Monday, September 26, 2011

“Beware Of Computer Programmers Whistling Superhero Tunes.”

Well it’s a new week and I’m sure everyone that read last week’s blog is as been waiting with baited breath to see what happened when the IT tech showed up to fix the computers in our office. OK, so that’s probably an exaggeration but I hope your back to find out what happened anyway.

For those that have just joined us here, last week I wrote about our fabulous IT department. To get a real feel for the whole thing, you’ll have to read last week’s post. Either way here’s part two of the computer technician fiasco.

It had been nearly three days since I called the charismatic fellow at the IT desk to tell him my computer wasn’t working. He’d mentioned there might be a slight back log for repairs, since they had disabled several hundred computers; so frankly, I was shocked when a technician called to tell me he was on his way over. He asked if I could be there to meet him, and I told him I could if I rearranged a few appointments.

As soon as I hung up the phone, I went to work changing my schedule to free up the afternoon. Lunch time came and went. As did one, two, three, and four O’ clock and guess what; no IT guy. The next morning I got another phone call from the computer office again saying they were on their way. This time they asked for directions (Perhaps they got lost the first time). I told them I was at the fire department.

My answer was met with silence and the sound of rustling paper then the man said.

“Where’s that?”

Now this might seem like a perfectly logical question, except it just so happens we are the only fire department they serve… oh and we’re less than a block away.

“Walk out your front doors, turn left, then look for the building with the great big fire trucks!”

OK… I didn’t really say that. What I did was give him the address and hope he wouldn’t have to put it into a GPS to find the place.

Moments later he arrived, looking frazzled, and introduced himself as the department supervisor. At first I thought I was in luck. If anyone could help me here it would be this guy right; wrong. As I watched him work, I realized why our IT department had always provided us with such abhorrent service.

He sat down, hit the power button, and waited for the computer to power up. When the screen came on, displaying the code telling him the computer had been disabled, he looked at me with a straight face and said.

“Yup your computers down. I’ll have to go back to the office and get a disk so I can fix it.”

Then he got up, walked to his car, and left.

Now this should have been shock, but considering or history together, it didn’t surprise me at all. As he left I wondered what he would say if he called 911, and when we got there we said,

“Yup, that’s a fire. You’ll have to hold on while we go back to the station to get some hose.”

The IT pro got his disk and was back in a flash. He came in, sat down, put the disk in and… made a phone call. As he waited for the other line to pick up, he clicked the mouse nervously. I knew something was wrong.

The other party picked up.

“OK, I have this disk in. Now what do I do?”

I could not help but stare in disbelief. This was the head IT guy and he was calling back the office for step by step instructions. He would listen; type a few lines, then listen again, then type some more. After several agonizing minutes he got the process started, then stood triumphantly to announce it would be an hour before it was finished.

I sighed and agreed not to touch it. (God forbid I would cause another problem) and waited for it to go through its paces.

As soon as it was done the IT guy came back, apparently he did have that timed pretty well, and he sat down to log in. He typed his admin password and hit enter and… nothing. He did it again and again; still nothing. After a few more tries he called his office.

“Ummm, yeah,” He mumbled into the phone. “I think I forgot my password”.

I pretended not to listen, looking out the window so he wouldn’t see me laugh.

“No, I don’t remember... OK”

A few moments of silence went by, and I realized he was on hold, in the perpetual Barry Manilow limbo. I guess even the tech guys get this treatment.

A few more moments went by and he hung up the phone.

“I need to get some additional software from the office,” He said, as if I hadn’t heard the whole conversation. ”I’ll be right back”

Again he went, and again he came back. He put his new disk in the computer and; you guessed it, he called back for instructions.

On the up side, once he limped through the log on, it didn’t take long before he was in. I know this because as soon as he was successful, he whistled some obscure superhero tune. In fact, he was so happy, he did the same thing every time something went right.

Click, click, click… program loaded correctly, superhero tune. Click, click, click, password accepted, superhero tune. It was hilarious.

Another 20 minutes of his heroic efforts, and my computer was running again. When he was done, he stood, leaving as swiftly as he’d come, ready to do more good deeds. Unfortunately, I had to chance him down in the parking lot to give him back the password crack disk he left in my computer. Oh well, nobody’s perfect. What’s a little security breach between friends anyway?

So that’s my story. A little long winded but I hope you got a kick out of it. Until next time, happy reading.

Monday, September 19, 2011

“Beware Computer programmers carrying a hammer!”

For those of you that have been here before, you may have caught some of the stories I’ve written about our humorous, and rather incapable IT department here at work. In their defense, they’ve proven invaluable for providing material here in this blog, but for computer support… not so much.

Last Monday I came into my office, sat down, turned on my computer as I always did, and guess what, nothing happened. It powered up, acting like it was going to start, but when that magic windows jingle came on, the computer froze.

Being a fairly computer literate person myself, I did what any educated person would do. I slammed my mouse on the desk several times, muttered obscenities at the screen and gave the CPU a gentle “nudge” with the toe of my boot. Believe it or not, none of these things seemed to help, so begrudgingly, I called the IT help line.

As soon as the technician picked up the phone, I knew I was in trouble. He answered with a flat monotone “Yes!” and then let the uncomfortable silence take over the staticy connection. I tried to be cheerful, asking him how he was and even made a joke about the early morning call but still… silence. I thought perhaps we’d been disconnected so paused and offered a questioning “hello?” and was met with the same grumbling “Yes!” I’d received when he answered the phone.

Giving up the pleasantries, I told him about my problem and he went into what I now refer to as the new and improved IT mantra. In the past, they would have put me on hold, beating me down with the wet tortuous tones of Barry Manilow, but over the last few weeks they have changed things up, and not for the better.

“Have you tried restarting your computer” the apathetic voice said.

I told him I had and he said “try it again… I’ll wait.”

This is the new and improved solution for every problem computer related. When you call them, they tell you to restart your computer. And if that doesn’t work? Well they tell you to try it again, and again and again. It’s like trying to pull start that old lawnmower sitting in the shed. You can yank on that cord till your bent over, head between your knees, ready to puke, but broke’s broke, and no amount of pulling is going to change it.

Needless to say I restarted my computer, enjoying the entertaining silence of my disgruntled IT worker. It rebooted, and surprise surprise; the same thing happened. I explained what was going on, and true to form, he told me to try it again.

Unwilling to play this game any longer, I told him I’d already restarted it two or three hundred times before calling him. This did nothing to improve his sense of humor. I asked if he could send somebody over to fix the computer and he told me they were pretty backed up due to a wide spread computer problem in the network.

I thought to myself, as you probably are too, if he knows there‘s a problem, why did he have me jump through his hoops? If I’d been smart, I would have just shut up and accepted his appointment for maintenance, but instead I just had to ask.

“So do you think this might have something to do with the problem I’m having?” I said.

“Probably,” he said. “We found a software glitch in some of the computers, so I disabled them until we could repair it.”

Yes. Not only did he know about the problem, but apparently he was the one that caused it. But wait… it gets better.

That’s too bad,” I said. “How many did you have to disable?”

“Few hundred.”

He let the number hang in the air as if it was perfectly reasonable to take down a few hundred computers without warning on a Monday morning. No explanation, no solution; just BAMM… sorry your system’s down. The funny thing was, he seemed annoyed and even baffled at the number of calls he was receiving as a result.

A few more seconds, and he told me someone could be over sometime between that morning and the following Friday five days later (and you thought the cable guy was bad). Then without a good bye, he hung up the phone.

I should have been fuming, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about the blog I was going to get to write. I as I sat jotting down notes, I wondered If he was going to run every single person through the “restart your computer” mantra before doing something useful. If so, it was going to be a long day at the old IT office.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come back next week to hear about the actual IT visit. It was nothing like I had ever experienced before, and when you’re talking about these guys, that’s saying something!

See ya and have a great day.

Monday, September 5, 2011

“Children are a great comfort in your old age. And they help you reach it faster, too!”

I was sitting at home the other day with my daughter and we were talking about how fun it was to tease “mom.” Poor mom takes a lot of teasing in our house (thanks mostly to her loving husband) but she’s usually a good sport about it. Granted that sportsman like attitude usually comes out about two weeks later, but who can blame her. With me spurring our daughter on all the time, I’m sure it’s hard to keep up.

So anyway we were laughing about some of the loving pranks we’ve played on her like locking her out of the house, or holding her down for wet willies, or, my personal favorite, sending my daughter in to take pictures of her while she’s on the toilet. Hey is it my fault she doesn’t lock the door? I don’t think so.

We were going on and on and as we laughed we made up a little game. We called it “The What Game.” It is great fun and it will have your wife/husband wanting to strangle you in no time.

The rules were simple. All she had to do is scrunch her face up with a confused expression and say “What!?” every time mom said something to her. I though the best time for this game would be when my wife had just come home from work or was otherwise exhausted from some other activity, like lavishing me with attention.

So my wife walks in from the garage, tired, distracted and ready to relax:

Mom: “Hi family. How was your day?”

Daughter: “What!?”

Mom: “How was your day?”

Daughter: “What!?”

Mom: “Forget it! Did you guys already eat?”

Daughter: “What!?”

Mom: “I said what did you eat?”

Daughter: “What!?”

Mom: “Knock it off, why are you doing that?”

Daughter: “What?”

Mom: “Saying What”

Daughter: “What!?”

Mom: “Yes What! I’m tired so knock it off. What do you want for dinner?”

Daughter: “What!?”

Mom: “Chuck, do something, I am going to strangle this child.”

Me: “What!?”

Needless to say shoes, frying pans and small animals were flying at this point. I even had to throw my body between her and my daughter after she threw in one last “What?!” at the end.

It was great fun and once mom worked through her homicidal rampage, we all had a good laugh. Well we laughed, she just threatened me within an inch of my life if I ever taught our daughter something like that again.

So try “The What Game” at home. Let me know how it turns out. Maybe we could work out a deal with Hasbro, then we‘d all be rich… or dead.

Happy reading!!