Digitalization (Re-Post)

2016-05-23  Digitalization (Re-Post)

 

Digitalization (2011-05-09 in Thoughts)

It was about ten o’clock in the morning when the doorbell ringed; I opened the door and found a technician from Comcast (my IP provider) who claimed to be here to activate the requested phone service (which I have with Qwest). Surprised as I was I told him that nobody requested such service, and I wasn’t expecting anyone from Comcast to show up. He checked in his (seemed to me) cell phone and confirmed the appointment, so I had no option but to insist that I didn’t want to switch my phone service to them and asked him to cancel such work order. He apologized for the inconvenience, worked in his cell phone and told me the order was cancelled; then he left.

That same day in the afternoon the doorbell ringed again, I opened the door and found another person from Comcast, this time introducing himself as a supervisor who was in the area checking for customer satisfaction. He asked for the installation of the new modem for the internet service and asked if everything was OK with the technician coming in the morning. I told him the technician didn’t mention anything about switching the modem, but instead he wanted to connect phone service; that I explained to the man it was a mistake and nobody had requested such service; and so that I dismissed the technician.

He apologized for the confusion and explained that the purpose of the technician wasn’t to connect phone service but to upgrade the modem for a better and even cheaper bill internet service. He explained that with the new modem customers have a smaller bill, and he didn’t want me to find out later that my neighbors are paying less than I for the same service with the company. He wrote down a new work order for the following day in the morning for a technician to show up and switch the internet modem. He told me then, if anything happened and it was not possible for a technician to show up in time, he will call me and let me know. I thanked him for his courtesy and, holding the white copy of the work order, I closed the door and smiled for the outstanding customer service the company has shown (silly me!).

Nobody showed up and nobody called to explain why!

That’s fine, there’s time to switch to a modern modem if the need arises, I thought.

The next day I tried to create a new email address to use exclusively with the scooter’s club I participate in, so went through the process in my Outlook Express and, copying all the steps from the actual address I have, created a new one for the specific purpose.

It didn’t work!

After several attempts I decided to call Comcast’s customer service and ask for help; after all they claim I can have up to seven email addresses within the contract.

My first call was for service in Spanish, so there would be no misunderstandings because of language (I am Chilean). The lady who answered was a big time talker, repeating several cliché phrases about my satisfaction, customer priority, etc, but didn’t know about the system more than I do, so there was no solution to the problem. By the end of the call she asked if there was something else she could help me with (she wasn’t any help with the first issue), so I mentioned about the modem switch work order that didn’t happened. She checked her computer and confirmed the work order for installing phone service, not switching modem! I asked (in my best calmed and controlled voice) that I wanted to cancel the phone connection since I didn’t request it. She said she couldn’t do that but she could connect me with the sales department; I accepted and she made the switch. The lady (speaking in English) didn’t hear me, so after several attempts I had to just hang up the phone.

With my state of mind a little in the high tone (which is known in my country as “boiling shit”) I called again to customer service, this time in English, to ask for help with setting the new email address. The man who answered could barely hear me and didn’t understand my talking (I must clarify; when I’m mad my English pronunciation is better than normal since I speak at a slower speed and trying to modulate better -That’s the way you know I’m mad). Again there was no solution; he went to the same process I did first and got to the same place I did: Nowhere. I mentioned if they might have a problem in their system and, after repeating and repeating everything I said, finally, out of rage, I told him “How do you want to sell me phone service if you cannot even hear me on the phone?” and hanged up.

To calm down I decided to surf the net for a moment and found out now I didn’t have internet service! With my fist pointing to the heavens I screamed “Damn you Comcast!” Well…not really, but I was mad at them!

At home there are three computers connected to the internet through the same contract with Comcast. Only one had internet!

With my almost non-existent knowledge and skills about computers, I checked everything I could to make the three computers have internet. I disconnected the router and plugged by turn each computer straight to the modem, to first discard the possibility of a faulty router. Every computer had internet this way, but only after doing a re-start. My conclusion was that Comcast can only recognize and accept one computer (I don’t know about computers and/or IP companies remember?).

Tired of getting nowhere I decided to drive to a Comcast office close by to ask for a technician to come by and check the whole system. I didn’t want to call again (I have a very sensitive shit!). My thoughts were that, if it was required to talk on the phone with customer service to change codes or something like that, a technician could do that from my place better than I.

I took a bill statement with me as proof of customer and all the numbers they might need to identify me as such. The lady took the statement and scanned it, so all the information about my account appeared in her computer screen. I explained I wanted to set an appointment for a technician to come by and check why I didn’t have internet. She said the computer showed I didn’t have a forty five dollars a month service that will allow me to receive a technician without cost, so the fee for a visit would be forty dollars…

Do you want to add that service now?

Also, there was a pending phone service connection.

I breathed deep…I took hold of all my experience in Yoga and relaxation techniques (which I have never practiced in my life) and told her that please cancel the phone connection and let’s go with the forty dollars for now; that I wasn’t sure to keep the service with them. She typed in the computer and told me that the order was cancelled, but she couldn’t schedule an appointment because the system was down!

“So what can we do now?”
“We have to wait until tomorrow for the system to come up again, and then we can schedule an appointment”
“So there’s nothing to do for now”
“Nope”

She could scan the statement and get all my information as customer in her computer, but couldn’t schedule an appointment!

I left the store not sure if it made any difference in person compared with on the phone.

Once at home I decided to try again and reprogram the router…just in case. After following the procedure, the step by step guidance told me it couldn’t find the router.

Aha! Maybe the entire problem is the router! -I said to myself.

So I rushed to the store and bought a new one. Once back at home I followed the procedure to install it and program it, and voila! All three computers have internet again. It was a faulty router after all.

With this I can see it wasn’t a Comcast problem, but I still have a bitter feeling about how they handle customer service and the tactics they use to sell more services.

When checking the snail mailbox yesterday I found a letter from Comcast telling that some unknown company is planning to buy Qwest, so how is that for customer service from Qwest? Why should I put up with Qwest not telling me that they might sell to some other company I don’t know about? Of course, the phone number and the URL from Comcast were there for me to immediately switch services to them!

One…two…three…four…five…

Why am I telling you all this?

I used to think that relying too much in electronics and computerized services is giving away our own power over our lives. What would happen if a virus enters the systems in one of these companies? If an earthquake destroys the link towers or systems they have? Customer service cannot solve problems when everything is fine, will they be able to be of any help if an extreme situation arises?

How would you pay with a credit or a bank card, even if the money is in your checking account? How will you recover all the information about people you know and do business with if the robots that remember information and passwords suddenly die? If there are no more internet and phone services?

How much of our lives are dependent on a technology that we are loosing control of?

I used to think that an external agent such an earthquake, a virus, even a terrorist attack could change everything. Now I believe we don’t need that; customer service and the voracious hunger of companies for getting more and more customers to charge every month, without caring for providing a good (or even decent) service will do the trick in the future.

When was the last time you heard of a company proudly claiming being “Third” in customer service in the country? When was the last time you received prompt and knowledgeable service from one of these companies?

They are loosing control of their own business because of paying more attention to acquire paying customers that retaining them with a good service.

Lies in publicity have become institutionalized and are the norm nowadays! It cannot be only number one companies, right? Somebody have to be second, or third.

Let me briefly summarize it:

-The collapse of the electronic and computerized systems.
-The institutionalized lies as a way of business.
-The interest in quick profits at any cost rather than continuity in business.
-The degradation of the competition as a form of publicity, rather than the self improvement as a company, as a way to gain and retain customers.

We are giving away to technology our own responsibility of our doings in our lives. We don’t need to remember…technology does for us. We don’t need to learn…we just Google it. The use of technology is even replacing our need to know how to read a map to get somewhere. Thanks to technology and our laziness we can stop the learning and skill acquiring processes, leaving ourselves in a very precarious position if something happen to our beloved technology.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and I wouldn’t go back in time. I don’t believe that the past was better than the present or the future, but I do believe technology should be used to “help” instead of “replace”. With technology we can do more and faster than was possible before, so we can use it to lead better, more productive lives, rather than using it to rest over it and stop our own growth.

Using technology as an aid we can create a better future, but if we use it for monetary gain or to slow down our own self growth, we might find ourselves in a very tight situation in the near future.

Am I becoming obsessed? Have you experience similar situations? Do you agree with some of these points? What is your take on this?

Raul

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Modern Inquisition

2016-05-19  Modern Inquisition (1)

 

I’ve seen so many posts in blogs; so many videos in YouTube; so many websites preparing for catastrophe, where the US government take total and oppressive control over the people, sending millions to concentration camps or simply killing them. It seems many people live in fear of what is to come.

The fall of the US Empire technologically and financially, is creating fear in people of the possible drastic measures the government might want to take, and so people look at the bankers like evil ones trying to save their money and power by oppressing the modern peasants.

At this point many people complain for the excessive vigilance and spying of the government over people, using every possible system like the internet, computer programs, cameras everywhere, and so on. They complain for that spying, claiming it wasn’t like that before.

Well, the system was created and grown that way. The US used to be the biggest at some point. It started with second world war to become the only country standing, so the only one producing technology, so the one who ruled. But there was the Soviet Union, and the fear of receiving what was given…atomic bombing. So spying on the enemy and any other small country around to dismantle any possible chance of attack was the way of living. Spying, financing, attacking and turning any small country that needed to be converted to ally from enemy ally. But the works where outside own territory, on other people.

Now the US is falling apart and being replaced in number one, so there is paranoia at the highest levels. They are seeing enemies everywhere, so the spying will not stop, but by the opposite, it will morph into any necessary form in order to try to retain control. And now the spying have turned also to the inside, to own territory, to own people.

At the other hand, politicians greed lead them to accept funds from corporations to better compete and get the office, so for several decades they have been puppets of corporations, so corporations changed things to their advantage, not the country’s advantage. Now brain and production is leaving for other countries, which means a faster fall of the US, and so the government is paranoid with who is doing what that might compromise and make even worst the fall. so everybody gets observed and classified!

It doesn’t matter what we do to avoid the spying on us, they have infinite resources compared with each one of us, so no mater what we do, they will have better, newer, faster technology, and so they still will find a way to spy on us. The key is not to avoid the spying…the key is to give them information that will make us look good to them.

Have you seen those movies about the future, where a military kind of government have total control, and people “pretend” in front of the eyes of the “Big Brother”? They can see you; they can hear you; they can track your movements; they will know everything you do; but they cannot learn what you think and feel! So you live in an exterior shell of “yes sir”, but inside you are still you. Their fear is based in that they cannot know what you are thinking and feeling, so they don’t know if you are planning something against them.

The only way to escape this is to go to another country. One that is still developing and negotiating with the raising empires. Central and South America; Africa; Some areas of Asia and Australia/New Zealand. Go back to a simpler life. Desert areas in TX and NM will not make it free. It is still US territory, so satellites will have everything mapped and controlled. It will be an apparent life of freedom, but do something wrong and they will fall over you!

Living in the US is not about living invisible to the radar, it’s about learning to live differently under the eyes of the radar. We are rats in the cowshed, so no matter where we hide, they will find us. We need to learn to show them what they want to see, and then they will leave us alone.

Just another turn of life, where life repeats itself. Think of the times of the Inquisition, and live like then.

Too harsh? Not really.

The Human creature cannot stop creating, and have shown an incredible skill to adapt to almost any environment and situations; so modern life, which is marked by complete connection and communication, becomes the way people live now. This complete connection can be used for spying (and it is), but also it can be used for so many good things, so the positive outweighs the negative, as it has been so many times throughout history.

Personally I believe many of the fears of things to come are not very objective (to say the least), especially considering that most of those elements are already here, without harming people as it could seem they would do. People see harsh situations coming and believe it will be most in the tragic level. But when you read sci fi from the 50’s you’ll see all those feared things are already here! They are disguised as common elements of everyday life, so people don’t see them. I’ve talked about that in the past (Killing Robots), (Human Life in a Flash Drive), (Simple Machines), (Fighting the Robots).

So I don’t think those terrible fears have a real justification, other than being ghosts people see when they don’t analyze the situations, based on real observations. People hear and say; they are told and they believe; the element that is proper to the human race and that had helped it to develop to the modern levels is just playing against the same race it used to help. At an instinctual level, the tool of creation is being used as a tool of destruction. It’s not new as it have happened so many times in human history, so it will not be destruction but just change. Times ahead will show.

Raul

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Shaky Mind Running

2016-05-16  Shaky Mind Running (1)

 

So weird! Writing for writing. The body shaking because of the medicines or the sickness I don’t know.
It is difficult to see the keyboard and touch the right keys. Have to erase and rewrite the words like every other. That much!

Feel like what is the point. Dizzy or in pain, or both. What is the point. Dreaming of the future while not feeling the present, and having just a blurry past. I don’t see the point. Like an engine that runs very erratically and loosing ignition every second, so feel like it will stop at any moment, yet keeps running very erratically.

What is the point I ask. Why I ask. Why it runs. What is this. What’s happening. Is it the medicines or the sickness? So shaky. My body, my mind, so foggy, so confused, so the only question is what is the point. I guess I write because is the only thing left. I love writing and write to relax, but my mind is so confused I don’t know what to write.

So write without thinking. Just letting my hands write in the keyboard. Shaky Mind Running. Don’t know to where or why. Just shaky mind, just running mind, just running shaky. Don’t know what I’m running or writing. Don’t know what I’m doing. Like drugs; like lost mind; like lost body; like something, but don’t know what. Just write.

Get you access to a mind that revolves and think. I used to think complex. Now I don’t know if I think. I’m dizzy. So dizzy. So shaky. Writing the crazy man mind.

Raul

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Children’s Poverty

2016-05-09  Children's Poverty (1)

 

Some children live and grow in abundance, while others live and grow in poverty but at least have the very essentials, while others not even that!

Surfing the net I found the above picture of a little girl. According to the article, 3 years old and in charge of taking care of her little brother since their parents have died; they were all refugees. I don’t know the story, and I don’t even know if it is true or not, but I do know there are cases of poverty like that in the world.

When growing up in my country I did see poverty to very extreme levels, like the girl in the picture above. Fortunately there were very few cases like that in my country, while the majority of children living in poverty had a life more like the children in the picture below, where there was the possibility for them to have time to play and be children, as the lives they suppose to have.

Since I didn’t grow as a rich kid, but also didn’t grow in poverty as the children in the picture below, I still had the chance to play a little with other kids exploring empty areas while jumping water in summer and playing with the frozen one in winter. It was fun!!

 

2016-05-09  Children's Poverty (2)

 

And that was an important point. We all didn’t have luxuries; some of them had less than I did, and some others had more, but we all, compared with the living of children in the US, had less than here and played like the kids in the pictures, more exploring and talking than trying new toys, and yet we grew up happy!

Since we didn’t know about the existence of luxury toys, we didn’t miss them, so we had fun with other things, like the single wheel (Simple Toys). It helped us to develop certain skills we can use in our adult life, and we didn’t develop others that we need now, so we have to “catch up” with the adults grown in the US.

But we had the basics, and we could be children and have a child’s life. So I question the politics that take some people to the extremes of life and death, giving then an unfair life to them and to their children, who are innocents in whatever the politics of different countries may want.

Certainly it would be nice if every child had the opportunity to grow in a good financial situation, so to have all the possible opportunities to develop to the maximum; but if at least the less fortunate had the minimum to still have a child’s life, that would be great…but with the greediness of those who have from a little power to those who have it all, it seems we will still be learning of children who are alive, but have no life.

 

Litlle girl  on meadow collect flowers.

 

Raul

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Simple Toys

2016-05-05  Simple Toys (1)

 

Such a simple toy. Just a wheel, or anything that would resemble a wheel; and then a stick with a U shaped end, usually made out of a piece of metal or wood that could be formed as a U and that could be placed securely at the end of the stick. The rest was skill from the player!

Some time ago, while surfing the net, I found this picture. Immediately it brought a smile to my face and many memories. When I was about 8 years old I used to have a wheel like this. It was so much fun learning to control the wheel to go around, most of the times running!

There was nothing special about this toy; it was made out of discards. But it was a challenge to find the almost perfect parts, then putting everything together. It could take several days, and some times even months to find all the elements. Then putting everything together would take a day or two; and then it was time to learn to control the wheel!

After many attempts and falls, not only of the wheel, but many times of one while running after it, we learned how to go around with our wheel, proud of our creation and our skills to control it! And it did give status among other kids for the one who had good skills and a nice wheel.

Such a simple toy! It seems incredible these days, when we have so many electronic devices and permanent services at our disposal, making such a strange world the one of simplicity some of us had the good luck to experience at some point in our lives.

Raul

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