Thursday, August 25, 2005

Meanwhile, at stately Wayne Manor...

We just received another one of those pointless management email missives, going over policy crap that we should all know by heart. I flipped through it to make certain that they hadn't jumped some new rules on us. Fortunately it was nothing new or earth-shattering, but it did contain the following gem:

3) Reset the password for the customer and relay to customer in approved manor

An approved manor? I'm picturing a black Rolls Royce pulling up to some big mansion in Sutherdwinghamfuckshire, England. A man in black steps out of the car. A valise is handcuffed to his hand. An M5 agent disconnects from the perimeter, touching his earpiece, "Bearclaw to Cruller, the password has landed."

Sexy, no?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It's a what-what now?

This is a direct quote from the previous phone call:

Now, I don't know if this makes a difference, but that phone is an explosion-proof phone.


My available responses were:
a) WTF!?! (turn to page 72)
b) Bitchin! (turn to page 183)
c) And have you tested this? (turn to page 27)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Diagnosis: Brain Death

It's a known fact that as soon as a luser calls the helpdesk, whatever brains they might have left in their head are quickly shut off, in order to prevent any dangerous transmission of knowledge. It doesn't matter if they're normally capable of managing complicated business mergers. It doesn't matter if they can create new drugs from exotic rain forest plants. It doesn't matter if they can change the oil in a Chevy big block while standing on their head with their eyes closed. No matter what degree of cleverness they might use to execute the actions of their day-to-day life, they immediately lose all ability to do simple things like locating the icon labelled "My Computer".

Perhaps the prospect of surrendering responsibility to higher power lulls them into an infant state. Maybe they just don't want to look stupid, and get all caught up trying to cover for their ineptness. It's just one of those truly difficult things about working with people's problems is that they don't seem to have a thought left in them when they call.

I'm sure you're probably thinking that I'm just biased towards my area of expertise, but it's not the technical questions that people fail at. It's the simple matter of fact instructions that people fail at. Many a time I will ask a person to hit "Enter" after typing in a query blank, and they'll ask if they're supposed to hit the OK button. A request for someone to click will all too often result in a doubleclick. If you ask someone if they said their username ends in a M or an N is almost always disasterous. Sometimes you'll get the pleasure of heaing them spell out their entire username from scratch. Sometimes, they'll think that simply speaking louder will make the difference more distinct. If you're lucky, they'll do both of the previous. A lot of people, especially foreigners, can't understand the concept of saying "M as in Mary". It's a slow grind on your patience to deal with these things over the course of a day, and it just makes your head ache

Monday, August 22, 2005

Today's show was sponsored by the letter "F"

Here's an interesting note on work etiquette: The situation is that someone has been stupid and opened an attachment on a strange email. Now if you look under Processes in Task Manager, they've got a happy little executable running. It's named with a vulgar word. Obviously, this isn't a kosher app and needs to be brought to the notice of the local deskside support team. The funny thing is that I'm not actually allowed to refer to the rogue exe by name. I felt rather childish writing in that someone's gone and gotten themselves infected with a vulgar word starting with the letter "F". *shrugs*

Virus? What's a virus?

So... Did ya hear all the news last week about the new viruses? Y'know how CNN got infected, and the New York Post. I think I heard about Fox News catching it too. Experts wrote articles about how the threat of the Zotob network virii was being overblown, and that this new virus breed spreading through the fresh PnP vulnerability wasn't as virulent or wide-spread as advertised. Yeah, there was a lot of news on that one. I might be a bit of a tech geek, but there's a pretty good chance you might have heard of that.

Which makes it all the more mystifying why the deskside support team for a Texas facility would be calling to us a week after all of the furor to find out what's up with all these computers rebooting themselves after login. Now I'm not expecting him to sit around surfing The Register and Slashdot, but somehow info needs to be trickling down to this guy. Geez...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Training on how to discrimate?

I just took a call from someone saying that he was having problems taking the 'ethnics' training. I'm guessing that apparently our training on the best business practices of moral philosophy has been cut, and replaced with colorful flashcards labelled with such friendly terms as "Wop" and "Wetback"

On the other hand, he could have been misleading me about the demise of our ethics training, since we're talking about the same guy who repeatedly misinterpretted "123" as either "1T3" or "1123". *rolls eyes*

To wax Lovecraftian...

And lo, in the beginning there was a database created to automate the creation of accounts for new lusers. And that database was not good... perhaps because they couldn't hire anyone new without it. Evolutionists argued that it sucked because it had formed in a vacuum. Creationists debated that it was the work of a mad god. Regardless, because this Account Creation System (ACS) came first, all those who came thereafter would not touch it, for then they would be damned with responsibility for it. For these reasons it seems, no one dared try to supplant or improve it. It was merely maintained dogmatically

Currently there is no end-user documentation for navigating the ACS. It's not known whether the documentation was never created, or simply destroyed because it was mistaken for the work of Satanists. Often lusers will call into the helpdesk, wailing "Woe unto me for I have undertaken a new employee! Please, please, guide me through this trenchant Lovecraftian abyss!"

Grizzled veteran rangers of the helpdesk often respond to these pleas, by passing on what motes of knowledge they have gained from previous sorties of this type. Helpdesk n00bies usually run shrieking in fear. Management remains unable to grasp the problems at hand because unlike the troops in the trenches, management has actually had to use the damned ACS, and therefore have withered their souls with the knowledge gained via the practice of this black art.

And thus is how it has been....

Today we entered a paradox though. A luser called in for help with the ACS and was denied by a n00b. The lack of policy considering the ACS allows this. The ACS has no chain of responsibility, which does have it's advantages. Unfortunately, said n00b didn't disavow support by invoking their freedom. Instead said n00b said "I don't know", which shattered the poor luser's faith in a structured and orderly computer world. The luser ran to their O&I contact* and prayed "Woe to me for I am forsaken!" And the O&I contact brandished their poisoned barb and with it stung the helpdesk's boss upon bosses. And then the helpdesk's boss upon bosses bestirred from his remote and obscured vantage point. And then the boss upon bosses down his mighty words saying "Naughty naughty helpdesk! You do not let the lusers know that there is nothing but chaos! Lie to them and coddle them! Otherwise you're all in it deep!"

The rage then passed. And things went back to normal. And the ACS kept spinning in its place, it's grim entrails an effrontery to god....

...okay, this is so going to be the last time I surf Lovecraftian topics on Wikipedia all day. L8r!

* O&I? Obstruction and Interference? Obfuscation and Irritation?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A match made in heaven....

There are few things in this earth that could possibly be more gratifying than taking an irritable (read: bitchy) caller and connecting them with an equally nice member of a support group...

Caller A called in because she placed a ticket an hour ago and hasn't gotten any response. Unfortunately, her helpdesk representative is someone that I'll just nickname "Quickdraw".

Now Quickdraw is a grizzled cubicle creature, who's expertise is in playing solitaire. Quickdraw's ongoing project is creating a more perfect meld of chair and bloated ass. If I were asked to describe the quality of the work that Quickdraw is actually paid to do, then I would say that she's mastered quantity over quality. Quickdraw processes more phone calls in a day than any other member of the helpdesk. Quickdraw also processes the most useless and unintelligible tickets too.

So here comes Caller A, self important and totally needing something vague done. Quickdraw responded by sending off a vague ticket with a lot of capital letters demanding immediate attention. Through some miracle, Quickdraw manages to pass the ticket to the appropriate people, Group B. Group B gets the ticket, and immediately they ignore it, probably because they didn't like the way it looked.

This is where I come in. Caller A calls in bitching that their ticket isn't fixed even though they said it important. I try to hook Caller A up with the "on-call" member of Group B. This doesn't work, because the "on-call" member of the group knows much better than to answer the phone. Further bitching by Caller A gets me to try calling another person in Group B. This person accidentally answers the phone, and then starts bitching about the format of the ticket itself. In my best BOFH, I told her not to shoot the messenger, and then threw Caller A on the phone via a conference call. At this point, I muted my end and listened to cat and dog fight begin. Neither were at fault, both had much more important things to do, and each thought the other was a lazy idiot. It was sooooo gratifying.

Anyway today's moral is twofold: 1) Call into the helpdesk thinking you that you're more important than everybody else, and you'll quickly wind up at the bottom of the stack, because everybody thinks they've got it the worst. 2) For every bitch, there is an equal and opposite bitch.

Monday, August 15, 2005

A note to our non-native english speakers...

FYI, the traditional phrase is "knock on wood". Any other synonym for "strike" would probably be acceptable. On the other hand, Luc, it's not acceptable to say that you're "touching wood". If you're "touching wood", then you probably shouldn't be talking to anyone via a 1-800 number.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Fun with spelling!

I just had a user spell out his username as "Michael Jackson just ate cats" heheh

You need to do what?

I just took a call from a luser requesting administrative rights on her own computer. When I asked her why, she said that she had files on her computer that she needed to delete. Intriguiged I asked what type of files these were. She had no clue. Shaking my head in disgust, I decided to just let desktop support visit her in person to sort it out. Sure, there's a chance that she was on the right track to something, but probably not. Either way, I am a firm believer in that there is no punishment as bad as letting someone live with the results of their own stupidity.

I just wish they wouldn't be stupid on my time...

My name is what?!

Since usernames are a semi-random string of letters, people get some odd usernames. They also have some pretty poor ways of reading them off to you over the phone. It's always a good appraisal of the user's computer ability if they try to read off MIUGK as "Mee-yuh-jick".

Some people get a little more intelligent and try to read off their username letter-by-letter. Unfortunately your average luser doesn't grasp the concept that many letters sound the same unless you hyper-enunciate. M or N? F or S? C or Z? Many people seem to think it's some kind of race to get all of the letters out as fast as possible. Dear Luser, I'm talking to you when I say this: You're just gonna have to say the damn thing again!

When prompted to repeat, the luser will often think that saying letters louder make them easier to understand. I'm here to inform you that this just makes you look stupider.

Some people are actually enlightened enough to try phrasing each letter as a word, like the armed forces alphabets . This actually works pretty well, as long as the user knows how to spell. I once had an argument with a luser with a heavy Asian accent, because they didn't think that kilo or kite started with the letter K. Thank god someone finally said Kimberly or I would have been there all day.

One issue with using words to represent letters is that sometimes you get amusing or unfortunate phrases, like Cat-Zipper-Boy or "F-boy"... F-boy? Now that's just unfortunate.

Anyway, CatZipperBoy, signing off Picture courtesy of t3h g1rl

So the server's getting in touch with its sexuality?

Okay, first one's my own typo:
"Server encountered an internal eros"