Month: February 2013

Rookie Mistake

I was reading A Rookie Mistake over at Support Ops today. Chase talks about an exchange with a customer that went like this.

Me: Where are you logging in at? I’ll take a look and see what’s going on.

Customer: My desktop computer.

This got me thinking about the assumptions we make with our customers. In the course of my job, I find myself in similar situations all the time.

For instance, the newest version of the VPN client we use at work was updated and VPN is no longer in th name. It is now called Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client.”

A computer savvy person wouldn’t find a huge problem with this. However, when I’m trying to explain to a customer they need to click the VPN Client icon and they don’t see anything that says VPN they become confused.

Along with the name change, the icon also changes from a padlock icon to a generic looking bubble. So the customers who are creatures of habit and have learned what they need to click by name and icon are not completely lost.

Working with customers who have varying levels of computer savvy and varying understanding of the English language means my job is part translator and part computer technician.

Sometimes I must translate geek to human, other times geek to English, sometimes just plain English in terms my customer can understand.

I try to keep a rule in mind when I am going to help a customer and that is simply to assume nothing. Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t walk into a situation assuming your customer knows anything. Start with simple questions and see where they take you.

If the customer is computer savvy, you will quickly find out and can elevate the conversation. However, if the customer doesn’t know anything about their computer you don’t frustrate them further.

Hundred Down

After hearing about the new podcast Pat Dryburgh has started I was intrigued. Hundred Down is his journey to losing 100 pounds.

I’ve had this same battle with my weight for years and I’ll win some minor battles and then fall back into my bad habits. Upon finding Hundred Down this evening, I subscribed to the podcast and have listened to all four episodes in a row.

I was inspired to follow in his footsteps and use this as a motivation to take better control of my life and weight. After a number of false starts, I am going to dedicate myself to getting 10,000 steps every single day and tracking my progress with my Fitbit I’ve had for a year now.

I know what I am capable of and how I can get to where I need to be. I’m just not doing it.

I am going to start eating better. I am going to cut down on soda again. I was only drinking diet for the longest time but now have started drinking regular sodas. Mountain Dew White Out and Voltage have led me astray all too easily.

No more fatty sodas. Until I can cut caffeine out of my life, entirely, diet sodas only. And water, lots more water. I go through cycles where I’ll drink lots of water then get tired of it and stop drinking so much. Even if I mix in flavorings to it, or filter it through the Brita filter.

The recent addition of a Sodastream has been a boon to my water drinking. Not because of the soda I am making. I love seltzer water. So I’ve been making my own and drinking large bottles of that nearly every night.

I need to start eating better too. That’s another area I was doing very well at, then I fell off the wagon as well. I’ve been eating more sweets and snacking more. I’ve been eating more packaged foods and allowing the sleepiness and laziness to take over.


That is the biggest change I need to make. I am averaging 5 hours of sleep per night during the week. This is making me chronically overtired and I rely on caffeine to get me through the day.

I need to find a way to sleep more and sleep better. Going to sleep after 1am and waking up at 7am everyday is not sustainable.

I am hoping the changes in diet, exercise and food will let me live the life I want to live and make the changes I want to see in myself.

No one is going to do it for me. I need to do it for myself.

So here I go…


When I was a boy, my dentist would grade my flossing and brushing. After each visit, I would receive a grade just like I did in school. The goal was an A and with that A came a gift certificate to the local mall.

I think it was $5 to the arcade or the mall in general. It wasn’t a lot to an adult but to a boy, this was a lot of money. But it never worked for me. I wasn’t motivated by money. Even money I could have easily gotten.

I had no internal motivation for flossing. I would brush fairly well, but no better than C or B- quality. My school grades were much higher but I was chastised every 6 months for my poor oral care grades.

Each time after his chiding, he would reiterate the gift certificate and tell me exactly what I had to do to earn it and be an A+ caretaker of my teeth.

But I wasn’t motivated. I didn’t see the point. My teeth were fine. I was a kid. I was stupid.

Later in life, I’ve struggled to develop a flossing habit. I’m an A+ brusher but I still hover around a C in flossing.

I’ve tried water picks. I’ve tried picks that are easier to use than floss in my eyes. I’ve tried to motivate myself in a number of ways.

Nothing has really worked.

I am trying something new. I downloaded an app for my iPhone called [Lift]( The idea behind the app is to choose a couple of things I want to make a habit out of. Then I can check them off each day as I do them.

I am encouraged to build a streak, and I can interact with other people trying to do the same thing. I am not using it for the social aspect because I want to interact with people. But by making it a social experience I can pretend other people are watching me.

And judging me when I fail to meet my goals for the day. This idea of being watched and judged is going to keep me motivated. Building a streak to make something like flossing a habit instead of a struggle is the main goal.

This is only day one of my experience but I am liking Lift so far and it’s very quick and simple to remember. I have a notification set for each of my habits to alert me at different times of the day.

This is important because I want to take my multivitamin in the morning then read before bed. I get an alert for both at the times I’ve selected.

The most important thing for a new system to be successful in my life is it must adapt to my life, not force me to adapt to the app. Lift does this perfectly and I am very happy with it so far.

Hopefully in a month I will have healthier teeth, walked everyday, read a book and written everyday and taken my vitamins.

Are you working on habits in your own life? How are you trying to make changes to better yourself?

Window Pain


I look out this windows every work day. Sometimes it’s sunny. Other times rainy or snowy.

Often times the sky is blue, the clouds are white and the wind blowing through the trees beckons me to them.

This window sits at the end of a long hallway.


Even on gray days like today, my view out this window is enticing. I work in a basement most of the day. No windows. No light. It’s only when I venture out of my lair to run tickets and see customers do I get to enjoy a view outside.

Something other than pixels. Screens. Beige. Dreary, stained basement carpet. It’s nice to look at something more. Something alive and moving.

The basement office is always stagnant. Everyday it’s the same colors, smells, sights and sounds.

Outside is vibrant and alive.

Whenever I are this window, I wish I could walk up to it and fly right through it out to the sky. To soar among the treetops.

To feel the wind on my face.
To hear the bustling world below.
To see the colors and sights.
To smell the air.

To be free of this basement.
To be free of my bonds and responsibilities.

To fly free.

Movie Theaters

I love going to the movies. I go on a weekday night, not too late, and not to anything too new. I like going to a quiet theater.

There are no teenagers. There are no children. There are few adults and they are respectful. There is no opening night crowd, though those have their place too.

There is nothing to distract me from the movie. It’s just me, my snacks and the movie.

I love going to the movies because it’s a quiet time where I can turn off the outside world and be transported to a new one. I allow the suspension of disbelief to overtake me.

I liken the experience to the iPad. There is only time and space for one thing at a time. There is no internet to pull my attention. No one is going to call, email or talk to me.

I am sitting in that dark room, staring at the screen, completely taken in by the new world I am living in for the next couple of hours.

I enjoy that movies seem to be getting longer. I remember a time when most would barely clock in at 90 minutes, and often times barely run over an hour.

Looking over the list tonight, most were at least two hours and Lincoln clocking in at 2.5 hours. I like the longer movies because I get more involved in the story when there is more story to tell.

Two hours are about perfect to tell a story and not skip any key parts. It’s also not so long as to cause lulls in the plot.

Part of the film that drags on far too long and feels disjointed with the story with a perfect way to lose the

Movie theaters are magic and I relive that magic every time I visit.