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Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Work (page 2 of 42)

It’s a Very Monday Monday

This week is getting an early start on kicking my ass:

  • Sunday Night Insomnia with a vengeance.
  • Remembered to do dishes and take out garbage this morning, forgot to grab lunch.
  • MAX train broke down one stop away from where I needed to go. (The operator had to be talked through cycling the breakers. That’s right: They rebooted the light-trail train.)
  • BurgerVille’s closed today, so no high-octane breakfast to boost my energy levels.
  • Half the office is on vacation or out sick.
  • The link between two of our key work systems is broken for no reason I can determine.

Is it too late to throw my hands up and head back to bed? (Yes. Yes, it is.)

Standard Support Screwup

The script you’re about to read doesn’t detail how every interaction with a particular vendor’s tech support staff goes, but it’s very, very indicative and common…

 

Me: Hello! A problem has occurred with your product. Now, having worked with this product nigh onto a decade now, I’m aware of the usual issues and have gone through the knowledge base articles numbered Such and Such. I can confirm that the state of the usual problem-causing factors is nominal. I am looking for alternative avenues to pursue to remedy the problem.

Ticket: *remains unassigned for hours*

Me: Hello, Support Manager! I can’t help but notice that the High Priority ticket I submitted has gone unassigned. We, ah, kind of need this problem resolved ASAP.

Support Manager: I have assigned your ticket. Please be aware that we do not post support SLAs.

Me: That’s nice, but five hours without assigning a ticket isn’t about SLAs, it’s about “if we treated our clients like that, we’d be put out of business.” But whatever.

Tech: Hello, I have been assigned to your ticket. Judging by the environment, you should read knowledge base article numbered Such. It will resolve your problem.

Me: Had you actually read my ticket (*), you’d know that I already referenced and followed the instructions in that article. Next?

Tech: Have you tried rebooting the system?

Me: …yes. The system has been rebooted. Next?

Tech: You are using the wrong kind of credential (**). Change that and you’ll probably be all set.

Me: Tried that. Tried two variants of that, actually. Still not working. Next?

Time: *passes*

NewTech: I see that you are trying to use the product in a particular environment. Please see knowledge base article Such, it will remedy the problem.

Me: Hello, NewTech! If you’d read my ticket notes, you would know that I have already addressed the possibility detailed in the second article. Next?

Time: *passes*

Me: *sighs*

And that’s where things stand.

 

(* – If I had a dollar for every time this vendor’s techs utterly failed to read the text of my ticket submission, I could treat both of my girlfriends and their families, all together, to a very nice dinner out.)

(** – This is a domain controller. The credential account was technically shown as a “local” account but since it’s a domain controller, its local accounts are domain accounts. Idiots.)

The File That Crashed Word 2013

My morning started with a ticket assigned before I got here, scheduled for first thing after the morning “huddle.” The dispatcher pitched me to the client as “the best person at this sort of thing,” having wholly misunderstood the nature of the call. (They thought it was a backup-restore situation, when in fact it was an Office Behaving Badly situation. D’oh.)

I was, in fact, able to quickly recover the desired information from Word’s auto-recovery files. This made the client very happy. Unfortunately, unless we could figure out why Word was crashing so reliably (as it were) in one particular set of documents, the problem was going to come back again and again. In one location on the network could be found eight similar Word DOCX files.

The symptom: Open a file, scroll down into the numbered lists, go to the end of a line of text and press the Enter key to initiate a new numbered line. Word 2013 immediately crashes.

The things we tried:

  • Open the document in Word 2010: No problems at all.
  • Use Word 2010 to save into 2003-compatible DOC format: Word 2013 still crashed.
  • Launch Word 2013 in Safe Mode: Word 2013 still crashed.
  • Use Word 2013 to open-and-repair the file: Word 2013 still crashed.
  • Repair Office 2013: Word 2013 still crashed.
  • Copy & paste the document contents into a whole new file and save (into either 2003-style DOC or 2007+ DOCX): Word 2013 still crashed.

I lost an hour and a half on this just of my own time, and then brought in a couple members of my team to bash on it as well. One of them figured out the problem:

The numbered list formatting was broken, somehow, in a way that only Word 2013 had a problem with. If we select the document contents and simply choose another numbered list format/style preset… the problem vanishes.

Yep. Seriously.

So, that was a fun way to spend the first half of a Friday!

Ablative Pay Increase

Ablative Pay Increase: The raise you receive at just about the same time as costs go up in every other part of your life, such that you actually end up taking home less money every month but hey, it could’ve been worse, right?

If you can pass the test, you can beat the rest.

Yesterday, I learned a few Linux tricks I didn’t already know followed by everything about ZFS and the nitty-gritty of how Dattos work that I didn’t know, not one bit. Today, I learned about bare-metal restores and some troubleshooting tips, then I took a test.

I feel sorry for the guy who has to grade mine, because many of the questions required written answers. Have you seen my handwriting? It’s abominable. For some reason my motor control goes completely out the window when I’m holding a writing implement. The longer I write, the jitterier my hand gets. I was hoping for some kind of web-based testing interface, I truly was. Ah, well. If they can interpret my test sheets correctly then I’ve probably passed… which is good considering the ridiculous amounts of my employers’ money and trouble involved in getting me here for that purpose.

Tomorrow I get up at 3:30am… Eastern time. That’s half past midnight on what is still my internal clock’s time, mind you.

This weekend I’ll see about doing something with all the pictures on my phone, but don’t expect a post from me tomorrow… 10 hours of travel await me. Yee and/or haw.

Getting Here Is Some Fraction Of The Fun

I woke up at 3:00 yesterday. I woke up at 3:30 today. Well, 6:30 today, but my body clock says 3:30.

It’s all very disorienting.

The flights weren’t so bad. Getting through security at PDX went normally, the flights were early, there was only one bit of confusion as gates were scrambled around last-minute for the puddle-jumper leg of the trip, and I experienced almost no ill effect from being in aisle seats the entire six or so hours I spent in airplanes.

Now, the cab ride to the hotel was more entertaining. First, when the guy calls and says “I’m in a black Lincoln Continental,” that’s not really much help because every cab was a black Lincoln! Then, the dispatcher had given him the wrong destinations, so we spent a few harried minutes getting that squared away. Finally, we drove right past the hotel without realizing we’d gone right past the hotel.

He was a nice Jamaican fellow, though, and we passed the time amiably once we worked around the various issues.

The hotel is nice, but a bit quirky. I’ll see about putting together an image post after classes are done so I can explain that a bit better. Also, dining amenities are… interesting. Let’s just say I’m currently located along one of those roads populated mostly with run-down mini-strip-malls, which means it’s either hole-in-the-wall diners or fast food chains. Well, chain. McD’s. Which… only if I’m truly desperate, folks. Ugh.

And now… off to the first day of classes. Wish me luck?

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