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Brian
1974 days ago 0 comments Categories: Tags:

My, my. It took about two weeks, but eventually the man I spoke about in my last post replied. He apologized for being abrupt, and asked for continued assistance. We got his problem sorted out, and he is now a happy member of the site.

 

But I turned a corner somehow with that experience, so when I was confronted again with a similar situation over the last couple of days, I took my response a little further.

 

After receiving a help request from someone who couldn't get the registration form to work, I sent the standard reply asking her to check if there were any error messages. I find that about half of such requests are cleared up this way-- people just didn't bother to scroll back up the page and look for the problem.

 

Her response: "Sorry, but I'm not really that dumb.

 

Anyone could figure out if there was something missing in the process. It was ALL FILLED OUT and no red flags. The JOIN BUTTON does not do anything at all and it's NOT because the blanks are not filled in.
Any other ideas?"
My initial reaction was to reply: "Maybe it just doesn't respond to impolite people," but I thought better of it and moved to the second stage of trouble-shooting. This involves first explaining that some businesses block their employees from using a page like this. If the user still can't get it to work at home, then I ask for the browser type and version, so I can try to reproduce the problem.
Her response: "No that's not it either.
1)  I am not at the office
2)  My computer here or there is not in any networking system and my computer at work is mine and mine only and locked up when I am not there.
3)  Windows and Internet Explorer

Can we move along?"

 

Apart from the obvious facts that when using her computer at work, she would have to go through their Internet gateway no matter what, and also that she failed to give me the browser version as requested, it seemed to me she was approaching insolence in her response.

 

This doesn't bother me for my own sake, but I begin to wonder in a situation like this, Why would I go to a lot of trouble to help a person like this join the site, who would be such an unpleasant person to introduce to my other members? I'm interested in helping people have happy trips, and I can't see anyone enjoying the company of someone who is abrupt and dismissive with anyone, let alone someone they are asking help of.

 

So I echoed her last comment, and replied, "Yes, I think it's probably best if you just move along. The other members of my site would enjoy having patient and polite fellow-travellers as potential companions.

Enjoy your travels.
Brian"

 

Unlike the previous individual, she responded promptly, and angrily, confirming my impression. She threatened to include an account of my "dark side" in her "blogs," of which she said she had "several." This would be great, actually, as any mention of my site in a popular blog would help boost my Google page ranking, but alas-- on checking her website, her blog had only one entry, no followers, and a Google search failed to turn up any other mentions of her name.

 

I believe I may have saved somebody a miserable trip.  ;-)

Brian
1995 days ago 0 comments Categories: Tags:

Of course this project has taken me into many areas where I have had no prior training or experience, and introduced me to any number of new experiences. One of these only became a factor in the last couple of months, once the traffic to the site began to pick up. I'm talking about "Support desk."

 

Naturally, I’ve read a lot of the anecdotes swirling around the Internet about Help desk experiences with, umm . . . interesting people. And, often, it does often seem that the more arrogant the message–  railing about the #@!! website–  the stupider the user’s mistake turns out to have been. But users’ complaints have also been an invaluable help to me in figuring out where the site is not as user friendly or effective as it could be, or sometimes, actually broken. They have resulted in quite a few programming changes already, and more planned.

 

And of course, there are the people who are not particularly tech savvy, and just need a little help in negotiating something that is unfamiliar to them. It is actually very rewarding to spend the disproportionate amount of time needed with these folks, help them over the rough spot, then send them on their way.

 

I'm not a highly patient person by nature-- something I have been striving to improve for much of my adult life. Working by e-mail gives me time to think a moment, gather my patience if needed, and respond kindly and helpfully. It actually makes me feel good, because I fail in the patience department so frequently in face-to-face interactions. So I take a sort of delight in being able to maintain a cheerful and positive attitude through a sometimes very extended interchange with someone over some problem that, perhaps, at the bottom may just be a matter of their not stopping to think a minute about what they are doing.

 

Only once have I responded to an impudent, abrasive message in kind. Just a few days ago someone sent this: "Really sucks when you take the time to fill out a form, then can't submit! Rip Off???" Nothing else, no introduction, no specifics about the type of problem he was encountering.

 

I pondered for a while before deciding how to respond. I have a standard reply designed to placate the irritable types, and elicit whatever information I need to troubleshoot the problem, but this just didn’t seem to be worth it. In the final analysis, I wasn’t sure that someone who treated others so rudely was someone I wanted to introduce to other TCE members.

 

So my reply started by echoing his approach: “Really sucks when you take the time to provide a website that hundreds of polite people join successfully, and some random guy who runs into a problem immediately blasts off a belligerent message accusing you of running a rip-off.” I then went on to add my usual initial response to undefined requests for help, asking for some detail on the problem and assuring him I would help get to the solution. I never heard back from him. No loss to TCE, I figure.

 

If you’re interested in some really funny and sometimes excruciating customer-service experiences from a wide range of businesses, you could check out http://notalwaysright.com/

Brian
2019 days ago 0 comments Categories: Tags:

Amazing, what you discover.

 

Putting up this website has been a huge learning experience, in more ways that I imagined. In one respect, it has been life-changing.

 

Over the past two years, I have worked with designers, programmers and other professionals in Canada, USA, Mexico, Colombia, Australia, Phillippines, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine. I have not met a single one of them, and less than half have I ever talked to. All communication has been by Skype or e-mail, and we have used various on-line applications for file sharing and our project management system.

 

Since out of necessity I have had to choose low-priced independents, for the most part I have had to adapt to their time zone when communicating by Skype. For the first year or so, I mostly worked with people in the Western Hemisphere, but over the past year most of my team has been in Asia. This has required me to start my TCE workday at 10:30 PM (11:30 during Daylight Saving Time) when they arrive in the office in the morning (their time), and typically continue through till 2:00 or 4:00 in the morning (my time).

 

It has sometimes been very gruelling, but overall it has been immensely liberating and, as I said, life-changing.

 

All my life I have had great difficulty waking and getting out of bed in the morning, and rarely felt fully rested; also great difficulty finding any energy or mental clarity for several hours thereafter. My values tell me I should get up early, and I often have felt that what I accomplished before noon was the measure of the success of my day. But that is what my head likes; my body does not like it at all.

 

Shifting to this late schedule has been transformative. I now usually get up between 10:00 and 12:00, and find I wake easily, feel fully rested, and am mentally clear and energetic almost immediately. Whereas I used to find it difficult to eat any breakfast, but would get ravenous by mid-morning, I now eat breakfast when I wake, and am ready for lunch at noon. I can eat dinner at a "normal" time with my wife, and sometimes will have a snack later in the evening or wee hours of the morning.

 

I have found these midnight hours to be extremely productive, as I can focus in the quiet atmosphere. Whereas I have had great difficulty over the years falling asleep at the "usual" bedtime, I now find I fall asleep easily as well.

 

In short, for most of my 62 years I have been fighting the natural circadian rhythm of my body, and it has made for a lot of misery. It took this website project to bring me into harmony with the pattern of my own metabolism, and I can tell you, it sure feels good.

 

Amazing, what you discover.

ajeesh
2023 days ago 1 comments Categories: General Tags: The region of Basilica

Basilicata’s natural beauty, ancient culture, deeply rooted local traditions, Mediterranean food, and above all the warmth and hospitality of its people, provide an unforgettable experience. Travel often is on secondary roads through the Apennine Mountains to small hilltop villages, with dramatic panoramas of mountain ridges and rolling hills.

The city of Matera in the region of Basilica has gone from the 1950s scourge of southern Italy to a tourist attraction. The City of Matera was designated a UNESCO World Heritage city in 1993. The ancient district of Matera, known as the Sassi, is one gigantic sculpture that has been carved out of the soft limestone like rock along the side of a ravine, creating houses, churches, and other structures. It has been the setting for many biblical films including The Nativity and The Passion of the Christ.

ajeesh
2024 days ago 2 comments Categories: Journeys Tags:

Hi!

In just 3 weeks, I'll be leaving the comfort of a "home", to become a world-wide homeless and begin a full-time travel lifestyle.

It's sometimes scary to think about... but I know once I'm on the road I'll be happier than ever before :-)

ajeesh
2025 days ago 2 comments Categories: Tags: Mexico, Children, adventure

We didn’t live “safe”! We traveled with our 4 children to foreign countries since they were babies. Our first trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, our youngest was 3 years old. He was thrilled to be on the airplane.

When the pilot announced that we were landing in Cabo, he announced over the speaker system: “This is your Captain speaking; I want to wish you all a great trip while in Mexico.”

 

Our son widened his eyes and exclaimed with enthusiasm: “I can’t believe we are going to see Peter Pan and Tinkerbelle!”

Samuel was remembering the story of Captain Hook and Peter Pan. He had never heard a “Captain” speak before; his innocent mind merely assumed that the captain speaking was Captain Hook.

My adult children still visit Cabo San Lucas. Attached is a photo of us- hot and grimey taken over 20 ago, on the glass bottom boat. All continue to travel and have volunteered in many a foreign country. Memories, of travel, are an amazing legacy to leave with your children…amazingly unsafe and therefore unforgettable

ajeesh
2025 days ago 1 comments Categories: Tags: Horacio and his baby girl Zaydita

In 2007 Horacio was one of my English students in Granada Nicaragua. Outgoing, warm, and genuine, Horacio soon took me to his humble home to meet his widowed young mother, Zayda. She had just been diagnosed with advanced ovarion cancer at her tender age of 51.

We three became genuine friends, and although ill, she always insisted on cooking for me.  I went with her  through her first treatments  of chemo;I returned in 2009 to "say good-bye" while she was still coherent; Zayda with all her hospitality, beauty and kindness said "good-bye" for the last time in 2010.

Horacio has since had this lovely little girl, who is the smitten image of her grandmother, Zayda. Her name too, is Zayda. They live in dire poverty, stuggling with dignity to keep the home "afloat", and rice and beans on the table.

Seldom is a complaint uttered, but the loss of Elegant Zayda is a more painful hurt than any an empty stomach.

Learn about the wonder and strength of the valient Nicaragua people, and then visit the tender country and you will be....blessed.

Brian
2079 days ago 0 comments Categories: Tags:

I have a long history as a traveller-- certainly not as extensive as many others, but still a credible status, I think. (As of this date, I am still working on filling in my personal travel map on this site.) How did it all get started? What early influences are actually operative is always a mater of debate, but I suspect it goes back to my childhood. I grew up in the country, with few playmates nearby. But there were the back fields and a large woodlot, and as far back as I can remember, I was heading off for adventure. I would spend hours exploring, discovering new worlds beyond the next copse or hillock. I returned home reluctantly for meals, or because of the fading light in the evening, and as long as we lived there (we moved to the city when I was 12 or 13) I never grew tired of the forays.

Brian
2089 days ago 0 comments Categories: Tags:

So, what's happening with the "Locations" feature? Well you should ask, and I suppose "We're working on it" is not a sufficient answer.

 

That feature was purchased as a third-party plug-in, which means that we should have been able to install it and have it running in fairly short order. Well, the installation went fine, but once we started looking at the function, it became clear the module had serious deficiencies. After many hours of custom programming, the more we worked the more deficiencies became clear-- some of them just bad programming, others were design issues that just didn't fit with the way TCE works.

 

So eventually I made the decision to put it aside and concentrate on other more pressing concerns. We will pick it up again as soon as there is an opportunity, and get it rolled out once it is up to the standard we need.

Brian
2100 days ago 0 comments Categories: Tags:

Interesting experience on American Airlines. Checked in and got to the boarding lounge, and they started calling for volunteers because they were overbooked. It was the last flight on a Sunday night, leaving NYC, so nobody wanted to volunteer. They kept upping the bid until they got to $1,200 denied baording compensation and tickets on the first flight out in the morning, at which point I and a few others took the bait, and they got enough volunteers.

 

Again, beacuse it was late, all the volunteers began crowdng the desk to arrange for their flights out on the next day. I decided to be patient, and got elbowed to the back of the line.

 

But I got my reward. When I got to the counter, the agent said, "Well, we are all out of coach seats on that flight, so I'll have to put you in First Class." I got to smile the next morning, as I watched all the impatient ones walk past me to coach.

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