April 28th, 2005

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11:09 am - I am continually amazed at technical ignorance.
Exhibit one: a well-educated, intelligent, professional woman no more than ten years my senior concernedly lists "we don't have internet" and "Outlook is giving me messages about not finding the server" as, not two symptoms to the same problem, but two separate problems.  I explain that if there is no internet access, there's no way to get email either, since you have to use the internet to get to your mailserver.  (They don't have a mailserver in their office, and never have.)  She got the idea, but it was clearly a new one on her... how do you not get that you have to have internet access to get to email?

Exhibit two: a middle-aged sounding woman mistakenly calls my cell phone while I'm in the supermarket this morning.  She listens to me say "[eight syllable business name], this is Jim, may I help you?" and, unfazed, asks to speak to Antony anyway.  I politely and cheerfully tell her "I'm sorry, you have the wrong number."  With a tone of voice implying possible mental retardation on my part, she attempts to persuade me that she has in fact dialed 655-[number] - I'm not sure if the goal of this is to convince me to return Antony's (presumably stolen by me?) cell phone, or magically turn into Antony, or what.  I explain to her that she has actually dialed six SIX five [number], not six FIVE five [number].  She doesn't sound very clear on this, so I reiterate "you didn't dial 655."  Grumbling, she disconnects.

IMMEDIATELY, the phone rings again.  I glance at the CID, and, yes, it's the same woman.  Sigh.  Politely I answer and say "sorry, you dialed 665 again.  you said the number was 655."  She seems rather suspicious of this idea.  She disconnects.  RING RING RING.  "It's still me."  Disconnect... and it rings again.  Wtf, is she hitting "redial" and expecting it to fix her original fuckup?  This time, fuck it and fuck her, I just hit "mute" and put the phone back in my pocket.

I turn to the guy bagging my groceries, who's grinning at me, and say "it is the year two thousand and five, and there are people who have still not figured out how to use a telephone!"  (Am I the only one who finds this more than a little disturbing?)

Exhibit three: on the flip side of the coin, retrotechnical ineptitude!  While at my Sociology final this morning, a young lady concernedly asks the instructor for a pencil sharpener - there is none in the room.  Dismay reigns.  I look over and say "well, I've got a pocketknife..."  She looks confused and says "will that work?"  Now, I could understand "can you do it for me?" from somebody with no experience using simple physical tools, but... will it work?  Wtf?  When given the concept to start with, how do you not immediately grasp the idea of shaving the wood off of a pencil's tip with a freaking pocketknife?  (For those concerned with her fate, I took the pencil and whittled a point on it for her.  She expressed gratitude and implied no small measure of amazement.)
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[User Picture] From: sesby
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 08:21 am
Sheer hilarity, my friend. Classic from start to finish. :)

[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 08:26 am
All three of those happened this morning in the space of two hours total.

:: shakes head :: I can understand #1 - or at least not be horrified by it - but #2 and #3 are just appalling.

[User Picture] From: freakout
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 09:18 am
I have two computers at work. One that's on the network, and one that has to dial in so our competitors can't track our IP (don't ask). So when IT first set my workstation up, I came over, and the dude was there totally baffled, trying to dial into AOL. He couldn't figure out why it wouldn't dial the number to save his life. So I glance over and realize that this guy has an ethernet cable, which isn't even connected to the wall, plugged into the ethernet jack. What kind of fucking incompetent company do I work for when the goddamn IT DEPARTMENT doesn't know the difference between an ethernet cable and a phone cord.

[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 09:27 am
(I know why the dialup. And it would be a lot easier (and considerably more anonymous) to just use an anonymizer.)

Regarding the phone cable drill... yeah, I'm not even half surprised. Welcome to the wonderful world of "certification!" That guy's probably got between one and four certs, maybe a degree, and a nice list of places where he performed the exact same job title just as poorly. I run into that A LOT.

[User Picture] From: discogravy
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 10:15 am
my fav example:

me: the two devices won't talk to each other. IP -- your device -- and -- a computer -- can't even ping each other. ICMP is enabled and neither devices have firewalls. fix it.
tech support rep of company that makes device that we paid far too much for: oh, that's your firewall blocking it, or it could be a router/switch ACL.
me: escalate this call.
tsroctmdtwpftmf: why?
me: because you don't know what you're talking about.
tsroctmdtwpftmf: it has to be that.
me: it's a flat network. please tell me which firewall or router would be between two devices on this flat network, if neither device has one on the host itself.
tsroctmdtwpftmf: ...the, uh, gateway on that subnet is...
me: ...the device they're not talking to since they're not crossing a subnet.
tsroctmdtwpftmf: uh...
me: escalate this call.
tsroctmdtwpftmf: ok.

[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 10:21 am
Hahaha, yeah, it's DISTURBING how few people understand how TCP/IP communication inside and outside of a subnet work - especially considering how many of those fundamentally utterly clueless people can tell you instantly how many hosts are in any given size subnet, what the seven layers of the OSI model are, and in general answer any other question you're likely to find on a certification exam.

(Also annoying are the LEGIONS of ISP techs that will tell you your subnet is a /32 or a /16, and have absolutely no idea what that translates into in dotted quad notation, which is IN FUCKING VARIABLY what you need to know to actually configure any given device. sigh.)

[User Picture] From: clme
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 11:17 pm
Yeah... the guy I work with that has a cisco cert and networking degree is constantly asking me questions. I suggest a few troubleshooting steps and he acts amazed I can understand what steps it takes for a machnine to get from our office to another office...

But when the fuckers at the corp office send me a /32 or /24 or whatever as my subnet for a particular vlan (I dont 'get' vlans very well either, except that in my case its basically the same as physically seperate networks) guess who I have to go to in order to translate it for me so I can get shit programmed and statics preassigned? Invariably the folks at the corp office cant (which I find strange because any switches I have programmed myself take the dotted notation).

Of course, next time he gives me a wrong one I'm going to follow through with the threat of learning how to do it without the 2 year tech school degree and cert he has (or just use the solar winds tools).

Well.. I guess there is a reason the guy is working in I.T. instead of as a cisco guy, eh? Only other problem I have with him is that he cant troubleshoot when he's tired... so when he's on-call I sometimes get calls I can answer in my sleep (and according to him I have done this).

[User Picture] From: katyakoshka
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 10:03 am
The phone thing kills me. And not connecting email with internet... *facepalm*

The girl amazed by the pocket knife would probably freak out if exposed to a dial tuner on a TV. You know, the kind that doesn't have a remote?

Oh, teh pain.

[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 10:15 am
Heh. God those things (dial TV tuners) were clumsy. Remember how at any given gathering, usually less than 10% of those present could successfully navigate the complexities of using the "fine tune" knob at the base of the tuner dial to actually hit the target frequency on the UHF channels?

I also remember people frustratedly repositioning the VHF antenna over and over and fucking over again when trying to improve a UHF channel's reception. LEWL. Soooooooo few people knew that there were two separate antennas for the separate frequency spectra...

One of the things that really grabbed my attention as to how much more reliable the most fundamental technologies has gotten in my own lifetime, though, was one time around five or six years ago when my girlfriend-at-the-time couldn't get her car to start. At all. I mean, as in, she called me for a ride into work because the vehicle was "broken." I got in, turned the ignition, and the engine was turning over strongly enough but just not catching - so of course I gave it a little gas, and IMMEDIATELY "Vroom!" it fires right up like a happy little kitten, no stuttering or stumbling or anything. I give her a questioning look, and after some discussion we figure out that she hadn't ever... touched... the gas pedal while trying to start the car. In her six or seven years of driving, she had never encountered a vehicle that wouldn't start without giving it a little gas. Holy shit, batman! Me, I grew up with cars that getting them started could properly be considered an art-form - like lighting a charcoal barbeque (and in some cases, like lighting a charcoal barbeque without lighter fluid) - and even the nice cars, you put your foot on the gas pedal prepared to feed it some gas, 'cause they might start without it, hell might even do so the majority of the time, but you didn't think of it as "expected".

In related news, a school buddy of mine has an oldskool British mini, complete with manual choke, and observing the confused look on girls' faces as he adjusts the choke while getting it started and later as it starts warming up is just freaking priceless. (Not that most guys know wtf a manual choke is either, but they tend to carefully conceal their looks of bafflement.)

From: lamfear
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 12:03 pm
I my years of driving I have never encountered a vehicle that wouldn't start without giving it a little gas either. But I'll keep this one in mind hehe.

[User Picture] From: jacksonave
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 12:41 pm
... I've never had to give a car any gas to make it start, but my only driving experience is with my 2001 Protegé, so yeah. But I'm glad I've read that.

[User Picture] From: clme
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 11:27 pm
I've modified carbureted cars with electric chokes to manual chokes because it was easier than dealing with fixing the electric. Of course, I learned about the 'choke' based on small engines and the P.O.S. cars my dad used to drive in the 80's in order to save money. He used to be a mechanic in the 70's and early 80's but eventually moved to slightly better paying (then) jobs.

Cant tune a carburetor to save my life though.

I still have a dial TV (an old 13" from 1982) that I use now and then in a bedroom or office. It was sold as cable ready... and it is. It actually does work for cable channels 2 through 13... I guess they didn't have expansion in mind then though :-) The damn thing has a handle on it and was considered 'portable' then, even though it weighs around 20 pounds. I learned a long time ago, back when that was my primary TV (like age 10), that the rabbit ears make a V and that stands for VHF, and the round thing that I cant point for shit is for the channels I really want to watch. I eventually got a better antenna for the UHF at least.

But I digress. I was just reminded of that because it, and a dozen other TV's like it, were amusing to me since I knew how to fine tune it and so many adults didn't. I can even remember in school having a teacher play with the tracking on the VCR when the issue was really fine tuning. She thought the TV was broken instead of just archaic when I finished.

[User Picture] From: clme
Date: April 28th, 2005 - 11:30 pm
I have had to give fuel injected cars gas to start in the past. Normally only on really cold days though, and that at risk of flooding it so that it would never start again until it was warm and/or I risked frostbite to take out the plugs.

I miss the old GM fuel injection option where if you held the gas pedal all the way down to the floor while starting it the gas would actually turn off and a flooding would work itself out.

My last few cars though (at least, the ones made 1992 or later) haven't had that option, but then they haven't had issues where I had to hit the gas either.

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