The Firehose Method of IT Support

Even the most tech-savvy among us have had to look up some issue here or there; it’s the nature of the tech beast. This article will briefly cover an especially egregious example of how bad tech support can be from Microsoft’s very own “Answers” blog.

A firehose overwhelms, inundates. Likewise, to “support” a user by firehose, is to drown them in possible solutions in the hopes that one works, or, more likely, the victim tires of the whole endeavor and just puts up with the problem.

The Case of the Hidden Mouse Cursor

This specific cretin originates from a *design choice* included with the infamous Windows 8. The patchwork that brought that OS to the one we have today is incomplete, to say the least. A vestige of this harebrained scheme to make every Windows machine look like a tablet is to hide the mouse cursor by default, despite nearly every single PC using a mouse during every single session. (Of course, in the future, we will all be using our computers upright, hands, wrists, and elbows dangling in the wind to limply nudge at shiny, flipping boxes on our screens with one finger at a time. Designers call this hip, new fad, “gorilla arm fatigue and injury”.) Yet, here we are, a decade later, without any option to change this behavior. All you can do is wiggle the mouse after the computer starts up. This is where Microsoft Answers comes to the rescue.

A user asks: “Mouse pointer invisible upon startup until mouse is moved”, how to change this behavior?

Microsoft Answers: “It doesn’t sound right,” and recommends a laundry list of steps to take. First, choose a mouse scheme. Maybe a different color will help forget your problems? Then, try every other USB port on the computer. “When did it last work correctly?” Never. Change the batteries anyway. Try the mouse in another PC. Try another mouse in this PC. Update the driver *and* roll it back. Uninstall the driver, then reboot and reinstall the driver without a mouse. Uninstall any mouse software. Reinstall drivers manually from manufacturer. Repair Install from Media Creation Tool. Finally, re-install Windows. Nuke and pave, baby.

I won’t dog on this support person too hard, but this answer could have been infinitely more helpful by just admitting the request can’t be fulfilled. To hide the mouse on boot is an intentional design choice. An attentive user can figure this out. Sometimes you just need to stop and smell the mouse cursors from time to time.

Author: Frank

I'm the senior software engineer, systems administrator, and Chief Security Officer at my house in Connecticut.