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[#] Sun May 25 2014 07:20:01 EDT from arabella

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She should just find somewhere quite, and scream very loudly for a while. That, or shut her whining, and go truck for someone else :-D

[#] Wed May 28 2014 14:19:54 EDT from fleeb

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Heard in a nearby cubicle:

"OMG, Grapes of Wrath is one of the most boring books I was ever forced to read."


"No book beats Mila 18 by Leon Uris for the most boring book ever."

my linux counterpart:

"What made you think of Mila 18?"


"I normally get into whatever book I read, but that one... sheesh..."

linux guy:

"It wsa about the Nazi occupation of Warsaw..."


"I thought it was some sci-fi, outer space thing."

Aaaand, that's how memorable reading Mila 18 was to me. I should point out, I gained an 86 (out of 100) for 'reading' this book in high school.

Possibly one of the more interesting reading comprehension problems one could attribute to me, I suppose.

[#] Thu May 29 2014 12:25:31 EDT from fleeb

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"Those little bottles of..."

"Five minute energy."

"Yes. No, wait, how long?"

[#] Thu May 29 2014 15:01:45 EDT from wizard of aahz

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I'm trying to remember which was the toughest book to get through. Mighta been book 3 or 4 of Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. Took at least 4 attempts over 7 or 8 years before I made it through.

It's not often that I give up on a book, but lord knows I certainly did on that one

[#] Fri May 30 2014 08:52:04 EDT from the_mgt

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Recently, I had to give telephone support and could only reach the two bosses of the company and one of the technically not so literate (but highly motivated) employes. One of the bosses has the attention span of a squirrel on meth, the other instantly drops to an IQ below 0 and grows additional thumbs on all hands when he needs to get something technically done. So I went with the technical illiterate person. I couldn't ssh or vpn into the place, so I assumed the server was dead, but wanted to verify. Some license server was not responding, thats why they called in the first place.

the_mgt (assuming that there is TeamViewer installed somewhere on the HD, in the folder of the failing program): "Can you click on Start -> All Programs -> Failapp and see if there is TeamViewer installed? A blue square with two arrows."

Client: "Hm, the Failapp starts and tells me it can not connect to the licenseserver."

the_mgt: "Hmmmm, okay, open Explorer please, we need to find it some other place."

Client: "I don't use that."

the_mgt bangs head on desk: "No, not Internet Explorer, the other thing, were you see all your files"

Client: "Hmmmmmmmmmm"

the_mgt: "In this bar, at the bottom of your screen, the thing that looks like a paper file."

Client: "Hmmm, I have a W here for Word, a small e with a circle around it and something that looks like a cardboard folder."

the_mgt: "Yes, that, click please."

We could not locate the TV exe there, so I asked her to open Firefox

Client "What?!"

the_mgt bangs head on desk again: "The thing you use to browse the web, for google, etc."

Client: "Ah, you mean Mozilla."

It takes another 5 minutes until TV.exe is downloaded and started, I ask for an ID number, client finds it and

Client: " One hundred twenty three, fourhundred fifty six.."

the_mgt: "Wait, stop, are the following numbers 789? Are you seeing 123 456 789 there?!?!"

I end the call and promise to call back after I checked how to download and start TV. So I boot my Windows VM, it is still on XP, only browser is IE6. IE6 insta-crashes when it tries to disply the default startpage MSN.... Got it solved, saw that you need the Quick Support exe, called back. Verified that the server was properly hanging and asked her to restart it. Which she did. They probably need a UPS, since this is the second time the server hung without a cause.

I always thought these support calls do not really happen and are all made up. They aren't. Now I will put TV_QS on all their desktops, probably twice, in case it gets deleted by "accident". Lessons learned here:

  • Do not give two different programs similar names, since it confuses users. (Explorer vs Internet Explorer)
  • Do not advertise your company name to closely with the program, since people will only remember the first word in the name. ("Mozilla" seems to stick with non-techy persons more than "Firefox" does, at least here in germany. Same goes for Adobe, noone knows that the tool everyone needs and uses is called "Acrobat")
  • Do not offer multiple different programs in a confusing manner on your homepage, when most of the persons that will need to download it will need the standalone quicksupport program ASAP when they visit the site. The smart ones in need of the installable file will find it.
  • Prepare your clients, so that when supporting you, it is hassle free for them.


As for the most boring book: Try Effie Briest by Theodor Fontane. Or don't. Even accidentally hitting your toes into an object while walking around provides for a richer and deeper experience.

The book I had the most trouble getting through was Gravity's Rainbow. I still didn't understand the last chapter completely. I also have an unfinished Ulysses laying around, even the audiobook seems unfinishable, since it sends me to sleep...

[#] Fri May 30 2014 10:46:31 EDT from fleeb

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1. For 'Explorer', tell the customer to hold down the windows key and tap 'E'. Yeah, you might have to explain where the Windows key is, but I have found it easier to say that than to explain about Windows Explorer vs. IE.

2. When you need to go to a web page, tell the customer to 'browse' to a URL. They'll use whatever they normally use. If you need to know the name of the browser, ask them... you will be able to translate it more easily than the customer (e.g. if they say 'Mozilla', you know it's Firefox). It gets trickier if you have to have the customer use a specific browser, though, as you might have to get through a language barrier as you've noticed.

As much as possible, I try to tell customers the specific keys to press to get what I need done. If I have to ask a customer for information that they see on the computer, I cringe... it's a complete crapshoot as to whether or not the specific person to whom you are speaking can give you the information you want.

I've learned this much from dealing with 'blonde' stenographers.

[#] Fri May 30 2014 11:45:00 EDT from the_mgt

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Nice hints, will try to remember them. I usually do not use many keyboard shortcuts in windows (mostly, ctrl+xcv) but in this case they come in handy.

All in all, it went better than I expected, but the only reason it could succeed was her motivation, there are only few noob users which are willing to put enough effort into finding a solution. I wouldn't have tortured myself with this kind of support with a technophob noob.

[#] Fri May 30 2014 13:03:36 EDT from fleeb

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Heh, I can certainly appreciate that position.

It may sound weird, but when dealing with technically uninformed customers, the command line is your not-so-obvious friend. You can tell them exactly what to type, and mostly know where to look for responses. You may not always have the luxury of using a command line to accomplish your needs on Windows, but when you can, it's so much easier to handle technical support.

[#] Sat May 31 2014 02:28:50 EDT from vince-q

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The book I had the most trouble getting through was Gravity's
Rainbow. I still didn't understand the last chapter completely. I
also have an unfinished Ulysses laying around, even the audiobook
seems unfinishable, since it sends me to sleep...

Egad - try Finnegan's Wake if you really want inscrutable.... ;)

[#] Mon Jun 02 2014 18:05:57 EDT from triLcat

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couldn't get through despite trying repeatedly:





Haven't read Mila 18, but Exodus (same author) was one of my all-time favorite books.


[#] Tue Jun 03 2014 08:43:31 EDT from fleeb

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Ah, both 1984 and Catch-22 were fine reads for me. I found 1984 chilling, more so than a thriller, and Catch-22 had me laughing.

[#] Tue Jun 03 2014 14:53:40 EDT from fleeb

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Today, the network here at work is remarkably sta


[#] Tue Jun 03 2014 15:34:05 EDT from LoanShark

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Your 56K modem at work probably IS more stable than my office's cable modem (ref. my rant a few months back in I Want Broadband Everything>)

[#] Tue Jun 03 2014 16:35:16 EDT from fleeb

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Heh... we've had problems here as well. I noticed today that the network seemed extremely stable, compared to how it has acted last week, and I'm a tad surprised about it.

[#] Fri Jun 06 2014 11:10:47 EDT from fleeb

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My supervisor wants me to use something called 'Planview' to handle my timesheet, instead of doing things in this manual way that I've been doing.

This tool is apparently on a web site somewhere that I cannot access, no matter what I try. Which makes sense, after a fashion, because they're hyper-concerned about security in this company.

So, with all due diligence, I follow all the directions I've been given towards accessing this... I contacted this nebulous 'Planview Administrator', who told me my problem was behind him, and to contact technical support (and was given an e-mail). I contacted technical support (which you can only do through some opaque e-mail system), and it looks like my ticket was closed without explaination.

People hint that I won't get paid if this isn't addressed, which is balderdash of course; I'm going to get paid, or they'll get sued, and they damn well know it. But this working-for-a-ridulously-large-company stuff kinda feels like living in the movie Brazil.

[#] Fri Jun 06 2014 12:27:12 EDT from vince-q

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Back "in the day" I would have gone to my snoopervisor (an idiot) and said:

1. I followed the directions you gave me.
2. The directions did not work.
3. *You* fix it!

[#] Fri Jun 06 2014 12:40:12 EDT from fleeb

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Heh, it is headed in that direction.

I've also re-opened the ticket with something analogous to, 'Did not work'.

I should perhaps get some popcorn and enjoy the show.

[#] Sat Jun 07 2014 03:43:26 EDT from dothebart

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well, over here we used to have a time-shit .xls which we had to fill out...

later on after the merger we were introduced to a crapy inhouse solution which was at least a little more compfy than the .xls

because of that wasn't that accurate, we now also need to send a weekly report email, in which we have to calculate percentages, since hours aren't good enough.


I always had problems with those - no matter which.

[#] Sat Jun 07 2014 10:05:52 EDT from the_mgt

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I'd say, that a business that is not able to provide decent time/work tracking methods should better be closed yesterday. If you are OCD enough to track your employes, either do it right or stop doing it. I know companies that do a combination of "login time" to trace wether you are present at all and calculate % based on work on tickets in Redmine.

Fortunately, none of my clients or employers are forcing me to report any hours. The last one who did that used it exactly as it is intended: as a tool for oppression. "You are behind you schedule, you need to do more hours. Your contract will cover less hours know, so you get paid less. If your work balance falls to only 60 failing hours, you will get a full contract again." As a student, living on a 20h per month contract is like starving. Anyway, guess who did not get a full 80h contract again when he fell below the limit.... Farking asshole. We had an excel sheet as well, and the reason I had missing hours was that I was working so hard, I forgot to keep track. :(

As much as being partly self-employed can suck, but the motivation to track my hours in order to write a bill is far easier to maintain than a system forced upon me by anyone else.

[#] Sat Jun 07 2014 14:06:17 EDT from triLcat

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You know how long it takes to set up Toggl to accurately track work?

It's a few minutes, and it's easy enough to use that nobody in my company has had to ask any questions. 

Granted, we were all hired because the boss decided we're intelligent enough that she wants us as employees (it's a very small company, all work-at-home, 6 women, one man). 

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