2015.01.14 techno-stupid

I finally got around to a new note to begin the new year of 2015, and when I posted it yesterday, well, I found myself actually trying to post the note, which is a distinctly different thing from posting a note. And here we go, into a new year of techno-stupid, that is, the wonderful world of techno-malfunction.

In this particular case, well, maybe I’m just hopelessly stupid, but discovering the problem ended up wasting an astounding and practically obscene amount of time, for what turned out to be an incredibly simple, stupid little thing. To be clear right off the bat, the problem was not a result of me actually doing something wrong, or, at least, nothing I did wrong, according to available information. What happened? In simplest form, somebody responsible for the technical function of a website changed something, that makes a process that worked now fail completely, with no clue at all as to the reason for the failure, and evidently never thought to, perhaps, tell people about this.

The actual problem is simple, at least from this end, whatever might be involved in everything in the engine room on the server side of things. If you write and edit posts in a real word processor/editor program, and then upload it, the URL for the target page that has scripting handing the shuffle was changed, changing the protocol from HTTP to HTTPS.

That’s it. That’s all it was.

Discovering this, eventually, it took seconds to make the change in the appropriate place and presto… it works just fine.

Incidentally, I found the answer in an almost offhand comment from an online “helper” in a “support” forum on the WordPress site, mentioning to somebody else with a posting malfunction that things were being changed from HTTP to the “secure” HTTPS, because this was “better”, which prompted me to go check the URL involved that tells my software (MS Word) where to shuffle the post, because I was fairly sure that it was not starting with HTTPS. I just thought I would go to try to find this again, and I can’t find the page, even using the “search” function within the WordPress site.

Oh yeah. One little item about this kind of thing on WordPress. Apparently, people charged with the task of helping frustrated people with their problems there are called, I kid you not, “Happiness Engineers“.

Now, along the way, I did manage to find some forum entries with people having what appears to be the exact same problem, and not only are they not being led to what appears to be the same relevant answer that fixed the malfunction I encountered, the people who appear to be charged with the task of diagnosing and solving problems to assist people lead those people through all kinds of pointless nonsense as “solutions”. Even worse than the problem of not solving the problems these people are having, the people with the problems are being led through all kinds of time wasting and completely unnecessary jumping through hoops that only make their situation even worse, by adding work and complexity that does nothing, and just creates new problems.

It gets even worse than that. In one example I found, the person’s problem is obvious, reading their post, having found the source of the similar malfunction I encountered. Reading, I found a reply ffrom a “Happiness Engineer” that completely failed to diagnose the actual problem, and then led them through a blind alley that requires the person with the problem to go through a bunch of extra work that solves nothing, and then, the ultimate touch of absurdity… I can’t do anything to write a note explaining any of this, because this forum thread is shown as being closed to replies from anyone except the person originally posting the query with their problem, and the “Happiness Engineer” who has taken on the question and failing to deal with it. Nobody who sees what the problem actually is can do anything.

That raises a whole topic of something that’s a relevant side item, which is not just the matter of some technical malfunction, but the extra layer of problems in trying to find some kind of clues, some sort of relevant information, some kind of competent help to diagnose and fix a problem. Just writing these words, I feel pretty sure that for anybody reading this, the probability is high that this will immediately strike a certain note of resonance, shall we say, with people’s own personal battles with some kind of malfunction coupled with the amazing frustration of trying to get it sorted out while feeling like they’re completely on their own.

In shortest form, among all the problems people can have with all kinds of assorted “tech”, is the epic agony of trying to sort out a problem and finding that every route you take only leads to people who are supposedly functioning in a role of handling this kind of thing who, by all available evidence, have no fucking idea what they’re doing. This doesn’t just result in staggering levels of extra frustration, from being unable to diagnose and then correct a problem, but also in endless wasted time and piles upon piles of extra simple raw aggravation generated by some clueless goober offering “diagnosis” and “solutions” that are not only useless, but just absurdly idiotic.

I’m not picking on the WordPress people; this is a problem that’s widespread, and there is an entire epic tale of malfunction and woe involving AT&T, with the combination of chronic malfunctions still unresolved after approximately a year, yes, a fucking whole year, and the absolute wall of irresponsibility and staggering incompetence blocking any path through to people within that organization who actually are responsible and technically competent. It you notice any AT&T advertising, you’ll note that they adopted a little advertising slogan that says “rethink possible”, which carries enough irony to down a rhino.

“Rethink Possible” indeed. I thought it was possible for AT&T to provide a properly working service they’re charging actual cash money for, and fix any problems that might crop up, but, a large pile of accumulated evidence indicates that, in fact, what I thought was possible turns out to be some form of naivete.



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