OT: I Don't Think This Company Should Go Bankrupt But - Good Lord!

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Boy, does that bring back memories. I used to work an in-house help desk a long time ago. Every once in a while I would get somebody on the phone who resisted all my efforts to get them to read me the error message they were getting on their screen. They would give me vague descriptions of the problem, or tell me stuff that I just knew couldn't possibly be true. So, I'd say, "OK, don't do anything, I'll be at your desk in 5 minutes".
When I'd get there, I discover that their screen was blank or something. "Where is the error message you were telling me about?", I'd ask. "Is this the state the machine was in when I told you not to do anything?" They'd assure me that they hadn't done anything at all. "But, you were reading me an error message on the screen when we were talking on the phone, what happened to that?". "Oh, well, after you hung up I tried deleting the file and that didn't work so I rebooted the machine". "But, I asked you not to do anything". "Oh, I didn't do anything, I just rebooted the machine because sometimes that helps".
If you've never worked a help desk, you probably won't believe that stories like this are true. :-)
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I used to work a help desk back in the mainframe days. I like to think I was pretty good at it, and one day they asked me to write a script of questions so they could use cheap student work study types to do first line support. I pretty much told them I couldn't do it because my questions depended a lot on who called and what they said was the problem. If a Physics professor called and launched into a fairly complex question there was a good chance he knew more about computers than I did, and he certainly knew enough to check that the power was on. If, on the other hand, the Physics departmental secretary called and said, "my computer doesn't work" then asking if it was plugged in might be a valid first question. Actually, some of those departmental secretaries were pretty well clued in too.
On the receiving end of a tech support line I have had some experience with some an overseas help desk and I was favorably impressed. The guy seemed to know his stuff, and when I explained that I was using Linux instead of some Windows or Mac OS he didn't skip a beat, but gave me useful information that solved the problem. I suppose it makes a difference how much they pay for the outsourced support line.
Bill Ranck Blacksburg, Va.
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wrote: <snip> Both are true. I was there.
Windows or Mac?
Cust: I need some statistics software for my computer. Me: Is that for a Windows or Mac? Cust: Huh? Whaddya mean? Me: Is your computer a Windows or Macintosh Cust: I don't know. How would I tell? Me: How many buttons does your mouse have?
Floppy lost
Cust: I am having trouble with my stat software. I need to reinstall and things aren't working. Me: What is the error message you are getting? Cust: Well I know it's missing or something is broken. I put the first disk in and it did some stuff. Then it said to put in disk labeled Disk 2. I was missing disk 2 so I labeled a disk and put Disk 2 on it and it still doesn't work.
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... went through a long and difficult session with a family member getting a mac to work. It'll be easy I promised.
Hours of effort including reinstallation only to learn that data entry was done using the l (the letter) rather than a 1 (the number).
Response was that it worked on the typewriter...
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I've worked as tech support (software) in the past, but a year or so ago I still managed to pull one of those dope-slap moments.
The power supply went out on my wife's computer, so I ordered a new one. It came and I installed it, plugged in and tried to turn on the system - nothing, not even the fan. Fiddled around for a while then called the company and they graciously agreed to accept it back as DOA. Paid the return shipping and they sent out a new unit, identical to the first. Installed it, plugged in tried to turn on - nothing again. Now I'm not stupid (well, maybe a bit) so I figured that the odds of getting two DOA power supplies in a row were pretty slim, so I started working backwards. Cord plugged into wall... check! Cord plugged into power supply... check! Power in wall socket... check! Power supply properly plugged into motherboard and power switch... check! Still wouldn't work. Finally decided that I *had* gotten a second DOA power supply so I started to remove it from the system.
As I was taking the screw out there was a little click and something moved slightly on the back of the power supply. I turned it over and there was a little rocker switch labeled 0-1, now in the 1 position. Light bulb time! ATX power supplies can be switched on and off through the front panel switch, but many (maybe most) have a power switch on the back of the supply. The original on that system didn't, but the replacement did. I'd just wasted two weeks and $15 bucks in shipping charges (not to mention causing the mfg. to toss a perfectly good p.s.) just because I hadn't *turned the stupid thing on!!!*
Oh well, as Albert Einstein once said "the only difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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snipped-for-privacy@panix.com says...

to add a note to my customer record. It says "if this guy says we have a problem, check it out - he's usually right". We'll see the next time it happens :-).
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

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At a shop I used to work at, I was the in-house tech guru. And the point-of-contact for our vendor (Sun MicroSystems) support contract. The account ended up flagged "If this guy calls in, transfer him _directly_ to Level FOUR support". There was a good reason for this -- if it was anything simpler than that, I handled it internally. On those occasions where I had to holler for help, it was *deep*sh*t*, and it needed somebody with direct access to system source-code to work the issue.
It may also have helped preserve the sanity of the front-line support people. They, by their own admissions, didn't understand the questions, let alone have answers. Level 2 would recognize things enough to know that they didn't know what to do -- beyond punt it to Level 3. Who understood _immediately_ what I was talking about, but didn't have sufficient access to get the necessary answers. And, once or twice, I even managed to stump the L IV bunch.
We didn't have a source-code license -- the support guy couldn't tell me what he was looking at on the screen, so I'd tell _him_. Conversation generally along the lines of: Me: Ok, first it does this, He: yup. Me: Then it does this. He: uh-huh. Me: Then it does _this_. He: uh-huh. Me: and *then* it does..." He: Oh, *SHIT*!!!
And there'd be a patch on the way within a couple of hours. at least 95% of that latency was the Q/A 'verification', and supporting paperwork.
That was another reason they were so willing to let me talk with the real 'back room' crew. They rarely had to do much 'research' on a problem I found. I could lead them to the exact spot -- faster than they could find it themselves, given that they were approaching the issue 'cold'.
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Reverse engineering is usually called out as a No-No buried deep in the contract someplace... :) Blame Java, the clause wasn't that big of a deal when you were reading object code.
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snipped-for-privacy@erehwon.com says... ... snip

Not sure if even that doesn't make them over-qualified.

In East Indian accent: "OK, I want you to remove the connector at the back of the modem, the one that goes between the transmit and receive modems. Now, run your fingers across the pins to make sure all static has been removed from the system. Wait 10 seconds, now plug re-attach it and check to see if the problem has gone away"
Has *that* ever solved anybody's problems?

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Tom Watson writes:

Actually, I did benefit. This computer lives on the floor and I hadn't opened the case. He told me, sort of, how to open the suitcase style case. And I then checked the cables. And I next blew all the dust out. And then re-checked the cables, re-assembled and found no change.
Next up, re-install XP, with the notation, from Mr. Singsong, that the next step was a format of the hard drive, which is why I let the machine take his call. Yeah, I can back up my stuff. That's why I've got a removable hard drive. But I do NOT want to spend most of 2 days reinstalling stuff (for someone who commented: Dell also provides program disks) and then off and on time over the next month getting it into the shape I like. And I don't believe it will work, either, which means I would have nearly 3 days time and a huge amount of inconvenience invested in, essentially, nonsense.
Charlie Self "It is not strange... to mistake change for progress." Millard Fillmore
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Been there a long time ago, never again.
Now I use a local one man shop. I've bought my two home computers and about 10 at work. If there is a problem, I drop it off when he gets in the shop at 10 AM and pick it up at lunch time, all fixed. Network problem? He comes to me. Price is very competitive with Dell, Gateway, etc. Customer service is fantastic.
Plenty of small shops around like that. My experience is that this is the best way to go. Ed
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I'll agree with that. You have to be careful and check into a place but when you find a good one (there are plenty out there), they are far better than namebrand. Someone you can talk to, knows your system inside and out (because they built it) and often will come out and fix it. Again though, be careful. There are enough lousy ones out there to keep the good ones doing good business.
use a local one man shop. I've bought my two home computers and about

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Tom, I once hired an IT guy, friend of a friend. He said and produced all of the right things. Within two weeks, I fired him - dumber than sack of hammers. Found out later tat he moved to TX and went to work for DELL Customer Service!
I have 10 laptops - all SONY. I have tried and used them all over the last few years. I am very satisfied with all of the Sony's. We had one problem, our fault, one call, sent it to SONY in San Diego, two weeks and $300.00 later, its back and works perfectly.
All USB ports plus a parallel port.
Dave
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snipped-for-privacy@erehwon.com says...

always gotten excellent service from JDR (www.jdr.com). Usually I've bought a motherboard and the pieces to build my own, but they also sell complete systems. Unfortunately I don't think they sell laptops, although they do have some very small desktops. As well as some industrial stuff that will live forever bathed in sawdust :-).
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

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snipped-for-privacy@fastmail.fm says...

After posting that, I checked their website. They now carry 4 Toshiba laptops along with all their other stuff.
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

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Tom, I recieved my Inspiron 8600 in late November of last year. It has both serial and parallel ports.
Their pre-sales support was pretty helpful.
Their post-sale 'offshore' tech support has not been much help, big suprise huh?
It been pretty decent. Use it with my eCabinets design software a good bit.
BTW, If you plan on dual booting w/Linux check out the hardware compability guide with the 'flavor' you choose. Some are picky about notebooks, but, they are much better than the used to be.
Also, this goes back about 10 years though. I used to work for a company which bought a lot of Gateway tower PC (I think they liked the cow boxes). We would install Unix on them along with our own system software. Gateway was absolutely NO HELP with *nix. We were definetly on our own. Dell, up until recently at least shipped some systems pre-installed w/Linux, not sure about laptops. IBM being big on Linux may do the same, or offer support at least.
Good Luck, Ron

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You've got this customer service thing all wrong. It's not there to help you, it's there so they can say that they have it. Makes for better advertising.

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"Tom Watson"

Are you leaving out the part of the story where the specs clearly had no mention of the ports, but you ordered it anyway hoping they would be there because of some picture?
- Nate
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all in the system specs when I ordered and the only clue was the pictorial representation of the back of the unit.
Would you like to characterize my assumption that those ports would be included, based on a Dell provided product tour, that I screen shotted, to be without merit?
Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker (ret) Real Email is: tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet Website: http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1
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"Tom Watson"

I just clicked my way over to the site.
Under "Tech Specs", the IO ports are CLEARLY listed.
I don't see a parallel or serial port on the list, therefore I would assume they were not there.

Especially for high tech products, the picture doesn't mean jack squat. How long have you been in this world? Did it ever occur to you to pick up the phone and call about a possible difference between the CLEARLY LISTED I/O SPECs and some picture? Did you zoom in and get some processor and throughput specs from that picture too?
Dell runs a pretty good show, IMO. Send that puppy back if you don't like it and see what your money buys you in ordering ease, support and customized hardware configuration over at the competition.
- Nate
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