l i l e p h y t e

February 3rd, 21:00 | Guilt-free chocolate; no chocolate included

Enter my completely ego-centric world. A world where I get irritated that 80% of the diaries I read have somewhere in the body of their entry for Saturday "and it feels so weird to be writing about such trivial [stuff] after [what happened]". Look, for fuck's sake, what can be more important than the life you're leading?? Yes, it was a shitty event, people died, nobody's happy about it. There will be inquiries, and worries, and murmuring and muttering about "space antics" and how NASA doesn't spend enough on safety. Eventually another shuttle will get up there, and hopefully it'll come home safely. Call me a heartless, egocentric bitch, but I don't see how enjoying the first day of the new year with my family, even though I woke up to the news that the Columbia exploded into fiery shards minutes from home makes me an awful person. I feel bad. I think it's terrible, and I can't even imagine what it must be like for the families and friends of the astronauts. Nonetheless, my life is important to me. I happen to think I had a good day on Saturday. I smiled, had fun, was productive. I made people happy and did good things.

I realize that my life in comparison to, say, the lives of all the people who died in some horrible fire, or something, seems pretty small. But you know what? It's all I've got. And I refuse to feel bad for enjoying and writing about it.

...okay, I'm done my hissy fit now? ^_^ I had more to say but feel I should get some reading in. So I'll finish up later.

So what I was trying to say before is that I'm developping minor internal conflict regarding work. My job is, in rough terms, tech support. It's a specific brand of tech support which spares me from speaking to end users, which means, in general, that what I do most of the day is prepare configurations for people. So someone can call in, with no clues about how their client's wishlist translates into hardware, and I'll make it happen for them. Or someone can call in with specs, and I'll help them with that too. Whatever.

The way I do this, obviously, is that I'm armed with more information than the customer. A lot of it is available (on the company website -- which is a mixed blessing; if you can actually find stuff on there without knowing where it is beforehand, you are a searching, and site-map-intuiting god -- no less) and not restricted in any way. There's a little bit which is only accessible internally, but that stuff isn't usually that important, and is usually released a few days later anyway.

So, what people are paying for, when they pay for the services of my team, is our mad expertise stemming from experience with similar configs, and our lightning-fast knowledge of where all the relevant information is. We're like highly specialized librarians, kind of. (And yes, people do pay for this. To our credit, we do a fucking good job, and work our asses off to keep up to date on what's changing at WorkPlace -- no small feat.)

The occasional person calls who found our number on a website somewhere, or heard it from a colleague who is not authorized. If it's on the phone, I generally help them anyway (unless it's crazy-busy). However, if they email us for help, what with it being tracked and all, I have to turn them down. This is where the problem lies.

Fundamentally, as trite and wannabe-geek as it sounds, I really do believe that Information Wants To Be Free. (See here if you've no idea what I'm on about.) I feel kinda sleazy knowing that I'm being paid to do something when, for the most part, the people I help really could find all this information themselves. I mean, I'm essentially making money off their laziness, or their desire to save time or whatever. Which, I suppose isn't so bad. Where I feel really awful, though, is in the feeling that I'm giving the impression that I'm withholding information. I try to make it clear in the rejections that they can find all the necessary information on the site and that we're more a convenience and a Voice Of Experience than a manual, per se. But I still feel icky.

I mean, I do enjoy my work. It makes me happy to think that people are less stressed, more confident about their solutions and generally happier because I can make their (professional, at least) lives easier. I just... I don't know. It's like, honestly, if I think about it, I'd never buy any of the hardware I advocate selling. It has nothing to do with quality. I'm sure their quality's great. It has to do with lack of choice. I do not like having a company dictate to me what I can and can not buy. I will never buy a machine from a big company. I'm all over going to tiny stores, grabbing a sheet of parts, ticking off exactly what I want in my machine, and paying for my creation accordingly.

Getting kinda side-tracked into not-quite-related topics. Overall I'm happy. Deep down, I don't think the way society is currently set up really makes the free software movement feasible. But. I'll worry about that when I'm caught up on my reading.

Oh, too late for pseudo-deep thoughts. Bed for me.

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