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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Assumed Ignorant

My internet was down for about an hour yesterday.  It could be readily traced back to a specific piece of hardware, and fortunately for me, I happened to have a replacement on hand that wasn't the same make and model that was causing massive internet outages all over the world.  Even when I upgrade, I hardly ever throw anything away.  I have at least three routers and a Hub sitting in my office, unused since they've been replaced with faster equipment.  So, once I knew what the problem was, I dug out my old Netgear Wireless router, reset it to factory defaults, and plugged it in to get us limping back along until Belkin could fix whatever it messed up.

The tech at Charter couldn't explain to me what was wrong, only that it was a problem with the Belkin router.  Belkin couldn't explain what was wrong, only that some software change had caused the problem.  My bet is that the server at Belkin that the routers used to ping to determine that they really had Internet access were either down, decommissioned, or renamed.

In trying to work through the problem with my Internet tech support guy, I ran into a problem that patients (especially chronic ones) have with their doctors.  I know more than your average Internet user about networking.  By the time I've called the cable guy, I've gone through all the standard Tier 1 fixes, sniffed the network if necessary, and have a pretty good idea the problem is NOT at my end. I tried to explain that to this guy, but he didn't have ANY training about how to talk to a tech savvy customer.  He only knows his scripts.  I've had doctor's like that too, who try to dumb stuff down for me because "It's too complicated."  I'd like to show them some of the code I've had to maintain in my life.

In any case, I wish there was something we could do about the attitude that customers or patients should be assumed ignorant until proven otherwise.  I think that there are some basic skills, such as being able to reset your internet box, fill up your tank, change and flush your oil and coolant, throw a breaker, or understand our health, and the healthcare system (such as it is) that should be part of everyone's basic education.  And I think the same thing goes for Physicians and technology!

When did assumed ignorant become the default, and why do we let people get away with it?


  1. When did you last man a help desk? The assumption is inescapable. People with neurons that are connected rarely call the help desk.

    Why we tolerate it? Hmmmmm

    1. I used to manage a network for a 100 person office building, and train people on how to use computers. I ran a service department and then a service company. I've spent my fair share of time on the help desk side. The challenge here is to educate the customer before they need help. We gave up on that somewhere in the 90's I think, and just assumed that the computer would either be easy enough for them to use, or that they shouldn't need to know much about how it works. While I agree, the basic stuff should be very easy (and these days, it is much more so), the idea that you can just make a phone call to get someone else to do all the thinking for you makes me a bit nuts. I know it's probably not a reasonable response. However, being treated to kid-level explanations about my Internet service makes me just a bit crazy.