Open-then-Save-As is *not* the same as copying a file!



  •  Does anybody have any idea how I can possibly train non-techie office workers, who sometimes in the course of their jobs need to send files to me that need to be run through some program, imported into a database, etc., into giving me the file in the form in which it is originally received by them (e.g., comma-separated-values), unmangled by a trip through the digestive tract of some program that Windows chooses to open the file in (Excel, Notepad, etc.)?  25 years of point-and-drool operating systems seem to have thoroughly expunged any concept that people may have ever had to the effect that the proper way to give somebody a copy of a file is to actually copy the file, at the raw operating system level which does not involve slurping it into some application and then barfing it out again.  Instead, people end up with computers configured to open the files automatically (from their web browser, email program, or however they received the file in the first place) in whatever Windows thinks is the right application for it (so they're stricken totally clueless if the file has a weird extension that doesn't open in something they're familiar with), and from there they use "Save As" to save the file in order to do further actions with it like upload or attach it for me.  Often this will work out OK, but when it doesn't they have no clue about what they did to cause it.  Some ways files get messed up this way include their getting truncated (with big parts of the data missing) if they're bigger than the program they're loaded into can handle, as well as the many ways Excel screws up data (from stripping leading zeroes from zip codes to more destructive things like converting account numbers into exponential notation).



  • Give them a batch script and ask them to use that instead. I don't know, I guess that's just as problematic as giving them instructions to copy and paste the file onto the network drive or however you make the transfer.

    If all else fails, severe negative reinforcement always works. Always remember that, and keep a taser gun in your desk at all times.



  • @RHuckster said:

    If all else fails, severe negative reinforcement always works. Always remember that, and keep a taser gun in your desk at all times.

    I was going to suggest a whip because it has the added bonus of a workout, a hard-on if you are into S&M and is more green than a taser



  •  Ask them to forward you the email they originally received?



  • @Lorne Kates said:

     Ask them to forward you the email they originally received?

    But that would imply you doing their work and no whipping so... I stand by my choice



  • However you instruct them, please use paragraphs or a bullet list of short points.



  •  @serguey123 said:

    @Lorne Kates said:

     Ask them to forward you the email they originally received?

    But that would imply you doing their work and no whipping so... I stand by my choice

    How abot if you ask them to forward you the email they originally received-- but ask them WITH A WHIP!



  • @RHuckster said:

    Give them a batch script and ask them to use that instead. I don't know, I guess that's just as problematic as giving them instructions to copy and paste the file onto the network drive or however you make the transfer.

    If all else fails, severe negative reinforcement always works. Always remember that, and keep a taser gun in your desk at all times.

    But negative reinforcements stops working once the threat is gone (e.g. no human to punish a dog).
    Also: ♪ Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me ♪



  • @dtobias said:

    Does anybody have any idea how I can possibly train non-techie office workers, who sometimes in the course of their jobs need to send files to me that need to be run through some program, imported into a database, etc., into giving me the file in the form in which it is originally received by them (e.g., comma-separated-values), unmangled by a trip through the digestive tract of some program that Windows chooses to open the file in (Excel, Notepad, etc.)?

    Tell them to forward the email to you, or give you the FTP/whatever credentials instead of downloading it themselves. Don't rely on them to pass the files to you; get the files from the same source they do.

    You've seriously never hit upon this solution?

    @dtobias said:

    25 years of point-and-drool operating systems seem to have thoroughly expunged any concept that people may have ever had to the effect that the proper way to give somebody a copy of a file is to actually copy the file, at the raw operating system level which does not involve slurping it into some application and then barfing it out again.

    And I'm sure you're going to back-up your thesis here with evidence that this is due to "point-and-drool operating systems" any... second... now...

    @dtobias said:

    (from their web browser, email program, or however they received the file in the first place)

    And you haven't solved this by getting access to the web browser, email, or however they received the file in the first place because...?

    Those monkeys who stack crates to get at the bananas figure things out quicker than you. Alternate theory: your co-workers are fucking up the files on purpose because you're such an asshole.



  • You need to be a hard ass on these morons. When you get the file, simply send back a message that says something like "this file doesn't work" and don't say anything else. Let them try it again until they get it right, or the situation escalates to upper management. Then simply say "we are receiving out-of-spec files from the users, who have been educated on the specification, and do not seem to be able to follow it." That way it's an issue of someone else not following instructions, rather than anything they can drop on you. People who don't know how to use computers have no business working in a modern office - if they can't use the tools of the job, they should be fired. This isn't really that complicated, and it's 20 years too late for management to finally wrap their heads around the concept of hiring people who can do the work. I mean, what if an applicant said they didn't know how to use a phone? This is the same thing.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Tell them to forward the email to you, or give you the FTP/whatever credentials instead of downloading it themselves. Don't rely on them to pass the files to you; get the files from the same source they do.

    You've seriously never hit upon this solution?

     

    Bob Slydel: "What you do at Initech is, you take the specifications from the customers and you bring them down to the software engineers."
    Smykowski: "Yes. Y--Yes. That's-- That's right."
    Bob Porter: "Well, then I just have to ask, why couldn't the customers just take them directly to the-- to the software people, huh?"
    Smykowski: "Well, I'll tell you why. Uh, because... engineers are not good at dealing with customers."
    Bob Slydel: "Uh-huh. So, you physically take the specs from the customer?"
    Smykowski: "Well... no. M-My secretary does that, or they're faxed."
    Bob Slydel: "Uh-huh."
    Bob Porter: "So then you must physically bring them to the software people."
    Smykowski: "Well... no. I mean, sometimes."
    Bob Slydel: "What-- What would you say y'DO here?"
    Smykowski: "Well, look, I already told you. I deal with the goddamn customers so the engineers don't have to. I have people skills! I am good at dealing with people! Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?!"



  • @jasmine2501 said:

    You need to be a hard ass on these morons.
     

    This is the kind of mindset that perpetuates the us vs them paradigm.

    @jasmine2501 said:

    I mean, what if an applicant said they didn't know how to use a phone? This is the same thing.

    The telephone is over a century old and basic operation has remained unchanged for nearly all that time. It's realtively easy to use.

    Ubiquitous home computing has been here for less than a generation and has gone through serious interaction model changes. It's relatively hard to use.

    It is not the same thing.

     



  • @dhromed said:

    This is the kind of mindset that perpetuates the us vs them paradigm.

    But how else am I to feel superior to the plebeians?



  • @jasmine2501 said:

    You need to be a hard ass on these morons.

    It depends on who they are. With paying customers, I'm usually less of a dick. But with our internal test team, my attitude is more or less:



  • @boomzilla said:

    However you instruct them, please use paragraphs or a bullet list of short points.

     

    FTFY



  • @jasmine2501 said:

    People who don't know how to use computers have no business working in a modern office - if they can't use the tools of the job, they should be fired. This isn't really that complicated, and it's 20 years too late for management to finally wrap their heads around the concept of hiring people who can do the work. I mean, what if an applicant said they didn't know how to use a phone? This is the same thing.
    And what about a techie with communication skills so poor they can't make their co-workers understand the simplest technical point?



  • @intertravel said:

    @jasmine2501 said:
    People who don't know how to use computers have no business working in a modern office - if they can't use the tools of the job, they should be fired. This isn't really that complicated, and it's 20 years too late for management to finally wrap their heads around the concept of hiring people who can do the work. I mean, what if an applicant said they didn't know how to use a phone? This is the same thing.
    And what about a techie with communication skills so poor they can't make their co-workers understand the simplest technical point?

    They should be given a parade and free car!



  • @dtobias said:

    5 years of point-and-drool operating systems seem to have thoroughly expunged any concept that people may have ever had to the effect that the proper way to give somebody a copy of a file is to actually copy the file, at the raw operating system level which does not involve slurping it into some application and then barfing it out again.

    This is a workflow problem, not a technical one. Solve it.

    Calling the users idiots is basically admitting they've beaten you at what you're supposed to be good at. I especially like the dig at "point and click" as though making them all use Unix terminals would somehow not make the problem worse.

    Make a script, put an icon on their desktop and tell them to click it. If this practice is common enough, build a proper set of workflow tools they can all familiarize themselves with. We did this sort of thing at the animation studio I used to work for. We called them Publish scripts. Not being holier-than-thou tech brats, we wanted the animators to be able to focus on the task they were hired to do; not save or copy files, but to animate shots!



  • @Soviut said:

    This is a workflow problem, not a technical one. Solve it.

    Calling the users idiots is basically admitting they've beaten you at what you're supposed to be good at. I especially like the dig at "point and click" as though making them all use Unix terminals would somehow not make the problem worse.

    Make a script, put an icon on their desktop and tell them to click it. If this practice is common enough, build a proper set of workflow tools they can all familiarize themselves with.

    I agree that you shouldn't call the other people idiots, even though I understand the temptation to say "Jesus fucking Christ, I know we hired you to be an animator but I really think you should have enough basic knowledge to do something as simple as forwarding a file to me without fucking it up".

    However, your proposed "solution" completely misses the point.  If I understand things correctly, person A is regularly receiving files that need to be passed along to person B for some sort of important processing (importing onto a database or whatever).  So you are correct, this is a workflow problem.  And the answer is either (1) change the workflow so that the files are not sent to person A and are sent directly to person B instead  or  (2) if person A really needs those files for something, then have them sent to both person A and person B.



  • @El_Heffe said:

    However, your proposed "solution" completely misses the point.  If I understand things correctly, person A is regularly receiving files that need to be passed along to person B for some sort of important processing (importing onto a database or whatever).  So you are correct, this is a workflow problem.  And the answer is either (1) change the workflow so that the files are not sent to person A and are sent directly to person B instead  or  (2) if person A really needs those files for something, then have them sent to both person A and person B.
    I think that's still missing the point. Unless the cow-orker is so unbelievably stupid that they can't follow incredibly simple instructions - 'I need this done like X, not Y' - or malicious enough to ignore instructions they understand the need for, then the only possibility is that they don't understand the problem. The sole responsibility, in that case, given that the problem is not hard to understand, is with the techie who is making it incomprehensible. To my mind, the techie who can't communicate with non-techies, and the animator who can't send an email are in the same camp.



  • While what you say is true, it doesn't change the fact that someone who can't operate a computer, even with instructions, simply can't hold down a job in the 21st century. You can't run a cash register at McDonald's if you can't use a computer.



  • @intertravel said:

    @El_Heffe said:
    However, your proposed "solution" completely misses the point.  If I understand things correctly, person A is regularly receiving files that need to be passed along to person B for some sort of important processing (importing onto a database or whatever).  So you are correct, this is a workflow problem.  And the answer is either (1) change the workflow so that the files are not sent to person A and are sent directly to person B instead  or  (2) if person A really needs those files for something, then have them sent to both person A and person B.
    I think that's still missing the point. Unless the cow-orker is so unbelievably stupid that they can't follow incredibly simple instructions - 'I need this done like X, not Y' - or malicious enough to ignore instructions they understand the need for, then the only possibility is that they don't understand the problem. The sole responsibility, in that case, given that the problem is not hard to understand, is with the techie who is making it incomprehensible. To my mind, the techie who can't communicate with non-techies, and the animator who can't send an email are in the same camp.

    What the heck is a cow-orker?



  • @moog said:

    What the heck is a cow-orker?

    The least funny wordplay-based joke ever. And coming from a geek community, that means something.



  • @moog said:

    What the heck is a cow-orker?
    Someone who orks cows.



  • @jasmine2501 said:

    You need to be a hard ass on these morons. When you get the file, simply send back a message that says something like "this file doesn't work" and don't say anything else. Let them try it again until they get it right, or the situation escalates to upper management.

    I generally find that upper manglement[1] tend to be the worst offenders for this kind of thing, so that won't always work. It's quite rare for those people to be prepared to fire themselves.




    [1] Yes, manglement.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Filed under: [url=http://forums.thedailywtf.com/tags/a+community+that+by+and+large+thinks+recursive+acronyms+are+funny/default.aspx]a community that by and large thinks recursive acronyms are funny[/url]

    ... Are you suggesting that they're not?




    Geez Blakey, just what the heck is wrong with you?? It makes me sad. 😞



  •  @dtech said:

    But negative reinforcements stops working once the threat is gone (e.g. no human to punish a dog).
    Negative reinforcement is not punishment.  It's the removal of something unpleasant.  So, for example, if I lock a dog up in a room and only let him out after he barks, I have used negative reinforcement (removal of confinement) to reinforce the barking behavior.  Punishment is the addition of something unpleasant (such as the initial confining of the dog).



  • @intertravel said:

    And what about a techie with communication skills so poor they can't make their co-workers understand the simplest technical point?
    There was a wtf posted here once about a CEO who wanted everything dumbed down for the customer.  If there were any tech support calls, then the interface needed improvement.

     Eventually, the CEO was able to learn that hopelessly stupid people do in fact exist.



  • @dhromed said:

    Ubiquitous home computing has been here for less than a generation and has gone through serious interaction model changes. It's relatively hard to use.

    This is a good point of course, but a computer and certain application within it can be considered standard office equipment, and there is an expectation that you will know how to use it. My point was a little different though - I'm saying if people don't want to learn the job they were hired for, they should be fired. They've been given clear instructions on what to do, and if they simply don't understand the instructions, that's different from refusing to follow them. One thing you get help with (ONE TIME) but the other is a personal issue and companies shouldn't be paying for people to work that out.

    And I don't mean "us vs. them" in terms of IT vs. EverybodyElse - I'm talking about stupid people vs. smart people. If you're stupid, and you insist on being so, then you are part of "them" and I don't think it's a bad thing to differentiate those folks from us.



  • @jasmine2501 said:

    And I don't mean "us vs. them" in terms of IT vs. EverybodyElse - I'm talking about stupid people vs. smart people. If you're stupid, and you insist on being so, then you are part of "them" and I don't think it's a bad thing to differentiate those folks from us.

    The problem is how you define "stupid."

    That guy in the suit might be "stupid" because he had trouble giving you a CSV file without having Excel muck with it first, but maybe he brought in $30 million in revenue last year because he's good at schmoozing with the Italian government.

    Most people are equally intelligent. The only difference is in what they're intelligent about.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Most people are equally intelligent. The only difference is in what they're intelligent about.


    This may be the most blatantly false thing you've ever said. Not that the shmoozer isn't smart about something, but...



  • @boomzilla said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    Most people are equally intelligent. The only difference is in what they're intelligent about.


    This may be the most blatantly false thing you've ever said.

    What was my previous best? I need feedback like this to come up with the ultimate blatantly false statement.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @boomzilla said:
    This may be the most blatantly false thing you've ever said.

    What was my previous best? I need feedback like this to come up with the ultimate blatantly false statement.

    Honestly, if I knew, I probably wouldn't have to use weasel words like "may." But it's probably not even close.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Most people are equally intelligent. The only difference is in what they're intelligent about.
    OK, who kidnapped Blakey and replaced him with some lefty Euro-weenie?



  • @intertravel said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    Most people are equally intelligent. The only difference is in what they're intelligent about.
    OK, who kidnapped Blakey and replaced him with some lefty Euro-weenie?
     

    It's just CS's version of the Twitter bug. That's his account, but someone else's posts. deruler's, I think.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    That guy in the suit might be "stupid" because he had trouble giving you a CSV file without having Excel muck with it first, but maybe he brought in $30 million in revenue last year because he's good at schmoozing with the Italian government.

    Most people are equally intelligent. The only difference is in what they're intelligent about.

    Thank you! To use an analogy, if you asked a carpenter to attach two pieces of steel together, would you not expect him to try a hammer and nail? He's not stupid, just using using what he's familiar with to try and accomplish the given task.

    I see a big difference between using a computer as a tool to get your primary task complete, compared to using one for general purpose tasks like copying or moving files. For example, many people drive cars. They do this to get from point A to point B. Only a handful of people, mechanics, are more familiar than that about cars.

    The instructions the techie has given them may seem simple to him, but they go beyond the scope of the primary task that the employees are familiar with. For them to screw it up would be like one of us "auto noobs" using the wrong timing belt or forgetting to change our oil. To this I say, send them to a mechanic, or rather, write them some automation tools!

    Rather than get mad at the less technical people, take not of what they struggle with. It's an obvious defficiency and a smart (read, not necessarily technical) person would streamline it.



  • While I think calling users stupid is childish and doesn't work to solve any problem, seriously. We're talking about right click > Copy right click > Paste. This is not technical, it does not require a script, it does not need a workflow, and anyone, I mean ANYONE, who expects to hold down a job these days should be able to do this. This is standard operation of the base operating system, and its the same in every damn operating system going back probably to Windows 1. There is NO excuse to not know how to accomplish tasks like this and still claim to know how to use a computer.



  • @Master Chief said:

    This is standard operation of the base operating system, and its the same in every damn operating system going back probably to Windows 1.
    Windows 95 and NT 4 actually. Right mouse button was mostly ignored in older Windows versions.



  • @ender said:

    @Master Chief said:
    This is standard operation of the base operating system, and its the same in every damn operating system going back probably to Windows 1.
    Windows 95 and NT 4 actually. Right mouse button was mostly ignored in older Windows versions.

    Mac Classic didn't have the concept of copying-and-pasting files.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Mac Classic didn't have the concept of copying-and-pasting files.
     

    So how did they duplicate things in those days?

    Open > Save As?



  • @dhromed said:

    So how did they duplicate things in those days?

    Drag & drop with ⌘ (Command) probably.



  • @Sir Twist said:

    @dhromed said:

    So how did they duplicate things in those days?

    Drag & drop with ⌘ (Command) probably.

    That worked. Finder also had a Duplicate command.



  • The point is that copying a file is not new technology and not a difficult task, in any environment, at any time.



  • @Master Chief said:

    The point is that copying a file is not new technology and not a difficult task, in any environment, at any time.

    Yes, but the broader point is that calling people stupid doesn't actually solve problems. And this problem is really, really easy to solve for anybody who isn't a aspie shut-in and capable of talking to other human beings.



  • @Sir Twist said:

    @dhromed said:

    So how did they duplicate things in those days?

    Drag & drop with ⌘ (Command) probably.

    Yep. I remember it took me a while to get used to Win95's version because it had a different concept of how to use modifier keys. Both systems had the sensible default of "move the file if the destination is on the same disk as the source; copy if it's on a different disk". However, the Mac modifier semantics were "use the modifier key to do the non-default action", whereas the Win95 semantics were "use one modifier key to force a copy and use another modifier key to force a move."

    One thing that I always liked about the Mac Classic OS was that it could distinguish between different floppies using the same floppy drive. Made working with floppies much easier on systems with a single floppy drive. I never really understood why we couldn't have gotten that feature in Windows, sometime before the floppy drive receded into obsolescence.

    For those who never used it: when you inserted a floppy you got an icon representing that disk, labelled with the disk's volume label. When you were finished with the disk you dragged this icon to the Trash. There was also an Eject command if you hadn't finished with the disk but needed to use the drive for another disk. When you did this the disk's icon would be greyed out but you could still see and work with the disk's folder structure and files. So if you wanted to copy a file from one disk to another, you'd put the second disk in, eject it, put the first disk in, and drag the file to the second disk; it'd read the file, prompt you to swap disks, wait until you put the [b]correct[/b] floppy in, then write the file. Of course, if you already had both disks showing in the system you just had to drag the file, and it would prompt you to change disks as needed.



  • @Scarlet Manuka said:

    When you were finished with the disk you dragged this icon to the Trash.
     

    inb4 hater

    In OSX, the Trash icon automatically changes to an Eject icon when you're dragging a drive, if I'm not mistaken.

    But still, dragging a floppy to Trash to eject is a failpoint in MacOS.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @Master Chief said:
    The point is that copying a file is not new technology and not a difficult task, in any environment, at any time.

    Yes, but the broader point is that calling people stupid doesn't actually solve problems. And this problem is really, really easy to solve for anybody who isn't a aspie shut-in and capable of talking to other human beings.


    This has nothing to do with social skills, it has to do with wasting time, specifically the time of valuable IT employees who make large hourly wages or salaries. If I was paying people to support my users, and found out they were having to hold their hand through copying files, there would be some users seeking unemployment. I'm sorry, but working an office job, you're expected to know a few base skills, like using a stapler, the alphabet, and how to execute basic pc operations like file management.



  • @Xyro said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    Filed under: a community that by and large thinks recursive acronyms are funny

    ... Are you suggesting that they're not?




    Geez Blakey, just what the heck is wrong with you?? It makes me sad. 😞

    Yeah, right.  A non-techy friend of mind inadvertently stumbled across the gnu.org website's "humour" section the other day.

    .

    .

    I had to apologise on behalf of our entire community and explain that no, we don't think it's funny either. 



  • @dhromed said:

    @Scarlet Manuka said:

    When you were finished with the disk you dragged this icon to the Trash.
     

    inb4 hater

    In OSX, the Trash icon automatically changes to an Eject icon when you're dragging a drive, if I'm not mistaken.

    But still, dragging a floppy to Trash to eject is a failpoint in MacOS.

    Kinda.

    The command for "stop using this disk" is called Put Away. Or Command-Y.

    Dragging the disk to the trash was made a shortcut to Put Away because if you're planning to throw the disk away, you're also in "stop using this disk" mode. It's not like the OS is going to waste its time scrambling the contents of the disk specifically to make it trash, it just spits the disk back out.

    It's an example of how an OS can strictly follow its own metaphor (in this case, disks are "objects" on the "desktop") and still end up confusing. Still, I think it's better than the Windows and Linux philosophies at the time, which was basically, "what the fuck is a metaphor?"

    @Master Chief said:

    This has nothing to do with social skills, it has to do with wasting time, specifically the time of valuable IT employees who make large hourly wages or salaries. If I was paying people to support my users, and found out they were having to hold their hand through copying files, there would be some users seeking unemployment. I'm sorry, but working an office job, you're expected to know a few base skills, like using a stapler, the alphabet, and how to execute basic pc operations like file management.

    Go back and read aspie IT guy's problem. He could solve it with a single email, in seconds. "Hey Bill in Sales, when you get the weekly invoice report, could you just forward the report to me each week as well? Thanks."

    If time is being wasted, it's because he's trying to "hold their hand through copying files" instead of actually solving the actual problem in an efficient way.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Still, I think it's better than the Windows and Linux philosophies at the time, which was basically, "what the fuck is a metaphor?"

    Does "everything is a file" count?

    [code]rm /dev/cdrom[/code]

    Damn, "remove" could have actually made sense....


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