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Software developer pilot fish works from home, which means he depends heavily on the VPN connection to his home office.

"I was having issues with my DSL, so I rebooted the modem," says fish. "No change, so I fired up Wireshark and saw the problem: tons of TCP timeouts, retries, duplicate ACKS, etc.

"I called the phone company for support, and after spending several minutes responding to the automated answering robot I spoke with a clueless support technician and explained the problem.

"He told me my problem was that I shouldn't be using TCP -- instead, I should use my web browser.

"I was trying to explain that TCP was the protocol used by the browser when he cut me off. In an indignant tone, he told me in no uncertain terms he knew all about TCP.

"I said, 'In that case, my DSL is slow and I don't know why.' He then said he would have to transfer me to someone else for help. Shortly thereafter, the line went dead.

"I called back in and, after dealing with the automated systems again, I was connected with a different support technician.

"I didn't mention the previous call, nor did I mention TCP errors. I pretended to be a dumb user who didn't know what DSL was -- all I knew was my web was slow and I had tried unplugging and replugging the black box thing."

Special note from Sharky: Want more of Sharky's favorite stories? Check out a new selection of Sharky's best from the Sharkives -- part of CW@50, Computerworld's year-long 50th-anniversary celebration. And remember...

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