Mush from tech support

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Jonathan Kamens

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May 30, 2006, 6:46:24 PM5/30/06
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Earlier today, I filed a support request with tech support asking them
to add the newly created moderated newsgroup soc.religion.asatru.

In response, I was told to visit www.easynews.com to ask them to add
the missing group.

I responded that I pay Speakeasy, not a news vendor, and when there's a
group missing in the service that I pay Speakeasy for, then I expect
Speakeasy to work with the news vendor to get the group added rather
than trying to make me do it.

I also pointed out that it was somewhat puzzling that the Speakeasy
rep told me to go to www.easynews.com, when Speakeasy's news vendor is
Giganews, which is (as far as I know) a completely different vendor
from Easynews.

Gotta love it.

--
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Keith Keller

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May 30, 2006, 8:49:51 PM5/30/06
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On 2006-05-30, Jonathan Kamens <j...@kamens.brookline.ma.us> wrote:
> Earlier today, I filed a support request with tech support asking them
> to add the newly created moderated newsgroup soc.religion.asatru.
>
> In response, I was told to visit www.easynews.com to ask them to add
> the missing group.
>
> I responded that I pay Speakeasy, not a news vendor, and when there's a
> group missing in the service that I pay Speakeasy for, then I expect
> Speakeasy to work with the news vendor to get the group added rather
> than trying to make me do it.
>
> I also pointed out that it was somewhat puzzling that the Speakeasy
> rep told me to go to www.easynews.com, when Speakeasy's news vendor is
> Giganews, which is (as far as I know) a completely different vendor
> from Easynews.

Well, I'm with you on one count, and against you on one.

With you, SE should know who their nntp provider is. Sheesh!

Against you, I agree that it's not inappropriate to ask you to make
the initial request to giganews to carry a group, mainly because it'll
likely get done faster. If they're slow, or if they refuse, then
SE should certainly intervene on your behalf. SE should provide you
the quickest route to making such a request, though; simply pointing
you to a provider's front page isn't really enough.

--keith

--
kkeller...@wombat.san-francisco.ca.us
(try just my userid to email me)
AOLSFAQ=http://wombat.san-francisco.ca.us/cgi-bin/fom
see X- headers for PGP signature information

Jonathan Kamens

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May 30, 2006, 9:12:22 PM5/30/06
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Keith Keller <kkeller...@wombat.san-francisco.ca.us> writes:
>Against you, I agree that it's not inappropriate to ask you to make
>the initial request to giganews to carry a group, mainly because it'll
>likely get done faster.

I should hope not. As a money-paying customer of Giganews, Speakeasy
should have a private phone number they can call to get a group added
ASAP, certainly faster than I would expect Giganews to respond to
email sent from some poor shmuck to sup...@giganews.com.

huey.c...@gmail.com

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May 31, 2006, 2:14:05 PM5/31/06
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Jonathan Kamens <j...@kamens.brookline.ma.us> wrote:
> Keith Keller <kkeller...@wombat.san-francisco.ca.us> writes:
> > Against you, I agree that it's not inappropriate to ask you to make
> > the initial request to giganews to carry a group, mainly because
> > it'll likely get done faster.
> I should hope not. As a money-paying customer of Giganews, Speakeasy
> should have a private phone number they can call to get a group added
> ASAP, certainly faster than I would expect Giganews to respond to
> email sent from some poor shmuck to sup...@giganews.com.

A couple years ago, when I contacted giganews to ask them to add a
group, they told me my request should have gone through Speakeasy.

--
Huey

Keith Keller

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May 31, 2006, 2:51:59 PM5/31/06
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On 2006-05-31, huey.c...@gmail.com <huey.c...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Jonathan Kamens <j...@kamens.brookline.ma.us> wrote:
>> Keith Keller <kkeller...@wombat.san-francisco.ca.us> writes:
>> > Against you, I agree that it's not inappropriate to ask you to make
>> > the initial request to giganews to carry a group, mainly because
>> > it'll likely get done faster.

>> I should hope not. As a money-paying customer of Giganews, Speakeasy
>> should have a private phone number they can call to get a group added
>> ASAP, certainly faster than I would expect Giganews to respond to
>> email sent from some poor shmuck to sup...@giganews.com.

I disagree here, because I believe Giganews should respond to all new
group requests ASAP, but you're correct in that they might be more
likely to listen to SE.

> A couple years ago, when I contacted giganews to ask them to add a
> group, they told me my request should have gone through Speakeasy.

Now that's a bit bizarre. Can someone from SE comment on what the
process ''should'' be?

Bruno Wolff III

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May 31, 2006, 3:04:56 PM5/31/06
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On 2006-05-31, Keith Keller <kkeller...@wombat.san-francisco.ca.us> wrote:
>
> Now that's a bit bizarre. Can someone from SE comment on what the
> process ''should'' be?

I don't know that any SE employees with power read these groups any more.
Both Chris Hunter and Kat Oak have moved on.

Duncan

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May 31, 2006, 3:46:50 PM5/31/06
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Bruno Wolff III <br...@wolff.to> posted slrne7rqbg...@wolff.to,
excerpted below, on Wed, 31 May 2006 14:04:56 -0500:

There was the time when the SE president himself would occasionally
respond in the newsgroups. Then it was Kat Oak, who answered directly to
him. Now...

There was a time when I considered the premium price that SE charged
worth it, in part because SE /was/ different.

Unfortunately, it has been my experience that what may be a GREAT ISP one
year, is often only a good ISP a year or two later, and likely only an
average ISP (in an industry where the average is pretty sad) the year after
that.

--
Duncan - Newsgroup replies preferred. No HTML msgs. Unmunge address
and add " -news" keyword to end of subject to reply by mail.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master." Richard Stallman

Jonathan Kamens

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May 31, 2006, 8:39:16 PM5/31/06
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Keith Keller <kkeller...@wombat.san-francisco.ca.us> writes:
>Now that's a bit bizarre. Can someone from SE comment on what the
>process ''should'' be?

I emailed sup...@giganews.com last night at 9:12 PM US/Eastern asking
them to add the group. I got an auto-response a few minutes later. A
few minutes after that I got an answer from a person at Giganews asking
me to identify myself since they couldn't find my email address in
their records. A minute after that, I explained that I used them
through Speakeasy and gave them the Speakeasy email address I use to
log into the Giganews server. I haven't heard back from them since.
Almost 24 hours later, the group still hasn't been created, but their
Web site does say that it could take "at least 48 hours" (what a
charmingly unbounded duration) for a new group to be added.

Subsequent to that, I got a followup message from Speakeasy informing
me that they'd asked Giganews to add the group and "It should take 1
to 2 weeks" for the group to be added.

Mind-boggling.

Bruno Wolff III

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May 31, 2006, 10:47:56 PM5/31/06
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On 2006-05-31, Duncan <news....@cox.replytogroup.net.please> wrote:
>
> Unfortunately, it has been my experience that what may be a GREAT ISP one
> year, is often only a good ISP a year or two later, and likely only an
> average ISP (in an industry where the average is pretty sad) the year after
> that.

Well SE hasn't descended to average yet, though that may be because average
is so low for residential broadband. (Note to FCC, one ILEC and one cable
company don't make a competitive market.)

I suspect that part of the problem is their mainstream success. When they had
customers with above average techincal knowledge it made sense for them to
have fewer, better level one support staff. But once they start getting more
calls and most of them are about simple mistakes it makes sense to have more,
but less well trained level one support staff.

Duncan

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Jun 1, 2006, 5:01:58 AM6/1/06
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Bruno Wolff III <br...@wolff.to> posted slrne7slfl...@wolff.to,
excerpted below, on Wed, 31 May 2006 21:47:56 -0500:

> Well SE hasn't descended to average yet, though that may be because
> average is so low for residential broadband. (Note to FCC, one ILEC and
> one cable company don't make a competitive market.)
>
> I suspect that part of the problem is their mainstream success. When
> they had customers with above average techincal knowledge it made sense
> for them to have fewer, better level one support staff. But once they
> start getting more calls and most of them are about simple mistakes it
> makes sense to have more, but less well trained level one support staff.

Well said.

One might at least consider the fact that the general unwashed masses you
are talking about don't normally know about USENET, however, and have at
least one reasonably highly placed contact with reasonable tech knowledge
(or one of each, as seemed to be the case with Chris and Kat) keep an eye
on the group. It's not as if it's been a hotspot of activity the last few
months <g>, so five minutes every second day or twice a week just to log
in and check on things would do it most weeks/months.

Not everyone on USENET has a high tech IQ, but it should cut down on at
least the "Is it plugged in?" crowd.


OT but related to where this has gone...

Back when I was with SE, participating in this group was quite an
enlightening experience for me. While on most ISPs groups and on the
various FLOSS lists I participate in, I tend to be near the top of the
heap (say 90ish percentile, more like 97ish percentile on many ISP groups,
83ish percentile on the various FLOSS lists) in terms of technical
knowledge, here, I was very much at the other end of the spectrum, 20
percentile may be being generous.

In most groups I'm a regular in, I'm one of the definitive answerers,
knowing more about the subject than most. As such, I get to pick who I
respond to, and am one of the ones that gets to set the tone for the group
in terms of what's acceptable (HTML a big nono, top posting discouraged
but not as bad as HTML). As well, there are normally very few even peers,
let alone folks who know more on most technical issues than I do.

Then I come in here and suddenly find myself asking the questions, and
called to account for technical inaccuracies in my posts! As I said, it
was quite the enlightening (and very humbling) experience! I learned a
lot, not only about the technical side of things, but also, how it feel to
be on the other end of things, one of the little peons as it were, for
once. Since then, I've been rather more careful in how I approach my own
replies, both in tone, and by using rather more qualifiers than I did
previously, particularly where I'm less than sure on something, but in a
lot of cases where I'm generally sure, as well, just because I'm rather
more aware now just how often I get some angle or another wrong.

Additionally, it has given me insight into the behavior of many extremely
gifted people, at the top of their respective domains, few if any can even
close to match them, let alone actually win an argument on technical
merit, many are little dictators, brooking no dissent from the support
folks around them, not because they want to be that way, but simply
because they so seldom have anyone even close to a true peer to actually
challenge them. They are used to being right all the time, even when
they are actually wrong, simply because no one has the resources,
intellectually or otherwise, to mount a challenge. When these people /are/
in the company of actual peers, they often have a terrible time, because
they simply have no experience, no reference point in their history upon
which to draw for their model of acceptable behavior.

IMO, this is the root cause behind many of the turf wars in the FLOSS
community. One good example is Hans Reiser of Namesys and the man behind
reiserfs and reiser4. He's a genius in his field, few would argue the
fact. Yet he had a terrible time getting reiserfs into the mainline Linux
kernel, and is having an even worse time getting reiser4 in. It's not
technical incompetence by any means. It's flat stubbornness and a refusal
to compromise. It's also a belittling of the viewpoint of anyone in
the kernel core group because while he may intellectually realize they are
his equal, and are part of the gateway he must get thru to get into the
kernel so he shouldn't be antagonizing them for no reason, he simply has
no point of reference for how to actually behave with those that in point
of fact are his peers in terms of kernel hacking expertise. They
challenge him, he knows only one response, a withering attack, often
personal. Often, while he's engaged in fireworks, one employee or another
is quietly working on getting the problem fixed, despite Hans Reiser, not
because of him.

The same dynamic explains Theo de Raadt's notorious difficulty in getting
along with anyone. There are simply so few that are even close to his
equal, that he has few that dare challenge him and fewer that can come
anywhere close to succeeding in a a fair debate. He's thus used to
getting his way, and his behavior shows it.

Again we see the pattern in David Dawes, leading to the XFree86/xorg
split. He's never before had to admit he was wrong in such a public
fashion, and it's simply beyond his ability to do, especially when he
believes he's technically right. He couldn't compromise in his demands
for the sake of the project, so it split, and he's carrying on with a far
smaller project and far less glory than he would have had otherwise.

I've seen the same pattern in Gentoo, with a particular developer there
who's no longer with the project, simply because he eventually made
enemies of enough people who could no longer abide his behavior. Of the
hundreds of Gentoo developers, I could count on one hand the number of
folks I'd consider even close to his equal in what he has given to the
project and what he /could/ give to the project, yet he's no longer with
it, because he simply can't tolerate being "wrong", especially when he's
technically right and he knows it (and others often do too, but he's
simply made too much of an enemy of himself for them to allow themselves
to back down now).

That is, BTW, also one reason why Linus is such a rare find and so good at
what he does. For a kernel hacker, he's good, but among his peers, there
are certainly better, and both he and they know it. He's also not
particularly idealistic and many would rather have someone with a bit more
backbone in terms of sticking it to proprietaryware and enforcing
the GPL. However, no one else has exactly his brand of self deprecating
humor, his ability draw out a compromise, his gift for coming up with
exactly the right way to say it at exactly the right time to achieve
consensus among that otherwise almost impossible to unite group of
extremely talented hackers. There are other factors in why Linux has the
following it does, as opposed to one of the BSDs or HURD or something else
in the community, timing being one such factor. However, without that
unique personality that is Linus, without his skill at herding all those
alley cats that would otherwise be too busy hissing and scratching at each
other to work toward what Linux has become, Linux wouldn't, couldn't, have
gotten where it is today, and something else would have likely gotten the
momentum Linux now has.

So... I'm thankful I had this humbling experience while I still could,
before I became more of an insufferable "ijit" than I already was, at
times, before I became hardened enough in my ways that I /couldn't/
learn or compromise, and before what would have ultimately been a much
more painful lesson, had I had to learn it (or fail to learn it) later.

Anyway, I still sit here, lurking for the most part, hoping to learn more
at the foot of those who certainly know much more than I do on so many
topics, hopefully having internalized that lesson in humility, and made it
a part of the way I now conduct myself.

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