Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Soupçon of Self-Control

Last Thursday, when I tried to send email from Entourage (Outlook for the Mac), I got an error I’ve seen before that has always proven to be intermittent, but by the next day, it was clear that outgoing mail had ground to a halt. There was no way around it: I was going to have to call AT&T (U-verse) and see if the SMTP server had changed or something.

I worked my way through their whole phone tree, gamely answering question after question, only to end up being offered a web page to go to, and I was instantly furious and kept declining the offer until I was transferred to a representative to whom I announced that I was already angry. He soothingly said he understood and that he’d be happy to assist, if I’d merely provide the four-digit code for my account. Huh? I have an email address associated with it, and a password for that, and an account number, but no four-digit code that I knew of, and none was present on my password list.

He said he couldn’t help without that code and I completely and absolutely lost my temper and yelled, “Then can you please just tell me if the SMTP server has changed or not? That’s all I want to know. Given that I pay $46 a month for Internet service that is crappy, is it possible that someone there could at least tell me if the SMTP server is still (whatever it was)?”

At that, he primly said, “Yes, that is still the SMTP server.”

“Fine, then the problem must be something else. I’ll do some Duck Ducking. Thank you and goodbye,” I said, more calmly. (Actually, in my frenzy, I slipped and said I’d do some “Googling,” but I meant Duck Ducking.)

It occurred to me that I should see if the aforementioned email address’s password was still good, so I tried to log into Yahoo using it, and didn’t succeed but also didn’t get an error message, so I did a password reset, and soon got an upbeat email (incoming email was working fine) assuring me that my password had been “updated,” but not saying what the new password was, and I hadn’t typed in any new password.

Ugh. Now I had two problems instead of one and had to call AT&T back. This time I just screamed, “No, no, no, no, no!” to the automated system until I was talking to an agent, but while waiting to be transferred to the agent, I made up my mind not to start by telling the agent that I was already angry, and in fact, I decided to stop being angry, as the feeling was not at all enjoyable. I explained the entire situation to a different fellow and he replied, “SMTP server?” as if he’d never heard of such a thing. I very nearly politely hung up then to try for a different person, but decided to give him a chance, and it turned out that he was very knowledgeable and gave me the information I needed to fix the problem.

First of all, the SMTP server had changed. But also, the web page the automated system would have tried to send me to in the first place would have explained that and told me what to do. The second agent sent me to that same page, where you can click a button to have your system automatically updated, but it also provides the manual instructions, so I did that, so I could make a note of what had changed; there were a couple of other things besides the new SMTP server.

I did that after we hung up. While we were still on the line, the agent helped me do a speed test to confirm that my download and upload speeds were within the acceptable range for the “elite” package, and they were, so it must be a miracle radio disappearance that causes my Internet radio to disconnect over and over on some days; it’s not the device itself because it works perfectly fine when playing mp3s.

The agent also helped me reset my password yet again so I’d know what it is. However, he was also interested in that four-digit code. I warmly and sincerely assured him that I have never had a four-digit code, but he asked if there’s any four-digit code I use for anything. He said, “It’s often the first four digits that come to mind,” so I tried my ATM PIN, and yep, that was it. I have now added that to my password list. That guy was awesome.

Oh, speaking of devices, I did call The Femur to see why my HD radio was not showing their artists and song titles, and it’s because their particular HD station plays one big chunk of audio over and over; it’s been doing that for a few years and no one ever bothered to add the metadata. This would have been nice for him to mention at the same time that he told me that HD radio would display artists and song titles, because that’s what caused me to go buy one, but he explained the problem so earnestly and in such detail that I couldn’t be mad. I could have returned the radio at that point, but I was too lazy. For a while, I thought I’d keep it and just listen to those two songs when they happened to come around, but it was yet another thing on my desktop (the wooden one) and the sound quality wasn’t tremendous, so I took it to the thrift store when I was decluttering.

After my walk last Friday (thank you, pedometer), Tom and I had dinner at Esperpento. I often have the grilled salmon, which I now realize is maybe more poached than grilled, because that night it was actually a bit brown and crispy around the edges; there was some minced garlic involved. It was so delicious. I also had roasted potatoes with brava sauce and a simple house salad that was also really good—very fresh and with a tasty, light vinaigrette.
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