Being in IT support can be quite fun. More than often you learn about software flaws that the manufacturers themselves are unaware of. And sometimes you can change things. But as we all know, in 90% of the cases, the Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair (PEBKAC). It can be frustrating to be called out when you’re working on something interesting, or reading Slashdot, only to find that the problem with the network cable was that it was plugged into the USB port.
What’s more frustrating, however, are the times you can’t find a solution.
I’m a perfectionist and I admit it. I want things to work smoothly.
Today I was called upon to fix a PowerPoint installation that didn’t want to run slide shows.
The client admitted it wasn’t anything important. She had friends that sent her powerpoint slideshows (virus source no. 1 these days) and they didn’t show. I had talked to her previously and promised her to have a look at it when I had the time. When I got there I ran the Detect & Repair routine, which re-establishes program associations and shortcuts.
I recalled an I/O error in PowerPoint that I’d had in another case, and where the solution was to delete the Office registry keys and reboot. I tried that. The keys were deleted allright, but the problem persisted. I also tried removing one of the anti-virus applications (AVG Free discontinues in February anyway), running the PP file from the harddrive (and not from temp) etc. Then, after all this ado, the truth dawned on me like a cold shower.
Her workstation is a laptop with an LCD monitor that she uses as primary monitor. But if the laptop isn’t closed properly, the laptop monitor will still be registered as the primary one. And PowerPoint slideshows are mostly made to run in fullscreen, on the primary monitor. If two monitors are connected, however, the slideshow will run on the monitor that it wasn’t executed from, for presentation purposes.
I adjusted her advanced power settings (When the laptop lid is closed: Do nothing), closed it properly and ran the fugly powerpoint slideshow. It had taken me the better of an hour.
It’s so typical to jump to the conclusion that the problem’s a lot more complicated than it really is. And afterwards, you feel like the monkey playing tech wiz.