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Dick and Jane aren’t the only ones

Plus, more reaction to Earthlink. Feedback hed: Dick and Jane aren’t the only ones dek: plus, more reaction to Earthlink.

I could not agree with you more in regards to engineers and scientists needing the tactile approach to learning (“Dick and Jane have no clue,” May, 2001). I recently had a neighbor ask me if I would mentor her, since she wanted to become an electrical engineer. I agreed. The first task I gave her was to dismantle a nonfunctioning digital alarm clock. A couple of days went by, and I asked if she had any questions. Her response was that it was still sitting on the floor in the corner of her bedroom. She gave the same response over the next several weeks. Finally, I gave up. She is now in college, in an engineering program, and is also planning to receive her master’s. She will probably be hired by a large corporation and advance rapidly through the ranks. Large corporations are falling over themselves to balance the make-up of their management ranks.


e-mail address withheld

“Dick and Jane have no clue” caused a flashback to a few years ago. I asked my nephew, who was then 17 years old and about to enter Virginia Tech, what he was going to major in. He said, “Computer Design.” Upon further prodding, it sounded like something between an Arts & Humanities curriculum and Computers for Dummies. I asked him what his career goal was. He said he wanted to build and design computers and software systems. I asked him if he had thought about majoring in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Electrical Engineering. He said they were too tough, and that one really didn’t need them to design or build computers and software systems. “You can design computers and software with high-level packages like Microsoft Frontpage,” he said. Needless to say, my nephew is not designing computers or software systems. He is a grunt at a Web-design shop.

Gene Lew

e-mail address withheld

The experiences detailed in “Nightmare on Earthlink street” (April 2000) and resulting feedback are generally anomalous. I’ve had an Earthlink account for four and a half years, and both reliability and tech support have been consistently superior to that of other ISPs. When I set up a client with a new ISP, Earthlink is my first choice because it’s most likely to work right off, and because its tech support is generally better for green users.

First, getting shunted around from desk to desk is not typical. It does happen, but it’s rare. If you want to avoid this entirely, call after business hours, or better yet, during late shift. Call after 11 p.m. and your hold time is typically less than three minutes. Second, more than any other ISP, Earthlink’s Pasadena headquarters has made a policy of hiring tech-support folks who actually have a clue about computers, and aren’t just the typical “find-a-keyword, read-a-script” droids that infest so many tech-support departments. I can state this with some authority, since I know some of the people who work there (including the head of VIP tech support, who has been there for six-plus years). By the way, Earthlink’s starting wage for tech support people is $10 per hour plus some stock options. Read the full-page ads it regularly runs in COMPUTERUSER. Third, with respect to everyday reliability: I get a busy signal or other network-related problem so rarely that it’s an astonishing event (maybe twice a year). I run a constant check on its mail server, and I’ve yet to find any e-mail that Earthlink lost.

Naturally, not every tech-support experience will be positive; sometimes there are unresolved issues; occasionally you’ll get someone who “just works there” and doesn’t give a flip. But it’s not typical. If it were, I’d be looking for another ISP myself, and I wouldn’t be staking my clients’ happiness with my work on Earthlink’s reliability.


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