Friday, November 21, 2008

Technology, Like Lightning, Strikes Twice

My "real" desktop with speakers, pencils, scorpion paperweight and cat mug. How cool is that?

So, this morning I'm ordering Christmas gifts from LL Bean and trying to check out with my shopping cart, but the web site keeps insisting that I send these presents to myself. I attempt to get the "chat" line up but it disappears and in desperation, I call the help line. Finally, finally, I see where I can change the shipping address, but then I have to take everything out of the gift box and put it back again.

The customer service clerk, nice and sympathetic as they all should be, understands my pain and lets slip that there have been some recent changes to the website and I am the 2nd person in a row who complained about the ship-to problem.

In a former life, I wrote scripts for testing e-commerce web site changes and Bean's had some functionality that apparently never made it to anyone's test script, and even worse, they did this right before Christmas in a year where people aren't shopping much anyhow.

I finally got the order in order, but this massive effort from one who has been ordering on the web for a donkey's age. Probably one of the first people to order anything but computer stuff. If I can't figure it out, there is muy mucho problem, but then I also tend to work rather rapidly and expect a site to be intuitive. Yikes!

We always had the Customer Service Reps test the site with the script after we had done so. The worst (and dumbest) thing is to have those who put up the site test it. They know how it works. Duh and Double Duh!

Second technology issue: This blog! You may notice it looks a bit different. A couple months ago, after I had written a particularly (to moi) amusing poem about Caribou Barbie (remember her?) I put the Digg It functionality onto the blog. Nobody dug nuthin' and worse yet, Digg slowed the loading of the page down to a hideous, patience-trying creep.

Had to get that Digg code out of there, but I had copied it into the layout, and when I tried to restore the old file, Blogger told me it was empty, so I just sh__canned the whole thing and returned to vanilla, which looked so pale and anemic that I wanted to give the blog a transfusion and a slap on the butt.

Blogger asked me to "upgrade," which I did, and behold the jazzy stuff was back, the ability to order my book, which no one has done, but hey, it's there, and my cool Burning Man photo, taken in 2004 during the Burn. Links, this 'n that, the return of the blog. Whew! But of course I had forgotten which layout I chose, so here is the new one. Looks decent. Technology go me all bollixed up twice, but I fought the good fight and overcame.

It's scary to think my techno-skills might say adios. Nonetheless, I could still concoct a better script to test web site changes that our friend in Freeport, Maine did. Fie and for shame. They have cool warm clothes, however, and nice customer service people. That's why it's called "customer service."

Gee, I wish literary agents had the concept of being nice to the customer, which is the writer, instead of the "canned letter brush-off." Some of them write your name and even the name of your novel when they reject you. Believe it or not, that helps ease the pain. And the worst pain is no reply at all. The poor (in more ways than one) writer pays $2.00 to send in the query, some chapters and a synopsis, and never hears nuthin. Once I send in a requested entire manuscript and heard nothing. No response to emails and of course the gentleman in question didn't take phone calls.

I wonder why I continue to write. I really do. But today, I just can't wait to get back to my robot fish, Francis, and figure out how he brings down a whole slew of drug runners and then meets an usual fate. Boy, was I ripping stories from the headlines with the Somali pirates. Yowza! Holy freakin' crap! Somali pirates rock.


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