Season 6 Episode 7 Dec 15, 2021

An Intricate Job Recruitment Scam, a Law Against Some AI-Powered Recruitment Software, and We Give You Holiday Tech Support, Support

Pitch

Solving your family's holiday tech support issues doesn't have to be a pain.

Description

In this episode, we talk about a lawsuit filed by Riot Games against fraudsters of an intricate video game studio scam, and a New York City law that will ban employers from using potentially biased AI-driven recruitment software to screen candidates. Then we speak with Rob Frelow, co-founder & chief AI officer of The StoryGraph, who has 15 years of experience being a tech support engineer, to give you lifehacks for your holiday family tech support woes.

Hosts

Saron Yitbarek

Disco - Founder

Saron Yitbarek is the founder of Disco, host of the CodeNewbie podcast, and co-host of the base.cs podcast.

Josh Puetz

Forem - Principal Engineer

Josh Puetz is Principal Software Engineer at Forem.

Guests

Rob Frelow

The StoryGraph - Co-founder and Chief AI Officer

Rob Frelow is co-founder and chief AI officer of The StoryGraph, a place to get book recommendations and track your reading.

Show Notes

Audio file size

28573802

Duration

00:29:46

Transcript

[00:00:10] SY: Welcome to DevNews, the news show for developers by developers, where we cover the latest in the world of tech. I’m Saron Yitbarek, Founder of Disco.

 

[00:00:19] JP: And I’m Josh Puetz, Principal Engineer at Forem.

 

[00:00:22] SY: This week, we’re talking about a lawsuit filed by Riot Games against fraudsters of an intricate video game studio scam, and a New York City law that will ban employers from using potentially biased AI-driven recruitment software to screen candidates. Then we speak with Rob Frelow, Co-founder and Chief AI Officer of The StoryGraph, who’s been a tech support engineer for 15 years to give you life hacks for your holiday family tech support woes.

 

[00:00:47] RF: I make sure that they’re in the room when I solve it. I explain every step of my troubleshooting process to get there. And usually, if it’s something hardware related, like changing the ink, I make them do it.

 

[00:00:58] SY: So we’re starting off this week’s episode with a cautionary tale. Scammers have been impersonating video game studio recruiters and swindling people out of hundreds of dollars. They do this by posting fake job ads for companies like Manticore Games or Rockstar Games or by reaching out to job seekers directly and taking them through a complex process that includes multiple interviews via messaging apps, like Discord, where the scammers might even have handles bearing real employee names, as well as convincing contract and onboarding materials. The victims are then asked to transfer money for work equipment, such as an Apple iPad Pro, which they are assured will be reimbursed. This of course is money that can’t be refunded by your bank because the money was given willingly and not a part of a technical theft or hack. Now the studio Riot Games has filed a lawsuit against the scammers in hopes of learning more information about them. The company’s lawyer, Dan Nabel, told the blog Polygon, “Their victims largely are young, naive, and want nothing more than to work for Riot, one of the most prestigious video game companies in the world. Defendants prey on the hopes and dreams of these individuals in order to steal their identities and pillage their bank accounts.” We’ll put the Polygon piece in our show notes. So that sucks.

 

[00:02:23] JP: I feel like interviewing in the best of times is stressful and painful.

 

[00:02:27] SY: It’s already bad.

 

[00:02:28] JP: And already bad. Imagine if you did all that interviewing. Well, I don’t know how much interviewing there is, but imagine you did the interviewing and there wasn’t actually a job there.

 

[00:02:36] SY: I mean, it’s so painful and it feels like such an invasive and extra damaging way to scam someone. Because it’s not just, “Oh, I’m scamming you out of a couple hundred dollars.” It’s, “I’m scamming you out of your career in a way.” Because think about it, usually the further you get in an interview, you shouldn’t, but you generally tend to like turn down other job interviews. You’re not working as hard on other applications. You’re really focused on that one company, especially if you’re really excited about it. You’ve probably kind of taken a backseat to other opportunities and you’re really, really focused on that one. And then you realize that you got scammed on the one, and then now what do you do? You’re having to start that process all over again. Oh, that’s just painful.

 

[00:03:20] JP: Yeah. You didn’t just lose money, you lost time.

 

[00:03:22] SY: You lost a lot of time and potentially relationships because once you’ve turned down a company, it’s kind of tough to go back and just go, like, “Just kidding.”

 

[00:03:30] JP: Oh, yeah. How would that even go? Like, “Hey, I didn’t actually have an offer. It was a scam.”

 

[00:03:34] SY: Yeah.

 

[00:03:36] JP: Like that’s terrible.

 

[00:03:36] SY: “Can I try again?” Hopefully, the companies are open and willing to, but that’s an awkward conversation to have at the very least.

 

[00:03:45] JP: The scam, this seems like a lot of… I mean, I’m not a scam artist, but this seems like a lot of work and a really long con to…

 

[00:03:52] SY: It really does.

 

[00:03:54] JP: This wasn’t like a free exercise for the scammers themselves. Are they interviewing tech questions?

 

[00:03:59] SY: Exactly. I mean, they went through interviewing process, right? So they must be talking to these candidates, getting to know them at least to some degree, and they kind of have to, right? Because they have to make the process seem believable. Like if the only interview steps were, I don’t know, a multiple choice like quiz online, then probably wouldn’t be very believable.

 

[00:04:19] JP: The story does say that they’re targeting people that are fairly new to the industry and have a lot of experience. I can definitely imagine when you’re first coming into the industry, you don’t really a hundred percent know what to expect with interviews.

 

[00:04:29] SY: Maybe you don’t know.

 

[00:04:31] JP: Yeah.

 

[00:04:32] SY: That’s true. That’s true.

 

[00:04:32] JP: I think if one of us like through this, we’d be like, “Wait a second. These interviews are way too easy.” Also, let’s talk about giving money to people you don’t work for or don’t work for you. Don’t do that. This is not cool.

 

[00:04:47] SY: Yeah. I think the reason for the giving of the money to me is so suspicious. I’ve never heard of a company saying, “Give us money so that we can buy your equipment, but then we’ll reimburse you.”

 

[00:05:00] JP: That makes zero sense to me. Yes.

 

[00:05:01] SY: That doesn’t make sense. Because like worst-case scenario, I’ll just buy my own equipment directly and then you reimburse me, like worst-case scenario.

 

[00:05:07] JP: Right. Exactly. Yeah.

 

[00:05:08] SY: But for me to give you money for you to use my money to buy something for me that then I get paid, that’s very confusing.

 

[00:05:16] JP: Right. So just as a public service does, for anyone that’s listening and curious about this, I have definitely gone and done interviews back in the before times where I flown places, the company flew me somewhere and they had me pay for my airline ticket and they had me pay for my hotel room out of my pocket, but then they reimburse me. But at no point has a company ever said, “Transfer some money to us and then we’ll give it back to you.” That is not a thing.

 

[00:05:44] SY: Yeah. That’s a good positive sign that this is a bad idea, that this is probably a scam.

 

[00:05:51] JP: Yeah. So I think it’s encouraging that the companies involved are trying to track all these scammers, opening lawsuits against them. This is just like absolutely horrible.

 

[00:06:00] SY: Yeah.

 

[00:06:00] JP: Do you think this is probably more common because there are so many more companies hiring remotely, people working remotely?

 

[00:06:07] SY: That's a good point actually. Yeah. I wonder if the whole idea of remote work being more and more popular if that kind of inspired some of these scams, because it’s much easier to fake a job when you never have to go to an office.

 

[00:06:20] JP: Right.

 

[00:06:21] SY: Right? This would be a much more expensive scam if they had to like fly you out to a fake office and a fake building and they’ll like convince you that this was a real job. So yeah, actually, that makes sense to me. Yeah. The popularity of things moving more remote and more online probably inspired this kind of thing.

 

[00:06:39] JP: I feel like for even non-remote positions, I don’t know how much remote work Riot does in particular, but even for non-remote positions so much of the hiring process is remote and not in person anymore.

 

[00:06:51] SY: True.

 

[00:06:53] JP: I could imagine this kind of scam could target companies that might not even have remote work, but think about when you first start interviewing, you have two or three or four interviews with people just over Zoom. You never see them.

 

[00:07:05] SY: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I feel very sorry for all those people who got scammed. What a heartbreaking way, especially for a company as big as Riot, a company that I’m sure these people were excited to work for and were really looking forward to and to have that just not even taken away, just never even have existed must be so heartbreaking. So my heart goes out to all those people who were victims of that.

 

[00:07:29] JP: Yeah. Anybody that’s interviewing or anybody that’s ever curious, if something seems weird or even if it doesn’t seem weird, like just run it by someone else. Nine times out of ten if you were to explain this to somebody else or say like, “Oh yeah, they’re having me give them some money and they’re going to give me an iPad and pay me back,” I feel like 9 times out of 10, it sounds okay to you when you’re in the moment of going through the interview process, and you’re really focused on getting that job. You’re like, “Sure, whatever. We’re going there. We’re getting to the end. I’m in the running. This is really exciting.” And if you step back for a second and tell someone else about what a company is asking you, very quickly, I feel like people in the industry would be like, “Ah, this sounds really weird. You should run this by someone else.”

 

[00:08:08] SY: Yeah.

 

[00:08:09] JP: So speaking of job recruiting, a new law in New York City will ban employers from using artificial intelligence to screen prospective candidates, unless that AI software has been audited and has been found not to contain bias. This law will take effect at the beginning of 2023 and lawmakers in Illinois and Maryland have also been targeting algorithmic bias in hiring. Saron, have you ever heard about using employers using AI to sift through resumes?

 

[00:08:36] SY: I’ve heard of it. I didn’t realize that it was so prevalent that there would now be laws against it.

 

[00:08:46] JP: Right. I was surprised by that as well.

 

[00:08:48] SY: You know what I mean?

 

[00:08:48] JP: Yeah. I thought this was pretty niche to be running resumes past it.

 

[00:08:52] SY: Yeah. I didn’t think this was like so widespread and so commonly done that it would make sense to have a law to ban it. So I was very surprised.

 

[00:09:01] JP: Yeah. Something I found really interesting in this article that we’ll link to the show notes, one particular expert at Wharton School of Business noted that automated video interviews are becoming a thing. And AI is being used to monitor your tone and your facial expressions and the quality of responses.

 

[00:09:18] SY: Oh, Lord!

 

[00:09:20] JP: That’s horrifying. That’s really bad.

 

[00:09:22] SY: That is horrifying. I mean, it’s horrifying for so many different reasons. Number one is there are so many biases in what does someone who’s excited sounds like and what does someone who’s interested sound like. And there are so many different cultural differences within that, so many different biases and issues. I mean, it’s hard enough to interview.

 

[00:09:41] JP: Right.

 

[00:09:42] SY: You know what I mean?

 

[00:09:43] JP: Right.

 

[00:09:44] SY: It’s hard. Now I have to figure out like, “Is my tone chipper enough? Is that what you’re looking for? Am I too chipper now? Do I have to be serious and feel like a serious candidate?” Now I feel like it just added to the list of things that candidates have to optimize for and work on and think about besides just giving good answers. Now I have to worry about my facial expressions. Am I happy to be here? It’s just so much more stress, I feel like, on the candidate. There’s already enough for us to think about, let alone all of this.

 

[00:10:16] JP: Right. And of course, any kind of AI system has the biases baked in of the people that developed it.

 

[00:10:22] SY: Of course.

 

[00:10:23] JP: So this just seems like it’s compounding existing problems.

 

[00:10:26] SY: Exactly. Very surprised that this is so widespread, but also very happy that we’re doing something about it, right? That’s a good sign. New York City being, I think they might be the first one maybe, and I’m interested to see how many other states take this up and decides to do similar laws like Illinois and Maryland. Looking into that is very promising and I’m curious to see if other cities, other states follow suit as well.

 

[00:10:49] JP: Yeah. I could definitely see city on a city by city basis implementing stuff like this. Yeah. Good to see. I hope we see more of this.

 

[00:10:55] SY: Absolutely. Coming up next, we give you holiday tech-support support after this.

 

[MUSIC BREAK]

 

[00:11:20] SY: Here with us is Rob Frelow, Co-founder and Chief AI Officer of The StoryGraph. He’s also my husband. And although we’re both developers, he’s the one who graciously handles all the tech support woes of our friends and family. Bless his heart. Thank you so much for being here.

 

[00:11:35] RF: Thank you for having me.

 

[00:11:36] SY: So tell us about your career background.

 

[00:11:38] RF: I’ve been an engineer for about 17 years now, primarily in the technical support space and this isn’t technical support like you might think where people call me and say, “My mouse is broken,” or, “My computer won’t turn on.” My experience is in the tech support where the enterprise software that a company paid millions of dollars for just went down at three o’clock in the morning and they need someone to figure out how to SSH into the box that cannot be pinged anymore and bring their enterprise level, mission-critical, all those buzzwords software back online so they can keep making money.

 

[00:12:16] JP: Very cool. Tell us about what you’re doing now. You’re a co-founder at The StoryGraph?

 

[00:12:20] RF: Yes, I am. I left my traditional job about two years ago now and I’ve been working with Nadia at The StoryGraph and I do all the machine learning. I do some back-end server stuff and really it’s just a dream, a dream job. I actually don’t call it a job. Like the J-O-B for that is like a no-go for me, because I’m just having too much fun.

 

[00:12:41] JP: Very cool. And can you tell us about The StoryGraph?

 

[00:12:43] RF: Yeah. The StoryGraph, our goal is to help people find books that they’re in the mood for. It’s a book discovery platform and tracking a form where the easiest way to explain it is to compare it to Goodreads. So usually I say, “Have you heard of Goodreads?” And if they say, “Yes,” I say, “Yeah, we are the biggest competitor of the Goodreads. We have over about 700,000 users. We focus on helping you find the book that you were in the mood for because we believe at the core, everybody is a mood reader, whether they know it or not.” And just like with TV, you might know when you’re in a mood for a particular type of movie or a particular type of TV show and books are the same, but you can’t go out to Amazon or Barnes & Noble or your local bookstore and find your books based on your particular mood very easily. If you’re in a mood for a sad and adventurous mystery book, you can’t just click those boxes and find that on Amazon, but you can on The StoryGraph.

 

[00:13:45] SY: So you are a tech support engineer for a really long time. I think it’s about 15 years. What did that look like? You mentioned kind of being in charge of this mission critical work and being called at 3:00 AM. Tell me a little bit more about that. What was that life like?

 

[00:13:58] RF: It’s interesting because I went down that path primarily because I enjoy helping people with tech problems. So when I said, “How can I possibly use that desire to make money?” Being a tech support engineer was the easiest, most obvious path. But when it comes to actually doing the job day to day to day, it got, boring isn’t the right word, because every day was something different, but it was extremely challenging. And my entire day was spent looking at tickets. So I walk in in the morning. I see 30 tickets in my queue. That’s 30 different people with 30 different problems and maybe half of them I’ve never heard of before, even though I’ve been working at the particular company for maybe even 10 years. You just got to go figure out, figure out what the problem is, or you’re going to have a lot of unhappy people at the end of the day.

 

[00:14:49] JP: So one of the reasons we’re talking with you today is the holidays are rapidly approaching and many of us will be drafted into help desk service, some against our wills, as we spend time with our families and friends this holiday. So we wanted to get your kind of insight and opinions about how you handle tech support for your family and friends, given that you were professionally doing tech support for so long. I want to ask, do you think there’s much overlap between professionally being in tech support and the kind of tech support that you perhaps do for your family and friends?

 

[00:15:30] RF: Well, there’s overlap in terms of they’re both involving people who are usually extremely frustrated that they can’t figure something out and they’re coming to you for help. Nobody ever wants to call a tech support, whether it’s my cousin over Christmas holiday, or if it’s the engineer at three in the morning who has their software that’s down and they don’t know what to do. Nobody ever wants to call us. The parallels are tied to the human experience and the customer support level of helping people emotionally through the issue as well as technically for the issue.

 

[00:16:02] JP: That’s a really good point.

 

[00:16:04] SY: That is a really good point. I’m never happy calling tech support. I’m never happy calling any type of customer support whether it’s technical, a phone bill.

 

[00:16:14] RF: Exactly. Exactly.

 

[00:16:16] SY: No one’s ever happy. That is a very good point. What are some of the most common things that people tend to need help with?

 

[00:16:23] RF: Yeah. The common things are usually not very complex, at least for someone who does this for a living. It could be something as simple as, “Hey, sometimes when I open up my mail app, it closes the window.” Or, “How do I maximize the window on a Mac? I’ve never had a Mac before.” Or, “My printer has not worked for nine months. I would like to print stuff, please. Can you help me with that?” Or, “How do I change the ink on my printer?” It’s usually either very simple software stuff or a hardware stuff that is not interacting the way that they expect. But the thing that makes me really feel for the person in these experiences is at least on the enterprise side at my job, like I said, nobody ever wants to call a tech support, but when they decide to do it, they just do it. And their problem is usually solved within a couple of hours or a day. But the thing that is almost sad is that the people that are having these problems and they come to us during the holiday, they’ve had it for months, sometimes since the last holiday, because we didn’t have time to solve the problem. I’ve had tech support problems for family that every holiday, four or five years, they’ve asked me to do it and I just never had time to do it. And when I finally get it done, it’s too late because the hard drive is broken. I can’t possibly fix it anymore. So it’s usually longstanding issues and related to something that if you’re experienced, you’d probably do it in about 10 minutes. So it makes me feel like they don’t have support on an ongoing basis. And I wish that they had that or I wish that they had the inclination to call me, even if it’s not the holidays and I could just help them through.

 

[00:17:59] JP: Do you think there’s a place for threading the needle between helping out people in your life with their tech and trying to enable tech literacy? I guess I’m curious if you think there’s a place for not just solving problems, but trying to teach people the skills that they could solve them themselves. Do you think that’s a pipe dream or do you think that’s attainable?

 

[00:18:24] RF: I definitely think it’s attainable. Whenever I help people over the holidays, next holiday or in the coming years, they never ask me that same question again. It’s always a different question, but they never asked me the same question again, because I always approach it in a learning fashion. I make sure that they’re in the room when I solve it. I explain every step of my troubleshooting process to get there. And usually, if it’s something hardware related, like changing the ink, I make them do it. If there’s two inks, I’ll change the black ink and I hand them the color one and I said, “Now do what I just did and do it for the color.” And I make sure that they know how to do it before I walk away because I do think that that’s important because a lot of times they don’t want to call me in the middle of a work day for them or they just wait until I’m there physically and that’s not going to be for another 10 months. And I don’t want them to be dealing with that. So yes, for me, a focus is definitely helping them do it themselves for next time.

 

[00:19:15] SY: I’m wondering how you feel about playing this role. Because for a lot of us, especially as developers, we’re the default tech support people, as Josh kind of put at the beginning of this interview, very unwillingly and very reluctantly. And it’s something that we kind of dread doing. We’re like, “Ah! Can I figure it out? Or I want to figure it out.” But just hearing you talk about this, I don’t get that sense from you. I don’t get kind of a sense of like dread or annoyance. You seem pretty good to go. So how do you feel? How do you feel about playing this role for your friends and family?

 

[00:19:47] RF: Oh, I love it. I definitely love it. I embrace it because I see it from their side. And I imagine if you’ve been dealing with an issue for nine months and you’ve been waiting for the holidays for that one tech person in your life to come over and do it, and now they’re going to complain because they’d rather go eat turkey, just take 10 minutes, half an hour out of your day and solve something that would be, okay, life changing is way too strong, but if you don’t have a printer, that’s a huge inconvenience for months and I have a printer and have to drive to staples every time you need something done. Right? And some of these issues are even bigger and more impactful than that. So yeah, I say embrace it. Do your part. You’re visiting your family and they’re probably spending a lot of time preparing to be the host. They’re probably spending a lot of time cooking for you or doing whatever else families do over the holidays. The very least you could do is pay some of that back by using your expertise that they wish they had to solve some of their longstanding problems.

 

[00:20:44] JP: Okay. You did it. I feel bad.

 

[00:20:48] SY: I was going to say Josh?

 

[00:20:49] JP: I will look over this and I'm munching on some cookies on my in-laws’ couch.

 

[00:20:55] RF: Yes.

 

[00:20:56] JP: Your points about like having empathy for the person requesting support, that’s really well taken. I am very bad at manifesting that empathy. So that’s a point well taken.

 

[MUSIC BREAK]

 

[00:21:26] JP: I’m curious if you have any tips or life hacks. When you are teaching people how to do something, you mentioned the printer ink cartridge example where you’ll do one and they’ll do one. I think that’s really awesome. Is that typically how your purchase kind of thing, showing someone how to do it and then having them do it in case they have questions? Are there methods to make that a little easier?

 

[00:21:50] RF: Well, usually I think that’s the primary method I use. If it’s something software-related where it’s not feasible to do that, sometimes I’ll just break it again, hand them the computer and I say, “Hey, remember what I did to solve this? Can you do it again?”

 

[00:22:05] JP: Oh, yeah.

 

[00:22:06] RF: If it’s something simple, I’ll do that. Some of the issues you might see are just not feasible to try to teach. Like one example I had was I can’t log into my Windows computer. I forgot the password or the person who had the password forgot it and now they gave it to me and I don’t know what to do. So I’m not going to teach somebody how to create a Linux emergency boot disk and run the command line commands to reset a Windows’ password. I’m just not going to do that. So if it’s stuff like that, I don’t even attempt it. But normally, yeah, if it’s hardware or software, I have them do it themselves, even if it means I break it in.

 

[00:22:42] SY: Are there things that you can do or I guess we can do proactively throughout the year to make it so that we don’t have to do all the tech support during the holidays? Is there anything we can do kind of ahead of time to put them in a good position so we’re not kind of hit with all these questions all in one go?

 

[00:22:59] RF: Yeah, a hundred percent. Just ask if it’s family members that you hopefully speak to throughout the year. Before I hang up the phone, I say, “Hey, is there anything I can help you with?” Because they’re usually embarrassed. You don’t want to ask. Imagine you just got home from your full-time job. You’ve been doing whatever you do all day. You’re exhausted and you come home. The last thing you want to do is call your nieces and nephews from California and ask them how to troubleshoot your printer because that is an admission that you don’t know how to work a printer. And a printer seems like something that’s pretty easy to do. So a lot of times, even though I’m there in person, I make sure to drive the point home. “Is there anything I can help you with? I love this. Don’t worry about it. It’s fun for me. Show me then you won’t ever have to deal with this problem again.” Because there is a level of embarrassment or at least of hoping, “Maybe I can figure this out before Rob comes. So I don’t have to ask him this simple question. I hate asking him these questions.” No, I approach it from the opposite way. It’s all emotion management. It’s really all that this is.

 

[00:24:02] JP: What’s a tech support story that stands out in your mind as either really gnarly or something you’re really proud of? I’m just curious. What are your greatest tech sport stories are?

 

[00:24:14] RF: I’m not sure if this one really applies as being gnarly, but it might give some insight to how easy it is to do remote tech support nowadays. Back when I first graduated college, this was still an issue for me. We’re over the holidays. People would ask for help, and it’s a lot harder to help people when you can’t see their screens. So this was before the days of easy, “Let’s get on a video call and push the share screen button.” And I had to figure out a way to get people to show me their screen, like a software package to work. And what I ended up doing is compiling a version of UltraVNC that included my IP address in the EXO executable so that when they get the file all they have to do is double click on it, it’ll automatically create a VNC session to my desktop no matter where I am. I think I was still in Maryland at the time. Yeah. From Maryland to Connecticut or Maryland to New York, wherever I am, and they don’t have to push a thing. So they double click on a file. I have remote desktop their computer. I fixed their problem and then they disclose it and they’re done. I thought that was pretty cool. That’s actually a story I used when I interviewed with the CEO of the tech company. The first tech company that I worked for, when I said, “Hey, I would be a really good tech support engineer. Look at this thing I compiled so that I can do remote desktop support for my family back home.”

 

[00:25:37] SY: That one could do the job.

 

[00:25:39] JP: That’s amazing.

 

[00:25:40] RF: Yeah, I thought that was pretty cool, but it also highlights the tools that we have available now that make it much less of a hassle to do that remote support, especially I think Apple just released the, I don’t know exactly what they’re calling it, but it’s like screen sharing over FaceTime now using it on your phone.

 

[00:25:56] JP: Yeah.

 

[00:25:56] RF: Right? So now you can FaceTime your dad at home when he’s complaining about something wrong with his phone, and you could say, “Push the share screen button,” and you could walk him through it. That makes it so, so much easier. So yeah, I would say to embrace the tools that we have available now, when you’re trying to do remote support, because the last thing you want to do is try to talk somebody through a problem on their phone while they’re on their phone and it’s annoying.

 

[00:26:21] SY: Well, that was going to be my next question. If there are any tools or resources that you recommend that makes it easier to troubleshoot people or to help them do their own tech support, do you have any recommendations?

 

[00:26:32] RF: I think a good tool is Jitsi, Jitsi Meet. That’s an easy way to just get on a quick video call without anybody having to install anything and to be able to share a screen. It’s an open source video chat software. In terms of training people, I think it’s hard to have a resource for that because the resources that you’ll see for training people can cover a variety of topics and you never know what the problem is going to be. Okay. So if I always know that the problem someone is going to have is related to their printer, am I really going to find a document somewhere on the internet that says, “Hey, here’s how to troubleshoot printer problems,” and then have them read it? Probably not. They could have done that Google search on their own. If they had the capability to read that doc and do to search for it, they wouldn’t have contacted me. So I always walk them through whatever it is that I think they need to learn. And I tried to explain it in a way that they can understand. The worst question I had was someone was watching me in a Word doc and I clicked on save on some texts. There are no images or anything, just text, and they started complaining. They said, “No, no, no. Don’t save that Word doc. It’ll reduce the quality.” And I said, “What? What are you talking about? It’s just text. I’m just hitting safe.” And they said, “No. My teacher that’s teaching me the basics computer class I’m taking told me that when you resave something, it reduces the quality.” And I said, “Oh, no. Okay.” So they’re talking about resaving a JPEG or some type of image or if you’re resaving audio or something like that, but how do I explain to this person that resaving a text file is not going to reduce the quality? I tried my best and I just said, “Hey, go back to your class, to your teacher, and tell them some punk kid tried to tell you that saving text isn’t going to reduce the quality and just see what he says because I think he’ll be able to explain it much better than me.” I think that’s the only time that I really struggled with the explanation. It’s one of those things where my explanation I think made sense. And I think if you understood technology you would understand what lossless encoding versus lossy encoding means, but those words didn’t really hit home when I was trying to explain that.

 

[00:28:40] SY: Do you know if that person went back to their teacher and told them?

 

[00:28:43] RF: Unfortunately, I don’t know. It was a friend of the family that was coming over to visit and I don’t think I ever saw them.

 

[00:28:52] SY: Well, thank you so much, Rob, for all of your little bit of guilt tripping, some necessary guilt tripping. That was pretty good.

 

[00:28:58] JP: Intervention. We can say intervention.

 

[00:28:59] SY: Some interventions.

 

[00:29:01] JP: My family thanks you.

 

[00:29:02] SY: Yeah, and for sharing your stories with us. Thank you so much for joining us.

 

[00:29:05] RF: No problem. This was a lot of fun.

 

[00:29:17] SY: Thank you for listening to DevNews. This show is produced and mixed by Levi Sharpe. Editorial oversight is provided by Peter Frank, Ben Halpern, and Jess Lee. Our theme music is by Dan Powell. If you have any questions or comments, dial into our Google Voice at +1 (929) 500-1513 or email us at [email protected] Please rate and subscribe to this show wherever you get your podcasts.