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Thursday, April 8  9:17 AM EDT

Nolan Curtis' Bitter Tech Support Quiz

By Brian Briggs

In an attempt to "raise the bar" of the technical support industry, I developed the following test. It is meant to test your aptitude, logic, and your ability to size-up and defuse a potentially dangerous customer situation. As with any moral or ethical question, there are no wrong answers except for the ones that do not specifically correlate to the answers that I have deemed "correct". You can keep the score to yourself, but the highest scoring readers will be asked to join me in MENCA, the Mentally Elite Nolan Curtis Association. We don't really do much for the community or charity or anything in MENCA, but we get together once a year at my Aunt Marlene's house to play Diablo2 and drink punch.

  1. An end user calls you with panic in his voice. It appears his thesis is due in 3 hours and MS Word is giving him a memory error when he attempts to save. You tell him:
    1. Calm down sir, we simply need to clear your cache.
    2. Serves you right for waiting till the last minute, idiot.
    3. Have you tried rebooting?
    4. I see this problem all the time. You'll need to manually replace all the instances of the letter 'G' with lower case 'q's. Hurry. Clock's ticking.
  2. You get a scathing e-mail saying what an arrogant prick you are for making fun of people who need your help, and having the audacity (the e-mail actually says "audacity") to mock them openly. It goes on to ask you how you can sleep at night with the knowledge that you are such a bitter, unhappy man. Do you:
    1. Weep openly.
    2. Tell your mom to stop e-mailing you at work.
    3. Subscribe the e-mailer to the most horrifying e-mail porn the web can offer.
    4. Shrug and carry on. Admit it, being a prick is fun.
  3. The boss went away for a week's vacation and he left the keys to his brand new Porsche. Is it yours? Um... well, of course. For a whole week. Do you:
    1. Call up Angela with the amazing body and the degree in biochemistry.
    2. Call up Martina, the sexy Spanish seductress with a passion for acne-scarred dorks.
    3. Call up Al's Used Cars for the cash trade-in value.
    4. Drive out to Los Angeles for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).
  4. Your caller admits that they have already been having a bad day and the fact that your software sucks is just icing on their cake. You quickly become the target of their animosity and sense that they have little or no grasp of what they are doing. Being polite and helpful at this stage would do wonders to lifting the callers spirits and helping to salvage what's left of their day, sending them home with at least one good experience. You'd also have the satisfaction that your knowledge helped make life a little less unpleasant for the caller for just a few minutes. Your attitude should be:
    1. Patient, polite, and helpful.
    2. Sarcastic, cynical, and patronizing.
    3. The answer is B.
    4. The answer is B.
  5. The computer you are repairing has a problem with slow load access times and takes on average 20 minutes to startup. Of the thirteen icons in the system tray you recognize at least three different RealAudio, AIM, Messenger, ICQ, Kazaa, Gator, Popupstopper, Download Accelerator and Virtual Girl. Your next action is:
    1. Calmly manage the Startup folder and limit it to necessary apps.
    2. Uninstall all but Virtual Girl.
    3. Reformat.
    4. Ritual Sepuku.
  6. A train leaves Pittsburgh travelling at 60 miles an hour. At the same time, another train leaves Sheboygan going the opposite direction at 70 miles an hour. In the last car of each train there's an Ultimate Fighting Championship. In the Pittsburgh train we have Superman vs. Neo from the Matrix. In the Sheboygan train we have Gandalf vs. Darth Maul. When the two trains collide, who wins the Ultimate Fighting Championship?
    1. Superman
    2. Neo
    3. Gandalf
    4. Darth Maul
  7. How long should any tech support quiz be when only a few of the questions have any relevance to tech support, and the rest are just masturbatory ego stroking?
    1. Seven Questions.


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