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Randomness: the 18th sequel


Chaoswolf
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11 hours ago, Green Eyed Monsty said:

Perhaps your higher closure rate is attributable to your superior ability to recognize the complaints that are not capable of being solved by remote technical assistance but require the "rubber hammer calibrator" being dexterously applied to the "concussive receptor locus" of the skull of the person generating the trouble ticket.

GEM

That is definitely a large part of it. 

There is also the fact that my overall best skill is troubleshooting. My customer service, electronics and computer skills are average, at best.  But I can run troubleshooting rings around anyone else in the company.   I even have a couple of our distributor techs ask me about how I would go about troubleshooting other systems/equipment, cause they know that's my specialty.  I wrote a series of basic troubleshooting data sheets for our customers and distributors, and one of our distributors paid me to rewrite it to be more generic for his techs and customers to use on all the systems they support. 
 

2 hours ago, Chaoswolf said:

 

Careful, that's how they multiply. Soon, it'll be be TWO boxes.::P:

I think that's only if you forget about them.  I've been trying to get my minis to self multiply for years, and it hasn't happened yet. 

Dust bunnies, however....

 

28 minutes ago, Pegazus said:

Well, if its any consolation to the night shift workers, my space station plans always have several sections that are on different “times”.  The center hub with the services is always on, and always staffed by “day” workers. Just from different sections so nobody ever works nights.

 

Now to get on the that cheap space launch and ease of construction problem. 

So what you're saying is that night shift workers should be advocating for humanity's move to space? 

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16 minutes ago, kristof65 said:

That is definitely a large part of it. 

There is also the fact that my overall best skill is troubleshooting. My customer service, electronics and computer skills are average, at best.  But I can run troubleshooting rings around anyone else in the company.   I even have a couple of our distributor techs ask me about how I would go about troubleshooting other systems/equipment, cause they know that's my specialty.  I wrote a series of basic troubleshooting data sheets for our customers and distributors, and one of our distributors paid me to rewrite it to be more generic for his techs and customers to use on all the systems they support. 
>Snippady - Do - Dah<



 

 

Do you use or teach the Black Box method of troubleshooting for equipment you aren't that familiar with?

GEM

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3 minutes ago, Green Eyed Monsty said:

Do you use or teach the Black Box method of troubleshooting for equipment you aren't that familiar with?

GEM

Probably, though I know it by the name of "six step troubleshooting".  Basically, divide the system into sections of inputs and outputs, and look where things go wrong.   As taught to me by the Navy, but it turned out I have a natural knack for it, though it took me years to move beyond that natural knack.  

When I first got into car wash, it was for a wash machine manufacturer, and I was really thrown for a loop by car wash machines.   Up until that point, all of the stuff I had worked on was pretty much just electronic,, with the most complex electromechanical devices being pinball machines.     I almost quit the job the first month because I just wasn't grasping the combination of mechanical movements, pumps and valves to move water and chemicals and the electronic control systems of them all.  Then suddenly I had an epiphany about how to break them down into individual systems and apply my troubleshooting knowledge to those systems.  My skills grew A LOT that year. 

I do struggle with teaching those skills to others, especially over the phone. So a lot of the documents I've written are basically worksheets to help sites provide accurate info I can use to troubleshoot.   But this is personally my favorite document:
 

Quote

What is Troubleshooting?
Troubleshooting is the process of diagnosing the source of a problem.


Why should I troubleshoot?
The alternative to troubleshooting is simply throwing parts and money at a problem hoping it goes away. In
some cases, extremely hard to find problems may actually be easier to solve with that approach, but in most
cases, narrowing down the potential source of a problem in advance can save time, money and frustration.


I don’t have any technical skills, so I’ll be useless at Troubleshooting.
Nonsense. Typically, the most time consuming part of troubleshooting is the process of accurately identifying
the symptoms so that the problem can be narrowed down to possible sources before a more technical
approach can be taken. For many systems, this is simply a matter of running the equipment through its paces
and identifying where things don’t work right. As long as you know how to safely run a piece of equipment
or a system, you’re qualified for the basic, and most time consuming part of troubleshooting it. Basically,
test every process that the equipment or system can do, and note where things work and where they don’t. A
person without technical skills can do this, if they can pay attention to detail, and report the results without
bias to someone who can interpret their reports, like a technical support representative.


What do you mean, report the results without bias?
It means that you report the results of your testing to your technical support representative without attempting
to interpret them and that you report the whole results. Bias can be introduced in one of two ways – either deliberately,
by trying to interpret your testing and reporting only your interpretation, but more often it’s introduced
by not testing and reporting the entire situation. Saying “The Bill Acceptor isn’t working” is different than saying
The Bill Acceptor isn’t accepting $5 bills” which is much different than saying “The Bill Acceptor isn’t accepting
any more $5 bills after I press button X.
” Even better would be to say “The Bill Acceptor works fine on all denominations
until I press button X, then it won’t take $5 bills, but will still take $1and $10s, and it gives error message Y

because it also defines what is working, as well as any system feedback. This gives a much clearer picture as to what is
going on. Sometimes the smallest detail, although seemingly unimportant or unrelated to you, can be the difference in
chasing a problem for days, weeks or months, or getting it diagnosed and fixed right away.


Ok, I can do that. But doesn’t it help out when I give my opinion of what’s wrong?
Sometimes, yes. But it can often lead both you and your tech support rep down the wrong path. Especially if the tech
support rep assumes you’ve made a correct interpretation, that you’re reporting accurately and not leaving anything
out, when it turns out you’re not. If you’re going to give your opinion, it’s best to either report the results of your troubleshooting
and testing first, or tell your tech support rep you would like to go over your findings to see if they reach
the same conclusion.


Oh. Is that why some tech support people ask me obvious questions like “Is it plugged in” like I’m some kind of idiot?
Yep. It’s not because they think you’re an idiot, it’s because a lot of time and energy can be saved by asking the seemingly
stupid questions up front. No one wants to spend hours, days or even weeks troubleshooting something just to
backtrack and figure out that a cord wasn’t plugged in, a button not pressed, a switch not flipped, etc. Anything that
would have been caught right away, if only the question had been asked and answered makes it worth asking the seemingly
stupid questions.


Any other tips?
Keep good records of your testing and troubleshooting efforts. Don’t rely on your memory. This is especially
important for intermittent problems and large, complex systems with multiple pieces of equipment. Use a notebook
or other means of documentation to note when and where problems occur, and what was going on at the
time the problem occurred. List every detail that you can think of, and note ones you know to be 100% accurate,
and those that are fuzzy or may not be true. List every thing you do to test, or to try and resolve the problem in
detail, and when you do it, and what, if anything changed when you did so. Take pictures and add them as necessary.
As mentioned above, try and keep your own bias out of it.
Test everything. When testing a system or piece of equipment that has a problem, test all other aspects of the
system or equipment at the same time. When in doubt of your results, test multiple times. Again, when doing a
lot of testing, record the results of your testing on paper or elsewhere, don’t rely on your memory.
Finally, remember that when dealing with any sort of remote technical support, such as by email or phone, that
you are the eyes and ears of the tech support rep. Their ability to help, no matter how good they are, is very
much dependent upon how accurate the information you give to them is.


It's not really teaching any sort of troubleshooting methods, making it easy & helpful enough for anyone with a modicum of reading comprehension. 
 

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1 hour ago, kristof65 said:

Probably, though I know it by the name of "six step troubleshooting".  Basically, divide the system into sections of inputs and outputs, and look where things go wrong.   As taught to me by the Navy, but it turned out I have a natural knack for it, though it took me years to move beyond that natural knack.  

When I first got into car wash, it was for a wash machine manufacturer, and I was really thrown for a loop by car wash machines.   Up until that point, all of the stuff I had worked on was pretty much just electronic,, with the most complex electromechanical devices being pinball machines.     I almost quit the job the first month because I just wasn't grasping the combination of mechanical movements, pumps and valves to move water and chemicals and the electronic control systems of them all.  Then suddenly I had an epiphany about how to break them down into individual systems and apply my troubleshooting knowledge to those systems.  My skills grew A LOT that year. 

I do struggle with teaching those skills to others, especially over the phone. So a lot of the documents I've written are basically worksheets to help sites provide accurate info I can use to troubleshoot.   But this is personally my favorite document:
 


It's not really teaching any sort of troubleshooting methods, making it easy & helpful enough for anyone with a modicum of reading comprehension. 
 

Thanks for the detailed explanation.

Your first experiences getting up to speed in the Car Wash Industry were very much "Black Box Troubleshooting".

You knew what the correct inputs were, you know what the correct output was supposed to be, but most of what is in between was a "black box"  the longer your experience, the greater the number of "black boxes" with known good inputs and outputs of these decreasing sized modules.

Eventually you get down to the "replaceable module" stage or even the individual component stage for major portions of the system, with the ones [such as bill validators which require specific bench equipment for testing and repair] requiring specific and narrow specialized knowledge and tools to repair being packed off to the appropriate facility for further attention.

The beauty of the "Black Box Theory" is its ability to be applied across so many fields and ranges of equipment with basic skills and knowledge being the major pre-requisite.

GEM

2 hours ago, Green Eyed Monsty said:

Spent all morning running errands with the last stop being a local church rummage sale.

I scored two bookcases in Golden Oak that should clean up nicely.  ::):

I'm sure everyone on this list can relate to the need for More Bookcases TM!

GEM

9d64bbe64d5160cc9d8c17e99daae0a0.jpg.d2b4eac0f3499eb716e648a344b66f09.jpg

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3 hours ago, kristof65 said:

I do struggle with teaching those skills to others, especially over the phone. So a lot of the documents I've written are basically worksheets to help sites provide accurate info I can use to troubleshoot.   But this is personally my favorite document:
 

Quote

What is Troubleshooting?
Troubleshooting is the process of diagnosing the source of a problem.


Why should I troubleshoot?
The alternative to troubleshooting is simply throwing parts and money at a problem hoping it goes away. In
some cases, extremely hard to find problems may actually be easier to solve with that approach, but in most
cases, narrowing down the potential source of a problem in advance can save time, money and frustration.


I don’t have any technical skills, so I’ll be useless at Troubleshooting.
Nonsense. Typically, the most time consuming part of troubleshooting is the process of accurately identifying
the symptoms so that the problem can be narrowed down to possible sources before a more technical
approach can be taken. For many systems, this is simply a matter of running the equipment through its paces
and identifying where things don’t work right. As long as you know how to safely run a piece of equipment
or a system, you’re qualified for the basic, and most time consuming part of troubleshooting it. Basically,
test every process that the equipment or system can do, and note where things work and where they don’t. A
person without technical skills can do this, if they can pay attention to detail, and report the results without
bias to someone who can interpret their reports, like a technical support representative.


What do you mean, report the results without bias?
It means that you report the results of your testing to your technical support representative without attempting
to interpret them and that you report the whole results. Bias can be introduced in one of two ways – either deliberately,
by trying to interpret your testing and reporting only your interpretation, but more often it’s introduced
by not testing and reporting the entire situation. Saying “The Bill Acceptor isn’t working” is different than saying
The Bill Acceptor isn’t accepting $5 bills” which is much different than saying “The Bill Acceptor isn’t accepting
any more $5 bills after I press button X.
” Even better would be to say “The Bill Acceptor works fine on all denominations
until I press button X, then it won’t take $5 bills, but will still take $1and $10s, and it gives error message Y

because it also defines what is working, as well as any system feedback. This gives a much clearer picture as to what is
going on. Sometimes the smallest detail, although seemingly unimportant or unrelated to you, can be the difference in
chasing a problem for days, weeks or months, or getting it diagnosed and fixed right away.


Ok, I can do that. But doesn’t it help out when I give my opinion of what’s wrong?
Sometimes, yes. But it can often lead both you and your tech support rep down the wrong path. Especially if the tech
support rep assumes you’ve made a correct interpretation, that you’re reporting accurately and not leaving anything
out, when it turns out you’re not. If you’re going to give your opinion, it’s best to either report the results of your troubleshooting
and testing first, or tell your tech support rep you would like to go over your findings to see if they reach
the same conclusion.


Oh. Is that why some tech support people ask me obvious questions like “Is it plugged in” like I’m some kind of idiot?
Yep. It’s not because they think you’re an idiot, it’s because a lot of time and energy can be saved by asking the seemingly
stupid questions up front. No one wants to spend hours, days or even weeks troubleshooting something just to
backtrack and figure out that a cord wasn’t plugged in, a button not pressed, a switch not flipped, etc. Anything that
would have been caught right away, if only the question had been asked and answered makes it worth asking the seemingly
stupid questions.


Any other tips?
Keep good records of your testing and troubleshooting efforts. Don’t rely on your memory. This is especially
important for intermittent problems and large, complex systems with multiple pieces of equipment. Use a notebook
or other means of documentation to note when and where problems occur, and what was going on at the
time the problem occurred. List every detail that you can think of, and note ones you know to be 100% accurate,
and those that are fuzzy or may not be true. List every thing you do to test, or to try and resolve the problem in
detail, and when you do it, and what, if anything changed when you did so. Take pictures and add them as necessary.
As mentioned above, try and keep your own bias out of it.
Test everything. When testing a system or piece of equipment that has a problem, test all other aspects of the
system or equipment at the same time. When in doubt of your results, test multiple times. Again, when doing a
lot of testing, record the results of your testing on paper or elsewhere, don’t rely on your memory.
Finally, remember that when dealing with any sort of remote technical support, such as by email or phone, that
you are the eyes and ears of the tech support rep. Their ability to help, no matter how good they are, is very
much dependent upon how accurate the information you give to them is.

Expand  

That's an excellent description of troubleshooting. Would I be able to borrow it?

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Took advantage of a "switch to electronic statements and get $5" offer from my credit union last July.

 

Realized today that I haven't balanced my bank accounts since July.

 

Turned off the electronic statements. They can have their $5 back if they want. Screwed completely with my finance system.

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1 hour ago, TGP said:

I absolutely hate institutions that foist offers like that on their customers. 
 

 

This reminds me about something I heard recently. Have you noticed that most jobs these days seems to have a sales aspect assigned to them? You go to the bank, maybe just to make a deposit, and they try to sell you on some program or service they provide. You go to the grocery store and they'll try to get you to enroll in some program or another, usually just the "rewards" programs, but not always. I think it's because of how companies have become obsessed with sales in general but not matter the cause, it's annoying. Personally, I like having some paper records for stuff and I rarely sign up for paperless. But my power provider and cell phone carrier didn't give me a choice.

 

In yet another update in the mailbox drama, I was (finally) able to get a hold of someone at the post office. They confirmed that they have the mail, they'd hold the mail until the mailbox is replaced, and that it's up to the property management to replace it. They asked that I pick up my mail once a week, so I guess I'll be adding that to my weekly chores for the next few months. Because they FINALLY replaced that walkway at my apartment, and that took months, so since it doesn't directly effect the apartment manager, I'm sure it's on a back burner. And I found out that my packages are just going to the post office, the "out for delivery" status is automatically generated when they scan it. I have a teen coming over to help me move some stuff around, so my friend (their mom) is going to help me with a ride to the post office later today. Just one more thing I have to do before bed. I'm also making a sign to put up on the mailbox (in the dark of night, so I hopefully don't tick off the apartment manager) and I'm looking up how to make a "tenants' union" at my complex. At least one of my neighbors is fed up with the apartment manager's inability to do things in timely manner, so we're hoping to either oust her or get her to do stuff. I think if we start making the union, it's going to light up the management company's problem tracking like a Christmas tree. That renters would even start taking action like this tells them that there's a serious problem...

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