My initial frustration trying to configure our internal VoIP phones that were integrated with instant messaging

Raymond Chen

I remember when Microsoft made their initial internal roll-out of its VoIP phones. The VoIP phones were integrated with a desktop app which let you configure the phone, managed your telepresence, as well as serving as an instant messaging client.

That last part was the annoying part, because it meant that I started getting lots of instant messages from people all over the company asking for help, mostly people from product support.

When I asked if there was a way to block the instant messages but let phone calls through, the team that supported the VoIP phones was baffled. They couldn’t understand why somebody would block the less intrusive thing but leave the more intrusive one.

I’m blocking the less intrusive thing because people think they’re not intruding. But I leave the more intrusive thing, so people can call me if they really need to, where “really need to” means “I’m willing to do this really intrusive thing.”

Even with this explanation, the team still couldn’t comprehend why someone would do this. “If you’re going to block the less intrusive thing, but leave the more intrusive thing enabled, then what did you accomplish?” No amount of explaining could convince them that I wasn’t crazy.¹

I ended up just blocking everybody and putting my cell phone number in my status message. That way they could still call me if they needed to.

Turns out people rarely called.

So I guess those messages weren’t all that important after all.

¹ I could very well be crazy.


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