When Michael Hall made a routine call to technical support for a
laptop purchased from a major (and allegedly Linux-friendly)
hardware vendor, the first piece of advice he got was "dump Linux."
Learn about how to make all the wrong moves in this informal "tech
"Our first HOWNOTTO, then, is to assume that tech
support for any company cares what you think or what your diagnosis
is. Much the same way Army medics have special troubleshooting
flowcharts for the human body, support technicians have a program
of their own. Much like Army medics, they don't care what you
think, or how much you cry as you undergo whatever cure they have
in store for you. I know about Army medics and their
troubleshooting flowcharts because I saw one pulled out when I
reported a paratrooping injury that involved being unable to lay
down or turn my head more than five degrees to either side without
screaming. My own diagnosis, without the benefit of the flow chart,
was "painkillers, lots of them." The medic and his flowchart agreed
that a cautious regimen of Motrin in miserly amounts and a quick
return to duty would help with the screaming.
The cure, in my particular case, first involved running some
diagnostics that came on a CD. I pointed out that I'd already run
all the diagnostics, but the tech shrugged this off and asked me to
run them again. In the spirit of cooperation and out of a desire
for a quick resolution, I booted the CD, ran the diagnostics, made
small talk with the tech, before reporting that no... by gosh...
there was nothing wrong with the RAM I had in the machine.
The second step of the cure, then, involved a session with
debug.exe. I then did the second HOWNOTTO of this column: I
admitted that I wasn't running Windows on this laptop, and hadn't,
in fact, ever run Windows on it. Its first bootup was into an
install CD for Debian. That made the cure all the more painful,
because the tech became suddenly pleased with the fact that the
"cure" actually entailed overwriting the partition table on the
machine and reinstalling WindowsME."