That's an alternative, all right

User calls this support pilot fish because he's having trouble logging into the company's webmail from home.

"He explains to me that whenever he types in the Web address, he keeps getting the error message that the site cannot be found," fish says.

"I tell him there's nothing wrong with our webmail, and that it might just be his Internet connection or that he's forgetting to put the 's' in https when typing in the address."

Fish suggests the user try again in the evening. But when a few days pass and fish hasn't heard back from the user, he follows up.

User replies, telling fish the system still doesn't work, but he's worked out an alternative approach for getting into webmail.

Alternative approach? fish wonders. What's he doing? All the webmail system requires is going to the right web address and typing in a user name and password.

So he calls the user and remotes into his PC. Do exactly what you would do at home, fish tells user.

User opens Internet Explorer and tells fish that his default page at home is MSN, so fish types that URL for him.

Then fish watches as user types the address of the company's webmail into the search box of the MSN site and hits the enter key -- and then clicks on the link that the search returns.

"After seeing this, I had to explain to him that if you know the address of a site you're going to, it's best that you type it in the address bar and not the search bar," says fish.

"I also had him bookmark the site once he got to it."

Sharky is always interested in users' alternative approaches. Tell me true tales at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

Now you can post your own stories of IT ridiculousness at Shark Bait. Join today and vent your IT frustrations to people who've been there, done that.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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