First bytes

impatient-personI resisted a temper tantrum this week.

That statement does deserve to stand on its own. I have become short of patience when dealing with geeks. I’ve done my best to not only stay up on technology but to learn how to explore applications and websites enough to find my own fixes. I’m not afraid of breaking anything on a computer like I was when I first started using one regularly back in the ‘80s. But I do have an expectation of some reliability from large companies that are known for both their hardware and their software.

A couple years ago, I decided it was a good investment to subscribe to Microsoft’s “Assure” plan. It’s an annual payment of around $140, I think. I had also learned that I could get absolutely nowhere with the company without running up a bill of at least that much and usually more if I ran into a major issue. Thus far, the plan has paid for itself.

Nonetheless, I’d prefer to pay for the subscription and never have to use it than to experience the frustration of trying to get assistance when something goes wrong.

software-update-imageSomething went wrong last week. Microsoft did some kind of update to Windows 10 that caused my computer to hang when I turned it on. The remedy seemed to be just unplugging the machine, plugging it in again, and turning it on. Voila! Problem solved. But I knew it was only a matter of time before I would try that and my self-made solution wouldn’t work anymore.

So I contacted the software giant’s Answer Desk via the Internet. I thought it would be easier to do it that way because I admit to having difficulty understanding the English accent of “Eddy” who would lead you to believe he’s in Kansas when I have a strong suspicion that he’s in India.

Well, Eddy was helpful, but his written English was more difficult to understand than a spoken conversation might have been. I’m not sure English, even India-English, was a first language. I had to get him to rephrase his sentences so I could understand them.

Eddy assured me he could take care of the problem. Just before he commenced something like a hard boot (I’m sure there was another term for it), he disabled a bunch of the component services of Windows. Then he instructed me to reconnect with him when my computer was back up and running. I had the link to reach him and I was certain I could do it. We parted company as the computer was shutting down.

It came back up and was running just fine, but that’s when I discovered that when Eddy disabled those services, he also disabled just about everything that makes anything run with Windows, especially the internet. So there I sat, unable to reconnect with Eddy who had taken my phone number “just in case.” Of course, he didn’t call me back. That was after working with him for two hours on Sunday night.

At 6 a.m. the next morning, I made an appointment for Microsoft to call me. They promised 9 a.m. To their credit, that’s when the phone rang. I went through another hour with a second tech who finally decided he couldn’t fix it and would pass me on to his supervisor.

frustrationNow here’s an irony. Apparently, people who work at Microsoft do not know how to transfer or pick up calls without cutting off the person on the other end. It took me four calls on Monday, each time leaving a call-back number, and each time when I was passed on to another person to help me out, I was cut off. It may be that Microsoft has learned it is easier to just drop calls than to try to assist anyone. But I suspect they need to learn how to use a telephone. “Please,” I pleaded after two dropped calls, “please stay on the line until you know I’m connected to the next person.”

“Oh, not to worry, Miss Gretchen.” (With an accent not remotely American-English). “We will take care of you. Not to worry. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Then the call would be dropped.

My frustration and near temper tantrum occurred not only because I had to keep replacing the calls, but I had to go through their automated system each time, and even though I had a case number, I had to repeat my scenario each time.

My inability to start the computer (caused by the Windows update) was exacerbated by Eddy at the Answer Desk who disabled my ability to get on-line.

So, before I talked with my final Microsoft representative, I decided to find the place on the computer where Eddy had disabled everything. I couldn’t find it exactly (he only had to click on this box or that), but I found a place where I could enable everything albeit one service at a time.

Now, folks, don’t for a minute believe that I knew what I was doing. But I knew that I couldn’t get on-line, I wouldn’t be able to let the techie work on my desktop from a remote location.

It took me one full hour to enable everything that was marked disabled. I took a deep breath, turned off the machine, waited a moment and restarted it. It hung. So I unplugged it and restarted it. This time I had my operating system up, my applications working, and, most importantly, I was connected to the internet.

Fifth time was the charm. After she investigated whether I actually had the “Assure” subscription (even though the Microsoft Corporation was responsible for the issues about which I was calling) I lucked onto a woman who knew exactly the problem. Within 20 minutes, she had everything fixed. And she rolled back my computer to the day before the last Windows update. She also “fixed” it so that updates will no longer be installed without my permission.

There will come a point when I’ll have to do an update. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it and hope they have addressed my issues when that time comes.

waiter-clipartI was reminded last night as Terry and I began our supper hour at a local Friday’s that the rule of the day for waiters and waitresses in any restaurant regardless of dining superiority is to come back to your table within a minute or two of food delivery and inquire, “How are the first bites?” Sometimes we haven’t had a bite yet. Sometimes, regardless of our answer, we don’t see the waiter again until we can flag him or her down for additional assistance.

Last night, Terry ordered a specific label of merlot. The waiter repeated the order: “Little Black Dress Merlot. Excellent choice,” he declared. “Is that a red?”

Terry had to ask for the wine a second time when it hadn’t appeared with the meal. When it was delivered, it was by the manager who reminded me of a character out of the TV sitcom “Will and Grace” and who seemed to be ready to land in Terry’s lap as he presented the glass with a flourish saying, “And here is a beautiful cabernet for you.”

“Well, that would be nice, but I ordered the merlot.”

The right glass appeared on the table after a few minutes and with apologies from our waiter. The manager comped the wine.

When all was said and done, the waiter said, “You two were so polite. I hope you come back. That coupon is good all week!”

First bites. First bytes. Throwing a temper tantrum probably wouldn’t have gotten either of us very far. We were probably better off keeping our powder dry. Losing one’s patience only serves to dampen spirits and impede explosions when they become necessary.


15             With patience a ruler may be persuaded,
and a soft tongue can break bones. – Proverbs 25:15

24 Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. – Romans 8:24b-25

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