Pretty Much Over I.T.

Bored TechYup, I’m pretty much over it.  I.T. that is.  I’ve been doing it for over 20 years now.  I started doing it in the Navy.  It was a blast at first.  Helping people.  Hearing “thank you” at the end of every conversation.  Sadly people have grown unappreciative.  They do the same things over and over and learn nothing.  Today I took a call of, “My mailbox is full again.  Please empty it.  Thanks.”.  Followed by the click of an ended call.  They have asked me to do this every few weeks since February of 2009.  They still start the call with, “I’m computer illiterate.”.  Then why do you own a computer if you’ve learned nothing in 8 years?

The same people call with the same problems.  “I don’t know why this keeps happening?”.  We explain, they ignore.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  My friend deleted some programs, now their browser won’t open.

If it wasn’t for the fact I get medical and dental, I’d quit and go full time delivery driver.  At least there all I have to deal with is cheap-asses who don’t tip.  That job is hard to let go.  Despite my clothes smelling like garlic butter when I come home.  That washes out.  My vehicle may smell like it, but now I’m using disposable seat covers to help cut down on that.  Plus I can get them steam cleaned.  However, the money I make is too hard to pass up most weeks.  I’ve looked for a job for over two years.  I don’t look as often.  There are next to no jobs I want that would start me at $12 an hour.  I don’t want to be a tech anymore.  Today’s lazy ass doesn’t appreciate us at all.

I don’t do computer repair anymore on a personal level, except of course my own computers.  Which I can’t remember the last time I needed to do that outside of replacing a faulty part.  Especially when people won’t bring me their computers so I can use my high speed internet to fix it.  Not to mention, I can be in an environment I’m comfortable in.  The last comment I got was, “there is a reason why i don’t come to ur house is ur trailer is small.”.  Do you realize how insulting this is?  My place plenty big enough with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  I tried to let that comment go.  Didn’t work.

In retort, I don’t want to drive to the boondocks, where there is limited internet to download large updates.  Where I have deal with the odor of pot, cigarette smoke and empty beer cans.  Sure you go outside to smoke while I’m there, but your home already is permeated with the smell.  It’s gross.  Let’s not forget, I work two jobs over 50 hours a week.  I generally only get 1 full day off a week.  I don’t want to do more tech support on what little time off I get.  I’d rather go see my kids, or go out on a date.

Farewell Windows XP

Windows XP Tombstone I’ve kind of put it out of my mind.  But the time is coming that Windows XP will no longer be supported by Microsoft.  As for me, I gave up on it months ago.  When a customer calls for my regular job I encourage them to get away from it and soon.  It’s time to go to Windows 7 or Windows 8.  Windows 8 Metro may be a pain in the ass, but with some Classic Shell it becomes a fairly good operating system.

Only reason I remembered the end of XP is coming, is because someone handed me an XP computer to fix yesterday.  No media to speak of with it and I threw out my XP CD’s months ago before I moved back to Michigan.  I handed it back, and concluded I no longer support Windows XP for the repairs I do around here.  Hell I still cringe if someone talks to me about Windows Vista.  Unfortunately, it has a hang-time of April 11, 2017.

Whatever, it’s beyond time to pull the plug.  It’s brain dead.  Life support is getting too expensive.  Make your own metaphor.  I don’t care.  But for God’s sake let it go!

Public Service Announcement

OGODHELPMEIt’s often said in these modern times, “Common sense is so rare, it should be considered a super power!”.  I would have to agree.  People just don’t think before they act.  Once in a while I’m guilty of this, but usually only when pushed really hard.  I’m so surprised that people never think when they use a phone to call someone else, they automatically assume that the person on the other end knows everything going on in the customers home.  So this means the caller can leave out all the important details.

You can’t call a mechanic and tell them about a noise your car is making without telling them what kind of car you own.  You can’t ask a doctors advice when you can’t tell them the symptoms.  You can’t call support without telling us what it is you’re having trouble with.  If your only answer is “I don’t know.”, then we don’t know how to help you.  It’s that simple.

It doesn’t matter if you bought the item, or if it was given to you.  If you own it, you should know the very basics as to what brand it is and be able to read simple things like the model number printed on it.  You should have noticed in the months or years of using it, what are the particulars of it.  Such as an email program.  You should’ve seen the name of it by now.  Either under the icon or at the top of the window when it’s open.

Example being, if you own a computer, you should be able to tell me the following:  (None of this information is “technical”.  It’s easily found on the body, on a sticker or on your screen.  This is called reading, and reading is fundamental.)

  • Brand (HP, Dell, Acer, etc…)
  • Model (2200, XPS 8700, etc…)
  • Software frequently used (Windows 7, Internet Explorer 11, etc…)

Any “technical” information I need, such as processor, ram, hard drive, and so on.  I will help you locate it or look it up once I get the information above.  See how those few, easy to find things can help us?

There are only three things I ask, or any other tech person would ask of any one person when they call:

  1. Know what you own.
  2. Read to me exactly.
  3. Listen to me.

I’ve covered this before in fairly good detail.  If all you’re going to do is assume I know, argue with me when I ask and then get overly sensitive and act like a child, I’m at a complete loss.  No one can help you.  Hire someone to come to your house and do it for you.  We don’t offer that service.  If you want free help over the phone, you’re going to have to participate a little.

In a recent case.  A customer insisted that we gave them the equipment.  After many calls and much frustration, it turned out that an ex-employee gave them a piece of equipment, programmed it, and set it up for them.  None of it was documented anywhere.  The equipment was something we had never carried in stock for sale.  None of the current staff had any familiarity with this equipment.  Though being the person I am, I explained this carefully and offered to reprogram it free of charge.  All they had to do was bring it to a service location.  This was not a good enough offer.  Instead they chose to cancel service and then post their dissatisfaction on our company Facebook page like a 12 year old having a drama fit.

The major complaint was that I laughed at them during a call.  And that I was condescending to them because I insisted they tell me what they owned in order to be able to help them.  When in all actuality, the absurdity of them arguing with me.  Arguing about how I should know what they own and that they should not have to do anything to help me help them.  I’ve never been to their home, I’ve never seen their equipment and I have no way of knowing if they bought anything new.  It was too much for me to take at one point, and I chuckled.  It was not an all out laugh.  Sure I feel a tiny bit sorry about that.  However when they blasted our Facebook page with accusations of making fun of them, taking them seriously became very difficult.  We all know I don’t like Facebook.  This just proves it is not a good customer tool.  If they wanted an apology, they should’ve called my supervisor and I would’ve said I’m sorry for it and perhaps been disciplined.  You cry like a little kid in a shopping mall and the only thing that will happen is no one will want to listen to you.  I have a severe disdain for overly sensitive people anyways.

If you really want good service when you call, consider these following things:

  1. Make note of the exact error you are receiving, and repeat it exactly when prompted.
  2. If your frustration level is high, please take a break and calm yourself before calling Tech Support.
  3. Do not fuss and curse at the technician.
  4. Do not call Tech Support when you’ve been drinking or under the influence of other mind altering substances!
  5. Have your computer on, be in front of it as well as ensure you have the proper time to work on it.
  6. Please do not start your call with “I’m computer illiterate”!
  7. Please do not throw your “title” at us, or job qualifications.  (or tell us how long you’ve been a customer)
  8. Listen to Tech Support carefully, and do not click or press keys unless told to do so.
  9. Be honest with your Tech Support Personnel, inform them of any and all changes you have made recently.
  10. Remove any or all distractions before calling Tech Support.

Just sayin’

Internet Helpdesk

I had almost forgotten about this video.  It’s hilarious and yet some of the things ring true today.  I can’t count the times these kind of things happen day to day when we get call in.

by Wes Borg @

It’s also amazing that customers can’t tell me the name of their email program they’ve been using for years.  Or when you ask what the error message was, the reply you get is almost exactly “something about it not working”.  Yeah.. That’s helpful.  NOT

I think the only thing that is changing now, is that asking for the kid in the house no longer seems to work.  That generation must have grown up.

Life’s Little Victories…

Robby Flay CheerSometimes you just need to celebrate life’s little victories.  I have one to celebrate today as I got an email confirming that I’m not crazy after all.  At least, less like I’m going crazy.  You know, that feeling you get when you know for a fact, that you’re right when everyone else says you are wrong….

Let me explain…

While I am an Evil Genius and all, I have a lot of tools at my disposal.  There is however, a secret weapon I use to help me when I make these gorgeous websites.  It’s not part of my freeware.  So when I ran across a show stopping issue with it, I tried my best to make the community of users aware of this issue via their forums.  As I had thought that the best place to bring it up.  Hoping that the developers paid attention to their users concerns.  However, I guess not all companies pay attention to their customer forums like other companies do (Hi Blizzard!).

I ended up wasting several days of my time trying to argue that I had found a very serious problem and that it should be addressed.  Instead I was met with self proclaimed experts who clearly thought I was off my trolley, as it were.  Instead of them following my carefully laid out explanation, or trying to reproduce the issue themselves…  They merely made suggestions that I must have overlooked something obvious or that my WordPress installation was somehow incorrect.

I’d like to think that after 5 years of using WordPress, I’m somewhat of an expert of what I can do with it, how to install it and how to operate it to nearly it’s full extent of use.  I don’t go advertising myself as such, as I don’t want to start taking a billion questions about it.  I make it look pretty and I use it, but I don’t want to be tech support for it.  I save my tech skills for computers.  It’s where I excel in life.

As it turns out, this company apparently only focuses only on customer support tickets.  So carefully playing the side of the customer, I was sure to cross my t’s and dot my i’s and made sure that I had every detail they needed right up front (god I wish customers would do that for me, instead of making me beg them to read the WHOLE ERROR MESSAGE!!!! … er sorry got sidetracked…).  Anyway… and with just a few days passing, I received the following email response today:

Hi Denver,

Sorry for the delay in responding.
Thanks for reporting this issue.
We were able to reproduce it and it’s currently investigating by our developers.
The fix should be included in the next update of our software.
We apologize for this temporary inconvenience.

So neener neener neener to all those useless self experts that troll forums trying to make themselves sound important!  Of course, I still have to wait for the next release to find out if they actually fixed it, but since they confirmed I did find a problem, I am at least for now hopeful that I did a good thing.

I’m going to buy a Mac

Play for Crowd Reaction

MacBook ProYes sir.  I’ve decided to actually break down and buy a Mac.  You may ask “Why?”.  Especially since everyone I know, knows that I’m about as Anti-“i” as they come.  I can’t stand the idea of Macs and have always complained about the cost.

However there are some very hard truths about Macs.  Yes they are expensive, and yet I always say I can’t justify why.  Actually, I’ve always been able to justify the reason for their expense.  Just in the name of competition between economical choices, Macs are not economical.  The reason Macs are so expensive goes way back to the early 2000’s when outsourcing of tech support from many major computer companies took place.  Including my job at Gateway.  Short and sweet of the story is, outsourcing took place simply because American consumers wanted cheaper computers.  Average households could not afford $1000, $1500 or $2000 computers.  So to cut costs, computer manufacturers did away with American Techs who made $15 – $20 per hour.  I know, as that’s the kind of money I used to make working at Gateway.  Apple as far as I know, never outsourced their support.  Hence the costs have never really gone down.  Also, Apple does not skimp on the hardware.  They use only top quality parts.  Something I think they don’t convey very well on their website or through their sales people.  I guess they assume that the info serves no purpose.  Perhaps they should just say “top quality components”, or something similar.  Good parts add to the cost of anything.

Also, since people have become lazier and are now more easily manipulated by marketing scams er… techniques.  Macs are becoming increasingly more popular.  Even if for all the wrong reasons.  Hence, it’s becoming more frequent I end up talking to a customer who has a Mac and I can only give so much help to them.  Therefore, it’s only common sense that I finally give in and learn Macs so I can be a better and more helpful tech.

And as you know the people who are brainwashed into believing that Macs are invulnerable to viruses, here’s a news clip I found today on CNET just adding to the proof that such thinking will get you into trouble:

CNET: A new version of rogue antivirus malware that targets the Macintosh operating system does not need victims to type in their administrator passwords to install and infect the machine, a security company said today.  Read more

Regardless, I’m smart enough to protect my near $2000 investment.  With a Mac Antivirus program, like the ones that have been available for years now.

Also, it should be noted that it doesn’t matter if you use Windows, Mac or Linux.  You can still become a victim of identity theft and phishing scams.  No operating system will protect you from your own ignorance.  Knowing what to look for to avoid such things is far more key than any protective security software.

Granted, I can’t say I’m totally thrilled with the idea.  I’m still not a Mac fan and I’m sure that’s unlikely to change even owning one.  Especially with having to invest that kind of money, just so I can help people who normally annoy the hell out of me because they fled to Macs, just because they thought it was a safe thing to do and they still refuse to learn anything about them.  True Mac fans never call us because they have the intelligence and desire to at least try to learn how to use the things they pay money for.  And for them I say, “More power to ya!”.

However, this is my chance to better my technical skills and learn something completely new.  Also, I can finally help correct some of the common myths among our clueless Mac using customers and friends.  It will be a couple of months before I make the purchase, I’ll keep everyone who visits here posted of my progress.

I’m sick of email

I’m so sick of email.   Not sick of me personally using it, but troubleshooting it for customers.  For me, email is simple to use and if you follow some simple instructions, you can pretty much avoid spam all together.

I would be very afraid to find out what the average Joe User does to his/her computer to have so many different problems with email.

I sincerely miss being a regular computer tech, working on format reloads, hardware replacement, troubleshooting Windows issues and drivers.  It’s all I really had to know.  If a customer had a problem with a software, I just had to know how to uninstall and reinstall it.  If that didn’t fix the problem, they had to contact their software manufacturer or their ISP.

Now I’m the ISP tech.  I can troubleshoot connection issues all day long.  No problem.  I can deal with hosting without too much trouble.  Email, is a true pain to deal with any way you look at it.

People have all sorts of odd issues.   Can’t send, can’t receive or both.  They can’t read the error messages when I ask for them.  Or just say it isn’t working and the dramatic pause waiting for a miracle answer.

Some of the common issues:

  • Incorrect POP or SMTP server
  • Incorrect username/password
  • Filtering out friends email address (so they never see it)
  • Friends have them filtered
  • Corrupt mail boxes
  • Viruses
  • They “never had a password” why would they need one now
  • They have been blacklisted so their friends don’t get their emails

This list can go on forever.  It’s almost as if every customer has a unique issue with email.  And it’s scary to know how many don’t have any antivirus on their systems.

The worst part is customer is dead set on it being our fault they have things incorrect and get very very nasty if I don’t have an instant magical answer.  More over, when I find out it’s not our problem (99.9% of the time it isn’t), but it’s with their receiving party’s ISP or they have been blacklisted, they go on a long rant of how it can’t be, as their friend knows all about computers (but works as a refuge technician for a local disposal company).  It’s as if they just refuse to listen to reason.  It’s frustrating.  I wish all these blackberry, iPhone, email popping people would just use Gmail.  This way it’s not my problem and they can do their email from anywhere at all.  (don’t get me started on people who love to check email on 10 different devices)

“We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.” ― Konstantin Josef Jireček (and trust me, this current issue, this woman is not only ungrateful, she’s malicious)

Call Center – The Movie

In my trips around the internet, I find a lot of things. However, I am very surprised when I started working on the Ten Rules for Calling Tech Support script, that I didn’t run across this site/movie sooner. It’s freakin’ hilarious! For those of you who have ‘talked’ about the outsourced tech support issues over the past 5 or so years, this will make your day.

The movie is simply called Call Center. It’s a great short produced by Amyn Kaderali, Manish Goyal and Sunil Malhotra and done very well. It even received the following awards:

  • BEST COMEDY! – Riverside International Film Festival
  • “A Hilarious Spoof!” – SF Weekly
  • “A Must-See! Fantastic!” – Film Monthly
  • Golden Reel Nominee Best Short Film -VC Los Angeles Pacific Film Festival

It’s even listed in the Internet Movie Database! (hope I can do as good or perhaps even better – time will tell)

Also, keep an eye out for their next flick Kissing Cousins!

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{dŭm'ăs-ə-fō'bē-ə} The Fear of Stupid People.

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