Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Internet Connection Woes

We've been with the same ISP for a good 8 years because the service has been great, it's an award winning service.

But my award winning service is broken, sort of limps along slowly. I have the IT disease meaning I cannot call another person in IT without trying things myself first, some call it passion, I think it's a disease...

So like a mechanic listening to a finely tuned engine, I set to work playing with the thing, trying to uncover a problem. But to no avail. Tried the whole box of tricks I could think of...

I reluctantly accept defect (only took me 3 months to admit defeat) and call technical support.

If you've ever worked in a helpdesk or support scenario you will know the routine; we all replay this joke over and over:

Caller: Hi there, I have a problem with X. Can you help me?

Support: Sure sir, let me run through a few basic checks.

Caller: OK

Support: Switch it all off, wait 5 mins, then turn it on again.

(5 mins pass)

Caller: OK. The problem is still there

Support: OK, are you connected directly to the modem?

Caller: No, via wireless

Support: OK, can you connect directly to the modem?

Caller: OK, but this is gonna take me 10 minutes to move stuff. Is there something else I can try?

Support: (pauses). Yep, we can try restarting your PC.

Caller: Sure, but I just turned it on before this call.

Support: I understand, but can we try this to make sure?

Caller: OK

(5 mins pass).

You get the idea.

My call went pretty much the same with my Internet Provider, the usual ritual dance of the helpdesk call.

Even although I know more than enough to get by with networks, it's hard to convince anyone with a script in front of you to set the script aside and listen to the customer. 1 hour into this call, I wanted to reach for the fast forward button!

This is where I reach the point that I wish proper customer relationship management software could actually build a profile of what the customer seems to know - i.e. this one actually works in IT, and actually shows he knows what he's doing. But alas no, I'm in with the herd...

Or what about a proper professional body and calling card we could all share declaring "this person isn't too much of a numpty, they know what they are doing so let's cut to the chase and help them!"

Anyway, light at last! A further 30 minutes later I finally reach the real engineers, the ones who actually wrote the helpdesk scripts to protect themselves from the great unwashed. They are the guys in jeans and t-shirt who work outside the call centre and don't have such scripts and are protected from annoying calls, these are my sort of engineers that can actually solve the issue.

They listen first and try to understand what's happening.

You can guess what happened. I provided my MAC address, he took a look and BAM took 3 minutes to pin point the problem. It's at this point I learn there is a poor signal to noise ratio on the line - "dud router mate, we'll get a new one sent to you to solve it".

"Brilliant, thanks!" says me.

So the long point of this is this: shouldn't IT membership carry some sort of benefits in these scenarios? Or at the very least, IT folk agree some secret handshake to help us identify each other in today's society?

Perhaps I'm being naive. They do after all make money from my call...

And to top this off, guess what? Another 3 months on and the Internet connection is back to a crawl... Grr!

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7 Things

Thanks Lorna for tagging me! Honestly, I really like it!

Now the idea here is to write up 7 things that people didn't know about you.
  1. My full name is Andrew Mark Aitken. I'm known as Mark because my grandfather was known as Andrew and hollering the same name would have caused confusion. I can't tell you the amount of times I'm asked why I'm called Mark instead of Andrew. And it seems to be a family tradition, my Dad is 'Thomas Russell Aitken', known as Thomas. Weird...
  2. I used to work as a delivery van driver for my Dad's company. I think I spent around a year delivering in Glasgow, and through fate landed my first job in IT delivering to a company. I handed my CV in to the company and was awarded my first job on a helpdesk! Was one of the best times in my career - learning about development as the Internet emerged to what it has now become! Without that chance meeting, I wouldn't have gotten into IT at that stage, might have been later. And only after working for 5 years in IT did I go back to get a degree in Computer Science (which I achieved with Distinction!).
  3. I have two sisters. Laura (32) and Hollie (18). Laura lives in Maybole, Hollie just moved to Glasgow recently. Hollie blames me for her interest in IT, she is an avid game player and has an interest in programming to boot.
  4. I'm a frustrated architect. I discovered technical drawing at the age of 13 and loved it. Only when I went on work experience and saw one guy produce 20 drawings which looked identical that the client rejected did I realise that I didn't want to spend my life pushing a pencil over paper like that.
  5. I have a dreadful memory! In fact it might be an attention thing too. I need to keep lists with me at all times and rely on my organiser more than the air I breathe to get things done! As a result, I'm fanatical about keeping to do lists for things. If it's not written down, I simply can't remember to do it.
  6. I'm the worst kind of geek. I can't stand to not understand something. This is my major downfall when it comes to actually delivering stuff - I just love pulling things apart! My worst accident was with my car, tool the cylinder head off to learn more and couldn't get it put together again. Cost me a few quid to get someone to come help me... Means I have a constant battle to stick to my to do lists and try to avoid delving into interesting things as they appear! On the plus side, it's also the thing that drives me to learn new things!
  7. I used to play guitar avidly but let it slip to the side when my time became more occupied with my 3 kids. I have an absolutely stunning acoustic guitar from my Dad from my 30th birthday which I'm ashamed to admit spends too many evenings in the guitar bag.

So now the tricky part. I have to tag seven people, but can only think of 5 who might actually respond. They are:

Simon Davies, Vince Naylor, Chris Reid, Douglas Lindsay, Justin Atkins.

The unlinked guy don't have blogs.

For these people, they need to follow these rules:

  • Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post — some random, some weird.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.

Happy writing!

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