How to clear up bad information:
-Ask about the location of the gear (is it close, is it in a well-lit area?).
-Ask for a description of the problematic piece, including any displays, or UI.
-Go back to basics, eliminate everything you can from the situation (aka “simple it down”)
Look for anomalies:
-What is present that shouldn’t be?
-What’s missing that should be present?
-What’s it doing that makes some of the information you’re getting wrong?
Design a test to figure out what is happening.
-How can you prove that the information you’re getting is bad?
-If you’re talking to someone else, how can you help them save face, while getting the right information?
Transcript: This past week, there was a huge outage with Comcast, actually it wasn’t Comcast, it was Time Warner. Sorry they almost merged, but they didn’t, thankfully. Anyway, there was this huge outage with Time Warner and I’m a Time Warner customer. I noticed the problem and since I’m in to troubleshooting, I immediately sprang into action, did a little troubleshooting, found out wasn’t my system, was out all over the country so I didn’t worry about it. Went to bed, the next morning I went and I checked, same exact problem, I didn’t have internet. I started off with a chat, an hour later, no resolution, and I got booted off the chat. Thankfully the tech, he’d given me a link to reconnect to him, so I reconnected, and we talked for another half an hour, still no solution. Finally, I got booted off, connected to another tech, still no solution. Finally this tech offered to send in support personnel to fix it. The only problem was that the tech wasn’t going to be here until this week, early this week. In frustration, I tweeted out to Time Warner to let him know just how bad things were.
I did some more troubleshooting with the person that was handling the Time Warner cable of Twitter account, and that’s when we found the problem. Let me go through some information just to help you should you ever be in the situation where maybe the information you’re getting isn’t quite correct. The first thing to do is figure out if that’s the case. Does the problem make sense? Do the Fixers that should work not seem to work? Is the piece that they’re talking about, that you’re dealing with, does it not normally break this way? Do the symptoms seem odd? If any of those are the case, it could be that you’re getting bad information.
If that’s the case, maybe you need to clear up some information. First stop, figure out where the PC is located. Is it in a well-lit place? Could be that the power LED and the IR activity LED are being mistaken from one another because the person just can’t see in the unlit room, that happens all the time. That was something that I ran into at my previous job where I did tech support, we’d ran into issues like that all the time.
Next ask for a description of the problematic piece, including any displays or user interface. Again, LED sometimes can help you sometimes describing the location of the LED. Sometimes there will be a message on the screen that they’ll think doesn’t matter whatsoever, it’s always said that, etc. Sometimes any little piece of information will help give away what’s actually going on there. Sometimes you just need to go back to basics, what I called previously sampling it down. Just remove everything that you can from the situation and see how it still behaves.
In this case what I did was I got it down to the cable modem, the cable and the connection to Time Warner cable. Didn’t get any more basic than that, but I still had problems no matter what with one of those three pieces, though it really got on my nerves when they kept asking me to check the computer. “No, it can’t be the computer, the computer works fine in the network.” Asked me to check the router. “No, it can’t be the router, I can access things on my network, can’t be the router.” Asked me to check the wireless connection. “No, can’t be the wireless connection, I can still access things on my network.” They asked me to change out the Ethernet Cable. “Can’t be the Ethernet Cable, I can still access things on my network.”
We’d gotten into the point where there was a stalemate. That’s why I sampled it down and still had problems. Next, look for anomalies. What’s present that should not be? What’s missing that should be present? What is it doing that makes some of the information you’re getting wrong? This case I had one LED, one LED on the cable modem. I’ve already told you part of the problem, I had one LED on the cable modem, and it’s in a place where the light isn’t all that good. I assumed that, that was the power LED when I power cycled it by unplugging it, plugging it back in, the LEDs would cycle through but I wouldn’t get the final solid LED for the network activity, but they said that they were getting network activity. What was going wrong? Well, I’ll tell you in just a second, but first here’s what I would have done if I was in their situation.
I would have designed a test to figure out how what I was seeing on my screen [jived 00:06:09] with what the person I was dealing with was seeing in their location. Figure out a way to help them save face because it’s no good to make them feel stupid, you don’t want to do that. What you want to do is try and figure out, okay, how can this make sense? Finally, you just need to eliminate everything that’s impossible.
Turns out that I ended up fixing this. It should have been that what fixed this was one of the first things they asked me, but they didn’t ask me. Here’s what the problem was. Remember we’ve talked earlier about correlation and causation. The correlation was that the whole system went down one night, I started troubleshooting. In troubleshooting, I moved the cable modem and it fell over. When it fell over having not paid attention to the lights previously, I didn’t notice the lights now were just on a single light. Since everyone was having trouble, I just figured that, that was the cause of the trouble, that I was only getting one light which I just now noticed, and that one light must have been caused by the problem everyone was having.
Turns out that as I was moving things over, I knocked the cable modem over and it hit the reset button to put it in standby. Two hours’ worth of troubleshooting put it in standby. No one asked me to press the standby button, no one, not a single soul. I accidentally bumbled into it, and in bumbling into it, I fixed it. That is a situation where I was giving them bad information, that was my fault. I thought it was the power LED, it was the standby LED, they’re right next to each other, bad lighting. They kept telling me, no it’s working perfectly fine, but I wasn’t seeing it working perfectly fine. Every time I tried what they said would make it work perfectly fine, it didn’t make it work perfectly fine. That just goes to show that sometimes you get bad information.