Clients (1) and Web-Hosters

Thursday, June 14. 2007
Well, it's been a while since my last post. I've neither been lazy, nor on holidays, but I've been doing lots of work.
I've even managed to prepare the first few lines of several blog posts, but I never got around to really finishing any of them.
So what I'm up to now is no technical article, but a POR (plain old rant - did I just coin an acronym? Gosh, I must be half-french already (1)).
On a sunny day that made every sane being go to the nearest pool, two of the not-so-sane kind were sitting in their dark offices, trying to get some work done. Task of the day: To finish an underpaid project by deploying a web-application. Bonus-Task: Get it done quickly, so we could have the first relaxing weekend in what seems like a century. Well, what can I say - we failed to do the bonus-task. And it wasn't our fault.
Now, in order to put stuff onto a web-server the email you get forwarded by your client should ideally contain the appropriate login-data. The one I got didn't. It did contain username and password - and I could have used it to give a free email-address to all of my readers, because what I had received was the login-data for a mail-administration-web-interface. Useful stuff - if giving free email-addresses to all of your blog-readers is what you do for a living. For us...not so terribly helpful.
As fate would have it, it was 6 p.m., our client was not in his office anymore, and the next day was a holiday. Holidays are good. If you can enjoy them because there's no big black cloud on your mind.
The day after that day I was thrown out of bed by an angrily ringing phone - our client was demanding to know why his website wasn't online yet. I kindly asked him to give me the proper login-data, which he agreed to do. A while later he came up with a telephone-number and a name that I was to contact in order to find out about our client's web-space. I tried to do that, but the girl on the other end of the line wouldn't put me through to the guy I'd been told to get in touch with, company policies and stuff. It didn't matter, as it turned out our client had 10Mb of html-web-space, no database, no nothing. About as useful to us as a pigeon when you're trying to fly across the atlantic ocean.
I called our dear client again, told him about the bad "news" (hm...I'm not going to say obvious things about clients now), and he agreed to get a web-space-package with inode. That's because it was urgent, and inode already maintained our client's domain, so there we went.
Now, inode must be one of Austria's biggest internet-companies, and their slogan is "Wir sind die Guten" - "We're the good guys". Hm...good at skiing, repairing cars or cooking? Good at what? BECAUSE THEY POSITIVELY SUCK AT WEB-HOSTING! They also do a pretty good job of delivering the worst possible service to clients. Anyway - I called them in the most positive spirit, ready to beg them for clicking onto the button that would create a web-space-package for our client. Well, that was a no go. "I'm sorry, I tried to put you through to the lady responsible, but as it appears she's not in the office right now. Can I take your number so she can call you back?". He certainly could, so from 10:00 to 12:00 I was waiting for my blind/deaf date. It appears she'd gotten cold feet though, because it was me who was trying to call her again at 12:30. The lad talking to me this time (they seem to rotate shifts in order to avoid having to listening to the same complaining clients again and again, this way they can always blame it on "the other" (now I finally understand why they were so afraid of those in the Lost-tv-series)) was so very sorry, but the chick I'd been waiting for still wouldn't pick up the phone. I kindly asked to be put in contact with some other person able to "push the button" (hm...maybe I should stop watching tv-series...or maybe inode should) - and the lad put in some effort. Just to tell me a few seconds later that the other guy wasn't there either - though he should have been - and it was utterly mysterious to him where they were, for they should have been sitting in their offices at that precise moment. Was I waiting in vain, would they really call me back? "Certainly - the call is in the system" (right where it should be, huh?) "they should be back any minute now - but I have to say the time's a bit unfavourable". Yeah, right my lad...I'd only been waiting for 3 hours. (I would just like to point out that Inode's "business hotline" (as amateurish as it gets, and as cold as the arctic ocean, but hey, it's all about the show) claims to be reachable 7/7, 7h-22h. But this is only about being able to reach an automatic responder that tells you (in german AND english, hey hey!) that "currently all lines are busy" (euphemism for "Dude, I'm watching the simpsons now, don't bug me, will ya?"). They never said anything about real-life-people that would talk to you, now, did they? Typical case of stupid customers who can't read!)
In the afternoon I tried again via email, and it wasn't a friendly one. No response, though.
Anyway, to make a long story shorter, until this very day nobody of inode has ever made an attempt to call me back. They just didn't care. Not a bit.
In the end I had our client keep calling them until he managed to directly reach one of the girls responsible, he did so on monday afternoon, for they hadn't been in their office on friday at all - a minor thing they'd probably forgotten to tell the intern at the front-desk about. (For those who care to do the numbers: taking into account the 7/7-reachability of inode's support-"team" (why is it so en vogue nowadays to call a bunch of people that don't like each other and are so terribly unsuccessful at working together a "team"?) this is a response-time of about 3 days and a half. And this is for ordering a product, mind, a thing that gives them money and almost no work. I don't even want to know what happens when you have a real technical problem).
We received the login-data, and what had taken several days happened in 2h, the website went online, and everyone was happy.
Until we discovered that inode had blacklisted our mailserver - but that of course is pure coincidence and can't have been the result of a certain email of mine. I will spare you the details of the following calls to inode's technical support team (a.k.a. clueless-internship-playground) but let me just tell you: Technical competence is overrated. Just have your company be bought by a really big player, and you can stop caring about quality and customer satisfaction.

(1) Frenchies love acronyms!

Hello World()

Wednesday, April 25. 2007
Am I the only one who finds introductory-posts quite exhausting to write, sometimes even more exhausting to read, and in a general manner of speaking rather unnecessary? Well, just to avoid causing any discomfort to the introductory-post-collecting lot, here we go anyway. So this is my new blog, a thing I was persuaded to do by nigh-professional blogger Wolle. It'll hopefully be read the way blogs are meant to be read (using a feed and your favorite aggregator), which would spare me the trouble of finishing and polishing my design. Another thing that needs to be done and that I'd rather avoid is find a nicer blog-title. The current one is a nice reference to the best software company around, but other than that it strikes me as thoroughly uncool. Apart from these pedestrian tasks ahead of me, what I'm going to blog about is Software and everything about Software. That's going to include the web (all versions supported!), my current interests like JavaScript, AJAX, web applications (as opposed to php-quick-hacks), ruby, rails, and so on, and so on. My old blog was about life as an erasmus student, and it ended rather abruptly when all that was going on wasn't especially blog-topic relevant anymore. Let's hope there'll be a different destiny for this blog, and given that it's a tech-blog I have some hope, since I'm not planning on leaving the tech-world anytime soon. Despite the principal nature of this blog I might throw in the occasional bits and pieces about offline-life if I find it worthwhile to do so. The inclined reader is asked to excuse my occasional more or less qualified rant that I won't be able to avoid with so many rant-worthy things going on. Finally, instead of introducing myself I'll rather plan on finding the time to create one of those "about me"-sections that nobody ever reads in the near future.