Sunday, December 16, 2007

You May or May Not Be Able to Get There from Here

By way of follow-up to last weekend's nauseating whine about The Mall, other people's bratty kids, and the Midcontinent Lounge's wifi blocking me from doing anything that required logging in (you know, reading e-mail and junk) and, adding insult, prohibiting me from following a link from Google News to The Carpetbagger Report, here are these items:

First, upon being blocked, I clicked on the button that one is encouraged, or at least invited to click upon when one feels outraged by Big Brother's heavy hand. I don't remember the exact wording, but it was to send a message of protest to FortiGuard Web Filtering Service, which evidently is Midcontinent's um, web-filtering service. Which, to its credit, sent this back later that same day (not that it did me any good, but points for promptness:

    Dear Fortinet customer,

    The websites you submitted recently have been reviewed and updated:

    Submission Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2007 10:59:41 -0800
    Suggested Category: News and Media
    Suggested Classification:
    Comment: How does a political/current affairs site
    violate Midco s sensibilities??
    URL Rated:
    Analyst Comment:
    Updated Category: News and Media
    Updated Classification: Unclassified
    Update Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2007 19:34:49 -0800

    The rating update may not be effective immediately on your network
    because of the Web filtering cache. If you would like to have
    the update effective immediately or have any other questions,
    please contact your network administrator.

    Note that FortiGuard Web Filtering Service categorizes websites, but it

    is your IT manager who decides what categories to block or allow.
    contact your IT manager to allow you to visit the site.

    This is an automatically generated notification of rating update.
    Please do not reply to this email.

    Thank you for using FortiGuard Web Filtering Service.


    FortiGuard Web Filtering Service
    Fortinet Technologies Inc.

Of course, to check whether the Carpetbagger Report is now accessible vis Micontinent's wifi "lounge" next to Caribou Coffee would require me to make another trip out to The Mall--the week before Christmas, no less!--and that I am reluctant to do. Especially inasmuch as I can easily access the Carpetbagger Report from the comfort of my own home...something, incidentally, I could not have said yesterday or the day before. Been struggling with my dear old Mac blue-and-white G3. I may or may not write something about The Struggle in the near future. One never knows.


Friday's mail brought a message from "Iteam"...a message that I nearly labeled as spam and deleted, since "Iteam" means naught to me, and the subject line--Re: Contact Us Form Completed]--hardly makes one sit up and take notice. Indeed, way too much "legitimate" spam tries to look like it's in reply to something you initiated. But something made me think it might be a response to the previous weekend's harangue, and so I opened it and read:

    Dear William,
    At the present time, this is not available, but we may consider it for the future.
    If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact us at 1-800-888-1300.
    Ted F
    Technical Support Specialist
    Midcontinent Communications
    24 Hour Phone Support (800) 888-1300

Now, this was the question I had sent via their online form:

    Hello--just wondering why I am unable to access any of my e-mail accounts from your "Midcontinent Lounge" at the Empire Mall. I thought I'd handle my e-mail while my kids shopped, but no such luck. For future reference, is there a way to do this? Thanks!

So, if I take Ted F's rather nonspecific reply to actually be in reference to my question (and not some generic try-again-later message...which I wouldn't expect to take nearly a week to be generated), then his "this is not available" means that you can do anything you like at the Midcontinent Lounge except read your e-mail! Which renders the whole experience a little pointless, at least for me, since reading and sending e-mail is probably 50% of my time online.

In a word: Bizarre.

I shared my experience with my students last week, and several of them reported similar disgust with the service provided at the "lounge"--an eternity to get online, only to discover that you're severely limited once you get there.

My pal Jerry suggested that a book would not present the same sort of frustrations, and I know he's right. But still!