On the other hand, when I call my DSL provider to say that a nameserver or router is down, I want them to believe I might know what I'm talking about. When I give the IP address of a downed piece of network hardware and ask them to ping it, I don't want to be asked to reconfigure my network settings or to reinstall my DSL software.

Lest you misunderstand me, it is not especially difficult for that helpdesk tech to check whether I'm right in saying that a given nameserver is down. A simple nslookup www.yahoo.com my.nameserver.here, or the Windows equivalent, will do nicely. It would take less time than to tell me to reboot and read off my network configuration.

See, fact is, I actually do know more about computers than the tech I just called. I realize that many of the people who say this to helpdesk technicians are pulling it out of their asses -- which is why I don't get overly annoyed while talking to the technician -- but it would be nice if you folks would listen once in a while.