Minding the store

Today was Inauguration Day here in the US. Since no one offered me tickets to any of the glamorous events, I spent my day in the same sort of unglamorous duties that occupy my time: minding the network and the servers. Periodically checking my seedlings to see if anything else has come up. Looking at weather reports. Watching the various news stations, since ebb and flow of events is typically what drives other-than-normal traffic on days like today.

And, of course, dealing with the inevitable douchebags in the desk. Here’s a tip: if your web host tells you that it’s your site creating an issue on a server, repeatedly, and finally moves your site to be all by its lonesome on a brand new, powerful server so you stop impacting other users who had the misfortune to share server space with you, and the site still crashes the server where you’re all alone, guess what? It is, in fact, your site causing the issues. It isn’t rocket science to figure this out. So keep your snotty remarks to yourself about how we should use pixie dust or whatever the hell you think is used to keep things running around here to fix your site that we didn’t create and don’t maintain and how we’re always blaming you. It IS you. Best of luck with your next host, who instead of relocating your site will probably just turn it off until you get your shit together. I won’t hold my breath waiting for the apology you said you’d send personally. Oh, and you over there, who wants a credit for those “purported” upgrades we gave freely and you think you didn’t get: guess what that “N” in your plan name stands for, genius? That’s right: new.

Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here. Most of our clients are just normal, civil people. They write in for something, we deal with it, they say thanks (or not, which isn’t a huge deal as long as they’re squared away) and off they go, happily about their business. These other, rude, nasty people are just like weeds poking up in the garden, unnecessarily causing stress to everyone they contact. I had a theory many years ago, and I still hold it to be true: there are simply some people in this world so utterly miserable in their little lives that they seem to be on a mission to try and make everyone else just as miserable. They don’t seem to understand that it’s self-fulfilling to a point: if you’re a nasty bitch, no one is going to want to be around you, which leads to an even more miserable existence (“Nobody loves meeeeeee!”), resulting in more crap you try to shovel into other peoples’ lives, and so on.

Overall, however, not a bad day at all. The network traffic started creeping up as people got themselves in front of their computers to post about the pomp and circumstance, or comment on someone else’s postings. A rather humorous moment when Chief Justice Roberts flubbed his lines and Obama waited while he got his shit together to finish repeating the oath. Traffic peaked during Obama’s speech and then stayed there for awhile as people yammered about whatever they were yammering about, and then settled back down to normal levels. By this evening and the other events, we were right back at usual levels, with only a few spikes here and there. Which left me with time to get my brother to call Hughes about the issue we were having with the satellite.

And that was a colossal waste of time for everyone involved. Usually, when we have this particular problem – had it before, will have it again, no doubt – I fill out their contact form on their customer care page, telling them there’s an issue with the DNS server(s) and the proxy server(s), telling them exactly the behavior we’re seeing with the inability to connect to certain ports (something as simple as port 22 for SSH, for instance), telling them NOT to send me back the canned answer I know I will receive about calling in to the business support line since this has nothing to do with the equipment here and the issue lies at their end, and telling them to pretty please send along this information to someone higher up the food chain – like the network geeks.

What I usually get back is the canned answer: please call for support. But the problems themselves, they go away – I figure they send along the message to network, but have to send me a reply, so fill it in with the can.

Today, however, the contact form did not work. It allowed progress up to the point where you actually put in your comments, and when you submit the form, it times out. Now, if I am on the Hughes network – and I am, by virtue of my connection here – and their support pages are on that network, should I not be able to use their support site regardless of any other issues they might be having beyond being totally down? One would think so, but apparently that is not the case.

So I got my sister to try submitting the page, with my comments, since she’s on a completely different network. Nothing.

And that meant what I dread: calling them, to try and convince them that I do know what I’m talking about and that we really just need to pass the message along to network. I had my brother call, since I’d been dealing with the craptacular service since last night and all day long today while trying to do what I need to do here, was not in the best of moods, and mostly can’t be understood over the phone anyway.

First call: a guy. We go through our spiel. He puts us on hold, and then disconnects us. Great.

Second call: a woman. We go through our spiel. I realize we’re in serious trouble when she starts going through her script without listening to a word we’re saying. I realize we’re in even deeper trouble when she has to put us on hold so she can go look up what “DNS” means. When she comes back, we try again. Back and forth, back and forth. We want someone in network, or at least someone at a higher level. There isn’t anyone, she says.  That, of course, is an outright lie, since obviously she isn’t capable of understanding certain things and just as obviously isn’t running any portion of the network.

We try again. She goes through some things, tells us what we already know: that we do not have a problem on our end. Exactly! My brother tells her that he completely agrees with her: she says we have no problem. We say we have no problem. Can you see how this indicates a problem that is NOT at our end, but at yours, and thus requires that the information be passed along to someone who can actually understand and react to it? She doesn’t grasp this.

We ask for a direct email address for support. She claims there isn’t one, that the only contact is via the form. Another lie, as everyone has email. We then ask her another puzzler: if she (or someone there) cannot solve the problem or offer a way to get it solved, and the contact form does not work, just what the fuck are we supposed to do? Actually, that was my question, and I’m sure she must have heard that, but the boy cleaned it up before asking her that.  We then had to walk her through accessing her own company’s customer care area and contact form, then walk her through filling out the form, to teach her how to use it and to see what happens when someone like us tries to use it, rather than calling in for completely ineffectual support for a problem that doesn’t exist at our end.

Our call ended with me demanding the corporate mailing address. I have a printout of the diagnostics for the uplink and downlink, and it pretty much all reads BAD and MARGINAL. I’ll be including that, and something fairly similar to what I just posted above, in my letter.

Minus the “fuck”.