Recent Conversations with Tech Support

As many of you may recall, I quit a job from hell approximately one month ago, after being there only a month. Best decision I ever made. I don’t have patience for companies that use and abuse their employees, and I certainly won’t tolerate employers doing that to me. I started working for a friend’s company on a contract basis while I awaited the results back from a dream job. After a successful on-site interview with the dream job people, I haven’t heard a peep from them since. In my experience, this always meant there are other candidates. I’m really enjoying the work I’m doing now, so I decided just to accept a full time role at my friend’s company, as Director of Infrastructure Services. The fun part about this is that there’s no business unit to direct yet; I am to be a key person in building this business unit, the genesis of which is currently humming upstairs in my loft (I work from home 3 days a week, and at his office two).

(I’ll hide the rest unless folks want to read it. It’s rather long, and I didn’t want it to crowd the main page.)

Part of what I’m doing is evaluating hardware that can be used for this business unit, and for a good KVM-over-IP solution so we can have a lights-out data center. I’ve seen enough trouble with various IPMI KVM solutions to want to avoid them. I settled on a Raritan KX2-216, and while I think it’s quite capable, but I’m sorry to report that Raritan’s technical support, so far, has been pretty awful. Their marketing materials advertised being compatible with Mac clients, which is part of the reason I bought it. The conversation starts something like this:

We just purchased our first Dominion KXII 216, and we’re having some problems accessing the Virtual KVM Client under Mac OS 10.7.2. When I click to connect, I get “Client has been disconnected from target <port name>” I tried to access under Windows, and it works there. However, we’re a Mac shop, so we’d really like it to work under Mac OS, and was wondering whether you had any tips.

Their response was that it was a bug in the JRE, and that the JRE I was running was unsupported. The only problem here is that when it comes to the JRE, Apple controls the horizontal and the vertical. It’s handled through Apple’s software update. You can’t just go to Oracle and download a different version. I would be completely sympathetic to a response that goes something like:

“Apple shipped a broken and buggy JRE with MacOS Lion, with a broken SSL implementation that doesn’t allow the security features of our product to function correctly. We are working on the problem. In the mean time, you can sign up for Apple’s developer program, download the Developer Preview JRE, and that will fix the problem. Here is the URL to Apple’s developer site where you can sign up and find the download.”

This would be truth, and I am well aware of how buggy and awful a release Apple foisted on the world with Lion, and I would have been sympathetic to passing the blame to Apple, and offering me an alternative, or even that they are working on the issue with Apple. So I explained that JREs can’t just be installed willy nilly on Mac OS, and ask whether they have a solution, or whether their marketing materials are incorrect about being compatible with Mac OS. I get this:

This is not a MAC OS issue. The version of JRE is what is causing the client has been disconnected from target error message. The fix for this is to use a different JRE version as this version has been reported to have SSL bugs and issues.

No, this is a Mac OS issue, because Apple ships the JRE as part of Mac OS, which I had just explained. Telling me what the problem is doesn’t help. I know what the problem is. What I want to know is what solution you propose, and I’m even willing to take “You’ll just have to wait for Apple to ship a fix to this.” Just telling me what’s wrong isn’t customer service. If you say to upgrade or downgrade, you need to tell the customer where to find a downgrade or upgrade. It’s amazing to me how utterly poor the customer service is for tech vendors. As it is, the Raritan box looks pretty good, now that I have it working with Mac OS (no thanks to Raritan themselves). It will likely suit my purposes. But they need to hire tech people who are better at communicating with customers. When you say you support a platform, your technical folks should know how that platform operates. They should have solutions on hand to deal with common problems on that platform. As it is they didn’t, and that left me thoroughly unimpressed.

8 thoughts on “Recent Conversations with Tech Support”

  1. Java on Mac is pretty much non-supported. Would it work to put Linux on VirtualBox on the mac, and then run Java from within the Linux instance?

  2. Yes… it does. I’ve tried it. But having to start up a VirtualBox instance every time I want to access my console isn’t Mac OS compatibility. My issue is that they are marketing compatibility with Mac OS for their Virtual KVM Applet, and it doesn’t work with the currently shipping JVM for Mac OS.

    Apple decided to partially unbundle Java from Mac OS a few years ago. I think they are working on total unbundling, since Oracle has a development JVM for Mac OS. But that process isn’t complete yet. In the mean time, Raritan is telling their customers to do something which is relatively impossible.

  3. jre on anything pretty much sucks ass..we still have apps that *require* a 1.4.2 version..*shakes head*

    good luck on the new venture! if you need a remote linux sysadmin lemme know ;-)

  4. Why not use inherent Remote Access built into the servers (like Dell DRAC)? It’s just another IP and can be access through most web browsers.

    1. I’ve had issues with IPMI KVM implementations locking up hard. I’m building this solution out of white boxes too, because I a) I hate Dell and HP and b) I want the flexibility to be able to get everything I want and nothing more. There are white box vendors that can do IPMI KVM, but I’m still of the opinion that traditional KVM over IP solutions are more reliable. It also saves me having to buy IPMI capable white boxes.

  5. That’s what you get for using a Mac! You should be using Linux instead…because when you use Linux, you’ll never have a situation like, this, or like deciding to use Debian Stable Linux, only to get messages from Google Mail that you are using HTML instead of Standard because your Iceweasel is not up-to-date enough to handle their new code, and then being told to use Google Chrome, which uses a lot of libraries that aren’t yet in Debian Stable. No, I couldn’t imagine anything like that happening to a Linux user!

    I remember seeing an Apple vs PC advertisement where the Apple guy almost immediately froze up, with a twirling “Beach Ball of Death”; just as the PC Guy was asking what was wrong, he instantly turned into a “Blue Screen of Death” silhouette. The conclusion? “Computers Suck!”

    I hope you resolve your computer issues quickly (and I hope I can get mine resolved quickly, too). Also, you’re right: that’s a bit of lousy customer service.

    1. I HAD the same issue was hoping the 10.7.3 would have fixed it but no luck. But I have it fixed by downloading the developer copy of java for mac. if you are part of the apple developer it is called Java for Mac OS X 2012-001 Developer Preview 11M3614 worked like a charm.

  6. The 10M3616 resolved the same problem I was having with my KXII-108 on OS X 10.6.8.

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