From the other side
Help desks are not always helpful.
I dread having to call ours. I'm technically literate and when I call the help desk I have a pretty good idea where the problem lies but I'm not in the right part of the organisation to do anything about it.
The most recent call was to try and find out what the hell was going on with the proxies. I knew I wanted to talk to the network folks but first I had to get through the help desk.
It took three days.
The first day nothing happened, but when I got in the next morning I had a voicemail message saying they'd tried to contact me. Correct. They'd tried to phone me after I said I would no longer me in the office so I wasn't, as I'd said, there.
The second day they wanted me to try some commands. First they told me to get a command window. This is Linux, I knew I was on to a bad thing. I just said OK, I'm running Linux, what command do you actually want me to run. Oh, they said, hold on a minute.
Little while later they came back and said can I ping an external machine (this would be on the other side of the proxy). I explained that no, you cannot ping a machine on the other side of the proxy because proxies don't do that. OK, can you run this command, they started spelling it ...
The command was traceroute. I explained that traceroute doesn't work for the same reason that ping doesn't -- you can't get that through the proxy.
OK they said, we'll get back to you.
This was Friday.
On Monday I came back into the office and I had another voicemail. This time they'd tried to phone me on Sunday. Admitedly, it was mid-afternoon Sunday, but it was Sunday nonetheless.
They wanted to try something else.
The something else they wanted, bearing in mind that this was Linux, was that I run the task manager to see if I had any spinning processes that were slowing the machine down.
I was slightly dumbfounded. I still can't work out how they thought a spinning process would slow down access through the proxies but leave internal access entirely alone.
They also wanted a load of information I'd already given them. I filled in the form in the browser and was somewhat surprised to see, right at the bottom, that they wanted a phone number that they could contact me on. And this was after three phone calls (admitedly for two of them I wasn't actually there)
I basically pleaded with them to pass this on to the network people.
So, five days after I logged the call the phone rang -- one of the local network guys rang and sympathised with me.
The problem was discussed and resolved in about thirty seconds: in fact the problem had already been fixed by then.