Monday, March 14, 2005

Help Desk...

I just had a Dilbert moment...  You see my IBM notebook has been acting strange so I figured I'd submit a case to the Borland Helpdesk.  Well we've outsourced our IT operations to an external vendor (why?  I won't go into that...), so I go to the help desk website which promptly redirects me to an external site. 

So I try and log in using my normal user name and password.. unknown user.  I try my email address.. unknown user..  Different email address... unknown user... “Forgot my password” selected, enter email address... unknown user..  rats..  so now I am forced to call the help desk.

If you read my post about a call to MS support, then this tops that one.

Support (with Indian accent):  Hello. Borland Helpdesk.  Last name please.
< normal identification handshaking sequence now takes place >
Support: So, how can I help you today.
Me: I can't seem to log into the helpdesk site to submit a case.
Support: Have you logged in to the site before?
Me: No.
Support: Hold on, please.
< long pause >
Support: I need you to submit a case to the server team to get your password reset.
< Did I just hear that right?  I am suppose to submit a case to be able to submit a case??!! >
Me: Uh... excuse me.  Who is going to submit a case?  You are submitting a case for me or am I suppose to submit the case?
Support: To the server team, yes.
< Panic beginning to set in... Infinite loop ahead, please divert now! >
Me: OK, I need to clarify this because it is just sounding way too Dilbert for me!  I can't submit a case because I can't login.  Or are you submitting the case for me?
Support: No sir, I've submitted the case and the server team should contact you shortly.
< Whew!  I was about to have coniption.. >
Me: Oh. OK.  That sounds fine.  Thanks.
Support: Thank you for calling the Borland Helpdesk.

Now I don't know if the help desk dude caught the Dilber reference or not... or even if Dilbert is even widely known over in India (I'll have to ask Ramesh..).  But as soon as I heard “ need to submit a case to the server team..” all those “no company can be that stupid” Dilbert comics came flooding back into my head... I mean, I even have one such Dilbert comic just like that taped to my door with the smug indication of that “never will that happen here” intent.  Clearly, there was a communication gap here since English was not this supporty guy's native language.  What I think he meant was that the “proxy” me needed to submit a case, not the actual me since it was clear that I could not.  Nevertheless, it was a jarring experience..

Next up... the server support team calls.  Tells me to use my email address as the user name... I thought I did that... Oh.. use my new “official“ email address, not the one I'd been using for over 10 years!  Arghh!!

Fine, I entered that email address and it sends me this funky mess of a password.  I enter it and am now greeted with a “your password has expired“ message. So I need to change it.  Fine, I enter my normal email password.  Wrong!  It doesn't meet their requirements.  Grrr..  Ok... hmmm... must be eight characters, at least one digit, and no character can occur more that twice... ok.  My normal password fits that... no wait... it violates one of those rules.  Great!  Now I have to enter a new password that is some strange variation of what I normally use, but it will be one that I'll never remember.. so what do I do now? I commit the cardinal sin of password rules.  I write it down! How secure does this stupid thing need to be?  We're about to find out...

Next screen.  Please select six (count them, six!) challege/response questions!  Huh?  Holy cow!  This system is turning into Fort Knox!  Fine.. so I start.  Hmm.. Mother's maiden name... check.. Brand of my first car... check... High school I attended... check... Favorite color... check... Favorite author... check... Favorite holiday... check.  Submit... grind.. grind.. grind... wham!  Same screen comes back with an error.  “Responses to the challenge questions must contain a minumum of five characters“  But my favorite color is “blue!!!“  Who decided on these rules?!?!

I'm not kidding!  This is going on right now as I write this post!  So, now I need to change my favorite color... How about “grey“!  You stupid site!  Try red! @#$^%!!!!! Arrrrghhhh!!!  How about...  Azure! That's blue, right?  Right.. and I'll remember that... yeah, sure...  Pardon me while I go do something more fun and productive... like go slam my hand in a car door!!  Geez...  Oh, yes.. its Monday...

Oh.. BTW, I went ahead and syndicated the entire content of this post based on some reasonable feedback from folks regarding only syndicating excerpts.  I still would request that you at least hit the actual site often as well.


  1. Now that I've recovered from shooting my drink out my nose I wanted to just say thanks for brightening my Monday. Phew! Now, hopefully I'll never have to use that support site!

  2. Allen,

    Thanks. I was reading along enjoying your password problens when I hit the "Oh..BTW," :-)

    Then I realize I was enojoying this in outlook and I didn't have to click anywhere.

    Thanks it really does make thing easier. I'll increase your hitcount every once in awhile so that you know I'm still alive :-D

    -- Robert

  3. Well... Thanks for that visual Steve. ;-).. Now my Monday is complete..

  4. Hi, I read your blog from time to time and I just about fell out of my chair with laughter when I read this.

    "But my favorite color is 'blue'!!!!" will now go down in history as the ultimate expression of man's battle against computers.

    My stomach hurts. I've laughed too hard.

  5. Really really funny :D

    And glad to see the entire content of the post in :)

  6. Don't forget to mention this to a certain Mr Adams... >:-)

  7. We've all been there once...


  8. If you guys are concerned with finding out how often your blogs are read (I know Danny suffers from a similar desire for information), why not do what I've seen done on the MSDN blogs? IIRC they include one of those 1x1 pixel GIF scripts which are *only* sent over the RSS feeds-- that way you can tell when someone actually reads the RSS entry as opposed to merely downloading it (presumably the image won't be hit until it's actually viewed).

  9. You have to say everyting twice - that would solve the problem, for instance; blueblue is your favourite colour!

    I think you will be accepted

  10. ROFL, that color question is a trick one. Just thing Monty Python and the Quest .....


  11. Lol. Sounds even worse than my e-mailing experience... One day I did no longer have access to the system, so I called helpdesk. They told me it would be a few days to get it started again. Ok, fine... I asked them to either call me to tell me it was active, or e-mail some of my collegues. And I waited and waited...

    I'm very courious I couldn't keep from testing the system once in a while... It's helpdesk, so they might forget to call and tell me. And imagine my surprise a few days later when I tried to start up outlook - and it _worked_. I checked my inbox and the top e-mail topic read: Your e-mail is now activated again... *duh*

  12. Geez, was that you on this Late Night Clip?

  13. Interesting regarding help desk outsourcing. JK recently mentioned that the web site stuff had recently been outsourced, hence the release of Update #2 without devrel knowing about it.

    BTW, I know you probably can't comment on this, but I've suspected that Borland has outsourced their *QA* for the past few years, because of the much lower quality of Borland releases since D7.

    Outsourcing to incompetents is usually a sign of desparate cost-cutting replacing rational profit-maximization. It's a short-term myopia that suggests to me that wihle Dale might have been the right man to turn Borland around, that doesn't mean he is necessarily the right man to sustain it in the long haul.

  14. Capt'n

    No, QA hasn't been outsource. However, resource constraints are a continuing issue that we're working on resolving. There is a significant amount of effort being put into better streamlining the whole process... sorta like internally adopting SDO, before we roll it out...

  15. <<the “proxy” me >>

    You see, Mr. Bauer, we Hindus have no concept of "me", we only have your equivalent of "you" and "I' as pronouns in our original Sankrit. This has caused some misunderstanding over the centuries. But not to worry.

    With the help of companies like Borland, however, we shoud soon be the dominant super power in the world by 2050.

    Thanks Borland!


  16. Allen,

    "sorta like internally adopting SDO" - this is much more funny then original post...

    You do not have it? Company which promotes SDO, does not have SDO?!!!!


  17. Serge,

    The SDO rollout was a *Roadmap* for the delivery of a future vision, the core of which is available today via the ALM platform (see Delphi 2005 and JBuilder 2005) and which is starting to hit the market soon with the release of the Themis product. Please don't take this the wrong way, but it is misunderstandings like this that really make the publishing of a roadmap a very dicey thing to do. Roadmaps are always about the future.. why would you need a map to get to where you already are?

  18. I was refering to a SDO as a process not as a product, there will not be one, will it?

    So "adopting SDO" (read as process) sound very funny.

  19. Serge,

    SDO is both a process and a set of tools to assist in ensuring that the process stays on target. So, yes, there are certain things that a team can do without those tools, but the tools are also a key part if being predictable and repeatable. Besides, no company is perfect in producing software, that was the whole point of the SDO vision. We also realize that we're not perfect either. However we're taking steps to remedy this by tackling the process and tooling it in such a way that we can now help other companies get better at producing software. It is sort of a "get your own house in order first" kind of philosophy.

  20. I do think that this HelpDesk business can be quite fun! Norwegeian TV has made a sketch about HelpDesk - in the middelage. See:

    Unfortunately it's not in english, but you'll get the picture.

    Open Media player, and paste the link.



  22. Satya <>March 20, 2005 at 1:35 PM

    This is very funny, but it can't really top your call to the Microsoft! :)

    This poor support guy (who needs to be awake all nights to serve you, in your day time) was clearly having difficulty in following your American accent too or may be the lack of an Indian accent, to be precise! ;)

    Besides, the moment you heard some accent, you were anticipating some confusion and preparing yourself to give the extra clarifications!

    He appears be knowing the fact that you couldn't have submitted a case without an account, but half his battle was understanding your extra education.

    No doubt, his usage of "You" instead of "I" was inappropriate. But, due to the heavy accents involved, I wouldn't be surprised if you were mis-interpreting his words!

    But, whatever, it's funny and that's what you expected it to be, by blogging it! :)

    Btw, I am not Ramesh. But I can clarify your doubt on Indians being aware of Dilbert:

    Indians (especially those who are in the I.T industry) know Delbert. Most of them even know that one of those characters, "Asok" was made after an Indian engineer:

    I think, that support guy knew that too. His "no sir" appears to be a direct response to your reference to Dilbert.

    Something like: No sir, (you don't have to feel that way.) I've submitted the case and the server team should contact you shortly.

    But, whatever, the employers of these firms are supposed to train such staff with American accent. But, unfortunately, a one week training session on accent wouldn't do much difference, unless it is introduced right in their education system, by making the American English as the standard in Indian schools.

    Currently, a student in India would fail his English exam if misses a "u" in words like color or behavior! Also, he would be downright heckled by his english teacher if he pronounces the "r" in the girl, as he learns to speak the English language!

    Btw, one of your readers (Mr.Patel) has commented that a 5,000 year old Indian classic language, Sanskrit

    (which influenced most of the modern Indian languages and some foreign languages) didn't have an English equivalent "me"!

    That sounds really funny!!

    Contrary to what he said, etymologists have recored that the English words ME and MY were actually derived from the Sanskrit word "MA"!!:

    (Please note it's not "MAA" which means mother)

    Also, it is funny to think that old and almost dead language has any influence over that support engineer's ability to communicate!!

    (Even if we forget the fact that it was rich in words and expressions!)

    All he needed was the words "I am" which was "Aham" in Sanskit. (Both those "a"s in that word are pronounced as A in America).

    Oh! what a similarity!? "Aham" = "I am"

    Or, Ahm = I'm

    Of course, "Aham" also meant "ego" in Sanskrit.

    "AhamKara" means "egoism" which Hindu religion preaches to avoid like a plague.

    You have to be very humble and detached.

    May be I should do that exactly, by stopping this here!! :)



  23. Satya,

    Thanks for the liguistics lesson ;-)... Lots of really good information. Cultural and languages differences have been the source of so many misunderstandings that if we didn't make light of them we'd all go insane.

  24. Per wrote the Norwegian TV has made shows and videos but this is only WIndows Streaming (aspx). How can I download it ??? Help...

  25. I just got off the phone with support. I was just trying to get my Novell password reset, but then, suddenly, I had two cases to enter :

    1) cannot log into our support site

    2) need to reset Novell password

    Call support, get bounced all over hell and back, finally someone answers the phone in very broken English with an Indian accent and tells me his name is "Frank". It was all I could do to not say "There is no way your name is Frank...what time/day is it there, 'Frank'?"

    Good lord, and then all that rigamaroll (6 challenge questions that must be 5+ characters and in Klingon) just to create an account with our helpdesk.

    Where did my morning just go? What was I working on in the first place?


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