The user with three hands

Hal – whats the oddest problem you have had reported by a user recently? – Peter.

Well Peter. I recently was told by a user that a member of their staff was having difficulty with a laptop. Seemingly the user was having to apply pressure with their palms on either side of the trackpad to get  the machine to boot.

A new machine was acquired for the user and data transfer was needed. I had the laptop dropped off and began the process of transferring it. Normally an external caddy would have been used but I was curious exactly what the problem might be. A few boots later I was able to duplicate the users palm pressure technique but soon realised that with both hands occupied to apply pressure that typing and moving the mouse would require a different technique OR another appendage.

Some testing with hand weights used for exercise (or holding doors open) proved very successful and the machine was now booting without palm pressure. A call to the user looking for their password resulted in a question of “Who else is working on the laptop with you?” – to which I replying no-one.

The user then enquired how was I getting the machine to boot and I described the weight technique. The transfer was completed to an external drive and the user subsequently appeared to collect the disk. I asked how long they had experienced the original problem and they advised a few weeks. I asked how they had coped and they said it had been awkward.

Further questioning on the exact technique they had used to apply pressure and type at the same time yielded the sheepish answer that they had tried that but found it impossible even using one palm and an elbow – as their hand could only reach one side of the keyboard. In the end they had resorted to one person pressing two hands  on the laptop while another user actually did the typing and moving of the mouse.

So at least the mystery of the user with three hands was solved.