It’s been a year of hard work and working for the dollar for me – for that, I’m glad. I haven’t had much time to play with Stephen who has done major renovations on this blog and the forum. I mustn’t miss the opportunity to wish Charles and his family a very Merry Christmas (our benefactor to the forum and the blog), to Stephen and the notable volunteers who make the forum so welcome and so helpful to all – gtopontiac, aussieboykie, bazcaz, rdee, mrdavid. After some absence, iomaca is back and that’s good.
A tale of how technology does not trump poor business procedures
Last night, I lost internet connection on my Optus cable internet broadband. In short, the modem went on the blink. Waited for a while and this evening made a call to Optus, you know that 1300 number. The recorded voice message kindly told me their finance team had gone home, “Press 1 for faults and key in my cable delivered phone number so that things could be processed faster”. So I did and fairly quickly, a fellow answered. Told him I had been off air for a day, I was on Optus cable. He did a quick check and told me it was better that he pass me onto his colleagues who were more localised, whatever that meant.
A cheerful girl with an Indian accent answered after some minutes on hold. I brightened up but soon was disappointed. She said I did not exist, my two Optus phones did not exist. In my most friendly and admonishing manner, I said “Aiyoh! I have been an Optus customer since 2000” and she tried her computer some more. Then she had an epiphany – “Are you on Optus cable?” and I then asked her “Are you ADSL support?”. We had a virtual smile and she said she would transfer me to the right department, asked me whether I wanted a direct number. I said “No, I don’t want to have more failures to need that number”.
Next, the longest wait and a fellow called Vikram answered. This time, he told me that I definitely did not exist. I did the “Ayoh” bit again and taken aback, he finally found my details, apologising for their computers and told me probably it was because one of my services had been cancelled.
Taken aback, (identity theft crossed my mind), we figured out that he was looking at my full Optus history and was reading an Optus prepaid mobile card service. I was now “not happy” and told him this was no way to treat a customer of 11 years.
Then he started remote diagnostics and told me, it could be due to either the stuff on the pole outside, the white nexus box outside or my modem. I then asked him, with all his diagnostics, he must be able to pin down which was the culprit. After a while he told me from his logs, my modem was rebooting 42 times an hour and it was my modem. That looked like progress. Except business procedure got in the way.
It’s a Melbourne Spring Saturday. Typical. Doesn’t know whether to be warm as summer or breezy and cold as in winter. “The lawn (well, better call it grass) in the back is a bit long” – she says to me pointedly. Hmmm. I'm in weekend recovery mode and not quite favouring energetic activity at the moment. The best I can muster is to install Synergy onto the old faithful desktop and the stainless steel skinned (well, it’s aluminium, actually) HP ProBook 4530s, with Sheila Majid singing in the background (yes, I know, from that era when my hair was still majorly black). Should I have a look at the Indonesian Festival today, the 10th September, or tomorrow? They’re at Queensbridge Square instead of Fed Square – maybe they’ve been pushed out by MSFW activities? Or maybe the Fed is getting too expensive to book?
Anyway, two things whilst I’ve got my nerd hat on. Synergy allows you to specify a different network card interface by typing in a static IP address when it is acting as server but if your machine has more than one network card (wireless and wired) and you want to run it as client, it doesn’t want to listen. Hmmm.
And, photographically speaking, we do care about the “look” on our LCD monitor. I’ve noticed that desktops, especially with DVI interface, automatically do their best to the LCD monitor. Notebooks on the other hand, hum and haw because they have their internal LCD screen – when you connect them to an external monitor, the display looks a little sub-optimal – neither the quality of the internal screen nor the quality of the external monitor – and that’s with the internal LCD screen off.
While those things are on the slow cooker percolating through Google searches, how’re you doin?
Update: A few hours is a very short time in IT. Just found out via The Windows Club that at Microsoft’s Garage, Vietnamese developer Truong Do has produced the Mouse Without Borders program – it offers better security, shared clipboard (inclusive of screen captures) across up to 4 Windows PCs, drag and drop files and personalised login screens.
What’s better than one PC with 2 screens? Well, 2 PCs, each with one screen each that are controlled by one keyboard and one mouse, so that CPU and Disk intensive activity are completely isolated per PC.
For some time now, I've passed this neglected blog on the way to the forum - we've been pursuing our various interests and also earning the dollar in our respective lives. Stephen does wonderful system admin work to keep the forum stable, healthy and secure - that guy just gives and gives, thanks Stephen. It's an example of what they say about good IT guys - they are invisible and in the background doing the good things.
Our forum admins and regulars stick by us - a big thank you for your efforts, unpaid and sometimes unsung - but they are real heroes, handling questions from forum members. Forum membership has tailed for for yonks - we don't get the exposure like when Charles was on 774 ABC and thumping such topics on The Age Green Guide. But we still hang out, look after people in panic or confused.
It’s that time of the year. When we’re either running crazy carrying out errands or time seems to be frozen and calm, birds singing in the back yard, the cool and wet spring blending towards Christmas. A time for reflection and review, if you have the time.
What’s happened in the IT sphere? We’ve been pre-occupied with the trees that it’s time to see the forest. In the Microsoft world, we’ve grown used to experiencing a stable, effective and defensible platform in Windows 7. Unless you’re in a corporate environment mired in Windows XP. Office 2007 has proliferated, overcoming initial circumspection with The Ribbon. There are even corporates who skipped Office 2007 and are now on Office 2010. Fancy that! Jumping over an experienced version into a brand new one – again, that points to a perception that the product is stable and useful. In late breaking news, Microsoft Labs delivered that bundle of joy, Kinect. Not only is it an impressive lead over last year’s Wii controller but hackers rapidly acquired and transformed it to fulfil their dreams.
Once in a while, a rare while nowadays, I’m called upon to help diagnose a Windows XP PC malware and slow performance problem. Maybe it’s rare because I’ve succeeded educating my friends and family on the Defence Against the Black Arts or it may more likely be that these owners of machines have grown up from Primary school kids to being more adult Secondary school individuals with some amount of discernment.
Usually, the Windows XP PC isn’t the main production / family PC any longer – it’s so cheap now to resolve the issue by going to the mall, buy a new Netbook, not so Netbook or an inexpensive Notebook / Laptop with glitzy screen, bigger hard disk, dual core processor. However, owners of old machines don’t like old machines to go to waste so if they can rope in a nerd to fix up their PC, they will – feast of a Chinese dinner at the Hakka Restaurant with some 2002 Loxton Merlot thrown in.
Moving forward in time, disinfection tools vary – the techniques remain similar, but what is free and available are updated. Enumerating the stages in reverse….
Australia’s Next Generation Broadband topic has been in news and politics for some time. We often see old media TV interviews with man-in-the-street persons. Sometimes these seemingly arbitrarily chosen persons say it won’t affect them in their daily activities, sometimes nominated persons say there will be a revolution in school, business and so on. Paradoxically, with this supersized pipe into the Internet, Australian politicians also want to clamp down on the Internet. Put in family filters. Track which sites you have visited, in a parental and policing way. A lot to shock and awe the layman.
But how backward are you? Does the Internet figure in your life at all? Some people love to take out their Nokia phone circa 2000, with numbers and cosmetics rubbed off and tell the world – “Hah! I love being a Luddite – a phone is for the rare phone call, when I deem it necessary. I don’t need the Internet on my phone” Are you one of those?
Me? I’m having an off day and reflecting on what I do to enjoy my day. I listen to music – a thing I’ve done for many years, pre-Internet. I shoot photos – an activity much invigorated by the Web of interaction with like minded folk. I watch scraps of Old Media TV but really that’s for when I want to dull my brain and go to sleep, Doc Martin and Masterchef not withstanding. Old favourites like the cop shows, medical and House dramas – too much of the same is getting quite, quite disinteresting.
But TED on the Web – if you haven’t woken up to a reaching out of minds, hop on and envision with the thought makers. A nice way to use the Internet speed, bandwidth and quota.