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Customer Relations Done Right

By Fjodor on Apr. 30, 2013.

Customer relations, especially of the support kind, is an area fraught with peril for any company, especially since:

  1. People will tend to contact customer support only in times of trouble
  2. On those occasions, most answers can lead to some sort of disappointment, but the customer is especially primed towards negativity

Much as negative blogging in cases of severe Customer Relations deficiencies are both warranted and needed, I am happy to be writing this post as an example of what I believe to be one of the best experiences I have ever had with any support department of any company ever. There were some initial misgivings on my part, but as you shall see, those were either unfounded or of no importance in the end.

Now, on a whim of wanting to get my system upgraded to some SSD lovin’, I recently bought a HighPoint Technologies RocketRAID 620 dual-port SATA 3.0 controller. I didn’t want anything to do with the actual RAID capabilities, but wanted it to control a 120GB Intel SSD and a 3Tb regular HDD as two different and independent drives.

Buying hardware, especially on a lean budget, can be somewhat of a challenge if you, as I, exclusively run Linux as your OS. I was thus disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that I would need an out-of-kernel driver, which I,though, had no trouble finding instructions for installing under DKMS.

Shortly afterwards, I began to notice some seemingly ominous warnings in the system log about I/O errors to the effect that a SCSI command, WRITE_SAME, had failed on the HDD connected to the board. Since no errors where reported for the SSD, I decided to swap out the HDD with another, dissimilar disk. The problem, however, manifested itself again, pointing towards a problem with either the board or its driver.

At this point, I had had to patch the driver with an unofficial patch in order to support Linux 3.6+, had had to DKMS-enable the driver in order to use it at all, and was presented with a, quite frankly, shoddy looking support page design, so my hopes were modest, to say the least.

On the plus side, though, they actually did have provisions for me to accurately state that I was using Linux (not a given, sadly), so I made a reasonable effort to describe the problem and hoped for the best.

Now, writing bug reports for software that you haven’t reported bugs for earlier is not always easy – you don’t know what information is the most relevant, and you don’t even know if the developers prefer to have any and all info dumped on them, or if they prefer to engage and ask specifically for what they need, based on a more sparse, initial, report. I would prefer the latter myself, so that’s what I normally do.

Here is when the magic seemed to happen. Obviously, the responding developer or technician needed more info in order to find the root cause of the problem, and whereas I was initially dismayed to read that “The driver does not support WRITE_SAME”, I was obviously too negatively biased in my assessment of that answer, since the reply to my subsequent question as to whether that meant that I should just make a habit of disregarding log messages to the effect of I/O errors, which came in on a Friday, was that they would send me an updated driver during the course of the following week.

Imagine that!

On Wednesday that following week, well within the promised time frame, my support ticket was updated with an upload of the next version of the driver (subsequently offered on their product page as well), and as far as I can tell, no further problems regarding this board present themselves in the logs.

To recap:

  1. I notice a problem and misdiagnose it
  2. Upon later, correct, diagnosis, I report the problem with a Linux driver to the manufacturer
  3. Even though the driver is external to the Linux kernel, I get extremely swift response in order to pinpoint the problem
  4. Within less than a week, the manufacturer releases a new version of the driver to address the problem and also sends me a copy of that release in the actual bug report
  5. I hereby endorse http://highpoint-tech.com whole-heartedly, not least to show that stellar customer support is in the actions of your company’s developers and technicians and not in how fancy your bug reporting interface might look

HighPoint, you have my highest appraisals for how you handled this issue!

Category: Main, Other

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Political musings of a Danish, former, farm-boy

By Fjodor on Mar. 19, 2012.

I’m not entirely sure if I even have a following on this blog (if you are there, do say hi), but that is not really my intent either. I moved my opinion content here as a combination of avoiding doing markup by hand on the (minimalistic) main page, and seeing what it would be like to use blog-oriented CMS such as WordPress and in the mean time firing off a few cheap (but important) shots at Microsoft.

This post is not about them!

I don’t think that I have ever given much information about my background, as I have not deemed it important, but the following details are relevant to this post:

I have lived my entire life in Denmark and grew up in a small village near the German border. A few months before my 7th birthday, my family moved to a small farm that my parents (and my sister and I) would spend a whole lot of time restoring to livable conditions, as well as doing actual farm work despite the fact that both my parents had normal jobs on the side.

Now, what could possibly be relevant to you, my dear, accidental, reader regarding that, one might ask, going on to ask what it has to do with politics?

Well, apart from the local grocery store being mugged last year, making national news for the record-breaking 3 minutes that it took for the robber to be apprehended, my home town is, and should be, relatively unknown to the general populace.

There is, however, the 3 times over the past 10 years when it has been reported that a pig transport fell over for unknown reasons in a local roundabout, and numerous other incidents of this nature abound here in Denmark, the land of pork.

Worth noting is, that this almost never seemed to happen anywhere until:

Danish television, some 10 years ago or some-such, reported on long-haul transportation of pigs for slaughter, to countries where slaughter was cheaper, and made a specific point of showing how the pigs where fixated in the trailers. Now, long-haul of animals is generally cruel in nature, and it is my understanding that the EU has, or is in the process of banning that practice. Score 1 for animal welfare (until slaughter).

The Danish media, however, made a specific and misguided point of showing how the pigs where fixated in the trailers, leading to general consumer uproar and a demand on politicians to forbid said fixture.

Now, I do not know, dear reader, if you have ever happened to stand upright on a moving bus, but if you have, you will grant me that it is of the utmost importance to be able to grab on to something – an ability that pigs simply do not possess…

Thus, to satisfy voter demand, a law was passed to forbid fixation on animal transports, which seemed to satisfy all relevant parties, except for the drivers of said transports and, most notably, the pigs in question, since it should be obvious to anyone who has traveled by bus in the aforementioned manner, that they are now doomed to be thrown around in the trailer, frequently offsetting the balance of the trailer itself to such a degree that both truck and trailer topples, generally killing the cargo and seriously injuring the driver, which is an outcome that any 15-year old farm-hand could have told the politicians without even thinking.

Now, one can derive a number of lessons from this, and surely a lot more than this, but the principal one should be that politicians, as politics are done today, are not only willing to cater to the demands of a vocal part of the public – without giving thoughts to the possible implications of doing so – as long as this, vocal, part, and the media, seem to make an issue of it.

Secondly, I said that “any 15-year old farm-hand” would know this to be a bad idea is important. It means that anyone who actually works in these conditions would know this to be moronic, but since most don’t, that is what’s called “expert knowledge”.

The assignment I give to you, dear reader, is to analyse the situation, adapt it to the workings and dealings of programming, internet use, copyright restrictions and some-such, and go forth to use this very down-to-earth (and real) analogy on your various members of your various parliaments, and please report back and/or discuss in the comment section of this post!

Idea for a SOPA/PIPA protest by Google

By Fjodor on Jan. 19, 2012.

Let me start by stating that I don’t know if Google enjoy any Common Carrier (or other, similar) protections, but if not, it shouldn’t be all too hard for them to block access by IP addresses from known SOPA/PIPA proponents, plus, if they want to play hardball, any US Administration addresses as well.

Same goes for all other protesters.

As an additional nugget of legislative gold, I would assume that if they blocked the Administration, said Administration would need to institute and document a way of circumventing said blockade in order to get anything meaningful business done, which could be an interesting subject for a DMCA complaint, since SOPA/PIPA seem to assume that DNS filtering constitutes an effective means of restricting access…

I am not a US citizen, and thus, even if I was a lawyer, my expertise would not be in US law, but comments are more than welcome!

Æret være Kresten Philipsens minde

By Fjodor on Jul. 17, 2011.

Dear international readers: Please excuse another Danish post, but a formidable Danish politician, whom I had the fortune to meet on a few occasions, has sadly passed away. This is an admittedly sorry excuse for an obituary for a man whom I admired greatly.

Jeg følger ikke synderligt meget med i politik længere, og ej heller, nÃ¥r det kommer til stykket, danske nyheder generelt. Dermed er det først i dag gÃ¥et op for mig, at Kresten Philipsen er død. For min egen part er jeg ked af, at jeg ikke har haft anledning til at møde ham i efterhÃ¥nden mange Ã¥r, idet jeg gerne ville have haft fortalt ham, at han har foranlediget en større forstÃ¥else hos mig for det saglige arguments magt, samt for vigtigheden af respekt for politiske modstandere, end han sikkert selv har været klar over, særligt da jeg næppe antager, at han ville kunne huske mig, medmindre han blev mindet om det, og sÃ¥ nok næppe som andet end en typisk gymnasiast, der ikke havde bedre begreb om politik end de fleste andre af mine studentikose aldersfæller, men hvad jeg senere er blevet opmærksom pÃ¥, ud fra hans mÃ¥de at agere pÃ¥ i de fÃ¥, korte situationer er, at skulle man gøre sig forhÃ¥bninger om at vinde hans respekt pÃ¥ det politiske plan, sÃ¥ skulle man kunne redegøre for sin holdning – bÃ¥de hvad angÃ¥r baggrund, argumenter for, og særligt imod.

Denne blog læses af ganske fÃ¥, og sÃ¥ledes har jeg postet et mindeord pÃ¥ JV’s dertil indrettede side her, som jeg dog ogsÃ¥ vil gengive nedenfor:

Det er med sorg, at jeg har erfaret dette gode menneskes alt for tidlige død. I min gymnasietid var jeg, som det sig hør og bør for gymnasiaster, politisk engageret, og dertil enig med Hr. Philipsen angående mange politiske spørgsmål, men naturligvis også uenig hvad angår andre. De få gange, hvor jeg mødte ham personligt, og dertil talte politik, slog det mig, at han, høfligt, veltalende og alvorligt, var mere interesseret i at få mig til argumentere sagligt, end han egentlig (og med rette) var i at blive talt efter munden, eller det modsatte, af en ung gymnasiast, der endnu ikke havde haft tid til at forstå større perspektiver, end hvad han (altså jeg) nu engang alligevel følte, var rigtigt, uden yderligere forklaring.

Hvad jeg husker bedst, er dog hans engagement i forbindelse med Danmarks indtræden i Schengen-samarbejdet, der mødte en uanstændigt højlydt modstand fra et lille, omend skræmmende, mindretal i det sønderjyske, der tog en form af, hvad den traditionelle opfattelse af terrorisme sagtens kan beskrive, og det er således med lige dele beklagelse og vikariøs skam, at jeg må konstatere, at noget af det sidste, som han oplevede, var at det, som han dengang, med store personlige omkostninger, kæmpede for, desværre blev slået i stykker af hans tidligere partis uheldige afhængighed af, og resulterende leflen for, et parti der, mere eller mindre, er talerør for det mindretals misforståelse af, at national stolthed er ensbetydende med de mest afstumpede former for den slags nationalisme, der kun kan omtales negativt.

Kresten ville sikkert have søgt en anden løsning end min “langen ud efter” et politisk parti, men sÃ¥ledes kan jeg kun afslutte med, hvad jeg ønsker at sige med det forudgÃ¥ende, nemlig at Kresten var en stor mand og en stor politiker, som jeg altid vil se op til, uagtet at han desværre ikke er blandt os længere.

Det gør mig ondt på Danmarks, og særligt på Sønderjyllands, vegne, at Kresten ikke længere er her, men mest gør det mig ondt for hans familie, som jeg håber vil se denne nekrolog, såfremt de finder frem til den, som en hyldest til en mand, som de kan være stolte af!

Taxation of the rich vs. the poor

By Fjodor on Sep. 3, 2009.

I saw this comment on a slashdot.org article tonight.

In essence, it’s an explanation of the US tax system, explained in the setting of “beer for 10 people” by a professor in economics.

While one may (rightfully) question the quality of a great many slashdot comments, I find this one rather profound.

I’d say it could be adapted to many other countries’ tax schemes with an equivalent conclusion – perhaps because politicians worldwide seem to be more eager to please the readers of daily newspapers, than to listen to sensible science…

Update 11:12 – link fixed. Thank you Thode :-$

…and that’s the end of that monstrosity.

By Fjodor on Jun. 1, 2008.

Enough with the telemagenta now. I still think it was a worthwhile point to make, but wow, it sure did look, erm, magenta 😉

Also, instead of just changing back to the default theme, I’d like to try out the one you are seeing now. It’s called Mystefied, and it’s brought to you by the nice guys at http://www.xhtmlvalid.com. I think it looks nice, but if you disagree, please let me know 🙂

Edit: Incidentally, I like to provide Atom feeds as well as RSS, so I tweaked the theme a bit with a new image and link for that, which however left no space for the search form in it’s previous position. Thus, it has been moved to the sidebar, and it has been equipped with a submit-button. Most browsers do fine without them, but I’m unsure as to how it would work for a mobile browser without one…

I hope all this is fine with xhtmlvalid and Mr. Chaudhuri, both of whom I have notified.

Category: Main

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AT&T propose to launch largest foot-shooting apparatus ever?

By Fjodor on Jan. 18, 2008.

Once again, I do little more than link to another blogger, but if by this, I can get just a few more to read that link than if I did nothing, then so much for the better.

In other words, this is why you should either sell your AT&T shares or, alternatively, contact all the fellow shareholders you can reach, and get them to side with you in demanding that the mastermind behind this proposition be tarred and feathered. I’d go for the money…

#EDIT: as a commenter pointed out, the link was botched, but should now work. Thanks for the heads up!

Category: Main

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How to tell if a US judge is past his “best before” date

By Fjodor on Jan. 18, 2008.

This is just so mind-numbingly wrong that I am lost for words.

Luckily, however, CircleID pretty much sums it up…

Category: Main

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Manifesto (sort of)

By Fjodor on Feb. 13, 2007.

So, I installed WordPress. The comments to the front page of the main page seemed to take up too much space, so in the course of the next days, they will be added here, along with further posts.

The main focus will probably be MS criticism…

Category: Main

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