10 April 2012

XP: Where Windows and Christ intersect, or why I hate technical support

For those of you of a more technical bent who get drafted into tech support, here is another amusing moment for you. For those of you who aren't so technical, I shall explain the head-to-desk aspect of this story by explaining it again in more common terms.

Behold, Mate O' Mine (which abbreviates to MOM and thus has an Oedipan aspect that is vaguely disturbing) is trying to get her corporate laptop to work on my WLAN so she can try telecommuting for the first time. Said laptop is a rather old Dell burdened with XP Professional and an Intel WLAN card. I figure this can't be hard, right? So I tell her the WLAN's name and password and figure that's that.

But no, Bill G never made anything easy that he could have made mind-bendingly difficult. After all, XP also means Chi Rho, a symbol for Jesus Christ, which fits because I always call His name a lot when using it. Anyway, naturally XP (the system, not the Redeemer) promptly began to opaquely and obstinately insist it couldn't use my wireless network. I finally realized that it hadn't asked her for the network password like any reasonable human being would expect (then again Microsoft engineers are not normally known for being both reasonable and human beings simultaneously, hence they write it to suit other such creatures). Instead, it asked for the wireless router's number from the back of the router itself, not the password. So I grumbled, went to the router and read it off to her, figuring that that should settle it. Happily, the little WLAN icon in the taskbar lit up green. Problem solved.

But no, she then called to me to say that Internet Exploder insisted the computer was not in fact online. I checked the WLAN from my Macbook Pro, worked fine. Checked to see if the Macbook could see the Dell XP laptop. No problem. Checked to see if the Dell could see the router. Yup, no problem. Obviously a problem with the Dell's network settings, probably DNS.

So I go digging, and quickly discover that the XP system is so locked down that I can only aimlessly poke around hoping Bill G will give me a little hint, but nay, 'tis not for mere mortals without admin access. I try everything I can think of, but the little bugger won't load a website outside the WLAN – it would load pages from my router's web server and from the Macbook, but as soon as it had to venture out into the big bad Internet, it would quail in fear and poot little bits of data into its pants while refusing to say (or unable to say out of sheer terror) just WTF the problem was.

Then the love of my life pipes up and says she maybe needs to activate the VPN they told her about.

And there was much heading-to-desking.

For you see, dear non-versed in the technical plane, this is equivalent to her calling to me to say the car doesn't work at all, so I go out to look at the engine (and find the hood welded shut), feel around with my fingers along the fuel line and exhaust and such, getting myself all worked up and frustrated and annoyed, and then she says from the cockpit that maybe she should turn this key thingy the car dealer gave her.