September 2004 Archives

Merry Christmas

It is September 14, 2004. The leaves here are just starting to change and a few pumpkins and mums are appearing on front door stoops. The temperature is a "chilly" 65. Yes, you guessed it - itís Christmas time.

At least it is according to L.L. Bean. Their Christmas catalog arrived today. The cover sports a painting with a family (dressed in L.L. Bean clothing) in a horse-drawn sleigh, merrily gliding through the snowfall toward a quaint New Englandy town.

There are only 101 days left to do my shopping and L.L Bean has just given me 276 pages to propel me forward along the journey. Theyíve lifted the burden of wading through Halloween and Thanksgiving and have shoved Christmas right in my face.

Thanks no, L.L. Bean. Iím not ready for snow. Iím not ready for shopping. Iím barely out of my summer shorts for Godís sake. Your catalog cover gives me the chills. The sweaters, down jackets, fleece-lined slippers, and pine centerpieces are depressing.

I need to ease into winter. Leaves have to change color. Plums and peaches have to disappear from the market shelves. Dinner must evolve from grilling to braising. The warm blanket needs to come out of storage and I have to wear a flannel shirt for a while.

I could toss this catalog, but another will arrive next week (and the week after that), so maybe Iíll start to collect them. When my internal calendar tells me itís Christmas time, Iíll take the pile, roll and tie them with string, and use them in the fireplace. That's when the L.L. Bean catalog will really give me that Christmas spirit.

Tech Support

After being in the tech provider business for 20 years, I have real sympathy for those who provide tech support. 80-90% of tech calls are the result of the user's error or ignorance. Tech personnel have to patiently deal with angry and frustrated folks who ususually don't have much of an idea of how or why a computer works.

So I tried to be very specific when my photoblog stopped working Tuesday night. I emailled my host provider and asked:

Have any changes been made to my server in the past two days? I have a blog powered by Expression Engine, a php driven app. It suddenly stopped functioning properly yesterday - no longer rendering html. As part of my troubleshooting I need to know if any changes were made from your end.
Note I didn't ask them to fix it, I specifically asked if they had made any server changes. The response was:

Well I sincerly apologize for the inconvenience.
We have checked your website it is working properly.
For further assistance please provide us the exact url where you are facing problems so that I can check and assist you further.
Do I note some sarcasm here? or simply illiteracy? Anyway, my question isn't answered so I respond:

Thank you for your prompt response. However, you really didn't answer my question. I asked if any work had been performed on the server recently.

I know that normal html file are rendering okay, but php pages are not. Any upgrade to php or similar work may leave the server functioning properly but might effect my blog software. It would be most helpful if I knew if any server work had been performed in the past 2-3 days.


It is now Thursday. They respond:

We have now fixed the problem with your additional doamin ''.

It is working properly now. Please check it and confirm.

Still no answer to the original question. I check the site. Still no photoblog. My response tells them what they "fixed":
No, you haven't fixed the problem. All you did was rename the emergency html page I had loaded that told folks that there was a problem. I had renamed it xindex.html so that it wouldn't interfere with your efforts. should normal call the index.php file. That file is not rendering dynamic html as it should. Please ignore the xindex.html file. In fact, i'll delete it from the server to avoid confusion.

If it will clalrify things, please see what you can do to get functioning. I'm sorry if I was not clear in my previous emails, but I did mention php in every one of them.

I get a hopeful reply:

We have again checked your Additional domain ''. It is properly pointing to folder 'photo' at your main domain account. We could properly view test.php file at following URL:

We suppose there is some scripting problem with index.php file under 'photo' folder.

I proceed to completely wipe all the photoblog software off the server. I backup the database that holds all the entries and delete that, too. I then spend two hours reloading everything. I fire up the photoblog and.... nothing. I begin to ratchet things up a bit:

I just finished deleting my entire blog software and the mySQL database that it connected to, and then recreated and reloaded everything from scratch. I still get no dynamic html at all.

This software ran fine for two months. I had absolutely no problems. I made no changes to the configuration or any other changes on Tuesday of this week. Sometime over Tuesday night it just stopped working.

You have never answered my original question - did you make any changes, updates, etc to my shared server anytime Tuesday or Wednesday? Please don't answer that my server is running fine - just give me a straight answer to my question.

If I can't run my blog on iPowerweb I'll have to take my account elsewhere. I just signed up for another year but will happily refuse to pay the credit card billing and move to another host if I can't get this resolved in the next day or two. Please contact the server folks and find out the answer to my question.

This morning (Friday) I get this response. They just don't get it:

Please provide us errors you are getting and where you are getting this errors to assist you better in solvign this issue.
I'm getting a bit more than peeved by now:

Have you not read all the email messages attached to this? Why are you folks unwilling to answer my question? DID YOU MAKE ANY CHANGES TO THE SERVER ON TUESDAY NIGHT/WEDNESDAY MORNING????

You want me to start all over again with the troubleshooting process???

The Expression engine software has been re-loaded. The mysql database has been deleted and then set up again. I ran the install.php and it reports that the blog is set up and ready to use. When I try to access the blog I get a file not found error. When I try to access the control panel for the blog I get a file not found error - PLEASE READ BELOW.

"BELOW" is the now 500 line long email with all the previous messages appended.

Makes you want to support the assualt weapons ban expiration doesn't it?

Ten minutes later:

We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience you are facing. We have changed IPs of our some of servers as per in our maintenance : ->

IP for your Domain name '' is ->

Please let us know if this is causing on your blog software.
We again apologize for all the trouble you have gone through this.

Lo and behold! The site comes up when I click the link.

I'm used to dealing with users who are ignorant through no fault of their own. The most important thing is to LISTEN to what they are saying and let them know that you understand their concern. When something server-based stops working you look at anything that you may have done to precipitate the problem.

I'm NOT used to ignorant tech support drones who keep to a troubleshooting script instead of reading the user trouble report.

I'm out of breath by now. My blood pressure begins to recede. I can stop spending useless time in fornt of the computer chasing a problem of someone ele's doing.

I can do something useful. I can start the search for a new web host.


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This page is an archive of entries from September 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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