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Can I turn on the coffee pot with my computer? Study reveals bizarre helpdesk requests

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We live in a golden age of technology. Flying cars, smartphones that talk, augmented reality eyeglasses — technology so advanced that it would have seemed ridiculous 20 years ago, the stuff of Gene Roddenberry’s dreams. Well the future may not be soon enough for some clueless computer users. A recent study by IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology has put together a compendium of the funniest, laziest, and most downright unusual IT helpdesk requests, surveying over 1,400 CIO’s across the country, and posing the simple question: “What is the strangest or most unusual request you or a member of your help desk or technical support team has ever received?”

Take for example:

“How do I remove a sesame seed from the keyboard?” An innocent enough question, to be sure — but almost poetic in its earnestness. And it raises so many more questions: Was the sesame seed from a morning bagel? A hoagie perhaps (or submarine sandwich if you prefer)? Had the person even tried to remove the seed themselves? Was it blocking a critical keyboard key, resulting in hilarious misspellings? We may never know. Of course, there are always the mundane and lazy questions, such as:

“How do I clean cat hair out of my computer fan?” Obvious, with this.

And

“Can you come over and plug in this cord for me?” No.

Anyone who’s done IT support can attest that questions like these basically come with the territory. But then there are the visionaries, the futurists, the Steve Jobs of the cubicle.

Like the person asking this:

“Can I turn on the coffee pot with my computer?” This is one of those questions that really makes you think. Can I turn on the coffee pot with my computer? What would it take? An internet of things is already on the roadmap for many electronics makers, and wireless broadband deals and inexpensive wireless chips may soon make it a reality. So maybe this person was on to something. Or maybe they just didn’t want to get up and go make a cup of coffee.

The idea of the Internet itself has long been a mystery for many less-experienced users (and parents). What is it, and how does it work? Like magnets, the Internet amazes and confounds — resulting in this:

“How do I start the Internet?”

And

“I’d like to download the entire Internet so I can take it with me.”

And then there are the people just looking for advice, or help — or the lonely ones looking for a good chat. “Where can I find a video of Elvis Presley online,” “Can you help us get money out of the vending machine,” and “My car’s cup holder is broken. Can you fix it?” all fall into this catagory.

“Beyond their entertainment value, these unusual requests demonstrate the strong customer service skills necessary to work in the help desk and technical support fields,” says John Reed, the executive director of Robert Half Technology. “The best IT professionals are composed and empathetic — and, of course, have a good sense of humor.” Check out the full list below, and let us know the strangest thing you’ve ever asked your IT guru.

“How do I clean cat hair out of my computer fan?”

“How do I remove a sesame seed from the keyboard?”

“I need help drilling holes in the wall.”

“Can you come over and plug in this cord for me?”

“I need you to install a video monitoring system.”

“Can I turn on the coffee pot with my computer?”

“I dropped my phone in the toilet. What should I do?”

“I want to download software to change an audio file to video.”

“How do I pirate software?”

“We need you to fix the microwave in the lunchroom.”

“Can you recommend a good dry cleaner?”

“Can you help me fix my chair?”

“Can you help us get money out of the vending machine?”

“I can’t find my packages online! Can you help me?”

“Can you help me fix my toilet?”

“My car’s cup holder is broken. Can you fix it?” 

“Can you help me repair a washing machine?”

“Where can I find a video of Elvis Presley online?”

“I’d like to download the entire Internet so I can take it with me.”

“How do I start the Internet?”

“Will you show me how to use the mouse?”

“My computer won’t turn on or off.” (The computer was unplugged.)

“How do I send an email?”

“How do I click on different files?”

[Image courtesy of wavebreakmedia ltd/Shutterstock]