I know that I seem to complain about my technological woes a lot lately. It was just a few weeks ago that I devoted an entire post to my endless frustrations with passwords, which continues to be an on-going battle. But during the last few weeks, my patience with technology has been tested to an extreme.
I was in the midst of completing my Life & Health Coach certification requirements and there were several key pieces of software that I needed to interface with in order to finish the course. All the coursework, homework, and worksheets were delivered on either Google Drive or Dropbox. This would have been okay except that I couldn’t remember my password to Dropbox, and it turned out that I actually had two different Dropbox accounts. So, it was always a treasure hunt every time I went to find my working documents.
Then there was Google Drive. Google Drive is a little bit of a mystery to me. I know that it is where I store all of my files and have been using it for the last few years, but I have mostly stabbed my way through the dark. It probably didn’t help that one of my Google Drive shared folders got corrupted and I didn’t know it. I just knew I couldn’t find my files. So in order to complete my 45 pages of paperwork, I did a lot of cutting and pasting, dragging and dropping, and good old-fashioned re-typing. Basically, I wasted hours trying to figure out how to just find my files, gather them, and send them back to my instructor. I had done the work, I just had no idea how to find it and deliver it into one document. I needed help, but didn’t even know what questions to ask. I know I took the long road and stayed up until after midnight two nights in a row going through hoops it get all done.
I only had one thing left to do to complete my coursework: Create and launch my new website. I had been working on it for about six weeks. It was my husband who suggested that I build my own website using one of the templates from a company like GoDaddy. My middle daughter helped me select a template and taught me how to navigate the website to make changes. My youngest daughter picked the font and helped me pick a color palette. My sister-in-law helped me with the photos. A close friend gave me final notes on the viewing experience. I edited and re-edited. I tweaked and re-tweaked. I must have changed the template more than two dozen times. The big green Publish button loomed large in the corner of the screen each time I worked on the site. I was so nervous about that button, you would have thought that it controlled the nuclear launch codes and that the fate of Western Civilization was in my hands.
Now that my coursework was complete, I was finally ready to hit that big green Publish button to go live. It was super scary, but when I did it I felt truly excited. I waited for something magical to happen and then GoDaddy sent me a big “Congratulations” notification… and told me that I was ALMOST there. I just needed to do one more thing: Check in with my 3rd party domain host.
There are certain terms that make the hairs on my neck stand on end. 3rd party domain host definitely fall into that category. The notice indicated that all I had to do was log into my Google account and change the A-record. Sure, no problem. If only I knew what an A-record was. But I dutifully followed the instructions and logged into my Google account. The only thing was that I wasn’t certain if that meant my Gmail, my Google Suite, or my Google Drive. I have multiple Gmail emails, I am not sure exactly what the Google Suite does, and I told you I already have issues with my Google Drive. If that wasn’t bad enough, apparently my Google File Stream was no longer functioning properly. You don’t know what that is? Don’t worry. Me either.
So I typed in various usernames and passwords going into the bowels of my Google account. I finally stumbled into portals called Admin and Domains. I tried to open those portals, but they wanted additional passwords, and none of my usual suspects were working. I was out of ideas at this point. I attempted to reset my password, but nothing came up through my emails. So I called the GoDaddy support line. I confessed to the advisor that I thought going live with my business website would be as easy as hitting the bright green Publish button. The GoDaddy advisor named Brian calmly explained that the A-record was just a fancy name for an IP address and I just needed to change the number. Of course, IP address was on the short list for terms that make me highly anxious. But I did not reveal to Brian that I was on the precipice of an anxiety attack. He talked me through the various screens through the Google account. We ended up back in the bowels of Admin locked doors and eventually got back to that final dungeon known as Domains. But there we reached the end of the road… again. No usernames nor passwords were opening the door to this nightmare. Perhaps if I had spent more time playing video games like Dungeons and Dragons, I would not be so daunted by these technological roadblocks. But, alas, my video game expertise ends with PacMan and Tetris.
Brian spent over an hour on the phone with me only to tell me that he could no longer help me. He told me that I would have to reach out to Google to unlock this. Reach out to Google?? That’s like saying I don’t like a post on Facebook, so get Mark Zuckerberg on the phone. Google was not going to answer an email or a phone call. They don’t have to answer. They control the world. Their help desks are notoriously bad or non-existent. I wanted to tell Brian that I could not slay this dragon alone, but he had bid me farewell. With no other choices, I emailed Google support and typed in a very specific request: "I need to change my A-record to launch my GoDaddy website, but because Google controls my domain name. I need assistance to unlock this portal called Domains." And then I waited.
Surprisingly, someone answered my email within 30 minutes. Her name was Ana and her response was that she couldn’t help me because I didn’t leave a phone number. I was both excited that someone responded to my email, and simultaneously pissed off because my phone number was clearly stated at the bottom of my original email. I quickly emailed Ana back with my phone number and told her to call me any time of day or night! Suddenly, my phone rang. I could not believe my good fortune. Google was calling me back!!!
Unfortunately, it was not the Google help desk, it my daughter asking when I was going to pick her up from school. I looked at the clock and realized I was already 15 minutes late. When I finally arrived at her school, the carpool lane was empty and she was sitting all by herself. I apologized profusely for being late and explained that I was in computer hell. As I was trying to explain my computer nightmare of A-records, admins, and 3rd party domains to my teenage daughter, she just looked at me blankly. By this time, I realized that I might have been losing it. My voice was at a fever pitch and I had worked myself into a full-blown frenzy. I was angry, frustrated, confused, overheated, and ready to pop a gasket. Perhaps had I not been so sleep-deprived from staying up until after midnight two nights with software glitches to turn in my final paperwork, I might not have been so crazy. But I now I was fully over the speed limit.
As soon as we got home, I took a deep breath and went back to the dark depths of Google suite myself. I was determined. I wasn’t exactly sure I could even remember how to get back in, but I did. I got to the final locked door and I started typing every possible username/password combination I could remember. But nothing. It would not even send me a prompt to reset my password. That is when I noticed at the very bottom of the screen in tiny little font, there was a phone number. I knew that it would most likely be a dead end. After all, I was on a Google website, there was no way that someone from Google was going to answer the phone and answer my question. But I dialed it anyway. Someone named Jeff answered the phone right away. He sounded bright and cheerful. I couldn’t believe it! When he said, “How can I help you?” I almost started crying with relief. I was about to be rescued from my desert island. I took a very deep breath and said, “Jeff, I am going to warn you. I am normally a very rational, intelligent human being, but right now I am feeling frighteningly unstable and dangerous.” Thankfully, he had a sense of humor and asked again how he could help. I told him the whole story and he said he would attempt to help me unlock the door so that I could just publish my little website. He said that he could probably help, but wanted to clarify that I had not actually called Google. I proceeded to debate this. I was on a Google website, so this must be a Google helpline. He said, “No. You’ve called GoDaddy tech support.” Wait, how was that possible??
Well, it turned out that my original domain name was purchased from GoDaddy, but when I set up my Google account years ago, Google locked me out of my ability to change the IP address… aka the A-Record! So, GoDaddy could not help me since Google controlled it. But somehow Jeff was able to provide me with a special numeric code/username that would allow me to finally reset my password, so that I could get in to change the A-record. And yes, finally, I was able to get in and change it. After that, I needed to go through another series of unlocking doors to make sure that Google doesn’t continue to control this domain so that I can interface properly with my own website. The whole thing took another hour. Jeff from GoDaddy saved the day! He sat with me on the phone like an aerospace engineer guiding a person onto a lunar landing. He made sure that not only the astronaut landed safely on the moon, but safely splashed back down to earth too.
The scary thing is there is no way I could have ever done this on my own. Something as simple as launching a small business website was nearly impossible because GoDaddy and Google were having some kind of proprietary corporate pissing match. Under the guise of working together synergistically, I was just an innocent bystander caught up in this perverse Fortune 500 tech war. Apparently, this corporate proprietary nightmare is becoming more common place. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, etc. are all making interfacing more and more difficult. It is simply a way of controlling more of the marketplace.
In the end, I published my new website and then proceeded to change it another half a dozen times as my inner-perfectionist needed to keep editing and changing the aesthetic. As for Google, they did eventually send me another email. Only to say that they were closed for the evening and that someone would try me again in the next 2-5 business days. But the best part was that they had the audacity to immediately send me a survey asking what I thought of their on-line support?
Needless to say, Google did not get a good report card, but Jeff at GoDaddy got all A’s!