lockdown 36

Digital Traumas.

Apologies for this late publication of last week’s post. You may notice an enhancement of quality and speed of the site which is due to an upgrade of site hosting from a basic service to a dedicated server. This has taken many hours and days longer than anticipated, which is not to denigrate any of the customer service, technical or support agents individually, but like many tech services they operate as and when requests come in rather than dedicated client managers. This may be because services are outsourced globally. It may be exacerbated through Covid home working, but until ONE agent engaged with my requirements of basic service I was taken from pillar to post with well meaning technically knowledgeable individuals. I know my contract number and pin verification off by heart as I have had to quote them on every call in order agents, no matter their location, request details to progress any query.

Digital reliance

I am not a technical expert by any means and therefore need assistance to implement online hosting settings to accommodate the amount of files I have accumulated over 15 years since I began uploading text and images to the internet, with the same company. Publishing on the internet has a number of benefits. The sharing of content, views, information and research to online viewers is the most obvious, but by uploading everything onto digital platforms and repositories it becomes distant and untouchable. Once on digital, online sites and their hosted environments, the material images and texts on my personal computer hard disk files are transported into a distant coded cyber space . When published they, like this blog, are stored and accessible for time immemorial. Except . . . . if the hosting site goes down and contents are not backed up.

I was informed that my sites were in danger of stopping functioning as they were overloaded and hosting needed to be extended and enhanced. I agreed to purchase space and email upgrades as new services, applications and server space is required to keep up to digital speed. As well as the frustration of the complexity of achieving this seemingly straight forward change for the better I became aware how dependent I have become on the daily digital fix. Emails and blogs and in Lockdown isolation, video conferencing have populated daily life to the point that life cannot progress without digital access. My email was down for 4 days, not the 24 hours I was led to expect by the last email I received before the service was stopped in the ‘Package To Package Transfer’:

‘The domain below is currently being transferred from its current package to the specified package. Please allow up to 24 hours for the domain transfer. Please wait until the transfer is complete to alter any domain settings. . . . . ‘

Digital dissappearance

In parallel the hosting was transferred to a new virtual server with dedicated back up service. It sounded a good forward strategy to maintain, enhance and protect my digital presence, connectivity and sustainability. But, where has my research website repository and blogging site gone? It no longer accessible on the internet URL, nor on my Word Press application. My personal photography collection site of 15 years is no longer accessible and attempts to publish a new image is met with the dreaded error message: ‘published withe errors’ ie site not functioning.

I could document the extreme anxieties this withdrawal of digital sustenance caused me over 14 days, including interrupted sleep and an early rising to check (lack) of progress. It could have all been prevented with regular explanation of the process being undertaken on my behalf by technical computer experts in faraway locations. Communication of what was planned, being implemented, scheduled and the timescale would have kept me in the loop and relaxed. After a weekend waiting for a call to inform me of the new services being up and running I rang the freefone number, listened to the recorded message, selected the No1 ‘hosting’ button, suffered the poorly recorded holding musak only abruptly stopped when an agent, on an equally technically poor line, picked me up, listened to my precarious position, requested my contract number and pin. Once confirmed the line seemingly went dead. I awaited news. He came back on and said the agent dealing with my update had sent me an email. Holding down my increasing disbelief I informed him my emails had been turned off since Friday morning so what was the point of sending me one? Rather dismissively the suggestion was: ‘Why don’t you change your password’. The dreaded PASSWORD. ‘I’m sure I can do that, but had no-one from the company considered informing me that I needed to change my password?’ No answer as it was now down to me to action the suggestion. Of course all my emails appeared before me. I read the email about my email and new server orders:

‘I hope your doing well in this awful time. I would like to inform that your website and emails are successfully migrated over to the server contract.Both emails and website works fine now, and your requested printsandresearch file is already migrated as well.
My colleagues and I will be happy to help you with any questions you may have about your products. You can reach me by phone, e-mail or chat. You will find my contact details under …….. Should I not be directly available, a well-informed colleague from my team will answer your call.’

Agent: ‘It looks like it is all fine’. User: ‘It is not, I am relieved I have been informed about how to access my emails, however my professional and personal websites are not accessible’. I could go on, but I can’t bear to describe the impossibility of getting a deeply technical service operational to get my sites up and, nearly, running 14 days since they functioned fine and I last posted on the blog.

The point being that the frustrations and anxieties created in a paying customer could have been avoided if ONE agent had been the point of contact for upgrade implementation, rather than the automated baton (buck) passing, service side driven, telephonic customer service system. After 3 days of inefficiency, and unusually for me, a harsh letter of customer frustration was sent to my ‘personal consultant’ requesting ONE point of contact. Since then, one technical agent has kept me informed and assisted me through the process to an efficient web presence that I am now using to write this sorry tale. Once sites and server was seemingly operational I was handed on to another personal consultant.

Although the intention at the onset of this post was not to document this experience it has been cathartic to write it down. I acknowledge to myself and readers that my responses are on top of the cumulative physical and psychological effects of living under Lockdown isolation. With reduced opportunities to leave the house to satisfy material pursuits in face to face situations, in house and home screen activity has become prominent and reliance on digital technologies has become essential for active engagement in what life we have. Digital reliance has crept into mainstream UK life. It is not only the zoom culture that has come to dominate personal and professional activities, but the delivery of information on our Lockdown social condition. An immunity to the Lockdown health and social management information we crave (need) may be developed. But until until that occurs, efficient human centred, digital design technologies will be increasingly required to be at our fingertips as we tap screens, keyboards, games or tv controllers.

Digital Consultation

This digital experience coincided with cardiology consultation that culminated in the final decision to operate. But owing to hospital management pressures it will have to wait until the spring. Thereby the knowledge of impending serious surgery will be internalised, carried and add to the anxieties of any day to day negative experience that has to be to be dealt with. The Registrar and his apprentice Louise kindly offered to show me the angiogram images of my heart, the offending veins and arteries that were not pumping enough blood to ensure an efficient cardiovascular system. Digital access to the recordings took a little while to percolate through to the PC from the main servers, but they eventually flickered into life. The pumping action of the heart was clear to see as the blood vessels struggled to push enough blood to the tributaries around the heart. I was grateful to have a visualisation of my condition made available through digital storage and retrieval.

The nurse looking after my case, ECG and documentation in preparation for the consultation handed me a photocopied piece of paper informing me that poor dental health has a negative effect on cardiac surgery and patients should ensure their teeth are in good condition. Not having attended the dentist during Lockdown an appointment is required. The dentist customer management system works well – inform, hold, inform, discuss, deliver service with an aural smile. January 2021 Jan 6th 7.15pm.

Digital Reflection

The benefit of not posting in two weeks owing to the technical difficulties, is that a more reflective position can be taken. But the downside is that day to day disasters can overtake one’s sensibilities. Christmas is threatened because of a variant of the virus has been detected. Here we are again, knowledgeable science and technology experts tell less qualified, but anxious audiences that their knowledge is to be observed without clear explanation and accompanying rationalisation that can be understood, accepted and acted upon.

The answer: Carys Mathews – 3hours of internationalist music: “Its a strange morning. Lets have a distraction – ‘Joyeux Noel, A Parsian Christmas.” delivered through digital radio.

Digital Image Not

I would normally conclude the weekly blog with a screenshoted digital image from John Hopkins University or Guardian UK Covid statistics:

27,052 Daily Cases ; 534 Deaths 67075 cumulative deaths.

Whether image or text these statistics continue to shock and should do so.

Sunday 20th December.  On attempting to the add screenshot an error message appears at the top of the page on a red background:

WPThumb has detected a problem. The directory /var/www/vhosts/jonnieturpie.com/printsanew.jonnieturpie.com/ printsandresearch/wp-content/uploads/2020/12 is not writable.

I can’t add any images to this post because the server settings are not set to write. I am prevented by a setting, of applying the visual objects that illustrate the observations, thoughts and experiences presented week, by week. Although the documentation is studied, followed and applied it does not enable writability of digital imagery from my hard disk to the new server! I await an answer from Helpdesk. Many suggestions and attempts to resolve the issue were undertaken by the service help-agents throughout the day, sadly to no avail, and I closed the computer, ate a modest last Sunday of 2020 evening meal and switched on another screen to see images from the Himalaya as experienced by Michael Palin. His travel diary became the structure of the film with personal readings of the memories from the journey. They were visceral and had an authenticity of emotional experience of arduous walking in high altitude mountains and the range of religious ways of life he encountered.

Monday 21st December, Christmas week. A variant of the Covid-19 virus has developed in London and South East UK. Christmas is cancelled and the nation experiences fear, anger, disbelief and sadness. This happened to those planning to celebrate Eid, Diwali and Hanukkah earlier in 2020. On top of this news the sea and airports are closed and the negotiations to make Britain a sovereign state continue, while Europe and the rest of the world isolate the UK into ‘Plague Island’. What a state!

In my isolated digital world there’s good news though! A call to the Helpdesk explaining the inability to upload an image to this blog was met by the friendly tones of Mark, who offered to review my issue. Within 2 minutes he observed that the ‘user’ on the folder to be published to, (uploads/2020/12) was not ‘jonnieturpie’, who is clearly the user, but another user named ‘root’. Mark: ‘Thats your problem. I’ll correct that for you.’ Audible Keyboard tapping reverberated down the line to my phone speaker, followed by the suggestion: ‘try it now.’ I did and Eureka the image was uploaded. Now thats what I call great service and began my digital Christmas week with a sense of relief and a smile. Shall I upload an image, or will this be the first literal Lockdown post?

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