Carl T. Holscher is a compiler, writer, tinkerer, coder, designer, thinker living in Bethesda, MD.

 

deplorableword:

well hello to you, wearable computing design fiction

This looks like a dystopian nightmare. I don’t even know what to say about the t-shirt video fist bump thing…

I’m in the lobby of the Clinical Research Center at NIH. There are doctors, patients and researchers sitting everywhere.

Some talking, others caffeinating, and a few rushing through with looks of urgency.

There’s a man with a gigantic smile on his face speaking into a MacBook, talking to a distant loved one.

There are children in brightly colored pajama pants walking by with parents.

There are many small tables filled by small groups lost in conversation.

I feel absolutely blessed I can do my tiny part to help the fight against cancer.

I am but a microscopic part of the process. Yet, sitting among all of these people, I feel overwhelmed by joy and hope and love.

I am honored to do my part. No matter how small.

I’m in the lobby of the Clinical Research Center at NIH. There are doctors, patients and researchers sitting everywhere.

Some talking, others caffeinating, and a few rushing through with looks of urgency.

There’s a man with a gigantic smile on his face speaking into a MacBook, talking to a distant loved one.

There are children in brightly colored pajama pants walking by with parents.

There are many small tables filled by small groups lost in conversation.

I feel absolutely blessed I can do my tiny part to help the fight against cancer.

I am but a microscopic part of the process. Yet, sitting among all of these people, I feel overwhelmed by joy and hope and love.

I am honored to do my part. No matter how small.

That glitter is the remains of a CD that exploded in the drive. It blew the front plate off and it flew across the desk. Now there are shards of plastic and foil everywhere.

NY Times and computer security

I once worked on a computer from a visiting NY Times reporter when he was in DC at my last job. He was in a meeting and I was tasked with attempting to repair something on his machine while he met.

I repaired the machine and tried to access it again and realized I didn’t have the password, so I waited until the meeting ended and then quietly entered the room as the participants continued to talk and asked the reporter to login to the computer for me.

He typed a username and hit enter.

The machine had no password.

I was dumbfounded. This story reminded me of that late evening.

photojojo:

Introducing the Macintosh, Newsweek 1984. The beginnings of digital image editing.

via beccap

While looking at Open houses intros afternoon I saw a box that read “Macintosh Plus” in a corner of a storage room. I wanted more than anything to investigate it as the people had a couple of other Macs around the house.

Uncertainty

Today is a slow day. Most of the people have gone home. The heat is off in our building as repairs are being made.

I work in Information Technology. I am a support technician.

I am that guy who shows up at your desk when you have computer problems to whip your machine back into shape.

It has been a slow day. But that can change at any moment.

At the drop of a hat, my slow day can turn into a flurry of emergencies. The urgency (real or imagined) of a person needing to work from home and encountering an issue before they leave.

Hardware or software failing to work properly late on a Friday afternoon before the long weekend.

The sudden loss of vital data due to a mistaken keystroke or a software glitch.

There is no certainty to anything. There is no planning more than a couple of minutes ahead. There is no way to tell what I will be doing an hour from now. Thirty minutes from now. Five minutes from now.

There is no certainty. There is only uncertainty.

Every. Single. Day.

This is the life I lead. This is the path I’ve chosen.

While you’re off for the year sitting at home. When you go home early to enjoy the holidays.

I am at work. I am in the basement. I am here.

Just. In. Case.

I am insurance. I am protection.

I am as much a therapist and teacher as I am a technician. I rely more on soothing feelings and explaining technology than I do on technical knowledge to repair a problem. I am here to make everything better again to the best of my ability.

It is not always possible. There are things which can’t be undone. Wrongs which can’t be righted. Errors which can’t be repaired. Parts which can’t be fixed.

The human body is composed of thousands of parts working in harmony. A computer is composed of hundreds of parts working in harmony.

When our bodies break down, we get sick or injured. When we break, we need help. When computers break, they too need help.

There is no always a quick fix. There is no always a cheap fix. There is never a fix to meet the cost and time desired.

I’m sitting in the basement. In the cold. In my coat. With icy fingers. Tapping on this keyboard to keep them moving. Earphones as ear muffs.

I’m waiting for the uncertainty. The inevitable need for me to help. To repair. To explain. To add. To remove. To setup. To break down.

To leap into action at a moment’s notice. To assist the best way I know how.

I am here to make your life a little better and a little easier. I am here to help you get back to work. I am here to decrease the friction between you and the technology you use.

I am here. Waiting. In the cold.

Just. In. Case.

I am the insurance.

I am the protection.

I am the teacher. I am the therapist. I am the technician. I am here to help.

I forget sometimes that to a lot of people, computers are just magic. And you don’t try to understand magic, you just ask a wizard.

Tom, on Computers

This is VERY true!

Apple fanboy: Someone who is tired of technology being difficult and knows there is something better; someone that loves to get the job done instead of working on their machine; a person that isn’t afraid of breaking the status quo; someone that appreciates quality design and workmanship; a person that realizes cheapest isn’t always best.

Definition of an ‘Apple fanboy’ and those that use the term

I bought my first MacBook because I was tired of tinkering. I was tired of fighting malware. I was tired of half-assed software. I was tired of program that never worked quite right. I was tired of using subpar solutions. I was tired of things that never lived up to their promise. I was tired of my computer being something to be worked on. I was tired.

When I bought my first MacBook I used my computer. I abused my computer. I left it running for days. I designed. I wrote.

I had a computer that got out of my way and let me work. I didn’t have to worry about it. I didn’t have to wonder if I’d come home to a blue screen. I didn’t have to wonder if one of my applications had mysteriously stopped working. I didn’t have to wonder if I would have a working computer. I spend my days as a computer technician so fixing computers has never been a problem. However, the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was work on another computer.

It sounds trite, but Apple computers just work.

Finding Motivation

In thankless jobs like IT Support, it helps my motivation if I have something to strive for. I want a goal to look back on and feel I’ve accomplished something.

The problem with my chosen career is when I do a great job, there is nothing to show for it. When I work hard, solve problems and delight customers, I have nothing to show for it. 1

I have no product at the end of the day I’ve produced with my own hands. I have no sales figure I’ve hit and I’ve not made the company any money. 2

I’ve said for years my ideal day is when I come to work and sit at my desk and do nothing for 8 hours then go home. That means all the systems are working perfectly and all of our customers have completely working computers.

In the seven years I’ve done this, it hasn’t happened yet.

Because of this, it helps to have something to strive towards so I can look back at the end of a long day where I feel I accomplished nothing and say at least I did ____.

In this case, it’s the number of tickets closed.

Each morning every technician in the company receives a report of closed tickets across the company. We receive a daily closed ticket breakdown over the past two weeks. This is interesting and helps me realize why I’m so tired some days 3

But the real genius in the report comes on the following page. This page provides a leaderboard of technicians across the entire company sorted by average tickets closed per day.

This is where I draw my motivation.

Everyday, I strive to stay in the top 10 of the company. I’ve been as high as number 4 with the CSA 4 technicians way ahead of my with double-digit closes per day.

As it stands, I usually come in at between 6 and 7 tickets per day. This is where I draw my motivation from. I want to be at the top of that list every single morning when it comes out. I want to rank higher than every technician in my building. I want to outrank every technician in the field.

I want to be at the top of that list.

This list motivates me to get up and try to complete one more ticket per day. It causes me to work harder when all I want to do is sit at my desk.

The list pushes me forwards and provides some context for my day. This is the most important thing for me, as a technician with no clear measurement of what I spend my days doing.

This list brings meaning and a sense of accomplishment to my 45 hour work week.

In this age of knowledge workers, we no longer make products in a factory, nor do we sell a thousand products. What pushes you to work harder in your job? Have you found your own leader board to keep you working harder?


  1. Save a pile of Thank You emails 

  2. In fact, IT Support is considered as a necessary evil because we don’t generate any money for the company. 

  3. 18 tickets! No wonder I was so sleepy by 5:30. 

  4. Help Desk 

Zack Shapiro: Could Customer Service Usurping Be a Business?

zackshapiro:

This idea came to me around my fourth or fifth call to Comcast/Xfinity today, trying to get help with a strange problem affecting my cable modem.

What if, instead of calling the actual company related to your problem, you could call a third-party service, one that could help in a variety of…

This is the business I want to run. This is the business I want to be. This is what I believe Tech Support should be!

Tier 2 Desktop Support Technician for Atlantic Media Company (My old job)

Can you whip PCs and Macs into shape? Do you read The Atlantic or The National Journal? Want to work The Historic Watergate building in DC? I am moving on and they need a quality, hardworking Desktop Technician to take my place.

Click the link. Send it around. I’ll answer any questions I can about the position. I’d love to help my manager find a great technician to replace me. (Not that I can really be replaced). ;-)

Email me at peroty@gmail.com for questions.

One of the nice touches in Windows 7 is the progress of a file copy is reflected in the menu bar.

One of the nice touches in Windows 7 is the progress of a file copy is reflected in the menu bar.

Cloud Computing is on the horizon

I wrote a piece about Cloud Computing and specifically the various Cloud Printing options available.