The Crazy Helpdesk by Tanja Peikert - HTML preview

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For the Helpdesk it was a major drama. They had had no say on the moment or way of

the move, it had just been done, they had had no say about the installation of the ‘new’

network, it had just been - not - installed correctly. Many people were without any

network at all, not linked to the rest of the staff, others had been placed on the wrong domain, which meant they were with a connection but which was not working. Like

their PC was configured initially for domain of old MOU XI tried to access network

resources for a domain of new MOU XII with a user account of domain of old


The authorities seemed not to care, and to suppose, as authorities always do, that the

little ones would take care of everything. Ah but doing the impossible! How easy this

seems to the one who does not have to do it himself. Organisation was not only bad, it

was entirely lacking.

No one who has not lived and gone through such a situation, will you say, but I, who

was as old as the House itself, I tell you, I had never, and had never even imagined

such a thing was possible. Images of those Mandelbrot sets were soon flowing soon

through our minds, as each of us was juggling permanently with at least 4 balls, like a

PC, an Email, a user, a programme. Benoit Mandelbrot’s ‘ strange attractor’ had taken the power and reigned over the MOU with his unpredictable Zero. No One had taken

the power.

Mathematical Knots became the Helpdesk’s daily bread. The search for order in a

disordered system can be very distracting-engrossing for those who play it as a game,

but for the Helpdesk, having to untie it in a real place it felt rather distracting-

distressing. There had to be some order no? Repeating z=z^2+c up to N times, would

they find an order? Was not Chaos the essence of order? Where was the limit of this

chaotic trajectory?

In the meantime the users, not seeing things nicely, that is in ways of z=z^2+c,

continued to be furious about their situation. After the first astonishment, bewilderment

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and rage, depression and gloominess settled in. And depression was not a good thing in

a time of the year where workload was at its peak.

Workers and movers continued their odyssey along the corridors, but one month later

nothing seemed to have been done. Au contraire, it was worse then ever. The Public Health and Consumer Security Officers was called to pay a visit by some Anonymous,

who surely didn’t want his name to be revealed. They inspected the buildings closely,

wrote a report and left not to be seen again. At least not in the near future.

Offices had no numbers, so users were not to be found, offices had no phone, so users

could not call them, nor could Helpdesk call them, offices had not network, so users

couldn’t even use their PC to write an Email. No network, no Email. Worse, half of the

people, due to the split, were new, and the Helpdesk hadn’t even got a list of their

names. They were supposed to give them a logon and an Email; but how would were

they to do this, not knowing their names. Worse, they had to put them into

departments, in their Email and Windows 2000 user databases, but they did not have

the name of the departments. Those had not been decided upon yet. Moreover; the

people coming from MOU VII had not even wanted to come. So they sort of hid. They

were dealing with users without a face, with phantom users. Ghosts. Ghosts doing the work now. What a fright.

Gwendoline wrote an Email to Hilde, it was almost tear-streaked:

“One thing must be said which can console us: Donatello. The man who holds the

newspaper shop at the ground floor of the Curie building. He is ever so nice and wise,

I’m so happy that at least he stayed with us.”

Hilde answered:

“Of course, Tello. You’re right, he has sort of a Buddhist quality about him. Lucky us.”

And Gwendoline answered:

“There is someone who has made a little joke, and has replaced the sign ‘Cafeteria’ by

‘Tello’. I think he might well be the best liked person at the MOU.”

And Hilde answered:

“And what does he say of this whole mess?”

And Gwendoline, coming into Hilde’s office, which was just to her right, declared:

“Oh, not much, you know, he’s a listener.”

A friendship was born.

 It’s lunchtime

But even the most brave need food from time to time and Hilde stole away to lunch

with one of some of her best users, which she all knew from previous MOU’s:

Penelope, Jenny, the two Emma’s and Julia. Penelope was not Greek, but from Malta,

Jenny was South-African, Emma I and II were French and Julia was half German half

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Icelander. They had planned to go to the Flower Bar, which was not too far. In

principle Josepha, a much liked Director was to join them too, but she didn’t.

Penelope, her secretary had seen her enter the elevator before her, because she herself

had still be hanging on the phone, and Josepha had said:

“I’ll go and see so that the others don’t wonder where we stay.”

Penelope and Hilde had taken the elevator just after her and thought they would

already find her seated when they arrived. But no. The little group sat down with their

drinks and wondered where Josepha was remaining, her usually being so reliable.

Penelope took some of their stress away by making them all laugh. She was telling her

colleague-friends that this morning she had discovered her garden-gnome gone and

with him her neighbours wheelbarrow. It sure was a mysterious thing. Who would care

to steel a garden dwarf?

“Maybe he got mad at me,” said Penelope. “What have I done?”

But Emma, better informed than the rest of them, told them it must have been the

FLNJ, le ‘Front de Liberation des Nains de Jardin’, the Garden Gnome Liberation

Front. An underground movement. Young people who strove to free garden dwarfs of

their hideous exploitation by the bourgeoisie. FLNJ claimed garden gnomes had a soul,

and must be respected just as human beings were, and not oppressed, standing around

doing nothing, imprisoned in the garden of their slave masters. They even had a hit

song: “Let’s free the gnomes”.

Often an impressive series of sometimes hundreds of those garden dwarfs were found

standing in groups deep in some Forests. The movement, which had apparently started

in France, had become international and now covered whole Europe, Australia and

America. Some of the dwarfs had even sent postcards from faraway countries to their

old ‘masters’. The gnomes liberators have lot’s of websites, one of them is

“This means more money for the gnome makers, it’s such a flourishing industry”, said

Emma, with a slight smirk in her face that showed what she thought of garden dwarfs.”

She was a modern woman, and thought garden gnomes petit bourgeois and tasteless.

“Did you receive a demand for ransom?” asked Julia.

“No,” said Penelope, subdued. She had really liked her gnome.

Josepha still hadn’t shown up, nor had she phoned or used her mobile to say why. It

was not like her.

“Maybe she went away for a well deserved holiday with your garden dwarf,” said

Julia, smiling, to Penelope.

But Penelope did not seem to find that funny, but appeared ridden with sombre

forebodings. She managed a strangled laughter:

“I’m quite sure it was my dwarf, and I’m quite sure something is wrong.”

After that, they did not wonder anymore, but had some sandwiches with their drinks.

Emma I told long fascinating shopping stories, Julia about her new House, Emma II

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about her new boyfriend(s). Hilde bit her fingers because she was thinking of how she

would enter all those users of which she hadn’t a name yet in her database and put

them into security groups which had not yet been defined nor named either.

“Those FLNJ people must be a bit mad,” said Jenny coming back to the gnome topic.

But she was grinning. She liked Penelope, but she was among those who thought

garden gnomes very bad taste.

“In a way I can understand them,“ said Julia, and one couldn’t know for sure of whom

she was talking.

“Dwarfs are a symbol for wealth and prosperity. Legends say they can be unexpectedly

generous, if they take a liking to you. Though the reasons for this can be mysterious,”

said Emma I.

“Garden gnomes are indeed a symbol for success or a good luck charm. For sure this

obsession with garden dwarfs is due to our wish for the wonderful, for work to be done

for us by night, while we sleep. We need to populate our world with friendly spirits,

just as the ancients did. It is our childish belief in magic, our wishful thinking that

things could mend by some superior helpful force,” said Jenny.

“What a Philosopher you are. But I admire your common sense in the attempt to

explain the bizarre.”

“Why? You believe in magic?”

“Magicians would indeed be needed here at the moment,” said Emma I, sarcastically.

”This can’t go on. We’ll all go crazy, if this goes on.”

“Yes this morning I almost left the house with two different shoes, searched for my

keys at least ten minutes and now I almost forgot my bosses birthday,” confirmed Julia.

”I am not only GETTING crazy. I am ALREADY crazy. I could really do with some

therapy or rather even some magic.”

“Who believes in magic?”

“Well we have one of the crowd sitting among us,” said the gentle Emma II to Hilde’s

intention. Hilde gave her a grateful smile, she loved being called a magician. Of

course, there is reason to be happy about such a compliment.

Everyone likes compliments. I do not wish to appear conceited, nor vain, but I do think

I bear the palm for IT compliments. But don’t tell anyone about this, the others might

be a bit jealous. But adages as ‘Magician. Wizard. Miracle.’ are common sayings about

me too. The whole of CHD is good, they each have an excellent understanding of their

own field, and there are quite a lot of Super Users at the House. But I might be the best, the one who secretly knows it all. It’s not that I want my value to be recognised, I

know my value. Those who know about my gift call me ‘The Master’. But it’s not

official. Not really. They just feel it. They call me ‘Angel’ too. I think everyone here likes me, just as I like everyone. People are really nice, that is, most of the time.

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“Thank you. But in those hard times, some ancient and real magic would be indeed

welcome. Maybe we could call some dwarfs for help,” said Hilde. “They know how to

work and get things running.”

For the next days, this became a common joke among them: whenever something went

wrong or was missing, they would put Penelope’s dwarf at fault. He had done it.

Someone had to be guilty of all this mess.

A short hour later they went back to their offices and Penelope of course expected to

see Josepha there, giving her some plausible explanation or to see her appear later in

the afternoon. But Josepha did not reappear, maybe she had been entered as a record in

Hilde’s yet non existing user database.

And Josepha did not reappear the next morning either, nor did she the following day.

Penelope went through her agenda a hundred times, and let her little help, Tessa, do the same thing to double-check, but there were no meetings, nothing to be seen on

Josepha’s agenda which could explain her not reappearing. She wasn’t at her home in

Bohatia, she didn’t answer her mobile phone, Penelope even called her on her usual

holiday location, but got no answer there either. And the morning after it was still the same.

Penelope sensed something was very, very wrong.

Security was called to inquire if anyone had seen her. No. No one had. Security did not

worry at first, typically. Penelope had started calling everyone who might know

Josepha. First inside the House, then outside the House, then outside the country. Her

boyfriend, her sister, her brother, her ex-husband, her baker, her dentist, her gardener.

But no one had seen her, for now a week.

Security finally took this seriously and went around the house. First to interrogate all her personnel, staff without yet names not included, but maybe that was a mistake,

finally sending a general Email to everyone, but no answer about her whereabouts


Finally they even put up posters and searched the building from top to bottom.

But the elevator seemed to have swallowed her. It was true that those elevators were

not working most of the time, but this went a bit far. After that, for a time, people took the steps in all cases, elevator working or not.

The posters stayed there for a few weeks, showing Josepha Laperm on one of the

visitors chairs in her office. She had soft and light-red hair, large expressive green eyes, slightly slanting. It was almost palpable that she was affectionate and liked human

beings and vice-versa. She looked relaxed and comfortable, but one could sense she

must have elegant and feline like movements.

The consequences of the split and re-merge of the MOU’s were disastrous. Traumatic.

Endless series of movers wandered up and down the staircases and the corridors in

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long chains, laden with boxes, chairs, cupboards and looked like centipedes. But

nothing seemed to get done. People were running wild in the corridors and bumping

into each other at each corner, spilling coffee and heaps of paper on each other and on

the floor. Many of them now wore blue red green and yellow bruises on our front heads

because of that, some were limping, two had even broken an arm and a leg. Those two

fortunate ones could leave for some extended ‘sick leave’ if one does not want to call it vacation. Those were the ways of the House.

How had it come about? No one wanted to explain or say. Probably political motives

underlay this decision. So that quickly some of the old powers could be settled?

Securing old powers against new ones? Myra imagined one phone call, from a

mysterious ‘decision maker’, to Jack Owl, the now new director of the new MOU XII:

“Hi Jack! It’s me. How about having a MOU?”

“Oh yes why not. I’ve just got some time on my hands. When? In ten minutes, down at

the Peacock Bar?”

“With milk and sugar?”

“No, I take it strong.”

Well at least, Myra thought privately, Jacques Owl was very good looking. And he had

a very nice smile. And he seemed smart too.

Would the new Director, Jack Owl, manage to organise the MOU and give it a good

workflow, make it happy? Unhesitatingly, Micha, his assistant, said: Yes!

But the consequences of this ten minute coffee were unforeseen, even to its makers. If

there had been makers. Nothing was less sure.

The network people, which were not the Helpdesk people from MOU XI and XII, but

from MOUIT, had mixed things up too. They were used to having the network domain

names correspond to the MOU names, which were numbers. So they put people

supposed to be in new domain XI into old domain XI and people supposed to be in new

domain XII into old domain XII. In all possible combinations except the right one.

Let’s not talk of old and new MOU VII. Adding to all this confusion they just made a

lot of mistakes. One would imagine it was easy to just connect a specific network

socket in a specific office to some specific network domain. Just like in a phone

central, one just allocated a phone number to a certain name. Ah but what is ever

difficult, if you don’t do it yourself. If one tries to understand the split at page 20 it’s

become obvious it was almost impossible to get things right.

 And if you don’t want to know what a domain is, or don’t understand, don’t worry, just relax, just catch the attitude towards it, because anyway, things will anyway have

changed again in a few weeks. Only one thing will remain, the PANG! You’ll hear

about it later from Myra. 

Alexandra Lexi was driven to sheer madness by having to re and re-organize hundreds

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of moves of PC’s and printers twice a day and especially moves of missing printers and

PC’s. They just hadn’t arrived into the office they were supposed to go to and some of

them remained lost forever. But how could someone work without PC or Printer? It

would go on and on.

“It’s an endless story,” she said to Maurice.

“Exactly! And the users, the new Software for user management – AD for Active

Directory - calls them ‘OBJECTS’ in the same line as PC’s and printers. As if someone

wanted to give the impression they were worthless.”

Hilde let out what was almost a shriek: “What! Worthless! Objects! Our users who

work so hard! What a dangerous mentality. Where will that lead to!”

“Exactly!” said Maurice

No one knew what to do anymore nor to whom to turn. Everyone was running and no

one knew where to. Penelope repeated it was all her dwarf’s fault, or rather his

disappearance. Using her neighbour’s wheelbarrow he was now carrying everything he

could to the most wrong place possible.

User were calling by the hundreds, many of them didn’t even seem to know how to

logon anymore: they insisted their password had been five asterisks, like

or Num Lock was off and they were using the numeric keypad to enter the numbers

their password contained, or they did not remember to check if they were in Caps Lock

or if the name written on the screen was really their own.

Most of the time, it was true, it wasn’t, because of all those moves. But by the time that had finally noticed it was not their own it was too late: their user account was locked out by too many password trials and CHD had to log them in again. Ok this would not have been so much of a problem, hadn’t it been for the sheer quantity of it. Others

seemed to have forgotten that a computer and a printer had to be switched on in order

to work, they insisted they had done this, and that the Helpdesk had to come by to

check what was wrong. When the same Helpdesk came they had to realise that users

had not even tried to look at the problem more closely. They just sat there stunned and

pointed helplessly at their computer. Things had gotten out of hand, users were found

crying at their desk, unable to move, but crying for help just because they needed to

express some damage, unknown to themselves. Someone had to help. Of course the

first thought went to the computer, but even the basics seemed to be forgotten now.

So Helpdesk’s first question quickly became:

“Is your computer switched on?”

And the second:

“Are you sure?”

“Hm. How do I know?”

“Is there a light somewhere in the front of the PC?

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“Hm. No. How do I know? Can’t you come and have a look?”

Why was this suddenly happening? Because the Helpdesk had no means to take care

of their users properly anymore, and so they reacted as every child would towards an

all of a sudden careless parent, not doing his duty anymore: they became demanding,

regressed, and asked that even the most simple thing were done for them. Should

Helpdesk put on their drapers for them from now on? Hold their mouse and do all the

clicks? Tell them again and again what a logon and a logoff was? CHD quickly

realised many users had no idea of what that meant. For a logoff, which did not take a

lot of time, a user just had to choose:

‘Start – Shutdown – Logoff’, but instead of that he chose: ‘Start – Shutdown – Restart’.

In a way users were right: this command sounded like nonsense.

Everyone had a creepy sense of foreboding, a funny feeling at the pit of his stomach,

something just had to happen. Hilde wished for Penelope’s garden gnome to come

back with her neighbour’s wheelbarrow, with all the right things in it. Or for some

other dwarf maybe.

Everyone was complaining, some were crying, many were sneezing, the Helpdesk was

going crazy.

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The visit of the Garden gnomes

And one week later, the dwarfs had appeared indeed. They were of course seven of

them, one for each of the seven first floors, but none for the eighth floor, the floor of the Director’s team. All of them standing in its south-east corner. They all wore a big

white paper napkin, each of them bearing a different label. The labels read:

1. Weberli: the Painter Dwarf

2. Netikette: the Cabling Dwarf

3. Muckel: the Carpenter Dwarf

4. Tonnelli: the Handyman Dwarf

5. Diagoras: the Zyrtec Dwarf (for the allergies)

6. Terapi: the Counselling Dwarf

7. Elbuself: the Do-it-yourself Dwarf

Number Seven, Elbuself, came last but not least, because, after all, what were we there

for, if not to do everything ourselves.

The seven however were real garden gnomes, with long beards and funny long coats,

bright red pointed hats and shoes. The Zyrtec and Counselling Gnome appeared to be

female. They too had beards, but they were more elaborately combed. Whoever had

placed them there? The FLNJ?! Whoever had ordered them to come? Or asked to,

invited. I mean politely and they then came by own volition.

People made the steps from floor to floor (elevators where not working that day again)

to walk around and inspect the gnomes, laughing, exchanging slightly disobliging

remarks about the hierarchy which someone for sure had wanted to point at. People

found they had not done their job, and that some fun head had expressed his mild

criticism by placing those dwarfs. Jokes were found, especially by the French, like:

“C’est un n’ain portant rassemblement!” - ‘What an important gathering!’ or “C’est n’ain porte quoi!” - ‘What nonsense’. Since ‘dwarf’ is ‘nain’ in French.

Penelope inspected each of them closely, hoping to recognise her own gnome, but she

had to be disappointed. Anyway, she meant she could have recognised him among

thousands. Some people were saying that garden gnomes resembled each other like a

troupe of new born babies. Indeed when the police found clusters of garden gnomes in

the forests and brought them back to the station and then contacted those who had filed

a complaint for their garden gnomes theft; it turned out that their owners, called to

collect their property, had every hard time in the world to truly identify their very own gnome.

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But Penelope had found her garden gnome to be unique. There were two distinguishing

features about him. The first was that ‘ titomme’ (that is: ‘little man’) wore glasses. And none of the seven gnomes standing there wore glasses. Of course he might well have

removed them. The second was: ‘titomme had no beard. You are going to say that a

garden gnome without a beard is not a garden gnome, and indeed at times Penelope

wasn’t so sure about this either: ‘titomme was alive. The proof was that he had walked

off. She felt she could recognise ‘titomme among thousands, even in disguise. He had a

soul, and a soul is something unique. One just can’t miss a soul, and certainly not


How had the Seven gotten in the House without being seen? Although it was obvious:

amidst the reigning disorganisation security had not been taken too seriously in their

building lately. Where in other buildings of ‘The House’ people had to show their

badges and were scanned from head to foot, in the Curie and Koch buildings security

measures had lapsed. No one could one control the masses of movers and handymen

which had been walking in and out in endless streams for what was now weeks. So it

must have been all too easy for an accomplice to have introduced those dwarfs, hidden

in a box or wrapped in some woollen or linen cover.

Penelope, secretary of MOU XII highest bosses, if laughing with the rest of the MOU,

was at the same time slightly white around the nose. Had she not told them only one

week ago that her garden-dwarf had disappeared, plus taking the neighbours

wheelbarrow with him. She was sure that she would now be suspected and indeed

several people came and pulled her leg about it.

But they were just joking. Moreover Penelope was well known of being incapable of

such pranks. Or was she not? No one ever knew if an investigation about the

whereabouts of the dwarfs had taken place. If it had, those who had gotten a visit by

the security officers did not say a word about it, and if someone was found guilty, no

one was informed of it. Suspicion was not the way of the House. No one at least

claimed the action, not even the FLNJ and the dwarfs stood there for a while, taking

some of the stress away. And is laughter not the best remedy against stress.

It was obvious too that the idea of placing the dwarfs must have been born from the

ancient legends which circulated about the first inhabitants of the country. Since it was believed they had been small and stout, it was easy to give them the appearance of the

dwarfs in fairy tales and legends.

People just continued laughing and in order not to loose anything of the event Maurice

and Leo went around and took pictures of the Seven. Maurice sent them around by

Email and Leo put them in some hidden webpage. The URL, that is the address of this

webpage he sent only to a few friends:

It was funny, yes; but notwithstanding, the authorities must have felt pointed at by the affair, and by the morning of the following Monday the dwarfs had left again. Or had

been made to leave. Unsurprisingly it was rumoured that the same authorities had felt

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offended by the coming of the dwarfs. It WAS a criticism of the unfortunate situation,

even if only by sheer coincidence.

But Genevieve, the secretary of the Director of new MOU XII and also Jennifer, the

secretary of old MOU XII, when approached upon that question had assured everyone

that their bosses were in for nothing. She swore that it was not them who had asked for

the dwarfs removal. And Catherine, the secretary of the House’s Highest Official,

nicknamed High-One or HO1, pretended to be just as ignorant of the dwarfs’

elimination as the two others. By the way, the High One that was at the House at that

time wasn’t very tall either himself.

 HO1 is sort of complicated to type. You have to select the 1, then choose ‘Format -

Font - Subscript’’. So let’s write it HO1 here. IT people are lazy. I mean one could also select it and put in AutoText, but then one would have to choose ‘Insert-AutoText’’ and

painfully look for the HO1, no way, let’s just call him HO1. Like one element in our

table of elements. The new programme Elements 112.

Pressed further, Catherine finally swore on the head of her favourite dog that HO1 had

nothing do with the dwarfs’ disappearance (we later found out that she had no dog, but

a parrot!). Anyway, only someone who would at least have felt some guilt would have

had the dwarfs removed. And no one felt guilty. No one felt that just HE had organised

this whole mess of a split. It had just come about. It was worse. Hierarchy didn’t even

notice that there was something chaotic to the situation. But if everyone felt sure that

‘they’ - meaning ‘hierarchy’ - had had the idea, who then was hierarchy? Who really

had taken the decision of the split; that was the question. QUI WER WHO HOE CHI KDO

had it been? They – They - They. Who were ‘they’ one was always talking of, when

not happy?

But alone the corridor answered and that only in whispers:

“NO ONE, personne, nessuno, niemand, nikdo, ingen, ninguém, nadie, nikogo.”

The last no one was Ukrainian.

The joke went around that the dwarfs had left just because the task of putting things

right again seemed impossible even to them. But those who are a bit acquainted with

dwarfs will know the word ‘impossible’ is not to be found in a dwarf’s vocabulary.

Not in Maurice’s either. Good news came because Maurice had discovered a shortcut

to circumvent the loss of the footbridge they’d suffered between the Koch and Curie


Maurice was becoming famous for discovering shortcuts to get somewhere in a few

keystrokes only, as well as in his IT job as in the House. This one was a particularly

smart one.

It spares time if you know that you can press Ctrl+Home to jump to the beginning of a

document and Ctrl+End to jump to the end of it in one stroke; instead of painfully

pressing Page Up or Page Down hundreds of times. Or like you can press Ctrl+A to

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select everything in a file or document in one go. No joke. Maurice did indeed prove

that he was a genius in the field of buildings too.

A Hyperlink too was a shortcut or direct path to another web page or another document

which could be on a completely different spot than the link itself. You clicked on it,

and there you were.

Maurice bade his team to follow him. They took the elevator to the basement. Turned

right, took three steps down, and found themselves in an empty office or storeroom

with dim light coming from a tiny window at its high end. Maurice marched towards it

and opened what seemed to almost be the door of a cupboard beneath it. The cupboard

led into a corridor, not very high either. With this troupe at his trail he marched through it, opened another door at its end, and then the scene mirrored itself at the other side.

They took three more stairs up, then the elevator and found themselves in the Koch


“Silent about this!” warned Maurice, finger uplifted.

They nodded willingly.

“How did you find that one out?”

Maurice made a smug mimic:

“I have found some plans on the MOU III server. It has been designed with a very old

version of Autocad, you know, this designer programme for engineers.”

MOU III was the Buildings service and Maurice had probably no right to be on their

server, but we well knew how gifted he was with passwords and token like that and the

situation was desperate.

“The best thing,” he said, “is that even security probably doesn’t know about this

Shortcut, because the last time this plan has been opened is ten years ago, which is

about the date of when the building was finished.”

“How do you know?”

 “I opened ‘My Computer’, found the file, right-clicked on the file name and

choose ‘ Properties’, and there it was: ‘Last modified’: ten years ago. ‘Properties’ gives you some other useful info, like the software the file or document or picture opens

with. In this case I had to change it, because it was set to an old version of Autocad,

which we don’t have anymore. But I could open it with Paint Shop Pro.”

They turned on their heals then, except for Sven, who had a user to visit in Koch and

followed Maurice all the way back, like the seven little dwarfs must have done with

Snowy White.

Lexi got back to her desk and found a bunch of jokes in her Email, it would take her

time to read them, but she had no time. She opened just one, called ‘The Seven’.

It contained just a little text in the message: “Hope this can help you.” and an

attachment. It was a zip file. ‘Seven.Zip’. She double-clicked on it and chose ‘Extract’.

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She then browsed through the folder tree to find ‘My Documents’ and below that the

‘My Pictures’ folder and clicked OK. Seven dwarfs fell out of the zip file and tumbled

into the folder provided for the pictures. It were *.jpg formatted pictures and wore the names of the seven dwarfs which had just arrived at the Curie building this morning.

They installed there comfortably and grinned at Lexi in a most winning way.

She forwarded the *.jpg pictures to the others, they had not been as recipients in the Cc

- copy field. Of course if you sent a lot of jokes it is good to put the recipients into Bcc

- blind copy, this holds spammers away, but on the other side it is nice to know who

has already got a joke, in order not to overflow people several times with the same one.

The House loves to do overtime, but it loves jokes even more. All work and no play are

bad for the performance.

She was laughing about the dwarfs together with Maurice and Sven when Sya stuck

her head into her office: “One more for your collection, in Chinese:

“Mei you ren” said Maurice and then translated: “NO ONE.”

All three looked at him astonished; and Sya with even some rapture.

“Where have you learned Chinese?”

“In fact I haven’t,” said Maurice, I have been born with it.”

That was Maurice. He loved to pull other people’s legs.

 Make a distribution list in Outlook

Email was bursting with dwarf jokes, about dwarf morals (high), dwarf advices, dwarf


Such as: “A dwarf comes and the house and...” send by Nicola.

Well you don’t want to hear that one. It was something about two dwarfs being

released from prison and the first thing they did once out. Hilde and Gwendoline were

submerged with requests to help them make distribution lists. It was obvious for both

that it was only about fun distribution lists. Called ‘Fun’ or ‘Jokes’ or ‘Friends’. At

least that way the users learned how to do one.

 In Outlook click on the Contacts Folder and in the Toolbar chose ‘New -

Distribution list’. Give it a name. Then ‘Select Members’ which already exist in your

contact address books and or ‘Add New’ ones by typing their Email address directly.

 “But Gwendoline, one of my distribution lists doesn’t work! Each time I want to

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The Crazy HelpDesk

send it says ‘An unexpected error has occurred’.”

“First try to choose ‘Update now’’ to the right and then try again.”

“I did that, but it didn’t help. It’s really very important, no joke, the Email has to leave right away!”

“OK then I believe you must have an error somewhere in the distribution list. I could

be a comma somewhere, or a name without an Email address to the right of it or a

name which is in there twice. Please check it.”

“You’re right. There are two names without an Email addresses. What shall I do?”

“You delete them, add them afresh and try to send again. Call me if it doesn’t work.”

The problem was that Outlook was sometimes refusing to send away messages to

distribution lists just because of one error in one name, but without telling you which

name it was. It was a rather tricky task in many cases to find the guilty name.

Fortunately, in many cases they could log on to the users computer by using a remote

control programme. The one they had at the moment was called Dameware. One just

typed in the user’s Computername and landed right on the top of his desktop. Or screen

if you have forgotten what a Desktop is. Both user and HelpDesk could type and move

the mouse at the same time. What a fortunate, charitable programme this was, sparing

them the time to go and see the user in person! The Remote Desktop or Assistance of

Windows XP itself was much less used; being at the same time slower and more

restrictive. But still all of this made them very tired. But do not wonder if the CHD

seems to be at the same time on the phone and at the user’s side: This is the Remote

Control Magic of Dameware, and other fantastic programmes of the same kind.

“Hakuna muntu!” added Jenny in Swahili, as an afterthought.

“What does that mean? Whom are you trying to overbid?” asked Maurice with a

friendly smile.

“NO ONE,” said Jenny more to herself.

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The Crazy HelpDesk

The good Helpdesk

CHD had known all those new programmes were coming. New Microsoft Office

programmes and new application programmes. It were programmes which had to be

installed, programmes which had to be used, programmes which had to be learned,

programmes which had to be taught. But no one ever once realises how serious things

are really going to be. A lot of work no doubt, but what under such conditions, no one

could have imagined, except Hilde, who had a mathematical mind.

MOU XII, just like the rest of the House or even world, used all the classical Microsoft programmes, the Windows XP operating system to make the PC work and the

Microsoft Office package with Word to do the documents, Excel for the spreadsheets to do calculations and Access for the databases to put in address lists.

MOU XII also used a lot of application programmes, programmes written in-house;

that means tailor-made programmes for a specific kind of people who do a specific

kind of work. For instance there was Formula I which had 102 templates for each of

the elements. Like Aluminium, Carbon, Iron, Helium, Krypton, Silver and Gold.

Useless to name all of the 112, you know them by heart. Each of those templates had a

specific structure and content.

The House used the same kind of programme for the contracts with all the research

institutes it gave money too, but ‘Signup’ wasn’t going to change. The variables for it

came from yet another programme, called Kaleidoscope II, which held a database of all

the names of the institutes, the name of their specific research field, all the data of

responsible persons, project numbers, dates, meetings, money allocated; as all this took its way via the various institutions involved with the project. A user opened the

template needed and just filled in the variables.

The way programmes are used, and especially the in-house or tailor made programmes,

if well explained to some newcomer, can give a very good idea about what the people

using them are doing. They mirror the work to be done.

In fact MOU XII was in for a lot of changes in what regarded the office programmes

and tailor made programmes.

Formula I was to be replaced by Elements 112, Kaleidoscope II was to be replaced by

Kaleidoscope III, our Windows version I don’t dare tell you, and our Email version

was ready for a serious update too, shame on the House.

With MOU XII, MOU XIII and MOU VII having been mixed like by a blender, with

Programme Versions I becoming II and III becoming IV and with users without WG,

without service, name or office, CHD was in for a lot of bad fun.

“This place needs a structure ,” thought Myra, but only thought, because she’d just

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The Crazy HelpDesk

arrived here and didn’t dare speak up. But she had immediately sensed the immense

confusion which seemed to be master of the place. She didn’t feel quite part of it yet,

but felt sure it wouldn’t take her long. Her head was swimming already. She’d have to

make an effort to not get caught too much in this. After all, there were more important

things to pursue in life than chaos.

One happy thought was that she had found a nice new apartment. A beautiful not too

small flat with a fully furnished and brand modern new kitchen, with a dishwasher and

independent oven. A bedroom with cupboards all made of mirrors. A small but cosy

living room with a giant satellite TV. The trump card was the bathroom, all in pink

marbles, with a shower with water coming from all sides and a Jacuzzi! A bathroom

that would make a prince choke with envy and that was the clue of it all:

A princes’ castle was indeed what one saw from that princely bathroom. A real castle it

was, with little towers and all. The castle of the princes of Bohatia. And they were very good looking princes Myra mused, especially the son, Prince Martin. Good looking no,

he was gorgeous. She had only seen him on pictures yet, but each time she did she felt

something what she couldn’t but describe as “PANG!”.

“Our first law should be to take care of every call. Event he smallest one. The more

stupid the call may seem, the more important it is,” said Johanna. “Honour not the

Penny and you’ll miss a Million Dollars.” She went on with this for a time.

It was their second meeting.

Myra nicked away on thoughts about princes but woke up with a start when Johanna’s

passion broke out again:

“This place needs Courses . Courses - Courses - Courses. Without courses, this place is lost.”

On could see her brandishing a sword. She was one of those persons who in wartime

would inevitably take the lead. In love with challenge. It was whispered in the House

that she was always doing that. But what other option had she got: Arthur had sort of

disappeared since their first meeting. Disappearing just like that seemed to have

become management’s favourite sport lately.

“Pois4! You’re right!” confirmed Sven the Suede, half in Portuguese, half in English.

Everyone at the House was doing this all the time, mixing up languages. If one

couldn’t find a word in his own language, one would look it up in another. It was the

house slang, nicknamed ‘Mischel’, after a local Bohatian Panaché drink. ‘Mischel’ was

the word for ‘mixture’ in Bohatian. Such drinks mix two or more beverages together,

such as coke and wine, beer and fruit juice, white wine and apple juice. Every region of the world offers some variation of this kind of concoction in its cafés and bars, and in each it carries a different name. In Bohatia it was a quite pleasant mix of draught beer 4 Pois is Portuguese and means just about everything: Yes, Really, You don’t say so, You can say so, etc. Pronounced: Poish

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The Crazy HelpDesk

and draught lemon soda. Some added grenadine to it. And at the House it was done

with words. It was a mixture of dozens of languages; and quite tasty in fact. You

needed another word to express your means or feelings? You would use a French,

Arab, Indian or Chinese ingredient. Everybody at the House spoke at least two or three

languages, the vast majority much more. Moreover, the inhabitants of their guest

country, the Bohatians, were equally famous for their gift of languages. Their own

language, Bohatian, was said to be one of the most difficult to learn in the world.

“Yes and we could also organise Workshops , in order to train the MOU to use all

those new programmes, so they stop asking stupid questions,” said Sven, the

Helpdesk’s beautiful Swede. Users (female) had indeed rapidly taken to call him just to

see him, a fact which infuriated him not in all cases, at least not the pretty ones. Of

course it wasn’t Sven who was going to give the courses. But he had good ideas:

“We especially need courses for the Basics. People never know the basics. It must be a

course with the real basics, like even how to hold the mouse and what buttons to use

when and where. They just don’t dare admit it, you know, like the story of Father

Christmas. You feel that everyone knows it except yourself and consequently do not

dare to ask anymore. Years later, you still believe in it.”

Myra suspected Sven exactly of that. Not wanting to admit he didn’t know some of the

basics. So if the users didn’t ask any basic questions, it would not become so obvious

that he couldn’t answer. But after all, Sven was a Hardware Support, and one couldn’t

know everything and still stay so sexy.

“If we give courses we need Manuals , ” said Hildegard.

“Oui, des manuels. Excellente idée! - Yes manuals would be fine,” alleged Maurice,

the only one in his group of eleven to use his mother tongue. The French were not good

with languages as other nationalities. Maurice only spoke French, English, and some

Chinese, when he was explaining to the users. “But I’m not going to do it. So who is?”

He frowned at seeing the French words in his sentence underlined with tiny red waves.

Hilde must have activated the ‘Check spelling as you type’ option in ‘Tools - Options -

Spelling and Grammar.’ He didn’t dare just to deactivate it but instead right-clicked on each word and chose ‘Ignore’ from the list. “So who is?” he repeated.

“Well I am,” said Hildegard. Maurice looked at her approvingly. There was a girl not

just talking, but taking the responsibility of her words.

“We could also do Web Pages , with the FAQs, the Frequently Asked Questions. Q&A

Helpdesk Web Pages, where people can find an answer to all their problems. Good

answer, good question, like when the sun meets a dark place,” said Myra. Her long

dark hair fell over her slightly dramatic face.

“I just thought of that,” said Leo.” I’ll prepare the templates for you and you just fill in the content. I already have an idea of a layout. We will always use the same layout.

The Question and Answer database will be dynamic, independent of the HTML code.

This database can be filled in by you all, au fur et à mesure. You meet a good question

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The Crazy HelpDesk

and find a good answer? Send them to Myra, she’ll fill them in the database.

“Are you going to do it with Coldfusion?” asked Gwendoline.

“Hmm,” made Leo, who loved obfuscation, but Gwendoline knew that Coldfusion was

a tool for building and managing Websites by supplying them dynamic content out of

databases. He knew she knew and looked at her approvingly.

“Do we really need all of this?” said Nico. Gwendoline smiled at him:

“Ok Nico, we all know you are a programmer, and that programmers are not very user

friendly. Programmers don’t listen to their users.” Upon this, Nico looked guilty:

“I could create macros and little workflow programmes for the users, to help them to carry out actions they have to do a hundred times a week or day in just on click of the

mouse and one second. I will write the macros and add them to Custom menus in the

programmes they are using. Each Office programme like Word or Excel will have such

a menu added, just for our users.”

Everyone applauded to this. Nico felt relieved. He went on: “The problem that only

few users notice that they do something a hundred times in row, and even less, that

they can ask for a macro which would do it in a single stroke. A user who does is a

kind of a IT genius already.”

“But you could say things like that in a Newsletter!” said Sven brightly. Sven was full of good ideas as long as others realised them.

“Who is going to read a Newsletter. People don’t have the time to read anything

anymore. No one is going to read it. And no one is going to write it.” Nico looked

doubtful again. Gwendoline shot him a look:

“I think Newsletters are a very good idea. In fact we could have users express

themselves there too. What they need for their work, what they need from computers.

Not so much only the computer problem as the problem underlying their question. I

mean very often users phone apparently because of some computer problem, but in fact

behind this is something entirely different. The underlying work problem for instance.”

“But I’m sure Myra would love to do it”, advocated Maurice, who didn’t want to do

the Newsletter either. He preferred research. ”Maybe people will read it if the

newsletter is of a different sort, maybe if it is ... romantic. And I feel sure Myra is very romantic. And I’m sure she can help express Gwendoline’s psychological view on the

question. I feel Myra you are something of a poet. ‘Les Belles Lettres’ are your thing.”

Myra didn’t know she was a poet but she felt flattered.

“Do we need psychologists and poets for an IT-Newsletter? Why not have us study

theology and have us ordained?” Nico again. Maurice looked at him with doubt, as if

he was fearing for his soul:

“Poets, Psychologists and even God are needed more than you think, especially when

life is drab. People might, just might read it if it’s poetic and people-oriented.

Computers are something marvellous. Myra might convince the users of this fact, if she

presents it in a romantic way, in the way of a poem. Computers are just like women.”

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The Crazy HelpDesk

“Yes and they must be invited to dinner and then undressed. We all know about this.

Your erotic relationship with computers has preceded you, so why don’t you do the X-

Newsletter.” Nico wanted to take some revenge. Maurice however remained


“I’m not a poet. And believe me. It’s not only computers. I love my wife too.”

Everyone knew that already. His wife Franca was Italian and very beautiful. She

mustn’t be so smart, as one likes to think of girls too pretty; and no one could quite

understand what she and Maurice, even if he was quite good looking himself, were

doing together. It sure wasn’t for her money, even she had loads of it, much more then

he did. No wonder he was saying his salary was drab.

“Your salary certainly isn’t that drab,” said Gwendoline, understanding.

“I have no time to spend it.”

“And your Porsche was a birthday present from your wife,” said Sven, who was

slightly jealous of this car. Not of Franca though, he liked his wife better, at least she had some brains and a lot of imagination. But he felt sure somehow that Maurice was

not after his wife’s money. He probably had a protection complex, often found in

intelligent men, and for sure needed a change from his own brains when getting back in

the evening.

Over the debate Myra’s talents as a poet and her officially being pointed out to write a Newsletter had been forgotten and she let out a small sigh of relief. But who then was

going to do it, she didn’t know, and didn’t want to ask.

“We could give the users more goodies ,” said Maurice, ”such as a library with IT

books, a software library, freeware like Webshots and other imaging software, we

could order mouse pads with our phone number on it, have our phone number in the

start up screen too, have Leo and Lut make a logo, leaving a standard formula on the

users desk, with this logo, and telling what we have done...”

 And expensive perfumes and fur coats  thought Nico.

One could feel Maurice could go on like this for hours. He loved computers and his

wife, but he loved his users too.

“We need to write all this down, to structure our ideas,” said Johanna.

“Who’s going to do this?” asked Sven.

“Well I am,” said Johanna. She bent down and made a note on her notepad.

“We’re going to save lives if we manage to do all this. Otherwise this mess will all kill us, first the MOU, then the House, and then the Outside World.”

“If the Outside World knew what is happening here,” said Leo. His fine long fingers

painted an imaginary Outside World on the wall.

“But the Outside World does NOT know.”

“Nor do the authorities of our Internal World, The House,” said Johanna with this

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The Crazy HelpDesk

typical slightly spiteful laugh of hers.

“But WE know.”

“But we’re not going to tell this to the Outside” added Gwendoline.

“Nie-Jamais-Nooit-Nikdy-Mai-Never,” added Lutgarde. She really did like languages

and Mischel above them all.

“We’re working in a nuthouse.”

“Wouldn’t everyone say this about the organisation or place he is working in?”

“I guess so. It might be their place too. But still, we cannot say the name of the House.”

“The users are always telling me that they would get crazy if they had to do my job.”

“And you answer?”

“That I would get crazy doing theirs. Their job is really difficult. I always answer:

Everybody his job and I think: Everybody his way of being nuts.”

The other ten pondered over that for quite a time. It hadn’t occurred to them.

“But we can find a real name for our Helpdesk!”


“Something meaningful.”

“Let’s think about it.”

Not everyone was mad in this House and one hour later they got a neatly structured

Email from Johanna, listing all of our ideas in ten points, plus all the details of

execution beneath.

And Johanna suggested that the Helpdesk should use the abbreviation CHD; as

standing for Central Help Desk. Or Computer Help Desk if you prefer.

Their Email address would be or CHD-MOUXII is an alias, that means the alternate name for the mailbox. Like you can have two or three first names or a nickname. And of course the address is not

but since they were not allowed to say its name what could they do.

All in all, the CHD was not so unhappy anymore, they felt much less lost. At least they

could now feel they would get along with each other like one mind, one body. They

felt that each of them had something special to give to the users. And to each other.

The situation was chaotic, but Hilde knew: “There is order to be found in chaos, an

order of the fractal kind. CHD needed to redefine that order, or find some order. Chaos

might not mean disorder, it might mean the essence of order. His Strange Attractor is

the limit set of a chaotic route.”

She said this to Joanna the same evening before leaving and Johanna thought of a

precept she had learned early in life, her Golden Rule, the centred topic in her life.

“First of all, we need to organise ourselves!”

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The Crazy HelpDesk

FAQs Windows

Forget about this chapter, you know it all, or maybe you are like Loredana Wood, who

never dared to ask, believing everyone knew.

Myra, the youngest of CHD team, was adapting well. In a few days time or less she

had learned to answer more then fifty percent of the level 1 questions the users were

putting to her by phone or Email herself. It were the FAQs. FAQs are Frequently

Asked Questions.

Every Helpdesk in the World knows about them. And they represent almost fifty

percent of the questions a Helpdesk may get. But it still takes time to answer them.

Now Hilde and Gwendoline were making things better by giving courses where they

listed them from the start, but still, courses were given mostly to newcomers, and the

old ones still didn’t know that the question they were asking was in fact a FAQ.

Myra in her first days at the HelpDesk, felt she was repeating it endlessly: Cut - Copy –

Paste - Cut - Copy – Paste - Cut - Copy – Paste. Cut - Copy – Paste: a game like Paper,

Scissors, Stone.

She had the impression that when she said CUT the user must say “Ctrl+X” and uplift

his index and middle finger in a V form or say ‘Edit-Cut’ or

‘right-click on the file and choose Cut’.

The same went for Copy. When she said COPY the user must

say “Ctrl+C” and open his hand or ‘Edit-Copy’ or ‘right-click

on the file and choose Copy’.

Or PASTE. When she said Paste the user must say “Ctrl+V” and make a fist say or

‘Edit-Cut’ or ‘right-click on the file and choose Paste’.

Wasn’t it obvious, like a child would do to impersonate Scissors, that V meant Cut? All

three commands had the same result, all three could be used, but the one who was

faster won. It depended on what you were just doing or how your hands and fingers

were placed.

Or was it rather like a game of cards? Poker maybe?

With the cards above you had a Full House.

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The Crazy HelpDesk

She had been crossing toolbars and menu bars and taskbars with users until everyone

was exhausted.

Menu Bars

Menu bars, the bars with the Text on it.


Toolbars, the bars with the little icons on it. The icons were the little drawings.

Astonishing how many people didn’t know what they were or rather how they were

called. But from all the crossing the toolbars got broken or disappeared.

 “The first thing to do if one of your Toolbar has disappeared is to choose ‘VIEW -

TOOLBAR’ in the menu bar.

In Word, the ‘Standard’ and ‘Formatting’ toolbar, like the first two above, are the ones to be there by default. You can see a lot of other useful ones in the list though. If they have a little check sign to the left, then they are active. See?”

It worked for some users, but not for others.

“Yes! They are active. But I still don’t see my toolbar.”

“This is nasty! The toolbar sometimes glides to the right or left of another, or hides

behind it. You must really search for it like a kid for a Easter egg. The grab it gently at its handle and drag it to the place where it should be. Shame on you toolbar. See the

fine light grey handle? Like an II ?

When toolbars disappear one must go out and look for them.

Another game, Hide and Seek. The Taskbar, the blue bar at the bottom loved to do that.

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The Crazy HelpDesk


 “Please right-click on an empty spot of the Taskbar, chose Properties, and then

deselect ‘Auto-Hide the Taskbar’.

“But I haven’t told it to hide!”

Of course not, Windows did that all by itself, and Myra began to believe it.

The taskbar however came back on the manoeuvre.

With at it’s right the quick Launch icons.

And at its left the resident programmes.

 Other users’ Taskbars flipped to the right, left or top of the Desktop and hung there, unwanted:

“Marissu, just position the cursor on the taskbar, GRAB it by pressing the left mouse

button, and DRAG it where you want it. Just DO it. Behave like a child would do, grab

and drag, grab and drag, grab and drag. Yes you did it!”

This is typically hard to believe: that you can grab such a thing on a screen and drag it below. She almost cried Goal!

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

Myra had never thought about that, only done it. For her it had seemed obvious. It was

not so easy to analyse subconscious hand movements. But why was it that it was

‘conscious’ for some users?

“RIGHT-CLICK anywhere, on the desktop, on an icon, on a word, on a taskbar, in an

empty spot on your Word or Excel document, in the Internet Explorer, on a link, on a

picture, on a folder, anywhere, and you’ll get a menu. From this menu you choose.

Just position your cursor glide over the item you want to investigate and then click

once with the left mouse button!”

“Click TWICE with the LEFT mouse button on an icon on your desktop, such as a

programme or a document which you want to run or open.”

Zip files, pdf files, expand & collapse

The questions dropped down on her like raindrops of the size of a fist, but she

answered with an ease that astonished herself:

 “You have received file with a *.zip extension by email? That is a collection of files that have been “compressed” in order to make their size smaller. Just double-click on

it. The WinZip programme will open. Then choose ‘Extract’ in the dialog box that

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The Crazy HelpDesk


 “You opened a file with a *.pdf extension in Word and now you have strange

characters? You say Japanese and Chinese characters? That’s sort of natural. PDF is

Acrobat, Word is Word. They’re two different programmes. Just double-click on the

PDF File. Don’t open it with Word. It’s another programme. Word is Word, Acrobat

PDF is Acrobat PDF. Just double-click on it!”

 “All your folders beneath the folder called ‘Urgent’ in your Outlook have

disappeared? Fine! Do you see the little +sign to the left of the folder name? Just click on it to expand it, click again on the –sign to collapse it.

 “No the first opens the Internet browser and the second opens the Windows

Explorer. Don’t mix them up.”

Now Reader, you probably know all of this and you’re laughing. But don’t laugh, but

instead beware, or you will end up working in a Helpdesk. Ready to get crazy?

Myra wasn’t yet, but she sure would be. Magic was needed, she knew it. Everyone’s

confusion hang so thick in the air that one could have cut in with a knife. Her head

swam, spun, turned. She felt like a hundred years old. She admired Hilde’s and

Gwendoline’s courage, they had been doing this for years now. Maybe that with time

‘Cut-Copy-Paste-Cut-Copy-Paste-Cut-Copy- Paste’ became a mantra, and could help

to calm you and keep a positive attitude.

She decided Maurice’s or Sven’s idea of a Newsletter was a very good one, and she put

herself at work. Better to work more in the beginning, and get fewer calls later.

At this however, she had to painfully discover that she could hardly type more than two

words in a row, being interrupted midway through the third all the time. After a lot of

suffering through this ordeal, she managed to finish and Leo and Lut put her newsletter

up in their Web Pages. They planned to have a Website with the FAQs on Windows,

Word, Excel, Outlook and common problems with Hardware. The newsletter became a


But in the meantime everyone was very happy with Myra and wondered how she had

mastered all of this in such a short time. Maybe it WAS magic. Myra had never thought

she would have been able to make a newsletter! She had thought the only things she

was good was having some intuition about computers and maybe princes. After all she

was now his neighbour.

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The Crazy HelpDesk

It’s raining trainees

Or training rainees. Hildegard was facing one of the worst mass arrivals of newcomers

ever, forty-four trainees. And forty of them female (the male ones where not quite as

bad). Forty-four! She would have preferred to face an army of Trolls. Forever

demanding, stamping their foot, thinking they knew it all, and this was so untrue. Had

she really been so dense when she had their age? They were so dense that she almost

pitied them, the poor little ones, so new to the world, but she couldn’t, because they

were dragons nonetheless.

She expected sixteen new Housefoncs too, but those must at one stage or the other

learned to be human and were mostly well behaved.

Many People believe that the young ones are more gifted for computers than their

elders but this theory was more of a legend and wasn’t validated at all by her every day experience. Indeed she found them trainees so dim-witted that she feared for the future

of the world. She chided herself on those thoughts, but she just couldn’t help it. They

were ever so annoying. They all looked alike but their nonentity took up a lot of space.

Their hormones were probably running wild and their effort to look for a husband

didn’t leave time for computers. So, she, Hilde, was in for something.

She hadn’t managed to obtain a list prior too their coming, indeed she had even been

forewarned of their arrival at all. Until just this morning at 8h30, when Cornelia from

Personnel MOU phoned to let her know about the upcoming mass invasion. And they

came quickly. Attila the Hun and his troupes.

Already she counted ten of them standing in her office,

all wanting one thing, well two: A Windows Account

and an Email address. The Windows Account was

necessary so that they could logon to their PC and the


EMail Address was mandatory in order fro them to

send and receive invitations for coffee.



Some people might think this can be done just like that

but in truth for each the Account and each the Email

address she needed at least 25 parameters.

Active Directory

Indeed in order to be able to logon to his PC, a user has

to be given an Account the AD, which stands for

Active Directory. The Active directory is a database,

just like a big phonebook. It is structured in OU’s -

Organisational Units, that is subdivisions of users,

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The Crazy HelpDesk

groups they are member of, shared resources like CDs, printers, computers, servers,

laptops. For each user it contains fields like last and first name, title, office and phone, personnel number, status, service, group memberships, date of arrival and date of

departure, principal language, password settings, logon accounts, department, group

memberships and some more.

All of which ‘ objects’, as they are called

in modern IT vocabulary, can be tracked

and located in the database. Well maybe at

other places, but not at the House.

As an example take Leo’s account in the

user database, the ‘ Active Directory’ and

don’t forget to fill out all the Tabs, here

you only see the fields of the ‘General’


With forty-four trainees times twenty-five

this gave her, if she took her calculator (in

‘Start -Programmes- Accessories -

Calculator’), over 1.000 of those

parameters or fields to enter in her

database. This is not done in a minute.

But trainees are not the kind of people that like to wait. ”We are expecting very

important reports from our boss,” they

explained to her, as if she was a dim-witted

unwilling child. It was their first hour at the

House, and already they were waiting for an

important report. Hildegard, who’d one day

visited a trainee’s mailbox, had only found

jokes and invitations to coffee, which the