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True IT Blooper #52: A page unturned

Accustomed to working with computer-illiterate users, this system analyst figured she'd heard it all. Then she got an unforgettable call for help.

The PC and its partner the word processor program have made typewriters quaint and collectible.

But some users just can't let go. They print out every document because they think the PC will lose it. To them, RAM is the symbol for Aries. Hidden in the back of their closets are manual typewriters and a hoard of ribbons, ready for the day when people see the light and ditch their PCs.

Then there are the users who make the leap to the digital age and fall flat on their faces. One day Antoinette Silago, a systems analyst at the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, received a support call from someone who'd fallen and couldn't get up.

The caller wanted to learn an easier way to work with word processing documents. He said it was taking him a long time to type a multiple-page document in Microsoft Word because he needed to open a new document for each new page.

"I was confused at this point," Silago said. "I was trying to figure out what he meant."

She hung up the phone and walked over to the man's office. She perused his screen and found four documents open.

"The document he was working on started in the middle of a sentence," Silago said. "I asked him if he had lost his document."

He hadn't. What he did was open a new document every time he came to what he thought was the end of a page.

Still not understanding, Silago asked why he chopped one document into many. The user said he ran out of room on the first document, so started another, and so on.

Somehow Silago contained herself and didn't laugh. She went on to explain that when the typist gets to the end of the page in a word processor document, the software program will automatically continue on a new page – in the same document.

He understood and then tried to delete all his work. Silago stepped in again. This time she showed him how to cut and paste his paragraphs into a single document.

Silago wishes all support calls were so easy.

Share your bloopers with us. E-mail them to Read more of our past IT Blooper Series, which originially appeared at, part of the TechTarget network.

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