High priests and sacrifice

Can anyone out there explain to me what it IS with tech people? I mean, I expect the lack of social skills that means most of them don’t actually speak English and they punctuate every conversation with long, exasperated sighs, but at the end of it, isn’t the whole thing a little counter-productive it they actually create worse problems then they’ve been asked to solve?

Take yesterday (Oh please, please, will somebody take yesterday?) When my web lady wanted to add the software for the upcoming book forum to my site, I ended up having to change servers, and in the process I took on a new email address. Which is a hassle but fine, I can deal with that, so I added it, and a week later found I was not getting any of the old email. So I asked how to add that, followed directions, and put it in, only to have the same fifty emails continually loading into my inbox until I had 451 unread emails. Not what I had in mind.

So I phones my old email provider who says, this is the other server’s problem. No, that man says, this is the first server’s problem. And so I go through it again with a second person at the old server’s Tech Support (has to be in capitals, they’re the bloody goddamned High Priests of the Internet, with all those long-suffering sighs) who says, can you bring the thing down? But I need to be at home and I can’t drive into town and back for the entire afternoon and meanwhile these fifty emails have reproduced again and I now have 575 unread emails, so he says I’ll need to delete and re-install the email programs, and he gives me all that information you need for such activities, logins and passwords and such, and off I goes to my web person to make sure I have the same information for the new account.

This is not, let me make it clear, some teenaged son of a friend who tells me this, nor is it the kid who delivers propane who happens to see my problem and offers his advice. This is the Tech Support (all hail, the Gods of the Web) of an official, long-time Internet provider to whom I’ve been paying money for years and years.

And so we sits us down over the phone, my web lady and me, and we deletes the program (yep, just highlight it and push the delete button the lady says) and then we types in all that shiny technical information the nice man has given us and we pushes the save button and up comes the one and then the other email address in the box and then I looks at the old inbox and there ain’t nothing there, I mean there ain’t nothing there. Nothing. There.

And I feels a bit like old Wile E. Coyote looking down between his feet at a great and gaping emptiness, and I says to her I says, Where’s my email?

And she says (all indignant-like) to me she says, You deleted it.

Not having sort of thought to explain to this person who doesn’t know jack about programs and couldn’t explain what an ISB port is that sure, when you delete and reinstall any other kind of program in the damnable machine, it’ll save the information and then tuck it back into the new version of the program nice and neat, but that’s sort of not how email works. And maybe the provider can help you get it back.

And when I hunts down the nice young man at the provider and all we can come up with is the last weeks’ stuff that’s already arranged itself onto the inbox, and I ask (choking a little by now, but I think he heard me pretty loud and clear) how he could possibly imagine I would want to delete four years worth of emails, FIFTY half-completed projects, and every GODDAMN ADDRESS I HAVE, he says (pretty indignant-like, himself,) But I did suggest you bring the machine down here. No, sorry I ruined your day and cost you hours of work and untold confusion. No, sorry I’m going to cost you hundreds, probably thousands of dollars to send the brain to the electro-neurosurgeons to see what they can retrieve. No, yes, I, a professional Technical Support Person, probably should have known this was the way Mac worked.

And before some Tech Support Wannabe out there scolds me for not backing stuff up, I am a compulsive backer-up. I have had three conversations with the man who sold me the computer, who ended up concluding that email couldn’t be backed up. How this is possible I do not know, but that’s what the expert says. However, I am no longer sanguine about the pronouncements of experts, and may persist with the question.

All in all, yesterday was not a good day. Really not.

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  1. Carlina on May 17, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Dear God Laurie I am so sorry. Damn…I am sending a cyberhug your way and a big slap to all the bloody Tech Support (idiots) folks. Now your mail…you get your mail through your computer at home, but is it internet based mail? Hmm…do you have to physically log on to the internet to get your mail, or do you get through a service such as AOL, MSN etc? Or is it just looped though outlook? The reason I ask all this is that, if you get your mail from a server…you should either have IMAP or POP mail…Pop servers directly download the mail to your computer and remove it from the server. IMAP, however, does what it says…it maps it from the server to your mailbox…If it is IMAP, there is a strong probability your mail is still there somewhere…

    Ah..mac…well it still has to have the same properties regardless..

    You can back your e-mail up, if you forward it to an internet mail service like gmail. I recommend that…almost 3 Gbs of space…if you need an invite I can send you one..You could also back it up on your hard drive using outlook or firefox and just setting up a different “server” to download the mail directly to your hard drive.

    Tech Support folks are much like mechanics..a guess here and I guess there…I am not too fond of them myself and they need a good whack for their attitudes…gods my &**%…I have learned that in pursuit of any degree, one might as well pick up a second talent as a computer software person…frightening but true. Sorry for your horrible day…I had a bad one yesterday too…not as bad as yours though…hope things look up…

  2. Roxanne on May 17, 2007 at 3:02 pm


    I am so sorry for your nightmarish day. Wish I could take it back for you. And wish I could be there to help you out. (I’m not–I repeat–NOT a computer technician, but I have had my share of experiences and am just curious by nature, so I am constantly trying to figure out how things work.)

    I can’t believe that the (old) email company does not have a backup of your emails. Surely there are records of your emails on their server. I mean, on (any–pick one) CSI television show, those people could just snatch your emails out of thin air. They have to be out there somewhere!

    If any of the emails were exceptionally long and/or important, perhaps the people you emailed still have copies. Whenever I email someone (something important), I copy myself so that I can file the communication away in an aptly named folder.

    Hope some of this rambling is useful to you.

    My condolences,

  3. wildoakvirginia on May 17, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Augh! I know that feeling! Makes me want to get back to pen on paper. But business dictates…
    suggestions : Bottle of great wine, box of SEE’s and to try to take it in stride!

  4. Tara on May 17, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Oh,that must really suck.If you receive your emails through Outlook Express(or is that just a Windows thing?),you can pull your emails out of Outlook(Literally.Just click an email and pull it out).I would assume you can burn them to a CD after that,but I’ve never tried it.
    Anyway,sorry for your crappy day!

  5. trix on May 18, 2007 at 1:13 am

    Speaking as a tech person, I’m sorry to hear that you dealt with a series of idiots who apparently do not know how to do their jobs. “Men who sell computers” are often not the best techies – that’s why they sell them, rather than doing support. There is *always* a way to back up mail. I will say that Macs can be more convoluted to sort out in that respect, but I can’t say why on earth a techie would say to reinstall a mail program merely to find your old messages. Huh?

    Small comfort, I’m sure. I’d agree with the first commenter with a number of options to perhaps avoid the problem in the future – use IMAP, do not use POP. That way mail is kept on the server, and will be backed up by your mail provider (although I’d double-check that they in fact do so). If POP is your only option for accessing your mail, put in a rule that forwards a copy of each message you send and receive to a Gmail account. If a mail provider only offers POP, there will be no backup of your messages on their servers (they only keep a week or so at most to get the server itself back in case of a crash).

    I’d also suggest putting in place some kind of real arrangement with some kind of support professionals – perhaps someone like these guys:http://www.progent.com/computer_consulting_experts_santa_cruz.htm

    Anyways, my commiserations – I hope it gets sorted out.

  6. Kerry on May 18, 2007 at 8:40 am

    There is nothing, *nothing* more frustrating than knowing that someone else is in control of a major-ly important part of your life and can destroy it at the click of a mouse. I so know whereof you speak, Laurie! In fairness, I must also acknowledge the times when good tech support people have been wonderful.

    It’s unfortunate that computers are so much more complicated than, say, cars. When my truck goes wonky, I have a half-dozen trustworthy places to get it fixed without having to hunt. When the computer is on the fritz, all bets are off. I plan on spending an entire, highly frustrating day on hold, talking to people I can’t understand, getting cut off, getting transferred to more people I can’t understand, being on hold . . .

    Anyway, more cyberhugs (if you’re a hugging kind of person) coming your way. Or a nice soothing cup of virtual tea, if that’s more to your liking. Good luck!

  7. bani on May 18, 2007 at 4:57 pm


    Mr Bani is in charge of the computers at work, and since he isn’t terrifically qualified he often has to rely on “help” from “support”. I swear to God, if it wasn’t a male-dominated area of expertise no-one would put up with that sort of service. It’s all too common.

    Although – shoe on other foot? – I heartily recommend the British comedy show “The IT Crowd”, in which the IT department, situated in the basest of basements, answer phone calls with “Hello IT have you tried turning it off and on again”. In a few years time you might be able to laugh at that, Laurie.

    I sincerely hope your e-mails are, despite everything, stored somewhere. 🙁

  8. DebbieL on May 24, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Laurie, your email should still exist on your machine. Just deleting the program should not have removed the mail itself, unless you received a message as you were deleting the program that said something like, “Deleting this account will delete all your mail. Do you still want to do this?” You can e-mail me if you like at my work address (I serve as the Mac technical support for the office): d.lancaster@alphaomegaalpha.org.

    And, yes, it is entirely possible to back up your mail. Somebody doesn’t know what he or she is talking about.

  9. DebbieL on May 27, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Laurie, your e-mail can probably be retrieve, and it can indeed be backed up. I work on 6 or 8 Macs at my work, and can tell you how to do it. Let me know if you want help. My e-mail is d.lancaster at alphaomegaalpha.org

  10. adyktd2thewrttnwrd on June 3, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    You poor thing, I feel you. One time I accidentally painted my whole screen black on my computer, and my mom and I were up all night with those buffoons trying to fix it, since, of course, my mom couldn’t “bring it in . . . ”
    Seriously though, your email is probably buried somewhere, since Macs never “oficially” get rid of anything. The files should be there, and I wish you MUCH MUCH luck on finding them.

    Consider my fingers crossed.

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