punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Hypothesize a spherical chicken

Many years ago, when I worked for AOL Member Services as a call center programmer, they sent me to Aspect training in San Jose. Aspect was a call center system that tied together agents on phones, incoming phone lines, and the computers that ran a call center. I was getting some rather basic training, and it was obvious on the first day of class that a lot of people showed up without minimal requirements. So I got bored.

One of the "features" of the software was that you could program an LED banner for your call center. AOL didn't have one in their call centers, but many other companies did. They usually scrolled call center statistics (average call time, number of calls per hour, and so on), inspirational messages, announcements, or whatever you wanted scrolling by on red dots. The classroom had one, so I sent it a test message:

"Hypothesize a spherical chicken."

This was based on a button I saw once that joked the problem with applying scientific abstracts on realities is that nature is messy. In the case of determining how many chickens you could put in an enclosed space, you just assumed chickens were perfectly round.

I don't know why I chose that phrase, but when I sent it to the banner's IP address, it still showed, "Welcome to Aspect: Training room 12" I fooled with it some more, until I found the right IP and command to change it. The class noticed it after about 20 minutes, and giggled. I sent it other messages, too. Finally, the teacher noticed, and asked whomever was doing that to stop. I texted, "Okay..." and then "Welcome to Aspect: Home of the whopper." He decided that was fine (he was a good sport).

Later in the day, he asked who was responsible. I said I was. He said, "Were you aware that you sent it to the lobby?" I was not.

For several hours, the banner in the main lobby of their headquarters and visitor's center had been displaying, "Hypothesize a spherical chicken," to everyone. They finally traced the command to our training room. It must have happened when I was testing it out, and had the wrong IP, but the right command.

Tags: aol, aspect, banner, chicken, gag, work
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