How to be a good tech.

Author: admin  |  Category: Business, Consumer, Observations  |  Comment (1)  |  Add Comment

I’ve written a few posts about bad users, clients, customers, and whatnot.  This has gotten a few people to email me that not all users are bad and that there are some bad techs out there.  This, I fully agree.  I’ve worked with some in the past.  Just as there are good users and bad users, there are good techs and bad techs.

That’s why I’m dedicating this post on how to be a good technician.  This is going to be a surprise to a lot of techs out there but it is not based on what you know.  Seriously.  While I do admit, being able to solve the user’s issue in a minute does help, it’s not the end all to customer satisfaction.

First – and most important:  LISTEN.  That is a human you’re interacting with.

I don’t mean sit and listen to a 30 minute rant at how they are terrible with computers, they always have problems with computers, and Microsoft is in existence just to make their lives difficult.  When they are describing the issue to you, listen to them, make eye contact.  Don’t just plop down in front of their computer and start taping away at the keyboard – that will make you look like a robot (and that’s only OK if you’re JP from “Grandma’s Boy” – but even he was annoying).  Plus, this makes the user feel like a number as opposed to a person.

Listen to their concerns, don’t be afraid to ask questions (believe it or not it does not make you look incompetent, in fact, it makes it look like you are paying attention!), even repeat what the user said to make sure you understand what they are saying.

Second – don’t rush the job.  Yes, some issues only take a minute or two to fix but many don’t.  Don’t try to fly through it.  Take your time.  If you rush, the chances of you making a mistake are greatly increased.  Even double check your work if you need to.  This leads right into:

Third – Make sure you have resolved the issue, if possible.  Sit down with the user, explain to them what you did (in non-technical terms), and have them verify that the issue has been resolved.  If they couldn’t print, have them send something to the printer.  If they couldn’t access a site, have them access it.  One of the worst feelings I get is when I get a repeat user with the same issue and it’s because I didn’t solve it the first time.

Next – I’ll let you in on a little secret – build up a good and solid network.  If I find myself with an employer for more than 2-3 months, I start building up a network (and not just those I directly work with).  Get to know people, even if it is purely virtually (though email, phone calls, IM etc..).  When you get these connections established, don’t be afraid to help them out if they ask for help, most will quickly return the favor when you need help in the future.  Plus, the more people you know, the more people you have to ask for good letters of recommendations when it comes time to ask for a raise or promotion.  :)   Building up a network does NOT mean you’re kissing their rears, too.  No one likes a kiss-ass.

Keep in touch with that network.  As long as you do this, your network will grow.  Yes, people will leave but others will come into the groups.  Your group will grow and the knowledge base of the group will grow with it.  Even if you’re alone there are many techie sites out there that you can join for quick answers (for example, Windrivers – http://forums.windrivers.com).

Also, it’s not about what you know but can you find the answer?  I worked with a guy once who had his CCNA, MCSP, MCP+I, A+, N+, and graduated “with honors” from a local well known computer school.  Let’s just ay he spent over 10 minutes arguing with a customer (over the phone) claiming that they knew nothing about computers since they didn’t know what operating system they were running and he couldn’t help them.  He never heard of Windows 3.1 (and this was back in 2000).  Now, who do you think the customers would rather deal with – him, who didn’t even know how to install drivers but had that education, or me with no education but someone who would be willing to jump onto Google.com or ask a few co-workers for the answers?

Don’t be an arrogant jackass.  This is one of the biggest complaints.  Seriously, you’re talking to a human.  Just because you know (allegedly) know more about computers than they do doesn’t mean you can treat them like bubblegum under your shoe.  I’m sure there are areas they could whoop your rear in, sales, engineering,and  SOCIAL SKILLS.

Be presentable.  Don’t go to work dirty in raggedy clothes.  Well, this might be OK in a surf shop or a grunge store but not many techs work there.  Adhere to the dress code (my office is business causal, I either wear nice jeans or khakis and a polo shirt), shower, etc.

Respect their time.  Yes, I’ve said people need to respect the techs time but techs need to respect the customer’s time, too.  They are your customer, even if they aren’t directly paying you.  Just because you just logged onto World of Warcraft doesn’t mean you can tell everyone to wait.  They have things to do or else they wouldn’t need the computers.

Don’t be the militant police.  Every day I see software on computers that shouldn’t be on there (including mine) but I understand that corporate either gives us horrible options for what we need or no option at all.  Unless it is a security risk (torrent software, etc..), a resource hog and shouldn’t be there (once I found someone had installed Pirates of the Caribbean online on their computer) , or has absolutely no business on a work PC (porn), I don’t care.  So what they have TradeWinds Legends on their computer.  So what if they have iTunes.  I don’t care as long as they fully understand I will not support them and will not reinstall them if I need to reinstall Windows on their PCs (and I will let them know if that is causing the issue, too).  I did once report that some employees were using a hacker site to go around the internet firewall while working in the stores.  My issue with that:  they’re allowing you to see the whole internet, what do you think you’re allowing them to see on your computer that has complete access to all of our customers’ information?  Trust me; I’m willing to bet you have skeletons in your closet, too.

I’m sure there is a lot more I could write on this subject but it’s a Friday evening (and I’m blogging?), it’s been a long week, and David Byrne’s film “True Stories” just came in and I want to watch it.  :)

FPL – you’re funny.

Author: admin  |  Category: Business, Consumer, News, Observations, Rant, Thoughts  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

About a week ago I called FPL (Florida Power & Light – our electric company) about electric arcing from the wires to a palm tree in front of my house.  In my call with them they said it could take up to 21 days before someone came out to look at it.  You can imagine I wasn’t too happy considering the severity of the situation and how this was a fire hazard to my home and family.

This morning I noticed a pamphlet on my door from FPL – I looked at and was shocked at what I saw.

Wait did I read that right? Seriously, I misread it, so I took a closer look:

Yes, I was not reading it wrong. Their comments were “No current hazard, palm fronds are burned away from wires” (nice pun, by the way). So, there is no hazard because there was already a fire and it was burned away from the wires. Now, I’m no alarmist but when I saw the arcing, I was estimating it was between 6-12 inches long. That’s a lot of power – most armature Tesla coils don’t even go out that far.

Mind you, this is a company that owns and operates multiple nuclear power plants. I can see FPL now, as an online buddy of mine put it, “Oh meltdown, it’s one of those annoying buzzwords. We prefer to call it an unrequested fission surplus”. Can’t wait to see them use that one at Turkey Point or in Seabrook, NH.

What will FPL do next?

School House Rock (style) presents Tyrannosaurus Debt

Author: admin  |  Category: Business, Internet, News, Politics  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

I watched this this morning and found it to be interesting while entertaining. I really wish these guys would come back, they were great to watch back in the day.

(10-02-2008 new link since the old one went dead)

New site

Author: admin  |  Category: Business, Sites  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

I’ve launched a new site for all of you who listen to Big 105.9FM (and The Gater’s) morning show, The Paul and Young Ron Show.

You Can’t Win.Net

It is a site I’m putting up for their game show, You Can’t Win. I will try to listen every day and update the site each day (there are some days I’ve missed because of work).

I have a list of all of the answers for questions one though three and all of the “wrong” answers plus little hints that were deliberately (and inadvertently) by the cast, staff, and callers.

Right now, I have a feeling I know what the answer to question #4 is just by listening every day and maintaining the list.

The morning show is based out of Big 105.9FM out of Miramar, FL but is also simulcast in West Palm Beach though The Gater, 98.7 FM so their reach is from Key Largo to Stuart, Florida (rumored to be as far south as Islamorada and as far north as Yeehaw Junction). Tune each weekday morning around 7:30 (usually between 7:20 and 8:00AM) and remember, you can win!

The EFF Speaks out against the Snowe Bill

Author: admin  |  Category: Business, Domains, Internet, Politics  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has issued a statement on the Snowe Bill, calling it a “free speech double-whammy”.
Read it here

Posted by Corynne McSherry

Congress is contemplating a so-called “Anti-Phishing Consumer Protection Act” (APCPA) that takes an odd view of consumer protection. In the name of stopping phishing schemes, Senator Olympia Snowe has introduced S. 2661, a bill that would expand trademark law, limit consumer access to information about competitive products, and eviscerate key protections for anonymous speech. Co-sponsors are Senators Bill Nelson and Ted Stevens (yes, THAT Ted Stevens).

The bill starts off relatively inoffensively by prohibiting the use of false information to solicit identifying data from a computer (this was already illegal, but we’ll let that go for now). But then it goes on to forbid the use of brand names in domain names, and the use of another’s domain name in emails, on websites, or in web ads. This prohibition is unnecessary: if the use of a brand name in a domain name is confusing, it is already actionable under trademark law. And it is dangerous because, unlike current federal trademark law, the APCPA does little to protect noncommercial and comparative advertising uses of trademarks. For example, U.S. trademark dilution law excludes noncommercial, parodic and comparative uses. Under the APCPA, however, noncommercial use is merely a factor to be “considered,” not a clear exclusion, and comparative use is not explicitly protected at all. Given that trademark law simply doesn’t apply to noncommercial uses of marks, such meager “protection” for noncommercial use is unacceptable. Moreover, it appears that the bill would give a new weapon to folks like Sanofi-Aventis, the pharmaceutical giant that tried to use trademark law to shut down a news site about a new and controversial drug, Acomplia, because the site (www.acompliareport.com) included the name of the drug.

To make matters worse, another provision allows any Tom, Dick or Harry to force domain name registrars to reveal a customer’s personally identifying information by simply sending an email alleging that the customer has violated the new law. No need to comply with the traditional legal niceties of, say, an actual filed lawsuit or a subpoena that might permit the customer to go to court to protect her anonymity. A mere allegation is enough.

Sure, phishing is a problem. But you don’t solve it by rewriting trademark law and depriving lawful speakers of the chance to keep their identities private. This ill-conceived legislation should be

SEDO Takes on the Snowe Bill!!

Author: admin  |  Category: Business, Domains, Internet, Politics  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

This was posted on a forum (a domainer’s forum) today. It seems that SEDO is taking action with the ICA to lobby against the Snowe Bill or the falsely advertised “Anti-Phishing Consumer Protection Act of 2008″. Feel free to read and enjoy.

The post can be read here:
DNForum.com

Added 3-11-08:
Sedo has posted on the same forum:
Sdeo’s Post

Dear (),

As a founding member of the Internet Commerce Association, Sedo believes that it is important to invest our resources in ensuring the long term health and viability of the domain name market and the business of traffic monetization. Whether you buy and sell domains for your business, maintain a portfolio of domain properties, or simply enjoy the use of domain names for personal websites or blogs, a threat has emerged to domain ownership and it is time for interested individuals and businesses to protect our rights.

As you may have already read in the news or on a forum, a bill was recently introduced in the United States Senate by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) that aims to drastically and needlessly expand the scope of rights associated with a trademark outside the realm of traditional trademark law. The Anti-Phishing Consumer Protection Act of 2008, or the Snowe bill as it is referred to, appears on its face to be directed to fighting the practice of “phishing”, which is a worthwhile cause, but contains many elements completely unrelated to this purpose, such as creating a cause of action for displaying advertising on a generic or descriptive domain name simply because another company has registered rights to a similar word or phrase.

If this bill is passed by Congress and signed by the President, it would immediately arm large businesses and government agencies with the ability to claim countless valuable and legitimate domains from their current owners. Supported by the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA), a coalition of companies that include Verizon, AIG, Dell, and several large hotel chains, the Snowe bill is attempting to confuse the issue of malicious phishing scams with the lawful and legitimate business of buying, selling and monetizing domain names.

By removing many of the intended checks and balances of traditional trademark law, designed to ensure that trademark rights are limited by geography and class of goods and services, the Snowe bill is attempting to eliminate many of the roadblocks large companies have faced in their attempt to gain de facto monopoly rights on words that rightfully belong to the public domain. Furthermore, the absence of due process principles make it likely that valuable domain properties could be taken from their rightful owner due only to a vague resemblance to another’s mark.

I encourage all Sedo users and domain owners anywhere to help fight the Snowe bill by joining the Internet Commerce Association, a non-profit industry organization founded to help represent domain name investors and developers and the direct search industry. The Internet Commerce Association is comprised of responsible businesses and individuals who have joined together to improve public confidence in internet commerce. Based in Washington D.C., their mission is to promote and share best practices among participants in the domain name industry and to educate consumers, policy makers, law makers and the media about the value and benefits of direct navigation traffic and the domain name industry.

Please visit www.internetcommerce.org to learn more about the Snowe bill and how you can support the ICA in our effort to fight its passage.

Best Regards,

Your Sedo Team

Projected winners and losers of the Snowe Bill

Author: admin  |  Category: Business, Domains, Internet, Politics  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

A list is being compiled of the winners and losers of the Snowe bill and so far:

The winners are any corporation who is aggressive against cyber-squatting and domains:

* Dell
* Microsoft
* Adidas
* Walmart
* Mariott
* Verizon
* Several other large corporations

* Plus WIPO (more claim fees)
* ICANN (more registrations changing hands = more revenue)
* Cyber Squatters outside of the US since they’ll be outside of US jurisdiction
* Phishers outside of the US (like most of them) for the same reason

And the losers:

* Small businesses (they’ll lose their web presence)
* Domainers (internet real estate investors)
* Web masters / programmers – they’ll also lose their sites
* Parking companies such as Sedo, Parked.com, NameDrive, etc..
* Registrars such as GoDaddy, Moniker, TuCows, etc..
* Ad supplying companies such as Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft (yes, they’re a winner and a loser)
* Web hosting companies, more people won’t want to have websites or domains in fear of them being taken away

This has already been tested when a senator named Sam Adams used SamAdams.com as his campaign page and Sam Adams (the beer) sued him for copyright infringement.

Even generics are not safe, like cars.com, laptops.com, pictures.com etc..!!!

Before I go, here’s a list of companies who support this bill, as you can see, some of these are going to benefit from this new law. Companies are part of an organization that is trying to pass a law that will benefit them and hurt others. What’s wrong with this picture?

American International Group, Inc.
Bacardi & Company Limited
Compagnie Financière Richemont SA
Dell Inc.
Eli Lilly and Company
Hilton Hotels Corporation
HSBC Holdings plc
Marriott International, Inc.
Verizon Communications Inc.
Wyndham Worldwide Corporation

(Source: http://domainnamewire.com/2008/03/03/senate-anti-phishing-bill-or-reverse-cybersquatting-in-disguise/ )

A letter to Senator Bill Nelson, co-sponsorer of the “Snowe Bill”

Author: admin  |  Category: Business, Domains, Internet, Politics  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

(Author’s note – I am not against anti-fraud, anti-phishing, or anti-cyber squatting / typo squatting legistlation, but people really need to look into the misleading titles of many of our laws to see what they truly involve. This is truly a don’t judge a book by it’s cover case).

Senator Bill Nelson,

I am writing this letter in response to the Ms. Snowe’s bill a.k.a. the “Anti-Phishing Consumer Protection Act of 2008” (“APCPA”). I am emailing it to your office now so I can be assured that there is a quick delivery of this letter and I will also mail it (USPS) a copy of it to your office in the next few days so there is a hard copy on paper about my serious concerns in regards to this bill.

While the cover of this bill does seem for the better good of every person in the US, the law itself opens the gateway to take control of a large part of the internet from the people to large corporations.

The two major points in the bill are both already illegal or against parent-organization policies.

Phishing (a.k.a. using deceptive practices to obtain information to acquire a gain from an unsuspecting target (monetary, etc…)). This is already illegal against US law (fraud, theft etc..) and including this in the bill is just a redundant addition to our laws. Not only that, the vast majority of phishing attempts are conducted by individuals outside the US and outside of US jurisdiction. This bill would not even put a small dent in the number of phishing scams we see in our emails often (I’ve seen many). The average consumer needs to be educated on how to notice a phishing attempt as opposed to a legitimate communication from the institution that they do business with (most commonly banks).

Typo-Squatting and Cyber-Squatting (a.k.a. the use of a trademark in a domain or something that is “confusingly similar” to a trademark and/or creating a site that is confusingly similar to the copyrighted material in order to profit (either though ads or the sale of the site and/or domain). This is already against ICANN and WIPO policies, so once again, this addition to the law is redundant to current policies.

Both of the main points in this law are not needed in new legislation since they already exist with their respective governing bodies.

The main concern is that this bill allows entities to register a trademark then file a case with WIPO and obtain any domain name (including generic words), even if it is used for legitimate purposes and had been registered long before the trademark was submitted.

For example, if I own the domain “laptops.com” (I do not, just an example) that I registered years ago and had a site dedicated to laptops (sales, support, reviews, etc..). A large computer company could easily trademark “laptops” and then file a claim against me for the domain forcing me to hand it over. I would lose all the time and money I put into the site plus the large corporation would then quickly and easily gain from all of my hard work (by getting in all the traffic I was getting on the site) and my reputation as a web master would be tarnished since I would have this case against me and would have a “cyber squatter” black mark on my name. While this bill is proposing to prevent cyber squatting the exact opposite would happen, large corporations would be able to profit from the hard work of small businesses and individuals who pour a lot of hard work into developing a successful site.

I can understand that many members of the senate may not have the most current knowledge of web development, domaining, and related industries. If you’d like, feel free to contact me (information at the bottom of this letter) and I can give you a list of names of people who are very well educated as well as ethical in this industry who can discuss it in full detail. This bill is bad news for small web-based businesses and I’m sure you can agree that small businesses are the backbone of this country’s economy more so than the large corporations who would fully benefit from the points in the bill that are not already covered under other laws and policies.

STOP THE SNOWE BILL!

Author: admin  |  Category: Business, Domains, Internet, Politics  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

I don’t have much time to discuss this but click on the link above to read about a new bill that can kill the domaining industries and give corporations the ability to just take domains from anyone for any reason.

This is a blatant attempt to commercialize the web and take control of domains. This is a huge industry that they are trying to kill so these corporations can pad ther own wallets by taking the money away from domainers.

Also, CADNA has an article on their site:

http://www.cadna.org/en/press-release-february-26-2008.html

Abuse is one thing but allowing companies to take long time registered domains because of newly registered trademarks, regardless of their use, is plain old legal theft. This is another attempt from our government to let corporations control the internet and the economy while taking it away from the average consumer.

Consumers stand up for their rights: Network Solutions sued!

Author: admin  |  Category: Business, Domains, Internet  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

It’s amazing where the general populace will act when ICANN won’t.

Network Solutions, a domain registrar, has been under scrutiny because of a policy. You search for a domain that you are interested in there, THEY register it (without your permission), park it (making money), then force you to pay their $35 registration fee (as opposed to every one else’s $7-$10). They can do this with a 5-day grace period where people who buy domains can get a full refund if they decide they do not want the domain (say you spell it wrong etc..).

This is the equivalent of shopping for a car. When you find the exact car you want, the dealership charges you 3X the sticker price and buys all of the same models in the area (or disallows other dealerships to sell it). ICANN is in the USA, they should know about capitalism but obviously don’t support it. ICANN has investigated this issue and “found nothing wrong” but now people are fed up.

The law firm is also suing ICANN for allowing this to go on despite the complaints and concerns. Good for them. No one went after RegisterFly after they lost their ICANN backing (and tens of thousands of people lost their domains because of it). ICANN allowed them to continue on with questionable practices and they’re doing the same with Network Solutions.

It’s good to see that ICANN is (finally) being held responsible for their lack of action, maybe they’ll wisen up and start paying attention to what is actually going on in this industry.