04 July 2005

Beware the Linux Expert

Just got a machine back from Queensland after a “Linux expert” had been “helping” to get it configured for dialup. He had:
  • destroyed the existing – working – dialup configuration
  • somehow put in a new one with his password in the TIMEOUT field of the chat script
  • missed the absence of a modem atteched to the box
  • been “unable” to get the box talking through a working (Windows ME) laptop with ICS either, despite me talking him through downing the firewall completely and setting a defaultroute through the laptop
<rant> People saying “Yes, I can do X” (in this case admin a Linux box) without qualification (just to get the work) need standing against a wall. Would you say that if someone was looking for a jet pilot? A dynamite monkey? A brain surgeon? No? Then why for lesser issues, especially when the consequences are costing the customer – one way or the other – hundreds of dollars an hour to fix?

(Raises hands, claws extended, intones...) I fart in your general direction! May your son appear on the evening news as an animal fetishist on the same day that you slam your uninsured car into the rear of an ATO auditor’s, cannoning him into the tailgate of the paddy wagon in front. May you be mistaken for an Al Quaida leader on your way through Customs at every airport you visit. May you come home to find your belongings in a big pile on the kerb, in the rain. May a dog urinate on you while you lie there, prostrate and sobbing, and a cat attempt to bury you. </rant>

This matches well with a “Don't you hate” fest currently running on the PLUG list. My pet peeve is being asked to fix any gadget with wires or moving parts ($2 toy? Toaster? Washing machine? Electronic ignition in your $40,000 car? No worries, surely you can fix it?). In a surprisingly large number of cases (given my fairly random general skill set), yes, it turns out that I can fix it — but I don’t want to drop everything for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to do the impossible – or inane (for free, natch).

Richard Meyer from PLUG had this interesting experience:

[I] remember when my wife was in labour with my son, she wanted an epidural, so they called the anaesthiologist. A male of maybe 28. He was looking through the file, when he saw my profession, and started telling me all about the computer system he has at his office. Immensely boring stuff about windows, and how he enters the account info, and blah, blah ...

So I said to him “Y’know, Doc, us computer guys and doctors have a lot in common”. He looked sorta incredulous that anyone could have anything in common with a doc, and said “What do you mean?”

I asked “Ever been to a party and when people hear you’re a doc, they start wanting to take you aside and describe their symptoms?” He looked thoughtful, and said “Yes, it’s very irritating, I feel like asking them to strip for an exam right, there, but obviously I can’t” — long pause — “Who d’you fancy in the rugby this afternoon?”

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