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Trying to order with online chat

August 23rd, 2010 joconner No comments

Using online chat services can be very frustrating, especially when the expert chat professionals just can’t or won’t answer questions. My recent attempt to order Time Warner cable service got weird after a while…admittedly after I couldn’t get an answer about the HD recording capacity I began to wonder if this was a bot.

My transcript follows:

User John_ has entered room
Analyst Paul has entered room

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 04:50:59 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Thank you for contacting Time Warner Cable Online Customer Service, my name is Paul. May I have your complete name please?

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 01:51:13 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
John

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 04:51:20 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Thank you for providing your name. How may I assist you today?

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 01:51:38 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
What size is the HD DVR box on new service installation?

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 01:51:51 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
How many hours of recordings can I make?

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 04:52:35 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
I understand that you would like to know about HD DVR box. Is that correct?

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 01:52:39 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
yes

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 04:52:49 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
I will be glad to assist you.

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 01:53:33 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Hmmmm…Paul are you there?

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 04:53:51 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Yes, I am here to assist you.

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 04:53:57 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
I would like to inform you that view our Cable Box Comparison Chart. High-Definition (HD) boxes will provide you access to HD programming. Digital Video Recorder (DVR) boxes will allow you to Pause Live TV, Record 2 shows at once, and Record, and Record 30+ hours of programming. HD-DVR box provides combine the capabilities of the (HD) and (DVR) boxes.

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 01:54:22 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
30+ hours of HD recording?

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 04:55:46 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Please bear with me just a few moments while I research this information for you.

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 01:55:52 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Can I add my own Firewire or USB drive to increase the recording capabilities?

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 04:57:15 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Thank you for being online; I am still in the process of checking the information. Please bear with me just a few moments while I research this information for you.

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 04:58:43 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Thank you for your patience.

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 04:58:55 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
I would like to inform you that you need to contact our local office further information. Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience caused.

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 04:59:01 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Would you like me to provide you the number?

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 01:59:37 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
no, that’s not needed.

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 01:59:50 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
so, which question is not answerable?

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 05:00:08 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience caused.

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 02:00:21 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
ok, but which question is difficult?

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 05:00:51 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
I do apologize for the inconvenience; unfortunately, this chat support center specializes in online offers.

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 02:01:13 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
of course, I understand that. I want an online order.

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 02:01:23 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
to do that I have questions first.

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 05:01:54 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
I will be glad to assist you.

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 05:01:56 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
May I know the services you are interested in?

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 02:02:21 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
well, I bet you can guess at least one of the services…the one named above.

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 02:02:46 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
HD DVR cable service

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 05:03:29 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Thank you for the information.

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 05:03:36 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
May I have your complete address along with the zip code?

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 02:03:52 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
sure, but will you answer my questions?

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 02:05:05 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Paul, you’re making this awkward. I want to order cable service but have a question about the HD recording capacity of the HD DVR machine. Additionally, I’m asking whether I can increase the recording capacity by providing my own external drive.

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 05:06:16 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Please bear with me just a few moments while I research this information for you.

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 05:08:57 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Thank you for your patience.

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 05:09:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
I would like to inform you that after installation you can contact our local office in order to increase the recording capacity. Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience caused.

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 05:11:01 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
May I please confirm if you are still connected with this chat session?

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 02:11:16 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Paul, do you know how much wood a wood-chuck chucks if a wood-chuck could chuck wood?

Paul(Mon Aug 23 2010 05:13:25 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
This chat support center specializes in online offers. I will be more than happy to assist with questions about these offers.

John_(Mon Aug 23 2010 02:14:07 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time))>
Thank you for your help Paul.

Personally, I think I had a ‘bot online. What do you think?

No, I have some other observations about this chat, particularly about the time stamp time zones, but I’ll leave that for another post.

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Picking a scripting language

August 20th, 2010 joconner No comments

I’ve been working with Java for a dozen years now, actually more. I don’t really want to learn another language, or forget one. I’ve already forgotten perl too many times. But the problem is that I actually do need to learn another language. Java just doesn’t do everything for me.

For example, when I need to process a huge log file and write some data to another file, I don’t really want the overhead of writing in Java. What I want is to scribble something out and run it. I might keep the script around, but I might throw it away too. I need another tool. Perl once did this for me, once long ago. Then for whatever reason, I didn’t need it anymore. Now I need it again, but remembering how many times I’ve forgotten perl, I’m thinking maybe there’s a better language. Maybe there’s something that I can actually remember from week to week as my infrequent needs call upon it.

I’ve been thinking about a few language options:

  • Python 
  • Ruby
  • Bash
  • JavaScript

I’ve only read the introduction sections of books about Ruby and Python. Python just irks me with its dependence on space. I’m sure that’s a frequent complaint. For those who overcome that somewhat petty problem, the language seems to satisfy. But something about those procedures and method with __something__ surrounded with those underscore characters. Come on, what’s up with that? But the things that really do appeal to me about Python are the general ideas that explicitness is better that obscurity, that one common way is better than a dozen equally flexible ways, and that there is a best way to do something….well, those ideas are comfortable and appealing.

Ruby is fully object-oriented, and it actually does read nicely. I’m also interested in multiple spoken languages, character sets, etc., and I’m not sure whether it fully embraces Unicode as it’s character set. Maybe there are ways to make it work with UTF-8, but I haven’t quite advanced that far.

Bash? Uh no.

Can you believe that I actually considered Javascript briefly. When run under a vm with the Rhino implementation, your JavaScript code has full access to the JRE class libraries. Used this way, it really is only a way to script Java calls. For what I want, no “native” javascript functions exist to read the underlying file system or to create new files.  Without the boilerplate overhead of a full Java application, I suppose I could squeak out some extra productivity. In the end though, it really is just a way to work with Java code. JavaScript might be great within a browser, but on the file system? Hmmm, probably not.

So what are your ideas about a general purpose scripting language? Is perl still the best choice for system work, moving files around, parsing out some key values and writing them elsewhere? Did you move to Python and finally just accept the annoying white space issue? Or is Ruby a good tool for me. What do you know about these? Any suggestions?

Thanks!

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