Now in yummy caramel flavour!

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Get lost, Jasper!! 

There seems to be a hell of a lot of wasps around this year.
I hate the buggers! I must have gone through half a can of Raid already! They're bad-tempered, evil little things that just seem to want to hang around purely with the intent on spoiling the fun.

To add to the problem my cat is fascinated by them. He likes to bat around flies and bugs and he doesn't seem to realise that the lovely yellow/black coat of the wasp means "stay away, or else!"

I'm concerned that it's only a matter of time before he gets stung.
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Monday, August 30, 2004

Good to be back 

Ah, it's great to be back after a rather energetic week-end. Waking up to the sounds of bird-chatter, crackling fire-pit and a whistling kettle are nice, *but it's even better coming back to a comfy, warm bed, shower and all the "mod cons".

*(and I certainly don't miss the **mozzi bites and the bramble scratches)
Time for a soak and de-gunge in a nice hot bath, I think!

**EDIT: (Speaking of which... first time I've used the aspirator that I bought a couple of years ago - amazing piece of kit!)
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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Tech Support for Tech Support 

You know the saying that doctors make the worst patients? Well I guess the same thing can applied to technical support. Some companies are better at it than others, but most are really frustrating.

The usual format goes like this: You get in touch with them and you speak to a 1st line support technician. 1st line's job is to check mundane things like you've put the network cable into the correct port, you run a full virus check, you've installed the latest patches, fixes, firmware, you've plugged it in correctly, etc etc (you get the picture). A 1st line support job is usually the most common way of getting into the IT support industry. You need minimum understanding of your products, (past the basics) and it's a position that introduces you to the product. You learn about the product through troubleshooting and training and you get to answer all of the "How do I...?" kind of questions from manuals and scripts. Anything they can't handle gets passed up the chain to 2nd line and then occasionally 3rd line.

Now I'm not knocking 1st line support - far from it, they mostly do a fantastic job. It's a thankless task and they normally get the most grief; but what really gets my goat is when I'm asking a quite obvious 2nd or 3rd line question and instead of being passed up the chain I get asked to hold forever well the 1st line technician goes to ask (and probably doesn't translate the question properly) and I'm kept waiting indefinitely for an answer.

Yes, 1st line support is great and you can answer 95% of the questions that come through your helpdesk, but for the love of God can you not put a note in your log that I'm not a n00b, I'm well aware of the difference between a network port and a modem port, I *can* tell you what version I'm running without being told excrutatingly painfully where to look for the information and yes, I'm a technician? Humm, humm? Instead, I have to go through this stupid procedure every time I call: Name, email address, phone number with international STD code, product number, OS version. Then we get the scripted "Hi X, how can we help you today?" "So, what your asking is this "repeats the question almost verbatim"..? Is that correct?" "Well what we need to do is this..." (Yes, yes, I know that, just give me the Goddamn answer!) But the most infuriating thing is if you *do* give them a question that they can't answer they sometimes leave you waiting and then just give up - and I quote:

Me: ty, may I ask a second Q?
Support: Sure, please go ahead
Me: I need to do X (detailed description of problem)
Support: Please wait
This chat session has ended.

Support: Hello, how may I help you?
Me: Ah, there you are
Me: my session timed out while I was waiting for a response
Support: Hi again X
Me: Could someone maybe email the solution to me?
Support: You can mail us at techsupp@xxxx.com
Support: Because, these issues are handled by our level 3 technician
Me: OK
Support: I am sorry
Support: I apologize for the inconvenience caused
Me: That's OK
Me: Well have a good day and I hope to get the answer soon

Can you not just give me a customer ID# and save me this grief?
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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Techie Quotes 

We all love reading about hapless users. Here's a few quotes I came across recently:

At the Microsoft web site, when I tried to register for some freebies without giving away too much about myself, I received the following error:

* "We need your fax number in order to respect your wishes not to receive unsolicited faxes."

I caught the end of one of those cable TV Internet programs. In the last five minutes, the host said, "Every week we get thousands of pieces of email asking 'How do I get online?'" Neat trick.

I overheard two men talking in a restaurant.

* First Man: "My laptop is running so slow and crashes all the time. I'm going to take it to the shop to check it for viruses."
* Second Man: "I don't worry about viruses. Not many people know that viruses work in the back of the memory, and Windows is in the front of the memory. So it's something else."

Hmm. I didn't know that either.

The Met office is now using fax machines to give local authorities early warning of severe weather. The Hampshire emergency planning office said, "Rather than having to rely on telephones, for instance, where lines are at risk in bad weather, we are encouraging the wider use of fax machines."

Customer: "I hit the 'Open Connection' button and the modem starts to dial. I hear some terrible noise, and when that's over I hit the 'Close Connection' button. Then I start Netscape but it keeps telling me that it can't locate the host."
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Aren't we supposed to be international now? 

I get so annoyed when I see a great product in a foreign country and then find the manufacturer won't sell it in the UK.
I'll give you a couple of examples:

1. Johnson's Baby Cologne (OK, I'm not a baby, but this stuff smells fantastic as a cologne) In Portugal you can get three different scents, one for boys, one for girls and a unisex one. Will Johnson's consider selling it here? Have a guess.




2. Microsoft Homestyle+ for Office 2003. Marketed in Asia, but no sign of it over here.
Here it is reviewed on a Japanese site:
Things you can do with Homestyle+

Your market research sux people!!

You need therapy! 

I used to have this great game called "Therapy". I remember playing it once (yes, just once) and then it vanished (Ok, I forgot I owned it, then went looking for it and it had gone - maybe I leant to a friend, who knows, anyway I lost it).
Last year I searched, fruitlessly for it on the internet and resigned myself to the fact that I would never own a copy again, unless one turned up at a "car boot" or something.

Anyway, this weekend just gone, I was chatting to some friends and "Therapy" got mentioned. They suggested looking for it on eBay and bidding for a copy. When I got home, I had a look and the going price was around £30. I then searched for it, not expecting to find anything useful again. This time however, I came across a site selling a game called "Therapy" but marketed by a different company. I checked it out - it was definately the same game, different packaging sure, but the same thing nonetheless. Not only that, but the price was about £22 - for a brand new copy.

Well, of course I placed an order!



That was Saturday.... it arrived today!

Pru not prude! 


A Bedfordshire man was sent a letter from insurance company Prudential addressed to Mr A Shagslikeadonkey.

The letter to Nick Mann was signed by the company's marketing chief Andy Lucas

The note went on: "Dear Mr Shagslikeadonkey, Moving your home insurance to Prudential could save about £80 . . ."

Mr Mann, a financial adviser, said: "My jaw hit the floor when I saw the letter. I'm used to hearing from insurance companies due to my work - but I've never received anything like this. I don't even have any Prudential policies."

A Prudential spokesman said the name was put in their system years ago - and the culprit had left the firm.
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Monday, August 23, 2004

Laptops & Latex 


Speaking of students, it's A-level results time again, and the nation's 17- and 18-year-olds - plus the occasional frankly quite freaky fast-tracked child - will all have been waking up this morning with a clearer idea about what their future holds in store, assuming they're not ridiculously hungover... which let's face it they probably are, with the obvious exception of the precocious fast-learners who are doubtless rewarded with a new suit and briefcase with which to perpetuate their mini-adult sideshow-attraction lifestyle.

(As an aside, how have any students ended up drowning their sorrows, given the widespread reports of dumbing down in the education system? The Round-Up is left wondering which aspect of passing the modern A-level had them stumped: the turning up, or the writing their own name bit?)

But, with so many students now thinking about heading to further education and all that entails, one headline-courting computer retailer has announced a scheme to prevent the spread of viruses - both online and offline.

Evesham Technology is giving all students who purchase a PC during its 'back to college' promotion free desktop antivirus software and a packet of condoms (do you see what they've done there?).

Previously the offer was run in association with rubbers giant Mates, but now it has been passed to rival prophylactic peddler Trojan - which raises more than a little confusion, given that Trojans, the nasty little pieces of code which covertly hijack a user's machine, are one of the biggest security threats currently facing computer users.

One wit in the silicon.com office even enquired as to whether they will be offering 'backdoor Trojans' - but we probably shouldn't go there...

The Evesham press release says: "Most students will be hitting the shops to buy a new PC to take to university, where sex will be high on the agenda."

Really? OK, the sex bit is pretty timeless, but do "most students" really take a new PC to Uni?

Given that many won't be getting their loans on time due to a computer error at the student loans authority: (see here for more) the Round-Up can't help suspecting this is little more than wishful thinking on the part of Evesham.
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Sunday, August 22, 2004

No more procrastinating! 

My, that's a big word so late in the evening!

Well, I've been seriously slacking on my weight-training. If I want to make an impact I have to get back into my daily routine. I've tried concentrating on muscle groups and training in the evening but that's just given me an excuse to put it off. OK, so I wasn't very well for a couple of weeks, but I've got no excuse now, so I'm going back on "the burn" again tomorrow. Which means at least 10mins worth of graft when I get up.
So, I'm going to finish this evening with 30 crunches and then back onto the weights tomorrow.

Wish me luck!
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Friday, August 20, 2004

What a performance! 

Every now and again, some muppet blocks up our email system by sending a company-wide email to the thousands of staff that work there. Occasionally though it's worth it for the witty replies that come back from disgruntled recipients (names changed to protect the innocent, or course!):

-----Original Message-----
From: Claire
Subject: Maternity Leave

Hi Everyone

Just to let you know I shall be leaving for Maternity leave on the 23rd August for '6 months'.. If you have any queries etc please email me ASAP tomorrow and I shall try and resolve them by Monday. If not please email James or call him on XXXX XXXXXXX.

Can I take this opportunity to thank the following people, who have given and shown me lots of support..throughout my life in X Company

Brenda - TPI Manager X for always being there for me work wise and personal...She is the best..gave me lots of support and advice on TPI and for helping out with the new Yr7 intake for 2002 at X. ONE in a million!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go Girl!!!

Tina - FF&E Co-Ordinator GOD knows for how many sites for X (Otherwise known as 10 jobs Tina)- For being my rock when I first started with X at B School and being a very good friend...one of the best X people I know!!!!!

Fiona - Office Manager - For her help with X with snags and problems etc, also her laughter and wit that got you through the day - a credit to the Office Team - girl power!!!

Clive - Contract Manager X - For believing in me and being a good friend!!

Craig - Caretaker - FOR BEING MY bestest buddie and for all the fantastic work he has done at X - A credit to the school and X...

Helen - Estates Manager - For giving me the job opportunity here. Will miss our disagreements!!!! But a Great Estates Manager!

Steven - MY CURRENT BOSS - Well for putting up with me really.....Great guy!!!

The Procurement Team - Loren, Shelly, Mandy and Carol..CHEERS

And finally the IT and Oracle Help Desk for putting up with my constant whinging and moaning when we have IT issues!!!!!!!

See you all in 6 months.

PS Sorry Terry for hogging the email system...but a thank you now and again to some great people at X goes a long way!!!!

Claire
Help Desk Supervisor


And the reply?
...................will the baby be called Oscar by any chance ????
You know, I'm really going to miss this when we're taken off the list!
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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Life's not only a bitch, she has puppies as well!!* 

You know, why is it that crap happens to the nicest of people? Why can't it happen to horrible people, the ones who at least deserve a bit of their own medicine? Most of us have a friend like mine, (well, I'd like to think they do anyway). She's selfless, caring, forgiving and frankly I'm humbled in her presence. I'm nowhere near as self-sacrificing as she is. Yet people treat her like a doormat and take advantage of her. She's such a sensitive soul and I hate to see her hurt, she really doesn't deserve half the crap she gets.

(*Taken from a very apt quit message)
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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Why you should always PDF sensitive and legal documents 

Making Word documents really read-only
Tech Forum - Dr. Nitin Paranjape

"The only way to duplicate this document and make changes to it is to visually see the original document and re-type all the text and formatting! Of course this can be done but it is so much more difficult now!"

Actually no, there's a very easy way to get around this and it doesn't require a degree in programming or a "brute-force" password crack, in fact you don't have to know the password at all. It's so easy, anyone could do it.

In fact I challenge anyone to find me a document (.doc or .rtf format) that cannot be edited within minutes.

For this reason, the only truly effective way to protect your documents is to PDF them.

Is it morning already? 

*Yawn*

I get to go to work early and finish early today *Yay!*, but I'll probably be so knacked that I'll need to powernap when I get home, meaning I'll hardly benefit from that extra hour. *Boo, hiss*.
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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Where for art thou? 

I know we have a nice small network, but good grief it was quiet tonight on Serenity. I saw and spoke to one (yes one) other person in the four hours I was there. You know, I was rushed off my feet and my fingers are so damn sore from typing!! Hehe. Even watching the connects tonight has been little more interesting than watching paint dry.

Oh, apart from the fact that I'm watching this one guy bounce on-off-on-off-on-off.
One wonders whether:
(a) He's actually there
(b) He's doing it on purpose (Lord knows why)
(c) He hasn't a clue

Well, that has been the extent of my excitement tonight. I've had better evenings!

SP2 causes headaches for thousands 


What amazes me is why Microsoft felt the need to change things after the pre-release was given to third party vendors.

The pre-release worked fine and the vendors had time to iron out any bugs, but you kinda wonder why their R&D bothered when the patch that got released to the public was different. Many security and business programs have started behaving oddly, become unresponsive or have simply crashed. One company reported that several customer network installations had broken after installing SP2

Included in the bug list are games such as Unreal Tournament, Photoshop Elements, Mailwasher, Norton AntiVirus and most file-sharing programs.

Current list here

One of the things that is happening with the pack is that windows is now not letting anything connect to any loopback address unless it is 127.0.0.1
This means that any assigns in the HOSTS file won't allow connections.
They all respond to pings, but the response arrives from 127.0.01 regardless of the address pinged. This is part of the problem too.

It is expected that Microsoft will release a patch soon, until such time they have recommended uninstalling SP2 from systems that are experiencing problems.
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Sunday, August 15, 2004

The power of the multi-sided-die compells you... 


Thinkgeek have done it again!
Now you can declare your roleplaying nerdiness with this new T-shirt.
Let the world know that they're only one d20 roll away from facing your wrath!

ThinkGeek :: Initiative

MSN Wallpapers 

I've never been very impressed with the choice of MSN Messenger wallpapers, so yesterday I made some of my own.
What do you think?

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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Vice City Radio 

This is wicked!
This nice man, Teddy has made it possible for you to get all those fantastic Vice City songs onto your PC or even burnt to disc. You just need your DVD, a burner (optional) and this program!

What a great idea!
Vice City Radio
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Friday, August 13, 2004

FAQ Farm 

FAQ Farm: Question & Answer Co-Op
Here's a great idea.
Ask a question or answer one posed by someone else.

'Spiderman II' Review 

Spiderman II



Fantastic, loved it. The characters are really well developed and you feel their emotions. You empathise with them.

The humor is great. It's cheeky, but not over the top. It's tried to avoid all the cheesy Hollywood cliches and does so very well.

The story has real depth and you are not left feeling that the FX is making up for what the film is lacking in script - far from it. It's refreshing and an accomplished translation from comic book to film.

Yes, you can tell where the CGI is in places, but it's acceptable and far more subtle than, say Matrix III, which I thought was appauling - it was sloppy, spidey is slick.

Best film I've seen in a long time.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

One born every minute 

Every company, school or establishment has one, but why do we all suffer the moron with the personality bypass who invades our personal space, is ignorant and disrespectful and has the mentality of a toddler in Kindergarten?

For God's sake grow up, get a life.

You're so hard done by - have you ever stopped to wonder why?
Thought not.

Time for a new hobby 

I've decided my next project is going to be a mosaic for the back garden. I've bought a couple of books and I'll pick some materials up soon and make a start.

Shrek2 rocks! 

Yay for ginger cats!
Edit: unless they drop live mice on your airbed at 5am in the morning (thanks cat, love you too).

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Monday, August 09, 2004

Back to reality 

Back to work *groan*. Good god, it was boring today.
I'd give anything to go back to burying my head in a server like I was 24 hours ago.
OK, so I only had two days to get to know them, but I so miss my tab buddies. It wasn't a cheap couple of days, but it was worth every penny and I'd be back tomorrow if I could.
I don't think the web job will happen after all, now that we've been bought by another company, so that bit of excitement has been snatched away. *Sigh* I need a holiday - oh wait, I just had one, didn't I?
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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Make mine an Iron-Bru 

Been a fun couple of days up in Edinburgh, but I have to travel back home again tomorrow and get a good night's sleep to make up for my recent excesses. Tomorrow I leave Jon and Laura to soldier on in the name of The Fringe. Two weeks off, a holiday to France and a meet up with two good online friends.
Sadly back to work on Monday, I'm not looking forward to it.
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