Dealing With Tech Support is Rarely Pleasant

I should have known the second I had to spell out “help” to the tech support representative that this was going to be a rough call, but I tried to stay calm. It blows my mind that some companies put such incompetent people in a position to “help” (which they cannot even spell) people with little or no skills beyond reading a tree of “if this then that”.

I have to say – if anyone would like advice on which web hosts to choose or stay away from – please let me know. I would be happy to give you the names of a few good ones v. the ones to stay away from because of nightmarish configurations and even worse tech “support” people.

Really – did I have to spell out “help” to someone that clearly repeated it to me….really??

Serenity now!!

Not So Much Fun With DirectTV

I scheduled an appointment to upgrade to Directv HD. Mind you – I get something from Comcast almost everyday about switching to their service. I have been very happy with Directv for over a year now, but it seems their customer service is a bit lacking. I had a no show/no call appointment on Monday so I called on Tuesday to see what was going on. The customer service rep told me I had to be conferenced in with the “local office”.

After over 30 minutes of waiting, the local person informed us that their computer systems were down and that he would call me back in a few minutes. Two days later, I called back because I was still waiting. This time around, I asked the customer service rep to just talk to the local office himself and call me back with the next available install appointment. This guy, at the very least, gave me a $100 credit, but informed me that he was not allowed to call me back and that someone in the “local office” was the only person that could call me. Fine. Today…after not hearing anything again – I spoke with yet another person from Directv – this time another 20 minute wait for the “local office” and as soon as we began talking – we got disconnected.

After calling back and explaining this all to yet another Directv person, I told her I refused to wait to talk to anyone at the “local office” and that I just wanted the next available appointment. She replied back: Ok – no problem…how about next week. What is the deal people? Just because you are bored all day and like to listen to the other office’s busy music does not mean that your customers also enjoy it. I hate Comcast – but I am not feeling to positive about all the wasted time with Directv now too. Ugh.


This summer I have been doing a lot of traveling. Back in July I drove through Pennsylvania – and I have an iPASS so I do not need to stop and deposit coins in tolls in IL, PA, NJ, NY. I just got 2 bills in the mail for failure to pay 2 $0.50 tolls in the mail. Each were for $25.50 – $0.50 for the toll and $25.00 for the “administrative filing”. Good thing iPASS keeps a record! PA will hear from me tomorrow.

Secure Email, Secure Web Site – Thanks

One of my top pet peeves in my field is the use of self-signed SSL certificates for public web sites. I have no issue with using self-signed SSL certificates for a development environment or something internal, but when you have outside users, you need to show them that they can trust you. Just today – I got a “secure” email from my student loan company (which first got marked as junk). When I clicked on the URL in the email (https://securemail…) I got the error message “certificate was signed by an unknown certifying authority”. My blood began to boil.

A. You have all kinds of personal information about me, my loans, etc and you cannot pay $199 a year to get a certificate that my browser recognizes and trusts?

B. You make an extra effort to send a “secure email” to a “https” (secure) site, and choose to setup a “securemail” sub-domain – and when it comes to the certificate, you skimp? Wow.

How I Fix Hardware Problems

If you know me…and have seen me work with hardware, you know my style of troubleshooting. First – read to see if others are having issues. Second, make sure all the connections are working. Third, look for the dumb reasons why something would not work (electrical, buttons). Fourth – use force to beat the hardware. At first step four was out of frustration. Then, Apple made it an official option with my old displays. I quote:

…you can most often break the adhesion between the grid wires by using the heel of your hand to moderately impact the side of your display under the Apple logo on the right, then left side. Using moderate force does not damage your display.

Today I ran into some hardware trouble in my car – my super finicky – already been replaced “CD Error” prone CD changer in my Volvo. Last time I got the “CD Error” my Volvo dealer had to send the changer to Sweden so they could send my back my CDs. Since I no longer have the luxury of a warranty, I had to take matters into my own hands. After getting the error, I decided first to read the manual – no mention of the error message. Then I tried resetting the unit – figuring that some sort of button combinations would do the trick. Third, I powered off the unit, powered it back on, switched inputs…no luck. After this – and the thought of paying way too much money to get it replaced…I started punching it…and wouldn’t you know – I enjoyed listening to a CD on the way home.

.mac Update

Serenity now – Apple has updated their .Mac service. There are some good updates…and some bad. The good: the Web Gallery looks pretty sweet. The bad: .Mac users can now send and receive email attachments up to 20mb. Ugh…nothing drives me more crazy than getting large email attachments. What is large? For me it is anything over 3mb. How to completely drive me insane? Send me your billboard sized photos that total over 3mb. On the upside of the .Mac improvements, I am very excited about the additional space – 10gig as well as Junk Mail via their webmail app – still no filters, but I am almost ready to give up. Looks like I will stay on for another year of the .Mac tax.

Almost Two Months Out…What's New?

It has almost been two months since I got on a commuter train, worried about having a lunch packed, or making it in to work on time. How has my life changed? I am much more calm and patient. I no longer try to make traffic lights at all costs and I really do not rush anywhere. In fact, I almost feel like I have moved into the southern way of life. Me…yeah, me. I tend to drink more Coke Zero, listen to music louder, and really enjoy what I do 90% of the time (compared to about .05%). I have enjoyed working on numerous projects – big and small, and building new relationships. Thanks to iChat and iSights, I have a weekly conference video chat with some of my old co-workers and IM keeps us in touch as well. My weekly conference calls with old co-workers have become weekly enjoyable conversations about stuff we enjoy instead of what we hate – and I no longer have to worry about what train to catch or where to park. If I teach my kids one thing, it will be that we all have choices. Some will help us, others will hurt us, but ultimately we always have a choice so excuses are out of the question. Life on the outside is good. I finally made the choice to move onto doing something I loved and wanted to do. Now, what the heck took me so long?