Saturday, September 24, 2005
The Law of Barnum
“There's a sucker born every minute.”
—David Hannum (and not P. T. Barnum)
I'm looking at the Million Dollar Home Page, where each of one million pixels are for sale for $1 a piece ($100 minimum in a 10×10 block) and I'm simply appalled. The student has so far sold over 120,000 pixels.
I'm not appalled that people are stupid enough to buy pixels for a buck a pop. I'm not appalled that Alex Tew (the student running the site) has made over $120,000 since August 26th. I'm not even appalled by the garish looking picture of the million pixels.
No, I'm appalled that I didn't think of this first!
Director's Commentary for “More overheard technical support phone call conversations”
Hi. This is Sean Conner, director of “More overheard technical support phone call conversations” and you are listening … well … reading actually, the director's commentary.
The intent was to start in medias res with a tech support call I had to
make to The Monopolistic Phone Company. The situation is that The Monopolistic Phone Company was
blocking one of our client's email servers from sending email to
their customers at
mpc.example.net. There was every
indication that The Monopolistic Phone Company was simply dropping the
traffic as an anti-spam measure, since other servers we had could send mail
to users of The Monopolistic Phone Company. This is my second attempt at
resolving the situation.
We begin after I placed the call and the phone is answered.
Compuer: “Your call may be monitored for quality assurance. The expected hold time is currently 1 minute. Please wait for the next available represenative.”
Bob: “Hello, this is Bob. Not the same Bob as you called yesterday, but still, just call me Bob. [I should mention this was a very perky Bob. —Editor] How may I help you?”
For this version, I'm including who's doing the speaking. Originally (in my conceit) I had thought that who was speaking would be apparent, but if you scan the entry too fast it might not be apparent.
Also, the “Bob” I spoke to was female and very chipper.
Why are tech support reps called “Bob?”
All tech support personal are called “Bob”. (Female support personnel have an option on “Bobette”, as they feel appropriate). This has nothing to do with “Bob”, the Divine Drilling Equipment Salesman and the Church of the SubGenius. Nor it is “Brother Of BOFH” (although that's smart sidewise thinking, which is good). The real story of Bob can finally be revealed …
The time: August 1995. The place: Demon Internet, Support Department. A large number of new victims|Wrecruits were due to arrive, and it was observed that there would be much duplication of names. To ease the confusion, it was decided that all support techs would henceforth be known as “Bob”, and identity badges were created labelled “Bob 1” and “Bob 2”. (No, we never got any further).
The reason for “Bob” rather than anything else is due to a luser calling and asking to speak to “Bob”, despite the fact that no “Bob” was currently working for Tech Support. Since we all know “the customer is always right”, there had to be at least one “Bob”, just in case.
Just a little sillyness, but it snowballed. Shift leaders and managers began to refer to their groups of ‘bobs’. Whole ranks of support machines were set up (and still exist in the DNS) as bob1 through bob[lots].
Then came a.t-s.r, and it was filled with Demon support personnel. They all referred to themselves, and to others, as ‘bob’, and after a while it caught on.
Just one of those strange things, I guess …
alt.tech-support.recovery FAQ (acronym expansion and links added)
Anyway, back to the
film entry …
Me: “I'm calling in reference to ticket number ‘tango mike papa charlie zero zero zero six six six zero zero zero foxtrot uniform.’”
Bob: “And whom am I speaking to today?”
Me: “This is Sean.”
Bob: “Okay, Mr. Sean, if you can please hold while I review your ticket.”
Yes, she kept calling me “Mr. Sean” throughout the rest of the conversation. It weirded me out a bit as “Sean” is my first name, and it just sounds wierd to be called “Mr. Sean.”
Me: “Okay.” (cue FX of Girl from Ipanema)
Bob: “Thank you for holding, Mr. Sean. I didn't understand a word that Bob wrote yesterday but I gather it has something to do with sending email.”
Me: “That's the gist of it.”
Bob: “Can you please send an email message to [garbled]?”
Me: “What was that?”
At this point in the conversation I was in the Data Center near the back
where the three A/C units are
stored. I am unable to log into the server from my desk, due to the say
sshd is configured on this particular server so in order to at
least half-heartedly carry out her instructions, I need to be logged in.
It's quite loud in the back of the Data Center room, and the headset isn't
making matters better.
She's trying to spell out the email address and for the life of me, I couldn't tell if she was saying “tee” or “dee” or “Zimbabwe.” I kept having to ask her to start over.
(cue montage of Sean roaming around the office looking for a quiet place to write down the email message—many minutes go by while this happens)
I ended up leaving both the office and Data Center before I could decypher what she was trying to spell. Now, remember, in the original version, I didn't include who was saying what, hoping that it would be self-evident.
Me: “Oh! It's
Bob: “Yes Mr. Sean. From that the email
companydepartment can diagnose what happens.”
In reality, the “Bob” of yesterday made this mistake, not today's “Bob.” I know for a fact that The Monopolistic Phone Company's business webhosting is outsourced to Negiyo, so it's not a far stretch to assume that their dialup support is also outsourced.
I should also note that my short term memory is very bad and that I have taken some liberties with the conversation here.
Me: “Please hold on a second, I can test this right now.”
Me: “Yup, just like I said, it won't get through because your The Monopolistic Phone Company's email server is dropping the connection from this particular server.”
Bob: “So it's a networking issue?”
Me: “No, because I can get to The Monopolistic Phone Company's email server from other computers.”
I think I actually said something like “there's no connection made, so therefore the email isn't sent and therefore it makes it a moot point to ask the email department [at The Monopolistic Phone Company] to check the email for an error.” I think she was realizing that the scope of the problem was way beyond her abilities to handle.
Bob: “Oh. Well then, just send a message to
email@example.com the situation and they'll be able to handle it.”
Me: “Okay, can I include the ticket number?”
Me: “Okay, thank you.”
Bob: “You're welcome Mr. Sean! Thank you for calling The Monopolistic Phone Company Dialup Support Line.”
And thus the end of the call.
As Spring and I
were discussing this last night, she asked of the email I sent to
output and I said no, why should it? The Monopolistic Phone Company is
obviously blocking the server as an anti-spam measure. But Spring said that
the admins at Negiyo would turn this case down due to lack of evidence. You
apparently need not only a smoking gun, finger prints and a bullistics
match, but a signed confession to boot before they would grudgingly work on
the case. So why would the admins at The Monopolistic Phone Company be any
“More overheard technical support phone call conversations”
Oh, I see the credits are rolling. I'd like to thank Spring for the
inspiration to do this commentary track and for feedback, and you, for
taking the time to
listen read this.
Director's Commentary for “You know … like James Bond”
Hi. This is Sean Conner, director of “You know … like James Bond” and you are
listening reading the director's commentary. I'm doing this
commentary because Spring found this entry rather
confusing. In retrospect, I can see why.
The title of this is an oblique reference to Sean Connery, perhaps best known as the original James Bond. We also have a very similar name, only difference being a lack of an ending ‘Y’ on my name. And in 36 years, it's been surprising how few people make that connection, and persist in mispelling my name (S-H-A-W-N for instance) or mispronouning it (“sē‧awn” perhaps the worst botching of it—by a Drama Teacher no less!).
Anyway, the scene opens in medias res after I had answered the phone with “Technical Support, how may I help you?” (which is were the confusion starts)
Michelle: “Hi! This is Michelle from 97.3 WKRP The Party-Hearty Hip-Hop Happening Radio Station! Who am I speaking to?”
It was a marketing call from some radio station here in Lower Sheol—I honest don't recall which one, so I made one up. There is (I hope) no radio signal on 97.3—surprising given just how crowded our radio spectrum is with Clear Channel drone stations.
Me: “Hello. This is Sean.”
Michelle: “Sean. Is that S-H-A-U-N?”
Me: “No, it's S-E-A-N.”
Michelle: “Oh.” I could hear the disappointment in her voice. The call went downhill from there. No big deal—it was a marking call anyway.
See? Almost no one gets the Sean Connery connection. Okay, granted, here I didn't give my last name, but what with Sean Connery, Sean Penn, Sean Austin (who played Sam Gamgee in the freaking Lord of the Rings Trilogy), Sean Bean (who was also in the freaking Lord of the Rings Trilogy), Sean Combs (okay, granted, he changes his name more often than Madonna changes her persona but still!) and Sean Young (okay, so her heyday was 1982's Blade Runner but she's still active) you'd think people would know how to spell Sean.
Oh, and yes, there was a glitch. This wasn't a “marking” call, but a “marketing call.” How that one got past the test audience I'll never know.
“You know … like James Bond”
Whoops! Credits are rolling! Gotta go. Hope you enjoyed the director's
commentary for this