ever have one of those days…

…when you solve your own tech support issue while the IT professional still is trying to figure out what the issue is?

That’s what happened to me today, and it’s not the first time. Usually it’s a function of how little the IT support person knows about OS X. But in this case, it had nothing really to do with the OS but with browsers in general. I was surprised yesterday to find that upon going to the URL of an ob/gyn journal, I got an error message in Safari indicating that the page would not load. I restarted Safari-same thing. Emptied the cache-no change. I assumed the site was just down, but if I went there via Firefox or the Safari browser on my iPhone, there was no problem.

I contacted the site’s support team and they were stumped. I indicated that I was running OS 10.6.2 which led to the question “are you using a Macintosh computer?” So I figured that OS X wasn’t necessarily their forte. They thought it might have something to do with an old version of Flash, but I’m running the latest version and besides, if it were a plugin issue, it would also have produced the same behavior in any other browser on my laptop.

So I had a hunch and deleted all cookies relating to the site in question. That did the trick, and I let the tech support person know what the issue was. Case closed. But this must be the tenth time or more in recent memory where I had to solve my own problem. And as previously, I had the same feeling that had I not figured it out myself, the problem would not have been solved. That happened to me around 2000-there was some network issue at work that resulted in OUtlook 2000 for the Mac no longer working. The IT person was not happy to have been dealing with a Mac issue, and basically I was on my own. After a few days I figured it out and life went on just fine. But had I not persisted and arrived at the solution, no one was going to bail me out. So I’ve always had to be self-sufficient as regards the Mac. Still, it is a shame that the user frequently has to solve the problem.

Just the other day, Debbie and I noticed that many Web pages would require a refresh to load at all, and some downloads of as little as 100 MB would stall. This was happening on two different computers running either 10.5 or 10.6, and even emptying the DNS cache or using an OpenDNS server wouldn’t resolve the issue. Multiple calls to Verizon tech support failed to solve the issue, since our bandwidth appeared to be just fine. Finally I got someone who told me to restart the DSL modem, something that should have occurred to me, but definitely should have occurred to someone during the 4-5 calls to tech support I had made.

So it’s nice when tech support can come through. But it’s a challenge. And to be fair, they have a tough job. I don’t envy these folks. But many times tech support people seem to be reciting from a script when they should be listening to the user and formulating possible solutions on the fly. The last person I spoke with at Verizon did just that. Unfortunately, this happens too infrequently.