Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Lowly Customer Service Rep no longer...

My company has recently hired me as District Webmaster. I will post more about this on my "new" old blog, Diary of a Tolkien Fiend. I have no more time for two blogs, so Reprobate Silver is officially ended. From now on I will only post at http://mouthofsauron.blogspot.com so be sure to go there right now and bookmark it!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Stupid Customers

Why do I get all the stupid customers? I've been doing customer service for five years now, and I am amazed at how many stupid people there are out there. And I don't mean the occasional mentally retarded person who calls in, but people who should know better. Professionals like doctors, lawyers, and the like. Take this guy who called in the other day. An employee of the WB. He ordered DSL three months ago and never installed it or used it, but never called us to cancel it, and now he wants to know why we've been billing him for it.

Hmmm... maybe because you ordered a service, we provided that service, and you never called us to cancel it? (Of course, I didn't say it quite like that, I had to be more diplomatic about it). But then this genius says: "But I don't understand why you would bill me for something I haven't even been using." So I said, "Well, how are we supposed to know you're not using it? Besides, you're not being billed for your use of the service. We bill you the same amount every month regardless of how much or how little you use it. I have DSL myself, and sometimes I go away for a month or two and I still have to pay the full monthly charge. The phone company isn't going to automatically stop billing me for the service while I'm on vacation unless I call to cancel or suspend the service."

Anyway, this asinine argument goes on for several minutes more, and so finally I say: "OK, let me put it this way. If you go to the cable company, order cable service, bring the box home and never hook it up to your TV, and then three months later call the cable company and ask them why you're being billed for cable TV that you never installed and have never used, they're going to say, 'Because you ordered cable, we provided you with three months of cable, and you never cancelled your cable service. It's not our fault that you ordered the service and never used it.'"

Then this birdbrain finally understood and promptly changed his story. Now he claimed he had called to cancel the service three months before but it was never disconnected. This guy works for the WB... and he didn't sound like a janitor. Makes me wonder why I'm still just a lowly customer service rep. Anyway, I made sure to permanently note his account so when he calls back the next rep who gets him will know that he's not only stupid, but a liar.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Still on hiatus

I still don't have time to update this blog regularly because I've re-discovered an old passion. When I was in the sixth grade a friend of mine, who was far geekier than me, introduced me to Zork on his Apple computer. For those of you who don't know, Zork is an interactive fiction game, also known as a text adventure game, set in a fantasy world similar to that of D&D's Greyhawk campaign setting and Tolkien's Middle-earth. It wasn't until I was in junior high school that I finally got my own computer (a Commodore 64)and was able to play this game on a regular basis, but I didn't get very far (only to the gates of Hades, as I recall) before I got it into my head that I could create my own text adventure game. So I started writing one (in BASIC), scrapped it because the program got too long and complex, started over again with a new approach that simplified the program, and then had to scrap that, too because it apparently ended up demanding too much memory (too many variables, I think... I kept getting an "Out of Memory" error when I tried to run it).

Anyway, I eventually gave up trying to write my own text adventure game, but lately I've been re-visiting those halcyon days of my youth spent whiling away the hours hunched over my keyboard (every now and then pounding my fist on my computer desk or banging my head against the wall, or shouting obscenities at my compleatly blameless computer monitor when things weren't working the way they should), as I attempt to write a program in Python that will appear to comprehend relatively complex sentences the way the parser in Zork did. I also have an idea for the setting and main objective of the game, and I'm occasionally taking time out from coding in order to map out the gameworld (another thing I used to enjoy doing) and to write descriptions of each of the rooms. Oh, and of course, I'm also occasionally taking time out to eat, sleep, and go to work.

As you can imagine, this leaves me little time for blogging, so it might be a while before I start posting on the regular like I used to.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

My name is Chris and I am a Linux addict...

If you're wondering why there have been no updates for a while, it's because I've finally said good-bye to Windows and am getting to know my new Linux system (well, to be truthful, I didn't really say good-bye to Windows for good, I'm still keeping it around for game-playing purposes... as far as I'm concerned, that's really all it's good for anyway).

Okay, that's all I have time to post right now. It's back to the CLI for me...

Friday, March 18, 2005

Battlestar Galactica

It's nice to see that my favourite show, Battlestar Galactica, is finally getting some recognition. It's been featured on the cover of his month's issue of TV Guide (for Time Warner cable subscribers, anyway). I was a fan of the original series and found the miniseries to be surprisingly good. I know some die-hard fans of the original series were upset at some of the changes (Starbuck's a female, and Boomer's not only female, but Asian) but I like to keep an open mind. And I'm glad I did. BSG is the best sci-fi series to come out since Babylon 5.

One of the blogs I read regularly, Geek Check, appears to disagree... they imply that Farscape is better. I was never able to get into Farscape, but I can see why they like it. Like Farscape, and like B5, BSG is a mature sci-fi show. As good as the Star Trek franchise has been, it's never been very realistic. With BSG, you have one major character who's an alcoholic, another one who's dying from cancer, and another one who betrayed his entire race to the enemy of all humankind, the Cylons. Another major character actually is a Cylon, but doesn't know it yet.

BSG takes the realism of B5 to a whole new level. At times it almost seems like more of a drama than a sci-fi show. If it weren't for the fact that the artificially intelligent Cylons are a constant threat to humanity's existence, the futuristic space-travel aspect of this show would almost seem like merely a backdrop. These characters smoke, drink, shit, fuck, lie, make errors in judgment, and get on each other's nerves. In other words, they're like real people. So if you like your sci-fi with some substance, check out this show... it's on the Sci-Fi channel every Friday at 10pm EST.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Priorities

I've actually succeeded in cleaning almost my entire apartment, and it's all due to a new system of time management I have decided to implement. A while ago I read something that described such a system in terms of differently-sized rocks. Boulders are the few things in life that we must give top priority. Rocks are the numerous tasks that are of secondary importance. Pebbles are all those little things that we must make time for but which are not as important as rocks. Sand is everything else.

Consider time as a bottle. I used to fill my bottle with sand, and then there was no more room for rocks or pebbles, let alone boulders. But if you fill the bottle with boulders first (okay, so you have to imagine a really big bottle for this to make sense) and then rocks, followed by pebbles, and finally sand, then you have made effective use of your time.

So, with this idea in mind I drew up a list of priorities, and so far this has helped me to become more productive. I've also added a fifth category, which I call air. Air is all that stuff that wastes our time, like having to wait on lines. Sometimes this is unavoidable... the jar will never be air-tight. Of course, the addition of the air category, like those things it is meant to represent, serves no useful purpose. But I felt that the analogy would not be realistic without it.

Anyway, here's the list I drew up, in case you have the same problem I have and want to try something similar:

BOULDERS

Emergencies: Of course, any emergencies that crop up must be dealt with before anything else.

Career: When there are no emergencies to take care of, my job is of primary importance. It is also the least flexible of my activities. Everything else must be scheduled around my "9-5". But this priority also includes any career development courses I choose to take on my own time, for the purposes of advancing my career or changing careers (which is really what I want to do).

ROCKS

Chores: Those things that are generally unpleasant but need doing, such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, paying bills, etc.

Spiritual Path: May consist of occult studies, ritual work, divinations, and keeping a magical diary. Obviously, this may be a much lower priority for you (or not a priority at all). But I have ambitions of eventually being able to wish my enemies into the corn fields.

PEBBLES

Creativity: Goes hand-in-hand with the spiritual life, and may intersect it, but should not interfere with those most important aspects of the spiritual path, such as ritual work. Creative writing, web design, visual arts, piano practice.

Physical Fitness: While not high on my list of priorities, this is still pretty important to me. Will include aerobic exercise, weight-lifting and maybe martial arts training.

Social Life: So long as it does not interfere with the above activities, I should set aside some time to spend with friends and family members, or at least keep in touch with them via telephone or email. The social priority of course includes a romantic life and/or sex life, which I do hope to have some day.

SAND

Geek Stuff: This can intersect with social life, such as when playing D&D, chess, or online multiplayer games, or watching T.V. with a friend. But for the most part these are all the things I like to do alone. Surfing the internet, playing video games, reading and studying (i.e., for pleasure rather than career advancement), listening to music, watching television, viewing porn, masturbating, etc.

AIR

Everything Else: Everything else is a waste of time, and should be avoided whenever possible. Includes waiting on lines, talking to people I dislike or have no interest in knowing, etc. When unavoidable, these things can sometimes be turned into a more productive use of time, such as reading while riding the train to work or while sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office.

So that's it... my plan for managing my time more effectively. So far it's worked... up to a point, anyway. Were I to stick to my plan religiously, I wouldn't be writing this right now, I'd be doing my laundry.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

I saw the trailer for Episode III on T.V. the other night and I have to say it looks like this one might actually be good. I thought Episode I was pretty craptacular, and Episode II wasn't much better, although it was cool seeing Yoda fight Count Dooku. But maybe three times will be the charm.

Certainly, the darker turn the story will inevitably take should make the third and final film more palatable to me. And though I had initially had some concerns that Hayden Christensen might not be able to look evil enough to play Anakin Skywalker once he had begun his journey to the dark side, after seeing the trailer I am happy to say that he was actually pretty convincing.

However, there was no dialogue in these scenes so it remains to be seen whether he will be just as convincing when he delivers his lines. I don't know if the online trailer would answer that question for me, because I refuse to go through the trouble of registering an account just so I can see a fuckin' trailer for a movie that may very well turn out to be just as disappointing as the others.

But the televised trailer did get my hopes up... I may not be able to wait for this one to come out on DVD.