Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Sometimes, hating technology

Perhaps another way I am a bit like a Hobbit: certain technologies annoy the snot out of me.

(Autodialer telemarketing/scamming/political stuff is one. Why should I have to accept calls like that on a landline I pay for? I never pick up if it's not a number I know but I still have to stop whatever I am doing and go LOOK at the screen on the phone to know if it's a call I want or not. And yes, most of the time I could ignore them, but, until very recently, if the phone rang, I worried it was my mom with News and I would get up and check.

And I would hope EVENTUALLY not picking up would "teach" the autodialer that it wasn't a profitable number, but no such luck).

But today, another one:

I tried to set up the next online homework for my class.

Big digression: this is something we have to do, for some kind of "compatibility with the online section" thing. I object to it because it requires every one of our face-to-face students to buy a $120 or so access code (good for the semester) to do it. Understand, our students are NOT rich. In fact, I remember several years ago at the pre-semester mass meeting, we were admonished NOT to complain about not getting raises for 10 years, because "some of your students come from families trying to live on $25,000 a year"

and then a bit later, someone ELSE praised how "great" it was that there was this online stuff and I was like ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO EACH OTHER

But anyway. I hate it because I imagine the publisher has a giant Scrooge McDuck bin of money that their upper-echelon employees go and swim in, and very little of that money actually goes to things like running the website.

But we have to use it. (Though I admit: were I within a year of retiring, I might just....not. Not outwardly refuse, but do the Bartleby the Scrivener thing and not do homeworks on the website (but maybe do on-paper homeworks, so students have those grades), and if confronted, shrug, and say "I would prefer not to" but because I still have at least 10 years to go and I need this gig, I do it, even as it low-level offends me to expect students to spend their money - or their loan money - on this sort of thing)

Anyway. I tried to make the Chapter 7 homework today. Did everything the same as before. Selected the questions from the Question Bank (the name will be important later) that I wanted. Tried to upload them to a "pool."

the little gear spun, and then it said "An error occurred. Try again later."

"Huh." I thought. "Never saw that before."

So I logged out, logged back in, tried again.

Same error.

I checked to be sure Flash was working (yes, this site uses Flash and Javascript and expects you to turn off your adblocker and yes all those things are concerning but we live in a fallen world.) It was.

Tried again.

Same error.

So I went to the online chat. After the very involved verification process (so I could prove who I was, even though you have to be logged in on your account to chat), they asked me:

"Do you have Flash enabled?"

Yes, in fact that was the first thing I checked. I am not a ninny. (I did not say that. I just said "Yes, I checked, it is")

"Is your adblocker and popup blocker off?"

(Yes, again, and I kind of ground my teeth at that)

"Try logging out and logging back in"

(Okay. So you think I am the Basic Computer Wench who can't do anything and thinks the CD-ROM drive - which yes, my computer still has - is a holder for my Pumpkin Spice Latte).

"I already tried that."

"Try in a different browser."

Okay, so now we're just throwing darts at the wall? Fine, fine. I tried in Chrome. No go. Wasn't about to try Internet Explorer.

"Have you tried clearing the cache"

Well, no, but that's NEVER been an issue before, but okay, fine.

Lost all my autologins, but still: that didn't fix it.

With eight minutes to go before class, the chat person suggested a remote session.

I said, at that point "I haven't time" and logged out.

Came back after class, tried again. Tried EVERYTHING I could think of. Checked the troubleshooting page, it showed that all systems were go (I had checked it before, but you never know).

Sent an e-mail to their help desk explaining the issue (chat was off, I guess the chat people went home? Or maybe they blocked me because by the end I was typing in ALL CAPS to convey my frustration)

Called in a younger colleague who does more online teaching. She could not get it to work. She suggested going to the computer lab and trying a different computer. I almost did, but I was expecting a student to come in, so I didn't.

In a final fit of desperation, I thought, "Hell, there's also a Test Bank. I don't use it for writing tests,  so maybe I can harvest some questions from there."

Guess what?

It loaded the questions I selected into the pool on the first go.

Yeah. Their problem set was broken. It wasn't that I had screwed something up, it wasn't that something wasn't activated on my computer. It was that their stupid Question Bank had some error not present in the Test Bank. (Or something was broken. I just now tried the Question Bank again and it worked. Huh. Wonder if they read the e-mail I sent)

But yeah. How much time did that waste me, when I could have written up a five-question homework myself, printed it off, and handed it out in class in about half the time?

1 comment:

Lynn said...

I absolutely HATE dealing with "help desks". They always default to "it's the user's fault," and I guess they do have to deal with a lot of idiots but to me it seems rude to assume the person you're talking to is an idiot before even listening to them. And some of them can be quite stubborn about insisting that it couldn't possibly be their fault. Fortunately I almost never have to resort to calling a help desk for computer issues but there are other kinds of issues that require talking to people on the phone and they all act the same. Nothing is ever their fault.