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NeoOffice :: View topic - For all the volunteers who provide tech support here
For all the volunteers who provide tech support here
 
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wheat
Operator


Joined: Sep 18, 2003
Posts: 46
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:02 pm    Post subject: For all the volunteers who provide tech support here Reply with quote

I hope this is not off-topic. I'm a regular user who has made some paid donations to NeoOffice. I've been on the Mac platform since 1987, and I'm a certified technician and consultant.

Recently a new Mac user posted questions here, because he was under the impression that NeoOffice was something that enabled people to run any software program written for Microsoft Windows.

I guess he never looked at the NeoOffice.org home page, which has an excellent description of what NeoOffice does.

When the nature of NeoOffice was explained to him, he said that he was misinformed by bad tech support people, but I think it's likely that he was not.

My guess is that the techie correctly told him "NeoOffice lets you work with documents created with Microsoft Office."

Not being technically inclined, he heard this as "NeoOffice lets you run programs for Microsoft Windows."

The reason is that a lot of folks who use computers every day don't understand any basic terminology. It's hard for them to ask for help, and it's hard for them to understand the advice they are given.

Lots of PC users confuse Microsoft Windows with Microsoft Office, or think they are the same thing. They don't understand what an operating system is and how that differs from what applications are. Now that so many people are "switching", they get even more confused when they have to learn about options on the Mac.

Just two weeks ago I "switched" my sister-in-law to her first Mac. She's a professional writer and really needed Microsoft Office for the Mac, although she did try NeoOffice first. My brother is 41 and has never used a Mac. Despite the fact that he is a Fortune 500 bank vice-president and a project manager of their Web development team, he kept telling me that he had ordered "Microsoft Windows for Mac" and wanted me to install it. I realized that he was only talking about Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, which is what I had recommended. (It cost only $18 for home use through his bank's corporate licensing plan, by the way).

I explained, "Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office are separate things. Microsoft Office for Mac has nothing to do with Microsoft Windows at all, despite being from Microsoft. While it's possible to install and run Windows on Mac, that's a whole different problem, and we agreed that we were not going to do that." He shrugged.

Despite this, a week later when the Microsoft Office for Mac DVD arrived, he emailed me and said, "OK, Microsoft Windows for Mac is here. When can you install it?" I could not persuade him that he was missing an important distinction in nomenclature that would confuse me or any other tech support person.

Please keep up the good work!

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Wheat Williams
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pluby
The Architect
The Architect


Joined: Jun 16, 2003
Posts: 11883
Location: California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:30 pm    Post subject: Re: For all the volunteers who provide tech support here Reply with quote

wheat wrote:
I explained, "Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office are separate things. Microsoft Office for Mac has nothing to do with Microsoft Windows at all, despite being from Microsoft. While it's possible to install and run Windows on Mac, that's a whole different problem, and we agreed that we were not going to do that." He shrugged.


I got a chuckle out of this. But it really isn't suprising as from what I can tell, most Windows machines have Microsoft Office preinstalled. By selling Office at a wholesale price discount to OEM PC vendors, the preinstalled option hides the price of Office in the total PC's purchase price. IMHO, this seems to have been a very successful strategy for Microsoft over the years.

What must really be a nasty surprise for lot of people who switch to Mac is that there is no Microsoft Office to be found on their new Mac. Sad

Patrick
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K-9
The Merovingian


Joined: Mar 15, 2006
Posts: 571
Location: U.S.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

quote:" hope this is not off-topic. I'm a regular user who has made some paid donations to NeoOffice. I've been on the Mac platform since 1987, and I'm a certified technician and consultant. "

I am going out on a limb here - but what the hell:

Great! mucho appreciato! If there is a such a thing.

"Recently a new Mac user posted questions here, because he was under the impression that NeoOffice was something that enabled people to run any software program written for Microsoft Windows. "

true

"I guess he never looked at the NeoOffice.org home page, which has an excellent description of what NeoOffice does.

When the nature of NeoOffice was explained to him, he said that he was misinformed by bad tech support people, but I think it's likely that he was not. "


Sorry - that is a conjecture on your part! It is also plausible; but putting potential words or meanings into someone's post means you are Kreskin or Chris Angel or whomever...

""My guess is that the techie correctly told him "NeoOffice lets you work with documents created with Microsoft Office."

yes - that is possible....

"Not being technically inclined, he heard this as "NeoOffice lets you run programs for Microsoft Windows." "

ehhhh!!!!!....

"The reason is that a lot of folks who use computers every day don't understand any basic terminology."


you mentioned this in an earlier post and seems that that is a major point of contention with you. People are all at different levels of knowledge and techie/geekiness or even Ludditeness, that you cannot rant on individuals that are neophytes or learning or not to your level of expertise. That is pure Hubris!


" It's hard for them to ask for help, and it's hard for them to understand the advice they are given."


That is where a good tech support person get them to solve their problem with expert tech help and counsel. They are far and few between these days but they are out there.

"Lots of PC users confuse Microsoft Windows with Microsoft Office, or think they are the same thing. They don't understand what an operating system is and how that differs from what applications are. Now that so many people are "switching", they get even more confused when they have to learn about options on the Mac. "

True. But how many people understand the working of an engine or a car or even fixing one with all of the high-tech computers involved nowadays. the old time good car mechanics haven't a clue now with all of the computers and diagnostics equipment needed to figure out what is wrong.

"Just two weeks ago I "switched" my sister-in-law to her first Mac. She's a professional writer and really needed Microsoft Office for the Mac, although she did try NeoOffice first. My brother is 41 and has never used a Mac. Despite the fact that he is a Fortune 500 bank vice-president and a project manager of their Web development team, he kept telling me that he had ordered "Microsoft Windows for Mac" and wanted me to install it. I realized that he was only talking about Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, which is what I had recommended. (It cost only $18 for home use through his bank's corporate licensing plan, by the way)."

project manager of his web dev team and he has no clue - I guess i should be the president because i do have a clue... Built nmerous nice websites with various apps. both platforms - self taught....

"I explained, "Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office are separate things. Microsoft Office for Mac has nothing to do with Microsoft Windows at all, despite being from Microsoft. While it's possible to install and run Windows on Mac, that's a whole different problem, and we agreed that we were not going to do that." He shrugged."

As Atlas Shrugged? I doubt it...

"Despite this, a week later when the Microsoft Office for Mac DVD arrived, he emailed me and said, "OK, Microsoft Windows for Mac is here. When can you install it?" I could not persuade him that he was missing an important distinction in nomenclature that would confuse me or any other tech support person. "

OK - but don't get the post.... sorry.

"Please keep up the good work!""

they consistently do!

And by now I probably am on Patrick's shit list! for this post.... but I could not help it.


the last 2 days you seem to post a few of critical posts critiquing neo and Patrick and the FAQ and whatever else. Seems like you have some agenda here and it is so out place from what we normally see here i had to post this wild ass post myself.

Weird!
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pluby
The Architect
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Joined: Jun 16, 2003
Posts: 11883
Location: California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since there really is no support question in this topic, I have moved it to the Ranting forum. Feel free to continue the discussion as the Ranting forum is for just that: discussion how you feel.

As for how I feel about this topic, this used to bother me as well (look at some of my really old posts for a flavor). Back then, I felt that user support was getting in the way of our real work: developing new features.

Over time, Ed and I finally realized that our code isn't what makes us special, it was our rapid support and bug fixing. Once we came to that conclusion, it was much easier to figure out how to handle the constant stream of questions.

Confusion about what things are called or which software does what don't bother me anymore and, in fact, take very little time to answer. Duplicating an answer to a question that was answered in a different request also is easy and does not take much time or bother.

In many cases, much of the confusion is language as nearly half of our users are not native English speakers. I try (not always successfully) to provide clear questions to help define the problem and then provide clear, unbiased answers whether it is good news or bad news.

Surprisingly, it wasn't until I learned to respond patiently to every request that comes in that NeoOffice between a self-supporting project.

Patrick
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sardisson
Town Crier
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Joined: Feb 01, 2004
Posts: 4588

PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

K-9 wrote:
the last 2 days you seem to post a few of critical posts critiquing neo and Patrick and the FAQ and whatever else. Seems like you have some agenda here and it is so out place from what we normally see here i had to post this wild ass post myself.

Just for the record, you can see from the author info in the left-hand column that wheat has been around here for a long time (longer than me, for instance), and though his post count is not very high (IIRC, at one point he had to go back to MS Office because he needed something that Neo didn't provide, or which didn't work well enough in Neo), he has made some valuable contributions over the years.

As for the FAQ, there's not a single one of us here (well, maybe Patrick and Ed Wink ) who hasn't at one point suggested the same sorts of things. It's something like a rite of passage for NeoOffice fans and volunteers Very Happy Over time we've learned to better understand Patrick's point of view, especially as, over time, we've seen the support volume expand. Everyone reaches that realization on his own time, and so while I cringe a little bit each time someone makes the suggestion again, I don't fault them for making it. No one else is in Patrick's shoes (or at Patrick's computer), so it makes it very difficult for anyone else to "get" those issues from the beginning.

As an aside, once upon a time, Patrick did very little user support; you saw him in Bugzilla, and in the Testing forum thread about his latest patch--when he wasn't off on a consulting gig for a couple weeks at a time. "Regulars" here did 90% of the support work. As NeoOffice became more complete and more popular, the support work grew, and the collection of regulars did not expand to keep pace with the requests (in fact, sadly, most of the old "regulars" who are still here have less time today for support than we did 4 years ago). Patrick stepped in to fill the gap, supported by the donations that enabled him to stop disappearing for weeks at at time to earn money via consulting. In addition to user support times measured in hours (or fractions thereof), Patrick still manages to turn around a test patch for a bug in days-to-a-week in most cases.

As we've yet been unable to clone Patrick Wink , we need to make sure that NeoOffice does not become so popular that we (and especially Patrick) are overwhelmed by support requests from people who love NeoOffice, or who hope NeoOffice will replicate the particular obscure feature of MS Office that they use daily. Quality user support and quick bug fixes are one of the main things that set NeoOffice apart from the competition (OOo)....

Smokey

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K-9
The Merovingian


Joined: Mar 15, 2006
Posts: 571
Location: U.S.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

post removed.
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jakeOSX
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Joined: Aug 12, 2003
Posts: 1373

PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2009 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

indeed, i started the neowiki as a direct result of one of the discussions sardisson is refering to. we were losing time/information/sanity in the forums with a lack of organization to the solutions.

and we all speak up from time to time about what we think should be changed around here. it is a rite of passage of sorts.

of sorts.
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wheat
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Joined: Sep 18, 2003
Posts: 46
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:50 am    Post subject: Thanks Reply with quote

Thanks for all the comments on my post which was correctly re-classified as a "rant".

The reason I wrote this is that I wanted to try and analyze a commonly re-occuring misconception expressed by a lot of people seeking tech support for NeoOffice. I wanted to present my theories as to why this misconception occurs, with the intention of fostering some discussion on how we experienced NeoOffice users could better understand where the new users are coming from and how better to help them with this problem. This may be an issue that the experienced tech support providers at NeoOffice have already considered, but I wanted to comment on the problem that I perceive.

I am not trying to look down upon or condescend to newbies. On the contrary, I do Windows and Mac tech support for a living and I work with all kinds of users. I'm always trying to develop better ways to interact with users with different levels of knowledge, to communicate more effectively, and to troubleshoot.

So what I wrote is my theories and guesses. I was hoping for some suggestions from others about how better to help new users understand this misconception.

If you found my line of reasoning or my method of communication unorthodox, please forgive me.

Since I am not a programmer, all that I have been able to do all these years is make a few small monetary donations to NeoOffice. Not much. But I thought that it was time for me to contribute in other ways. That's why I wrote these recent posts. I'm not a regular participant here, and I hope my posts were not unwelcome.

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pluby
The Architect
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:07 am    Post subject: Re: Thanks Reply with quote

wheat wrote:
The reason I wrote this is that I wanted to try and analyze a commonly re-occuring misconception expressed by a lot of people seeking tech support for NeoOffice. I wanted to present my theories as to why this misconception occurs, with the intention of fostering some discussion on how we experienced NeoOffice users could better understand where the new users are coming from and how better to help them with this problem. This may be an issue that the experienced tech support providers at NeoOffice have already considered, but I wanted to comment on the problem that I perceive.


Ed and I sometimes muse on this and, to date, the theory that I keep gravitating to is that Microsoft Office has been the de facto office suite standard for so long, any other software that calls itself an office suite is implicitly expected to work the same. For many in their forties (like me) or younger, Microsoft Office has been the market leader in this space for their entire working lives.

The problem is that when users get something as complex as an office suite (does a car have hundreds of menus?) that does not conform to the standard that they know, they now have to search for and relearn operations that they could do by rote in Microsoft Office. If a user has been using Microsoft Office for years, they are going to be more productive with it and substituting a product that works different and has less features is going to cause the user to have to work much more until they learn all of the idiosyncracies and limitations of the new product.

So, what makes me rant is the common software industry tactic of explicitly or implicitly advertising their products as *the* solution. I thought vaporware and demoware product announcements were a bad practice that would die out in the 1990s but, for some reason, its use continues on.

Not to pick on OpenOffice.org specifically, but by perusing their http://why.openoffice.org/ site, I see key statements like:

Quote:
OpenOffice.org 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.


It is? I though Microsoft Office has 80% or more marketshare.

Quote:
The result: OpenOffice.org 3 does everything you want your office software to do, the way you want it to.


Really? Then why are they constantly getting complaints about Microsoft Office file compatibility and features that are missing but are in Microsoft Office.

Again, I am not picking on OpenOffice.org as nearly every software company seems to do this. The point I am trying to make is that software vendors keep advertising that their product is something bigger and better than it really is. Yet, we in the industry keep acting surprised when users call us on our unsubstantiated claims.

After working on NeoOffice 60 to 80 hours per week for the last 6 years, I have concluded that both NeoOffice and OpenOffice.org are really closer to AppleWorks and Microsoft Works in functionality. So that is what Ed and I tell people.

Just my two cents,

Patrick
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Samwise
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Joined: Apr 25, 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Thanks Reply with quote

pluby wrote:
Quote:
OpenOffice.org 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.


It is? I though Microsoft Office has 80% or more marketshare.


Well, OOo is the leading open-source office suite Wink
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pluby
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Thanks Reply with quote

Samwise wrote:
pluby wrote:
Quote:
OpenOffice.org 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.


It is? I though Microsoft Office has 80% or more marketshare.


Well, OOo is the leading open-source office suite Wink


ROFL. Even I read more into this than it actually says. I had to read Samwise's post several times before "the leading open-source office software suite" didn't look like "the leading office software suite". Embarassed

Patrick
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yoxi
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At least you didn't think it said 'the leading windows office suite' Smile
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sardisson
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Or there's IBM:

Quote:
So, what do you get when you combine the standard-bearer for GUI elegance of the Mac OS X with the clean, award winning interface of Lotus Symphony? An unbeatable combination of innovation and simplicity for office productivity applications, designed with users in mind.

The development team has worked hard to ensure that Lotus Symphony not only works on Mac OS X but is optimized to take advantage of elegance of Aqua GUI theme with the innovation and simplicity Mac users have come to expect.

I find it hard to believe that anything based on OpenOffice.org can live up to that set of claims Razz

Smokey

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pluby
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sardisson wrote:
I find it hard to believe that anything based on OpenOffice.org can live up to that set of claims Razz


Also, "works on Mac OS X" is a bit of stretch as IIRC it only runs on Mac OS X 10.5 and Intel. To me, that reads "works on Mac OS X for those who have lots of disposable cash or a big capital budget". Very Happy

Patrick
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ovvldc
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pluby wrote:
Also, "works on Mac OS X" is a bit of stretch as IIRC it only runs on Mac OS X 10.5 and Intel. To me, that reads "works on Mac OS X for those who have lots of disposable cash or a big capital budget".


Which is, not coincidentally, also IBM's client base...

Best wishes,
Oscar

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