I have just received this email from a friend. You might find it amusing, you might not. Anyway, here is a bit of background: my friend is a woman in her late 60s. She is currently dying a slow death (CLL and the tests haven't come back yet but we suspect lymphoma).

You like computer stories so here's one for you. We have never been able to get sound streaming working on this machine. Either I get a message telling me I need a plug-in and then that message is followed by "But we can't recommend the plug-in you need because it doesn't exist (slight exaggeration only)" or the music fades in and out. Yesterday a Mahler Lister of Belgian persuasion sent me a sound file of Charles Trenet's "Boum" and it did play though in two sections. I am using Netscape Communicator 4.7 with the automatic download of RealPlayer G2 (NetCom is more stable on Macs than Internet Explorer). I went to the Netscape homepage, clicked on the "Try out our radio" only to be greeted with some variation of "You can't play this" message.

So I got on the phone with Apple and agreed (through clenched teeth) to pay the $49.00 per episode tech assist fee. After about 30 minutes of holding, waiting, and talking, the tech told me the problem was not with the Mac but with Netscape. She refunded my $49.00. So I tried to raise someone at Netscape. Their per episode fee is $35.00; at least I felt I was heading in the right direction BUT the 1-800 number required that I key my credit card into their computer and their computer "didn't recognize my tone" (good grief!) so it wouldn't take the charge. I must have spent 30 minutes trying to find a real, live, human being.

Finally I called corporate headquarters in California (not exactly nextdoor to Massachusetts) and talked to a person who said the computer would recognize her tone. She took my charge card number, asked whether I had a Mac or was using windows, and put me on hold for at least 20 minutes. When the tech came on the phone--guess what? She had put me through to a Windows person who knew nothing about Macs. He gave me a credit and returned me to--you guessed it! The computer who didn't recognize my tone. So back to California I went. This time I had to wait about 40 minutes to be connected to the Mac tech. Basically what he did was have me remove the preferences file, tell me to rebuild the desktop, use the first aid to repair and verify, (even though I do have Norton Utilities on the machine) and get back to him if the problem wasn't fixed.

Not only was the problem not fixed but I couldn't connect to the Internet. So back on the phone. The wait this time was probably 20 minutes. Fortunately the tech was able to fix the connection problem (had to throw away something that was providing a conflict). Then I said, "Why don't we see if I can hear the Netscape radio which is why I wound up here in the first place?" And, of course, I couldn't. So he gave me credit for the call and told me to get in touch with the Real Player people. They would charge $25.00. He even gave me the phone number to call. At that point I had spent about four hours on the phone. We had things to do, places to go, people to see so I decided to put the RealPlayer phone call off--maybe today?

Update: Yes, lymphoma.

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