Why I don’t “Console”

PS3 ControllerNo, before you ask, I don’t do the whole “PC Master Race” malarky*. My reason…I can’t use controllers.  There, I said it.

It doesn’t make sense, I mean, I used Joysticks on the Vic-20, ZX81, Atari 2600, Spectrum 48, Spectrum 128, C64, Amiga etc etc etc.  Even on my green-screen PC back in the day, I was playing Prince of Persia with keyboard and wishing I could connect a joystick to it.

At some point, the Master System and the NES dropped, with controllers…and I loved them.  Then, Megadrive and SNES.  I was still hooked,  Controllers were great.  Mainly they were for action games…a lot of platformers.  You needed skill to use the controller properly, but none of the games required any level of pixel perfect precision.

By the time the Playstation dropped in ’95 (I think), I had been playing Doom on PC for a couple of years.  Shortly after the Playstation dropped, Duke Nukem 3D hit and I was gone, done with consoles.  I was playing lan and (eventually) online multiplayer and loving it.

FPS games have always been my go to game genre.  I love them, I love the immediacy of them, I love being able to drop into a game without needing to commit to anything more than a 20 minute round of something (although invariably for longer).  I like that I was better than some people, and took great pleasure in taking out people that were better than me.  The team aspect was amazing.  Consoles couldn’t stack up.  They still can’t.  I have watched videos and streams of people playing FPS on consoles and, don’t get me wrong, they have improved….a LOT.  However, they still have the same movement/aim issues they always had.  Aim assist is still an option (and in fact the default as I understand it).  Movement/aiming are considerably slower and the art of strafing a circle around people is just lost as a technique.  As soon as you can use a mouse/keyboard for this kind of game, your reactions improve and the game speeds up.

Consoles have improved.  I mean, sure, they are always going to lag behind PC gaming in terms of power and tech, but they give a standard platform to work on where the limitations are clear to the developers…meaning the developers can explore pushing the console to the limit, knowing that it will work in the exact same way for everyone that buys the game on that console.  For me, I can see why people thought that the end of PC gaming was nigh.  Devs were going to rush to consoles and ditch PC forever.

People make a big deal over exclusives and a lot of people point out that the PC gets a massive amount of what are, technically, exclusives (in that they aren’t being released to console).  That isn’t strictly an exclusive as far as I am concerned.  An exclusive would be Halo or, more recently, Destiny.  These are games that appealed to me and I was interested to play them on PC.  Even if I wasn’t personally interested, PC Gamers in general were.  That makes an exclusive to me.  A “triple A” title that causes another group of gamers to consider buying some other hardware specifically to play it.  The day that the Battlefield series becomes a console exclusive, that could be problematic for PC gaming.

Even Halo eventually dropped on PC and it was, pretty much, a disaster as far as I remember.  The didn’t factor in what makes FPS on PC different.  They kept the speed that they used for the consoles, it was a direct port.  Direct ports can’t work.  It’s that simple, taking a game that works so perfectly in one format and then just altering the code so that it works on different hardware doesn’t work.  It can’t work and it doesn’t.

If you think that PCs are the best gaming platform or not, you cannot deny the benefits of of them.  Want to play games with an old/current console controllers?   We have USB connectors for that.  Want to turn it into a fully functional driving simulator?  We have devices for that.  Want to be on voice chat with some people, video chat with another, play a game, have some music playing and still be able to type a quick message to your friend who isn’t responding to you? (I am looking at you LW)  You can do all of that too.

It can be as flexible or restrictive as you want it to be.  Run it from your couch plugged into the TV, run multiple monitor setups.  Flexible.

I think that’s the key here, flexibility.  When I am not happy with my performance, I can upgrade individual components.  Yes, PC hardware is more expensive..but, I bought my current PC 4 or 5 years ago and only felt the need to upgrade the video card in the last few months.  I have been able to play every game that I have wanted to, with good quality settings during that entire time.  Seeing as I don’t exclusively use my PC for gaming, the usage that I get from a PC is well worth the investment.

When I do game, the games are normally cheaper.  If you game a LOT, then this saving on its own will stack up over time.  Also, backwards compatibility is not a problem, so you never have to re-buy games for each iteration, or keep old hardware lying around.  With a very small amount of tinkering, I could easily install and play old DOS games from the early 90s.

I like the idea of consoles, I really do..everyone on a level playing field, no complicated setups.  Devs only have to worry about one hardware standard and the same controls for everyone.  I just need flexibility, cheaper games and options.

Oh yeah, and I suck with controllers..did I mention that already?

 

* Good word, should be used more!

photo by:

The Laughing Wolf gets all social..and stuff

Social Media 01So, after years of blindly ignoring social media, YouTube and all that other guff..I have taken to streaming live on Twitch whenever I game.  I have precisely 2 followers and I think that I maxed out at 3 people in my channel so far…including me.

You know what, I don’t care.  I enjoy it, and that’s all that matters.  Charlotte and I have even done a video for YouTube together and, guess what, it was a taste test Grin

We have all of this technology available to us, and we decided to have some fun with it.  If we will get around to making lots of videos, I don’t know.  I suspect it will be like most things we do, when the mood grabs us and all that.

I have gotten back into my hobbies (yes, gaming qualifies), so I may add the odd blog post about those.

Meh, enough about that…anyone wanna play Dirty Bomb?  See you in there Grin

photo by:

Web 2.0?

[embroidery exercise] basic
OK, so I must have missed the upgrade notification…but it would appear that we are all dealing with Web 2.0 these days…by the mere act of blogging this, I have added to the interactive and social aspect of the web (apparently).

I don’t understand the term to be honest..I mean, surely it is just Web with a natural evolution based on technological advances.  Do people consider themselves to be Monkey 3.0…or Neanderthal 2.0?  No, we developed and evolved based on what we needed.  So no…I refuse to use the term Web 2.0

That said, I do find myself using things that I said I didn’t see the point of.  Blogging wasn’t my kind of thing, Twitter was pointless and Facebook was just a waste of time.  I loved Outlook, had no need or desire to sync everything online and hated web based email…anything other than ICQ was a joke and not worth my time.  A mobile phone was for calling people and, possibly, texting…oh, and Webcams were for perverts (this hasn’t necessarily changed though)

Don’t forget, I have been in IT since I left school…so I am used to being on top of technology (so to speak).  KT always maintains that I am just stuck in my ways…and there may be some merit to that.  So let’s review The LaughingWolf technical report.

Mobile phones

Bought as soon as they became actually mobile..never used for anything beyond calls and SMS until 5 years ago when I got a PDA and used it for, well, calls and SMS…AND Sat Nav.  Over the last 2 years ago, I started to appreciate the built in camera..and even managed to use my Sony as a camera in preference to a dedicated camera for a while.

Towards the end of last year got a Blackberry which I would…and I quote myself here… “Never use properly in a million years for gods sake, what would I want one of those for”…now I have all of my emails and pretty much everything else running through it…and this is only my personal phone…no work stuff here.

Laptops

I have owned 3 laptops in my life and been provided another 2 by work.  I have never travelled extensively for work (apart from driving to other offices) and still cannot ever imagine pulling the laptop out of its case on a train or plane.  Especially when my lovely Blackberry does everything that I want on the move Smile but even taking that into account, travelling time is my time.

Desktops

Now, I will admit to spending the debt of a large 3rd world nation on my desktop pcs over the years.  I was a gamer (still am from time to time), so I always wanted a great graphics card, lots of RAM, a big screen, the best mouse…even the best mousemat.

My desktop does everything for me, it is my entertainment center (movies, tv, music) and my working from home station.  It has dual screens, more hard disk space than most small-medium size company server farms.  My desktop is everything to me when it comes to technology and yet, up until the end of last year, it was an isolated data hub for me.  Had that machine died (which it did a while ago, but I was able to salvage the data)…I would be pretty much lost.  All of my photos, documents, contacts, game configurations, applications….everything would be lost.

Websites

I was an early Geocities user and created my own brand of utter crap that noone wanted to read (a bit like this blog really)..I tinkered, messed with HTML and went on from there.  Got my own domain a year or so after creating my first page and have continued with them regularly ever since.  I ran LAN parties in the UK, was a member of a number of gaming teams…so dynamic content was important and thus PHP became a part of my normal website routine.  I have never been a full coder, choosing to take stuff that almost did what I wanted and butcher it until it did exactly what I wanted.

I use the BBC website for news (predominantly sports)..but this has always been because I am too much of a tightarse to buy a paper.

MP3 Players

I was a very late adopter.  These fell under the “What is the point” category for me.  I either lived close enough to work to barely get through 2 songs before arriving, or I was so far away that I had to drive to work..where my handy CD player (and god forbid…the radio) would provide me everything that I wanted.  I didn’t go running and certainly didn’t need one for the house.  When I flew, it was almost always with other people..and if I was alone  I would have a book.  3 years ago I got a ThaiPlayer…a cheap and nasty iPod clone that was supposed to do video…I am not sure why I got it, but I found myself using it more and more..until I realised that it wasn’t good enough and went for the iPod touch..which was great..until I realised I wanted to have access to all of my music, all of the time…and CW got me a 120gb iPod Classic for my birthday.  I use it on the way to work, walking into town, on flights…even on my lunch break at work from time to time.

Web Browsers

I stuck with IE longer than I wanted to, I stuck with IE longer than I should have done…I was stuck with IE.  Why?  Well, there was the internet standard and then there was the Microsoft standard..and the problem was that more often than not, people wrote their websites to look good with the Microsoft standard…so I stayed with that.  I didn’t need tabbed browsing…I much preferred to have a seperate copy of the application for each site I wanted.  Up until a few years ago, I could never see the benefit of tabbed browsing to my own internet experience.  Firefox was a nice product that suffered from hideous memory leaks.

Now I am a full Firefox user, with a number of plugins, about 20 tabs at a time and only go back to IE when I absolutely have to.  That said, Chrome isn’t worth the change over to me Razz

Wireless Stuff

Here is where I still have a few issues.  I have a wireless router..which gets used for CWs laptop and for some of the people I know in the bar..but I never actually use it myself.   I could connect my phone to it…but I have mobile internet service bought and paid for with the Blackberry, and if I am at home….why would I surf the web on my phone.  Also, I have a real aversion to wireless mice and keyboards though, which I think are a hangover to my gaming days where the slightest lag would cause issues…of course, this is largely non-existent these days, but I am also a tightarse and can never be bothered to remember to charge things and/or swap batteries about.

Internet Access

I have been connected since day 1.  I was connecting to bulletin board systems at 1200 baud and stepped up through all of the modem levels until broadband began making headway.  Until it was freely available, I even paid for ISDN and then again to run it in 128k mode for the extra juice.  Since then I have been with the maximum available speed until recently..when I could get 50mb by switching to another company…I can’t be arsed and have stayed at 16mb

Chat

This is a topic close to my heart…I was always relatively quick on the uptake with chat technologies.  I started on IRC and ICQ (my number is 7 digits long and I still have it…) I derided MSN as not necessary and insisted on people bouncing over to ICQ.  MSN is a joke said I…why on earth would I want that crap…ICQ is the future.

Fast forward a few years and I am scrabbling to remember my ICQ password after being solely on MSN for so long…and then people want to start adding me to GoogleTalk.  Pah! says I, I have no need for this, MSN is perfect for me….and now I have Google.

I don’t get on IRC anymore these days, which is a shame as I had some good fun on there…when I wasn’t being asked to idle in a million Quakenet channels…

Email

I mentioned Outlook earlier and I stuck with this until as late as last year.  I have emails in my archive from 1998…and it would have been longer if not for the catastrophic hard disk failure of 98.  I have never seen the merit in having access to my archived stuff other than on my own PC.  I setup my own webmail client on one of my websites that allows me to get access to new stuff when I am not at home, and of course now my Blackberry means I can always stay in touch.  Over the last couple of weeks though, I have started to contemplate moving to web based only…although I am currently on Thunderbird and loving it.

The “Cloud”

I have never been interested in online storage of any description.  I sometimes uploaded important things via FTP to my website as a kind of storage, but this was rare and never used properly.  I have always been perfectly happy with having my home machine as the center of my computing universe.  It certainly wasn’t fear of security…it was need, I didn’t need to access any of this stuff anywhere other than at home…and of course control.  I am used to working a certain way and have never seen a “single” service that would do what I wanted, how I wanted.

Well, that said, over the last few months, I have started seeing the benefits to the cloud and storing a lot of my information online and securely.  After swapping numerous phones and devices and getting seriously narked off with managing all of my contacts separately on everything..I finally took the plunge and have all of my information neatly organised and stored in Gmail…I am also considering uploading everything I have to Gmail (or an alternative) so that I am fully sync’d everywhere.  I link Facebook, Gmail and Gmail Calendar with Thunderbird and the Blackberry…I sync my Firefox bookmarks and saved passwords with a central server so that I can get to my regular sites (and non-regular ones) without having to search or remember.  I have a web gallery on my site with almost all of my photos.  Facebook holds a substantial amount of my photos too.  I even tried to use Google Docs, but to be honest it still isn’t advanced enough for me and I do like my MS Office…although hey..based on the rest of this post…give it time Grin

Social Networking

Here comes the crunch for a lot of people when Web 2.0 is being bandied around.  Facebook, Myspace, Beebo, Twitter, Linked In and all of the others…pointless (even Linked In, especially now it has gone all Facebooky).  Completely pointless…which in most cases is the point.  Facebook did allow me to get in touch with one of the two people from school that I actually wanted to get in contact with…so I guess that helped.  I am on it all the time and posting as much inane crapola as anyone else (although hopefully with better spelling).  Myspace never has and never will interest me…when every site you visit is shockingly bright white text on a scrolling black starfield background with some crap music hammering along that you can’t turn off, I am not interested.  Beebo I never passed so much as a cursory glance at and so Facebook it was.  I am still at a loss as to the point of Twitter…I tweet my blog posts (automatically) when I occasionally remember to post something…I send the odd message to my daughter and I read some interesting celebrity information…beyond that, it offers me zero value to my day, and in fact there are days when I forget to check it.

So does all this mean that I am LaughingWolf Upgraded?  Will Keanu Reeves turn up and start offering me pills of the red and/or blue variety?  Am I really Web2.0 enabled?

Am I hell…the web, like printed media, television, films, computers, game consoles, mobile phones and everything else in this world has adapted and gotten better to suit what people want from it.  Sure, sometimes we don’t know what we want until someone develops it and throws it in front of us, but this is a natural progression people…so can we please ditch the media induced bollocks and stop inventing terms for things that already exist.

Right, I don’t know what all that was about, but I better go and tweet that I blogged and update my facebook/linked in and MSN status to show that I tweeted about a blog which is about my tweeting and blogging facebooked In status

Or something

Looking back

lj icon computer games
Photo by Rachel Young
I have always worked in IT…well, except for that couple of months in a car body repair shop straight out of school…..but even then I ended up sorting their computer out.   The thing about working in any kind of service environment, but I think especially IT, is that you have to really work hard to understand that not everyone knows how to turn a computer on…or off as the case may be.

There are many urban legends surrounding IT support, some of them probably are legends and some of them have happened to me…I am sure that many other IT supporters have had these issues too.

Whilst I recognise that not understanding technology doesn’t make you stupid and as a nice way to break myself back into Tech Support mode…I think that…well…you decide:

User:   “I would like a mousemat please”
Tech: “Here you go, you can choose from these ones”
User: “Yes, but which one is compatible with my computer”

Tech: “Ok, I need you to double-click the My Computer Icon”
User: “You know, this is why I hate this Windows thing – I am protestant and don’t believe in Icons”
Tech: “It’s an industry term, I don’t believe it was intended to -”
User: “- I don’t care about industry terms…I don’t believe in icons”
Tech: “Ok, ok…then can you click the little picture that says My Computer…is ‘Little Picture’ ok?
User: “*CLICK*”

User: “My printer isn’t working”
Tech: “Ok, I need you to be a little more specific – In what way isn’t it working?”
User: “It won’t print my document”
Tech: “Is it a Word document or another program?”
User: “Program?   It’s a physical document..in my hand”
Tech: “Ah, so it’s a scanner problem then?”
User: “Yes, scanner, that must be the problem, my scanner isn’t working”
Tech: “Do you know what model of scanner you have and could you tell me what you are doing to scan it?”
User: “Model?   I don’t know…it’s 17 inch though.   I am holding my document to the scanner and pressing print screen”
Tech: “Would this scanner be very bright and also show you words on the screen?”
User: “That’s the one”
Tech: “*ahem* I think your scanner could be broken. why don’t you bring the document to us and we can scan it for you…”

Overheard in a Service Desk office: “No sir, clicking on the ‘Remember Password’ button will not help YOU remember the password”

Tech: “If you could just close all of your open windows, we can start to find out what is going on”
User: “Ok, hang on”
NOISE OF PHONE BEING PUT ON DESK – 2 Minutes Pass
User: “Done, all the windows are closed – I left the doors open though, is that ok?”
Tech: “….”

User: “I have a recycle bin on my computer…how often do Microsoft send someone round to empty it?”

Tech: “What kind of computer do you have?”
User: “A black one”

User: “I would like to buy a replacement coffee cup holder”
Tech: “Umm, sorry but this is the computer support line”
User: “I know, I broke the coffee cup holder that you supplied with my computer”
Tech: “We don’t supply coffee cup holders with our computers”
User: “Yeah you do, it pops out when you press a button”
Tech: “….”

From a tech support urban legend perspective, the following is the all time classic.   As it turns out, this is a real report…all except for the end bit (which is listed as what the technician *wanted* to say):

Tech: “Word Perfect Support; may I help you?”
User: “Yes, well, I’m having trouble with WordPerfect.”
Tech: “What sort of trouble??”
User: “Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.”
Tech: “Went away?”
User: “They disappeared.”
Tech: “Hmm So what does your screen look like now?”
User: “Nothing.”
Tech: “Nothing??”
User: “It’s blank; it won’t accept anything when I type.”
Tech: “Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out??”
User: “How do I tell?”
Tech: “Can you see the C: prompt on the screen??”
User: “What’s a sea-prompt?”
Tech: “Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?”
User: “There isn’t any cursor: I told you, it won’t accept anything I type.”
Tech: “Does your monitor have a power indicator??”
User: “What’s a monitor?”
Tech: “It’s the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it’s on??”
User: “I don’t know.”
Tech: “Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??”
User: “Yes, I think so.”
Tech: “Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it’s plugged into the wall.”
User: “Yes, it is.”
Tech: “When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one??”
User: “No.”
Tech: “Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable.”
User: “Okay, here it is.”
Tech: “Follow it for me, and tell me if it’s plugged securely into the back of your computer.”
User: “I can’t reach.”
Tech: “Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is??”
User: “No.”
Tech: “Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over??”
User: “Oh, it’s not because I don’t have the right angle – it’s because it’s dark.”
Tech: “Dark??”
User: “Yes – the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.”
Tech: “Well, turn on the office light then.”
User: “I can’t.”
Tech: “No? Why not??”
User: “Because there’s a power failure.”
Tech: “A power……… A power failure? Aha, Okay, we’ve got it licked now.   Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in??”
User: “Well, yes, I keep them in the closet.”
Tech: “Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from.”
User: “Really? Is it that bad?”
Tech: “Yes, I’m afraid it is.”
User: “Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them??”
Tech: “Tell them you’re too fucking stupid to own a computer!!!!!”

So there you have it, my life from Monday will undoubtedly   be filled with such wondrous conversations…and I am still looking forward to it Smile

Operator:         ‘Ridge Hall, computer assistance; may I help you?’
Caller:              ‘Yes, well, I’m having trouble with WordPerfect.’
Operator:         ‘What sort of trouble??’
Caller:              ‘Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.’
Operator:         ‘Went away?’
Caller:              ‘They disappeared.’
Operator:         ‘Hmm So what does your screen look like now?’
Caller:              ‘Nothing.’
Operator:         ‘Nothing??’
Caller:              ‘It’s blank; it won’t accept anything when I type.’
Operator:         ‘Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out??’
Caller:              ‘How do I tell?’
Operator:         ‘Can you see the C: prompt on the screen??’
Caller:              ‘What’s a sea-prompt?’
Operator:         ‘Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?’
Caller:              ‘There isn’t any cursor: I told you, it won’t accept anything I type.’
Operator:         ‘Does your monitor have a power indicator??’
Caller:              ‘What’s a monitor?’
Operator:         ‘It’s the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it’s on??’
Caller:               ‘I don’t know.’
Operator:          ‘Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??’
Caller:              ‘Yes, I think so.’
Operator:         ‘Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it’s plugged into the wall.
Caller:              ‘Yes, it is.’
Operator:         ‘When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one??’
Caller:               ‘No.’
Operator:          ‘Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable.’
Caller:               ‘Okay, here it is.’
Operator:          ‘Follow it for me, and tell me if it’s plugged securely into the back of your computer.’
Caller:               ‘I can’t reach.’
Operator:          ‘Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is??’
Caller:               ‘No.’
Operator:          ‘Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over??’
Caller:               ‘Oh, it’s not because I don’t have the right angle – it’s because it’s dark.’
Operator:          ‘Dark??’
Caller:               ‘Yes – the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.
‘ Operator: ‘Well, turn on the office light then.’
Caller:               ‘I can’t.’
Operator:          ‘No? Why not??’
Caller:               ‘Because there’s a power failure.’
Operator:  ‘A power……… A power failure? Aha, Okay, we’ve got it licked now.
Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in??’
Caller:               ‘Well, yes, I keep them in the closet.’
Operator:           ‘Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from.’
Caller:                ‘Really? Is it that bad?’
Operator:            ‘Yes, I’m afraid it is.’
Caller:                 ‘Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them??’
Operator:            ‘Tell them you’re too –
ing stupid to own a computer!!!!!’

Server Nightmares…

More Fire…are hopefully over now.

I suppose these things are sent to try us.   Initially I thought I had been hacked like last year, but a quick sweep around the system showed me that nothing was wrong.   You see the server would run fine for a day and then die at around 19:00.   Weird.

So I backed up and bit the bullet to reformat and start again…I figured it wouldn’t take me all that long and it would give me the opportunity to upgrade all of the software at the same time.   Something I have been meaning to do for a while anyway.

That was the plan anyway.   Some of you may have noticed a distinct Wolf shaped gap in the blogosphere over the last week…so clearly the plan failed.   Not only did it fail, it failed spectacularly.   Add to the 19:00 failure and necessary restart to the fact that I couldn’t request a remote reset from my control panel and had to wait hours each time for the (undoubtedly busy) datacenter technicians to reboot the server manually.   I eventually decided to get them to reboot into recovery mode so that I could backup and start the reformat.

This is where things really started going wrong.   Firstly I decided to ask them to check the physical server for errors.     Something that took some time, but ultimately paid off when they mailed me to say that the server had been rebuilt as the hard disk had been replaced.   They, of course, waited until I began a vitriol against how “stable” linux was on twitter.   Ah well..

So I start installing the necessary packages and restoring my data.   Except I couldn’t access my sites.   Odd, thinks I…maybe I should check a few logs and see what is happening.   Turns out a piece of software that is pretty much just “Install and run” is failing to start properly.   In true style, it couldn’t be something basic and unnecessary.   Oh no dear readers, it had to be something complicated and absolutely necessary to the operation of the server.   I figured I had done something wrong, so cue reformat and install from scratch again…still not working….ok, reformat and install different linux distro…still not working.

W

T

F

?

Hmm.. I try the old version of my distro.   The troublesome software springs into life.   Yey, thinks I…until I look at the vital other software I need to install…where the first line says “If you are running the old version, upgrade first….” – Fuck!

I remembered an offer from the company I rent the server from to install the server and their software for me, so I finally give up after delving into the rather scary linux world of compiling your own software from source.. and probably starting the next world war instead of getting a successful installation.   Checking the news regularly shows me that the world is no more fucked up than usual, so I assume I have gotten away with it and ask the company to put me out of my misery.

They do this and dutifully mail me to advise that it is up, running and working.   2 minutes later I discover that they are, in fact, wrong.   I gleefully inform them of this and they decide to install manually from CD for me the next morning.

So a mere 5 days after the server went down, it was back up and running..leaving me the joyful task of restoring everything.

Then came the test and everything was working…sort of.   WordPress decided that it wouldn’t allow half of my plugins to work properly.   It was in no way and shape due to me forgetting to install a PHP Module…nosireebob.   I would never do that.

So there you have it, The Laughing Wolf is back…now I just need to write something.   I feel another server outage coming on Wink

Arse.

Electricity chafes…

I nominate these guys for this year…tis true. Years ago, I was working for a software house in Cheltenham.   During this time the company were undergoing some major changes, including shutting down an office in Surrey and moving operations to Cheltenham.   This meant getting 2 new buildings and setting them up from scratch.   During this time we had mucho fun getting everything ready, and very little sleep was had by myself and Matt.

I point this out as, at some point on the Sunday, Matt and I were checking all of the PCs and printers etc to make sure that everything could login and would work as expected.   The move had actually begun at 17:00 on the Friday and everyone was expecting to begin working as normal at 08:00 on the Monday morning.   Not a lot of time to move some 300 people and all of their equipment.   We managed it…barely.   Anyway, back to the checking of PCs… I think we got to the 3rd floor and went around as before switching everything on.   Matt notices that one of the PCs didn’t fire up…so as we are taking a break, he decides to whip the case off and take a look.   He didn’t take the usual precautions of unplugging the machine, grounding himself etc, but no matter…generally these things don’t pose an issue.

We are chatting away and pretty much trying to stay awake when he asks me for a screwdriver.   On hindsight, I should have questioned why, but as tired as I was I passed one to him.   There then followed this set of events:

Matt:   “Thanks, I think I see what’s wrong”
PC:   BANG
Matt: THUD
Matt: Slide
Matt: THUD
Matt:   “AAaaaaaaaargh”

He ended up about 10 feet away from where he started, with a hairstyle not dissimilar to Yahoo Serious of Young Enstein fame.   In a moment of genius clarity, he had noticed that the power supply fan was not spinning, decided to jab the screwdriver into it and wiggle around, hoping to dislodge whatever was causing the fan to stick.. Only he went too far, jabbed the screwdriver a little too deep into the gubbins of the PSU and gave himself something of a shock.   The shock sent his body hurtling backwards like something out of a film, the force of this caused him to smack his head into the desk that he was underneath, drag his hand through the gubbins of the PC and eventually smack his head into the wall 10 feet away.

After I stopped laughing, I checked to see if he was ok.   He was…although he had a lump on his head and his hand was bleeding like a good ‘un.   All that was really needed were a small flock of birds to circle around his head, throwing stars up in the air and for smoke to come off his head.

The PC started working though, so it just goes to show …mind you, his watch was never the same again.

This was the company that is essentially responsible for the Fester’esque black circles around my eyes.   Thanks to working an average (honestly) of 21 hours per day, 7 days a week for 9 weeks.   Part way through this, they tell me about the impending closure of the southern office and send me down there to arrive just as the meeting is called.

It was all very cloak and dagger, and not at all pleasant for me.   I had to wait outside and, when the meeting started..someone gave me the signal to get into the building, where I had 25 minutes to lock down and protect the data, admin accounts and even the comms rooms.   This was simply following due dilligance as instructed by the insurance company, but still…I felt like an arsehole.

It worked out ok in the end, but there were a lot of upset people there, not least of all the guys that reported in to me.

Heh, just remembered a trip back with the head of facilities.   We were driving back from Cirencester to Cheltenham in ridiculously thick fog.   It was one of those where you couldn’t see much past the front of the car, so we were driving appropriately slowly as the situation demanded.   Pete mentions that we have to be really alert, as there is a new roundabout around here somewhere..with that, a car goes flying past us and had to be travelling over the speed limit…2 seconds later we realise we are on the roundabout.   I forget the exact chain of events, but Pete points out of the car, up in the air…where we can see red lights…as we come around it is obvious that the red lights belong to the car that had gone past us a couple of seconds earlier…and is now about 30 feet in the air and falling to the ground after hitting a lamppost across the other side of the roundabout.

Pete, being the kindly soul he is…starts calling the guy all sorts of names as we wend our merry way at 5-10mph.   In fairness, we did check that the guy got out ok…but then left him to it.

I think he learned a valuable lesson right there….

Oh computer…

Butt End!An extra post for today, based completely on my main PC taking a dive into the depths of hades.   This is my take (read butcher job)  on O Captain! my Captain, by…whoever wrote it originally.

 

 

 

 

O computer! my computer! our fearful trip is done,
The case has weather’d every download, the prize we sought is won,
The RIA is near, the sirens I hear, the people all downloading,
While follow links the steady torrent, the client grim and daring;
But O surge! surge! surge!
O the broken drops of components,
Where on the floor the Computer lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Computer! my Computer! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up — for you the card is f*cked — for you the PSU shrills,
For you the  hammer and ribbon’d wreaths — for you the  bin a-beckons,
For you  he calls, the  pissed  off  Dave,  his  angry face spitting,
Here Computer! dear psu!
The  death beneath your case!
It is some dream that on the floor,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Computer does not answer,  its leds are  off and still,
My psu does not feel  the charge,  it has no pulse nor will,
The  case is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor  power comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Computer lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

I know, pretty crap, but it is all I can muster given the trauma of my PC melting down when I turned it on this morning.   Monitor 2 – Dead, Graphics Card – Dead, Motherboard/CPU – Dead, PSU – Dead.  

Simply put – Technology FAIL

Damnit

German Customer Service…

Seems to be a bit of an oxymoron to me. I do not have the internet as arranged. I now have to wait an additional week to get it sorted, as the engineer that was supposed to be at my apartment between 08:00 and 16:00 did not show up.

He did however find the time to message his call center that I wasn’t in. Not that he left a “We called you were out” card. He would have actually had to be there to do that.

Deutsche Telekom. Are. Bastards.

With any luck the engineer next week will actually do his job and show up.

No internet….aaaargh

Gale Sondergard TV ShotSo right now (according to my ISP), I have until Wednesday to wait until my net gets reconnected.

Quite frankly it is killing me at the moment. No blog to bore you senseless with, no pr0n to surf for (just kidding mum)..

No updates to my (perfectly legally acquired) TV show collection. I am just glad that I pre-empted it and downloaded a number of shows in advance. It is fair to say that they are saving my sanity.

I have been left feeling a little helpless with the server too, getting hacked again and having someone setup a torent site and leech boatloads of my bandwidth was not fun. Especially as I couldn’t patch the server to fix it as….I am not on the bloody net at home.

Hackers. Are. Bastards.

It was a little fun, while I was able to watch him use his SQL Injection to create a user, then a database, then an FTP account – and have me behind him a few seconds later deleting them. Still, I would rather be in a position to fix the hole…..roll on Wednesday.

Ahh, geeks and their fun.

I have to say, it is pretty good living over a pub. Not as loud as everyone thinks and today I got to saunter down a flight of stairs to watch my beloved Liverpool put one over Blackburn. Good times.

Spoke with my ex landlord today, he was heading to see the old apartment as the witch that took it over, who told me the place looked fantastic, wrote a huge letter of how shit it was the second that I headed to the UK.

He has called me since, and conveniently, it got painted today….before he arrived…so he was unable to check if the painting that had been done already was ok or not….so I get a lovely chunk removed from my deposit. Un. Be. Lievable.

I am pretty pissed off as I was sending the returned deposit back to the UK for Sarah and the kids. They will still get money, they just will have to wait a while now.

AND she took all my booze that I left in the fridge by mistake

Arse

Hopefully will be completely back from Wednesday, where I will restart my mission to get arrested whilst taking inappropriate photos of people……..

Users…pah!

I don’t recall the source, but someone is quoted as saying :

There are only two industries that call their customers users…think about that.

It’s a good point, and one that leads me to think that our users are, in fact, on drugs of some description..

Now, I run a Service Desk. It’s a relatively small team, including me there are six of us. We deal with around 200 phonecalls a day, 250 emails per day and 50 requests that need to be scanned. On top of that we look after walk-ins to our area for password resets and “Urgent” requests. As I run the thing, I am rarely taking calls, unless we are swamped. Generally my guys can handle it without issue… Other times the immortal words “I can pass you to the Team Leader if you want” are spoken, and my ears perk up, ready for the inevitable fight Smile

A fairly standard conversation is thus:

Me: Dave speaking, I am the Service Desk Team Leader, what can I help you with?

User: Hi, yes, I called in a while ago and nobody has been down to fix my printer yet.

Me: Ok, let me check the ticket, do you have the number?

U: Wait, I have it here somewhere….Hang on, I may have deleted the email*

2-5 minutes pass

U: Ok, here it is….(provides number)

Me: Yes, I see, you have logged this approximately 10 minutes ago, is that correct?

U: Yes, well, I did say it was urgent

Me: I can see that, you were advised that if it was urgent, to print to another printer…Checking the system I see that there is one across the other side of the room.

U: But that’s inconvenient, and I am printing confidential documents

Me: Documents so confidential that your colleague, in the same team/department and office as you, would have a chance to read and memorise in the 10 seconds it would take you to walk to the printer?

U: Well, no, but they are for <INSERT IMPORTANT PERSON HERE> and it is vital that they are done in the next 10 minutes, and my colleague is using the printer already.

Me: Ok, let me take a look. Right, I see here that the President of the Company has a scheduled fix for 5 minutes from now. The engineer is on his way, but I can probably stop him. Just let me call you back in a minute.

U: What? Umm… the President of the Company?

Me: Yep, he has been waiting since yesterday, so I guess it is ok for him to wait a little longer, especially as this is so urgent for you.

U: Well, no, I mean, I can wait a little bit if necessary.

Me: No no no, it will just take a quick call to the engineer and then to the President of the Company to let them know about the delay as something more important has come up. I am sure he will understand.

U: No, can’t you schedule me in for just after the President?

Me: Hmm, possibly, but I couldn’t guarantee a time.

U: Well, as soon as the engineer finishes with the President will be fine. What time should that be?

Me: Let me check what other appointments there are… It means bumping some others.

U: Other appointments? No, just put me in after the President.

Me: Ok, only…well, we have other important people too with appointments. I tell you what, we have already established that you are not as important as the President of the Company. Let me get thefull list of users, and we can go through them one by one. Obviously I need to understand who else you are less important than for my planning.

U: …..

Me: Or, you could just wait for the engineer to show up a little later?

U: I’ll do that *click*

Me: You are welcome…

Sometimes…I love my job.

* Seriously…you are phoning about an issue you already logged, how hard is it to realise we will need the ticket number people….come on!