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[ale] Let's draft a support personnel competency test! [was: A vent and whine - ignore with dignity]

Ah. I'll play just for funsies.

BTW while you not bother with the first tier of support, or possibly even
the second, you also have to be prepared to answer everything in their
script. For example with Comcast I start with already rebooting the box,
releasing DHCP, and the like.

On Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 01:46:34PM -0400, Michael B. Trausch wrote:
> On Mon, 2010-06-21 at 13:30 -0400, Richard Bronosky wrote:
> > I would like to draft a list of ~5-10 questions that could be used to
> > pre-screen (like you would to a job applicant) your support
> > technician. If they fail, you say "I'm sorry but you do not appear to
> > be qualified to handle my support requirements, please transfer me to
> > the next tier of support." I don't know how well it would work, but it
> > would be a fun exercise. We just may end up creating a new meme in the
> > process.
> > 
> > Here is my v0.1 draft:
> > 1. An IPv4 address is composed of how many octets?


> > 2. The OSI model is composed of how many layers? Name them.


Presentation: Designed to handle protocol translations if necessary.
Data Link

> I would expect most people to fail this one.  I expect people to know
> that there are 7 layers, not what every single one of them does... most
> people are too far removed from that model to reliably be able to recall
> it anyway.
> > 3. What purpose does an ARP table serve?

Directory that maps IP (or other network) addresses to physical addresses.
Only functions on the local network inside the route. Non routable.
Broadcast call/response with caching and timeout.

> > 4. How many runlevels are there in conventional "system five"? What
> > does zero do? What does six do?

6 AFAICR. Zero halts. 6 Reboots. I'm an everyday Linux user and I haven't
looked at an init table in a long long time. Ctrl-Alt-Del abstracts the

> Doesn't say yay or nay on terms of network support.  Keep the questions
> platform-neutral and OS-neutral.
> > 5. How do you identify and bounce a network interface in a POSIX-like
> > OS without rebooting? 
> Same as for #4.  I would expect 100% of tier-1 and tier-2 technicians to
> fail this test unless they include UNIX or POSIX (or UNIX-like or
> POSIX-like) system support in their realm.

Agreed. And ifconfig does have a bit of difference between different

> Perhaps:
> 1.  What is an IPv4 address, and how many octets does it have?
> 2.  What is,, and

Private IP address. Non routable.

> 3.  What do the ping and traceroute tools do?

Nothing in today's network. Sigh. Virtually everyone fails to respond to
ICMP packets anymore because of security concerns.

> 4.  What is the purpose of a routing table, and what happens when it's
>     broken or missing entries?

Facilitates the movement of packets from one network to another. Can't do
that with (or send to the wrong network) with broken/missing entries.

> 5.  In addition to the Web, what sorts of services does the Internet
>     house?  [Because most stupid people think the Web *IS* the 
>     Internet, maybe this should be #1.]

You mean it's not? ;-)

This was fun. The real question is what are the techs supposed to support?

It's likely at this point I would fail a Windows test in this same
ballpark. Every time I mess with a broken Windows box (which is just about
the only time that I do) I have to refigure out how to access everything.

Byron A. Jeff
Program Coordinator: IT/CS/CNET
College of Information and Mathematical Sciences
Clayton State University