Dec 29

ring…ring…ring

tech:  Thanks for calling tech support, how may I help you?

Person-who-doesn’t-understand-the-purpose-of-internet-tech-support:  Hey, I’m having problems with your damn internet.

tech:  I’m sorry to hear that.  What kind of problems are you having?

Person:  Yeah, I got a new Blu-ray player for Christmas and I’m supposed to be able to stream movies from online to my TV.

tech: Okay.

Person: Well, it’s not working.

tech: Okay, so your internet isn’t working?

Person: Not on the Blu-ray player.

tech: So… is your internet working on your computer?

Person: Yeah, it’s working there, but it’s supposed to work on the Blu-ray player too.  I swear, your guys’ internet sucks!

tech: … uh… okay… so how do you have the Blu-ray player hooked-up to the internet?

Person: I don’t know.  Aren’t you tech support?  Shouldn’t you know that?

tech: … I’m afraid I don’t know how you would have hooked the Blu-ray player up to the internet.  Did you run a wire from your router to the player or is it WiFi?

Person: See, you guys always go talking all techie.  I’m not technical.  Can’t you just send someone out to get this damn thing working?

tech: … to hook up your Blu-ray player?

Person: No, to wash my dog.  Of course to hook up my Blu-ray player.

tech:  The company that you purchased the Blu-ray player doesn’t have someone available to install it for you?

Person:  Yeah, but they want to charge me like 35 bucks to have someone hook it up.

tech: … okay… that would probably be cheaper than having us send a tech out.  Usually we charge $45 for a service call.

Person:  What the hell!  You’re gonna charge me?

tech:  Well, your internet is working and you are just needing your Blu-ray hooked up…

Person:  But your internet is not working on the Blu-ray!

tech:  I understand that, but the internet is getting to your house.  We can help you hook up the Blu-ray player, but there would be a service call fee…

Person:  What in the hell am I paying you for every month?

tech: … to get the internet to your house.

Person:  That’s a bunch of crap!  Screw that!  I swear, your internet sucks!  You’re just gonna help me over the phone!

tech:  I’d be more than happy to…

Person:  Damn right you’re gonna help me!

tech:  … okay… so how is the internet getting to the Blu-ray player?

Person:  If the internet was getting to the Blu-ray player, would I have called you?

tech: … so how is the internet supposed to get to the Blu-ray player?

Person:  I’m not sure I like your tone!

tech:  … my tone?

Person:  Don’t get all smart-assy with me!

tech:  This conversation is going in completely the wrong direction.  I just want to help you get your Blu-ray working…

Person:  Then why don’t you get your ass in a car and get over to my house and hook-up the stupid thing?

tech:  … so how is the internet supposed to get to your Blu-ray player?

Person:  How am I supposed to know?

tech:  Didn’t it come with any sort of instructions?

Person:  Oh great, so you expect me to read the stupid manual?  Come on, I don’t have that kind of time!  Don’t you know about this kind of stuff?

tech:  I’m afraid I really don’t have any sort of training on Blu-ray players.  I’m going to need some help from you to get the Blu-ray player working.

Person:  Well, that’s just fine!  And I guess I’m just going to have to charge you 45 bucks for the help!

tech:  … so… you want to charge me $45 to help me set up your Blu-ray player?

Person:  Damn straight!  See, now it makes sense for you to get off your lazy ass and come hook it up, doesn’t it?

tech:  I’m sorry, it really doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to help you today.  Does the manufacturer of the Blu-ray player have a phone number that you can call for tech support?

Person:  Now you’re just gonna blow me off!?!  That’s just great!  I swear, your internet sucks so bad!

tech:  But your internet is working.  We are getting the internet to your house and it is working on your computer, which is the service you are paying us for.  The fact that you can’t get your Blu-ray player to work seems like it may be more of an issue for the manufacturer of…

Person:  “I can’t get”… seriously, “I can’t get”!  Whose internet is this anyway?

tech:  Well… uh… it’s yours… isn’t it?  I mean, we provide it to you but…

Person:  It’s your stupid internet, and you can have it!  I want you to cancel my service!

tech:  Great!  So when can we deinstall the equipment?

Person:  … slow down, there, Speed Racer.  I don’t understand why you can’t just send someone out here to hook this stupid thing up?

tech:  For $45, we can.  The company that actually made money on the sale of the Blu-ray player… the company you actually paid for the device… is going to charge you to hook the player up for you.  I don’t understand why you are getting upset with me… a representative of your internet provider… and your internet is working… when you should be complaining to the company you bought the Blu-ray player from!

Person:  … sighthat’s why I’m on the phone with you.  That’s exactly what the Blu-ray store said about my internet provider… that you should be willing to do it for free.  Doesn’t anyone know how to offer customer service any more?

tech:  …

Person:  Screw it… I’ll have the Blu-ray store do it.  They’re cheaper.

tech:  Okay, thanks for calling.  If you have any internet issues, or if the Blu-ray tech needs some phone support setting up the player, please…

click

don’t hesitate to call. 

The tech slowly places the phone’s handset in its cradle.  Immediately the phone bursts into a spasm of rings.  Old lady Keller is calling on line one needing help setting up the router the grandkids got for her, and old lady Keller is half-blind and in a wheelchair.  Mr. McHenry is calling on line two.  Mr. McHenry got a new laptop for Christmas and needs help setting up his email, and Mr. McHenry doesn’t know the difference between an email client and potato salad.  Billy Thomas is ringing through on the third line.  Little Billy is 8-years-old… and he got an X-Box for Christmas… and his parents think it will be cute for him to call tech support and set-up his X-Box all by himself.

The tech looks at the throbbing purple-blue veins in his wrist… thump…thump…thump.  A letter opener catches the corner of his eye, and he reaches for it.  Feeling the edge of the opener’s blade, he realizes that it is barely sharp enough to open an envelope; it could never open a world of peaceful bliss.  His head falls to the desk calendar before him, and he weeps…


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Sep 23

Isn’t technology amazing?  Hasn’t it made daily life so much easier?  Nothing reduces stress like modern technology!

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First-thing on a typical Monday morning in Tech Support:

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Me: Thanks for calling tech support, how can I help you?

Little old lady on Phone (lol): My internet isn’t working.

Me: I’m sorry to hear that.  Let’s see if we can’t get it fixed for you.

Instant Message from new co-worker (im1): Hey, why would someone’s dealie tell them their network cable is unplugged?

Me: How long has your Internet not been working?

Me: What dealie?

Instant Message from old co-worker (im2): I got a weird one.  this guy can’t see anything on his screen.

lol: It hasn’t worked all morning.

im1: I don’t know, the little dealie in the bottom corner of the monitor.

Me: What do you mean “can’t see anything”?

Me: So it was working yesterday?

Instant Message from boss (im3): Did you get that equipment ordered?

im2: the screen is completely blank.

Me: Did you have them check their network cable?

lol: I didn’t use it yesterday.

Me: What equipment?

Text Message from the wife (text1): Can u grab a gallon of milk after work?

Me: The blue screen of death?

im3: the routers for the Schergenrader installation.

Me: When is the last time you used it?

im2: What network cable?

Me: Yeah, how come?

im2: no, it’s completely black

lol: I haven’t used it for a couple of weeks.

Me: I don’t know anything about the Scherkenderfer installation.

text1: I have to pick the boy up from school and won’t have time.

Me: The network cable going into the back of the computer from her router.

Me: What do you see on your screen right now?

im3: Maybe I forgot to tell you about it.  I need you to order 3 routers, next day, for the Schergenrader installation tomorrow.

Me: Are you sure there is power to the monitor?

Text Message from the boy (text2): Can u pk me up aftr skwl?

im1: OK, I’ll have her check that.

lol: Nothing.

Me: I’d have to order in the next 10 minutes to get it guaranteed by tomorrow.

im2: she says it is plugged in.

im1: The cable is connected, but the lights on her router aren’t on.

Me: I thought your mom was gonna pick you up.

text2: Mom g2 p u milk or sumtin

Me: So, your screen is just blue?

im3: Yeah, we really need them.  I’d order them, but I have an appointment to get my hair cut.  I’m already late.

Me: The boy is asking me to pick him up

lol: No, the screen is black

Me: Your mom asked me to get the milk, she said she was going to get you.  Could you work it out with her and let me know what I need to do.  I’m kind of busy.

text2: wrtg a novel?  L2 txt. uradrk :)

text1: no, I’ll get him.  You need to get the milk.

Me: I don’t know if I will have time.

Me: Can you work it out with the boy?  I’m kind of busy right now.  Just let me know what you guys decide and I’ll do whatever that is.

Me: How about we try pushing the power button?

Me: How about we try pushing the power button?

Me: How about we try pushing the power button?

Me: How about we try pushing the power button?

lol: What power button?

im1: Power button on what?

text2: That’s the longest text ever. uradrk ♥

im2: Push what?

im3: Power button?  What in the hell are you talking about?  Just get it done!

Me: The power button on the monitor.

Me: Make sure the router is plugged in.

Me: The power button on the monitor.

lol: Well what do you know.  Looks like that didn’t get turned on.  Looks like my internet is actually working.  Thank you.

im1: Oh, hey, it was unplugged.  Seems to be good now.

Me: Your welcome.

text2: Mom get me, u get milk

im2: Yeah, the monitor wasn’t turned on.  All is well.

text2: I’ll get the boy, you get the milk… just like I first wrote.

Me: Great

Me: Great

Me: Great

Me: Great

Me: Great

im3: “Great” what?  Are you smoking something funny?

Me: No, I mean, yes, I mean… never mind.  I’ll get the routers ordered.  Then I can start going through my email…

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Technology SUCKS!!!   Man, I miss my Blackberry…



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Aug 10

I haven’t flown in a lot of years. I hate lines, I hate large groups of people, I hate being searched, I hate being presumed guilty until proven innocent, and I think hurling to my death from 2000 ft knowing survival is not gonna happen would be the absolute worst way to die. So, on the flight to St Louis for the WISPA Regional Meeting, I entered a sweaty, heart-poundy, semi-zombie trance state for an hour and a half, clutching the armrest on one side with both hands and quietly chanting, “We’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die…”

Even stewardesses tend to avoid me on flights.

And then we landed. I was kind of hoping I’d see the Arch on the way in, but I didn’t. All I saw was the Missouri River flooding part of the city… and, let me tell you, it was kind of cool!

So, the boss and I get on a shuttle bus to the Renaissance Hotel, which we are staying at and where the conference is. Little do I realize at this point how close that hotel and I are about to become. I’m still under the illusion that I’m going to get to see the city… hahaha… foolish illusion.

Renaissance,airport,hotel,st louis

So, we get into the hotel, check in, put our crap in the room (which I am sharing with the boss… and sharing hotels rooms with dudes makes me uncomfortable… but I know that my ability to explode eardrums with my snore will prevent any future sleeping arrangement similar to this), and go check out the conference area. There are already WISPA dudes working on putting together welcome packets and I am quickly recruited to help.  Stuffing packets turns into checking in attendees as they arrive turns in to many hours sitting at a stinking table in front of a stinking computer looking out a stinking window at a stinking fountain.

Renaissance,airport,hotel,st louis,fountain

Oh, I know, “that’s a pretty cool fountain,” you may be saying to yourself. Yeah. it was… for about the first five hours staring at it.

So, we had arrived in St. Louis around noon and it was pretty much sitting at that table in the “prefunction area” (i.e. the hallway outside the concourses) until around 8 or 9 at night.

prefunction area

Around 7pm, a group of people talked one of the hotel shuttle drivers into a trip to go see the Gateway Arch (something they apparently don’t do, but for the right amount of tip…)… and I needed to man the WISPA table, so actually seeing the Arch wasn’t in the cards for this trip to St. Louis… maybe next time. It only took me 40 years to make it to St. Louis the first time… so maybe when I’m 80 (me, live to be eighty… hahaha) I may make it back to St. Louis to see that arch.

After a supper of what tasted very much like overcooked Freshetta pizzas at the meet-and-greet (which I enjoyed from the WISPA table while staring at the fountain)
Renaissance,airport,hotel,st louis,fountain
I was finally allowed to shut down the WISPA table for the day.

Next morning, back to the WISPA table, checking people in, selling tickets, registering new members, selling shirts (yeah… selling shirts), and once again I have a lovely view for the day.
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Renaissance,airport,hotel,st louis,fountain

Lunch rolls around, and all the WISPA dudes and attendees go to the 13th floor for lunch. Of course, I’m asked to man the WISPA table through lunch. I do, and lunch is brought to me… I think it was a bologna sandwich. So far, I’m loving St. Louis!

Lunch gets over and all of the WISPA members seem to be enjoying the meeting. Everyone is friendly and excited and, every once in awhile, someone goes all tech on me (apparently thinking that because I’m sitting at the WISPA table staring at the stinking fountain
I must be techie myself). I’m not very techie, so I smile and nod.

“You know, if the FCC would allow us access to portion of the white space spectrum, many of our current interference issues would fall by the way-side,” says the techie dude.

I smile.

“Just the thought of getting into that 3650 MHz spectrum makes my routing redirect, but in a positive way, if you know what I mean,” the techie laughs, nudging me with his elbow and winking.

I nod, having not the foggiest.

“Nice talking to ya, man,” says techie.  “Nice to find someone with a similar point of view.”

I smile and nod.

Evening rolls around, and one of the vendors at the meeting sponsors a supper for everyone.  Well, I, of course, am sitting at the WISPA table.  Everyone goes upstairs to the big feast.  I sit at the table looking at the fountain.
Renaissance,airport,hotel,st louis,fountain
Around 7pm, when I finally shut down the WISPA table, I decide I’m gonna go for a walk. My boss warned me, “Uh, I don’t think this is the best area to go walking around in.”

“How bad can it be?” I glance at the fountain one more time
Renaissance,airport,hotel,st louis,fountain
… and I start on my walk.

Within a couple of blocks of the hotel, I notice that the neighborhood may be a little questionable.
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neighborhood2

Still, I’m thinking, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

As I continue, I notice that the neighborhood really isn’t getting any better
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Neighborhood
“Well, if I can just find someplace to get something to eat, I’ll be fine.” I continue on my way when I notice these dudes strolling my way:
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gang1

Being completely homophobic, I quickly turn down a side street
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and I run into
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these guys:
gang2
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CRAP!
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Roofers! They are insisting that they “fix roof cheap, less than gringo, insurance will pay.” I tell them that I don’t even live in St. Louis, but it’s like they don’t understand English. So I run away and find myself down a dark alley. At the end of the alley I see:
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gang3
Killer clowns… seriously?!? St. Louis SUCKS!

Not wanting to mess with killer clowns in any way, shape or fashion, I quickly turn around and make my way back out of the alley. I’m not going to take on killer clowns. The odds of surviving a killer clown attack are like 1 in 900,000,000,000. A person has a much higher chance of winning the Lottery than he or she does of surviving a killer clown attack. I’m not that stupid.

As I’m leaving the killer clowns in my dust, I notice something in the shadows up ahead. It seems to be moving. As I get closer, it starts to emerge from the shadows. When I first see its face, I can’t believe what I am seeing. I freeze, a deer in the headlights, sure I am about to meet my ultimate doom. As It comes into full light, I scream the scream of a little girl being eaten alive by rats
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RUN AWAY!!!
I turn and run back at the killer clowns. They are about to pounce when they spy the monstrosity behind me. They, too, scream like little girls and fall in behind me as they retreat from certain doom.

I run and I run and I run until I find myself sitting at the base of the fountain outside the hotel.
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Renaissance,airport,hotel,st louis,fountain

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Okay, there may be a slight amount of exaggeration in my description of my escapade into St. Louis… slight… but it wasn’t very fun.  Stupid fountain never looked so good. I went in and up to my room. Ordered an Imo’s Pizza (a St. Louis classic, I’m told) and was very pleased with my supper choice. At least I got to try some real St. Louis style pizza while in St. Louis.

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st louis style pizza,Imo's pizza
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Next day, another day at the WISPA table; another day staring at the fountain. This time, for lunch, there was no bologna sandwich. This time for lunch, there was nothing.

By the time the WISPA Regional Meeting started wrapping up in the late afternoon, I was starving. After we got everything cleaned up and everyone headed their separate ways, I snuck out of the hotel and went the opposite direction from which I had gone the night before. On the next block… Jack In The Box. I like trying places I’ve never eaten at when I travel, and I had never eaten at a Jack In The Box, so I did. Had me some Jack In The Box tacos… you know, the 2 for 99-cent kind.
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Jack In The Box taco,greasy,gross
Seriously, nastiest tacos ever. Deep-fried grossness with almost no filling. These are something I will never eat again.  What a disappointment.

Later that night, the boss told me a bunch of guys were meeting by the hotel pool and just kind of hanging out.  I decided to throw aside my loathing of St. Louis and try to hang out with these guys (and I don’t really like people, so I thought this would be a challenge).  I ended up having a pretty good time.  Before going to bed, I actually went outside and ran through that stinking fountain in front of the Renaissance Hotel (which is kind of supposed to be off limits).  I went to my room stinking like rancid pond water and feeling a bit of the sweet, sweet taste of revenge on that stinking fountain.

The next morning, the boss and I grabbed a ride to the airport, flew an excruciating flight back to Denver (my hands once again gripping the one armrest I had access to the entire flight), and came home.  I was glad to be back in the Craphole of Nebraska… ok, not really, but it was better than the killer clowns of St. Louis.

Overall, I am glad I went to St. Louis.  Did I see the Arch?  No.  Did I have a splendid time?  Did you see the picture of the anti-Christ Clinton?  Not really.  I did, however, gain a couple of insights.  First, I learned that the people (or really, person… Rick H :) ) who prepare for and  execute at these conferences are amazing individuals.  Everything at the 2010 WISPA Regional Meeting went pretty smoothly.  I wouldn’t say that it went off without a hitch, because there were a couple of hitches; but considering the amount of variables that could have worked against us… things went quite well.  Second, as technologically geeky as many of the participants at this conference were, it was utterly and completely cool to be surrounded by a bunch of men and women who are so passionate about what they do!  My biggest bitch on this blog is the fact that I can’t find and follow my passion.  Did I learn that wireless Internet is my passion?  Nope.  I did find, though, that there are really people out there who have a passion, follow that passion, and better the lives of those around them with their passion.  Most of these WISPs are not raking in bu-cu bucks.  They aren’t in it for the money.  They are in it because they believe all people have the right to access the wonderful world of the Internet at something faster than dial-up… and these people should not have to take out a second mortgage to be able to afford the service.  And there was serious passion.

My trip to St. Louis didn’t make me more passionate about anything.  My trip to St. Louis did, however, help me see that wireless Internet is something to be passionate about.  Seeing people with passion for something, whether it is a passion you can share or not, is good for the soul.  My trip to St. Louis enriched my soul.  Now, if only I could rid myself of the nightmares…

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RUN AWAY!!!

Tagged with:
Aug 08

I work for a wireless Internet service provider.  What exactly is a wireless Internet service provider, you may ask?  Well, a wireless Internet service provider (WISP for short… which I could have notated a couple of “wireless Internet service provider” mentions ago… but I’m a sucker for the want to hunt and peck out extremely long, tedious sentences… which is why, I figure, most people who visit my blog stay less than 53 seconds…  a person can’t read one of my posts in less than 5 minutes, ’cause I’m way to wordy and I take WAY to long to get to my point… as the current sentence proves… and if you are still reading this far into the sentence, you have my eternal debt:) )  is a person or company that provides Internet to people who cannot get (or are sick of dealing with) cable and DSL Internet.

Anyway, back to the whole wireless Internet provider (WISP) thingie.  Three years ago, I had very little idea what a WISP was.  I knew my wife did the finances for one, but I was still clueless.  And then, out of nowhere and thanks to the urging of my wife, the owner of this WISP approaches me and says, “How’d you like to work for me?”  Well, at the time, I was working for Alltel… which sucked… and I really liked the way the guy combined “how” and “would” into “how’d”… ’cause that shows a laid-back persona, as far as I’m concerned.  Now, I was making fairly good money at Allhell… er… Alltel, and I would be taking a pretty significant cut in pay to work for this “WISP”… but I figured with the approaching-forty thing and the high blood pressure and the inability to deal with stress and/or pissed-off customers, how could I say no.  So, I said yes and the rest is history.  Now, I deal with the stress of pissed-off customers every day and I get to make less money.  YEAH ME!  Of course, I’m kidding (i.e. my boss reads this blog).  In all seriousness, although not perfect, I don’t hate my current job.  It frustrates me at times and there is stress (I don’t think the stress-free job exists because there is not a job where you do not have to have any contact with another person… and people cause stress… period).  But, the lack of the corporate rules and rigidity and BS makes this job much preferable to the hack job I held at Alltel.

My boss is very active in an organization called WISPA.  WISPA is the Wireless Internet Providers’ Association.  WISPA is also Womens International Squash Players Association, but that may or may not be the topic of a future post.
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WISPA,Womens International Squash Players Association
WISPA, the one with sweaty chicks.

WISPA,Wireless Internet Service Providers Association,geeks,techies,nerds
Founding members of WISPA, the one without with less sweaty chicks… or maybe this is Microsoft… who knows.  All them tech people look the same to me.

WISPA,Cadbury
WISPA, a candy bar from Cadbury containing no known sweaty chicks.

WISPA is a non-profit organization that serves the interests of WISPs not only in the US but around the world.  So still, you’re saying, “I still don’t understand what a WISP is.”

A WISP provides an alternative to the crappy, government-subsidized telephone company DSL and dial-up Internet services provided around the country.  WISPs also compete against outrageously-priced cable and satellite Internet providers.  A WISP does not need telephone lines or fiber-optic cables  to bring the Internet to your home or business.  WISPs mount radio equipment on towers and broadcast the Internet through microwaves to a receiver on your property that gives you the Internet.  In other words, WISPs provide Internet in rural and hard-to-reach areas that cable providers and DSL providers are not willing to spend the money to service.  WISPs are the cowboys of the modern age; they go into uncharted territory and do whatever it takes to bring civilization (i.e. high speed Internet) to the wastelands.  I am, of course, stealing from my boss with the whole cowboy analogy.  If you are at all technically savy and want to learn more about this industry, check out the boss’s blog at Wireless Cowboys .

Long-story short (I know… too late), the boss is active in WISPA, so somehow I end up handling a large portion of the billing and member-support responsibilities for WISPA as part of my job responsibilities.  Normally, these responsibilities are a breeze and take little of my time.  Then, all of a sudden, the WISPA people decide they need to hold a regional meeting.  “Regional meeting” means that there are registrations and tickets and confirmations and whatnot and, somehow, a large portion of the dealing with this stuff gets thrown in my lap.  All of a sudden the easy and somewhat fun WISPA responsibilities become a several-hour-a-day monstrosity that consumes much of the time I am supposed to be spending on my real job.  This goes on for well over a month.  This would probably not have been that big of a deal… except for the facts that I took a week off for scout camp with my son, and the family and I took our week-long family vacation, all during this registration period for the WISPA Regional Conference.  It was kind of like ‘take some time off’ and then ‘really bust your ass’… then ‘take some more time off’ and then ‘really bust your ass’.  I’m feeling like I am not meant to come back from these vacations.  Then, the boss says, “I know you’ve been working hard, so I’d like to bring you to St. Louis to help with the conference.”  I’m thinking he’s kind of blowing smoke up my rear to keep me from freaking out.  Then, the president of WISPA calls me and says, “We know how much time you’ve put into this, and we are trying to talk the board into allowing you to help at the conference.”  Well, all of a sudden I feel appreciated.  All of a sudden, I’m potentially going to be rewarded for all of my hard work with a trip to St. Louis.  I’ve never been to St. Louis, and I’m getting kind of excited.

As the conference approaches, the board decided to allow me to help at the conference… and I’m thinking, “Hey, St. Louis, here I come!”  Bright lights, big city, right?  Fast living and good-ol’  St. Louis style pizza right?  Blues and a trip to the Arch, you know?  There is an airplane flight that will be involved… and I hate flying… but I’m excited!  This is going to be a great time.  St. Louis, HERE I COME!!!

Gateway Arch,St Louis

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