Laptop Flop, Part 23

, , , , , | Working | April 13, 2018

My laptop, which is vital to my schoolwork, has been experiencing charging issues. It will charge to a certain percentage, then stop. This percentage has been decreasing slowly over time, and as the laptop’s maximum charge begins nearing the single digits, I start to fear the worst. I schedule an appointment to have a technician come to my campus and replace the battery. In the call, I am also pushed into replacing the motherboard. I am concerned, but cannot risk losing my laptop, so I agree.

A week later, the technician arrives. He is an older man with glasses and a generally pleasant disposition. I bring him to our school’s library, and boot the machine to demonstrate the issues I am having. He seems to follow along just fine, so I power the machine down and pass it over.

I first begin to grow concerned when, as he removes the case and components, he removes his glasses and lumps the screws haphazardly together in the same pile, making no effort to remember where each one came from. I ask him about it, and he is quick to brush me off. After finally examining the pile — without glasses — he tells me that it does not matter where they go; they are all the same. I am confused, as many of them are clearly different lengths, but I say nothing, figuring he is more of an expert than I am.

More time passes as the technician speaks to me while he works. His progress is very slow, and it takes several hours before the new components are in and the moment of truth has arrived. He presses the power button, and… nothing. The screen is dark. I am panicked, but he assures me that the new board must be bad, and he puts the old board back in. Again, he pays no mind to the screws, and at the end of it several are left over, and he cannot determine where they should go. I am a little upset by this, but at this point I no longer care so long as the machine boots again.

Still nothing. At this point, it is so late that the library is closing, and we must leave to find a new place to work. We are now outdoors, in front of a local cafe. The man, frustrated by the lack of progress, calls another tech support official to help. The next two hours are a maddening string of being put on hold and unhelpful advice intermixed with failed attempts to revive my machine. At the end of it all, the technician gives up and hands my laptop back to me — still broken — telling me that I will have to send it in to be repaired. Frantically, I tell him that I can’t; my classes demand I have access to my computer, and there is no way I can go that long without it without suffering academically. He tells me that waiting for new parts will probably take longer, anyway, and would be much more likely to fail again.

This technician’s “repair” ends with a previously perfectly operational laptop becoming totally unbootable. It no longer responds to any attempts I make to restart it. I now have to send it in and hope that it shows up in one piece. I have long given up hope that any of my data will be recoverable. And I still have a single mystery screw hiding in my pocket.

Laptop Flop, Part 22
Laptop Flop, Part 21
Laptop Flop, Part 20

Not Taking The Most Direct Route(r)

, , , , | Working | April 5, 2018

(It is December of 2007, so while smartphones and data plans exist, they are still uncommon. I am a computer technician, although I am off work now on maternity leave with my oldest daughter. After coming home from a day of running errands and Christmas shopping, I try to check something on the Internet and find that I don’t have access. I power-cycle both my router and modem, and do some rudimentary troubleshooting to make sure that it’s not any of my equipment or cables. I find nothing wrong, so I call my ISP. After asking for my account information and entering it, the technician asks what the problem is.)

Me: “I just got home and can’t get online. I’ve already double-checked all the equipment on my end, and while everything can reach the modem’s external address, it can’t get past it. Is there an outage in my area?”

Tech: “I can check on that, but I just need to do some troubleshooting, first.”

Me: “You mean like power off and on the modem and computer and everything? I’ve already done all that and more.”

Tech: “Well, we have to go through our steps.”

Me: *sighs audibly* “So, there’s no way to skip to the end, here?”

Tech: “Can I get you to unplug your modem, wait 15 seconds, and then plug it back in?”

(I roll my eyes and follow through his prescribed steps, which are actually less thorough than what I have already done. I’m trying to be patient, but I can hear my husband having difficulty with the baby, and it’s already been a long day. We get to the end of his checklist and he tells me he’s looking into my account and reports for my area.)

Tech: “Well, there’s no outage, but… Oh, I see. Your Internet access was shut down because your computer has a virus.”

Me: “Seriously? You had the information that my Internet access was shut down by your company deliberately, and you still had me jump through all of those hoops? When was I going to be notified that my Internet access was going to be shut off?”

Tech: “We sent you an email.”

Me: “You sent me an email. And how was I going to get my email when you shut off my Internet access? Why didn’t someone call?”

Tech: “You said you didn’t want calls.”

Me: “I didn’t want sales calls. Calls when you are going to shut down the service I pay for are a completely different matter. What makes you think that I have a virus?”

Tech: “It says here that you do.”

Me: “Does it say anywhere what symptoms prompted that diagnosis?”

Tech: *in a rather condescending tone* “If we say you have a virus, you have a virus. You’ll have to download a virus checker from our website and clean it off before we can reinstate your Internet access.”

Me: *chuckling to myself in awe* “Setting aside for a minute the impossibility of me downloading a virus checker from your website when I have no Internet access, I find it unlikely that I have a virus. I have better antivirus software than you have on your website, the virus definitions are updated automatically, and they’re run frequently on all computers. I haven’t had a virus alert on any of my machines in months. So, again, I ask: what prompted the diagnosis? What were my computers doing that made you think that I had a virus? Perhaps there is another explanation.”

Tech: “It says your computer was constantly asking for an Internet address.”

Me: *head-desk* “So, you were getting flooded with DHCP requests.”

Tech: “Yes, because of a virus.”

Me: “That’s not a virus. That’s a dying router.” *starts disconnecting the router from the modem, and connecting my desktop to the modem directly*

Tech: “I’m not following.”

Me: “Clearly. Do you have the specs for the modem I purchased from you guys in front of you?”

Tech: “Of course.”

Me: “How many computers can be hooked up to that modem directly?”

Tech: “Just one.”

Me: “Exactly. I’m not sure if I have made this clear or not, but I don’t have just one computer; I have four. So, they’re not directly hooked up to the modem; they’re hooked up to the modem via a router. When computers are using a router as an Internet gateway, they don’t ask the ISP’s DHCP server for an IP address; they request one from the router’s built-in DHCP server. The only machine that asks for an address from your DHCP server is the router itself. So, if you’re getting flooded with DHCP requests, it’s not a virus-riddled computer like it would be if there was only one computer hooked up. It’s a malfunctioning router.”

Tech: “I don’t think that’s right.”

Me: “It’s right. I’m a technician by trade. No offense meant, but I took so much networking in school I’ve probably forgotten more than they taught you when you took the job. So, I need you to turn my Internet access back on again.”

Tech: “But you haven’t removed the virus.”

Me: “There is no virus. We’ve been through this. I’ve hooked my main desktop up to the modem directly while we were talking. Hook me up for half an hour. If I’m right, the problem will be solved. If I’m wrong and you start getting flooded with requests, shut it back down again, but I know I’m right. I need Internet access to check to see if there’s new firmware for my router so I can fix it. If there isn’t, I’ll just go out and buy a new one.”

(It took a little more wheedling, and finally asking if I needed to get a supervisor involved, before he agreed to turn my access back on for an hour as a test. I got online, found there were no newer firmware updates for my router, and since it was a few years old, anyway, I went and got a new router. Unsurprisingly, my ISP did not get any more DHCP flooding after that from my address. I’d like to say that was the last time I had a ridiculous issue with that ISP, but sadly it was not, and even more sadly, living rurally, it was the only broadband ISP I could get. Things have improved dramatically since I moved and had a choice to switch to someone else.)

Not Addressing The Readiness Issue

, , , , | Right | March 27, 2018

(Many of our customers are older and need a little extra instruction for basic tasks, like how to visit a website.)

Me: “Go ahead and open up your Internet. Let me know when you’re ready, and I’ll g—”

Customer: “I’m ready.”

Me: “—ive you the addr—”

Customer: “I’M READY!”

Me: “—ess to… Okay, great! That address is www—”

Customer: “Hang on, hang on! I need to find the box!”

Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 33

, , , | Right | March 25, 2018

(I am working at a software company. I usually don’t bother with troubleshooting calls as I am not a technician, but this guy calls before they get to work and I figure I can try my luck.)

Customer: “Hello, I have a problem with my app.”

Me: “Good morning, sir. The technicians are not in yet, but let me know what the problem is and let’s see if there is something I can do about it.”

Customer: “Well, I tried to send some emails through the app, and it failed.”

(I walk him through some settings and other trivia he may have not seen.)

Customer: “No, it still will not send an email.”

Me: “Well, sir, in that case, you have to login to our company website and open a ticket, and one of our tech support will be with you as soon as possible.”

Customer: “I cannot do that. I have no Internet connection.”

(I tried to explain the notion of the Internet and emails and how they interact, while at the same time trying not to start banging my head on my desk.)

Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 32
Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 31
Wireless, Clueless, Hopeless, Part 30

Unfiltered Story #107571

, , , , | Unfiltered | March 20, 2018

(I have just started working at a new job, and the training person is trying to get our badges so we can go in and out of the building without having to bother the security staff.)

Trainer: “Let me see if I got an email from Pete. The… badge guy.”

Me: “In this world there are goodge guys and badge guys.”

Trainer: “You’re a punny one, aren’t you?”

Coworker: “That’s illegal! She’s going to the pun-itentiary!”

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