I try to let people describe what goes wrong, and if possible, I ask question that the other one has to answer. Having error messages helps a lot, but even without, it can be doable. When debugging CGI applications over the phone, don't forget to ask about the error log. When you ask about error logs, don't ask for the last $few lines, but ask them to tail -f it, and read out loud what it says as the error occurs, and don't let them skip important things (with error messages, only the first one is important, as the other ones are probably results of something else being wrong).
When someone spells out c-h-o-m-p, I let them say every word as it is, and I complain about every word needlessly spelled out.
A problem I run into often is that people tend to forget dollars as they occur much. This is even more so if the person in question has no Perl experience. print $foo and print foo are not things you want pronounced equally.
I like it most when both ends have the same color-highlighting editor. That way I can ask for certain colors (namely those for comments and strings) to be ignored. (vim++ btw)
If you have e-mail or a fax, let them send code to you. It's a lot more efficient. If they can't, because the code is copyrighted, tell them that telling you the code is a violation too and that you have already written down everything he/she said.
- Yes, I reinvent wheels.
- Spam: Visit eurotraQ.