Tag Archives: Geek stuff

Idiot day

Some days, you simply cannot escape the idiocy in the world. Overnight, someone at the NOC did something incredibly stupid (and for which I still do not have an adequate explanation). Today, someone told me that our interpretation of his explanation was “out of whack” – except that he never explained anything in particular, despite questions phrased in multiple ways to him so we could try to figure out just what the hell he was trying to do. Someone else wanted to know our price on something, even though we tracked her visit to our pricing page, where things are clearly outlined. ┬áSince I didn’t get to bed until after 5 this morning, then got back up just after 8, not a good day for the old balance of the mood.

Client logic

Him: “I didn’t get the invoice for this. Look into it.”

Us, after seeing it was sent a month and a half ago: ” The mail logs have already rotated past that point, but the client system has the entries for the generation of the invoice and it being sent via email, to the same address everything else is sent to for this account.” We insert the clips from the system log.

Him: “So you say it was sent? If you have not logs to say it was sent and I don’t ┬áhave an email in my box then maybe it wasn’t sent? ”

First, no, we don’t “say” it was sent. It was sent. Second, we just provided you the logs from the client app that logged it.

Him, after we replied again, pointing out that the system logged it: “You need to look into this, or I’m moving elsewhere.”

So, we’re supposed to look into an email the system indicates was generated and that was emailed to you, after just providing you with the snips from the logs that say this? I suppose if we squint juuuussst right, we could probably look right into the abyss of your logic, sure.

(Not false) alarm

Last night was supposed to be the onset of several nights of hard freezes around here. With that in mind, I did some harvesting late in the day, thinking this morning would see the pepper plants dead and black.

Not so. It only got down to just below freezing, and not for very long, and the peppers were all bright and healthy when I walked around this morning turning off the remote taps. Ah, I thought, another misfire by the forecasters, and another testament to the oddball happenings here in the Bermuda triangle of weather.

Tonight, Mother Nature has decided she’ll show us: it is currently very near freezing already, just past real sunset, and the temperature is dropping like a rock in a well. As one of our clients did something incredibly stupid which requires me to go to the NOC, and since I am not a fan of this type of weather, I am not looking forward to wherever this may bottom out – the forecasters say in the upper teens by dawn.

I suppose I should have known that the request the user submitted was not quite right, but then again, despite what people think, we do not actually have ESP around here, nor do we claim that we do. Once again, trying to out-user the user has just resulted in the user doing something even dumber than normal.

Technical nonsense

And technically nonsense, too. While watching the bowl games, I’ve been subject to those idiotic “finally fast” commercials, where they’re just certain everyone’s machine is infested with all sorts of trojans, spyware, and viruses, and that’s why their systems run slowly or crash – not because people are loading everything under the sun at boot time, or because Windows crashes as a matter of course over the lifetime of a machine. The dumbest one yet has some woman claiming that a virus “destroyed [my] computer” and she had to “throw it away”.

This is stupidity and fearmongering on an epic basis, like the crap that Ron Paul (excuse me, RON PAUL) likes to spew. You don’t throw away a “perfectly good computer” because of a virus, unless there’s suddenly a virus out there that melts the hardware into slag. Clean and disinfect it, or just put a new drive in and reinstall things. Done.

Unfortunately, there are people who will buy into this and buy into the “my computer runs 150% faster now” as if the average non-technical person can sense the difference between 10ms and 50ms. It’s things like this that drive us geeks insane.

Ladies and gentlemen, to the right of the aircraft you’ll see…

Most people will never see a launch of the space shuttle live. We went two years ago to the Cape and saw one, and I have to say it is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed, being a space buff – I’m very happy to have gone, sitting in the blazing hot sun waiting, hoping the countdown would not stall. This one was likely no less a treat for the folks on board.

You don’t need it

Another tip from your neighborhood tech: you do not need to have all your high scoring spam delivered to a special mailbox under your account. Especially if you never clear said mailbox and jam up tens of thousands of messages in the system spooler. All you’ll be doing is pissing off every other person on the server because their mail is being delayed due to you. Then we will will have to go in and reset your settings to delete the junk you’re never going to look at in the first place.

You’re welcome.

Tip from tech support number whatever

If you refuse to listen to us after asking how to solve a problem, then bitch at us because “our” application – which is not “ours”, genius, something the giant COPYRIGHT notice at the bottom of the application clearly states – is broken because you can’t use a singular function you’d like us to believe you’ve used before but clearly have not since otherwise we wouldn’t have had to tell you how to get into it in the first place, tell us about some hugely convoluted series of steps you took to get around the problem instead of the single step we gave you, and then tell us our support is “poor” because you didn’t like our answer and chose not to do what we told you to based on our much higher level of experience with the application in question….

…don’t expect a lot of sympathy from us. If you then follow it up with a snide comment about how you “hope [we] have other skills” because in your esteemed opinion we shouldn’t be in the business of giving valid answers to technical issues….

…you’re not even going to receive a response to that bullshit.

Know why? There are other clients who will actually take the advice we’re giving them based on our being in tech support forever, because unlike you, we know what the fuck we’re talking about and those others know that when we say “do xyz”, doing xyz will solve their issue.

But hey, you know everything anyway, so why are you asking us for help in the first place?

Playing

It’s always nice to have new toys.

Melting Ice Jan 14 2011

That was a test done with the PlantCam, a time-lapse cam I picked up because I’ve always found time-lapse photography fascinating. This is a very simple version of more extensive setups, of course, but really all I want is to be able to capture certain things without a giant, elaborate system – because of course, most of my attention will be focused on the actual growing and tending of things, not with fiddling with equipment. I get enough of that sort of activity in my day job.

I decided after the ice test to try capturing the sunset.

Sunset Jan 14 2011

If you watch closely, you’ll see a bird appear and disappear from one of the tree limbs.

The first video is composed of images taken every minute for right around an hour. The second is from images taken every five minutes for almost two hours. Both were put together with Windows MovieMaker rather than the onboard video converter, as it appears the onboard converter will only do low-res output.

I can’t wait to put this among the seed flats and then out in the garden proper, especially on something like okra, which can grow insanely quickly. Who knows, maybe we’ll have several cams scattered about, capturing life on the ranch when we’re not looking.

How to piss off tech support, part infinity

When you are contacting us for support, because you’re working on a site for one of our clients, here are some tips on how to piss off the very people you’re asking for help.

Open a ticket saying you can’t upload to an application you’ve installed. Don’t include any other information. We love trying to figure out what the hell you’ve done to break something that’s been working just fine, and love even more rechecking ownership of and permissions on files, and tracking back through the logs.

While we’re working on that, open yet another ticket saying the site is entirely down. When we look at it, the site is in fact down, because it can’t establish a database connection. That seems odd, since the site has been working just fine. Until…

After we tell you the problem is the configuration file and the credentials the file is trying to use to connect are incorrect, tell us you haven’t changed anything. Except, oh, you changed the password for the main account user.

When we repair the configuration file to use valid and proper credentials, and then tell you that if you change little, minor things like, oh, PASSWORDS, you need to update configuration files that use those passwords, ask us how you’re supposed to change the file without FTP or control panel access. This will surely make us ask you what the hell you’re talking about because you just told us you were in the control panel and changed the password, and this has nothing to do with us correcting a database configuration file. Ergo, you should be able to do whatever it is you need to do, since presumably you were just in the control panel doing whatever it is you were doing.

An HOUR later, complain that you still can’t access FTP or the control panel. Since both are working fine, and the site is working just fine because we repaired things, this will make us even happier as we go hunting through the logs only to find you locked yourself out – and locked out the actual client as well, since you’re at their location – by continually attempting to log in with an incorrect password. A password that you changed from the control panel. A password that you should know. You kept trying to log in with an obviously incorrect password instead of stopping and just contacting us, which triggered the firewall.

When we tell you what you’ve done – without pointing out the definition of futility, I might add – and then tell you we unblocked your IP and reset the password, respond with a request to rest the password to “changeme”. Nothing delights us like easily guessed, massively insecure passwords.

And finally, when we tell you that we’re not resetting the password to that, give us a snotty “Fine.” followed by a haughty “I want it on the record” that you find our response insufficient and too slow. This despite the fact that the entirety of the issue, start to finish, was created by you, and it took you an HOUR to respond to something we managed to reply to in exactly seven minutes.

All of this will certainly ensure that we put you at the top of the douchebag list, and further will ensure that we let the client know – because they also contacted us about the site being down – exactly why everything was a mess. There was insufficiency going on here, that is certain. It is equally certain that it had nothing whatsoever to do with us.

Why, why, why?

Why must people be so freaking rude? Let’s assume some things here: let’s assume you’ve been a client for quite some time, that you know how we operate, that every single issue you’ve ever raised has been addressed, and that we’ve gone outside the normal bounds of technical support to assist you. Let’s assume that I am up at 4AM because our monitoring has picked up some issue on your server, and that I go about trying to repair that problem instead of answering one of the five tickets you open, because I am not in a position to update those, and anyway, getting the problem solved is my highest priority. Do you a) say thanks and go away, problem solved; b) say thanks, ask for more details than those provided in the first ticket you opened after the problem was solved; or c) tell me it is “unacceptable” that you have to take the helpdesk’s autoresponse as an indicator that something is being done, despite the fact that you have been around for awhile and realize this means we have received the ticket and are likely already working on it before you even noticed there was a problem? If you answered (c), then you have managed to match the asinine retort we received, before we received a further retort that we were sarcastic and rude.

Good luck finding a host with proactive monitoring who will immediately bounce out at 4AM to fix your server, who owns their equipment rather than leasing it through some third party (meaning no waiting on relays of information, and so forth, cutting out the middle part of all that), and who will go outside the realm of what is normal technical support as we have done in the past, without charging you a dime for it.

Life is much, much too short to be dealing with people intent on being unhappy because Shit Happens. I am well aware – more aware than some others, at this point – that Shit does in fact Happen. You don’t see me being an ass to people around me because I’ve been affected by some random problem happening on a server.

Calzone for dinner, on the last of the pizza dough batch I made earlier this month. No mushrooms (Shit Happens!), but just as tasty with sauce, onions, pepperoni, mozzarella, and three year aged cheddar. It was probably larger than usual, and I ate almost the entire thing, which has now made me feel stuffed, but that’s nothing a good cappuccino can’t solve. Or at least help.

Made a double batch of dough earlier today, to tide me over until we’re in post-surgery and into recovery time around here. I hope so, anyway.