Thursday, August 6, 2009

Definitely, Maybe

I saw the movie Definitely, Maybe tonight. Excellent movie. I'm not going to write much about it - it was a good movie, and worth seeing. Good insight into relationships, in general. Thank you Netflix.

It's time for another installment of pointing out the stupidity that surrounds Time Warner Cable. Over the past 3 days, my cable/Internet service has been working intermittently poorly. That's not the stupid part though. I thought it was just me on day 1, called to report the problem, and cancelled the tech visit the next day since the problem seemed to be fixed. Then when I got home in the evening, the same problem happened. I called my neighbor and discovered it wasn't just me, and we both reported the problem, but a recording said there were troubles in the area. Okay. Seemed to work again in the morning on day #3, but at the end of day #3, problem recurs. Neighbors all having the same problem. The problem: pixelization and sound cutting in-and-out. In other words, digital distortion and poor signal quality.

What is stupid is how TWC handled the report when I called and told them that the problem was intermittent and my neighbors were all having the trouble. They seemed to ignore this, and even after my repeated insistance that it wasn't something within my house and that they needed to get someone to work on this, they still seemed to find it necessary to schedule a technician appointment for the next day (the earliest they could get someone to come out). I came to find out that my next door neighbor reported the same problem 2 hours earlier, and they didn't even bother to put 1 and 1 together (particularly after I repeated over and over again that it was other customers as well).

I've been down this road before: They will send someone out who will put a level meter on my cable line, criticize my inside wiring, and not be able to do anything because they don't do this kind of work. I hope I'm wrong. I'm also concerned that the trouble, being intermittent, will not happen as readily as it is today. It's the kind of problem that will continue to come and go until it is fixed. That's why they really need to address the problem while it's happening. I didn't come to that conclusion by myself - it was actually a good TWC technician who told me that.

Far be it for me to tell the cable company how to do their job though...I'm just a petty customer. I warned them, if they make me take time off work, they had better resolve the trouble that day or I may consider canceling my service. I am already going to insist on at least a credit for the 3 days of service I essentially lost.

It did make me take pause and wonder if I really need to keep getting cable TV. After all, Netflix has been pretty good, and I get great reception over-the-air for network TV. I do like having some of the unique programming on cable, but at times like this I wonder whether the pain is worth it. Three days in a row, three days being very stressful at work, three days of wrestling with cable rather than enjoying my time off and unwinding.

Finally, while I can't provide any specific details here, I have a word to say about the environment that I work in. My job is as a system/network administrator and I manage two other people in my group. I also do the development of the phone system (based on the open source Asterisk project, that I've mentioned before). Anyway, some people work in what is called a "hostile work environment," and there are generally human resources implications to that situation. In my case, with some of the people I support and the people I supervise, the work environment for me seems more like a "psychotic work environment." Psychotic meaning, by definition, "characterized by defective or lost contact with reality especially evidenced by delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech and behavior." One of my employees did something (in deference to what I asked him to do), then made up a situation that made no sense and was entirely incorrect that he said I did to cause him to react differently, and when I told him that was not what happened, he called me a liar. In most work environments, that would be cause to send the employee home without pay to think about the definition of insubordination. However, where I work, that has legal implications, and the upper-level management wouldn't back me on that decision. I am finally getting my 2008 performance evaluation with my 2009 goals this week. Yes, you read that correctly. I have a lot of stuff to do, not a lot of time to do it in, and with a psychotic work environment including two guys I inherited that I'm finding cause me more work than they accomplish, I'm stressed out beyond belief. I desperately need a vacation. I don't know when that will happen now. I admit I'm not a great supervisor (I'm a techie, not a people person), but for heaven's sake, I can't believe I'm even holding our group together given the circumstances. I'm really getting tired of being treated as though I'm senile.

The last thing I need is my cable TV and Internet service to start getting flaky and having to deal with that too.

A friend of mine at work had to have her cat put to sleep a few days ago. She came to tell me about that and ask whether the humane society would take the remaining food, cat toys, etc. (the answer is "yes"). This particular person is someone I admire a lot, but we haven't yet found a consistently common ground on which to connect. Available in theory, but emotionally not really available. The situation with her cat came as a surprise, and I really didn't know how, exactly, to handle it (aside from the phrase, "I'm sorry"). I am painfully aware of what a heartwrenching situation this is.

It has not been a good week.

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