Day 20,324…aargh!

If you are:  an introvert, extremely busy or not a fan of yammering on the phone, then you have probably been down this familiar road:

  1. You visit a web site that offers a service you are interested in but the web site has very little information regarding the service posted on the web site.
  2. You visit the “contact us” section of the web site and see a phone number or feedback form listed.  Instead of calling the company you fill out the feedback form (you provide your email address as well as several other bits of “required” data) to request more information.
  3. Starting the next day, you ignore two phone calls per day from this company for the rest of your life.

I find a few things strange about this outcome:

  1. The company is aware of how the visitor reached out to them (by feedback form instead of phone call).  The company seems to ignore this critical piece of information.  Instead of emailing the requested information to the visitor, they choose to contact the visitor repeatedly through other methods.
  2. The company is aware that the visitor has not answered the first 9,000 call attempts they have made.  The company seems to ignore this critical piece of information.  Instead of halting the calls and pursuing another method of communication (like email), the company chooses to call the visitor’s number for a long period of time.  When I say long, I mean well after the visitor has died and his or her phone number has been transferred to other humans.  These poor humans of the future find themselves in a constant state of confusion over the daily calls they are receiving from a company they have never heard of .

Is the human voice so miraculous that its sound must be present in order to unlock the wisdom of this company?

Is this company so fearful that their information will fall into the hands of robots that its employees feel they must verify the “humanness” of each inquiry by scrutinizing voices over the phone?

Is a mischievous person intercepting all incoming communication between visitors and the company and then robocalling all visitors in a crude attempt at being a nuisance with the intent of inflicting financial loss for the company and mental anguish for the visitor?

These questions are too complex for my little mind to answer.  I can only hope for a phone-free afterlife.

Advertisements

Door Access Control Systems can create SERIOUS CONFLICT

A door access control system is an electronically based means of entering a building, usually through the use of a card or keypad.

If you have a door access control system at your place of work or at home then you know that a system like this can create serious conflict with your coworkers or neighbors. This access system often places the responsibility of securing an entire structure solely on your shoulders when you are faced with piggybackers or tailgaters. Piggybacking occurs when someone with legitimate access to a building allows someone without access to the building to come in with them. Tailgating occurs when an intruder slips into the building with a person without their knowledge.

If you are uncomfortable with your door access control system or if you are considering having one installed then note the following suggestions and warnings listed below to help you better deal with a security system like this.

  • Understand that people will attempt (and may succeed) to piggyback or tailgate their way into the building.
  • Understand that no matter how much you train employees or neighbors on the importance of the system, many will become infuriated if they forget their access code or badge and are confronted when attempting to piggyback.
  • Understand that every time you allow a piggybacker or tailgater to come into a facility with you, you could be putting the safety of people or property inside the building at risk.
  • Have a plan ready to implement should you be faced with a piggybacker or tailgater:
    • Avoid confronting a person who is attempting entry via unapproved methods unless you are ready for the repercussions of doing so.  Repercussions could be anything from an unpleasant exchange all the way up to being accused of targeting people in some way to even violence, all of which could create long-lasting problems for both of you.   Many humans do not do well with confrontation or having to explain their behavior or whereabouts to others and you questioning motive in times of piggybacking or tailgating may create a very bad situation with someone you might have to see on a regular basis.
    • Scan the perimeter before entry and exit EVERY time. If you see someone lingering then do not go through the door, it is that simple. Just do not go through the door. Instead just smile at them if they have seen you and walk away as if you have forgotten to do something. This strategy is a huge time waster, especially if your arms are full of boxes or groceries, but it prevents confrontation and potential long-term animosity on the part of the person you would be questioning for access. What if the person asks you if they can come in with you? What if, what if, what if. Blah, blah, blah. You are already worrying too much. It does not matter what they say to you if you are implementing the strategy of just walking away instead of going through the door. If they ask you to let them in you can just tell them you cannot because you forgot the code. This strategy can still cause long-term animosity from the person you ignored because they may have a valid reason to gain entry but I have found this to be the calmest method of dealing with people attempting to gain access through alternative methods.  If they refuse to leave then finally break the news to them that you will not let them in.  But do not get angry if someone else lets them in.  You can only do what you can do.  You cannot control the behavior of others and there are always going to be people who do not care about security just like there are always going to be people who forget that it is because of proper security protocol that they are being questioned.
  • I do not recommend a door access control system when only ONE door makes up the whole system. I have been using door access control systems for about 15 years now and I am not impressed with one door just based on the high number of piggyback and tailgating attempts I have witnessed and then the fallout that occurs between coworkers or neighbors should someone be questioned when he or she attempts entry without proper codes or cards.
  • However, I really like a door access control system when TWO or more doors make up the whole system. It is a setup that creates a great deal of work for potentially malicious visitors and it also creates second chances for people with proper access who have concerns about who has entered the facility with them. Here is an example of a setup I like: the outer perimeter of the building has a door access control system. Once people make it through this first door, they are in a waiting area where there is a table and a phone. This waiting area allows a person to compose themselves should they be second-guessing a piggybacker or tailgater. A legitimate person has an opportunity to call someone from this area, set down packages or simply sit down themselves to kill time to avoid letting the questionable party through the second door. Several feet away is the second door access control system that must be used to actually get into the main part of the building. Beware, this waiting area is an enclosed space that could be putting you face to face with a malicious party. This waiting area can quickly become a dangerous space so train to fight like a warrior now should you ever need to protect yourself:)

Color-coding the internets – say what?!

I have been a web developer and computer programmer for a long time, so I know how frustrating and complex computers and mobile devices can be.  It is because of this experience that my number one rule is to never poke fun at users when they ask questions that make no sense regarding computing.  I myself asked all of those same crazy questions when I was learning, and I still ask many today.  The world is always kind enough to help me without fanfare, so I always do the same – no matter what.  Unfortunately, as hard as I tried, this rule went out the window recently when the effects of Hurricane Florence arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Huddled safe and sound in my mother’s home, with wind howling and trees swaying, we watched a funny show on TV and snacked on Cheez-It crackers (the white cheddar ones, oh yeah).  My mind was far from thoughts on technology.  My brain was a vortex of worry.  Are cows going to fly by the windows?  Are we going to run out of TP? Can I swim across torrential rivers while holding onto my mom, my rabbit, my cat and my hamster?

And then it happened.

My mom looked at me from across the room, sitting in her fancy recliner, and said something my brain could not compute.  “So what’s this thing called the Black Internet and how do I get on it?”

Initially I did not know how to respond.  I remained quiet for a short time as I search every square inch of my brain for some crumb of meaning and I came up empty.  I had never heard anyone refer to the internet using color codes before.  Finally, I had no choice but to resort to a very sophisticated techy reply of:  “Huh?”

“You know, the internet that steals your identity.”

And it finally hit me.  “Do you mean the Dark Web?”

“Yes! That’s it! The Dark Web!”

At this point uncontrollable bouts of wild laughter rolled out of me.  I tried to contain myself, I really did.  Luckily ma took it in stride and rolled her eyes until my fit was over and then we chatted about the Dark Web.

I cannot even type this blog post without laughing.  It is just too much.  I am sorry, I really am.  I guess I am not the IT professional I thought I was😊  I will try harder.  I promise.

Caution: the kind voice on the line could be up to no good

We received another suspect call, as do so many every day.  His voice was kind and patient.  His goal? To remote into our computer.  This is not good.  Listening to him was disturbing.  Not because I saw him as a threat but because I know he would have been able to manipulate many others out there who may not be tech savvy or who may have cognitive impairments or who may just be so inexperienced with deceivers that they may not realize what is happening and comply with his requests.

Use the following example of what happened to us as a reminder to keep your guard up at all times when communicating with strangers who are trying to reach you in this digital age.

  • The call came in from this phone number:  282-648-2794 and the caller id was a long series of numbers instead of an actual business name.  Phone numbers are easy to mask so this could or could not be the callers actual phone number.
  • The caller was a very sincere and patient young man with a thick accent, it sounded like an Indian accent.
  • He began the conversation with something creepy.  He made a comment that we had been on our computer yesterday.  This is something he would have no way of knowing.  But we replied yes.  This was his way of determining if we did or did not have a computer in our possession.
  • He then asked if we were the only ones that used the computer, this is his subtle way of determining if the computer is being used for business or personal use.
  • He then asks us to visit a web site and download software.  What he wanted us to download is software from alpemix.com in order to gain remote control access to our computer.  If you do an internet search of alpemix you will see that this is remote control software and it has been used in phone scams for many years.  I do not know the history of alpemix so I cannot say at this time if it is a software of good intent that is just unfortunately the software of choice of scammers or not.  Either way, the scam goes like this:  you download the alpemix software, the caller remotes into your machine and releases malware or viruses, your computer then shows you have malware or viruses, the caller then says that for a fee he will repair your computer.
  • We kept this caller on the phone so long pretending to be inept computer users who could not reach the alpemix.com site, that the caller finally gave up, said something so disgusting that it cannot be repeated and hung up on us.

If you think you have people in your home who would believe a caller like this, sit down and go through this scenario with them.  Encourage them to immediately disconnect the call.  Not engaging with the caller is the most successful strategy and then use features on your phone to block the call so hopefully you will not receive another call from the same people (many phones have call blocking features now and this is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of them).

Avoid engaging or arguing with the caller.   This will in no way change the trajectory of their behavior.  Make no mistake, you are dealing with a criminal over the phone.  We can only hope that they will suddenly take up a sweet hobby like knitting or cliff diving and be so preoccupied by it that they forget to show up for work at their job which is obviously a company called something like “Phone Scam Surplus Manufacturers of the Free World Organization”.  Just hang up the phone and go on your merry way:)

Google Ads = Descent into mind-numbing world of no answers

I had the strangest experience with Google Ads.  Interacting with this system and customer service required so much of my attention that I unfortunately had to wash my hands of the entire project and just walk away.

The problems started a few hours after creating a very simple ad for a pet calendar.  The entire ordeal went like this:

  1. The ad I created was short and to the point. I mentioned the price in the ad, included a picture of one of the pets and a brief description of the calendar along with the link to buy the calendar.
  2. The interface showed the ad had been approved after a few hours.
  3. But then the interface changed its mind a few hours later and rejected the ad so I proceeded to read the fine print for ads thinking maybe they had an unusual policy where they ban all cute kittens or bunnies.
  4. I found nothing unusual in the documentation. I also found nothing that gave me a clue as to why the ad was rejected.  So, I reworded the ad just in case the phrase “wall calendar” means something naughty in another language.   I submitted the ad again.
  5. No luck. The ad was rejected again several hours later.
  6. I reworded the ad again and submitted the ad again.
  7. No luck. The ad was rejected again several hours later.
  8. I called customer service by phone. They assigned the ticket to someone and said they would get back to me.  They could not tell me why the ad was rejected.  The customer service employees were very nice.
  9. I received an email from customer service informing me that my ad had been approved.
  10. Nope. The interface showed it had been rejected.
  11. I reworded the ad again and submitted the ad again.
  12. No luck. The ad was rejected again several hours later.
  13. I contacted customer service by email informing them of the problem.
  14. I received an email from customer service informing me that my ad had been approved.
  15. Nope. The interface showed it had been rejected.
  16. Customer service emailed me back saying it was rejected because I keep changing the ad and it must go through the approval process each time it is changed (hmmm….even if this is true, this in no way answers the question as to why this simple ad is rejected repeatedly).
  17. With no patience left, I deleted the ad and have abandoned use of this system.

Life is good again.

If you feel you must try using this system, then I recommend only submitting your ad once.  If your ad is rejected, then just walk away.  If you do not walk away at this point, then you will spend a great deal of time going in circles with people and reading documentation where, in the end, may offer up no clear solution.

When faced with endless exchanges of nothingness with other humans or automated systems, there is a chance of one’s own head popping off (or at least blood pressure rising) so proceed with caution.

Dealing with the IPERCTV disorder during the holidays – remote control mayhem

The holidays are going to be here before you know it and that means many of you are going to have a house full of relatives.  This quick post will help you prepare for the impending onslaught of freakish family behavior regarding electronics.

Most of my relatives are afflicted with a very strange disorder.  The “I must point every remote control at the TV and see what happens” disorder (also known as IPERCTV).  The scene usually unfolds at dawn.  One early riser must immediately know the weather conditions of all cities in the world via the gorgeous people on The Weather Channel.  Since no one else is up, and since the guest is incapable of complex thought at such an early hour, he or she proceeds to pick up all 37 remote controls lying around the house to try them out.  The behavior with each remote control is the same:  point the remote control at the TV, press every button on the remote control, move on to the next remote control and repeat.

It does not matter that the remote control says “General Motors” on it, clearly indicating that it is in fact a key fob for the car in the driveway, the guest is going to point it at the TV and click every button on it anyway.  One of these button presses inevitably sets off the car alarm of the car in the driveway and wakes up everyone in the house.  The rest of the family comes downstairs to investigate the alarm.  It is at this point that the guest quickly demands someone turn on the TV for the latest weather report.

For the next two hours the host attempts to sync back up the 985 audio and visual systems to the one remote control that they all used to successfully communicate with.  During the first hour and a half of troubleshooting, there is a tremendous amount of cussing.  The final thirty minutes is dedicated to testing, lecturing guests on remembering to use only one remote control and drinking beer for breakfast to deal with the stress.

To save your sanity, lock your extraneous remote controls away NOW.  Do not wait until your guests are in your living room.  To make for an even smoother visit, put a piece of paper next to the TV remote control that shows guests what buttons to push.

Good luck.

I love foreign magazines and now I have easy access to them!

Prior to the eBook explosion on our planet, I gave little attention to foreign magazines because they were often extremely expensive due to shipping costs and delivery time was delayed as well.

I am very happy to see so many magazines from faraway lands are now available to me electronically! Do not think you have to have a special device (other than a regular computer or a regular smart phone or tablet) to read these magazines.  If you have a computer, smart phone, or tablet, then you can download Kindle software directly to your device so you may begin reading these magazines immediately!

This is the location to download the necessary Kindle software:    https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/fd/kcp

Once you have the software downloaded then go on a fantastic shopping adventure on amazon.com for all the fabulous magazines you never had easy and timely access to before!  Here are just a few to get started (you would use the “Deliver to Kindle” during checkout – it is the option over on the right):

NOTE:  If you find a magazine that does not have the “Deliver to Kindle” option listed on the right, then the magazine is not yet available electronically.

To find more foreign magazines on amazon.com, here is one way to find them quickly:

There are several methods of reading eBooks besides using Kindle software, I outline more here:

https://jennymummey.wordpress.com/2016/09/20/it-doesnt-matter-what-electronic-devices-you-have-you-can-read-e-books-well-i-guess-maybe-a-fancy-toaster-wouldnt-work/

Best Tech Dream Ever

Holy schnikes! I had the best tech dream ever last night:)

The horror of forgetting every single password for every single web site, mobile app, desktop app, database, server, work door code, house door code, safe, car door code finally came to fruition in a stress filled dream of too much work and too little time.

When I realize my brain no longer contained all password data for all of my things in my life requiring passwords, I was so stressed about it that I was truly unable to react in any way and then suddenly this lovely wave of calm came over me and I accepted the moment.  I decided I would not pursue recovery in any way, I would just walk away from all that was password protected and start anew.

I woke up pretty happy at the tranquility of it all but also at the sheer absurdity of me in any dimension accepting loss of data – never!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑