To lie or keep in hiding, as for some evil reason.  To move or go in a mean, stealthy manner.
ISSN: 1527-814X Monday February 28, 2000

WebSkulker Newsletter
Ah, look at all the lonely skulkers

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To use the links in this newsletter, you must be connected to the Internet.  PC Eudora users: to see this and other html mail properly you must check the box "Use Microsoft's Viewer" in the "Viewing Mail" options.

WebSkulker has a mystery

The above URL was in last Friday's issue.  Some jr. skulkers clicked on it and got a news article speculating on what happened to the Mars Polar Lander.  Other jr. skulkers clicked on it and got a message that the link was bad.  WebSkulker tests all links before sending out the newsletter and knew that this one was good.  Yet after getting complaints, he went into his own mailbox and tried the link in the newsletter as received, and it was bad.  He went back to the original HTML file and the link was good.  The archived version of the newsletter is made by simply copying that HTML file to the web server, and the link is good in that one.  The mailing to the subscription list is done by using that very same HTML file, yet some people got a good link and some a bad one.

For people who got the bad link, the visible link that you see in the newsletter was correct, but the invisible link code that gets invoked when you click had the period between the "00f1" and the "html" missing, so their web browser saw a URL that ended with "00f1html" instead of "00f1.html".  WebSkulker has vague memories of seeing this problem before, but doesn't remember any details.

Do any of you jr. skulkers have any idea what is going on here?  Does the link above work for you?

WebSkulker has a new toy

WebSkulker just bought a Qualcomm 860 cell phone, one of the new generation that has Internet access and a mini-web browser built in.  Most of these phones look like any other cell phone with no alphabetic keyboard -- just the regular numeric dial pad, function, and menu buttons -- and the normal tiny 3 or 4 line screen.  But somewhere on a menu there will be a way to bring up the browser, and while in it, most of the other buttons become involved with browsing.  Letters are entered just like in building dialing-directory entries:  press 2 once for A, twice for B, thrice for C, etc.  The browser isn't meant to handle regular web sites, because they wouldn't make any sense on a tiny, non-graphic, screen.  There is a new protocol called "WAP", or "Wireless Application Protocol", and web pages designed for use with these phones are called "WAP enabled".

More about this tomorrow, but in studying this new technology on the web we found the above site that will be useful to anyone who has any digital cell phone that can receive text messages, whether or not it has a wireless browser, and also to anyone who has an alphanumeric pager with one of the main companies.  This site is even more fun for people who have friends with such phones and don't understand the capabilities they have, because you can cause their phone to beep and display messages.

All services on the site are free.  The owner of the phone or pager can sign up for automatic pages to be sent with news, weather, sports, etc. information.  If your cellular or pager company doesn't supply an email address for your device, this web site will give you one and send pages to your phone or pager with the contents of the email messages.  For friends with these phones and pagers, the site has a Quick Message feature that lets you send them a page from the web site, or you can download software to your PC to send messages from your desktop.

Free M.I.T. web seminar for jr. skulkers

Jr. Skulker MediaHound told us about this site which has a complete five hour seminar on web design available for free in streaming RealMedia and Windows Media Player formats.  This seminar is normally given to large groups of people on college campuses, and it was filmed live at M.I.T.  The page will look like it is inviting you to a live seminar (and it is), but scroll down near the bottom to find the links to view it online.  The seminar teaches:

ability to distinguish between good and bad Web service ideas
ability to decide what tools are appropriate to realize a Web publishing goal 
ability to select and hire a team of developers to realize a Web service design 
ability to identify portions of Web content that are amenable to formalization and structure 
ability to design a site that will be properly indexed by public search engines such as AltaVista 
ability to select software and policies necessary to accomplish specific site activity and user tracking goals 
ability to put together an image library to be used across multiple Web services 
ability to understand how a relational database management system supports Web-based collaboration 
ability to understand the dimensions of building an ecommerce service from scratch or grafting ecommerce onto an existing retail business 
ability to contribute to building a future where people can take full advantage of computers and Internet without becoming mired in system administration 

They forgot a card for "The Skulker"

"Why stoop to market research, consumer surveys, and expensive consultants to guide you into the scary, uncertain future of technology when you can consult the Silicon Valley Tarot? We've already done all the work for you: First, we compiled a comprehensive collection of all the major themes, semiotics, and archetypes of Silicon Valley life. Second, we've distilled, encapsulated, and rendered them in tasteful, Tarot-card-style chunks, complete with pithy, insightful interpretations. And last but not least, we've developed the sure-fire, can't-miss automated Silicon Valley Business Oracle™ which uses the cards to guide you unfailingly through the uncharted waters of the Information Technology Industry."

This site was suggested by Jr. Skulker Goat Boy

This made WebSkulker laugh

Submitted by Jr. Skulker Michael Cohen

Tech Support Stories

A woman called the Canon help desk with a problem with her printer. The tech asked her if she was "running it under Windows." The woman responded, "No, my desk is next to the door. But that's a good point. The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window, and his is working fine."

Tech Support: "OK Bob, let's press the control and escape keys at the same time. That brings up a task list in the middle of the screen. Now type the letter 'P' to bring up the Program Manager." Customer: "I don't have a 'P'." Tech Support: "On your keyboard, Bob." Customer: "What do you mean?" Tech Support: "'P' on your keyboard, Bob." Customer: "I'm not going to do that!"

Overheard in a computer shop: Customer: "I'd like a mouse pad, please." Salesperson: "Certainly sir, we've got a large variety." Customer: "But will they be compatible with my computer?"

I once received a fax with a note on the bottom to fax the document back to the sender when I was finished with it, because he needed to keep it.

Customer: "So that'll get me connected to the Internet, right?" Tech Support: "Yeah." Customer:"And that's the latest version of the Internet, right?" Tech Support: "Uhh ... uh ... uh ... yeah."

Tech Support: "All double-click on the File Manager icon." Customer: "That's why I hate this Windows - because of the icons -. I'm a Protestant, and I don't believe in icons." Tech Support: "Well, that's just an industry term sir. I don't believe it was meant to be religious." Customer: "I don't care about any 'Industry Terms'. I don't believe in icons." Tech Support: "Well...why don't you click on the 'little picture' of a filing 'little picture' OK?" Customer: [click]

Customer: "My computer crashed!" Tech Support: "It crashed?" Customer: "Yeah, it won't let me play my game." Tech Support: "All right, hit Control-Alt-Delete to reboot." Customer: "No, it didn't crash - it crashed." Tech Support: "Huh?" Customer: "I crashed my game. That's what I said before. I crashed my spaceship and now it doesn't work." Tech Support: "Click on 'File,' then 'New Game.'" Customer: [pause]: "Wow! How'd you learn how to do that?"

Got a call from a woman said that her laser printer was having problems: the bottom half of her printed sheets were coming out blurry. It seemed strange that the printer was smearing only the bottom half. I walked her through the basics, then went over and printed out a test sheet. It printed fine. I asked her to print a sheet, so she sent a job to the printer. As the paper started coming out, she yanked it out and showed it to me. I told her to wait until the paper came out on its own. Problem solved.

I had been doing Tech Support for Hewlett-Packard's DeskJet division for about a month when I had a customer call with a problem I just couldn't solve. She could not print yellow. All the other colors would print fine, which truly baffled me because the only true colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow. For instance, green is a combination of cyan and yellow, but green printed fine. Every color of the rainbow printed fine except for yellow. I had the customer change ink cartridges. I had the customer delete and reinstall the drivers. Nothing worked. I asked my coworkers for help; they offered no new ideas. After over two hours of troubleshooting, I was about to tell the customer to send the printer in to us for repair when she asked quietly, "Should I try printing on a piece of white paper instead of this yellow paper?"

A man attempting to set up his new printer called the printer's tech support number, complaining about the error message: "Can't find the printer." On the phone, the man said he even held the printer up in front of the screen, but the computer still couldn't find it.

And another user was all confused about why the cursor always moved in the opposite direction from the movement of the mouse. She also complained that the buttons were difficult to depress. She was very embarrassed when we asked her to rotate the mouse so the tail pointed away from her.

Customer: "Hello? I'm trying to dial in. I installed the software okay, and it dialed fine. I could hear that. Then I could hear the two computers connecting. But then the sound all stopped, so I picked up the phone to see if they were still connected, and I got the message, 'No carrier,' on my screen. What's wrong?"

An unfailingly polite lady called to ask for help with a Windows installation that had gone terribly wrong. Customer: "I brought my Windows disks from work to install them on my home computer." Training stresses that we are "not the Software Police," so I let the little act of piracy slide. Tech Support: "Umm-hmm. What happened?" Customer: "As I put each disk in it turns out they weren't initialized. Tech Support: "Do you remember the message exactly, ma'am?" Customer: (proudly) "I wrote it down. 'This is not a Macintosh disk. Would you like to initialize it?" Tech Support: "Er, what happened next?" Customer: "After they were initialized, all the disks appeared to be blank. And now I brought them back to work, and I can't read them in the A: drive; the PC wants to format them. And this is our only set of Windows disks for the whole office. Did I do something wrong?"

This guy calls in to complain that he gets an "Access Denied"message every time he logs in. It turned out he was typing his username and password in capital letters. Tech Support: "Ok, let's try once more, but use lower case letters." Customer: "Uh, I only have capital letters on my keyboard."

My friend was on duty in the main lab on a quiet afternoon. He noticed a young woman sitting in front of one of the workstations with her arms crossed across her chest, staring at the screen. After about 15 minutes he noticed that she was still in the same position, only now she was impatiently tapping her foot. He asked if she needed help and she replied: "It's about time! I pressed the F1 button over twenty minutes ago!"


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