for that matter I
	  couldn't log in at all until the power came back I must have 
	  tried at least a million times I think well maybe not quite
	  that many but ten thousand at least my keyboard was all worn 
	  down so I couldn't see what it said on the keys any more so
	  the day after I went down to Office Supplies to get a new
	  one and they said I couldn't just get one I had to fill in a 
	  form first have you heard anything that stupid don't they
	  realise that I'm very important to the company and do a lot
	  of valuable work here without me nothing would get done I
	  tell you and of course I told them in no uncertain terms but 
	  they just wouldn't listen to me and kept insisting that I
	  needed that stupid form so in the end I went to get a form
	  but discovered that in order to get the form you had to send 
	  a mail to someone and I couldn't send mail since my keyboard 
	  didn't work can you believe that eventually after two days I 
	  managed to type out the mail using only my nose you can't
	  believe how hard that was it took almost a whole day and
	  after I sent the mail I was told that I didn't really have
	  to send it anyway since our departement has a stack of those 
	  forms lying in the tray between the printer and the copying
	  machine so I went over to Bob and asked him hey Bob do you
	  know where we keep the printer and the copying machine and
	  he told me that he thought they were being repaired at the
	  moment so I couldn't use them anyway but I told him that I
	  weren't going to use them I just wanted to know where they
	  were so that I could go here and get..."

   Frequency of appearance:
      Much too common.

   Suggested treatment:
      Let it be. It's fairly easy to ignore, and as long as it's there 
      no other users can get in.

The Fixer
Suffers from the delusion that it is capable of fixing problems by
itself, thus turning mishaps into fullblown disasters. Often
masquerades as a sysadmin.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "The mailserver was running slowly, so I thought I'd have a
          look at it. I saw that it was really busy relaying mail, so
	  I thought I'd remove some old processes that nobody used any 
	  more. But as soon as I killed this really old process kalled 
	  'init' the machine crashed!"

   Frequency of appearance:
      Much too common.

   Suggested treatment:

The Drone With The Write-Once Brain
A fact once got stuck in its brain. Since then it uses said fact for

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "My machine is slow. There is a large process running on my
          system. Kill it." 
      S: "Um, that's your X server. Do you *really* want me to kill
          that? And it's not really that big, it's just fake memory."
      U: "Yes. Kill it."

      <Next day>

      U: "My machine has crashed. There must be a large process
          running. Kill it."
      S: "How would I do that if the machine has crashed?"
      U: "Yes. Kill it."

      <The day after that>

      U: "My machine is on fire. There must be a large process
          running. Kill it."
      S: "Don't you think it'd be better to call the fire brigade?"
      U: "Yes. Kill it."

   Frequency of appearance:
      Much too common.

   Suggested treatment:

The User
If you find one of these, consider yourself *very* lucky.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "Excuse me?"
      S: "Yes?"
      U: "I have a slight problem. I hope I'm not interrupting you?"
      S: "Not at all. What's the problem?"
      U: "It's the BogoGraphics package. I'm trying to use one of the
          new functions in version three, but I can't get it to work.
	  I've checked that there is enough memory, the permissions on 
	  all the files look correct and I installed it exactly
	  according to the instructions in the README file. I do get
	  an error message. It's not very informative, but I wrote it
	  down for you anyway. I tried looking it up in the manual,
	  but it's not there. And the FAQ doesn't say anything about
	  version three yet. Do you think you could have a look at it?"
      S: "Marry me!"

   Frequency of appearance:
      Believed to be mythical.

   Suggested treatment:
      Don't let him/her get away!

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