punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Imagine a spherical chicken...

Many years ago, I'd say 1997 or 98, I was sent to San Jose to get training on call center switches from a company called "Aspect Communications." These are huge, refrigerator-sized machines with lots of expensive ($64k/ea) cards and stuff in them. They made sure your hundreds of calls got to the right agents.

One of the features my company didn't use, but were available for training were "Banners," those long scrolling LED signs you see everywhere. Aspect had their switches hard-coded to display call stats on them, messages, news, whatever you sent them. I didn't know this until I showed up for class, so during break, I studied ahead to that chapter.

"Hmmm... login here, go to there... find banner... text goes here..."

I looked at the banner in our classroom, which defaulted to the date and time. No change. I had typed in "Imagine a spherical chicken..." and had that scroll around. But it wasn't working. After some fooling around, I found I had to assign a particular banner, and there were 16 to choose from. After a few tries during some class downtime, I found the right one.

"Imagine a spherical chicken..." it said at first. It took the class about 20 minutes to realize that. Tittering showed that I had an audience. "He's lying... it was developed by a team of aliens for purposes as of yet unknown but deciphered from Mayan Petroglyphs..." was another one while the teacher explained the reasoning behind some script syntax. Then a comment about being the president of the company, and not wearing any pants. Then claiming today was "pants optional day," and how disappointed I (the president) was that no one was participating. Finally the teacher nicely requested to cut it out. Hilarity over.

What I didn't know was that in my initial attempt to find the correct banner, I had inadvertently sent messages to five other banners, live banners, elsewhere in the building.

LUCKILY only the "Imagine a spherical chicken..." was looping, but it was looping in 3 other classrooms, the "demo call center setup" they had in a glassed-in booth near their NOC, and the lobby near the rear entrance.

My teacher had to reset them all to what they were showing before.

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