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Being nice [obsidian knife version]

Posted: Saturday, October 29th, 2011

I try to be nice to people. It’s a goal. Sometimes it is a “stretch goal.” Being nice is an uphill battle today, and They are winning. Damn Them (and you know who you are… we all know who you are… we know where you sleep).

Being nice to people is harder now. One Republication presidential candidate announced that corporations are people. That means our surface area just got enormous on being nice to people. There are thousands of corporations, and we ought to be nice to all people.

The Republican presidential candidate that made the big announcement is also pro-life. I suppose that means that this guy is also against bankruptcy court and forced liquidation. You can’t kill people, sir. Every corporation is too big to fail or too people to fail… or something.

Things get out of hand in a hurry when candidates don’t think through their positions. I think the word is “pander,” but I’m not sure.

I had a run-in with one of these newly-declared people. Just the other day, I was saying how nice it was to be using software written by others, hosted on a server that I don’t have to manage personally. There was a time I considered that kind of thing being lazy.

The server is a self-styled Virtual Server, operated by the “person” named 1 & 1. It’s a big company / person with lots of virtual servers.

I need to be geeky for a second to describe what happened and why I may need counseling or a hug or something. Computers have a permission bit: read-only. When this property is set, the operating system denies every attempt to create or change a file. To get my new website rolling, I had to create a folder: uploads.

The webserver needed to be able to create new files there. HELLO: it’s for uploads, new files sent to the server.

Every time I turned off the read-only bit (enabling writing), something automatic came through and reset it. I’d turn the bloomin’ thing off, and the server would slap it back to the ON position. Damnedest thing I ever saw.

I went out to Google and Microsoft and every other place that I could think of. A couple of blog experts said I ought to try a few things. The trouble is that I had already tried them. Every solution (even the ones from real experts at Microsoft) was tried and found lacking. Nothing worked.

This wasn’t a configuration option that I set. It was a shiny new virtual server and a completely new website. I am quite capable of muddling up a configuration, but I was innocent in this case. It came pre-broken without any help from me.

I called in my husband, Rick. He said it was the damnedest thing he ever saw. We tried some more stuff. We scratched our heads. I went and got my obsidian knife and was ready to go find a live chicken.

Rick suggested we call the hosting company. We didn’t do anything to cause the read-only bit to be glued in the ON position. Microsoft didn’t either (why give the admin the option of changing the property if your code is just going to turn it back on, infuriating the system operators who can crash your own servers if they are angry enough).

It had to be 1 & 1. Rick called their technical support people. As soon as he satisfied the techie that he was the account holder, Rick handed me the phone.

I explained the situation. This is the kind of call that I never make. You can count all the times I’ve used technical support on the fingers of one hand, and you’ll have fingers left over. I just don’t call support because I can almost always figure things out. I get baffled sometimes, but I’m tenacious enough to learn what the problem is.

In this case, the problem was a 1 & 1 configuration issue. If it wasn’t me, and it wasn’t Microsoft… the list of other possibilities is short: 1 & 1.

The guy said that he didn’t know what was the problem.

Fair enough. Annoying but honest.

I asked if he could get a 1 & 1 technical support person to look into the defect.

“That is not a service we offer,” the 1 & 1 representative said.

The hell?

The company (person?) that is eager and willing to take a monthly treasure from my bank account refuses to support their own product.

This guy used perfect English on the phone. It wasn’t like the techie was in Asia or Eastern Europe. Understanding English didn’t seem to be the problem.

The person (corporation) simply doesn’t support their work, even when it is broken. Not even when it appears to be their problem.

I used the only two recourses they left in my arsenal:

  • I fired their asses and got a virtual server from a different corporation (person); and,
  • I write the piece you are reading.

Why do companies annoy writers anyway?

And I thought the matter was settled. I felt good about the move, especially considering the new hosting company is considerably cheaper and has fewer restraints. Oh, and the product actually works.

1 & 1 didn’t think the matter was settled. You’re not going to believe what they did.

I opened my inbox this morning, and there was e-mail from 1 & 1. It asked me to rate their service.

I complied without hesitation.