March 23, 2008, 5:36 PM EDT, Sutherland Global Services, Syracuse Galleries
Weather: 0 C, Windy again
Subtitle: Where were we again?
So here ya go kiddies. Let’s see how I should start this. Okay, how about from when I last left off. Last thing I did was the Final Fantasy XI Fanfest. After that and getting home I just basically waited for the grueling editing process to hit. Here are the threads containing the webcasts we made:
Subtitle: What do you do again?
By now most of you know about my job as the database engineer. But a few weeks after the trip I got another job and now I work for Support.com. So what is this Support.com? Well, we’re a third party fee-based technical support company for Windows NT 5.1 or later computers (for those who don’t know the version numbers, its Windows XP or Vista, we do not support Macintosh or Linux). What we do is basically remote access support to customers. In other words, we lead a customer to a bouncing ball, then they sit back and we fix their computer from halfway across the country. Great idea? Sure as hell it is. Of course, I have some major complaints about customers in this service system that I just have to say.
Number 1: Our service is NOT FREE.
This is a big “duh”, but apparently some people can’t listen to the recording when people call up involving that our service is for a fee. We do not do services on behalf of any client for free.
Number 2: We are not <Insert Company name>.
Another big “duh”. By the time I collect someone’s name, Support.com is mentioned four times. We act independently on behalf of SupportSoft and SGS only.
Number 3: Network Magic is ultra fail.
If you call up saying your network has stopped working and you use or used network magic, there’s your problem right there. Network magic has a bad habit of “bricking” networks. If you call us up after going through the “troubleshooting” steps provided by network magic, all we’re going to do is pull it out and set it up by hand because it’s a horrific program and a horrid idea. You pay, Pure Networks owns your home network that doesn’t have any more functionality. You stop paying, your internet goes off. Wonderful scam in my opinion. As for why our number is on there, I don’t know the specifics, but we’re not supposed to be there.
Number 4: Listening to the technician.
If the technician tells you to do something, don’t question him/her or do something else. Most of us have years of experience backing up our repair skills so unless you have a Doctorate in Computer Science and ten years of repair experience, shut the hell up, listen and we’ll get done sooner.
Number 5: Be complete.
When I say that, usually I get half an error message when a customer gets one and I never get the information I need. In addition, some customers are quick to jump to conclusions, like most customers think that problems are caused by malicious software. Nine times out of ten, that’s horribly incorrect. In my case, a slow computer can be caused by malicious software, but more often than not it’s caused by people downloading software that clogs their startup.
Number 6: Want service? Show me the money!
Don’t try to get service if you don’t want to pay. We usually don’t talk after offering a service and you say no.
Number 7: We can’t help with passwords.
We cannot be legally liable for helping someone break into a computer. There is no way we can prove you’re the owner of the computer you are on. Don’t ask. Most of us know how to fix this problem, but we have tied hands for fixing it.
Number 8: If you have dial-up internet, don’t call us.
Two reasons for this. One, no matter what the problem is, you get the $129.99 service. Two, it takes FOREVER to get anything done through remote assist. You’re better off buying high speed internet then coming back.
Number 9: If you use any of the following operating systems, don’t call us.
This list includes ANY version of the Macintosh operating system, DOS, Windows 1, 2, 3.1, 95, 98, 98SE, ME, NT4.0, 2000, Server 2003, Server 2008 or any flavor of Linux. Our software does not work or causes issues with these systems. Technical details: 2000 destroys the login system thereby bricking the computer, server 2003 fails and wreaks havoc on active directory, we assume 2008 will do the same. Also, finding a Mac and Windows technician that will work at what we get paid? Not likely.
Number 10: We don’t have any reps that speak <Insert Language other than English>.
Save for one guy on the day crew that speaks Puerto Rico style Spanish and one guy on the night crew who speaks Ukrainian, we’re without anyone who speaks languages other than English. We consist of about fourty people in total, ten of which are never really on the phone, so odds are we’re not adding another language division.
Number 11: Do not use a registry cleaner.
Registry cleaners do not work. They don’t fix hard drive errors, they don’t speed up your system and plain and simple they just don’t help. Whenever used they have a larger chance of causing problems than fixing them. Example, some registry cleaners have been known to completely blank the control panel and add/remove programs list. To be honest, the reason why this ends up this way is because registry cleaners are computer programs that work on a set of rules that are not right for every situation and can cause problems. Best advice: Avoid.
Number 12: The search bar is not the address bar.
This should be obvious, but some people can’t grasp the concept. Google does not give you a way to go directly to a site. If we say “put this in your address bar”, it will not work if you put it in the search bar.
Now that that’s out of the way, want to know how to beat the system? Here are some insider tips.
Number 1: Have credit card at hand.
See numbers 1 and 6 above. The faster you pay us, the sooner your problem can be worked on and eventually fixed.
Number 2: Be complete.
See number 5 above. To us, if you say “I have a virus”, we have to start asking questions as to why you think that. If you say, “I think I have a virus and I think it is causing all these popups and strange messages saying my computer is not secureâ€¦” then we can work with it.
Number 3: $129.99 is where the buck stops (For one computer).
Our prices do not go any higher. However, we do charge sales tax in Texas and Connecticut. The services that go over the $129.99 are Google Apps installation and Migration as well as a network setup that covers four or more computers, both of which are extremely uncommon.
Number 4: We charge by incident, not by time.
Meaning, if it takes us a week to fix your problem, it’s still a flat fee. Related to the above bullet is if you have more than one issue, it’s going to incur multiple charges. Say, you have a virus and we clean it out, then you want your network set up. That’s $99.99 for the Anti-Virus and $89.99 for the Networking. That’s just how we work.
Number 5: The QuickFix
This is the service we don’t advertise. According to regulations, this is a service at $49.99 (no discounts can be applied to this) and basically says after we pin a CPR (The $129.99 service) and collect the payment, a clock starts. If we do fix the problem within probably ten to twenty minutes and we like you (meaning you’re pleasant to work with), we offer the discounted price. Also, don’t ask for the QuickFix since if you mention it you probably won’t get it. We have to say it.
Number 6: “And how did you hear about us today?”
Mention how you heard about the company. Depending on how you answer, that may incur a discount for yourself. If it doesn’t, it helps the marketing department determine where our marketing systems are working or not. Internal Jokes involving SUSO run rampant here though.
Number 7: Be civil.
We’re human just like you. Treat us well and we’ll be done faster. Most of us are trained to talk on the same level as you, but some of us prefer to talk up by overusing honorable terms (sir, mam).
Number 8: Yes, we speak USA style English.
While we get a blend of how it sounds, we do all speak incredibly strong English. If you do the same, it will help out greatly.
Number 9: If you try to fix it yourself, let us know what you have done to it.
This can help us troubleshoot the problem if we know what you’ve done. If you don’t say what you did, we’re probably bound to repeat the same step.
Number 10: Humor us.
We are trained to not overlook the obvious. If it’s not plugged in, there’s your problem. If we ask you to check a wire, make sure you do.
Number 11: Hours
We’re open every day, including holidays, from 8AM EDT to 2AM EDT the next day. Not a 24 hour operation, but it is pretty close.
Number 12: You’re talking to a technician.
There are no receptionists, no level II techs, nobody over us. As you call up, that’s it. That’s all you get.
Number 13: Put your kids on the phone.
If you have kids that use the computer more than you, as long as you give permission, we can work with them instead. Since most of the current generation’s teenagers know computers better than their adult counterparts, we can usually get done faster.
Number 14: The verbal terms and conditions we blow by explained.
I say these extremely fast because it’s so boring, not because I want to make you agree to something you don’t understand.
14.1: You must be 18 years of age or older.
Since this is a legally binding agreement, we can’t do anything with someone under 18. However, if you give someone who’s 13 years of age or older (COPPA controls that number) consent, we can work with them in your place. Also, we take a credit card for payment, so being over 18 is almost required.
14.2: If I connect to your computer you consent to us taking remote control of your computer.
Because this is how we fix computers, we just need this agreement so we have the authorization to control your machine.
14.3: You are responsible for backing up your data and software.
Some things we do can cause you to loose data. This is to save ourselves from being liable for something that may have been out of our control.
14.4: We will refund your money if we are unable to resolve this issue.
What makes us special. We don’t charge diagnostic fees (upwards of $150.00 at some stores) since we do it over the phone in ten minutes. Also, if after an amount of time and after exhausting at least the “pod” we still can’t figure out a resolution, we give you the money back.
14.5: You also have a 5 day window to call back at no charge for follow up on the same problem we resolved.
Two things related to this. One, if we mark the issue resolved and you call back saying the same thing is happening again we can help you for free. If you call back with a completely different problem and neither you nor the technician can put the two issues together, we won’t help you without another charge.
14.6: We do not sell or trade your personal information to third parties for marketing.
Duh. This would be bad if we just handed out everything we collected about you to another company in the name of profit.
Number 15: Keep your CDs.
Often times we might require the use of your original Windows CDs or Driver Disks. When you buy a new computer, a new media player, printer, whateverÂ save every disk it came with. This makes the issue much easier to resolve and deal with.
However, there is one major complaint I have about this job. I don’t do sales. My job is not to sell you a service, it’s to fix your computer. I’m a technician, not a salesman. There are some people in this group that would unfortunately rather try to force a service on someone who doesn’t want it. I don’t do that sort of thing. If I offer a service and you say no, I cut the call. I don’t object or anything. If you say yes, give me your information and let’s be on our way. Okay, that was long. Hell. It could have been it’s own post. Oh well.
Subtitle: I think my DVD rack fell on me.
I’ve been purchasing a lot of anime lately. I’ve also been keeping track of it on anime-planet.com and have come to the realization that I’ve spent over two months of my lifetime watching anime. Wow. Anyway, I’m still in dire need of cleaning my apartment and putting my next DVD rack together (yes, the original one is full) so I’ll save the list for another post. However, I did claim victory recently. I’ll tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there were eleven friends. The first five named two, three, four, five and six came home one day and looked at each other. Comfortable but confused, they asked, where were the others? Seven arrived in his own box. A special home for himself. In the months that would come, one more friend would be added into seven’s box every three weeks. But after twelve arrived, there was an awkward silence among them. Not only did two through six resent not having the box, but they all asked, where was number one? Contents of packages seven and ten were worn many times, but the others were unused. Two years they waited then someone came home. A package outside the door. A victory was achieved after two long years of searching. A box containing a box containing number one with room for five more and a sampling of audio. The friends were overjoyed.
The one that came home was one. With a home for two through six. They all now knew that they would be used for something else other than clothes.
Okay, enough with the lame story. Anyway, I completed Gundam SEED Destiny as the above story mentions. I’m probably going to watch it soon, but I have tons of anime to plow through, so it might be a while. As for a picture of the rack? I should take another one.
Subtitle: I’m branching out, not converting.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I purchased an Xbox 360 Elite Falcon edition. The gigantic black box seems to complement the white Wii well. The 360 provides an excellent list of features that I have a lot of fun with. First up is Dynasty Warriors: Gundam and damn is it fun. It’s a simple hack and slash game with a Gundam theme and it is very well polished and fun to play, despite a huge lack of balance with mobile weapons. As an example, why in bloody hell is God Gundam available? It’s main attacks are punches consisting of range that is so short it’s not worth talking about. Now let’s put this into contrast with something like Epyon (also available) which has range from hell and very beautiful SP attacks. I also got a nice taste of storylines not released in the US yet like Turn A Gundam and Mobile Suit ZZ Gundam. Overall the game is fun, but a bit repetitive. I also picked up an obligatory copy of Halo 3, beat the living snot out of it and put it away. Halo 3 unfortunately is a “more of the same” game of Halo 2 that looks prettier and concludes the storyline. I played Xbox live for a while, but only play with friends now since the online play is boring now. I have a few more games for it, but those are all that are worth mentioning.
Subtitle: The joy of computing
Recently I purchased some components for the aging V2.1 box. It’s not up to crazy snuff, but it is potent again and can handle operations without complaint. I also really had to replace a dying hard drive. I mean, the hard drive caused the CPU to run at 100% burn to be read off of or written to. Obviously something was failing in the drive. I don’t know what, but I replaced it and am wondering what I can do about a replacement. The drive hasn’t hit it’s age yet and has pretty much all it’s data off, so I care little about how it ends up, but I wouldn’t mind having a spare 250GB around. I also upgraded the video card which was a massive disappointment. I went from a Connect3D 9200se to a Sapphire Radeon X1650 PRO and after a week went back to the 9200se. Why? The X1650 blinks whenever trying to invoke DirectDraw, meaning whenever I try to play a video the card blinks rabidly and makes my eyes hurt. I’m returning that one because it just seems to be made of fail.
I also purchased myself a copy of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional. I figure I’m going to need something like this for work eventually anyway so I should have it. It is serving me well, however, I cannot use XNA with it yet. Speaking of XNA though, I am really getting into that. Sofar I’ve created a side scrolling shooter game based off of Freespace: The Great War which is turning into a really fun project and when I’m happy with an alpha version I’ll put it on this site to play. Speaking of Freespace though, I’m playing that a lot again too. For some reason I just feel reinvigorated to play such a fun game. The open source project turned the game from the most awesome space flight simulator ever and somehow made it better. Featuring graphical enhancements, a nebula that still gives people headaches and generally smoother gameplay it feels like a great new game all over again. I also got to finish the original Great War campaign with the project because I had such issues playing the original game on my laptop.
Speaking of my laptop, I’m about to strike up some controversy here. About one month ago I purchased a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit edition for my ASUS G2P. Originally, my laptop came loaded with Windows XP Media Center edition, meaning that my computer really wasn’t using the full force of my CPU and had huge problems with stability. Now that it has a 64-bit OS, this thing is turning into a raging road rocket. But why Vista? Well, I’ll ask a better question. Why not? Seriously, what is so horrible about this operating system? I think the most criticism come from people who don’t use it and just look at the outside. Sure, it has steep system requirements. But I’m happy the system requirements are so high. Not because I want people to buy new computers, but it shows that hardware manufactures really need to get in the game and churn out heavy duty equipment and advance forward with hardware manufacturing as opposed to the process they are taking now. I have yet to have a real problem with Vista sofar. Aero is nothing short of wonderful eye candy, feels faster than XP and works well with all my software. In fact, it plays so well, that my Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars game actually plays now! This is odd, since on Media Center it wouldn’t play without crashing and the box with the system requirements explicitly says it’s not compatible with a 64-bit installation of Vista. But it works. I’m willing to file this one under oversight by EA or just not knowing what the hell they’re talking about. Then again, the system also said a Radeon 9200 wouldn’t work with the game, but that was part of the only way I could get it to work. Meh. Whatever. It looks great and with Kane’s Wrath coming out this week I’ll be prepared for ass kicking.
The only comment I have sofar is user account control or UAC. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Vista, this is the control that makes the entire screen darken and gives you the dialogue box asking you if you want to continue. Most people find this annoying. Personally, I’m on the fence. One, this is not an original Microsoft idea. In fact, it’s a great idea to prevent malware and stolen from a UNIX clone. Unfortunately it suffers from two critical flaws and they are the userbase hates it and when invoked it can really mess up some 3D games. As I said to someone it’s a fantastic idea and a great implementation to really stop things from doing suspicious actions. Also, if you do or do not notice, there isn’t a back door to this which is good if something tries to disguise itself as something legitimate, UAC will still catch it. I have yet to turn it off. Probably because I’m not bothered by it.
After this month or so trial of Vista, I have not found a significant enough reason to go back to XP. I am hooked.
Subtitle: *Drumroll* Live from Vana’diel…
Yes, I finally got my moment of fame for Limit Break Radio. My own personal White Mage show. Check it out here. I don’t really have much to say about it other than it was fun.
Subtitle: Round 3, FIGHT!
A rather recent event, Super Smash Brothers Brawl has hit store shelves and my Wii. A fun game again and definitely a lot different than the previous two. The general speed of the game seems somewhere between the original and melee with some characters that are heavyweights actually attacking at a somewhat related pace. As an example, Ike, who wields a large bastard sword, is rather slow with some attacks. Unfortunately my character from melee does not make any sort of appearance in Brawl, but Ike plays so much like Roy anyway, he’s an acceptable replacement. In fact, all but Pichu and Dr. Mario (who were really just clones anyway) have replacements in Brawl, Ike for Roy, Toon Link for Young Link and Lucario for Mewtwo. Some characters got quite a drastic change in Brawl too, some for the better, some just make you raise an eyebrow, see Mario and why F.L.U.D.D. was included as a replacement Down+B move. Oh, on that note, I play with the old GameCube controller, which was a great idea to include being able to do that since I’m so incredibly used to it. Overall I can see why the acclaim of this game is so high and I’m quite happy to play it. With so much to do and so many friends who play too, it’s just a dream.
Subtitle: One more to go.
Three weeks ago I finished all but one of my courses at the institute. It feels strange. Almost feels like yesterday I walked into Operating Systems with Mr. Sweeny and in ten more weeks I’m about to walk out with a college degree. Sofar it’s going to be a total drag with the company I have in my capstone project, but once I churn that baby out I can finally say bye to some people at the school and get on with life. I’m not optimistic that the project will turn out like I want it to, but I’m just doing this one for a grade, not to show people that I’m the greatest thing to hit the programming world since William Henry Gates III KBE (Don’t ask why I memorized his official title).
Subtitle: You didn’t mention that yet!
Well, do you ever think I would leave something like that out? Would I? Well? Okay, of course not. I am always one to include this sort of thing. I’ve been playing off and on. My new job is constricting my play time, but I still find the ability to rock and roll every so often. First up, I have gotten my Scholar to 37 and can now effectively use it as a subjob for my White Mage and what a fine subjob it is. I have the feeling this thing has trumped summoner as a fantastic subjob, providing more useful spells and abilities than the commonly used Auto-Refresh trait. I have also been working on my Dancer. At 32, it is looking like a fun job to play to 75. It reminds me a lot of my White Mage, but I usually don’t get to fill the healing role that well with Dancer. While some of my enfeebling steps are fun, the job doesn’t seem all that fantastic, at least so far. Going back to my White Mage, I finally got my Reverend Mail, so that’s one less piece of melee gear I need to complete my set. All I need now to finish is a Goliard Saio and maybe whatever else I can think of. I got myself the new transportation spells for my jobs too and I feel a little more complete with them. Campaign Battle is okay now, but it requires a more coordinated effort to really do some damage, like pulling mobs away. As for Wings of the Goddess content, I’m not seeing the best stuff yet I think, but I hope it only gets better. I wish I had more time to play XI.
Subtitle: Am I done?
Not really. I just don’t know what else to write about today. See ya.