200 OK

My colleagues in Extension computing throughout the nation started an annual tradition sometime back of celebrating what are usually the best of the worst (or the funniest) stories throughout the year that happen to them or their colleagues (or their clients) in computing.

Being computing professionals, they appropriately call them the “404 awards”. Usually because in the moment, someone’s intelligence and/or sanity has gone missing. I don’t usually feel like mine are funny enough to tell, but I certainly have my share of 404 (and 500) stories.

But every so often, there’s a 200 OK.

I have a friend that I’ve known for over 20 years that is a captain and chaplain in the U.S. Army. We haven’t talked much in a long time, and earlier this year he deployed back to Afghanistan.

The other day he dropped me a note. He and his wife were scheduled to have a Skype call this weekend — and something was broken with Skype on her Windows 7 computer. I don’t do much desktop support, and it’s been years since I supported anything on any version of windows — and I’ve never met or talked with his wife. But in 20 years, I don’t think my friend has ever asked me to do anything like that.

I fired up Windows 7, downloaded Skype, then downloaded it again when I realized Microsoft and Skype have versions all over the place, got a few details, and headed to the forums. She had already been through a whole bunch of things that she had found searching for a solution, and had done a lot of homework on it already, but it still wasn’t working

There wasn’t anything definitive that I found, but I had some gut feelings about it. So another email or two with some details and some ideas on just walking back to square zero with one of Skype’s updates to something that was still in beta (or the “garage” they call it). I wasn’t sure what was going to fix it — but I had some steps and a plan and I was already readying an old Mac laptop as a fallback.

And in the evening, I got an email back — the opening line was “HALLELUJAH!!!”

I didn’t really do much. Certainly there have been other computing problems this week that have been more complex, that I worked harder and longer at finding a solution to. But they didn’t feel as good as this, and it’s been a long time since I had that “this is what I was meant to do” feeling.

I’m sure next week I’ll rm -rf a server again. Or blow the release of an app. Or jump to some conclusion about what isn’t working and break what is.

But today wasn’t one of those days.

Today was 200 OK.