Posts Tagged with "government"

Microsoft Windows: Coming to a Coffee Table Near You

June 22nd, 2007 at 9:04 pm by Mark
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     A little while back, I did a review about the reacTable, a table-top music synthesizer.  People loved it.  So when Microsoft comes up with Microsoft Surface, people are going insane on the Microsoft-bashing bandwagon.

     Check this out …

     Sorry, cool stuff.

     Still, a lot of people are screaming that, “Microsoft is inventing a product which there’s no need for!”
     My honest opinion says that that those types of short-sighted Asshats can suck a big one. The new microsoft product has also been running into a lot of windows error code.

     Whether or not some people see a need for it or not is irrelevant.  There certainly are uses for it now.  Think in terms of business and Government, where untold sums of money are spent on Conference Calls, cameras, long distance charges, couriers, paper documents, signatures…
     Imagine the ability to slide a signed digital document across the desk to a guy sitting across the country … or at a manufacturing facility in Singapore … sending a design specification, and getting back photos of a prototype … having a Sales & Marketing meeting with the best

     I have to admit, however, that the little show when they sit my drink on the bar is definitely gonna distract me from watching the carbonation rise to a head in my Guinness…

Tennessee Government? I’d Rather Call India

May 8th, 2007 at 9:44 am by Mark
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     This morning, I got a call from a customer who was attempting to use the Tennessee Purchasing Division’s Notice of Award and Bid Opportunities system.  It’s a pretty common situation: the State has some software that was written many, many years ago, and haven’t bothered to update it.  They ask users to download a plugin which doesn’t work on Windows XP, and is unsupported by IBM.


     First call, I ask to speak with anyone who can handle some website issues.  The phone rings and rings, and eventually someone picks it up, and hangs up on me.

     The second call, I get an operator who insists on connecting me with the bids department.  When I get there, I’m told, “I don’t handle that!” and promptly get hung up on.

     On the third call, the first operator answers again and tells me that I should talk to “Random Government Employee” (RGE).
     “Hi, RGE, I’m calling for a vendor.  We’re having some issues using the website,” I explain.
     “What seems to be the problem?” he monotones.
     “Well, the viewer software that you guys direct people to download isn’t compatible with XP.  It hasn’t been updated since 2004.”
     “Yes it does work with XP!” he responds angrily.
     “Well, my customer has tried it, I’ve tried it, and it doesn’t work.”
     “We use it here!” he interjects.
     “Well, that would probably be a different one, made to work with your printing system.  There’s another…”
     “No, there’s only one!” he interrupts.
     “Okay, anyway, it doesn’t work.”
     “Yes it does!” he yells.
     He promptly hangs up on me.

     Now, three calls, three hangups, I’m getting a little annoyed.

     Fourth call, I speak with Operator #2 again, and she directs me to someone, but refuses to tell me the person’s name.  Ok.
     “This is RGE.  Can I help you?”
     “Yes, I was calling about the website.  Do you handle technical issues?” I ask.
     “I can handle some,” she responds.  “It depends on what it is.”
     “Well, the APF viewer software that’s linked from the website doesn’t work with XP…”
     “Yes it does,” she states bluntly.
     “No, ma’am, it doesn’t.  It comes up with an installer error.  The IBM website has no XP compatibility listed.  The file is marked ‘old and unsupported’ and the ‘new’ file to replace that, which is supposedly compatible with XP doesn’t have a print button.”
     “Yes it does,” she states bluntly, again.
     “Ma’am, I’ve attempted this on two machines.  The customer has tried it on theirs.  Setup will not run.”
     “It works fine.  We run XP, and it works fine.”
     She hangs up.
     Apparently, ‘some’ technical support meant, “If I feel like you’re worth talking to.”

     I told my customer what was going on.

     In the meantime, they’d called and spoken with a different RGE.
     “Your firewall is blocking it.”
     How this has anything to do with a program that won’t install is beyond me.

     Playing, “yes it does / no it doesn’t,” with adults is bothersome enough.  There are no questions: “You are wrong!” is the resounding argument.  They won’t listen to the issue, just want to argue, and have no intention of helping anyone.
     And the hanging up thing?  That’s just asinine.  I could see the point if I was calling screaming at them, cursing or just generally being a jerk, but I’m not.  I don’t do that.  I have to keep some semblance of civility.  I mean, after all, I am calling them for assistance

     But no.

     No assistance.  No civility.  Nothing but a dialtone.

     It wouldn’t be the first time something like that has happened, either.  Dealing with the State Department of Education was just as difficult given a situation that didn’t exactly fit any specific criteria.  Dealing with a Sales and Use Tax office that can’t process anything in a timely fashion unless you physically wave it under their noses isn’t very helpful either.  Neither can the Department of Vital Records get their heads out to do what they say they’re gonna do…

     Certainly, the culture in Tennessee Government is pretty far removed from the way it used to be.  And these days, there’s no one to even complain to when there’s a problem.
     So do we do the typical thing and blame the influx of rude immigrants, or should this growing problem be placed squarely at the feet of Governor Phil Bredesen?  The way it is now, I’d rather be talking to Indians.  At least then I can eventually get transferred to a manager…

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Department of Dell-fense

January 31st, 2007 at 2:55 pm by Mark
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     You won’t believe this

…the Dell rep shows up and goes to work, and all goes well. … As he’s walking out the door, he says “by the way, it looks like the hard drive they (Dell) sent you wasn’t a new one …”

Dell actually gave me a hard-drive straight from the Department of Defense.

     Un-freaking-believable.  This means that, at some point, one of three things occurred:

  • A Dell rep walked out of a DoD facility with a hard drive, ignoring the usual disposal procedures
  • A DoD employee sent their laptop to Dell, ignoring the usual disposal procedures
  • The DoD upgraded a series of leased laptops, ignoring the usual disposal procedures

     A little over a week ago, a law enforcement official called me to hack into a seized notebook.  In under thirty seconds, I found the Administrator account (they had changed it — just like the DoD does), erased its password and reset the account protection on the file system.  I then logged into Safe Mode as the Administrator, deleted the passwords on the client accounts, handed it back to said law enforcement official and said, “Have fun with that.”  I got my $125, and went my merry way.

     Sure, not everyone can do it that quickly, but I know there are plenty of people out there who are perfectly capable of doing what I did.  Distributing Department of Defense hard drives to people with that kind of know-how could certainly be a serious risk to National Security.

     In my book, at least three people need to be held accountable for that kind of screw up.