well, duh!

Well, duh!

It's a new month

I had thought to do a June 1st entry around the theme — everybody sing now — June is busting out all over! I would even embed a MIDI of the song from Carousel. Then I did a Google search on the phrase (Google: june busting out all over) and found that it retrieved 46,700 hits. Been there, done that!

Then I thought to make fun of Florida, where Governor Jeb Bush signed Friday a bill repealing the state's "'Scarlet Letter' law that required single women planning to put their infants up for adoption to first publish their sexual histories in a newspaper if they did not know the identity of the father." (NY Times) There's something seriously wrong with that state. Too easy!

Finally inspiration struck — I would pick on my web host again.

A bit of background. Twice during recent months, I found that emails I was sending through the williamsonpsp.com mail server got bounced by the intended recipient's ISP because the mail server had an "open relay" and had been used by spammers putting people on lists for unsolicited emails. The first time it happened, I was told to switch to a different outgoing server, which apparently fixed it … for a while. Then it happened again, and I fired off emails expressing my displeasure and thinly veiled threats— like they would care!

Fast forward to Friday when I received a personalized (but hardly personal) "*Very Important* message about the email system for your Website ( williamsonpsp.com ) hosted with us." The message explained that they were going to switch to a new email system "effective immediately" but that "for security and stability we require a few minor changes to the settings for your email account" specified at a link provided. I was to follow the link and click "I agree" before the changes would implemented for my account.

I promptly read and clicked.

My email promptly stopped working.

Among the instructions had been the line, "If you are having problems checking mail, you probably just need to change the passwords for your email addresses."

I sought to carry out this suggestion. No dice. The mail administration page, where I would have to reset the passwords, would not accept my login.

After stewing about this for a while, I fired up the chat window for tech support. "Mario" greeted me warmly and asked how he could help me. Well, at least he wasn't one of the J generation.

Paul: I got an email about changing the mail server, and accepted, and now my email has stopped working.

Mario: Did you get a notice that your account had been completed?

Paul: How would I have received that notice?

Mario: By email.

Paul: Uh, I'm talking to you because my email doesn't work.

Mario: [Ignoring the issue] Go to your mail admin page, please, and log in as postmaster.

Paul: I already tried that. It won't let me log in.

Mario: [After a long, long delay] Try using         as your password. (It will soon be obvious why I haven't spelled out the word.)

Paul: OK, that worked.

Mario: Now reset your passwords.

Paul: [After unsuccessfully attempting to change password for postmaster] Uh, Mario, it won't let me change the password for postmaster.

Mario: [Another long wait] You won't be able to change the password

Mario: [Brief pause] at this time.

Paul: Do you mean to tell me that you've reset everyone's password to         and it can't be changed?!?!

Mario: [No response. I guess my chat must have been over.]

I'd like to say that this just confirms the incompetence of my web host. Unfortunately, this seems to be a characteristic trait of IT departments in general. I'm reminded of a similar situation during my days at HP.

For a brief time in my HP career, my job title was actually "IT engineer" — I know it strains credulity; nevertheless I speak truth. Our work group was being moved from one building to another, and I — being an IT engineer — was designated to assist members of my workgroup with any IT issues that might arise during the move, which involved putting everyone on new servers. That meant modifying everyone's system configurations and logons. The plan was that these would be given to me, and I, in turn, would give each person their new logon, help them reconfigure their software, and make sure they could get connected.

When I checked on Friday afternoon for the new logons, I was told they weren't ready yet, but I would have them first thing Monday morning in our new office.

Bright and early Monday morning I arrived at work, ready to do my duty, except I still didn't have any logons and passwords to distribute. I call my contact in the IT department.

Paul: Good morning. I was expecting to have new logons and passwords to distribute.

Contact: Don't you have them? I sent them to you yesterday.

Paul: How did you send them to me?

Contact: Email.

Paul: Was my own new logon and password in the email?

Contact: Yes.

Paul: Uh, how am I supposed to log on to read the message without my own new logon and password?

Contact: I guess that's a problem..

Well, duh!