Start up: the sitcom

Years ago, while working for a company that was in the midst of an IPO, one of our salespeople was fixated on the idea of shopping a sitcom idea to Hollywood. It would feature a ragtag assortment of personalities all working for a .com startup. Hilarity would ensue.

If such a sitcom did exist, today at FeedBurner’s offices would provide ample fodder for its own episode: family tech support day. I don’t know what’s in the air, but several of us have had tech support calls with family members. Mine was this morning: my father-in-law has Verizon at home, and I think that Verizon blocks (blocked? no idea if they still do) access to their outgoing mail server unless you’re connected to their network. This is ostensibly an anti-spam measure, except it’s pretty goofy if you own a laptop: so long as your laptop is actually physically at your house, you can send mail. Go to Starbucks? Can’t send mail. So I just used my own mail server for him to send mail out, bypassing Verizon’s network entirely.

Minor problem: when I reconfigured my mail accounts to forward everything to Gmail, I nuked the account that I was using to send mail… which meant my father-in-law couldn’t send e-mail. Oops. Fortunately it was a fairly easy solution, but a lesson learned: when doing family support, set them up with their own accounts — don’t make them dependent on your own stuff when your stuff is likely to change.

Eric had a much more interesting tech support challenge, which involved instructing parents to “go to the wiring closet”, “find the patch cable” and “type the IP address into your browser”. (The router’s IP config had been wiped.)

I don’t know if it would play well on the networks, but it sure would be realistic. Maybe if Jerry Stiller played the part of someone’s nutty dad…