Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rockets are Go!

A little Sneak Peek at a Project in Progress:


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Worktime First:: Caller Brings Back the Classic Crazy

There comes a point in every skeptic's life when he is confronted by the ultimate abortion of skepticism: the conspiracy theory. I'm not talking about a 'found some wackaloon talking about this on the interwebs' kind of confrontation. No, what I'm talking about is speaking to someone who casually brings this kind of thing up as if it were fact.

Now, there are conspiracies in the real world. At the core, however, they are unglamorous, dirty affairs that crumble and are exposed by the ineptness of their fellows. Insider trading is a form of conspiracy. A religious cult is a conspiracy that may contain others. And there are conspiracies of governance as well. Say it with me: "Nixon".

But these are painfully mundane conspiracies. They're limited in scope and for the truly devoted headcase, they lack the glamor and spectacle that makes the horrible mundaneness of their lives worth living. Price fixing in the oil industry is just simple greed. It doesn't make a bland middle-aged accountant the subject of attention from sinister external forces that perceive him, inexplicably, as a threat that must be observed and silenced.

Today's caller of note seemed like a regular call with a nervous new user. His new computer won't shut down, it says 'installing updates' and sits there. I informed him that the first batch of Vista updates (complete with the service pack) can take hours. Comforted and ready to wait 5-6 hours for it to update, he seemed ready to go. Until I asked him if there was anything else I could help him with.

What followed wasn't not a question, nor a statement, nor a description. It was some indescribable mutation of language that was fascinatingly insane yet completely incoherent. I will sum up the major points of the caller's delusion here:

1) Zone alarm is actually spyware, integrated into the system by the government.
2) It connects to secret cameras hidden in the computer's fan.
3) This has something to do with the systems being sent over seas for spying purposes. Or perhaps foreign governments are in on this. Like I said, incoherent.
4) These cameras are also hidden in new cars.
5) "Well, maybe I shouldn't be talking about this over the phone."

My first impulse is to debunk these hallucinations one at a time. But this guy thinks a laptop fan has a camera in it. A camera that would point away from the user, possibly down into a desk or into a lap, at all times.

Even if the government was interested in your activities, they wouldn't point the super-secret spy camera at your junk. If they want cheap voyeur shots, they'll install the camera in your shower. Then the antichrist and his one-world government cronies can laugh about your excess back hair at their leisure while plotting to control the banking system and corner the market on fezzes and tiny, tiny cars.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

I am the Cham-peen of the World!

Today, I cost a man $750 dollars, or so he'd likely tell you.

I was doing my job, which is largely coddling people who, with minimal effort, could solve their own problems. The sterling customer of the day was a fellow who, apparently, was an entrepreneur of some stripe. He did not want to do the troubleshooting. He was thoroughly convinced that his printer was broken beyond use, and he was not going to waste time with troubleshooting because his time was worth one thousand dollars an hour.

I stifled my impulse to laugh mockingly.

Let me just say that I don't think anyone can seriously claim that they are worth one thousand dollars an hour. People may be paid more than that, but really, at that point they should just embrace the fact that they're scamming and deal with it when the annoyances of life (of which I am apparently one), come at them. Screaming at a traffic jam that its costing you roughly 16.67 a minute isn't going to make it move faster.

Well, since I wasn't dealing with some sort of alternate-universe Gillian Anderson who had turned to high-dollar prostitution to keep going after the cancellation of the X-Files, I felt the claim that someone's time was worth $1000/hr was not really worth taking seriously. Personally, I find the implication that I should prostrate myself before the wishes of people who make more money than me laughable. If anything, it makes me spiteful. I am, after all, only human (despite my better efforts). If you really make twice my yearly salary in a week, you have no right to complain about cash related matters.

Nevermind that you aren't worth anything. You make what you make, but you only deserve it if you do the work. A cut in what you expected to make is a disappointment, but it isn't a loss. The money doesn't belong to you by divine right.

I make $11 an hour, no matter if you get troubleshooting or not. What people in general need to remember that it is know-how, skill and talent that is real power. Money just lets you rent know-how, skill and talent from people more capable than yourself. In the land of the overpaid technical inept, the underpaid tech support agent is King. And I can be a cruel and spiteful king when provoked.

Spite, in this case, is not required. I simply informed the penny-pinching dunce that unless he went through troubleshooting I wouldn't be able to dispatch. At this point his claim lost its foundation. A man who really is worth a thousand dollars an hour would have hung up and left me alone at that point, cutting his losses to buy a new printer (also, $199.99 junk printer is really not what someone of such esteemed status should be using, don't you think?). He didn't.

In the end, after 45 minutes, and thus $750 dollars of his fictional fortune, the troubleshooting fixed all the problems. I was right, he did as I commanded, and the problem was fixed. The mighty font of human wealth was forced to grovel at the hourly wage slave's beck and call. A triumph for all persons of the lower middle class.

$1000/hr. Seriously, one wonders how someone who honestly believed that could stand to go to the bathroom. A fifteen minute break for a number two would be a loss of $250 dollars of potential profit from the penny faeries of the Lost Kingdom of Hypothetica! If he's not there to take their lucre, they'll simply toss it in the streets where poor people might use it for booze and condoms!

Actually, not going to the restroom in order to preserve that precious, precious gold might explain his attitude.