Sunday, April 16, 2006

Help! Desk

I admire technical people who understand how things work, or don’t. But I admire even more those who give technical support over the phone – the Help Desk people. They must have a great deal of patience to walk people through the process of troubleshooting and fixing what needs to be fixed. Hats off to you guys!

This morning Mickey and I were working on a brochure project when our Internet connection was cut off. For those of us who are heavy Internet users, this is a cause for instant alarm verging on panic like we were cut off from a virtual lifeline. I need to send an email! I need to browse! I have work (or homework) to do!...

And so I immediately called Shaw, our Internet Service Provider, and explained the situation. The guy on the line started probing and when he said terms like splitter, I handed the phone over to Mickey without saying excuse me. Between Mick and myself, he is more knowledgeable on the internal workings of the computer. I care more for censorship and parental controls.

Guided by the techie, Mick unplugged everything (three cables) connected to the modem, and after a few seconds re-connected each one of them. Didn’t work. Because he had somewhere else to go, Mickey gave me back the phone and I had no choice but to carry on.

“Do you have another outlet that you can plug the modem to?” asked Mr. Help Desk. “Can you plug it to where your TV is plugged?

“No, it’s too far,” I answered. “But there are two outlets on the same plate where the computer is plugged. Do you want me to transfer it to the lower one (which was vacant)?”

As soon as he said “Okay, try it”, I pulled the plug and the computer went dead—and so did the phone. Mr. Help Desk was gone! Mickey, preparing to leave, said that I should have unplugged only the modem. Instead, I unplugged the power bar. The PC, printer, modem, fax and phone were all plugged to the power bar. Arggh…

I called Shaw again and a different guy answered. I repeated the problem. He asked me to describe where the internet cable was coming from, and if I had a splitter, etc…

“There is this rectangular thing and it has two thingies,” I said. Two thingies??? Good luck!

Mr. Help Desk No. 2 seemed to understand the two thingies, but to be sure, I described them some more. “One has a cable that goes to the TV, the other goes to the computer.”

“Yes. Try to connect the Internet cable directly to the wall. Let’s see what happens.”

I disconnected the “rectangular thing with two thingies” and connected the cable directly to the wall or is that called the cable connector(?). As soon as I did that, the Online light on the modem lighted up. Yay!!

“It worked,” I was excited to tell Mr. Help Desk #2. “So is this called the splitter?” I was referring to what I removed from the cables.

“Yes,” he said. “You may have to buy a new one.”

Until I can replace this splitter, which must also be called “coupler” (written on its side), I will have no cable TV in my room because the cable feed is no longer split between the TV and PC. That’s okay. I’d prefer the Internet anytime.

Thank you, Mr. Help Desk. You’re a virtual-life-saver.




8 comments:

lhb said...

Hello Mrs. Blossoms,

Before I retired, part of my job was sort of "Help Desk" and I can tell you all kinds of stories about computer users. I used to provide support for some software used to make engineering drawings.

There was this one guy working at a plant about 10 kms from me and who was complaining that when he touched a line on a drawing on the screen, the line wouldn't change color as described on his user manual. We spent a lot of time on the phone while I was trying to re-create his problem at my end. Finally, desperate, I asked a friend of mine who worked near him to go over and see what his problem was. It turned out that the guy was colorblind for that particular color! He didn't know either until we ran into this problem.

Then there was the guy who complained that his engineering workstation was completely dead. He couldn't turn it on no matter what he did. I went to visit him and saw that he must have kicked the power bar under his desk and turned off all the devices plugged into it. From then on, my first question was "Is your computer plugged into the wall?"

Incidentally, about your problem with the splitter, as far as I know, there's really nothing electronic inside the splitter. It's all a physical connection. Not much chance of anything being broken there. Maybe your jacks are just not making good contact. However, a new one is only a buck or two ...

lerryblossoms said...

my splitter was probably just in a bad mood because it's working again. you are probably right about the jacks, whatever those are.

btw, what don't you know? okay, i have a question for you.how do you edit your video clips so that they superimpose nicely?

lerryblossoms said...

i think dissolve is the right term, not superimpose. what program do you use?

lhb said...

I think the jack is the female part of the connection. The male part is called the plug.

I am using a program, called PIXELA Image Mixer, that came with the Sony digicam when my daughter bought it. The program allows me to collect video files (.avi, .mpg, .wmv) and sound files (.mp3, .wav) into a "project". Within the project, I put the video files in a row. I edit the individual video files to mark their start and stop points. Then, I tell the program how to overlap and transition between the video files. The transitions offered are similar to those you see between Powerpoint slides - dissolve, fade-in, fade-out, etc. In another row beneath the video files, I line up the sound files. Then, when I'm happy with how video and sound files line up, I save the whole project as an .mpg file.

You have to be patient and like the subject of the video because you will be watching the same clips over and over and over. :-)

P.S. It must already be getting warm enough in Vancouver to start some seeds in indoor pots. But, I guess you're too busy with other things right now. :-) Around here, we don't plant outside until about Victoria Day. It was warm last week but forecast for tonite is frost. If we planted outdoors last week, patay!

lerryblossoms said...

hmm, i wonder if our digicams came with a video editing software. probably not. i would probably enjoy doing that. i will look for a cheap software. if you come across a free one, let me know!!

yeah, i got your reminder about planting. thanks. and yeah, i am too busy but i've been looking at my garden and wishing i could do something about its pitiful state soon. between gardening and going to the sauna...

yes, we've had nice sunny days!!! i love BC...

lhb said...

I have seen some free-trial video editing software. The catch was, until you paid, they mark the video with their logo every 30 seconds, or limit what you can do in some other way.

mr. buttinski said...

"btw, what don't you know?"

You must really think I'm such a know-it-all. :-) I'm just such a "paningit". I can't always restrain myself from butting in.

lerryblossoms said...

your wide knowledge is impressive. i'm sure others are benefitting from it. you're welcome to butt in :-)