Technical Jargon

Or Things That Tick Me Off

For many customers, calling technical support is a scary prospect.  You're probably calling because if you could have figured it out on your own you would have, or you're not that confident with "computer stuff".
Hopefully the small articles on this page will help clear up some of the technical jargon that may be thrown at you over the phone.

NOTE:  If you're having difficulty seeing the illustrations, just click on them with the LEFT mouse button to see a larger version.

The Desktop
Many times during a technical support call you may be asked to go to your desktop, or look at your desktop or look for an icon 0n your desktop.

What is the desktop they are referring to?
The desktop is the background picture when your computer first comes on.  It will probably have some icons  (Icons are little picture representations of programs.  when you double click on them the program will start running) like your computer, or documents, your recycle bin and perhaps other programs.

What desktop are they not referring to?
The term desktop is not the hard table that the computer may be sitting on.  This is a desk top.

The term desktop is also not usually referring to what type of computer you are using like...  I have a laptop versus I have a desktop PC.


The Address Bar

Often during technical support calls you could be asked to go to a specific web address and will be given the whole web address to type into the address bar.  Many times users are used to searching for websites instead of going directly there.  See the following two illustrations to locate the address bar in Internet Explorer and Firefox.

One other item to note is that you may be asked which browser you are using.  The easiest way is to look at that very top of your browser on the blue line (this is blue by default but may be changed to be other colors) you are looking for the words  "Internet Explorer"  or  "Mozilla Firefox".  Other browser names may appear like  "Safari",  "Google Chrome"  or even others, but they are all located in this top bar.


Mouse Clicking

During the course of troubleshooting your issue the technician may ask you to click your mouse, or double click or perhaps right click on something.  Nothing is more frustrating than asking someone to right click and expect one thing only to find out that the user is continually left clicking.

Why am I being asked to click in a specific way?

  • When you are asked to click or left click this is usually to select an option or task in a program.
  • When you are asked to double click (with the left button)  this is usually to run a program or open a folder.
  • When you are asked to right click on an item or icon this is usually to open options or properties.


Talking On The Phone

Many callers have a problem knowing what to say or talk about when on the phone to tech support.
There is nothing worse than having a confused user ramble on and on about nothing that helps the technician troubleshoot the problems that are currently going on.

What not to talk about...
  • Don't talk about your health problems.  We're not your doctor
  • Don't talk about your personal or love life.  We're not the bartender.
  • If you have to yell at your kids, don't keep going on about it on the phone. We heard you the first time.
  • Don't talk about how you "don't know much about computers".  We already know that.
  • Don't talk about your grades in school... we understand.
  • Don't keep telling the same story over and over.  If we don't get it the first time we'll ask about specifics.
  • Don't talk about how much you hate the product we support.  These kind of calls go to customer service and if you must rant and rave ask for a customer service number because we're only interested in making the product work as it was designed.
  • Don't use foul language.  You'll probably get hung up on after a few warnings.
  • Don't start clicking ahead of the technician and then tell them you're lost.
  • Don't start crying.  We can only help you as long as you stay calm.
What to talk about...
  • Answer questions directly and if you're not sure about the question or directions ask for clarification.
  • If we're silent we are probably working... just wait patiently.
  • If you're not sure about an answer be truthful.  Please don't guess, we can help you find the answer.


The Difference Between Uploading, Downloading and Installing

Many times during the course of a conversation with users I hear the words Uploading, Downloading or Installing thrown around incorrectly.  Each of these words has a different meaning and can make and already difficult call even more confusing.

  • Download:  Getting a program or a file from the network or internet and putting a copy on your computer.
  • Upload:  Getting a program or a file from your computer and submitting it to a web page on the internet or a folder on the network.
  • Install:  Taking a program from a software disc or an already downloaded program and compiling it so it can be used on your computer.


What's Wrong With Your CD???

Multiple times during the week we hear someone make the wild claim of  "my computer's fine, what's wrong with your CD?" or "I put the CD in and nothing happens" as if it was going to get up and dance for you or something.

Most of the time the reason people are having problems with software on CD or DVD is for one of a few reasons.

  1. You aren't the administrator or do not have administration rights.  This can happen when a parent or spouse realizes that you have the propensity to install programs that may harm the computer and they are tired of cleaning up after you and have given you a standard user account with limited or no install permissions.
  2. You have bonked the computer by clicking on yes to everything that pops up on the internet and now have a virus that is stopping you from installing programs.
  3. The autorun feature has been disabled and you must browse to the CD / DVD and manually start the installation program which is usually named autorun, start, install, ect.
  4. The disc may not be the correct disc for installation.  Some vendors issue multiple disc's for a "program" including the actual installation disc, data disc, add on packs, ect.  Before you start ranting and raving you may want to ask if there is a way to verify you have the correct disc.
So before you get too upset, remember that your computer was designed to operate in a particular fashion and if it's not doing what you want...  there may be something you still need to do. 



 Common Computer Doctor Words

So now after reading a few of these articles you may wonder about a few of the common words that the Computer Doctor uses so I will dedicate this section to an ongoing list of words and their meaning.

Bonk, or Bonked:  This is operating your computer in a fashion that allows malware, spyware, viruses, trojans, and root-kits free reign on your computer and to operate unchecked for a period of time.  Common phrases that tip me off that your computer is bonked are  "my computer is running really slow", "It worked fine yesterday" or "I just don't know much about computers but I think there's a problem".

Screwed:  This is a term the Computer Doctor will refer to you or your computer if it is so bonked that it will take a long time to fix or may leave part of your data unrecoverable.

Dead, DOA, or Lost:  This is a serious term that the Computer Doctor will refer to your computer if the PC will no longer boot up due to motherboard failure, multiple component failures or the cost of repair is more than the cost of replacement.  When your computer is considered Dead, do not ask "can I use it for anything".  Of course you can, but it makes an awful large doorstop.  Even if the PC is Dead the data may still be recoverable from the hard drive.

Virus:  a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer

Worm:  a self-replicating malware computer program. It uses a computer network to send copies of itself to other nodes (computers on the network) and it may do so without any user intervention.

Trojan:  is malware that appears to perform a desirable function for the user prior to run or install but instead facilitates unauthorized access of the user's computer system.  Do not ask the Doctor if he kisses his mother with that mouth because this has nothing to do with prophylactics.

Root Kit:  a software or hardware device designed to gain administrator-level control over a computer system without being detected.  Rootkits can target the BIOS, hypervisor, boot loader, kernel or less commonly, libraries or applications.

Spyware:  is a type of malware that is installed on computers and collects little bits of information at a time about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user, and can be difficult to detect. Typically, spyware is secretly installed on the user's personal computer. Sometimes, however, spywares such as keyloggers are installed by the owner of a shared, corporate, or public computer on purpose in order to secretly monitor other users.

Keylogger:  is the action of tracking (or logging) the keys struck on a keyboard, typically in a covert manner so that the person using the keyboard is unaware that their actions are being monitored.  Sometimes the Computer Doctor may suggest a keylogger to monitor suspicious activity of a spouse or children.

Adware:  is any software package which automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertisements to a computer after the software is installed on it or while the application is being used.  The Computer Doctor strongly feels that this is an invasion of privacy and a deliberate campaign of annoyance.

OS or Operating System:  This is the platform the computer runs on, for example;  Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Macintosh OSX, Ubuntu Linux, Fedora Linux, ect.   When the Computer Doctor asks what operating system you use he does not want to hear about the manufacturer of your computer, who you get internet service from, what browser you use, what city you live in or what company you ordered the computer from.

Browser:  This is the program that you use to access the internet, for example;  Windows Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, Google Chrome.  The only time this should be more confusing is if your internet provider is AOL because you may use their AOL browser or a different browser.



One of the trends I have noticed lately is the lack of manners on the phone.  This morning I took a call and when I asked for the students name I received an exasperated sigh.  Assuming that the student had perhaps just experienced a tragedy in their life I continued getting the information for the ticket.  When I asked which product they were calling about the student started swearing and then hung up on me.  Of course being the smart ass that I always am I used the number on caller ID (welcome to the 21st century idiots!) and called them back and asked if they wanted to try receiving help again.

  • We don't want to hear you sighing unless you're dieing
  • We don't want to hear you swearing even if you hit your thumb with a hammer
  • We don't want to hear you munching.  Call us after you're done eating
  • We don't want to hear you talking on your other phone.  Call back when you have time.
  • We don't want to hear how the whole world is wrong and you're right.  What are the odds of that even being possible???
  • We don't want to hear how things should be.  We only deal with how things really are.


Who Called Who? 

Nothing makes me happier than someone calling in for assistance and then spends the first half of the call arguing with everything I say.  For example...

Technician:  Our software is not compatible with 64 bit versions of Windows

Technician:  If you look at the first page in the manual under system requirements it reads "compatible with Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Business or Enterprise 32 bit"  You have Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit so there is no guarantee that this program will work for you.

Technician:  I need you to right click on the icon
Technician:  Could you please right click on the icon with the right mouse button on the right side of your mouse?
Technician:  Could you just try right clicking on the icon?
Technician:  Can you just right click on the icon?
User:  NO!
Technician:  ...

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