Have you tried turning it off and back on again?

My work laptop ceased on me today. It’s a standard HP notebook and while I was reading my email it shutdown and would not come back to life.

I proceeded to troubleshoot the most common faults, and swapped the battery and power supply all to no avail.

The time had come to contact the IT help desk.

The current company I’m working for is a global organisation that has determined it can save considerable money by outsourcing its IT support. This results in the following situation:

  • Call the IT help-desk and wait on hold for 45 minutes
  • After finally making contact, slowly explain your name, and what country and office you are calling from, and what the problem is
  • Confirm that yes, you have tried turning the computer off and on again, and yes you have made sure it is plugged in
  • Repeat confirmation as it was not understood the first time
  • Explain that there is some urgency, and it would be good to have a technician on site with a replacement laptop the same day
  • Be provided with a case number, and told a technician will call when on site
  • Two hours later call-back and wait on hold for 30 minutes
  • Repeatedly explain what country you are calling from, and how to spell your name
  • Ask for the technician’s contact details to call them directly, but get told in halting English this is not possible

From past experience, it typically takes some days, even weeks for a technician to arrive.

Only in IT does it make sense to source labour/services from Egypt and India, because it is cheaper. Even if the service is completely inefficient and often similarly incompetent, it is still worthwhile because money is saved.

Fortunately, our health, and education sectors do not follow the same logic (at least not yet).

Unable to do much else, I decide to undertake some self-diagnosis.

The laptop’s only sign of possible life is the power light which flickers briefly when turned on and then extinguishes after two seconds. To me this suggests the fault is likely with some dodgey memory, or the motherboard.

If I can swap the hard-drive into another laptop, or remove the faulty memory, I might be back in business. This requires sourcing the necessary tools.

Unfortunately, none of my spectacle-wearing, or pocket-knife carrying colleagues, are able to fulfill my needs.

Just when it looked bleak, the guru remembers the legendary old IT room downstairs. It has long-since been abandoned, but might just contain a couple left-over laptop-specific screwdrivers.

Sure enough, amongst the settling dust, we find what we are looking for, and I proceed autopsying my notebook.

But death appears complex, and due to hard-drive encryption, resurrection is unlikely, at least not without help desk support.

The laptop and I now continue to wait for the arrival of the technician, although with just two weeks of my contract left, the clock is ticking.

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One Response to Have you tried turning it off and back on again?

  1. Simon says:

    I got this error on our old photocopier at work one day and had to grab a picture!


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