Date:         Fri, 27 Aug 1999 03:03:28 -0500
Sender:       The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
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Comments:     Originally-From: Patrick Douglas Crispen 
From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
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TODAY'S TOURBUS STOP(S): / Tech Support Heck
Howdy, y'all, and greetings from lovely Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of
20,000 college students ... and three campus parking spaces.  :)
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On with the show ...
It has always been a good idea to keep your software updated.  With
Y2K just around the corner, that good idea is now a necessity.
Unfortunately, keeping up with all of the Web sites you have to visit
to update all of your software has been, up until recently, a daunting
task.  Fortunately, several software programs and Web sites now
offer you a one stop place to go for all of your software update
needs.  My favorite is Ziff Davis' "" at either 
or .
Both addresses point to the same place, although the latter may be a
bit quicker.
The concept behind is quite simple:
      1. You register with the site by keying in your name, your email
         address, and a password. stores this information
         in a cookie on your computer.  [To find out everything you
         could possibly want to know about cookies, take a look at Bob
         Rankin's wonderful cookies article at ].
      2. Once you register, you download and install a free plug-in
         that scans your computer and detects any software that may be
      3. You then activate the plug-in by clicking on the "My Updates"
         button and then sit back as it scans your hard drive.  Once
         the scan is complete, you are automatically taken to a page
         that shows you:
              - The name of the out of date software title(s) on your
              - The name of the company that made the out of date
              - The version found on your computer
              - The location of that software on your computer
              - What's "wrong" with the version on your computer
                (usually your version is just "out of date")
              - The version number of new version available for
Click on the appropriate button, and even downloads the
appropriate software update for you.  Not only is's
concept simple, the way the site works is simple too.  If you know how
to use a mouse, you know everything you need to know to be able to
update all of your software using's free "My Updates"
Of course, for every silver lining there is a cloud:
      1. You have to have Netscape 4.X or higher, or Explorer 4.X or
         higher, to be able to use the "My Updates" service.
      2. The "My Updates" service only works with Windows 95, Windows
         98, or Windows NT (sorry, Mac users).
      3. The site uses a plug-in that scans your hard drive and then
         sends that information to God-knows-where, but the site
         fails to mention one word about personal privacy or security.
         That's unfortunate.  The company that runs -- Ziff
         Davis -- has a detailed privacy statement.  If
         displayed ZD's privacy statement more prominently, more people
         would use this wonderful service.
There are also two additional things to keep in mind when you use any
software update service:
      1. The speed at which most update services operate is, at best,
         glacial.  No update service seems to be immune from this.  So,
         if you decide to let one of these services scan your hard
         drive and recommend the necessary updates, have a newspaper
         and a cold drink handy.  It is going to take a while.
      2. Update services are GREAT at updating "generic" programs --
         Web browsers, plug-ins, freeware, parts of your operating
         system, and so on -- but you should avoid using an update
         service to update your really expensive registered programs
         like Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia Director, Extensis Mask
         Pro, and so on.  Instead, download the expensive program
         updates directly from the manufacturer's Web site.
         Case in point: I am a registered user of Macromedia
         Dreamweaver 2, a WONDERFUL Web site design program.  I use
         Dreamweaver every day.  In fact, I rely on it in my role as
         the Web developer for the University of Alabama's College of
         Arts & Sciences [ ].  When
         scanned my drive today, it found that there is a newer
         version of Dreamweaver available [version 2.01].  I asked to install the newer version.  Unfortunately, the
         newer version installed was actually an
         unregistered, demo version of Dreamweaver 2.01 ... and it
         overwrote my registered version of Dreamweaver 2.  I was
         forced to uninstall the demo version, reinstall my older,
         registered version, and then download and install a 2.0 to
         2.01 updater directly from Macromedia's Web site.  Personally,
         I can think of better ways to spend an afternoon.  :(
I hope that my "complaints" don't scare you away from using to update your software.  There are a few things you need
to keep in mind as you use their service -- or, for that matter, any
other update service.  But, once you try's "My Updates"
service, I think you will agree with me when I say that this service
is fantastic (albeit glacial).  :P
Tech Support Heck
Tech support people love to tell stories about stupid users.  We've
all heard the story about the person who used his CD-ROM tray as a cup
holder, who used his mouse at a foot pedal, and who even tried to fax
a document by holding it up to his screen an hitting the "Print
Screen" key.  These "stupid user stories" are so ubiquitous that the
folks at Yahoo even have an entire section dedicated to these stories:
< A
[If that link doesn't work, just go to and search for
"tech support humor" (without the quotes).]
In defense of the users, however, I think we can all attest to the
fact that sometimes the tech support personnel are themselves the ones
who are ... how can I put this? ... well, "special."  Case in point: I
called BellSouth's ISDN Service Center last week to request that an
ISDN technician be sent to my apartment to connect an ISDN jack in a
new bedroom and change my ISDN cross connect so that this new ISDN
jack would be hot.  [Notice, by the way, the number of times I said
"ISDN" in the last sentence]  BellSouth's ISDN Service Center informed
me that it would be four days until an ISDN technician would be
On the anointed day, I skipped a day of work so that I could be at
home when the BellSouth ISDN technician arrived.  Now for the sad
part: the technician BellSouth dispatched had never even HEARD of
ISDN.  Wait.  It gets better.  The technician told me that I would
have to call the BellSouth ISDN Service Center and request that an
ISDN technician be sent to my apartment.  AAARRRGGGHHH!
Well, after "expressing my disappointment" to the folks at BellSouth's
ISDN Service Center -- and after skipping a second day of work so that
the real ISDN tech could enter my apartment -- I finally got
reconnected to the Net.  :)
Unfortunately, not everything is happy in ISDN-land.  In fact, I have
been having some intermittent connection problems over the past couple
of days, and I could sure use some help solving this.  The following
is a recent log from my Web Ramp Entre (the events are in reverse
order).  Does anyone on our little bus of Internet happiness know what
"IPCP Config Req" is and who should I yell at about this?  :)
Aug 23 20:20:37:        PPP Disconnect complete on channel B2
Aug 23 20:20:36:        PPP Disconnect sent to remote, cause #16:
    Normal Call Clearing
Aug 23 20:20:36:        PPP IPCP WARNING: 2nd chan fails: Invalid IPCP
Config Req
from Remote
Aug 23 20:20:28:        PPP Authentication Succeeded on:B2 for
    user: squirrel
Aug 23 20:20:26:        PPP Authentication started on:B2 type:PAP
Aug 23 20:20:26:        PPP LCP Negotiated Parameters on B2: R_MRU:1524
    R_MRRU:1600 R_AUTH:PAP S_MRU:1524 S_MRRU:1524 S_AUTH:PAP
Aug 23 20:20:26:        PPP LCP Successful on channel:B2
Aug 23 20:20:23:        PPP LCP Started on channel:B2
Aug 23 20:20:23:        PPP Connected on channel B2 to:5560450
Aug 23 20:20:22:        PPP Initiating a call to remote: 5560450
Any ideas?
That's it for this week!  Have a safe and happy weekend.  :)
TODAY'S TOURBUS STOP(S): / Tech Support Heck
INNERST (noun).  The rental cost of money.
Usage: "Greenspan just raised the innerst rate another 25 points."
[Special thanks to Steven A. Creasy for today's wurd, and to my
Monetary Theory professor, Dr. Hooks, for teaching me the definition]
You can find all of the old Southern Words of the day at 
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