grrgoyl: (wall)
Oh, what a weekend, what a weekend. So much has happened, all in one weekend. But only one thing of importance.

On Saturday I received an unmarked business-like letter which turned out to be from a collections agency representing, of all people, AOL. AOL, that my long-faithful readers will remember I cancelled over a year ago. My initial reaction was to burst out laughing. Oh, AOL, my psychostalker ex-ISP service who simply will not be ignored. But seriously, the clingy thing? Not so cute any more. My laughter was cut short, however, when my mind made the equation: collections agency = possible negative credit rating, and I can't have that. So I switched to my second default reaction, anger. Goddamn AOL. I'm starting to think it might be easier to quit the fucking Mob.

I am Jack's sense of justified outrage.

Today, I'm dealing with it. I had hoped (but seriously doubted) that I saved the original mail, the letter I tried to send to AOL that got returned to me. I've just been through my files. Every scrap of paper from the MST3k convention 12 years ago, silly doodles I did at work to amuse my friend Karen, and every Christmas card I've ever received, yes. Important documents to support my case to collections agencies, not so much. But why would I save it? I foolishly believed at the time that cancelling by phone was the end of the matter. God knows it would have been for every other company on the planet not run by crazy people. Which is exactly what I'm telling the collections agency (minus the crazy people part). At least I have my trusty journal entry so I can look up dates AND names (for all the good that will do me. I'll bet there are 43 people named John working at AOL. Why couldn't it have been something unique, like Rainn or Nicodemus or Osama?)

The lesson here is if you use AOL, get out. Get out now while you can, because they are truly SATAN'S SPAWN. Or, on second thought, content yourself with paying top dollar for substandard dial-up service for the rest of your life, because the problems only really begin if you try to leave.

As long as I'm in angry mode (well, when am I not?) a short rant about The Alcoholic. Despite having handicapped plates (though the nature of her disability is unclear. My other neighbor Pat says it's the 6-pack of beer she brings up to her unit every night) she has been parking in a regular spot all summer, leaving the handicapped space that was put in at her insistence empty. I see this as her stealing a spot from us non-disabled drivers. Pat said she asked her once why she does it, and she said to keep the birds from pooping on her car. Yes, because the birds consider the slot two spaces over to be out of bounds. She's out of her mind, I tell you. Suddenly this week she started using the handicapped space, and this enraged me even more. I see this as her exercising her rights as a disabled person purely on a whim. Today she's handicapped; tomorrow she won't be. To me this is every bit as bad as healthy people parking in a handicapped space. The cripples would sure squawk about that, wouldn't they? Well why shouldn't it work both ways?

I asked Tery if she thought I would be so angry all the time if I took Valium. She said unhesitatingly, no. However she has an employee on the drug, and when she doesn't take it so much as breaking a nail reduces her to tears. She can't cope with anything without it. No thank you. I prefer to stay just as God made me.
grrgoyl: (goldmine)
I received a very threatening letter from AOL yesterday, titled "LAST CHANCE to avoid termination of your AOL account!" It informed me in no uncertain terms that, despite several reminders, I haven't updated my payment information so my account WILL be terminated. Dire words indeed, if I hadn't cancelled my account already 5 months ago to the day. Furthermore, this was my last chance to keep my screen name, "IRUVINES," and.....wait, what? Yes. There are no less than 4 threats throughout the letter that I would be losing my screen name IRUVINES. I'd certainly be quaking in my boots if I were this IRUVINES person. I hope they don't cancel the real IRUVINES' account because of my obstinate refusal to pay them. They actually say accusingly, "Your time has run out." Like I'm on the lam, I've been skating by using AOL for free all this time, but the jig is finally up. I never should have run from you, Javert. I'm sure AOL has some way to monitor online activity. I'm equally sure my AOL mailbox is full of about 20,000 spam letters by now. Take the hint, AOL. GOD. [/Napoleon Dynamite]

(The funniest thing is, as if the letter itself isn't clear enough, they add a P.S. Usually a P.S. is used for additional information, like an afterthought you forgot to include in the letter. But this P.S. just restates everything said in the letter much more succinctly. In the world of English Lit papers (take it from me, I've written my share), this would be a summarizing conclusion paragraph, not a P.S. I really have to question your letter-writing skills, Pat Carter from Member Services.)

Thoroughly unrelated, I've never understood the private fantasies of some people to be rock stars, until now. Since seeing the ease with which Tery takes the karaoke stage and sings her heart out to thunderous applause, I've yearned to have those kinds of guts. Sitting at my computer, downloading a likely play list (an odd collection including Ricky Martin, "No Myth," "Jane's Gettin' Serious," "Sex and Candy," and finally, "Smooth" by Rob Thomas), with the music blaring in my headphones I can picture it perfectly: On the stage, singing and dancing wantonly but well, workin' my blue jeans sensuously, causing throats to go suddenly dry in men and women alike as they can't take their eyes off my hypnotic, ambiguous, undeniable sex appeal. I want to be a karaoke rock GOD, baby.

Unfortunately, I think I sing best first thing in the morning, before I've done much talking and my voice is a full two octaves lower than normal. I discovered accidentally that in this state my voice is perfectly suited to any Depeche Mode song I could throw at it. This is unfortunate because, as Tery pointed out, there are really not a lot of early morning karaoke bars in the Denver area. Such is my life.

Last but not least, I've finally seen Disc 1 of Firefly, completing the season for me. I had to watch this last because all the bandwagon jumpers who had just come back from seeing Serenity beat me to it at Netflix. Except the disc was two days late in shipping so I reported it as missing in the mail. Then it arrived the same afternoon, the address label mangled beyond recognition by the post office, but I couldn't stop Netflix sending me a replacement. How ironic, first I couldn't get a single copy of the disc, now suddenly I had two. I also protest mightily Netflix's warning that my account would be suspended if I reported too many discs missing in the mail (this was my second), as if it's MY fault the post office loses things. Stupid post office. Stupid Netflix.
grrgoyl: (wall)
Yesterday I finally got a full day off (not for lack of RGIS's attempt to take it away, but I've been clinging to the thought of it like a life buoy). I was going to clean the house, burn a DVD, watch some movies, maybe fool around with some new audio conversion software I just got (analog recordings to CD). It was supposed to be nice and relaxing and enjoyable.

But the gods must have picked up on my plans, because halfway through the day my computer crashed. It just locked up, rebooted itself, and came up to a pleasantly-worded but completely unwelcome DOS screen that said so sorry, but Windows started unsuccessfully. It helpfully gave me several options, a few safe modes, returning to my "last known good configuration," or starting Windows normally, all of which only brought me back to the same DOS screen.

Not knowing what else to do (and feeling vulnerable, scared and alone without the Internet available to help me), I tried the emergency recovery CD that came with my computer. I balked at hitting "OK" when it explained that it would have to delete the "user partition." I called my brother-in-law, who I perceived (falsely, it turns out) to be a computer whiz. After a couple of hours of internet research he didn't have any other options for me. Poop. So I went ahead with the recovery CD, praying it would just affect Windows and not all my applications and personal files. But since I was praying to the same gods who thought it would be fun to crash my system in the first place, they just sniggered cruelly behind their hands.

After about an hour it was up and running the pristine, virginal state in which I bought it. >: (

Gone were lots of Very Important Things. Photos (including wedding pictures we hadn't bothered to print out yet). A folder full of reports I had meticulously saved from extremely difficult doctor dictations for future reference (thank god the rest of my work material is on the company's server). A folder full of downloaded music (mostly Tery's, so not such a big deal there). Text copies of snail mails I had sent to friends and unnumbered miscellaneous fun pictures and programs I had received from friends. All my Quicken financial records (my backup floppy proved unreadable for restoring purposes). All of my beautiful applications, of course, though most of them not a big hardship to reload.

Switching from AOL to Comcast ISP turned out to be a two-edged sword. I didn't have to spend an hour reloading any software (AOL), but I had lost all my IE bookmarked websites, most of which I didn't bother to remember the addresses of because that's what bookmarking is for.

I won't lie to you, there were tears shed. And some gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair. And a fair amount of assuming the fetal position. I can say with pride I resisted the urge to wail, however.

A computer crash is a lot like a house fire, I had time to realize while waiting for multiple programs to reinstall. I know because our house burned down when I was 8, and all of my childhood possessions were reduced to smoldering, charred pieces of unrecognizable debris. It was traumatizing at the time, but at least I didn't lose really important things, like financial records and wedding photos. Granted rebuilding a house involves a little more than sticking a disc in a tray and clicking on some buttons. But like a house fire, in a computer crash you don't realize everything that is missing until you try to resume your normal activities. That's when stuff that you've been taking for granted isn't there anymore and you sigh as you add it to the list of things that eventually need to be replaced. Like special fonts you've downloaded. Settings that have returned to their defaults. Websites that no longer recognize you. (As I'm undergoing today) a constant barrage of Windows updates being downloaded and installed, interrupting your work. Programs you've been using for months reverting to their trial/evaluation status and needing activation codes again. Losing access to your LJ tags (which I just now noticed. WTF?????????)

I am reminded of that corny (but beloved) 80's movie, Electric Dreams, when Miles' computer literally controls every aspect of his environment, from dimming lights to making coffee. I'm not THAT dependent, but a dismaying amount of my everyday life is inextricably tied into my computer -- which I didn't realize until I didn't have it anymore.

Computer problems really, really SUCK. Needless to say my next purchase will have to be backup software, because I can't go through this again.

Speaking of AOL, a few days ago I received a letter from them threatening to cut off my service if I didn't provide them with valid billing information. Lo, almost three full months to the day after I cancelled my account with them. Sheesh, AOL. Now you're bordering on the psychostalkerish. I told you, WE'RE THROUGH. Would you PLEASE try to move on?? Maybe you need counseling or something. I'm hiding my pet rabbits, just to be on the safe side.

Me: I'm sorry, AOL. It's over.
AOL: I will NOT be ignored!!!

Edit: Solved the LJ tag mystery at least. I thought I was logged in, but wasn't. This illustrates perfectly what I mean by daily routines that didn't require maintenance before a computer crash.
grrgoyl: (MST)
You are slimy, AOL. Slimy and sneaky and untrustworthy. You need to be watched every second like a damn Republican.

Today not only did I receive my hand-typed cancellation letter back as "Return to Sender" (after shelling out nearly $4 for delivery confirmation AND priority mailing. Don't think I won't be going back to the Post Office for a refund), after sending it to the address exactly as it appears on AOL's own website, but alongside it I got a cheerful letter from AOL confirming my continuation of service, thanking me for deciding to stay with them!

"This letter confirms that on June 15, 2005 you agreed to continue your AOL Service (technically correct. Like I said, they talked me into the $10-a-month plan to keep using the McAfee). Your service will continue and you will be charged $23.90 per month as agreed." (Here's where AOL develops the shifty, selective memory normally attributed to politicians and certain unscrupulous news media. Nice try, AOL. I know my memory is spotty at best, but I can certainly remember a conversation that took place only 10 days ago. Especially one noteworthy enough to write about in my blog. Though I suppose it's worth a try if they get even one ditz who says, "Gee, I could've sworn I called them to cancel my service. Oh, well, they are #1. They must know what they're talking about!")

So I had to use the damn phone AGAIN, which I was so desperately hoping to avoid. I got "John", whose thick, practically indecipherable Asian accent forced me to question whether that was his real name. From the sound of him, he could have been one of my ESL doctors moonlighting on the weekend. John's routine was very similar to Matt's so I won't bother to reiterate it here. He was able to walk the line between claiming to understand the lure of high-speed internet while insisting that I really was better off with AOL, more skillfully than excitable Matt. He again kept repeating the security selling points and praising me on my long-time customer loyalty, so I played the "gotta get back to work" card again. He asked me to hold while he put my cancellation through, after which followed a silence so absolute and so extended that I honestly thought I had lost him. This was either another ploy to get customers to hang up before finalizing the deal, or maybe John's company computer operated on a dial-up connection as well.

I think the deed is done. I'm not 100% sure, because when I asked John to send me a confirmation of the cancellation, he muttered something about how I needed to pay attention to some "very important details," then wished me a good day and hung up before actually giving me any. My suspicions are not allayed in the slightest by the fact that both John and Matt promised to send me an email regarding the request, both of whom were evidently lying.

This is by far the ugliest break-up I've ever gone through.
grrgoyl: (perfect drug)
It was with much dread that I called AOL today to try to cancel. I say "try to" because I went through this once before and I know that their operators must work under threat of execution or at the very least serious pay cuts to do everything in their power to keep you as a customer. They are DESPERATE to keep you from cancelling. They will beg, wheedle and flatter you...everything but offer to lower their ridiculously high monthly rates for crappy, crappy dial-up. Obviously last time I came crawling back to them; not because I realized how much I love them, but because the cheaper ISP I was trying to switch to was pathetic and very difficult to use by contrast. But not this time. I'm not going back this time.

So I spoke to Matt. Matt had clearly spent some time in the tech support trenches, because he used the same sickening, obsequious patter. Ugh.

Matt: Thank you for calling America Online. How can I help you today?

Me: Yes, I need to cancel my account.

Matt: I'm very sorry to hear that, but I can certainly help you with that today (translation: Only over my cold, dead body will you cancel your account. But I will let you go on believing I will help you) Is there anything in particular about our service that you find unsatisfactory?

Me: (You mean besides getting kicked offline daily for no apparent reason and everything taking an hour to do?) No, I just got a cable modem recently.

Matt: Oh, aren't they great? I got DSL three months ago and I'll never go back to dial-up!! (suddenly remembering who he works for) But is there any way I can convince you to stay with us? (translation...on second thought, I think this is funny enough without any needed)

Me: No, I'm reeeeeeeally enjoying this faster connection I've got now.

He kept reiterating all the many benefits of AOL in slightly different ways until I lost patience and had to be rude. They will chew your ear all day with this stuff until you give in from sheer exhaustion. I said I appreciated that he was required to do everything he could to convince me but I had to get back to work so was in a hurry. Matt, being the wily one that he is, switched tactics and decided to focus on the fact that AOL offers McAfee virus protection - a subject I know just little enough about that he smelled blood in the water and moved in for the kill. He talked me into letting him waive my next month's fee to give me time to consider staying with their $10-a-month plan to take advantage of the protection. Oh, they are good. I agreed to this, but the instant I hung up I checked out what Comcast has to offer. They have McAfee protection for $30 a year...only $2.50 a month. Matt, Matt, you slimy weasel. Why aren't you selling used cars?

Now that I have a leisurely month, I'm going to beat Matt at his own game. I'm going to cancel by mail so there will be no embarrassing begging and pleading. I am going to write a lovely letter outlining all the problems I've had with AOL, most of them in the last month alone. I will say it in no uncertain terms and using small words so they can understand.

I said good day to you, sir!

P.S.: Sorry, more cable modem luv. Last night I downloaded the "Perfect Drug" video...the VIDEO, not the about 10 minutes. Hence my smashing new icon.
grrgoyl: (kitty fantastico)
Monday was to be the total chill-out day, our chance to finally relax together after the wedding brou-ha-ha. Tery's mom took us out for lunch at Flander's, a "real seafood" restaurant. I bonded a little with Mike the groom over our mutual dislike of "real seafood"; he agreed with me that he preferred Friendly's' clamboat platter, "fake seafood." Friendly's was to be the last stop on my tour of New England restaurants, but Tery said she didn't think we'd get a chance. Boo. Mike and I both got the chicken...mine was so dry it practically hurt to swallow it, so that's how you know it's a "real seafood" restaurant. We went back to the Dombrowski house to hang out in Tery's dad's new hammock and later I got to lifeguard the kids in the pool (the first and only time they talked to me and tried to learn my name). And now, some pictures of trees:

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Trees, Glorious Trees - One corner of Tery's backyard.

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- Green, leafy and calming. The view out of my sister's window in Boston.

This is what I'm talking about when I say there are no trees in CO. None like this anywhere (except possibly in the mountains).

Amy came to pick us up and drive us back to Boston. There was much sadness when we said goodbye to the Dombrowskis. I really love that family. We spent the night in Boston, but not before stopping at Friendly's after all. Hooray! The clamboat platter was also everything I remembered. Friendly's Revisited Experience: A+

Our plane left at 2 pm on Tuesday. One last stop at Dunkin Donuts and one last trip through hair-raising traffic. Amy dropped us off at the curb near Delta, again with much sadness. We went to check in but the clerk took one look at our tickets and shook his head disapprovingly. Just what you want to see when you are trying to check in. See, when we left Denver, we originally tried to check in at Continental since that was what it said on the E-ticket. The guy there showed us the small print that read, "Operated by Delta" and directed us to the Delta counter. Silly us! I always thought Delta and Continental were two entirely different entities. So we thought we were being all clever by going straight to Delta this time, when in reality we now wanted Continental. WTF????!?!?!?!!???! We can't be the first people confused by this. Logan is much larger than DIA, and the Continental desk was 3 terminals away. We hoofed it, sweating profusely the whole way, but again we had plenty of time.

Even more time than we thought we did, as the plane was 25 minutes late taking off. I tried not to worry. I tried to trust they knew what they were doing. But my air travel used to always be disastrous to the point of being comedic. I've been so late for a connecting flight that I had to ask for special treatment to be allowed off the plane first. I've had to run at top speed through an airport before, so I know the system isn't infallible, and I can never truly relax until I'm on that second connecting flight. But everything turned out to be fine. For the first time ever we arrived at gate C11 and departed from gate C17. We even had time to stop for Burger King (so naturally this time they actually served sandwiches on the plane). We had a little excitement after getting seated when the seat next to me stayed vacant. Tery jinxed it by making a big deal about it, because the rightful passenger showed up minutes before the cabin door closed. Ah, well. At least he was considerate about the armrest.

My only complaint was that there were so many children on the plane it was like a flying daycare center. Most were okay, but one little cherub woke up suddenly en route and then spent the last hour of the trip on and off (but way more on, I can assure you) screaming at the top of her lungs. My flimsy little headphones and my portable electronics turned to top volume couldn't drown this little monster out. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought of requesting a pillow just to shut that goddam kid up. If animals are required to take tranquilizers to fly, I say it should similarly be mandatory for kids. My other suggestion for improving air travel would be to seat people according to carry-on size. Specifically, if you're trying to get away with something that only meets the maximum allowed by a hairsbreadth and will take 10 minutes to stuff into the overhead, you get to sit at the back of the plane so the rest of us don't have to stand there waiting because you're blocking the whole aisle with your selfish stupidity. You can also spend as much time as you want trying to unwedge your "carry-on" while the rest of us exit the plane. If I were running an airline, this would be policy one for sure.

When we arrived in Denver the plan was to call our housesitting friend from the first phone we saw, then go through baggage claim and sit and wait on the curb. So with 20-30 minutes to kill, naturally we got to the baggage carousel to find all the bags already spinning, and found ours in less than 3 minutes, another first. Mazzenfrackin... It was soooooo good to be home again with our babies (I got the usual silent treatment from Alsatia, but she got over it a few hours later when she remembered that yes, I'm the one she always used to sleep with). Tery went to get the bird who has been an angel ever since... we wonder if she thinks her miserable week in the hospital was punishment.

In conclusion: It's nice to get away, but it's nicer coming back. I missed New England - the trees, the winding back streets that are really fun to drive, the family, the feeling of being home. I told Tery I think this is the best visit I've ever had with the Dombrowskis. Maybe because now Mike is the "newbie" but I felt totally at home with them for the first time. It was a nice feeling. I didn't miss at all the debilitating humidity or having to drive 30 minutes to get to a store. We kept saying we'd be back in 9 months because Mike and Michelle can't wait to have their first child. Tery left not a moment too soon: her complexion that does fairly well in CO's dry climate started breaking out violently into what resembled a very bad heat rash. Fortunately this was after the wedding or she would have spent the entire weekend obsessing about it.

The most exciting thing that will be as a result of our visit is the fact that I simply cannot go back to my crappy AOL dial-up existence. Every place we stayed in CT had either DSL or cable modem. My first day back with AOL and it seemed like the connection had slowed to half its speed. Websites we visited in CT that loaded in the blink of an eye took so long on my computer I always had to give up in frustration. I got kicked offline no less than three times - it was like AOL wasn't even trying to please me anymore. The decision was easier when I realized that between AOL and the second phone line, I was already paying $42 a month. !!!!! It seems well worth it to shell out an extra $10 for a superior online experience. The other last straw was when I tried to access my AOL mail remotely at their website and more often than not I'd get the message that my sister's computer settings were wrong. Even though I had successfully used the site just an hour before. Stupid, useless AOL. I know they make it really hard for you to cancel, but this is it. We're through, AOL.

Here endeth the vacation posts, I promise.
grrgoyl: (Tick)
Still no word from the guy who only wanted to dabble in eBay selling to toy with my emotions and waste my valuable time. As much as I'd love to move on and buy elsewhere, apparently recently portable DVD batteries have become quite the hot item and I had to begrudgingly admit I would be getting a hell of a deal (especially with free shipping)...that is assuming I could ever get the guy to hold up his end of the bargain. So since my latest email to him is apparently being ignored, I did the next best thing and tattled to eBay. This might seem like an extreme reaction, especially considering he had me cancel my payment so I'm not even out anything at this point. But if the situation were reversed, if I had won the auction but then not paid, he could similarly report me and be well within his rights. This is why there are reminders all over the site that listing an item and bidding on it is a binding contract.

Unfortunately the process to report a non-selling seller involved submitting certain technical information, namely the full headers of the incriminating email (i.e. "Sender's return path isp 97.610.56 net Mozilla" blah blah blah and all that). Since AOL is designed to be used by the lowest common denominator of the population, this information is not included on emails, nor is it immediately apparent how to get to it. After a perfunctory search through AOL's nefariously useless Help page (which again, is tailored to serve even (or only) the stupidest people on the planet) I swallowed my pride, squinched up my eyes and entered the AOL Live Technical Help arena.

I was eye-squinching in preparation for the obsequious bowing and scraping of the tech support person, and they didn't disappoint. This time I kept a copy of the session so I could include actual quotes (in case anyone didn't believe me). As you can see, it took Tech Live Janice quite a bit of ass-kissing before she could get to actually answering my question, I suspect a stalling tactic while she asked someone else what the answer was.

TechLiveJani :I appreciate this excellent opportunity to handle this issue for you :) (Praise Allah for giving me the chance to serve you, Holiest of Holy AOL Users!)

[Here there was a silence long enough to become uncomfortable, so I thought maybe she actually required a response to this]

Grrgoyl :thanks

TechLiveJani :No problem, I'm sure we can take care of that.

TechLiveJani :I'll do my best to make sure this is your last call for this particular problem. (Well, it's not as if it's been plaguing me night and day, tormenting my every waking hour. It really is just a quick, minor question because I'm too lazy to search the whole internet)

TechLiveJani :Elaine, when you get an email it automatically shows all the email addresses from where it has come from or to whom all this email has been sent.

TechLiveJani :When you open an email there is an arrow in the middle of that email on top. (See what I mean about "lowest common denominator"? Are there honestly people who go through all the trouble of Tech Support because they can't find the little "expand" arrow up there?)

Grrgoyl :I need to see the technical header, with the mozilla info and all that.

TechLiveJani :Could you please clarify more on this statement? (Because like most of our simpleton users, the only header I ever care about is the email subject and the return address...and I do technical support for a LIVING!!)

Grrgoyl :This is the example I was given: From: Received: from ( []) by mail (8.8.8/8.7.1) with SMTP id GAA15251; Mon, 22 Mar 1999

Grrgoyl :for instance

TechLiveJani :Are you able to open that email?

Grrgoyl :yes

TechLiveJani :Has it been sent from a NON-AOL address?

Grrgoyl :yes

TechLiveJani :Do you see a Details Tab under the email addresses?

Grrgoyl :ahhh...that's what I need. Thanks!

TechLiveJani :You're welcome.

TechLiveJani :Here you will get all the information. (*through gritted teeth* Yes, thank you. I can see it.)

TechLiveJani :Is there anything else I can assist you with at this time?

Grrgoyl : No, that's all I needed. Have a nice day

TechLiveJani :You too!! (Okay. Let's not make a big thing about this.)

TechLiveJani :Bye and take care :) (Please. It's getting embarrassing now.)

TechLiveJani :It has been my pleasure assisting you. ( Good day, madam....I SAID GOOD DAY!)


*peeling tech support lady off my leg*

I was mildly mortified that it was such an easy solution, but it never occurred to me to click on the "Details" thingie. And why don't they just put that on their help page? Still, this does not, repeat DOES NOT, put me in the same category as people who never think to try the "expand" arrow. Shut up.
grrgoyl: (Default)
At this hour (2:30 pm Mountain time) AOL STILL has not updated its top headlines, and they are mocking me with promises that Ohio is still too close to call, and that Republicans are "convinced" (quotations AOL's) of win.   Gee, ya think?   I prefer to believe this is because the AOL updating staff is holding out for a late-breaking story, still hoping to snatch victory from the very jaws of defeat. That or they are just so inconsolable that they can't bring themselves to change it to a less hopeful story. However, it is very possible it is only because I haven't gone offline and back on since this morning.
grrgoyl: (savagecat)
Joke: What's the difference between America and Canada? Canadians think there's a difference.

Well evidently they think right. I know this because today I spent another 20 Minutes Of My Life That I'll Never Get Back on the phone with yet another Clueless, Making-$17-An-Hour-To-Do-Nothing techie over my email issues. We went again down her little checklist of possible solutions, most of which looked discouragingly familiar. She asked me AGAIN how big the email was. Apparently there is a way to check actual MB size (not that my mail falls even remotely close to the MB category), which unfortunately involves clicking on the mail in the "Sent" folder. I think my patience was stupendously admirable as I explained that I couldn't do that, as I CAN'T. SEND. THE MAIL. (is anyone even LISTENING to me over there??). With each failure my voice took on an even more smug, self-righteous, been-there-tried-that tone (purely against my will, I swear). She said they would check it out on their end, as it was entirely possible the problem was with them and not me (which I am almost certain of, based on Operation: Delete and Reinstall being a resounding disappointment), but for now I should try the AOL Canada website to send my mail (which worked like a charm because, like everything else, it is better made than American products). I asked when I should call back if I still had the problem, and she laughed and said I could call back as often as I liked. And instantly realized her mistake when I made it clear this wasn't nearly as amusing to me and I certainly had better things to do than chat with Tech Support all day. I kind of regret being so harsh, only because it earned me no less than four apologies for the frustration in embarrassingly quick succession.

Her last words to me were, ironically, "Thank you for using America Online." I thought that demonstrated a remarkable level of hubris, because if I can't do something as basic as send email (did I mention I'm paying $24 a month?) I very well might have to go elsewhere for my internet needs (which I say all the time, then always come crawling back to AOL. Damn their user-friendliness.)

grrgoyl: (fightclub)
I am quickly losing patience with computers. Or specifically, my computer.

This new intolerance began when it occurred to me just how many cumulative months I have spent watching a little blue download bar march agonizingly across the screen, moving as stubbornly slowly as a blue-hair Sunday driver on Tuesday. I imagine my life being measured in these little percent increments. There is plenty of time for all manner of such crazy thoughts while I watch the little download bar's maddeningly miniscule progress. Even worse are the download windows that generate a "time remaining" screen. What they fail to mention is that the time remaining is computer time, not human time. In this skewed measurement (not unlike dog years), "8 minutes" could actually translate into "20 minutes" or more. Please don't toy with me so, download screen. A little more truth in advertising, please.

In this same vein, I am rapidly losing my faith in tech support people. I had trouble with some software, software I've been using regularly for a year or more, which suddenly and inexplicably started producing error messages and stopped doing what it was supposed to (my long-time readers will remember said software from the infamous and aptly-named Computers Will Be the Death of Me post). It took over a week of going back and forth on the support message board before we solved the problem. The whole time I just wanted them to come out and admit they had no idea what to tell me, and stop wasting my time. But I did get a free upgrade to a new version that normally would have cost about $60. So it wasn't all bad.

This week my problem is with sending email via AOL. Sending brief (i.e. 15 lines or less) communiques entails about a 2-minute wait after hitting "send." Anything longer and the entire program locks up and has to be manually shut down via the task manager, with needless to say the mail in question refusing to go to its destination, hanging out in my "Waiting to Send" box like an insolent loafer, drinking all my pop and leaving the cap off the toothpaste. I've already had three tech support guys for breakfast. The first's advice was to restart the computer and shut down all applications running in the task manager, of which there were exactly 0...maybe he doesn't understand that applications don't show up in the manager until they are started. The second wanted me to email him my system info. Which sounds promising, until one realizes that the whole reason I contacted him is I CAN'T SEND LONG EMAILS. Brilliant.

At this point I abandoned the online chat route, which frankly is hella annoying anyway. The tech people are obsequious and pandering to the point of being embarrassing. The conversation is peppered with "I'm sorry you are having this inconvenience" and "I am sure we can get this fixed right away. Thank you so much for your patience" and "Is there anything else I can do for you, Oh Glorious AOL User? Perhaps detail your car or balance your checkbook?" I believe in being polite, but Jesus. I don't need someone licking my boots, I just want to send some freakin' email. The third guy on the phone took me through several basic and ultimately ineffective attempted solutions. I could tell his frustration was beginning to match mine when he asked, "What are you trying to send??" as if I was emailing my friend the complete text of the 9/11 Commission's findings or something (which personally, at $24 a month for crappy dial-up access, I think I should be able to if I was really so inclined). He finally mumbled something about having to check with the server people and trying again after 24 hours. Translation: "I have no idea what to tell you." Later today I will probably uninstall the software and reinstall, typically a master problem-solving technique for almost every kind of software.

I wish I could find someone to pay me $17 an hour to sit on my butt and tell people to uninstall and reinstall. I wish even more AOL would work the way it's supposed to or lower their prices accordingly. Yeah, right...


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December 2011

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