Information Technology, Investing, Thank You Sir May I Have Another

If I Only Had Time to Focus

How many times have we all said that? I would complete “thing x” if I had time to focus on it. Sadly, it is a lie we tell not only ourselves, but to others.

Today, October 30th, 2013, we had yet another HughesNet outage. No matter what those commercials say about Gen4 and its “customer satisfaction” I can tell you J.D. Edwards never talked to me or anyone I know. The phone number for HughesNet customer abuse…I mean “care” is (866)-347-3292. You really need to keep it written down on a sticky stuck to your monitor. It’s too late to look it up once your Internet goes down.

HughesNet sent a flier in the mail the other day touting their voice over IP unlimited home phone service. My first thought was “gee that price is a bit high.” My second thought was “How the (^)(*&)(*7 can I report yet another outage if you are providing my phone service too?” After that I realized their failed master plan. If all HughesNet customers had local phone service provided by HughesNet they could get rid of the stumbling-broken-English-make-up-for-it-by-talking-really-fast crew they have hold up in some third world country since nobody could call them to get customer abuse…I mean service.

I might as well finish ranting about the customer abuse center and Web site before I continue with this post. If you are lucky enough to have a secondary Internet provider (or manage to call someone lucky enough to have cable or dial-up Internet) there is no point in going to the customer abuse Web site. Even when they know with absolute certainty they have an outage, you won’t find it mentioned on the site.

I was out of state several months ago and got a phone call from home asking why the Internet wasn’t working. I went to the Web site and found nothing. I called the customer abuse number (866)-347-3292. I spent the time on hold with a cell phone, what a joy that is. Eventually, just before I burned through the last of my roll-over minutes waiting I’m pretty certain, I got put through to yet another individual trying to stumble through a language they don’t naturally speak. They have to read through the script. This ensures you burn at least another 20-40 minutes and increases the odds of you hanging up without them having to do anything. After they go through every-possible-payment-problem-on-the-planet, they ask what is wrong.

I was then put on hold after I asked them to check on outages the company knew about. More thumb twiddling and solitaire playing occurred while waiting. When they returned to the phone they told me in broken English that the company was experiencing an outage which was effecting my area. When I asked for an ETA on the fix I was told “the engineers have ordered equipment which was supposed to arrive on site at 8am the next day. One of their transmission stations had been flooded by the storms which had been on the news for days.”

Does anyone else see the problem here? Engineering knew about it. They had enough time to order replacement equipment and schedule workers to be on site the next morning. Nobody in the customer abuse center knew about it. Everyone who called in was forced to go through the same script which had nothing to do with the problem. 90% of the calls coming in could have been handled by a prerecorded announcement stating “We are experiencing a service outage in the following regions…” Didn’t happen. No post on the Web site either so people like myself all wasted our time by visiting there first like we are supposed to do if we can.

At any rate, today we have yet another marathon outage. It started around 7am and it is still going strong at 2pm. I expect it will last a day or two. Have I called the customer abuse center? No. I’ve called there enough to know I’m pretty much on my own. I wrote it off to the fog this morning, yes, any time it gets foggy you won’t have Internet. Pretty much any time it rains as well. I bet this service is a big seller in Seattle! There are people who expect me to respond via email at some point today, but that’s not going to happen unless I dig out a modem or drive into town. Then again, without a printed list of NetZero dial-up numbers, what good is finding a modem?

Just think, if I had voice over IP I couldn’t even dial 911.

The fog has dissipated but still no Internet. I can see over a mile. Have I sat down and written the VMS based prequel to “John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars” which has been on my to-do list for about a month? No. Have I written the “fast vs. slow calorie” post I have had on my to-do list for over a two weeks? No. Have I went out and taking the steering wheel off of my beater Jeep and re-aligned it? No.

Why am I mentioning the above task list which you care nothing about? Those items and many more fall under the category of “if I only had time to focus on it.” Did I seize the distraction free (no email or surfing) day to do those things? Not yet. I pretty much spent the morning trying to get a DataJack pay as you go wireless modem connected to the Internet. No dice there. Sprint’s wireless coverage (the provider for DataJack or at least this DataJack modem) sucks even worse than Gen4.

Many years ago the BBC did a remake of “Around the World in 80 Days.” Not the movie. They actually had a travel writer and camera crew trying to follow the path. I watched only one episode of it, but that episode had the writer taking passage on a cargo container ship bound for America from some place like Japan or China. They showed the room he got. He had meals with the crew. The big stack of books he brought to read he didn’t touch. He even made a point of stating he brought along books and other things he had always wanted to do because he would have time to focus on them. He didn’t.

Up until today I had the misguided notion that it would be cool to sit in my cabin and finish writing a book while crossing the ocean without Internet or at least with severely limited Internet access. During my younger days I would only connect to the Internet a couple of times per day to check email and only surfed when I physically needed to do research. Of course during those days I used to imbibe nicotine and could burn 8+ hours playing a DOS based game like “Lords of the Realm.” Today LOR won’t even install under Wine and I do not have the immense joy known as nicotine. Now that I’m old enough to need to watch my sugar I couldn’t even spend the week getting liquored up and eating junk food.