See how easy an update can be?

User calls this sysadmin pilot fish at a health care not-for-profit organization, complaining that the organization's client database program keeps freezing up on her netbook.

"We were having some issues with this software at the time, because of an update that needed to auto-download and install," fish explains. "When the program attempted to update, at times it would appear to the end users that the updating process was actually the software freezing.

"Then they would kill the program before it successfully finished, because the program had a built-in kill button."

Fish decides to try talking the user through the update process -- really nothing more than logging into the program, then logging back out and waiting until the program closes properly.

Open the program and log in, fish tells her. Once you're logged in, close the program and just let it do whatever it does and tell me what happens.

"OK, I'm logged in," user says.

Now click the little X at the top right hand corner of the program's window, and it will begin the update process, fish says.

"Nothing is happening. It's just frozen," user says.

Did you click the X?

After some kind of background noise fish can't identify, user responds, "I'm hitting the X and nothing is happening."

It's now 20 minutes into the call, and fish is scratching his head, wondering what could be wrong. Are you hitting the X key on the keyboard instead of clicking on the X on the screen? he asks.

"No," user says. "Why would I do that?"

Let's try restarting the PC, fish suggests. A few minutes later, she's ready to log in again. Try to close it now, fish says.

Still no luck.

Are you using the left button on the mouse? fish asks. The right mouse button won't work for this.

"What's a mouse?"

Sighs fish, "After another 20 minutes I seemed to have at least halfway gotten her to understand what a mouse is and what it's for. But I gave up on the idea of doing this over the phone and told her, 'Why don't you just bring your computer in here so I can see what may be wrong myself?'

"I never asked what she meant by 'hitting the X.' Every time I asked her to click on it, her word for clicking was 'hitting.' I was tempted to ask her how hard she was hitting it."

Hit Sharky with your best shot. Send me your true tale of IT life at You'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

Get your daily dose of out-takes from the IT Theater of the Absurd delivered directly to your Inbox. Subscribe now to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Computerworld's IT Salary Survey 2017 results
Shop Tech Products at Amazon