The Nine Types of Users

Scon is short for Student Consultant. Scons are people hired to help users learn and work with the university’s machinery. A pod is a UNM term for a place where such machinery is made available.

El Explicito “I tried the thing, ya know, and it worked, ya know, but now it doesn’t,
ya know?”
Advantages Provides interesting communication challenges.
Disadvantages So do chimps.
Symptoms Complete inability to use proper nouns
Real Case One user walked up to a certain Armenian pod manager and said, “I can’t get what I want!” The pod manager leaned back, put his hands on his belt-buckle, and said, “Well, ma’am, you’ve come to the right place.”
Mad Bomber “Well, I hit ALT-F6, SHIFT-F8, CTRL-F10, F4, and F9, and now it looks all weird.”
Advantages Will try to find own solution to problems.
Disadvantages User might have translated document to Navajo without meaning to.
Symptoms More than six stopped jobs in UNIX, a 2:1 code-to-letter ratio in WordPerfect
Real Case One user came in complaining that his WordPerfect document was underlined. When I used reveal codes on it, I found that he’d set and unset underline more than fifty times in his document.
Frying Pan/Fire Tactician “It didn’t work with the data set we had, so I fed in my aunt’s recipe for key lime pie.”
Advantages Will usually fix error.
Disadvantages “Fix” is defined very loosely here.
Symptoms A tendancy to delete lines that get errors instead of fixing them.
Real Case One user complained that their program executed, but didn’t do anything. The scon looked at it for twenty minutes before realizing that they’d commented out every line. The user said, “Well, that was the only way I could
get it to compile.”
Shaman “Last week, when the moon was full, the clouds were thick, and Formahaut was above the horizon, I typed f77, and lo, it did compile.”
Advantages Gives insight into primative mythology.
Disadvantages Few scons are anthropology majors.
Symptoms Frequent questions about irrelavent objects.
Real Case One user complained that all information on one of their disks got erased (as Norton Utilities showed nothing but empty sectors, I suspect
nothing had ever been on it). Reasoning that the deleted information went *somewhere*, they wouldn’t shut up until the scon checked four different
disks for the missing information.
X-user “Will you look at those…um, that resolution, quite impressive, really.”
Advantages Using the cutting-edge in graphics technology.
Disadvantages Has little or no idea how to use the cutting-edge in graphics technology.
Symptoms Fuzzy hands, blindness
Real Case When I was off duty, two users sat down in front of me at DEC station 5000/200s that systems was reconfiguring. I suppressed my laughter while, for twenty minutes, they sat down and did their best to act like they were doing exectly what they wanted to do, even though they couldn’t log in.
Miracle Worker “But it read a file from it yesterday!”
“Sir, at a guess, this disk has been swallowed and regurgitated.
“But I did that a month ago, and it read a file from it yesterday!”
Advantages Apparently has remarkable luck when you aren’t around.
Disadvantages People complain when scons actually use the word “horse-puckey.”
Symptoms Loses all ability to do impossible when you’re around. Must be the
kryptonite in your pocket.
Real Case At least three users have claimed that they’ve loaded IBM WordPerfect
from Macintosh disks.
Taskmaster “Well, this is a file in MacWrite. Do you know how I can upload it to MUSIC, transfer it over to UNIX from there, download it onto an IBM,
convert it to WordPerfect, and put it in three-column format?”
Advantages Bold new challanges.
Disadvantages Makes one wish to be a garbage collector.
Symptoms An inability to keep quiet. Strong tendancies to make machines do things
they don’t want to do.
Real Case One user tried to get a scon to find out what another person’s E-mail address was even though the user didn’t know his target’s home system,
account name, or real name.
Maestro “Well, first I sat down, like this. Then I logged on, like this, and after that, I typed in my password, like this, and after that I edited
my file, like this, and after that I went to this line here, like this, and after that I picked my nose, like this. . .”
Advantages Willing to show you exactly what they did to get an error.
Disadvantages For as long as five or six hours.
Symptoms Selective deafness to the phrase, “Right, right, okay, but what was the error?”, and a strong fondness for the phrase, “Well, I’m getting
to that.”
Real Case I once had to spend half an hour looking over a user’s shoulder while they continuously retrieved a document into itself and denied that they
did it (the user was complaining that their document was 87 copies of the same thing).
(unfair, perhaps, as these tend, overwhelmingly, to be males)
“I need a Mac, and someone’s got the one I like reserved, would you please garrote him and put him in the paper recycling bin?”
Advantages Flatters you with their high standards for your service.
Disadvantages Impresses you with their obliviousness to other people on this planet.
Symptoms Inability to communicate except by complaining.
Real Case One asked a scon to remove the message of the day because he (the user) didn’t like it.

About That Glass Next to the Keyboard

I’m sure you’ve heard the old story referring to optimism and pessimism that is determined by whther you think the glass is half-empty or half-full. Here are the reactions when somebody leaves a half glass of milk next to the keyboard.

  • Optimist:
    The glass is half full.
  • Pessimist:
    The glass is half empty.
  • Apple Computer:
    You guys really oughta be drinking Perrier.
  • Assembly programmers:
    No thanks; I drink straight from the cow.
  • Basic programmers:
    No thanks; I’m still breast feeding.
  • Bill Gates:
    Not enough market share to be Microsoft Milk.
  • C Programmers:
    No thanks; I drink straight from the jug.
  • CIA:
    What makes you think that’s milk?
  • National news media:
    Hey, we wanted OJ!
  • Non-procedural language programmers:
    I drank it when nobody was looking.
  • NSA:
    We know what it really is.
  • Paranoid:
    Here is a glass just sitting here. Why? Who put it here?
  • Pascal programmers:
    Well, what type of milk is it?
  • Pentium users:
    I drank Glass * .49999999 . . . but don’t hold me to that.
  • Prolog programmers:
    I know I drank it – just don’t ask me how.
  • Copy protection crazies:
    Somebody drank half my milk and didn’t pay for it!
  • Faith-healer:
    If we worship it, it will feel better.
  • Feminist:
    How come HIS glass is bigger than MINE?
  • Free Software Foundation:
    That milk is the cow’s contribution to all mankind!
  • Futurist:
    The milk’s in the wrong half of the glass.
  • Fuzzy logic guys:
    I may or may not have drunk some part of that milk.
  • IBM:
    Rent the glass from us and we’ll fill it with something we know is
    good for you.
  • Idealist:
    In a decent world, this glass would be filled to the brim and big
    enough for everyone to enjoy.
  • IRS:
    Thanks for getting your milk witholding correct this year.
  • Mac users:
    Where’s my pump?
  • MIS:
  • Schroedinger:
    That stupid cat got into the milk again!
  • Security consultant:
    Where’d the rest of the milk go?
  • Shareware game author:
    That glass is free; the next one you have to pay for.
  • UI designers:
    What’s that crap in my glass?
  • UNIX users:
    Nahh … too easy.
  • Windows users:
    Where’s my straw?