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Sooo Not Ready For The Internet, Part 2

, , , , , | Right | June 1, 2022

A customer comes in with a tablet she purchased from us.

Customer: “I have a problem with my Internet.”

Me: “Oh, well, did you—”

Customer: “There are other people using it.”

Me: “Well, did you share your password with any—”

Customer: “No, let me show you.”

She opens up a webpage, a forum she looks like she has been reading.

Customer: “Look!”

Me: “It’s a forum, ma’am.”

Customer: “Yes, but look! Other people are using it!”

Me: “Wait, is your complaint that other people are accessing the same websites as you?”

Customer: “Yes! I paid for my Internet! Other people should go and use their own!”

Me: “Ma’am, the Internet is a shared service. For the most part, everyone on the planet has access to the same websites as you.”

Customer: “Well, how do I get rid of them? I paid! I should get my own Internet!”

After my manager and I try to explain, she snatches up her tablet and marches out the door.

Customer: “Ridiculous! I should have just stuck to books!”

Sooo Not Ready For The Internet

A Soggy Case Of The Mondays

, , , , , , | Working | CREDIT: Vox_Popsicle | May 31, 2022

Right after the Y2K nonevent, I was working at a help desk for a fairly large company — 15,000 employees. The company had a surprisingly kind corporate culture and thus had pretty good morale. People were allowed to decorate their cubicles pretty much as they saw fit (with the obvious exceptions like offensive posters, etc.).

One employee in a prestigious department called on a Monday and told us that her monitor had failed.

Flatscreens were a lot more expensive back then, so nobody had multiple monitors. I grabbed a spare and was at her cubicle within five minutes.

Her cube was like a greenhouse. She must’ve had thirty different potted plants in a modest cube. Flowers, spider plants, little bamboo… it would have driven me nuts to work in this crowded little grove, but it smelled like a clean forest after the rain and she was obviously proud of it.

The monitor was dead as disco. It wouldn’t even show me a power LED. I carefully moved four or five plants and swapped in the new one. Happy user, closed ticket.

One week later…

The ticket reopened the next Monday morning. Statistically, it is certainly possible for a beat-up spare screen to fail, but it isn’t likely. I grabbed a shiny new monitor, tested it at my desk, and installed it. As I swapped cables, I asked her what had happened.

Employee: “It just shut off! I didn’t even touch it.”

Two monitors failing at the same time on the same day of the week for one user? This is not a coincidence. I longed for a previous job where we had a hardware guy who loved to dig into dead equipment and figure out the forensics.

I verified that she didn’t have a heater in her cube (power surge, thermal issues) and that no other users had seen any issues or heard anything. I Googled the model of monitor that had failed to see if it had a bad reputation. I talked to the rest of my team. Nothing suggested a reason.

So, the next Monday, early, I was camped out in her cube with iced coffee and suspicion. [Employee] came in.

Employee: “Did this monitor fail, too?!”

Me: “I’m here to make sure it doesn’t.”

She was pleased with the level of attention on her issue.

I watched her start up the PC, turn on the monitor, and head out for her own coffee. All good so far. The PC booted properly and loaded up the series of apps that she needed at about the normal rate. They connected to servers across the country, so boot up took ten minutes or so from power on to ready for calls.

She came back with coffee… and a watering can.

I looked at the three potted plants on the shelf above her monitor and stopped her.

She’d been slightly overwatering those plants once a week. I don’t know why it hadn’t killed the monitor before this, but she didn’t use a power strip, and apparently, the main circuit breakers weren’t sensitive enough.

User educated, problem solved, ticket reclosed.

You And This Customer Are Just Not Connecting, Part 2

, , , , | Right | May 31, 2022

I work as a guest service agent at the front desk of a hotel. A guest called down to the desk for assistance with the Wi-Fi, which is not uncommon; when you connect to our Wi-Fi, it asks for several pieces of information in a pop-up window, and guests are often confused about why you have to give a conference number. (Spoiler: you don’t, actually; just the other information it asks for will give you access.)

However, this guest’s issue was… not that.

Me: “Thank you for calling [Hotel] front desk. This is [My Name]; how can I help you?”

Guest: “Hi. How do I connect to the Internet?”

Me: “You just need to connect to the [Network] Wi-Fi network, and when it opens the dialogue box—”

Guest: “Oh, no, I don’t need the Wi-Fi. I just need the Internet.”

I’m stunned into silence for a moment before I compose myself.

Me: “Ma’am, as far as I’m aware, there isn’t a way to connect to the Internet without connecting to the Wi-Fi.”

Guest: “Oh, I thought Wi-Fi was just for Bluetooth stuff.”

Didn’t know when I got into hotels that I’d also be minoring in tech support!

Servers, Servers Everywhere

, , , , , | Working | CREDIT: Rusty99Arabian | May 30, 2022

After we had the Bad Boss, who reduced our college’s IT team and budget to nothing, we had the Good Boss, who was great. He wanted to improve things instead of just desperately duct taping them together. Very hands-on, he even went out in the field sometimes to see what we were doing.

When he arrived, the greater University was just gearing up to transition from Windows XP to 7. The discussion over how to do this got a little delayed, so then it became XP to 10 (much to our great relief). Our boss suggested we make an image for our college’s computers following University standards to push out to all the machines.

When we stopped laughing, we pointed out that this wasn’t going to happen. Our college’s computers weren’t networked in any real sense of the word beyond “most of them connect to the internet, somehow”. Our servers certainly didn’t talk to the University servers. Most of our servers didn’t talk to OUR servers. The best we could possibly do was use this upgrade to bring everything into cohesion.

Our new boss asked us, cradling his head in his hands:

Boss: “Wait a minute. Help me understand the scope of the problem. How many of our servers don’t talk to our other servers? How many servers do we actually have?”

We all looked at each other.

There were several servers in the room we were in; those were easy enough. There was an email server and a server for the printers on this floor. We also had—

Boss: “Wait. The print server is just for this floor? We have ten buildings and probably thirty floors between them all.”

Oh, no, we reassured him, some of the buildings had just one print server, and some even shared them. But some had a different print server per lab because the labs used to be owned by a different college and we inherited them, and in some cases, a professor had gotten a grant and bought their own print server.

Boss: “What? Why?”

Shrug. Who are we to question the wisdom of the faculty?

But back to the count. Everyone knew about the server next door because it was part of an international grant and the US government contacted us occasionally to ask why it was transmitting to Iran. (Answer: the professor was in Iran… hopefully doing normal things.) But no one knew what the server sitting on top of that one was for.

Actually, as we took our impromptu meeting into that room to poke around, we found four more servers that were definitely running and doing something. So that was seven, and those were just the ones in immediate proximity to us.

Our network guy, aka the one tech who knew something about networks, said that he had about thirty-six of them that he monitored. He could tell from traffic that there were definitely more, but he didn’t know where they were, exactly.

Were any of these servers backed up? Onto what, exactly? More servers?

Our new boss, looking older by the minute, gave us orders: any time we weren’t on a ticket, we were to go room by room in every building, looking for servers.

It was the Easter egg hunt from Hell. We found servers running under desks in storage closets, behind other servers, above ceiling tiles. One had been installed in a Facilities closet against a hot water intake pipe and had partially melted. I remember that one in particular because the tech who found it had to fill out an injury report after getting burned by the server/pipe hybrid. After that, the boss made sure we all learned what hot water pipes looked like, just in case.

Our boss also ventured out himself to help. One time, he found three servers just stacked on the floor. While ranting to the tech with him about the ideal closet he would have installed them in if HE had put them in the room, he opened the next door and found exactly the model of wiring closet he had just described, standing empty. He had to go have a lie-down.

Our end total?

One hundred sixty-eight servers.

I never got into networking, so I’m uninformed in this area, but they assured me this was not the correct number of servers for a workforce of about 1,000. I don’t know. Maybe it works better if everyone has their own print server.

Children Sure Have A Gift For Making You Feel Old

, , , , | Related | May 29, 2022

I was picking up my kids after school one day when my fifth-grader suddenly remembered something she wanted to show me. It was a piece of notebook paper on which she and her friend had drawn a phone screen and were writing messages (including the chat bubbles) to each other.

Daughter: “Yeah, we’re not allowed our phones in school, but [Friend] and I figured out how to text each other anyway!”

Me: “When I was in school, we called that ‘passing notes.’”

Daughter: “But you didn’t even have texting back then!”

Me: *Facepalm*