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User Journal

Journal Journal: Tech Support--Neither technical nor supportive, Part 2

I forgot to mention, all that time ago, why e-mail wasn't working. It all started with a bad Norton Anti-Virus configuration. You see, NAV can be a kitchen-sink application with a footprint the size of Manhattan Island. And, unless I'm mentally feeble, it doesn't like to have individual components turned off. Anyhoo, just because I have a Gig of RAM, doesn't mean I want to use it for anything that doesn't start with "Adobe".

So I did a dumbly thing... I just used the version of msconfig.exe I ripped out of my friend's XP install (can you believe Win2K doesn't come with it?) to alter my startup processes. I turned off everything Norton but the part that scans new files as they're added to the hard drive. And it was probably at this time that I tried to trim out unneeded parts of the program by tossing them in the recycle bin.

And it worked... mostly.

Let me make a brief aside and let me explain that I don't ususally do dumb stuff like this with any resonable expectation of success. But I don't remember what I was thinking at the time, so I'll just move on.

Anyhoo, I was so busy being pleased with myself that I didn't notice that was when I started having intermittant problems with e-mail.

As it turns out, Norton figured out that some parts were missing and stopped me from sending any e-mail at all. And boy, did that stump me.

Until I phoned this wonderful fellow working the late shift at my ISP's help desk.

I wish I could remember his name (David?), because when I asked him what the common threads could be between all the different applications I tried, he said, "Hmmm, did you just install an antivirus program?"

Smart man.

I thanked him, hung up, and ten minutes later was back sending e-mail. Trust me, that's a good thing.

Internet Explorer

Journal Journal: Tech Support--Neither technical nor supportive, Part 1

My ISP is the cheapest in town. The low cost is good; the 24-7 tech support is great.

Mostly because I get to torture them.

You see, they don't know nearly as much about computers as I do. Granted, sometimes Svartormr's Linux pillow talk gets on my nerves, but at times like this I enjoy using all I've learned from him.

So I call the number, which realized today I know by heart. After navigating the annoying telephone system, I get their automated message:

"This is a critical update for September 24 at 12:30 a.m. Users will not be able to retrieve a new IP at this time. We are working on this problem, with no estimated time of repair."

Funny, they fixed that problem at 01:20. It's now 4:40. But that's another story for another journal entry.

Tech - Welcome to [my ISP] technical support. How may I help you?"

K (that's me) - Hi, I can't retrieve my mail. It tells me my connection is refused.

T - Do you get an error message?

K - Yes. Connection refused to Verbatim.

T - Oh, that's an old address. You're supposed to use now.

K - No one told me that. I'll switch.

T - Are you using Outlook or Outlook express?

K - No, I'm using Mozilla.

T - dead air

K - It's like Netscape.

T - We don't support any mail programs other than Microsoft Outlook or Outlook express.

K - resisting the urge to kill Well, then I'll configure outlook express. Do you know offhand where it is kept on a Windows box? I've never used it.

T - Go to Run, type in M-S-mumble-mumble *pause* mumble dot E-X-E.

K - Pardon?

T - mumble mumble


T - M-S-I mumble mumble

K - Mike Sierra Indigo November Mike?

T - M then N

K - Okay, give me a minute while I configure it. pause and typing

T - Are you running a firewall?

K - of course I am.

T - What kind?

K - extremely reluctant to discuss my security measures over the phone A... hardware firewall. But I haven't changed my configurations since it's worked.

T - Okaaaaaay. Because people tell us that a lot, and firewalls are so easy to configure now, you might not know it if you had.

K - Once again, resisting the urge to kill.

long pause while I configure OE

K - It tells me there's an error, too. "The connection to the server has failed. Account: '', Server: '', Protocol: POP3, Port: 110, Secure(SSL): No, Socket Error: 10061, Error Number: 0x800CCC0E"

T - Well, I guess that's all I can do for you.

K - What!?!

T - Well, that's all we can troubleshoot on your end.

K - Give me a minute and I'll telnet to your mail server via my remote connection to my server.

T - pauses while the wheels turn Okay.

K - types Darn, it didn't work. pause while I mull the error message Oh, that one was my fault. This error usually comes along when I type in my password wrong. Okay, I'm in.

T - Since it's accepting your connection, it must be your mail program.

K - Both of them?

T - That's all we can do on your computer, anyway.

K - So you're going to up this call, right?

T - Well, no one else has called in about this. Usually when people can't access their mail, the switchboard lights up. People like to access their mail.

K - thinking "No shit."

T - It's been an unusually quiet night.

K - Well, except for the 50 person backup on your phone lines 3 hours ago when the whole system went down.

T - pause

K - Because, whenever I call, I'm usually the first person to tell you when YOU have a problem.

T - Well, I'll take down your username.

K - It's D-R-A-K

T - Can you spell that for me?

K - No, that's it spelled out. D-R-A-K

T - Oh, wow. It's been a long time since I've seen a username that small.

I resisted the urge to tell him that is because I've been putting up with their shit for far longer than any other of their customers.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I had better e-mail access on my 2400 baud modem

Oh. My. God.

I can type like that, because I have time. Why do I have time? Because my ISP has the... slowest... mail... server... ever.

In fact, while I type this (and I'm not a fast typist, by any measure except those used on ex-groundskeepers who have suffered traumatic wood-chipper accidents), webmail is slowly loading my three e-mail messages. Yes, three. Are they complicated, multi-attachment, html mail of doom messages? No.

Still loading.

I often think the random half-fermented contents of the lowest drawer in my fridge would make a better mail server than the poorly maintained and administered one my ISP 'maintains'.

Still loading.

I laugh every time this mail server dies on my ISP, in the most sudden and--apparently--unforseeable ways possible.

Still loading.

My goal is now to get a date with one of the tech support fellows, because considering how much time I spend on the telephone with them, we're getting to know each other pretty well. And that 3 a.m. Saturday fellow sounds like he's probably pretty cute. And they're all suitably lacking in brain processing power to be just to my taste in bed. Uh, just don't tell Svartormr.

Still loading.

I often wonder what would happen if, in the middle of another tech-support claim of, "Oh, you're the first one to call this in", "We don't monitor our own systems", or "No, we don't have a problem here, it must be on your end, and we don't support Linux", if I were to just ask the techie what he was wearing. And if he ever thinks about making a house call, to my house, without any clothing.

Hey, it's only sexual harrassment if they complai...

Woah! My webmail main page has loaded. Time to make my first click...

Journal Journal: My New Hard Drive, RIP

They say the world ends not with a bang, but with a whimper. The opposite was true for my new Maxtor hard drive.

It was good that my beloved Svartormr was over; he was able to help me determine the cause of death. The first sign was a lockup. It was my first total freeze in Windows 2000. But I'd only had that OS installed for a month--though it took me a month to get an OS installed at all--so I thought it was one of those occasional blips that occurs, no matter your OS (yeah, I'm talking about you, Linux!Geeks).

So I restarted.

Later, Svartormr said, "Gee, what's that ticking sound?"

I said, "It's more of a pinging. 'Ping-wheeeeeeee' 'Ping-wheeeeeeee'."

We both got down on the floor, on our hands and knees, and listened to my computer. Was it the CD-ROM? No. Was it the other CDR? No. Was it the burner? No. Was it the clackity old Quantum Fireball? Nope. Was it even a fan? No.

It was by brand new Maxtor DiamondMax Plus. The hard drive I'd just spent over a month trying to build a working OS on. Just as I got everything up and running--my games, my apps, my tweaks--it all came grinding to a halt. Because after the pinging sound, the computer froze again. I turned it off to formulate a plan, and when Svartormr and I decided to start her up one more time to transfer the essential files off, this is what happened:


HDDs aren't supposed to make that sound. I immediately shut it off, but there was nothing that could be done. It was a dead as a frickin paperweight.

At least it's still under OEM warranty, if I can find the damn receipt.

Journal Journal: Adventures in Linux, Part 1

July 25 2003


Seen while booting my computer:

I/O Error

I/O Error

*sigh* Back to Linux. And a step farther from Counterstrike.

There's something wrong with my computer. It's really not my fault. I'm trying to make Linux and Windows work together. Windows, because I can play games on it. Linux... well, I don't remember why.

Currently, I think there's a problem with my boot sector. I don't know what a boot sector is, but if it could explain why Linux can use my C: drive, Win98 boot disc can write to it, but nothing can boot off it--well, then there would be a boot sector problem.

But no worries. The drive has nothing important on it, and I have Partition Magic floppies. I have deleted many partitions with PM.


Can't find those damn PM floppies. No matter, there's bound to be a handy GNU tool that will do the same thing.

After searching the internet, I've discovered a tool called parted.

knoppix@ttyp0[knoppix]$ parted

bash: parted: command not found


knoppix@ttyp0[knoppix]$ appropos parted

bash: appropos: command not found

What? Oh.

You'd think that, as an English major, I could spell apropos.

knoppix@ttyp0[knoppix]$ apropos parted
QTParted (1) [qtparted] - A GUI for Parted nparted (8) - Curses and GNU Parted based disk partition table manipulator for GNU/Linux qtparted (1) - A GUI for Parted

knoppix@ttyp2[knoppix]$ nparted

So this nparted program pops up. Sort of.

No device detected. Are you root?


But I'd been through this before. Recalling a previous 3 a.m. call to my boyfriend Svartormr, I remember that if I type "su" I can do things in a rootly way.

knoppix@ttyp2[knoppix]$ su


All right!

root@ttyp2[knoppix]# nparted

A strange little program popped up, with an easy to understand graphic interface.

It's graphical. Thank goodness for small favours.

And of course, the first fricking thing is does is tell me there's something wrong with hdg1. I don't want to fix hdg1, I want to fix C:, which Knoppix thinks is hde1. I tell nparted to ignore this error and continue by deleting hde.

Can't del a hard disk, if you want to del, remove it from equipment ;-)

Okay, del hde1... and I really don't like the way that emoticon is laughing at me.

Are you sure you want to del /dev/hde1 partition?

At this point, I'm only sure I want a good, stiff drink. But sure, let's delete the partition.


Partition is being used

What could be using it?


You have found a bug. please report me

Assertion (!disk->update_mode) at
../../libparted/disk.c:349 in function
ped_disk_commit_to_dev() failed.


At that, the program just died. Only, I didn't know that because it didn't even redraw the screen within the shell.

Ah well, another error. Time to take a picture... if only I can get the stupid camera to work.


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