Working at a tech support call center is a lot like being a deep sea diver

Working in a tech support call center is a lot like being a deep sea diver. Sort of. Deep sea divers can only go deep underwater for a certain amount of time, then they must spend time on the surface decompressing. There’s no such thing as a deep sea diver working twelve hours a day, seven days a week. It’s a matter of chemistry. They simply can’t go to the depths they routinely dive to and breath the combination of gasses they routinely breath without spending a significant amount of time on dry land decompressing from it all.

In that, working at a call center is a lot like being a deep sea diver. For every hour spent on the phone dealing with difficult, obnoxious people, I need time away from it all so that I can decompress. It’s what I’m doing this Labor day weekend. I’m decompressing. I took Friday off so that I would have a full four days off the phone.

I should point out that the majority of the calls I take at work are with perfectly wonderful people who are as kind and courteous as you would hope they would be. It’s the small minority of people who are rude, aggressive, and overly obnoxious. Usually the more technically involved the issue, the nicer people tend to be. Often times the rudest of the rude people involve something as simple as getting a password reset. They can’t verify the account information that need to verify to get a password reset, and that was clearly my fault.

For example, When I recently asked a man to please stop swearing and shouting at me, he responded to my request by telling me that if I didn’t like it, to read a book or go to school and get a real job. He was calling because he couldn’t remember his password. He was angry because he couldn’t verify the account info he needed to verify to get the password reset. He hung up.

The go to school and/or read a book comment is funny because even though I have an associates degree (in avionics!), I’m one of the least educated individuals in my department. Many of the people I work with have bachelors degrees and a few even have masters degrees. An education won’t keep you out of a call center, at least not my call center.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my job, especially when it involves assisting folks with integrating their credit card processing accounts with their WordPress websites. I just don’t like mean people, but then again, who does?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to decompress.

Free Comic Book Day 2013

Over the years, Free Comic Book Day has turned into a sort of combination of Black Friday and Halloween for nerds.

Tomorrow, May 4, is Free Comic Book Day, the annual event where people can go to participating comic book stores and get free stuff. Not only are there special comic books to be had, other comic book related items are usually there for the taking as well. Most participating comic book retailers also use the annual event to promote their business by having sales on back issues and other merchandise.

Over the years, Free Comic Book Day has turned into a sort of combination of Black Friday and Halloween for nerds.

Hagerstown is of course without a comic book shop since the city condemned the building in which it resides. That means anyone in Hagerstown who wants to enjoy Free Comic Book Day must travel to Comics World in Chambersburg or Brainstorm Comics & Gaming and Beyond Comics, both in Frederick. Yes, that’s right. The city of Hagerstown doesn’t have a comic book shop while the neighboring city of Frederick has two. They also have a Costco while we don’t, but we do have a nicer Sam’s Club. Yes, that’s right, Frederick has both a Costco and a Sam’s Club. No wonder people in Frederick think they’re better than everyone else in Western Maryland.

I probably wont be attending any Free Comic Book Day events tomorrow as my schedule for tomorrow already looks as though it’s already full.

Headway Base killed my blog

I haven’t ruled out ever using Headway again. I just won’t be using it anytime in the foreseeable future.

Headway ThemesA while back I purchased the Headway theme framework for WordPress. Among other things, it offered a true drag and drop interface. Essentially, you could design a WordPress site without writing a lot of code. That appealed to me for a number of reasons. Also, there was no limit to the number of sites you could create using Headway. Unlike other premium WordPress themes, you didn’t have to purchase a separate licence for each website developed with Headway.

I purchased Headway Base last year during a special Black Friday sale where I got 25% off.

Though Headway indeed has a drag and drop interface, it is extremely sluggish and slow. Plus, you cannot use Windows Internet Explorer to work with Headway, you must use Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Safari. When I tried to bring up the Headway interface with IE9, I got a message telling me Internet Explorer doesn’t have any of the modern features Headway requires.

Last time I checked, Windows Internet Explorer 9 was the most popular browser on the Internets. The fact that Headway isn’t compatible with it seems… strange.

When I tried to use Chrome to work with Headway, it would take so long to switch between Grid or Design view, it would eventually time out. It would do this sometimes even when using Firefox, but not nearly as often as in Chrome. I never tried using Safari with Headway, so maybe it performs differently.

So last week I was trying to fine-tune the design of my blog in Headway when it timed out and would not load back up. Not only would the Headway interface not come back up, but the entire site also wouldn’t load either. I got just a WordPress white screen of death. I thought it was just the laptop I was working on, but when I went to pull my blog up on my desktop, I got the same thing.

I then proceeded to go through the standard WordPress troubleshooting steps. I renamed the plugin folder to something else thinking there may be a conflict. That didn’t fix it, not that I thought it would. I then renamed the Headway folder. After I did that, I was able to get the WordPress admin login screen and login, but the site was still showing a white screen. I went to the plugin screen and saw that all my plugins had been deactivated, but the notice wouldn’t go away when I left that screen and went back. That wasn’t normal. The fact that it was showing the warning over and over again led me to believe that there was a problem with the database. That made sense because Headway interfaces with the database on the server differently than regular WordPress themes. It’s one of the reasons you can’t just move the folder Headway resides in from one WordPress installation to another. If you want to move your finished Headway design from staging to live, you are encouraged by Headway to pay $75 for a plugin called BackupBuddy.

I renamed the plugin folder back to what it should be call and then installed a database repair plugin called WP-DBManager. I used it to fix the database, and when it was complete, everything was working again.

I’ve since gone back to running the default WordPress theme, Twenty Twelve, or more accurately, a child theme based on Twenty Twelve. I haven’t ruled out ever using Headway again. I just won’t be using it anytime in the foreseeable future, at least not with this blog. It might be more suited for creating brand new WordPress sites, not one as old and dusty as this blog is.