Work Secrets (Or: What you wish everyone knew)

Share a survival experience with us and explain what you learned from it. You might help someone.

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Work Secrets (Or: What you wish everyone knew)

Post by Czechnology » Wed Feb 27, 2008 1:18 pm

Ok, so I'm sure some of you are like me, and have had more jobs than you'd care to mention, and have picked up a lot of interesting tidbits along the way. Also, some of you are in highly specialized fields, and have training/knowledge in those areas that most of us will never come close to. So the purpose of this thread is to share things that you've learned that you wish your customers/relatives/etc knew, either because it would help them, or make your life easier. Maybe it's something that's a common misconception that you hate explaining day after day, maybe it's something you aren't allowed to tell your actual clients, but you wish you could.

I'll start:

I was watching one of those "Freecreditreport.com" commercials last night, and remembered what a pain in the ass it was to try and explain to borrowers who came to me for a mortgage that simply knowing what your consumer FICO is, does not help you @ all. These commercials seem to indicate that if you don't know your FICO, you're going to get screwed, and if you do, you're golden. I literally had people saying "But I know my credit score, how can my rate be so high?" I grew to loathe those commercials. Yes knowing your credit score is good, in the same way that knowing your cholesterol number is good. But you have to work to improve it, and additionally, lenders get a totally different score than you do when they pull your credit, so your number isn't accurate anyway. To top it off, even if you do identify a mistake on your credit report, it will take at LEAST a month of phone calls and bureaucracy to get it fixed, which is far too long to for a lender to keep your loan open for processing. Since lenders are not credit-reporting agencies, I was allowed to discuss none of this with the borrowers and just had to repeat the company line over and over, which sucked for both of us.

Who's next?
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Vicarious_Lee wrote:If Nutnfacny were an 8-ounce chicken fried steak, he'd come with 72 ounces of batter around it that you have to slash through to get to it.

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Post by phil_in_cs » Wed Feb 27, 2008 1:33 pm

I work in computer software. I do that all day, every day, more hours per day and more days per week than I want to.

So, I don't want to fix your fucking pc. Especially for free. Vista sucks, get over it. It sucks for me, too, but that's what all the pcs have these days.

And you linux fan boys: who the fuck cares? I write software to sell, and that means I write for windows. Do I like window, fuck no. Would I make a living writing for linux, fuck no to that, too.

My dad retired from medical practice when he got 80. After he was 60 or so, he got tired of getting hit up for free medical advice every time he went anywhere (small town doc). So whenever someone would stop him in the store, he'd say "Please take off all your clothes and show me where it hurts." I need to find a similar line for computer questions.

I don't know if you were looking for a rant, but I do feel better now.
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Post by congochris » Wed Feb 27, 2008 1:37 pm

Ok, I used to work tech support but with the recent outsourcing to other countries and the fact that I hate talking to stupid people, I'm getting out. In dealing with outsourcers, however, I'd like to make a few observations. Most of these are in India, so people complain about how dumb they are, they can't speak english, and they're not the best at tech support. So, here's a thought: How many languages do you speak? If you speak a second language, do you speak it well enough that you could talk somoene through fixing a car or computer and dumb it down enough for the average user?

Dumbing it down enough is hard enough for a native speaker, I can't imagine how hard it would be if I spoke German (the only language besides english and latin I have an even passing familiarity with) well enough. There's fluency for every day usage, but using it as a job function is something else entirely. So just keep that in mind the next time you break your computer and the guy at the other end of the line has an accent.

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Post by harleytrypp » Wed Feb 27, 2008 2:00 pm

congochris wrote:Ok, I used to work tech support but with the recent outsourcing to other countries and the fact that I hate talking to stupid people, I'm getting out. In dealing with outsourcers, however, I'd like to make a few observations. Most of these are in India, so people complain about how dumb they are, they can't speak english, and they're not the best at tech support. So, here's a thought: How many languages do you speak? If you speak a second language, do you speak it well enough that you could talk somoene through fixing a car or computer and dumb it down enough for the average user?

Dumbing it down enough is hard enough for a native speaker, I can't imagine how hard it would be if I spoke German (the only language besides english and latin I have an even passing familiarity with) well enough. There's fluency for every day usage, but using it as a job function is something else entirely. So just keep that in mind the next time you break your computer and the guy at the other end of the line has an accent.
On the whole I agree with you. I worked for several years dispatching tech support trouble tickets to engineers in India, Mexico, and several other help-desks in and out of the U.S. My one observation of those in india is that they tend to stay "inside the box", if the problem is not "on script" they have difficulties. They seem to have difficulties with problems that are outside the norm. I'm not saying they are un-intelligent, quite the contrary, but culturally they tend to be liniary thinkers. There are of course exceptions. That has been my experience.

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Post by Jamie » Wed Feb 27, 2008 2:17 pm

I work as a Special Education Teacher in the public school system, and we are the public's bitch...seriously, we are...

If you are concerned about your child's performance in school, do not be afraid to ask for an evaluation to be performed. If you do it outside of the school system, it can cost you thousands of dollars, but a free (and timely...with evaluation, meeting, and placement to begin within 60 days of parent referral) evaluation is your absolute right as the parent of a child in the public education system.

Find out who the is the Chairperson of the Committee of Special Education (CSE) in your district, and give them a call, saying that you wish to refer your child to the CSE for evaluation and possible SPED services...they will have a release that you need to sign, and then they can commence testing.

The basic test you would likely get is called a psycho-educational evaluation, which will likely be performed by the district psychologist. It is actually a groups of standardized tests to measure your child's abilities and performance in intellectual functioning, processing speed, and the like. The psychologist is generally looking for gaps between a child's abilities and their performance in the classroom, or a specific test-area that is markedly lower than the others (a delay of 3+ years as compared to their age-peers is considered significant).

Other tests might be carried out, depending on the child's needs, including speech (which looks at articulation and other problems), physical therapy (PT, which looks at gross motor issues), and Occupational therapy (OT, which looks at fine motor issues).

In general, you should expect to be presented with the results of the evaluation about 30 business days after referring your child, in a meeting to discuss your child's program. This meeting will be a CSE meeting, of which you are a part, and the recommendations that the other members of the committee make are just that, recommendations...you do not have to accept them.

I'm posting this because I recently had some minor hassles with our school district regarding my son. He was having some problems in Kindergarten, and so I called the CSE chair to refer him for testing. She didn't know me from Adam (I work in another district), so she said that they couldn't do testing before the end of the year, and that they didn't provide Special Education services at the satellite school that my son attends (we live in the biggest geographical school district in NY, so he attends a K-3 school out near us to avoid lengthy bus rides into town). I told her that my understanding of the law was that testing had to be done within 60 days of my referral, and that services had to be provided in his home school.

She agreed to do the testing within the month, but said that it would be difficult to get the providers out to our school, so she would just do one of the tests (OT), and not any of the others. she also said that the psycho-ed tests were not normed down to my son's age. I told her that my understanding of the law was that I could, and did, request a full slate of testing, to include a full psycho-ed eval, OT, and speech, and also told her that I knew that psycho-ed testing can be done with children as young a 18-24 months (although they are somewhat limited at that age), and that if she refused to provide the testing that I was reasonably asking for, we would have to go to Due Process.

We (being school districts) are scared of due process, and work hard to avoid it...she agreed to all of the testing, and finally got around to asking me what I did. 8)

We met within the month to discuss the various evaluations, were glad that we had gotten all of them (because the issue was not in my original area of concern...this is the reason to get professionals trained in the specific field to run each evaluation), and got the needed services delivered, to his satellite school.

Throughout this process, I was made to feel like a troublesome pain in the ass, and I was...but I don't care, and neither should you...that's what school's (and SPED teachers like me) are paid for...by insisting on my legal rights, I believe that we are getting my son the help he needs early enough to head off major problems down the road with minor interventions now (his service providers predict that a year or rwo of 1-2 sessions each week will help him overcome his issues)...

This was longer than I meant it to be, but it's important to me, both as a parent, and as a Special Education teacher...if any of you has any questions, general or specific, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me...that being said, you shouldn't take everything that I said as gospel, as some states have different laws and/or different interpretations of the law...but in general, if you are polite but insistent, you should be able to get the services you need in a timely fashion...

nfa
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Post by Czechnology » Wed Feb 27, 2008 2:26 pm

Awesome post NFA. A great example of specialized stuff I'd never know.

I'll try another one:
As mentioned in the FedEx thread, and I think somewhere else around the holidays last year, Major Shipping companies contract out some deliveries. Usually only when they're overworked (holidays, etc), but you really never know when your package is going to be dropped off by some random courier, who has no connection to the company you paid to ship your package. They do not pay couriers well for this. As a private courier I often relegated FedEx shipments to the lowest priority, and (unintentionally) sometimes forgot them for a day. To avoid this, especially around the holidays, I'd suggest using the next-fastest delivery option above "Ground". Anything that isn't bulk freight is (in my experience) handled by actual company employees, not contractors, and therefore is more dependable, and there is a much less circuitous route to fix any problems that might come up.
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Vicarious_Lee wrote:If Nutnfacny were an 8-ounce chicken fried steak, he'd come with 72 ounces of batter around it that you have to slash through to get to it.

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Post by UberMunchin » Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:07 pm

I used to inspect (as well as design) water-based automatic fire sprinkler systems and the alarm systems that work in tandem with them. National standards require that these systems be tested on a quarterly basis. This means that I had to trip the fire alarm with every device in the system designed to do so in an actual fire. In a strip mall, this may mean activating the fire alarm once. In a highrise, typically once per floor.

The dates on which these tests are performed are scheduled well in advance with the property management company, as well as with the alarm monitoring company, and the fire department. The property manager typically posts a notice a good week or so in advance to notify the residents or commercial tenants of the inspection and its attendant sights and sounds, as well as to ask them to cooperate with the nice man who is after all, only trying to ensure that they don't die in the event of a fire.

In memory of those days I will post a brief FAQ on the subject....

- Yes, that alarm is in fact loud as hell.

- Yes, the elevators always stop working when the fire alarm activates. In the event of any alarm, take the stairs to safety.

- Yes, I do this every three months, as prescribed by national and local codes.

- No, I didn't trip the alarm to malaciously rouse your 90 year old great aunt from her afternoon nap.

- No, your aformentioned great aunt cannot take the elevator whilst the alarm is going off. I know that 38 flights of stairs may be beyond her ability. This is something you need to consider when choosing the location of your residence.

- No, I cannot skip next quarters' alarm testing..... :D
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Post by XtraBright » Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:11 pm

I am working as *technical trouble shooter* after years of living as *road warrior* :) in my company and i have to deal with lot´s of customers, they call me, we try to fix the problem, i sent them some service guy or drive there myself (the tough nuts).

Whenever you call the *i have problems* line remember:

What is the name of the box.

"It controls the air flow and humidity"
Great, we sold about 50 different boxes from 10 manufacturers in the last 20 years that do exactly that.

"It has the red buttons and some others"
Well, this means, there are only 20 boxes left that may be the box hanging in your control room....

"Can you tell me what is written on the label in the right upper corner ?"
"My cell phone won´t work in there"
I can never understand this sentence, put the cell phone somewhere, go looking for the label, come back, i will hold the line anyway.

Another favourite:

"But you sold me the box 10 years ago!"

Great, i am Nathan the Wise and by just saying your name i spontanous remember what was sold to you 10 years ago, when it was upgraded or which parts were changed 2 years ago....

I wasted days of my life trying to find out *what* the customer had before giving advice or sending them parts....

It´s like:

I need a new engine for my car.
What car is it ?
It has wheels, and a steering wheel, it´s ... blue and .........

Another regular funny is the:

I am to lazy/stupid to send back parts i did not need but i can spent hours on the phone annoying people if i get a bill for parts i did not need altough they lie waste somewhere.


Or the ...
This device is only 5 years old ... must be warranty!
(The part is rusty, you can see where water ruined the electronics ,...)

The real funny part.
I am doing this *$%&§" job alone.
With customers in Northern Europe, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, CZ, and Slovenia.

This leads to interesting phone conversations
:P

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Post by phil_in_cs » Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:16 pm

On the subject of 'previous jobs' and 'fire alarm systems', a Halon gas fire suppression system causes an immense amount of damage when it goes off. If your lab is in fact on fire, that's no big deal, but if goes off for an unknown reason and wrecks months worth of research, people will be very unhappy.

(worked as part of the consultant wtf happened team, hired by the plaintiff)

And even farther back in time, staying in fire suppression, an Anzul system discharge will cause most restaurants to be closed a day or two to clean up the mess.
Don't confuse a belligerent and aggressive attitude with the strength, training, and conditioning needed to prevail in a fight. How do you know you have the Will To Win, if you don't even have the will to train?

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Post by UberMunchin » Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:20 pm

phil_in_cs wrote:On the subject of 'previous jobs' and 'fire alarm systems', a Halon gas fire suppression system causes an immense amount of damage when it goes off. If your lab is in fact on fire, that's no big deal, but if goes off for an unknown reason and wrecks months worth of research, people will be very unhappy.

(worked as part of the consultant wtf happened team, hired by the plaintiff)

And even farther back in time, staying in fire suppression, an Anzul system discharge will cause most restaurants to be closed a day or two to clean up the mess.
"Double Interlocked Preaction System" :D

Screw that dry chemical stuff. Water based was bad enough! The liability insurance in that industry is insane for the reasons you mentioned.
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Post by Czechnology » Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:29 pm

UberMunchin wrote:
"Double Interlocked Preaction System" :D

Screw that dry chemical stuff. Water based was bad enough! The liability insurance in that industry is insane for the reasons you mentioned.
Good stuff, I knew Halon was bad (in the "you're now dead" sense) for people but never considered the potential property damage. Also, I had never even heard of Anzul.
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Vicarious_Lee wrote:If Nutnfacny were an 8-ounce chicken fried steak, he'd come with 72 ounces of batter around it that you have to slash through to get to it.

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Post by L1Z4RD » Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:30 pm

For all you Cops: Get HazMat training. Cops are almost always on scene before Fire so we call them "Blue Canaries". If we get there and there is a cop on the ground, we back off and put on our HazMat suits then we go in and get him.
Don't be so quick to rush to a scene where possibe HazMat's have spilled.

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I never trade in games. I sell them to friends, family, coworkers or I'll bundle a few and sell them on ebay. You'll get more money for your games selling them on your own.

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Post by dogbane » Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:51 pm

...
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Post by dogbane » Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:56 pm

...
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Post by BethDeath » Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:21 pm

If you have ATT wireless do not bother getting the insurance on it. It's only an extra 5 bucks a month but keep it. If your phone breaks and you send it back they will give you a refurbished piece of shit that still doesn't work. You will end up exchanging it at least twice and then they may end up just saying that they never received the original phone and then charge you for it.

Also, if you have been with them for over 5 years they will suck your balls to keep you as a customer.

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Post by Czechnology » Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:24 pm

BethDeath wrote:Also, if you have been with them for over 5 years they will suck your balls to keep you as a customer.
Sounds like it's time to get an ATT wireless account... :shock:
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Vicarious_Lee wrote:If Nutnfacny were an 8-ounce chicken fried steak, he'd come with 72 ounces of batter around it that you have to slash through to get to it.

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Post by ToddGray » Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:26 pm

Ooh, ooh, ooh, I have a good one. I work for the USAF and I specifically work on aircraft. Even more specifically, I work on the avionics. All this said, there is not a single request/demand that the aircrews make on a commercial flight that makes any kind of sense. Now, before anybody goes and says something obvious, let me cut you off. All the things they do request are there "for your safety," however, this is assuming that you are either handicapped in some way, there are terrorists on board, or there is a catastrophic failure waiting to happen with the plane. Now, I am not advocating your disobeyance of these requests as the FAA has taken it upon itself to have these requests turned into law; I am merely informing you that you could stand up during take off and landing, talk on your cell phone in flight (if you could even get service), or even smoke on the plane, if that floats your boat. None of this will harm the plane in any way (this is firsthand experience talking). Well, smoking might make the inside stink and stain a little, but that's all.

Once again DON'T DO ANY OF WHAT I JUST TOLD YOU, as it will end with your ejection (not the cool Top Gun way either) from the plane and possible jail time.

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Post by zombunny » Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:43 pm

phil_in_cs wrote:On the subject of 'previous jobs' and 'fire alarm systems', a Halon gas fire suppression system causes an immense amount of damage when it goes off. If your lab is in fact on fire, that's no big deal, but if goes off for an unknown reason and wrecks months worth of research, people will be very unhappy.

(worked as part of the consultant wtf happened team, hired by the plaintiff)

And even farther back in time, staying in fire suppression, an Anzul system discharge will cause most restaurants to be closed a day or two to clean up the mess.
No kidding. Our main computer server system is under a Halon system now. Our network admin had to throw himself in front of the alarm panel one day when the lowest bid contract fire protection service came to do a quarterly test on the system. Evidently they though it would be a good idea to press the Halon button to make sure it was working OK. On top of being a computer geek I'm an EMT so I keep getting medical questions from the FNG co-worker at my computer job who thinks I know everything medical.
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Post by Czechnology » Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:46 pm

zombunny wrote:Evidently they though it would be a good idea to press the Halon button to make sure it was working OK.
Can't Halon kill you?
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Vicarious_Lee wrote:If Nutnfacny were an 8-ounce chicken fried steak, he'd come with 72 ounces of batter around it that you have to slash through to get to it.

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Post by UberMunchin » Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:51 pm

Czechnology wrote:
zombunny wrote:Evidently they though it would be a good idea to press the Halon button to make sure it was working OK.
Can't Halon kill you?
One kind will, the other one won't.... oxygen absorbtion versus mere displacement.

And for the life of me I can't remember which does what.....

EDIT- Halon Knowledge here - http://www.h3rcleanagents.com/support_faq_2.htm#q1
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Post by That German Guy » Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:59 pm

Czechnology wrote:
zombunny wrote:Evidently they though it would be a good idea to press the Halon button to make sure it was working OK.
Can't Halon kill you?
At first glance, it can kill you the same way as any inert gas can kill you: Oxygen displacement.

The thing about halon (Carbon tetrachloride) is that it starts to suppress fire at about 90 millibars, which leaves any people trapped inside just enough oxygen to breathe. Good systems are calibrated to the room size, and are applied to gas-tight rooms only. This is because CCl4 gives you nice things like liver damage and cancer. It also reacts with oxygen to form small amounts of phosgene, which in turn can cause lung damage you wouldn't believe. You don't want that sort o thing blowing through your shopping mall.

Halocarbons also like the more reactive metals, which is why halon is most definetely NOT used when burning reactive metals (Aluminum, Sodium, etc) are likely to be present.

There are modern variants of the original Halon, which eliminate most of the problems, leaving the ozone damage, possible oxygen displacement, reactivity with some metals and, depending on the exact type, a tendency towards minor lung damage.
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Post by phil_in_cs » Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:15 pm

The sudden pressure change also slams stuff around, including delicate laboratory glassware.
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Post by thorian » Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:16 pm

The good news is that the only true Halon out there is in older Halon systems

There is a replacement Called FM2000 that will not kill you that works like halon did.

The funny thing is that our server room has 2 Halon hand held fire extinguishers. As far as I know they wont do jack.
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Post by Politenessman » Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:18 pm

ToddGray wrote:Ooh, ooh, ooh, I have a good one. I work for the USAF and I specifically work on aircraft. .... SNIP .....
Once again DON'T DO ANY OF WHAT I JUST TOLD YOU, as it will end with your ejection (not the cool Top Gun way either) from the plane and possible jail time.
Many years ago, as a fledgling electronics engineer, I designed avionics systems for military aircraft. It always has made me chuckle that the public thinks a 1W cell phone transmitter will knock an aeroplane out of the sky, so we must turn them off.

And just because I am an electronics engineer, does not mean I can fix your TV (Yep, got that a few times)
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