Comment On Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

I've posted quite a few tech support stories in the past. They've all been focused on the folks asking for support and stories I'm sure we all have experienced ourselves. But today, let's shift paradigms and take a look at those who give the technical support ... [expand full text]
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Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 14:43 • by bugsRus
As an employee/developer in Oregon for the State government (not the one who wrote the calculator
though) I am bummed.  Please accept my apologies and, rest assured, if I find the
support person who responded to this, I will slap them!

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 15:04 • by javaman
34819 in reply to 34818
universities IT departments are dumb, except the ones that let the students run the show.

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 15:26 • by Otac0n

That (the second email) Angers (an emotion) me (the person writing this reply).

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 15:44 • by Magnus
I can beat all of these =)

My email provider is missing a help text in their webmail, which is evidenced by the string "[String Help.278.6}" in the middle of the page. When I mail them the first time, they reply that it's because I use Safari. When I reply that the error is there also in IE and Firefox on Windows, they ask if I've tried a different email client. Yeah, that'll work...

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 15:56 • by Alex
34822 in reply to 34821
Silly.  If you used Thunderbird, you'd know that it can detect
mismatched braces like that and automatically fill them in with what
the sender meant to say.



Those Mozilla guys are good!

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 16:37 • by cm5400

"Ok, you rebooted your proxy and were still unable to get connectivity?"
"Well, we had a pretty heavy frost yesterday morning which can cause all sorts of problems ..."


 


I actually have used this excuse before (well kind of)  Whenever it rains in a particular town where we have a location, the T1 always goes down, it is due to the moisture shorting out the circut..  So that is not that uncommon to have weather cause issues.  (we have had the phone company out there more times than I can count and they still can not find the issue with the T1 line! [:(])

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 16:46 • by omgCode
34825 in reply to 34824
because its easier to roll the truck out there (and cheaper in the
short-term) then it is to actually pay to replace the equipment

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 16:48 • by kalahari
Why restrict yourself to the real problem, when Jeff Ballard has provided us a glorious font of ready made excuses: http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ballard/bofh/bofhserver.pl

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 16:57 • by Sprprsnmn
34828 in reply to 34824
You wouldn't happen to be in Louisiana, would you?

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 17:07 • by Sprprsnmn
34830 in reply to 34824
cm5400:

"Ok, you rebooted your proxy and were still unable to get connectivity?"
"Well, we had a pretty heavy frost yesterday morning which can cause all sorts of problems ..."


 


I actually have used this excuse before (well kind of) 
Whenever it rains in a particular town where we have a location, the T1
always goes down, it is due to the moisture shorting out the
circut..  So that is not that uncommon to have weather cause
issues.  (we have had the phone company out there more times than
I can count and they still can not find the issue with the T1 line!
[:(])





Is this in Louisiana?

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 18:40 • by FrostCat
34834 in reply to 34824

I know of a gas station that uses a satellite linkup for (among other things) credit-card validation.  Every time there's a heavy rain, something shorts out and the link goes down for hours--I've seen them have to do manual credit card slips for 100 customers.


 

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 19:09 • by cat
34836 in reply to 34819
Anonymous:
universities IT departments are dumb, except the ones that let the students run the show.


That doesn't always help. At my university students run the show and
it's a miracle things work at all. Windows login take 5+ minutes as the
original post claimed too, and the linux boxes run slower than any
linux box I've ever seen, my athlon 550 at home is faster for everyday
work than those much more powerful boxes in university.

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 20:27 • by monkeymonkeymonkey
Damn that Microsoft and their annoying automatic messages...

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-20 23:17 • by Schol-R-LEA
Bad Company! No Biscuit!

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-21 11:13 • by Division Byzero
34844 in reply to 34836
We here have the same problem of long login times and it's caused by the user profile being transferred from the file server to the client each time the user logs in.

There must be a way to disable it and to directly work on the Z: share of the file server which already points to the user's profile directory, but how?

We found out how to get what we want for the "My documents" folder or any named folder... but not for the whole user profile. So currently when people use up 100M outside of their my documents but inside their profile folder, a login takes about half a minute up to a minute.

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-21 12:18 • by drigz
34845 in reply to 34844
This isn't a solution, but often if you clean all the practically
useless application settings and ad tracker cookies etc. from the
profile, it speeds it up massively.



Other than that, you could probably try something clever with NTFS
mountpoints (which I'm told exist) or changing the registry to think
Documents and Settings is in z:

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-21 13:18 • by sebmol
34846 in reply to 34844
Why would there be a profile copied from the file server to the
workstation? The user settings should come from the local Default User
profile. If you want users to be able to access their documents from
anywhere, create a network share for them that's always mapped to a
drive by the login script. Am I missing something?

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-21 13:35 • by Division Byzero
34847 in reply to 34846
Yes, this is a computer pool with multiple users, so it needs roaming profiles.

The problem is that MS implements roaming profiles by copying the files to the local system every time and copying them back on logout. Some paths (like My Documents) can be mapped to somewhere else and exempt from copying, but not the whole profile. So if you for example login, your profile is copied to "C:\Documents and Settings\foo". "C:\Documents and Settings\My Documents" can be eliminated for example and redirected to Z:. But if you now download an ISO to "C:\Documents and Settings\foo\foo.iso", it will be copied to the file server on logout.

What we would like to have is NFS-like behaviour: the profiles are always used on the server, with the registry as exception since it would probably get badly corrupted by multi-logons.

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-21 14:25 • by sebmol
34848 in reply to 34847
I understand what is being done. I just still don't see the purpose of
it. To me it looks like the only benefit of roaming profiles is that
individual user's settings are preserved from machine to machine. Is
there anything else?

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-21 16:32 • by Billy Bong Stuffer Smoker
34850 in reply to 34848
I'm not sure I see a real WTF in any of these incidents.



Frost - Severe weather, rain (as mentioned above), can *definitely*
intefere with connectivity. Frost, which you get when it's rather cold,
causes metals to shrink quite a bit, and this can cause intemittent
shorts and other weird electrical failures. Not WTF at all.



ASP Calculator - So what? He's telling you how to avoid the error.
Whats the problem here... if you typed something stupid into the
calculator its going to give you an error. Who cares what the error
looks like?



Outlook messages - we have all seen those. Not sure what the beef is or why the reply is so out of hand?



Somebody please explain?



Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-21 18:15 • by David Chelimsky

My address has a "1/2" in it (1234 1/2 XYZ Street). A while back I was trying to buy an airline ticket on Orbitz. I was filling out a form and got an error message stating that I could only use alpha-numerics and "-" in the address field. So I tried "1234 1-2". The form was accepted, however the sale was rejected because the address didn't match the address on file with the credit card I was trying to use. I should point out that I had used Orbitz before with no problem (and while living at the same address) so this new "feature" of rejecting the "/" character was part of an "upgrade".


So I called customer service at Orbitz and asked for their advice. First the person told me to try "1-2". I said I had done so with no luck and then the person suggested that I try "and one half". I asked why "and one half" would work any better than "1-2" if my credit card had "1/2" in their files. The gentleman then suggested that I should change my address on file with the credit card company to either "1-2" or "and one half". Oy vey. I guess I'll just have to change all of my on-line registrations to "and one half". Or maybe I'll just move...

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-22 01:33 • by ethiksgradient
The Outlook messages are a result of a 1D10T error at the user end.

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-22 08:13 • by jmo21
34854 in reply to 34850

Anonymous:
I'm not sure I see a real WTF in any of these incidents.
ASP Calculator - So what? He's telling you how to avoid the error. Whats the problem here... if you typed something stupid into the calculator its going to give you an error. Who cares what the error looks like?


and this is why there are so many badly written applications out there....!!


 

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-22 13:25 • by BiggBru

Well, I have a perfectly reasonable explanation for all three support posts. You see, the logic behind the great work by the IT professionals is... oh no, here comes the frost... I'm losing my conn

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-22 15:51 • by emurphy
34857 in reply to 34850
Anonymous:
ASP Calculator - So what? He's telling you how to avoid the error.
Whats the problem here... if you typed something stupid into the
calculator its going to give you an error. Who cares what the error
looks like?





Lots of people, actually.  Granted the user typed something stupid
into the calculator, but you need to give an error message that looks like "you messed up", rather than one that looks like "the webmaster messed up".



Bonus points for getting the field to reject invalid input before the form is submitted.  But not if you get it wrong.



Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-22 20:30 • by rsynnott
34859 in reply to 34850
Anonymous:



ASP Calculator - So what? He's telling you how to avoid the error.
Whats the problem here... if you typed something stupid into the
calculator its going to give you an error. Who cares what the error
looks like?






Erm, you should always validate input. Chances are high that if they
didn't bother with the calculator they didn't bother with their DB apps
either, leading to potential for SQL injection attacks...



Ah, so that's why our CS department Windows machines are so
ridiculously slow to log in? How silly. All three other OSs in common
use in the department (Linux, Solaris, MacOSX) handle this far more
gracefully, and log in instantly...

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-23 03:36 • by Jim
34864 in reply to 34848
That's not a small benefit, from an admin's pov

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-23 03:42 • by Jim
34865 in reply to 34848

Mea and such -- here's what it was supposed to look like:


Anonymous:
I understand what is being done. I just still don't see the purpose of it. To me it looks like the only benefit of roaming profiles is that individual user's settings are preserved from machine to machine. Is there anything else?


That's not a small benefit, from an admin's pov


 

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-23 06:47 • by Invisi Bob
34871 in reply to 34865
Well, 'being Windows and all that there's a whole slew of user-specific
registry stuff that's needed if a user wants to keep their setup from
workstation to workstation so a roaming profile includes that as well.



BTW, you can set it so that certain folders (Application Settings,
Tempory Files) are excluded from a roaming profile and don't get copied
to and fro. And there's another setting to restrict the size to stop
users from bloating their profiles - means that they have to move
foo.iso to their home drives before it'll let them log off.  Tends
to stop problems before they occur (and keeps my job easy!)

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-23 11:25 • by Jamie Nordmeyer
LOL  I just got done using that Oregon child support calculater my self about 3 weeks ago.  Fortunately, I didn't see that error, but it truely IS a small world after all...  How terribly sad that the response from their state employeed IT person was "When entering numbers in the calculator, please be sure to not enter any commas, spaces, letters, or any character other than a number (0-9) or decimal point (.). Also, please be sure to fill in all of the required fields, all which are marked with a (*)."

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-23 12:30 • by dubwai
34877 in reply to 34850

Anonymous:

ASP Calculator - So what? He's telling you how to avoid the error. Whats the problem here... if you typed something stupid into the calculator its going to give you an error. Who cares what the error looks like?


Have you ever had to deal with a system whose error messages basically say "Sorry, some sort of error seems to have occured"?  It's a lot of fun trying to guess the cause when you have 12 people breathing down your neck to resolve the situation.


So yeah, it definitely does matter what the error looks like.  You might want to consider that if you are writing software.

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-23 12:35 • by dubwai
34878 in reply to 34851

Anonymous:
My address has a "1/2" in it (1234 1/2 XYZ Street). A while back I was trying to buy an airline ticket on Orbitz. I was filling out a form and got an error message stating that I could only use alpha-numerics and "-" in the address field. So I tried "1234 1-2". The form was accepted, however the sale was rejected because the address didn't match the address on file with the credit card I was trying to use. I should point out that I had used Orbitz before with no problem (and while living at the same address) so this new "feature" of rejecting the "/" character was part of an "upgrade".


I had a similar problem when I was trying to enter a Canadian postal code into tax preparation software.  Only numbers were allowed.


Addresses should not be pre-validated.  That just causes problems.  In the case you give here, what would have been so bad if they allowed all ASCII characters (for example)?

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-23 13:54 • by cm5400
34883 in reply to 34830
Anonymous:
cm5400:

"Ok, you rebooted your proxy and were still unable to get connectivity?"
"Well, we had a pretty heavy frost yesterday morning which can cause all sorts of problems ..."


 


I actually have used this excuse before (well kind of)  Whenever it rains in a particular town where we have a location, the T1 always goes down, it is due to the moisture shorting out the circut..  So that is not that uncommon to have weather cause issues.  (we have had the phone company out there more times than I can count and they still can not find the issue with the T1 line! [:(])




Is this in Louisiana?


Nope  Massachusetts

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-23 19:19 • by Anon
34904 in reply to 34883
Not making excuses, but frost can have an affect on power and data lines (outdoors, of course). The cold causes the cables to contract, so if an intermittent connection exists it will rear its ugly head during a cold snap. This is usually mitigated by adding sag into the overhead lines so they can contract under cold weather.

As for the moisture shorting out the wires during the rain, I'd also consider the added weight of the water on the line causing additional sag.

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-24 00:16 • by dingfelder
34905 in reply to 34904

I heard one where some folks at IBM could not figure out why at 4:00 PM every day their network would go down.


Apparently, their LAN was connected to another building via a directional radio link.


When the sun hit their dish, it heated up and expanded, and threw off the direction by a tiny amt.  That tiny amt though, amplified by distance was enough for the reciever on the other end to stop recieving the signals.


It could be an urban myth but it is a good story none the less [D]

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-24 02:55 • by habby
34909 in reply to 34905
I once wrote a program for to monitor a manufacturing machine.
Theprogram worked perfectly in the office but for some reason kept on
failing to work in the factory. We could not find the problem. While
debugging the code we found a specifc integer variable kept on having a
random value.



The problem??



Magnetic interferance caused by the huge amount of electricity. Weird it only affected the one varaible though...

Re: Windows Logons

2005-05-24 06:21 • by foxyshadis
34914 in reply to 34909
There's group policy settings to mark specific folders as
non-transferable. This way IE/FF caches and other random useless crud
don't flood the network. FF could really use a
delete-cache-on-exit/logoff option like IE. You can also set hard
maximum profile settings, and 2003 _may_ have a more intelligent local
profile cache-compare loading (or it might be software we installed,
I'm not sure).



I've seen huge network storms come from unix shops constantly
broadcasting and retrieving files realtime from profiles on the central
server, so that 'solution' only creates a new problem. Of course a
competent admin can mitigate it or design a complex local/remote cache
system, same as windows, but that's the OS's job as far as I'm
concerned.

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-24 09:24 • by Ross
I used to have an email forwarding account at pobox.com (good service
BTW). I remember once filling out an online form which included my
street address and email. It returned an error saying 'Sorry, we can't
deliver
to PO Boxes'.



Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-24 13:04 • by Mike R
34931 in reply to 34909
Anonymous:


Magnetic interferance caused by the huge amount of electricity.




Wow! That one's right out of the BOFH excuse manual. [:D]



I'm beginning to wonder if thats the reason the hardware/software I'm
working with now has these sorts of problems... (random values on
occasion)

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-25 01:32 • by Tim Smith
Yeah, the weather one is not a WTF and is very common.  I use to
have a phone line that would quit during the heat of the day. 
After about the 4th time (please call us when you are having the
problem) they finally sent out someone to tighten the wires.  The
heat of the day was causing a poor connection to fail.

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-25 10:45 • by Sprprsnmn
34995 in reply to 34883
cm5400:
Anonymous:
cm5400:

"Ok, you rebooted your proxy and were still unable to get connectivity?"
"Well, we had a pretty heavy frost yesterday morning which can cause all sorts of problems ..."


 


I actually have used this excuse before (well kind of) 
Whenever it rains in a particular town where we have a location, the T1
always goes down, it is due to the moisture shorting out the
circut..  So that is not that uncommon to have weather cause
issues.  (we have had the phone company out there more times than
I can count and they still can not find the issue with the T1 line!
[:(])




Is this in Louisiana?


Nope  Massachusetts





Ah, we have a similar problem between our main campus and the sattelite
campus where I work.  Thought you might be a co-worker of mine I
didn't know.

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-26 07:22 • by tlg
35058 in reply to 34995
You are all wrong.  The reason your lines go down is because there is a group of malicious fanantical hackers out there using ultra-long wavelength radio waves to disrupt your connections, remember?

Re: Bad Support, Till the Day I Die

2005-05-30 10:44 • by sack

Tech support to the public can be a laugh sometimes, especially when the internet companies give the customers an excuse and politely suggest they toddle off back to the manufacturers...


Seems to be a large amount of machines referred from some ISPs which cannot connect to the internet due to the 'Flux capacitor needing replacement'.


Information Superhighway? Where we're going we don't need roads...


 

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