About Me

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I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Technical Troubles

I always have excuses. This is one of those things that's kind of a family legacy for me: coming up with excuses for why something didn't get done, or hasn't gotten done, or why I'm not doing it now. My kids have it too. It's a gift, and a curse.

In the case that I'm thinking of now is that I've gotten a new laptop as a gift to myself, and have been dicking with it for over two weeks, as it stubbornly refused to remain connected to my wireless network for longer than an hour at a time. Thus, I've been neglecting my corner of insanity. Sorry.

I had engaged my brother - the multi-talented Grumpy IT Guy - take a look at it, and he did indeed get the device up on my wireless network without having to reboot the wireless router (this hadn't happened before this!). I fed him steak and such, and I was happy until he went home and my laptop disconnected from the router, and would not reconnect.

Next day, he walked me through a bunch of diagnostics and OS delving, but I ran out of time before he could resolve it...he was going to do some research anyway.

Of important note is the fact that trials and tribulations that I face are NEVER normal. I've been going through a ton of IT troubles lately, both at home and at work (you may recall that I'm newly arrived at a new job). I can't count the number of times in the last month that an IT support person has said to me, "...that's really strange...I've never seen that before." Or, "Huh...that's always worked before, let me get back to you."

You know when people say it's not you? It's always me. :)

At work, our primary help desk is populated by folks from India. They are very capable people, but I can't hear them worth a damn. They speak very softly (or the phone line is muted between India and the USA).

"I can't hear you, can you speak more loudly please?"

"Is this better?"

My thoughts: This is the third time that I've asked, it's no better...remember to not answer the phone when this number pops up."
My words: "Yeah." Strain to hear from this moment out...my phone's volume is at max.

As much as my brother (and all IT professionals, as far as I can tell) will tell you how frustrating it is to work with stupid clients, I'd like to put on the table that there are two sides to that argument.

My new laptop is a Dell. I'm a 20 year Windows guy, and I've had lots of different laptop manufacturers and keep coming back to Dell. I did get a call from an agent of Dell to ask how things were going with my new purchase. I thought this was super cool, though I had to tell him 'not so well'. He 'ported me over to technical assistance immediately, where I landed on an idiot of an IT professional who really pissed me off.

The essence of my irritation with this dolt was the half hour that I spent telling him over and over that I could not connect my new laptop to the wireless network.

Of course, I had already explained my symptom three times before getting to this guy, and then once more to him: I can't connect my laptop to the wireless network.

His first comment:
"Ok, we can fix this for you, I just need to take remote control of your computer.

My thoughts:
"What the hell's the matter with you? I *just* told you that my problem is that I can't connect to the router!"
My words:
"But I can't connect to the router, I have no internet access."

His second comment:
"Oh, yeah, just go ahead and connect to your network."

My thoughts:
"Oh, my frickin' word! You're either not listening, stupid, or both!"
My words:
"I can't do that. That's my whole problem."

His third comment:
"Right, right...sorry. Just connect up and we'll fix this for you right away."

My thoughts:
Censored due to possible impressionable people reading this.
My words:
"Are you even listening? Do you somehow NOT understand that I can't connect to the internet? Have you NOT seen or heard that my whole problem here is that I CAN'T connect to the internet??

His next comments:
Who the hell knows, other than "I have to be able to take remote control of your computer..." blah, blah, blah...at this point I wasn't listening to him any closer than he was listening to me.

We agreed that he'd call me back the next night, when I could connect to the router via hard cable...the old fashioned way.

Hang the hell up.

As much as IT professionals complain about the stupidity of their clients, I have to say that in the last month I've run into more than one questionable IT professional. The guy I describe above takes the cake for these folks.

The night after the above happened I scrounged up an ethernet cable and connected the laptop to the router the old fashioned way, but the SOB didn't call back (which was really a bit of a relief).

I called in, and got connected to a lovely lady (Cheryl, I think) in Dell's Wireless Network support group. I say she's lovely for a few reasons: 1) I could hear her; b) I could understand her clearly; iii) she fixed my problem (in less than a half of an hour)!!

I kind of regret not giving the brother the opportunity to complete this little project, but he got bombarded by idiots at work, and I had gotten the call from Dell anyway. My eldest son has a similar Dell laptop with a similar problem...we fixed that too.

Gadzooks, eh??


  1. All's well that eventually connects to the internet lol...I have the same problem with my Kindle. I have a desk top and a lap top .... unless I turn the lap top on I cannot get wireless access for the Kindle....it's just one of those mysteries of life I guess.

  2. Harumph! Some mysteries are best to solve, some not, eh?

  3. I've been having a bit of a problem connecting to the internet lately, but I have decided to let the problem fix itself, if it can. I feel horrible admitting to this, but when I call my internet provider, I am connected to someone with an accent, and I am horrible at understanding accents. What happens is that I end up feeling racist even though I am not.

    1. I also have a hard time with heavy accents, but I don't think that I don't like that *person* based upon his or her ethnicity...I don't like them based on completely different reasons!

  4. When I got my Dell desktop, the motherboard was shot, and let me tell you, dealing with tech support was not pleasant. It was a lot like yours, except I AM an IT professional, so I was telling this guy right out the gate, I'm an IT professional, I did all of the troubleshooting, and the motherboard is bad. I'm 100% certain I need a new one. His first question, "Okay, is the computer plugged in to the wall? Have you tried rebooting it?"

    Needless to say, it was a LONG call.

    1. That's what happens when customer service is diluted down to a series of yes/no questions on a CRT in Calcutta.

    2. True, dat...no thinking allowed!

  5. I'm having a problem with my brand new generator and I spent 3 hours trying to get tech support. First I called Briggs & Stratton and they said I need a certified service tech to confirm manufacturer's defect to honor the warranty. Called a few of them and got all answering machines. Finally found one but they wanted all the money up front and since reimbursement was not guaranteed, I balked. I figured I'd take a different tack and called Sears. I was transferred no less than 5 times. I won't bore you with the details but my favorite line of the night came from one of the many idiots at Sears: "Ok, we're just going to need you to bring the generator in and we'll service it for you." Me: (stunned silence) "It's a generator! It weighs a half ton and is connected to my house via steel pipes, an 8 foot copper rod and multiple electrical connections. It would be like you asking me to bring in my furnace for service." This issue is yet to be resolved. /sigh

  6. I did mean to call you about that. Glad to hear you got it fix. What was the answer, might I ask?

    Guaranteed it was something that I did while I was there, and this time it just happened to work.

    Users aren't the only ones that happens to...

    BTW, you got my link wrong. I packed up and moved my sh*t out to wordpress...