Calling in an unsupported age

A week of IT

Calling in an unsupported age

An E-tale reader recently bent our ear about his woes concerning globalisation, internationalism and time zones.

Dell, you may recall, operates on a what is called a direct business model. This means there's no fat in the system when it comes to extras like, say, loan machines or discounts for journalists. (Not that we're bitter.)

Our E-taler had a different concern, however. He rang Dell NZ to discuss a recent purchase, only to have his call forwarded to Sydney, Australia. From there the call was answered and decreed to be a technical support issue. The call was then bounced across to another callcentre whose staff had strikingly unOkker-like accents. Amusingly, our reader was told to call back during business hours — business hours for a mysterious time zone other than his own, clearly, but which one?

An E-tales staffer had a similar Dell experience when trying to get a problem with his home computer fixed. Eventually, after repeating the support call song and dance for various electronic devices, his call was put through to a human. Unfortunately, bouncing the call through three different countries added a certain degree of lag. The Dell service agent was polite and friendly, and helpful too, and eventually agreed the best way to pilot the conversation was to say "over" at the end of each sentence.

Lies, damn lies and marketing

We recently received an interesting letter. It was apparently sent in reply to a request from Computerworld for a "second copy of our membership information and special offer in response to our recent follow up call". The trouble is we can't recall having made any such request; don't have a first copy of said information, and can't recall receiving any follow-up calls either.

Who would send such a letter? Surprise, surprise: it was despatched by an outfit called the Marketing Association, once better known as the Direct Marketing Association. Who'd have guessed?

Thanks for the offer, but we'll pass.

Supercomputer seeks Mighty Mouse

Once upon a time, it was fashionable for IT staff to intone in a robotic drone: "Com-pu-ters — fas-ter than the hu-man brain", Starfish Computing's Ian Taylor told a recent meeting of the NZ Computer Society. Things have obviously moved on considerably since then, but even the best of modern computers can be stumped for lack of a vital component, as happened during said meeting — on the topic of NZ supercomputing — to Weta Digital's Scott Houston, who was giving the speech.

Despite a reboot, his Powerpoint presentation refused to recognise the pointing device he was using. "Anyone have a mouse?" he asked. No response. "Anyone got a laptop then? This is on memory stick." That's not a bad question to ask in a roomful of computer buffs and specialists.

Fortunately, just as a helpful person was about to un-briefcase a laptop, a mouse was found and the morning was saved for supercomputing.

Sensitive timing

If there were a contest for bad timing, this would surely be an entrant: the New Zealand Police have an RFP out for a Lotus Notes/Domino upgrade and are seeking a technology partner to do the upgrade and to install an email archiving solution.

Meanwhile, some private sector CTOs are rumoured to be considering archiving email to /dev/null. Some memories just don't need to be kept.

E-tales is edited by Jo Bennett. Send your tales of wit and woe to

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