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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Our Modern, Computerized Life

Jean Jennings (left) and Frances Bilas set up the ENIAC in 1946. Bilas is arranging the program settings on the Master Programmer. - Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania

Seems like lately we have been running into a plethora of computer system problems. Not the computers in our house, they are all working fine. I'm talking about the big computer systems at the other end of wire, the systems we are talking to to get what we want.

RUST sports took over the Trail Blazers basketball games from NBC Sports Northwest (I think I have the names right) a couple of months ago and ever since we have been seeing video glitches during the games. I can understand one once in a while, but we are getting glitches every few minutes. It's annoying because it shouldn't be happening. It's very annoying when it happens in the middle of some high paced action, you can't see what happened. We are paying big money for this stuff and their ham handed handling is irritating. 'Big money' is a relative term, I think we paying about $60 a month to watch the Blazers, which is like four times as much as Netflix.

Two days ago we tried to watch a movie on HBOMAX and we couldn't. We pointed and clicked, dialed numbers, listened to stupid robo-cop answering systems, but got nowhere. Everything goes through Ziply Fiber and they were reporting widespread problems in Oregon, and at the end of a long slog we got a message saying that customer service was only open during business hours, like 8 to 5 Monday thru Friday, so we gave up for the night.

We got back on the problem yesterday afternoon. After what seemed like a couple of hours, two laptops,  and endless repetitions of logging onto sites I haven't used since the last time we ran into this problem, we finally got it resolved. I think the trick that finally got it working was to logoff of HBO on the ROKU box and then log back in. I didn't even know you could do that. On the plus side I learned something new about the ROKU, but on the negative side it was information I didn't want to know. I would say we never have this problem with Netflix, but I am afraid I might jinx us and I don't want that, so I won't.

It seems I have been having to call Walgreens every month for the last six months or so, ever since they hooked up with Alliance Rx to do their delivery-by-mail service. It usually takes two phone calls. The first call reliably fails, either I get disconnected or I get an operator who doesn't know what they are doing and nothing gets fixed, but the second usually connects with someone who is able to correct the problem in short order. It's probably not always two, but that's the way it seems. Maybe two is just the average, but I don't keep track, but that's what my memory is telling me. Always reliable, me memory.

We won't talk about how a couple of changes in the medical business took an endless number of calls to get sorted. My cardiologist closed his practice and moved to another one, and my wife decided to change my prescription insurance. Either one of those events would have been a nuisance, but together they were a nuisance squared.

Having a decent speakerphone in my smartphone means I don't have to hold the phone, I can lay it on the desk and let it blare the very poor quality muzak and the super annoying bullshit while I continue to play solitaire on my computer and wait to be connected to someone who can actually help. I swear, the announcements from these outfits are designed to be extra long and as aggravating as possible to encourage people to hang up. I mean, is it really necessary to tell people to call 911 if this is an emergency? (P.S. I wonder if there has been a spike in calls to 911 by people who just got fed up with this crap.)

At a Sitel Group call center in Metro Manila.Photographer: Xyza Cruz Bacani for Bloomberg Businessweek

Of course, customer service is an expense and companies are loath to spend any more money than absolutely necessary, so you get crap phones, crap computer systems, and crap training. I really feel for the people who work these jobs. I would hate to be a position where I had to do that kind of work. On the other hand, misery loves company, so if you are in with a decent bunch of folks it might be okay. Plus there might be coffee and donuts. Mmmm, donuts.

On the other hand we have an endless supply of high quality video entertainment, which is great, though we watch so much I might be getting burned out. Probably ought to take a couple of nights off each week to read. And when mail-order delivery is working, it's great, I don't have to run to the pharmacy.

1 comment:

Ole Phat Stu said...

For many years I ran at 2-5 books a week.
Now I'm down to 2-5 books a month.
Is it old age (77) or laziness?
Definitely NOT an improved TV program choice :-(
Maybe surfing too much?