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The Crazy HelpDesk

The Crazy Helpdesk

and their brave users

or how to fall in love with a computer

@n IT novel

by Tannessen and the people of MOU XII

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The Crazy HelpDesk

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The Crazy HelpDesk

for my users ;-)

‘Licence Agreement’

 The writer of this manual has worked in many Helpdesks, has answered

calls from many thousands of users, had dozens of colleagues, has worked as

and with Email Administrators, Webmasters, Programmers, Teachers, Support

Staff. Hence any resemblance with existing persons is a pure and well meant

coincidence, as only kind things can be said about them. 

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The Crazy HelpDesk

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The Crazy HelpDesk

Summary

Summary........................................................................................................................5

Switch on...................................................................................................................... 10

Start .......................................................................................................................... .... 11

The %Environnement% ............................................................................................ 14

The House .................................................................................................................... 17

The day when chaos came ..........................................................................................20

The new Helpdesk .......................................................................................................22

Chaos installs ............................................................................................................... 29

 It’s lunchtime ...............................................................................................32

The visit of the Garden gnomes ................................................................................. 39

 Make a distribution list in Outlook .....................................................................43

The good Helpdesk......................................................................................................45

FAQs Windows............................................................................................................ 52

Menu Bars................................................................................................................ 53

Toolbars ................................................................................................................... 53

Taskbar ....................................................................................................................54

 “Must I now right-click or left-click or what-click?”........................................54

Zip files, pdf files, expand & collapse .....................................................................54

It’s raining trainees .....................................................................................................56

Active Directory ......................................................................................................56

Logon.......................................................................................................................59

Change password ..................................................................................................... 65

The Key and Super User.............................................................................................67

Network, LAN, router, hub, IP address, Gateway, TCP/IP .....................................71

Tools-Options-Preferences ......................................................................................73

Registry.................................................................................................................... 73

Where are my documents? ......................................................................................... 78

A dangerous command: Save and Save As.............................................................. 78

Files and Folders......................................................................................................81

Create a new folder .................................................................................................. 82

Servers ..................................................................................................................... 83

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The Crazy HelpDesk

Shares.......................................................................................................................83

Permissions .............................................................................................................. 85

It’s lunchtime..................................................................................................85

The mystery of the E: drive .....................................................................................86

Map – because what is life without an E: drive ....................................................... 89

Where put my documents ........................................................................................90

The diabolic plan ......................................................................................................... 94

Sensitive Hardware ................................................................................................... 100

Blue screen of death............................................................................................... 103

Restart your computer............................................................................................ 104

Wrong Keyboard Driver ........................................................................................ 104

Printers stuck ......................................................................................................... 104

What’s a Driver...................................................................................................... 106

 It’s lunchtime...............................................................................................107

Network problems ................................................................................................. 111

IP-Address ............................................................................................................. 111

Sound not working................................................................................................. 113

Digital camera........................................................................................................ 114

USB-FlashDisk ...................................................................................................... 114

Icons and text too small ......................................................................................... 116

And all those cables ...............................................................................................117

Phantom users ........................................................................................................... 118

Permissions!........................................................................................................... 124

It’s lunchtime ..............................................................................................125

Show this folder as an Email address book ........................................................... 127

All work and no play................................................................................................. 131

It’s lunchtime ..............................................................................................140

A Computer romance ............................................................................................... 143

It’s lunchtime ..............................................................................................146

Logon not working ................................................................................................ 151

Wanted! The problem user ...................................................................................... 153

Black screen........................................................................................................... 154

 It’s lunchtime. ............................................................................................160

The Light.................................................................................................................... 164

Some VBScript code.............................................................................................. 166

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Show this folder as an Email address book ........................................................... 168

Properties ............................................................................................................... 169

It’s lunchtime ..............................................................................................170

The World is watching.............................................................................................. 173

Intranet & Internet ................................................................................................. 173

JavaScript............................................................................................................... 178

I love only two things in life...................................................................................... 179

Magic is needed ......................................................................................................... 188

It’s lunchtime ..............................................................................................192

Grateful users ............................................................................................................ 194

Doctor Watson in jail ................................................................................................ 202

a Tab in a table.......................................................................................................207

Copy a good text format elsewhere ....................................................................... 207

Corrupted documents............................................................................................. 208

Check Spelling as you type.................................................................................... 212

It’s lunchtime ..............................................................................................212

The midnight fair ...................................................................................................... 216

A Midnight lunch........................................................................................216

Artificial Intelligence, Biometrics .........................................................................218

Incognito Mailboxes .............................................................................................. 220

Birthday databases.................................................................................................... 223

Install a delegate Access ........................................................................................ 224

Tracking Options ................................................................................................... 228

It’s lunchtime ..............................................................................................232

A Birthday database in MS Access........................................................................ 233

Create a table ......................................................................................................... 234

Create a Form ........................................................................................................ 235

Print a Report......................................................................................................... 236

Create a Select Query in Access ............................................................................ 237

Update Query......................................................................................................... 238

Relational databases............................................................................................... 238

Web princes ............................................................................................................... 241

Learn Internet in 5 minutes.................................................................................... 241

Find a topic, save a picture of it, send the page by Email, save the link, page not

found and HTTP 404 ............................................................................................. 241

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It’s lunchtime................................................................................................246

Misty children............................................................................................................ 249

Minimum requirements for a PC ........................................................................... 253

Web crushes............................................................................................................... 260

It’s lunchtime ..............................................................................................266

@ Bracelet.................................................................................................................. 269

Instead of lunch ............................................................................................272

Search for files you can’t find................................................................................ 273

Poetic formulas .......................................................................................................... 276

Some mysterious formulas in Excel. ..................................................................... 279

Carnival......................................................................................................................286

 And some lunchtime....................................................................................295

Garden of Software ................................................................................................... 297

Digital Sender ........................................................................................................ 299

Acrobat PDF .......................................................................................................... 299

Optical Character Recognition............................................................................... 299

Image editors ......................................................................................................... 300

Audio editors ......................................................................................................... 301

Burn a CD .............................................................................................................. 302

Download sites....................................................................................................... 302

 It’s lunchtime .............................................................................................304

A Bowl of Milk........................................................................................................... 305

A tangible formula .................................................................................................... 309

It’s lunchtime ..............................................................................................311

Excel - Make a wish................................................................................................... 314

Second line in an Excel cell ................................................................................... 314

How to put an Excel table into Word..................................................................... 314

How to make a sheet fit on one page for printing..................................................315

Print the table titles on each page .......................................................................... 315

It’s lunchtime ..............................................................................................319

Make a pretty signature in Outlook ....................................................................... 319

Excel formulas. Date, String, If and more ............................................................. 321

Insert a Name for your end results......................................................................... 324

Lovely code ................................................................................................................ 325

Macros ................................................................................................................... 326

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Loop....................................................................................................................... 328

If-then-else............................................................................................................. 329

It’s lunchtime - but only an appointment yet ..............................................330

It’s lunchtime - but nothing happens...........................................................333

WordArt................................................................................................................. 333

The secret room ......................................................................................................... 335

To catch a virus ......................................................................................................... 340

Hackers, Crackers, Viruses, Spam and & ..............................................................341

How to protect your Home PC. ............................................................................. 346

An outspoken formula .............................................................................................. 348

It’s lunchtime................................................................................................354

Filter in Outlook .................................................................................................... 355

Send a distribution list to a colleague ....................................................................355

I did do nothing ......................................................................................................... 358

Save your documents ............................................................................................. 358

Extensions *.doc, *.xls .......................................................................................... 359

Some famous file extensions ................................................................................. 359

The Have Fun formula.............................................................................................. 372

Do a WebPage in 5 minutes...................................................................................... 381

How to do a webpage in five minutes....................................................................385

Track them! ............................................................................................................... 389

Prison......................................................................................................................... . 396

A free time formula................................................................................................... 402

Hide annoying codes.............................................................................................. 405

It’s lunchtime................................................................................................407

A testimony ................................................................................................................ 414

The strange attractor ................................................................................................ 421

 It’s lunchtime...............................................................................................422

Shutdown ................................................................................................................... 427

Restart ........................................................................................................................ 430

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The Crazy HelpDesk

Switch on

Desktop

Press the button

to turn

the computer on

After you’ve pushed the button your personal computer will use his microprocessor to

start a programme, the BIOS, the basic input/output system, to boot and load his operating system.

Don’t let that worry you. The OS, the operating system, is the system which operates

the computer, like the motor does a car. To express it mildly. One of those OS is

Windows. Another one is called Linux.

The PC will thus boot, slowly, slowly, feeling important, wanting to convey this

feeling to you.

Then, once the operating system is finally loaded, you can log on, by typing your

username and password, and you’ll see the Desktop appear and be ready to use the

peripherals like the printer, mouse, keyboard and run application programmes like Word, Excel, Access, Outlook, Paint Shop Pro and trillions of others.

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The Crazy HelpDesk

Start

When a user1 gets on my nerves, because I him find too slow, not up to date or of an older version, I always try to imagine what would happen if instead of dealing with

computers I’d have to knit or do something like carve gems or iron, be a goldsmith or a

jeweller, or work in mines.

Dreadful. Instead of using PC’s I’d have to use knitting needles, and I’d have to have

some manual gift. I imagine my hands holding files (metal, not logical ones) or twist

drills, hot, sticky, cramped, all red even in the effort to succeed. I’d be in tears. Imagine my weak hand holding a heavy hammer, I just couldn’t even lift it and would hit my

own thumb all the time. Typing on a keyboard or devising complicated formulas suits

be better.

I’d have to call the Iron or Gold Helpdesk. Moreover, this sort of craftsmanship would

require patience, and of this kind of patience I have none.

All the beautiful gems would come to nothing. Diamonds, gold, silver, pearls, opals,

sapphire, emeralds, rubies, topaz, would never join to become necklaces, rings,

brooches, pendants or earrings.

Each of us has a gift of his own. There are star cooks, sensei’s in martial arts, pilots for trains, planes and ships, doctors, chemists, biologists, physicians, painters, musicians, poets, singers, mothers, teachers, jewellers, iron workers, architects and informaticians.

Everyone has learned a craft, has acquired experience in it and is doing it well.

Fortunately we don’t have to know all that on top of our on job. But for the computers.

Almost everyone nowadays has to use a computer in one way or the other. We’re

dealing with computers just as Monsieur Jourdain2 was speaking in prose without knowing it. But this means doing two jobs. Doing two jobs at the same time is a lot to

ask, and knowing all about computers takes a lot of time.

People are astonished to find us so gifted for our job, but that’s because it’s our job, and we are doing it all day long. The big difference with computers is that almost

everyone who works in an office has to use them all the time, whereas we in our job do

not need to write long reports, or devise law, nor do we have to translate or take steno or organise our bosses agenda or do one of all the many other office jobs you can

imagine. But God help those who are not as good with computers as they are for their

own job.

So those people can turn to the Computer Helpdesk for help. The Helpdesk is there for

1 The Glossary at the end of the book explains the term

2 Moliere's - The Bourgeois Gentleman

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The Crazy HelpDesk

all people who do not have eight hours a day to know Computers from A to Z. The

Helpdesk has to see that their users get working computers, well flowing programmes,

all of which will allow them to work more quickly, efficiently and with less errors.

Now I can hear you laugh with some spite and you will say that this is not the case at

all and that PC’s are not always working, that Email falls down several times a week

and is often slower than the postman. You are going to say that computer programmes

instead of helping you are a permanent source of trouble and seem to do everything in

their power to keep you from working.

You are going to tell me that basic things like the logon to your PC in the morning take an hour, and that even to type a simple letter in Word you must call the Helpdesk

because you get an error message before you have even started to type.

Carl Sagan says that we live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and

technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.

Computers claim to make peoples lives easier but in many ways they rather poison

them. One day you will come and hang us computer people like the French peasantry

did with their aristocrats.

At this point, I may have joined the side of the enemy. Things have gotten out of hand.

I believed that computers were going to help you, now I sometimes have the

impression we have to protect you from them. As well as we can.

Because even the Computer Helpdesk has a limit, which might not be passed, a

situation against which it is helpless, which it can’t handle, and that is Chaos.

This is the story about the day Chaos came and the strange events that followed its

apparition.

You call us IT people magicians sometimes; at least this has been said to me and my

colleagues quite a lot. And since we are magicians, you believe we can convey our

knowledge to you just by magic, just by some formula. You do not believe us when we

say we can’t, and suspect us of being stingy. Wanting to keep all this for ourselves.

You say:

“Magician! How do you do it! Tell us how. We’re sure you could, if you only would.”

But we were plain sure we couldn’t just give you our knack with computers just by

chanting some formula. But when chaos went really bad, and when we were really

desperate too, when we felt we really could need some magic ourselves, we decided to

try.

“Magician! How do you do it?”

Ok. You’ve asked for it. I don’t know about the magic, but this is how we do it.

The book also strives to contain many of the most fashionable FAQs, but those change

of course. A specific command doing the same thing will be slightly or very different

from one version of the same software to the other. It changes all the time. This might

make it a bit of a one night stand, but we hope to leave you with the spirit and wish that the underlying principles might stay with you.

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The Crazy HelpDesk

Most of it is easy, but if you don’t understand something in this manual don’t even try.

If you see an apparently complicated formula or script then don’t worry. Take it

‘automagically’. Sit back, don’t do anything, RELAX.

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The Crazy HelpDesk

The %Environnement%

There was once a big, powerful computer, very beautiful, and his pretty little wife, very mighty too. They were reigning over a big park of PC's and were very, very happy.

Their only secret sorrow was ..

Bohatia, the country we are living in, is rather small. There only 150.000 inhabitants or so. Small but rich. Of course. Imagine something like San Marino, Liechtenstein or

Malta. Not quite as small as San Marino, not quite as big as Malta. Though it is neither of those. Ah you can Search Reader, all over your Hard and Floppy disks, CD’s or

DVD’s, google it up, we just cannot let you find out.

On a map, the country is more difficult to find than a file in the Hidden Folders of

Windows XP. It lies at a deeper level than even the sombre OLKxxx folder where

Outlook disposes an attachement you open from within an email message. You may

know about Bohatia, but you won’t know you know.

It is quite a pretty country, with a landscape of hills and a curious formation of a

multitude of grey rocks and high mountains at its borders. The rocks are elegant, sort of well-designed, and there are lots of rivers and little lakes and one quite big one.

Contemporary technology and architecture have made it up to date and fit for our

modern world. Bridges large and small, tunnels cutting through the rocks, tiny landing

stages and piers at their feet make it easy to walk around in. With all those rocks and

hills and the country being small there is not so much space left for living. It was

advocated by the authorities not to spend too much money on cars and so people drive

around in small electric vehicles and motorcycles, bicycles, roller skates, go carts,

skateboards or go by foot. Thus traffic here was a dream for those of us who came

from big cities like Paris, Buenos Aires, New York, Sidney or Tokyo.

All in all it is a really pretty little country; but maybe the weather is not too good.

Indeed for those who come from the South it rains a bit too much, and because of the

rivers and ponds, there is a lot of mist. Misty days in Bohatia are common. One could

say it was a country where one could not see quite through things most of the time.

Was this, like in some programmes, ‘ by Design’?

Bohatia is rich and modern, equipped with ADSL and solar heating and windmills

producing electricity, but it is also very old fashioned in some of its ways, because it is a Principality. Indeed, we have a Prince. Prince Martin. He is quite young too, and very

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The Crazy HelpDesk

good looking and still not married, so that the girls can dream. His father, Prince Justin, has given the job over to him.

Bohatia’s inhabitants come from many countries, joined in one single task: Work.

We’re immigrants, and indeed there are almost no natives in Bohatia except those few

kids which have been born there since its ‘creation’ not very long ago. The few people

who were already living there when we all came are a rather small, well-built and

proud folk. It is a few thousands of them only, and their means of living is mostly of

two kinds. One half is keeping wilds Goats. You could see them wandering around

everywhere. The other half are Goldsmiths. Of course there was remaining minority

which took care of the needs of daily life. Like bakers and doctors and librarians and

so. Since there were not enough people to do all of those jobs, most Bohatians had two

or even three of them.

Obviously those few natives considered themselves sort of invaded, but they took it

well. It was a tolerant folk who still believed in honesty and would still reward good

deeds.

Of the older inhabitants, and the country’s history, not much is known. A people, who

lived there up to the 14th century, but then mysteriously disappeared. No one knew

were they come from, no one knew were they left to. There were only speculations.

Archaeologists have searched and dug, but did not find out much about them, no old

dwellings, no pictures, no graves... (Were they immortal maybe and have never died?)

From the few findings, it seems that this old folk worked on gold and metal, and

precious gems. They must have been making a quite impressive good living out of the

gold and the gems that had once been here. Of the gold nothing seems to remain now,

even if from time to time someone comes looking for it. At any rate the more ancient

populace disappeared, probably together along with the last gem and gold nugget.

One thing we can be sure of: they liked to drink, jugging by the rather huge quantity of finely wrought goblets of all kinds that were found. Of those, there were many, so

many that they were sold at quite cheap prices, and so I have one of them standing in

my living room.

The old people left, and the new folk or the few of their later offspring resorted to goat keeping or jewellery. Prince Justin’s father had called big mining companies to import

their raw jewels to Bohatia. Jewels were now brought in from all over the world and

transformed and assembled into necklaces, bracelets, earrings of a rare beauty. Those

were jewels for the very rich ones only, to expensive even for our rather good salary.

But the ‘White Gold’, as the local goat cheese was called, was excellent too, and easy

to afford. The friendly goats producing it were walking relatively freely around, and

sometimes we could see one or two of them wandering by our offices.

Tales or rather now almost legends circulated affectionately among us new ones, like

some thought the old people were still there, living sort of invisible among us, or

having retreated into the grounds, into the depths of the caverns and mountains which

surrounded Bohatia. Every now and then someone claimed to have seen one of them,

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The Crazy HelpDesk

and even if it was a joke, the descriptions were strikingly similar: Small but strongly

build men, with serious faces, and always a beard.

Of course, even those who had claimed to have had a glimpse of one of this folk, joked

about this themselves, maybe because they hadn’t wanted to believe their own eyes,

maybe because they had no wish to be held for slightly deranged.

When you fly over Bohatia you will perceive the rocks and mountains of course, and

the lakes, but you’ll also see a lot of windows, in which the rocky landscape seems

mirrored endlessly. This is where we work. It is the House.

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The House

The House is a large place, it could be government or finance, research or profit, but in fact it’s rather all of this. It could be any large organisation, your place even, if it’s a fairly large place.

But the name of the place too must remain secret all along this booklet, because we’re

not allowed to talk or write about it in public without official permission. So let’s just call it ‘The House’. Let’s say it’s the House of Science. And if ever you guessed its

name right then we would kindly ask you, the reader, to remain silent and share the

secret with us.

Because I do not wish to be harsh on my House, I only wish to convey its magic to

you. So should you find out, never tell, not even to your best friend, otherwise the

magic will stop working. And then the House sure is full of secrets.

The House is huge, extending over several hundreds of meters up and down the

mountains and along the river and around the lake. It’s made out off at least twenty

buildings, joined by bridges mainly, but also just leaning against each other.

The paths which join the buildings seem in perpetual movement. Sometimes one of

them is just closed and one has to take a large roundabout route to reach his usual

place, sometimes one of them opens unexpectedly and we can then cross to another

building with more ease.

It is a labyrinth, three dimensional, and sometimes when you had to go to what seemed

only one floor up you had to for instance first go south and walk along a long corridor, then turn west, walk a few meters, take an elevator down to the ground floor, walk

another two hundred meters, take a stair flight up, turn east, walk some hundred paces,