Speaking Geek, Part II

It’s been an interesting week from a technical standpoint.  Nobody panic – the new and improved bionic Webster is doing just fine (knock on wood).  My computer and website are a completely different story.  I’m blaming Mercury, damnit.

Why can’t I ever do anything the easy way?  Have the Media Temple dudes (and dudettes I guess, though I’ve never spoken with one) not proven that they can fix everything with a few clicks of their super human index fingers?  Do I really think that a copy of WordPress for Dummies and HTML Simplified coupled with large quantities of free time and the Google tool bar compile the knowledge base needed to repair a database when it goes boom?

In a word – no.

But does that stop me from trying?  Heh…have you met me?

It’s like Dad crawls into my ear and whispers, “You’re never going to learn it if you don’t do it yourself.”  Now, can I actually remember him ever uttering those words in real life?  I don’t think so, but he damn sure lives that mantra.

When we were kids, our entire collection of electronics were Heathkits.  Dad built them all.  I played Simon and Garfunkel records on the turntable while the boys spent their time trying to Hunt the Wumpus on the computer.  Of course, it wasn’t enough to just assemble the computer.  Dad then learned C++ and programmed the damn thing, too.

Later, he decided to learn German.  That sounds harmless, right?  But couple that with his propensity to disassemble, reassemble, and program computers.  When I moved to NYC for grad school, he built me a big, bad ass desktop so I could keep up with the city folk.  Ten days before my thesis was due, my computer died.  (It’s really more accurate to say my computer was murdered – third degree.  The computer killer shall remain nameless.  Suffice it to say, many rules about who touches my electronics have since been implemented.)

Panicked and fighting back tears, I called the help line for technical support.  “Dad!  My computer crashed!  TEN DAYS!!!  Help me!”

The package arrived by 10am the next morning.  I ripped open the envelope and fished out the rescue disc.  I pulled off the bright yellow post-it that read, “Call me when you get this – love, D.O.D.” and shoved it into the drive.  Just for good measure, I scowled at the nameless nerd shamefully skulking in the corner.

I pushed the power button and watched with amazement as a menu filled my screen.  I howled with rage, scaring poor Lucy right off the top of the door.  Muttering under my breath I dialed the ‘rents home number.  Expecting my call, Dad answered quickly.

“I got the disc.”

“Did you power up yet?”



“And what?”

“What does it say?”

“I have no frickin’ idea.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s in German.”

“Oh.  Oops.  Well, read it to me.”


“Spell it out.”

“Dad, some of these characters aren’t even letters.  What the hell are we going to do?!”  More scowls at the douche in the corner.

Eventually we figured it out – he made himself a rescue disc and walked me through the process while he simultaneously ran the disc on his machine.  I clicked Ja and Nein as instructed, and within an hour I was back up and running.

Dad can fix damn near anything – in whatever language you throw at him.  He does not, however, speak WordPress, nor PHP, nor whatever Klingon language these tech savvy peeps are using these days.  My go-to fix-it guru can’t help me one bit.  So here I sit, floundering, trying to figure this mess out, all alone, in the dark.

But I’m really not all alone in the dark!  If I’d just call those geeks on white horses that man the phones at Media Temple instead of repeatedly crashing my head against my exposed brick walls.  Based on experience, they can accomplish in fifteen minutes what it takes me three days to realize I’ll never figure out.

And they amuse me, too.

Last night I accepted defeat and gave them a buzz.  After rocking out to Johnny Cash’s “One Piece at a Time” while I held for the next available representative, I talked to an adorable dude (though not quite as amusing as James, he’s still my favorite) who did his voodoo, then promised to keep an eye on my site to make sure the problem didn’t continue.  I woke this morning to find this email:


Ellen, we seem to have modulated the flux capacitor and degenerated the resulting matrix (just kidding, loved your blog post!). I’ve been watching your site and database throughout the day and haven’t encountered any problems. It was most likely due to another customer’s over-usage of your shared database server. As I mentioned, we do try to isolate those customers when that happens. Unfortunately you witnessed a brief outage before we caught the perp. I apologize for the inconvenience. If you experience this problem again, we’ll be happy to troubleshoot further.

If you have any further questions regarding your (mt) Media Temple services, please feel free to contact us at any time.

Best Regards,

Rob C.
Customer Support
(mt) Media Temple

Dude, I’ve never giggled after talking to the Cablevision or ConEd peeps.  Too bad I can’t get my phone service through these guys.


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