Saturday, May 9, 2009

Blech Support

Much to my dismay, my official Qwest DSL modem went off into the weeds this morning: it shows that I have a DSL connection, but nothing is getting through; nor can I get into it from my network to configure it. After troubleshooting the situation, and determining that it was the modem and not something else, I was obliged to call Qwest DSL tech support.

My call was answered by some git in Mumbai or Calcutta or some damn place like that, and the flaming idiot simply couldn't understand that I'd already tried everything that his book of troubleshooting scripts called for. Nor did he grasp the concept that I was running something other than MS Windows. When I finally got fed up with dealing with him (along about the fourth attempt to walk me through the Windows modem setup), I went off on him and demanded a supervisor.

Well, she wasn't any kind of improvement -- she was equally adamant that I simply had to go through the script(s), and kept telling me that I had to do this or that so that we could configure the modem. It didn't take me long to lose patience with her (the third time she asked me what version of Windows I was using, despite me already telling her that I run Linux, and declaring that we needed to get my ISP online so we could input the modem settings). Slowly, carefully, and using a calm voice and small words in the hope that she'd understand, I told her that I was through screwing around with them -- that if she didn't authorize a replacement modem right then, the call was over and that I'd be raising hell with Qwest customer support on Monday (useless bastards are closed nights and weekends, of course). She said that all we had to do was input the modem settings. I asked how we were going to do that when I'd already told them several times that I couldn't get INTO the modem to set it up, and that I wasn't using Windows, which was the only thing they knew how to use to configure it. After several seconds of deafening silence, she tried to tell me (again!) that they could see the modem, so all it needed was to be configured. That was all it took for me to tell her that she was an idiot and hang up.

Come Monday morning, some poor soul at Qwest is going to learn that aggravating me is not a Good Thing To Do. For starters, I'm going to ream that person about the blazing incompetence, idiocy, and ineptitude of their alleged "tech support". Then I'm going to let them know that if they can't/won't get me back online by end-of-business Tuesday (the next day), then my first call Wednesday morning will be to sign up with Bresnan for cable, digital phone, and Internet -- and closing my Qwest account.

Back before they became Qwest, the company was U.S. West -- or as people liked to call them, U.S. Worst. I think an appropriate nickname for them now is Qworst.

Anyway, it looks like I'm going to be offline for the next couple of days, except for the infrequent visit to a local coffee shop...

Friday, May 8, 2009

I've tried to tell people...

While I use Linux, and do what I can to encourage others to get away from Micro$oft, I'm not what I'd consider a "fan-boi" -- one of those hard-core types that thinks Linux is the do-all and end-all of computer operating systems. I readily admit that Windows works just fine for a lot of people; it's just that the very people that "should" be using it aren't taking responsibility for knowing enough about owning and using an Internet-connected computer: the same folks that think nothing of buying a complete system and hanging it off the Internet would be horrified at the idea of an unlicensed and untrained driver being turned loose on the roads.

I've previously written blog entries about the hazards of an unsecured computer being used as part of a "bot net" (network of computers taken over by someone other than their owners): used to send spam, having personal and financial data stolen and misused, and so on.

Well, this Washington Post "Security Fix" article points out an additional hazard: having that remote overlord tell your computer to, essentially, commit suicide...

One of the scarier realities about malicious software is that these programs leave ultimate control over victim machines in the hands of the attacker, who could simply decide to order all of the infected machines to self-destruct. Most security experts will tell you that while this so-called "nuclear option" is an available feature in some malware, it is hardly ever used. Disabling infected systems is counterproductive for attackers, who generally focus on hoovering as much personal and financial data as they can from the PCs they control.

But try telling that to Roman Hüssy, a 21-year-old Swiss information technology expert, who last month witnessed a collection of more than 100,000 hacked Microsoft Windows systems tearing themselves apart at the command of their cyber criminal overlords.

If you'll go read the article (which I would strongly encourage; it's NOT full of computer-ese), you'll find that at least one of those hundred thousand machines belonged to someone in New Jersey, who used it as part of his business.

I will once again reiterate my standing offer to send a FREE (no cost to you at all) "live" (everything runs off the disk, and WILL NOT do anything to what you already have) CD that will let you take Linux for a test-drive so you can see for yourself that Linux is a viable alternative to Microsoft Windows: Linux (and all the software you'd ever need -- MORE than enough to fill a DVD) is free, infinitely more secure than MS' offerings, and runs faster and better on the same hardware. Several of the people that I know that have made the switch are delighted to have done so. Simply send me an email with your snailmail address, and I'll get the disk out to you the same day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Fun facts about the human body
  • It takes your food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your stomach.
  • One human hair can support 3kg (6.6 lb).
  • The average man’s penis is three times the length of his thumb.
  • Human thighbones are stronger than concrete.
  • A woman’s heart beats faster than a man’s.
  • There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet.
  • Women blink twice as often as men.
  • The average person’s skin weighs twice as much as the brain.
  • Your body uses 300 muscles to balance itself when you are standing still.
  • If saliva cannot dissolve something, you cannot taste it.
  • Women reading this will be finished now.
  • Men are still busy checking their thumbs.
Thanks to LeeAnn, via email...