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March 16th, 2010
03:03 pm
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Baxslang: "Heisenclicking"
Heisenclicking, n.: The mystifying behavior, while receiving tech support, of computer users who seem incapable of following even the simplest instructions. Portmanteau'd from the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: You can either control where the customer will click but not when they will do it; or you can control when they will click but not where. Also Heisenclick (v). Compare "heisenbug."

Sample heisenclicking exchange (this really happened, shortly after roaminrob and I coined the term in 2007):
T/S: "OK. Email is a different program. You need the thingy with the envelope with the two arrows. It's in the Start menu..."
Cust: "Alright, I'm clicking 'Dial'."
T/S: "No! I ... (sigh)."
Cust: "It's not working."
T/S: "I know." (Customer is talking on the line his dial-up uses.) "Click 'OK'. Now close all your windows. Click on 'Start'. Now click on the envelope with the two blue arrows."
Cust: "It says I have an unread email message."
T/S: "OK. Now click on 'Tools'."
Cust: "Send and receive ... Synchronize ... All ... Synchronize ... Fol-"
T/S: "Click on Accounts."
Cust: "There's no Accounts. Synchronize ... Folder ... Address ... Book ... OK, I clicked on Address Book."
T/S: (*@!%) ... "Close the Address Book."
Cust: "OK. File ... Edit ... View ... Tools ... "
T/S: "Click on Tools."
Cust: "Accounts, oh, there it is."
T/S: "OK. Click on Accounts. After that, click on the 'Mail' tab."
Cust: "There's no 'Mail'. There's just File ... Edit ... View ..."
T/S: (Now practicing Lamaze breathing)

Heisenclicking Hall of Fame: A special place* reserved for customers who have, while following completely unrelated instructions, somehow managed to turn off their computer.

--
* As in, "There's a special place in Hell for little boys who do that to themselves." See also.

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From:elynne
Date:March 16th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC)
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eeheheheheheheee, thank you for posting this - it made me giggle, though I'm sorry that it's frustrating for you. :D
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From:sinboy
Date:March 16th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
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While it won't work for offline conversations, I've found that having screencaps helps a lot when a client is online and able to look at them.
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From:baxil
Date:March 17th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)
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Alas, as an ISP the majority of our tech-support conversations are due to connection problems!
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From:baronlaw
Date:March 16th, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
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Great name. We usually go those "users" Happy Clickers.

Merrily ruining our lives a click at a time.
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From:luna_torquill
Date:March 17th, 2010 03:57 am (UTC)
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The Heisenclicking Hall of Fame may grow rapidly now thanks to Windows 7... it was mentioned to me, and I confirmed on my own computer, that in the main Start Menu there is a button which will shut down your computer with no confirmation dialog. Right out in the open. At the bottom of the pane to the right of the list of available programs, where you can easily hit it by accident.

You can change it to "log out", "sleep", or several other functions, but the default behavior is "shut down" -- and how often is Joe L. User going to change the defaults on any machine?

Well done, Microsoft.
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From:krinndnz
Date:March 17th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
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From:luna_torquill
Date:March 17th, 2010 05:51 am (UTC)
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Interesting. My Win7 desktop machine has "Shut Down" where the screencap on that page just has the power icon.

It's still placed such that accidental clicks can turn everything off -- a syadmin I'm on a CMC with did just that, via remote desktop (to add insult to injury). He didn't have access to the offices where the machine resides, and it was after hours... he shrugged and figured he'd finish with the machine later. Aggravating, though.
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From:baxil
Date:March 17th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)
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What I really love is how there are more safeguards against accidental file deletion than against accidental shutdown, especially considering that shutdown will wipe out all unsaved files and unsaved changes systemwide.
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From:luna_torquill
Date:March 17th, 2010 07:49 pm (UTC)
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enh, programs have gotten a lot better about autosaving and being able to recover... most office-type programs (and hey, vim too) will offer you a chance to recover a file which was closed without saving, LJ will autosave entries, and so on. The chances of data loss are far less these days.

Still, yeah, it does seem kind of odd to depend on a patchwork net of auto-saving programs rather than a simple confirmation dialog.
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From:toksyuryel
Date:May 16th, 2010 02:39 am (UTC)
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Because users hate confirmation dialogs, that's why. Users also hate passwords.
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From:krinndnz
Date:March 17th, 2010 11:02 pm (UTC)
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My pleasure. I have some disagreements with the fellow, but on the whole the JoS archives are very enlightening.
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From:krinndnz
Date:March 17th, 2010 04:44 am (UTC)
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Ah - that's a handy word for that phenomenon. Cheers.
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From:natetg
Date:March 17th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)

Huh...

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They actually tell you what they're clicking on. I've found that giving people instructions for finding the links (think kindergarden) is quite helpful. OTOH I'm tempted to change my sig to, "Is it plugged in?"
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From:baxil
Date:March 17th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)

Re: Huh...

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When they don't tell you what they're clicking on, it's a serious nightmare.

I pretty much won't tell people where to click any more without giving a vague description any more. ("Now, click on the Connections tab, up at the top of the window ...")
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