Jeremy Felt

Thoughts for the week’s end

Hey, it’s not Friday. Happy Saturday?

This is the first time I’ve missed my normal Thursday night writing and editing session, but I also kind of like doing this over coffee on Saturday.

We’ll see.

Way, way back when, in the long distant 2000s, I spent many years doing tech support via phone and email for a wide variety of clients in an outsource call center. I started at the beginning of the 56k modem explosion and spent countless hours over the years participating in the progression of getting people connected.

Dial-up, ISDN, DSL, cable, a little bit of fiber. It’s amazing how quickly things moved when you look back. There was probably only a 5 year (less?) span in which we went from troubleshooting AT commands in a terminal window in Windows 98, trying to figure out why that V.90 bong sound was eluding us, to having customers go computer to computer throughout their house while troubleshooting their new wireless router.

Don’t ever get me started on printers.

The key to walking a novice user through something like typing terminal commands was often to not give any hint to how “technical” it was. Move the mouse here, click here, type this, click OK, type this, read me what you see. However uncommon many issues might seem, they were often resolved with one of only a few series of repeatable steps.

We once provided support for a new to the market, very low-cost desktop computer. It was something like $299 at Sam’s Club, maybe even less. Early support calls suggested that something was seriously wrong—many computers just weren’t working. I left in the middle of the night from the Chicago area to arrive in St. Louis as Sam’s Club opened. We had no actual reference computer yet and that was the nearest location one was available.

I walked in, grabbed a couple computers, paid, and drove 4 hours straight back to work. It was a great day.

It didn’t take long to determine something was wrong in the way the processor was seated on the motherboard. All we really had to do is take it out, put it back in, and things Just Worked.

A few calls later, we had a repeatable process, and then it became almost a competition. How quickly could you walk someone who has never seen the inside of a computer through removing the case, re-seating the processor, and putting everything back together again?

If I remember right, we made it into the sub-10 minute range, which at least impressed me.

I started this all for a reason and now I’m stuck reminiscing.

I had a video chat over Zoom this week with someone 14 time zones away. Everything about the call was smooth. There was no noticeable audio or video lag, the quality was excellent, and the conversation was as natural as video conversations can be. As soon as we disconnected I sat for a second realizing how amazing it all was.

One of our clients in the early 2000s was working on their version of a video IP phone and I spent a bunch of time messing with it to try and find various problems so that we had a chance at supporting the thing. The setup process was so manual and fragile and while video technically worked, the experience was a whole lot of “well maybe this will be decent next decade”.

And here we are. Bandwidth solves all?

I wonder what it would be like if voice and video over IP had worked out in a way where we actually did have desk phones with video screens rather than webcams and cell phones that handle it all for us.

Was it the introduction of the iPhone or Blackberry that changed everyone’s expectations around how mobile all of our communications should be?

I listened to Gish for the first time in a long time this week and love how much it holds up. It’s definitely a nostalgia influenced decision, but I added I Am One to the best first bars on first songs on first albums playlist.

I then listened to Siamese Dream and had great flashbacks of practicing guitar to that album over and over and over and over and over. What did my roommates even think?

I’m also not sure what I would have thought if someone told me in the late 90s that my obsessive interest in the music of Billy Corgan would transfer to pretty much every other musical thing except that. 😂

At first glance—I listened to one song and skimmed through others—Post Malone’s Nirvana tribute is everything a Nirvana tribute should be. One of my favorite things is seeing how talented musicians are outside of their usual rehearsed playlists and environments.

The screen has replaced the window in the side door, so the weather has officially been determined nice.

Enjoy the weekend. 🍻

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