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Careful What You Ask For

Looking back, I’m surprised we didn’t get into more trouble for it. In fact, I don’t remember getting in any trouble at all. And I cannot decide if my parents were better parents than me, or worse.

Growing up, we moved around a lot. And then, in the fifth grade when I was eleven, we moved to the house that I grew up in. We were in that house until I graduated from high school. It was your typical four bedroom, two bath rambler.

It had a formal dining room and a kitchen bar. The dining room had the typical dark paneling that was so popular in the 1970’s. (It also had green shag carpet in the living room, but that’s not part of this story.)

My dear mother hated the paneling. She had often complained about it. So, one day my brother and I took it off. All of it. We stripped the entire dining room down to bare walls.

We didn’t tell my dear mother. We wanted to surprise her.

She was surprised.

If my kids did that, I’d be pretty upset. I don’t remember my parents being upset. Instead, they went out and bought some drywall tape, mud and wall paper. And we all learned how to finish off drywall. And for the next couple of weeks, we mud-ed and taped and sanded. And then mud-ed again and sanded some more.

And then we wallpapered the room in a beautiful pattern with vines and flowers and some kind of fruit. We spent a lot of time lining up the seams and smoothing out the bubbles.

And when we finally completed it, we stood back, admired our work and realized it was installed upside down. We hadn’t realized that the patter was supposed to show “hanging flowers and fruit. Everything was pointed up instead of down.

My dear mother, how had done the built of the work swore us all to secrecy.

If no one says anything, it’s not upside down.

She actually sent my younger brother to his room when he started to mention it to a neighbor. We never spoke of it again. (In fact, my dear mother may actually chastise me for mentioning it now.)

But, she’s the one who said she didn’t like the color.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

It Went Downhill From There

“Watercooler Monday! How was your weekend? Did you do a lot? Nothing at all? Was it busy? Relaxing? Let’s chat about it!”
– Sys Admin “Steve Hofstetter’s old school chat board (and all-you-can-eat-buffet)”

I’m greeted by this message every Monday morning. Steve Hofstetter is a comedian and the “old school chat board” is a Facebook group of his online friends. (More than fans, less than real life friends.)

We talk about our lives. We talk about Steve’s comedy occasionally. It’s a private group so we can share details we don’t necessarily feel like sharing on our own walls. I’m an upbeat person by nature. I struggled with it today.

I lost my job on Friday. Things went downhill from there.

It really was a rough weekend.

I didn’t get fired. I got laid off. They look a lot alike and they evoke many of the same emotions. My company, Teleperformance, decided to downsize, and my position was one of the ones eliminated.

I’ve been through downsizing before. I’ve been on both sides of the table. It’s not easy on the ones doing the downsizing. It’s harder, of course, on those being downsized. But, it’s not easy on the people on the other side of the table either.

My manager was there, along with people from HR. It was all via Zoom, or rather Microsoft Teams. We met at 2:00 PM and by 2:25 I was no longer an employee. Oh, and my access was cut off. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I wasn’t the only one being let go and they didn’t want me to possibly let others know who hadn’t been informed yet.

I get it. It’s not about trust. It’s business. There’s a severance package information about where to return my computer and name badge.

I really liked this job. I hope I like the next one just as much.

Saturday was the day before Mother’s Day. Many of my daughters are now mothers themselves. We decided we’d meet at our house on Saturday and then the girls could meet with their own families on Sunday. Great plan, right?

Well, it was a good plan until three of my daughters decided a weekend in Vegas was more important. And a son decided that a weekend with his girlfriend’s family in Idaho was more important.

Yeah, Saturday was bittersweet. We had some family at our house, but more were gone than home.

Sunday was Mother’s Day. My lovely wife got up and ready for church. . .and then her oxygen levels crashed to 85% and she passed out. Our neighbor is a nurse. She suggested we take her to the ER. Four hours later she was feeling better, but no closer to knowing what caused her symptoms.

“I’ve seen 100 patients with these same symptoms. A year from now, we’ll know more. Until then it’s just “post COVID” symptoms.”

– Dr Likes, Timpanogos Regional Medical Center Emergency Room doctor

She’s doing much better today. Thanks.

So, I lost my job on Friday and that wasn’t even the second worst thing that happened this weekend.

The great thing about IT is that there are are a lot of jobs in IT. I’ll be fine.

Hope your weekend was better than mine.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The Windshield And The Bug

Sometimes you’re the windshield

Sometimes you’re the bug

– Mary Chapin Carpenter “The Bug”

Some days are diamonds, some days are stones

– John Denver “Some Days Are Diamonds”

Well, today I was a bug that got hit by the windshield. . .and then a rock fell on me.

“It’s just a flesh wound”

– The Black Night “Monty Python And The Holy Grail”

I’ll be fine. . .eventually.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

A Face Full Of Water. . .Twice

Spring is here. And with it, many of the projects suspended in the Fall are ready to start up again. Last fall, we redid our sprinkler system. It was quite an extensive remodel. We added zones. We removed a zone. We added heads and we added a hose bib. Our house has three hose bibs that use culinary water. We pay for culinary water.

We also have now two hose bibs that come off of our sprinkler system, or irrigation water. In my little town of Pleasant Grove, we don’t have to pay a per use fee for our irrigation water. Personally, I think that’s a bad plan in a desert state. The idea is that everyone in the city can use it as much as they need. The reality is that people closer to the mountains, who live on what’s called “the bench” have first access to the water. People who live at the end of the delivery pipes, sometimes go without.

I wasn’t around when the system was put in. And even though I live on the bench and never have an issue with water pressure, I still think it’s a bad idea. Even with the rule that each house can only use water three days per week, it’s a system that won’t grow easily.

We installed a hose bib off the irrigation system so that we could do hand watering of the garden without using our culinary water. (The stuff we pay a per-gallon fee on.) So, last year, while we were redoing the system, we dug a trench about 70 feet long from our existing piping to or garden. By the time we finished it, the irrigation water had been shut off for the year.

My friend who installed the sprinklers left a pipe sticking out of the ground. He gave me a faucet to attach later. Well this Spring is later. Last week I decided to install the faucet. But, first I had to know if the system was set up.

The exposed pipe had acquired a spider and some other garden detritus. SLOWLY. . .I opened the shutoff valve. . .and got a face full of irrigation water at 80 PSI. I managed to shut it off before I stumbled back and stood there dripping water all over my garden.

I laughed. What else could I do? It was funny. At least I found it funny.

Yup, clearly the system was pressurized. I had the evidence all over me.

So, I got my PVC glue and parts and assembled my faucet. I then let it dry for 24 hours before testing it again.

I made sure the faucet was turned off and again, SLOWLY opened the shutoff valve.

And the 80 PSI pressure promptly blew the faucet into the air and gave me another face full of water. Again, I managed to get it shut off and then took stock. Unlike the first time, I now had an audience. I live on a very busy corner. There was a carload of teenagers going by just as I took the waterhose to the face.

They laughed.

I laughed.

We laughed together.

Clearly when my friend had assembled the stubbed out pipe last Fall, he didn’t attach the stub to the shutoff valve. More glue and 24 hours waiting later, and I had a working faucet. No face full of water this time.

I may not learn the first time. . .

I may not learn the second time. . .

But, by the third time I’ve generally started to get a clue.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

You Never Know What You Are Going To See At A Baseball Game

Do you lose very much?

I lose. I’ve lost 134 times.

You count them?

This is baseball. We count everything

– For Love Of The Game

Often the final score of a baseball game is one of the least interesting numbers. That was the case in the Baltimore Orioles vs Seattle Mariners game today. The final score was Orioles 6, Seattle 0.

But, there was a lot more to this game than the final score. In fact, it was a game unlike any game ever in the past. There are 30 teams in baseball and each team plays 162 games. That’s 2,430 games per year for the league. Plus there’s the post season. And professional baseball has been played for over 150 years. that works out to over 218,400 games played.

In all those hundreds of thousands of games, what happened today in Seattle has never happened before.

Before we get to what happened, let’s talk a little about some unique instances in baseball. A typical baseball game is 9 innings, with each team getting 3 outs per inning. If the game ends in a tie after 9 innings, the teams keep playing.

Did you know that baseball is the only major American sport where the defense controls the ball? The other notable exception is Cricket.

Anyway, the minimum number of batters a pitcher can face in a 9 inning game is 27. (Unless, the home team is ahead going into the bottom of the ninth inning in which case the visiting picture could face three less, or 24. But, it would be hard for the home team to be ahead if the visiting picture faced the minimum. So, call it 25. But, if we delve into every exception, this will be a long post and this parenthetical comment is already too long. Just know that I really do understand the intricacies, and if you want to delve into them, I’m happy to discuss them in painfully excruciating detail.)

We’ll come back to the minimum number of batters. Today’s Orioles pitcher John Means faced the minimum. I once had a discussion with a fellow baseball nerd about the minimum number of pitches possible in a baseball game. A pitcher has to face 27 batters. If every batter popped out on the first pitch, the pitcher would throw 27 pitches. (No one has ever done that, by the way. The fewest was Red Barrett. On August 10, 1944 he pitched a complete 2-0 win by throwing just 58 pitches. For comparison, Means threw 113 today.) But, what about the minimum number of pitches per inning? That would be 3 pitches. One to each batter.

That’s happened 190 times according to the guys at baseball-almanac. But they didn’t always count number of pitches, so it’s hard to know for sure. Most recently Ryne Stanek of the Houston Astros had a three-pitch inning April 3, 2021.

Despite the fact that three is the fewest pitches, it’s not the most impressive inning. That would be an immaculate inning. Three batters, three pitches per batter, three strikes. There have been 38 immaculate innings in the long history of baseball. It’s one of the rarest feats ever.

Most recently it was Mariner’s ace Felix Hernandez who threw an immaculate inning (9 strikes, three strikeouts) on June 17, 2008.

A shutout happens when one team fails to score. (Means achieved a shutout, but he did a lot more.) Shutouts are not that common. In fact, pitching great Walter Johnson recorded 110 shutouts during his career.

Better than a shutout (and much rarer) is a no-hitter. A no-hitter is just what it sounds like. The batters don’t score any hits. There have been over 300 no-hitters in the history of baseball. That doesn’t mean no one makes contact with the ball. Batters can foul off pitches as long as they want. It’s not uncommon for a good hitter to regularly take many more pitches than 3 strikes (or 4 balls.) The longest at bat was San Francisco’s Brandon Belt. He had a 21 pitch at-bat back in 2018. He then hit a pop fly that was caught for an out. So, while he hit a lot of baseballs, because he didn’t safely reach base, it was not recorded as a hit.

Pitchers have achieved no-hitters and still lost the game. Someone could walk. Steal bases and eventually score. On April 23, 1964 Ken Johnson, pitching for Houston threw a nine inning no-hitter and still lost. In fact, it’s happened five times. But, most of the time if you pitch a no-hitter you win. Means got credit for a no-hitter today.

Better than a no-hitter, and of course rarer, is the perfect game. In a perfect game, no batter gets a hit, and no one walks. In fact, no one gets on base. There have been just 23 perfect games in the history of baseball. One of them was in the 1956 World Series when Don Larsen through a perfect game. The last perfect game was 2012. Again, it was Seattle Mariners elite pitcher Seattle Felix Hernandez. He threw a perfect game on August 15, 2012.

Means did not throw a perfect game today. But, he did record 27 outs and allowed no walks and no hits.

So, what happened?

Like I said, something that has never happened before.

In today’s third inning, Means was pitching to Seattle Mariners left fielder Sam Haggerty. Haggerty swung and missed at strike three. Normally, he would have been out, but the catcher missed the ball and it skittered off toward the backstop. Baseball has a rule called the “swinging third strike” rule. If a batter swings and misses and the catcher fails to catch the pitch, the batter can try to run to first base before the catcher tracks down the ball and throws him out.

It’s a strange rule even for baseball, which has a rulebook full of strange rules. Rarely does a batter actually beat the throw. But, Haggerty did. So, he got on base via a strikeout and wild pitch.

Haggerty then attempted to steal second but was thrown out by the catcher. So, Means still faced the minimum 27 batters, since he only faced three in the third.

So, no perfect game. But, John Means did throw a no-hitter. And while there have been many of them thrown in the past, this is the first no-hitter recorded accomplished via the dropped third strike rule.

I watched the game, as excruciating as that was for a Mariners fan. You never know what you are going to see at the ballpark.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

How High Can You Climb?

It’s May. That means Spring in Utah. A little rain. Snow in the mountains still. Green grass. Flowers. And it’s time for our family to take our annual hike in the mountains.

It’s not today. It’s not even this week. It’s about ten days away. We’ll start on a Friday afternoon and hike up Grove Creek Canyon about 3 miles. There’s a natural spring there. That’s where we’ll have dinner. It’s only three miles in, but it’s about 2,000 feet in elevation.

After dinner it’s another hike of a couple miles and another 1000 feet or so of elevation. If we’re lucky, we’ll camp in a gorgeous campsite overlooking the entire Utah County valley.

It will be an especially cold night. It might be May, but at 6000 feet, it gets really cold at night. Saturday will either be another hike to summit on Baldy at 8,000 feet, or we may simply make our way back home down Battle Creek Canyon.

If we summit Baldy it will be 13 miles. Without diverting to summit Baldy it will be about 8 miles. It’s a hard hike. I’ve done it most years. Sometimes with my kids. Sometimes with the scouts.

My oldest son has gone with me the last two years. He was the first to offer to go this year. It might just be the two of us. I asked my other sons and they have work conflicts. And then I asked my daughters. They are 20 and 19 years old.

My girls have never been shy about doing outdoor activities. One of my older daughters is a captain in the US Army. The 20 year old went on the Baldy hike two years ago with us. The younger one hasn’t been before.

I thought you were going to give us some warning.

I did, this is your warning.

No, I mean so we could practice!

We’ll see how they do. I’m a slow hiker. She’ll probably do just fine.

The older girl invited her boyfriend. Nothing like a 10 mile hike to get to know someone. Should be fun.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Would You Go Back?

I took one of those Facebook surveys today. The ones were you answer 25 questions about various aspects of your life. I normally don’t post these on my own wall. But, if a friend posts them, I will answer it as a comment on their wall. One question struck me because my friend answered it emphatically yes, and I answered it emphatically no.

18. Would you go back to being a child if you could?

What would you say? When you’re kids you really want to grow up. It’s not uncommon for adults to reminisce and wish to return to the innocence of childhood. Maybe it’s because my life in a good spot. But, even if it wasn’t, I don’t think I’d want to be a child again.

“You’re not the only one who’s made mistakes

But, they’re the only thing you can truly call your own”
– “You’re Only Human” by Billy Joel

I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes. My kids think I’ve made more than I do, but what kid doesn’t? I’ve tried to learn from my mistakes. I view the mistakes in our lives similar to working out at the gym. I know some people who enjoy working out at the gym. I’m not one of those guys. Working out, for me, is a chore. But, like anyone I enjoy the results.

if you spent months working out, and finally got into great shape, would you change it? Would you give up the hours of work? I wouldn’t. Because if you give up those hours, if you go back to life before the gym, you have to also give up the gains.

“No thank you. I don’t get them dents buffed, pulled, filled or painted by nobody. They’re way too valuable.”
– Mater

My childhood wasn’t perfect. In fact, there were parts that were terrible. But, there were good parts, too. And I wouldn’t trade what I got for for an easier time. Or even a chance to go through it again.

“I could have missed the pain

But I’d have had to miss the dance”

– “The Dance” Garth Brooks

I don’t begrudge those who would gladly take the chance to go back, either to take a different path or to try to avoid the pain.

For me, ti’s not a tough question.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Normal. . .Normal Is Good

My beloved Seattle Mariners were on TV tonight. Actually, they’re on TV every night since I spend for the right to watch them over the internet. But, I watched them on TV tonight. Generally I watch them on my computer. Not sure that’s important. (Okay, it’s not.)

The Mariners, like all MLB teams are playing a full season this year, 162 games. One hundred and sixty-two games seems like a lot. Basketball has a 72 game season. Pro football just expanded their season to 17 games.

So, 162 is a lot. It takes all summer to play it out. The world series will be in October and November. Football has the fall, but Summer belongs to baseball. At least it normally does. Last year was. . .different. This year we are back to normal.

We went to a wedding reception tonight. And we went to another one the night before. In both cases we knew the bride and her family. Our kids grew up together. Both the brides grew up on our street. One of them two houses over, the other one the next house.

The families, I’m sure coordinated the wedding receptions to make sure they didn’t conflict. Both parties were inviting the group of people.

We are very happy for the kids. And the idea of going to a reception, that weddings were happening, was again, normal.

We could use more normal. Here’s hoping the summer is more normal.

Oh, the Mariners won, keeping them 3 games above .500 and one game out of first place. That’s certainly not normal, but it’s the kind of not normal I’ll take.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
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LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

House Of Locks

It sort of happened by accident. Well, not accident. No one accidentally installs multiple layers of security in their house. But, I’m sometimes surprised it got this extensive. My house is a house of locks.

You probably have a lock on your front door. Of course you do. You probably can lock your garage door. And you most likely have a lock on the door that goes from your garage to your house. So far, we are on the same page.

We’ve taken it a step further. Every bedroom in our house has a lock on the door. Yours probably do too. But, mine have keys.

Each one different. I have locked closets.

Again with keys. I have a locked storeroom.

And the storeroom off my storeroom has a lock.

I have a locking cupboard.

I have a locking mailbox.

I have a locking freezer.

I have a locking thermostat.

You might wonder how I keep track of all those keys. Well, I have a locking box to keep track of the keys.

I have two separate camera systems. A Ring system

backed up by a hardwired system.

I have two separate internet service providers.

I have more firewalls than I’m going to admit to on a public post.

I don’t think I’m paranoid. But, then, what paranoid person EVER thinks they are paranoid?

While raising our 13 children, we’ve at times had trouble kids in our home. We’ve dealt with kids who were abused who needed to to feel safe. They needed separate rooms. WE needed to prevent opportunities for people to be tempted, or to hurt themselves.

Over the years, the precautions made sense. And they worked. We kept our kids and others safe. But, our kids aren’t really kids anymore. There are three left at home. Two are 21 years old; a service missionary and a college sophomore. The other is a high school senior who will graduate and head out on a mission for the Mormon church shortly after graduation.

So, here I sit in my nine bedroom house, with cameras inside and out, locks outside and in. Even locks on mail, food and thermostat. I almost wish I were a prepper.

We remodeled the backyard last summer. This summer we planned to install a parking strip and finish a bathroom. I’m thinking it might be time to remodel some of our security features. As in, maybe we should lighten up just a bit.

Of course, I’m still not going to tell you how many firewalls I have.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Then Stop Doing It That Way

I’m responsible for over 2000 computers across 7 states. Oh, and three data centers, but they aren’t important to this story. I’m not actually responsible to fix the computers. But, when they break, either individually, or in large groups, I’m responsible for making sure they get fixed.

The outages that affect a lot of computers all at once are easy. An entire team gets on a conference bridge and stays on the bridge until the issue is fixed. We’ve spent as long as 48 hours on an outage bridge. Many have been as short as 30 minutes.

But, when an individual computer breaks, the process is different. The agent creates a ticket with the servicedesk and the ticket gets routed to a technician or an engineer to work on it.

We use a softphone. In other words, a phone that is an application on the computer. There are actually multiple applications that need to work together in order to allow the phone program to work. And like most software programs the manufactures issue updates regularly. But, with something as complex as a softphone, especially making it work with the client’s CSR program and in a virtual environment, updates have to be handled very carefully. It’s not like your Windows computer that updates in the middle of the night by itself.

We recently had to update a program called WXME from version 10.0.7 to 11.0.2. It was kind of a big deal and we had to figure out how to push the update out to all our work at home users at the same time. And we did it. . .mostly. There were a few that got missed.

Sure enough, the ones that didn’t get updated gave errors. . .sometimes. And sometimes they worked fine. But, eventually they broke. And when they broke the solution was to reinstall the WXME application.

And that was supposed to fix it. And it did. . .sometimes. See, when someone is working from home, our engineer can’t it directly. Instead, they have to remotely push the WXME software and make it install itself. And it typically works. . .sometimes.

If it doesn’t work we have to do the process again. If the agent is working in a brick and mortar building, we have more options. The engineer can work directly on the broken computer. We can also move the agent to a another computer.

Unfortunately we’ve been playing whack-a-mole with broken WXME files for weeks. (Probably months, but being the guy responsible for making sure stuff doesn’t break, I like the idea I’ve only been struggling with this for weeks rather than four times that long.)

And it’s really frustrating. Sure, it’s frustrating for me, but it’s even more frustrating for the agents who are not able to do their jobs. We’ve tried working through it. We’ve tried involving more people. We’ve tried several things.

Finally, we had a meeting about it today. We talked over the problem that we all knew existed. Of course, we knew it existed we’ve been battling it for months. (I mean weeks: Weeks!) And what we’ve been trying hasn’t really been working.

Rodney, 100% of the time when we get this error on the softphone it’s because of a bad version of WXME.

100%?

Every time.

I had a thought. Our computers are not unique. In other words, an agent can use any computer. They can move between computers without any issues. And if they can move between existing computers, they can use a brand new imaged computer. When we image a computer, we put a fresh version of everything on it, including WXME. It’s the “new” version.

Here’s an idea, what if instead of “fixing” the computers by reinstalling WXME, what if we just have the agent swap out their computer for a freshly imaged one?

It was a question so obvious that no one bothered to answer. I was even a little embarrassed that it was only after weeks (okay, maybe slightly longer) that I finally thought of it.

I was so stuck on making the way we’d always done it work, that I missed looking at a new way to do it.

We are now going to stop doing it the way we always did it.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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