music, opinion and technology

trouble shots

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I just banged out the following to close off an out-of-control thread on the MPC Forums, in ten minutes, and I’m slightly pleased at the results, so I think I’ll preserve it:

(Adopts Jerry Springer-esque closing statement pose.)

If there’s a lesson to be learned from this here thread, it is about the value of troubleshooting skills in all walks of life.

  1. Define a goal. What are you trying to do? Can you clearly describe it to others? If not, maybe you’re trying to do too much at once. So…
  2. Divide and conquer. Break a big task or problem down into little ones. In a MIDI setup, start with a single MIDI cable, from A to B. Get that working as it should be
    working. If you don’t know how it should be working, you haven’t defined your Goal properly – go back to step 1!
  3. What Changed? If something goes from Working to Broken, then it Changed. Sometimes the Change is out of your control (hardware failure etc.), but for everything else, it’s someone’s fault, usually yours. Be prepared to Undo any Changes you make, before you make them.
  4. Reporting: a newspaper cub reporter soon learns a mantra that forms the basis of reporting in all its forms: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Not every story needs to have all those elements, but it’s a good place to start when reporting a problem. (OK, we don’t really want to know Who, unless you’re Pete Townshend.)
  5. If you ask for technical support,whoever you talk to doesn’t want to know what isn’t happening. They need to know what is happening. What’s the difference? Say “it didn’t work”, and you can expect more questions like “what didn’t work? what did you see? what were you trying to do? why were you trying to do that?”
  6. Assume nothing. We don’t know anything about your setup unless you tell us. We don’t know what you want to do (see Step 1). We don’t how you tried to do it. We don’t know what you’re working with, how you’ve wired it up, what settings you’ve chosen, or any of that stuff. If someone, trying to help, asks for more information, be prepared to give it if you want further help. We’re not dissing you, being funny about it, or wasting your time. If you knew exactly what questions we would ask, or what information we would need, you probably would have answered that already and found the problem. Don’t sweat it.
  7. One more thing: can’t we all just get along? That’s what I get from years of working in technical support…

Written by brian t

June 16, 2004 at 6:30 pm

Posted in music, technology

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