Site Background

The world of technical support is like a reflecting pool. To those who exist outside, it appears to be a deep, mystical place; bottomless, terrifying, foreign. The truth, however, is that the pool is only about three feet deep, and the bottom is grainy silt over sharp, hurty rocks.

I should know—I worked technical support. I served my time in Call Center Hell, and then I spent many moons doing internal desktop support, the face-to-face kind of support where my customers were also my coworkers. The job is interesting, in a masochistic sort of way. You find there are generally two types of people who work desktop support: those who do it because they have no ambition and are lazy, and those who desperately want to be system administrators, but are too inexperienced. I was of the latter type.

From January 2000 to September 2001, I worked at a medium-sized Internet startup in Houston, Texas. At this company, we had two tiers of support. The first was the helpdesk, those poor bastards who sat in a big glass fishbowl and took calls from our on-site lusers. The helpdesk techs were supposed to do as much troubleshooting as they could without getting up out of their chairs, and if the luser's problem was too complex or too inconvenient to solve via phone troubleshooting (or if the luser was too stupid or stubborn to handle instructions), the tech was to create a trouble ticket and assign that ticket to tier 2, desktop support. Me.

For fourteen months, from March 2000 to May 2001, there was one particularly amazing person working helpdesk. His name was George. Actually, his name was not George, but I will refer to him as George, because even though he wasn't the brightest bulb in the box, he doesn't deserve to be publicly humiliated. And I don't want to be sued or something. Yeah, that would suck.

For your edification and amusement, I have captured screenshots of some of the helpdesk tickets produced by George (the observant reader will immediately notice that we used Remedy ARS at that place of employment). Words cannot describe some of the things George wrote down. Complacent, ignorant, unwilling to learn—all these and more apply to George. He worked on the helpdesk for over a year, and he learned nothing. No amount of explaining or tutoring or training helped him. He had no concept of anything. He was a rock.

The only way to truly impart the pain and agony these tickets bring is for me to display the screenshots themselves. To keep the load times down, there are five tickets per page. Also, I've not included any of the work logs or solutions, just the problem description box. It's better that way, trust me. And, one final note—to protect the anonymity of all parties involved, I have removed any names of people or printers or other assets referenced in the tickets, so if you see a blurry spot, that's why.

For further information on the background of the Chronicles or anything else you might want to talk about, head to the discussion boards. Otherwise, if you're ready, on to the tickets!

History and Hardware

For the first few weeks of its life, the Chronicles lived on my personal Southwestern Bell homepage. An angry e-mail from Southwestern Bell quickly told me that I had blown through my monthly bandwidth limit, and I sought alternate hosting. Dan & Doug of the now-defunct, graciously offered to host the CoG free of charge, but within another month the site blew through their bandwidth allowance as well. Bob at (also now gone) came to the rescue, and in May 2001 the CoG moved once again to what would be its home for the next eleven years.

These days, I take care of the hosting myself. The CoG shares server space with my personal domain, The machine itself is a quad-core i7 2600S with 16 GB of RAM and a Corsair Force GT SSD, running Ubuntu Server. The CoG is served by Nginx, a fast and light event-driven web server, but most of the time the pages come directly from the site's Varnish Cache. I'm also using Cloudflare's free tier as an image CDN, though I'm not sure how necessary it really is, since the site has survived multiple reddit hugs of death without any slowdown. It pays to stay light!