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Nov. 6, 2019, 6 a.m.
April Ramm, Support Human

April Ramm is Email Support Lead and the longest-running Support Human — now with nine years at Omni! We talk about how she triages and categorizes support email, making sure that people who need urgent help go to the top of the list.

Show Notes:

We also talk about doing phone support, about working remotely several days a week — and about her art: she makes beautiful wire-wrapped jewelry with semi-precious stones.

Here are a couple of photos:

Turquoise stone ornately wrapped with silver-colored wire.

Blue stone ornately wrapped with copper wire.

You can see more on her Etsy store Niamh Gone Wired. You can also find her on Twitter @aprilramm and on Instagram.

Some other people, places, and things mentioned:


Brent Simmons: You're listening to The Omni Show. Get to know the people and stories behind The Omni Group's award-winning productivity apps for Mac and iOS. Muuuuuuuuuuuusic.


Brent Simmons: I'm your host, Brent Simmons. In the studio with me today is April Ramm, and she is a Support Human at the Omni Group. Say hello April.

April Ramm: Hello April.

Brent Simmons: So you are not just a Support Human, but a Support Human with an actual title other than that. You are the Email Support Lead.

April Ramm: Yes.

Brent Simmons: So what's that mean? What's that entail?

April Ramm: That means that for years now I have adopted the job of going through and triaging all of the emails that come into our queues, so I can make sure people who really need help fast get it.

Brent Simmons: So we have the email address. That goes into a specific queue, and you start by looking there, or how does it work?

April Ramm: Yes well all the emails come into all the different queues, but the urgent is where I throw people that need help right away. So people who have just emailed, say info@omnigroup, or those other queues that really should be handled right away, I send them to urgent. That also means that people who have just asking for feature requests that accidentally made it into urgent, I move those out.

Brent Simmons: Makes sense. Though to some people, a feature request may feel…

April Ramm: Sometimes, yeah.

Brent Simmons: ... pretty urgent, yeah, right? So what are urgent things? How would you classify something as urgent?

April Ramm: In general, it's something that's blocking people. So things that like they can't use the app at all, it keeps crashing, they've lost some data, things that we really need to handle right away.

Brent Simmons: Yeah, that makes sense, getting people back up and running who need it.

April Ramm: Yes.

Brent Simmons: Yeah. So you're the longest running Support Human. How long have you been here?

April Ramm: We're pushing nine years now.

Brent Simmons: Pushing nine years.

April Ramm: I think. Math is hard.

Brent Simmons: Yeah, that's cool though. So this is your second or third location?

April Ramm: Second.

Brent Simmons: Second location. So you were at the Interbay?

April Ramm: Yes.

Brent Simmons: Yeah? The support team doesn't really have app specialties anymore. In the past have you, or do you still kind of prefer one or the other of the apps when it comes to doing support, or you just kinda do all of them?

April Ramm: Well because I've been here for so long, I have led on almost all of our apps, but now that we don't really do that anymore, I mostly try to fill in where other people struggle. So I pick up more of the OmniGraffle and OmniPlan stuff just because it's a little bit harder for most people.

Brent Simmons: OmniPlan, I always imagine, has to be pretty tricky just because it's the one of our apps that's not for everybody, necessarily, it's for project managers.

April Ramm: Right, yeah.

Brent Simmons: Do you find that that's actually true?

April Ramm: Yes, I think so. I think that project management has some very specific acronyms, and some very proprietary things that people are looking for. If you're not a project manager, you may not really know what those things mean, or are supposed to do. I find that we also have people that just want to use project management to manage their lives, which is odd to me, but, okay.

Brent Simmons: Yeah. Well if it works for them then that's great—

April Ramm: Yeah.

Brent Simmons: ... yeah. I confess I haven't used OmniPlan myself. I mean, I've opened it, poked at it, tried to learn it a little bit, but I'm not a project manager.

April Ramm: Yeah, yeah, I've tried to find everyday uses for it just so I could play with it more, and actually use it more, and it's not something I can fit into my life.

Brent Simmons: Everything else though?

April Ramm: Yeah, yeah. I mean it's pretty full, maybe that's why. I have too much stuff.

Brent Simmons: So I actually almost never see you because I work from home Mondays and Fridays, and you're working from home Tuesday through Friday, so the one day you're in is Monday. We're recording on a Monday.

April Ramm: Yeah. Thanks for coming in.

Brent Simmons: Yeah, no problem. How's that going? Is remote work doing pretty well? You've been at it for a year or two?

April Ramm: Yeah, it's been about a year now that I've been working from home. It's so much easier on just my whole family, so it's been really great. I got my office set up pretty well, so I'm focusing on work, and getting stuff done. It's nice.

Brent Simmons: That's cool.

April Ramm: Half the time I'm in my pajamas, so.

Brent Simmons: Yeah, when I work from home, I don't always look great.

April Ramm: Yeah, no. It's awkward when your boss is like, “You want to FaceTime?”

Brent Simmons: Oh gosh.

April Ramm: No don't.

Brent Simmons: I've never FaceTimed into work. I wouldn't be happy.

April Ramm: I think Brian just thinks it's easier to just have a quick chat-

Brent Simmons: Oh sure, right.

April Ramm: ... and I get it yeah.

Brent Simmons: Yeah.

April Ramm: Yeah.

Brent Simmons: Yeah. Are you all set up with being able to do phone support and everything from…

April Ramm: Oh yeah.

Brent Simmons: ... from home?

April Ramm: Yeah. There's an app that the sysadmins have given us so we can answer phones from home. It's-

Brent Simmons: Oh that's cool.

April Ramm: Yeah. Voice over IP makes that easy.

Brent Simmons: That's all seems vaguely like magic to me. I don't know how that works.

April Ramm: It probably is yeah.

Brent Simmons: Yeah.

April Ramm: Yeah, they probably have chickens over there.

Brent Simmons: I try to stay away. I stay out of their hall entirely as much as possible.

April Ramm: That's a good idea.

Brent Simmons: I don't know what's going on there. I do hear the screams occasionally.

April Ramm: Right. You just ignore them.

Brent Simmons: I just, yeah, I don't want to know. It's not for me.

April Ramm: It's better that way.

Brent Simmons: So do you have a preference? You're the Email Support Lead, but you also do phone support. Do you like one or the other more, or do you just like the mix of the two?

April Ramm: I think I just like the mix of the two. I like them both. I think that sometimes email is easier because you've got links to send, or a step of instructions or something. But I also like answering the phone because you can handle things a lot quicker. You can make sure the customer is actually following the steps you've given them. Sometimes it's just—

Brent Simmons: You actually walk them through steps while talking to them?

April Ramm: Yeah.

Brent Simmons: Yeah.

April Ramm: Yeah and sometimes have them just, “Okay, what screen has just come up,” and then they can verify they've actually done the thing that you've asked them to do. Sometimes they're using an older version of the app that it's harder for us to be able to get to anymore now that we've upgraded or whatever. So if they remind me what that screen looks like, it makes it easier for me.

Brent Simmons: Yeah I imagine them when you get someone unstuck, they probably express some very nice emotions at that moment on the phone.

April Ramm: Oh yeah. I think that it's really nice just answering the phone. A lot of times we get people that are just surprised that there's a human being on the other end. So yeah, it's nice to answer the phone, and they're still chewing on their muffin. “I didn't know somebody was going to answer so quick.” Then you know when you can actually resolve their problem, they do. It is pretty awesome. It's awesome feeling for me too, because I just—

Brent Simmons: You helped a real person.

April Ramm: ... I helped a real person, and now their life is better.

Brent Simmons: Yeah, oh that's very cool. At least we don't have to FaceTime with our guests, though.

April Ramm: Yes, that is really good.

Brent Simmons: Yeah. Yeah. Do you ever do a thing where you can actually see their screen? I don't know if we do that or not.

April Ramm: We don't have anything that we specifically use, but in previous jobs, I did use stuff like that. So it is nice, and sometimes customers have their own, they've got a subscription to LogMeIn, or that sort of thing. I'm totally willing to log into people's machines, but I just don't have a tool to do that.

Brent Simmons: Right yeah. I think it makes sense that it would be on the customer, because that's a big trust issue, right?

April Ramm: Yeah.

Brent Simmons: So if they have something and they offer it….

April Ramm: Right, and I think that's a reason why Omni hasn't really pursued doing that because it is a ... I mean, we're really sensitive about people's data, so.

Brent Simmons: Yep. In fact, Ken Case was just at the MacTech conference last week, I think, and that was basically his topic, about being sensitive and protective of other people's data. That's definitely our thing. So how'd you come to Omni? Don't tell me it was a Craigslist ad.

April Ramm: It was totally a Craigslist ad.

Brent Simmons: It was a Craigslist ad.

April Ramm: I think back in my day, I think that's just what Omni did was Craigslist. Saw the ad on Craigslist. At that time, our titles were Support Ninjas, and I thought that was funny. I'd never heard a company refer to their people as ninjas, so I thought that was pretty funny. I worked in a Windows only environment. I'd never played with a Mac…

Brent Simmons: Oh wow.

April Ramm: ... never touched an iPhone. In fact, I was one of those people that poo-pooed all the iPhone people. "All those Apple folks, you're so trendy."

Brent Simmons: "Spending all that money just to get a logo."

April Ramm: "Way too much money to put an Apple on it…"

Brent Simmons: Mm-hmm (affirmative) right?

April Ramm: "... with a bite out of it. I mean, who does that?"

Brent Simmons: Yeah geez.

April Ramm: Yeah, I was one of those, and then I saw this ad for Support Ninja, and wrote my cover letter as if I was a samurai…

Brent Simmons: Instead of a ninja.

April Ramm: ... equating the samurai to the Windows world. Apparently that caught somebody's attention. All my snark…

Brent Simmons: It worked.

April Ramm: ... it got me the job.

Brent Simmons: Yeah, nice. But of course, now we're Support Humans, and I know there's a story behind it, and I forget why, but Support Ninjas was kind of a cool title.

April Ramm: I liked Support Ninjas. I still have business cards that say Support Ninja.

Brent Simmons: Yeah, yeah.

April Ramm: I think on my tax return, I still claim Support Ninja.

Brent Simmons: It's interesting though. A lot of people I've talked to grew up more or less in the Mac world, and you didn't.

April Ramm: I didn't, no.

Brent Simmons: Were you interested in the Mac world, or it was more that this job was interesting to you?

April Ramm: It was this job that was interesting, I think. Yeah, I didn't grow up in a Mac world at all. All of my education was all Windows based, everything. So I think it was the posting for the job, and reading on the website, and it just seemed like a really interesting world, and now I'm here, and I don't even know how to use a Windows machine anymore.

Brent Simmons: And you have an iPhone.

April Ramm: And I have an iPhone, and an iPad. I'm fully assimilated.

Brent Simmons: Yes, you have become one of us.

April Ramm: Yes.

Brent Simmons: Life before Omni, you had a few different jobs, Windows world jobs. What did you do before this job?

April Ramm: Before this job, I installed pharmacy systems. So I worked for a company called QS/1 that they have pharmacy software. I was a hardware technician, so I traveled everywhere west of the Mississippi and installed pharmacy servers, point of sale machines, workstations, pill counters, all of those things.

Brent Simmons: Wow. Never occurred to me that they had so much software, but of course they do.

April Ramm: Yeah.

Brent Simmons: Everybody does now, so.

April Ramm: Yeah, well without a printer, you can't have a pharmacy. They have to put a label on your prescriptions, a lot of printers, so many printers. I am a certified Lexmark repair person.

Brent Simmons: Wow. I've never heard anyone say that before.

April Ramm: Yeah they sent me to Lexmark headquarters so I can tear it apart and put it back together again.

Brent Simmons: So was that a lot of flying, a lot of driving?

April Ramm: Both.

Brent Simmons: A bit of both?

April Ramm: Yes. Anything that was reasonable to drive to I would. I think the furthest I drove was probably California, but I've also flown Alaska, Hawaii, everywhere, so.

Brent Simmons: That's cool. I'm kind of envious actually of the chance to see so much of the country. I mean—

April Ramm: Yeah I mean it would have been—

Brent Simmons: ... that's pretty neat.

April Ramm: On some of the places, I did take extra time to actually see the country. For the most part, it was fly and drive to the pharmacy, do the thing…

Brent Simmons: Oh I'm sure, yeah.

April Ramm: ... sleep at night, go home.

Brent Simmons: Still, you get see something of it.

April Ramm: Yeah, yeah.

Brent Simmons: Yeah. So if I bring up random city in Wyoming, there's a good chance you've probably been there.

April Ramm: Maybe, yeah. There's some places in Montana that are way close to the Canadian border that it's easier to drive the seven hours to get there. Yeah, you can't even fly to those.

Brent Simmons: I flew into Minot, North Dakota once, and that was super expensive because you have to go to Minneapolis and then backtrack to Minot. I imagine that the smaller towns are even harder, yeah.

April Ramm: Yeah.

Brent Simmons: Before that, what'd you do?

April Ramm: I worked for the YMCA…

Brent Simmons: Cool.

April Ramm: ... as a before and afterschool childcare provider.

Brent Simmons: All right. This isn't giving classes. It's more just taking care of the kids…

April Ramm: Right. Yeah.

Brent Simmons: ... finding activities, that kind of thing?

April Ramm: Yeah, keeping kids busy. I ran the center, and then I had two employees that also helped keep the ratio correct. We operated inside the school. We would be in the gymnasium, or their lunch room, and parents could drop off their kids way before school hours, and then come pick them up way after school hours, and be able to have their own jobs while we take care of children.

Brent Simmons: Oh that's a good thing because I assume this was ... Was this provided by the school, or was it like a low cost kind of thing?

April Ramm: Yeah, YMCA is a nonprofit, not for profit organization, and they do a sliding scale, so it is paid to the YMCA. It is not paid to the school, but it is based on income. Where I was at, I don't think many of those parents probably qualified for the lower cost points, but it is an option. There's even just to join the YMCA for just their gym membership is also a sliding scale.

Brent Simmons: Wow, I did not know that. That's cool. My personal experience with the YMCA is limited to going to the pool when I was a kid. There was one with a swimming pool, and that was a lot of fun.

April Ramm: Yeah. They just opened a new Y up near me — well, I guess down near me, from here. They have public swim days…

Brent Simmons: Oh, cool.

April Ramm: ... that they open the pool for everyone. I joined. I'm a member.

Brent Simmons: Nice. The only other thing I think of is that Village People song.

April Ramm: Yeah. Yeah. I think it's their mantra. You have to know it to go there.

Brent Simmons: You have to know the hand signals and everything, yeah.

April Ramm: I always did that with the kids too.

Brent Simmons: Oh, cool.

April Ramm: Yeah, they thought it was fun.

Brent Simmons: I'm old enough to remember when that song was brand new. I mean, it's such an ancient cliche now, everybody knows it, but I remember hearing it on my little clock radio. I must've been 10 years old or something.

April Ramm: Go and dance out at the discotheque.

Brent Simmons: So my notes tell me that you were also a kind of a soccer mom at some point, a coach's assistant and everything.

April Ramm: I did that, yes. My son plays soccer. I went and helped with his team for a couple of years. He expresses interest in a thing, and then two minutes later, he doesn't care anymore. So I made him wait a couple of years.

Brent Simmons: Sounds like a kid.

April Ramm: Yeah. Yeah. He bugged me about soccer more than once for an extended period of time, so I finally signed him up, and he was really good. He was very good, and I went, and I did the soccer mom thing.

Brent Simmons: What position did he play?

April Ramm: He was either the forward, or the goalkeeper.

Brent Simmons: Okay.

April Ramm: He's very fast, but also really good in front of that goal, so… He's not particularly the tallest kid, but he's got a good jump on him, so he was really good.

Brent Simmons: I was born on the other side of the soccer wave, so I don't even hardly know anything about the sport, but yeah, people love it.

April Ramm: Yeah, he even went and tried out for Sounders S2 couple of years back.

Brent Simmons: What's S2?

April Ramm: S2 is the youth team for the Sounders. The Sounders kind of they don't really straight up pick their players from S2, but people on S2 are practicing in the same space, and y'know, pretty close to the team, and you do get moved up to Sounders sometimes.

Brent Simmons: That sounds awesome. So when you're not being a mom, or a Support Human, you like to make jewelry.

April Ramm: I do. I have a lot of hobbies, but right now jewelry is kind of the top one. I do wire wrapping on semi-precious stones.

Brent Simmons: This is completely new to me, the idea of wire wrapping. So how does that work? You have to buy some wire, I guess?

April Ramm: Yeah that's important. That's part of it.

Brent Simmons: All right.

April Ramm: So wire comes on a spool. It comes in several different gauges. You probably want a few different gauges, and maybe some different colors. I think copper is kind of a basic. Everybody starts there because it's inexpensive, and easy to work with…

Brent Simmons: It looks cool too that.

April Ramm: It looks cool. I really like copper. You can buy copper where it's raw, and it will patina. The various ways it patinas can be part of the art, and you can also buy it so that it's already coated and it won't patina, so that's up to you. You can buy it pre-antiqued, which it gives it this sort of darker color, or if you let it patina, it will turn that green color.

Brent Simmons: Oh yeah.

April Ramm: The copper itself is hypoallergenic.

Brent Simmons: Oh that's important.

April Ramm: It is. Most inexpensive wire is copper core, and then you can silver plate it. So you buy silver plated jewelry, that's usually what it is. You can gold plate it. You can do all that kind of stuff. If you buy sterling silver, that's more expensive. But you got to be careful about sterling silver because sometimes that contains nickel, and that's what people are allergic to.

Brent Simmons: I wouldn't have had any idea that people could be allergic to nickel. So you have your spool of wire, and you are wrapping semiprecious stones?

April Ramm: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brent Simmons: How does— Do you have to heat the wire, or you have…

April Ramm: Not usually.

Brent Simmons: ... special tools, or how does that work?

April Ramm: There are tools. I have lots of, they're usually different kinds of pliers and nylon jaw, so you don't mar the metal, that sort of thing. But for the most part, it's done just using my hands. Start with a base wire, a couple base wires, whatever weave you're coming up with, and take the smaller wire and wrap it around those.

Brent Simmons: How do you choose the stones? Do they have certain aesthetic, or other types of qualities? What do you look for?

April Ramm: The stones I use are semi-precious stones, like I mentioned. I personally like to pick ones that I not only find pretty, but also have healing properties to them, if you're into that sort of stuff.

Brent Simmons: Sure, many people are.

April Ramm: So mostly crystals, different kinds of ... My personal favorite stone is a labradorite.

Brent Simmons: Does it just come from Labrador or?

April Ramm: I have no idea. No, I think it comes from everywhere, maybe not everywhere, but they're not super common. But the stone itself, when you just look at it face on, you may not see all the ... You need sunlight. You need to turn the stone, and you see different greens, and blues, and all kinds of pretty things show up in there, so.

Brent Simmons: I like that. I like art that reveals itself in different, through some amount of interaction, like the way copper patinas with time, or a stone that you have to move to see. So is it copper, the one that where you can end up with the green skin?

April Ramm: Yes.

Brent Simmons: Okay.

April Ramm: Yes. Copper, it's sharing its patina with you.

Brent Simmons: I like that.

April Ramm: Yeah.

Brent Simmons: That's a good way of putting it.

April Ramm: Yeah.

Brent Simmons: So that would be the case where you might, if you silver plate it, then that's not an issue. Are there any other ways around that?

April Ramm: Yeah, there's lots of ways. There are different kinds of sprays you can use that will just coat the copper so that it doesn't touch your skin. A lot of people use a clear nail polish, or if you like the look of copper, and you don't want to change the color, you just clear coat it.

Brent Simmons: But generally you don't, because it's cool, as it ages, right?

April Ramm: Yeah, I like it. I like the aging, the patinaed look, and the sort of weathered, you get the darker crevices and that sort of thing. So yeah, I don't usually cover mine.

Brent Simmons: You have an Etsy store, right?

April Ramm: I do.

Brent Simmons: I'll make sure that the link to that's in the show notes. What is the link to that?

April Ramm: It's Niamh Gone Wired. Niamh is a Gaelic name, so it's spelled weird. It's N-I-A-M-H.

Brent Simmons: N-I-A-M-H, okay.

April Ramm: Yeah. Yeah. My cousin suggested Niamh Gone Wired because it was funny to her.

Brent Simmons: Nice.

April Ramm: Yeah.

Brent Simmons: All right. Maybe you could also send me some pictures of these. I can put them on the website with the show notes. That'd be cool.

April Ramm: Yeah, there's also Instagram. I just put everything, pictures on Instagram and Etsy and…

Brent Simmons: Cool.

April Ramm: ... Facebook.

Brent Simmons: Have you had any gallery shows, or that kind of thing?

April Ramm: Yeah, I kind of. I mean I go— Downtown Kent area has a third Thursday art night, so the third Thursday of every month they have different artists come and hang out, and they're usually sponsored by some of the shops down there. So I've been there a few times, and I go to a couple of different shows. I have a show coming up this weekend, which—

Brent Simmons: Which if you're listening to this, it's in the past now.

April Ramm: It's in the past. You missed it. I'm sorry. But the group that I go and hang out with is Urban Unglued so…

Brent Simmons: Urban Unglued.

April Ramm: ... if you look them up, and you're in the Tacoma area, I might be there.

Brent Simmons: So you do knitting, you've done woodworking, you mentioned to me earlier.

April Ramm: Yes.

Brent Simmons: That's cool.

April Ramm: I do enjoy woodworking, and knitting, and sewing, and I have so many hobbies and not enough space for them.

Brent Simmons: I like that all your hobbies are real things that you can do. You're not just sitting in front of a computer doing other computer things.

April Ramm: Yeah no, I usually just run away from the computer at the end of the day. I mean my hobby room is also my home office, so my work desk is on the right hand side, and my hobby desk is on the left…

Brent Simmons: Oh nice.

April Ramm: ... and they're very similar desks except one's full of computers, and one's full of wire, and pliers, and trinkets, and—

Brent Simmons: How are you around the house when things break? I'm terrible. If you're good at things, maybe you're good at that too?

April Ramm: Oh yeah. I'm one of those, like my dad, the Jack of all trades and master of none. So yeah, I fix it when it's broken. YouTube is a really great source for figuring out how to do everything. I watch a video, and then fix the toilet.

Brent Simmons: Then do it, yeah.

April Ramm: Yeah.

Brent Simmons: Yeah, I don't know why I never would have thought to look on YouTube.

April Ramm: Everything's on YouTube.

Brent Simmons: I'm also terrible at the web. Oh, well, that's good advice. So listeners, if you ever need to fix something, try YouTube. You already knew that.

April Ramm: Yeah YouTube it, literally everything. That's where I learned to wire wrap.

Brent Simmons: Oh, okay.

April Ramm: YouTube.

Brent Simmons: Are you looking to get into other types of jewelry making, or wire wrapping is your thing, and you're sticking with that?

April Ramm: I enjoy wire wrapping. I want to do more metalwork, smithing. I also think lapidary would be fun, that's where you cut the stone, that sort of thing. So yeah, I want to— I'm really enjoying making jewelry, and wire wrapping, and working with stone. So I think I just want to expand on that.

Brent Simmons: All right, well I'll make sure that we get some pictures, and a link to the Etsy store. Otherwise, I think that's a good note to stop on, so.

April Ramm: Okay.

Brent Simmons: Thanks April. How can people find you on the web?

April Ramm: So I have a personal Twitter, it's just @AprilRamm. I will send you links to my wire wrap stuff, Niamh Gone Wired. That's on Facebook and Instagram as well.

Brent Simmons: Cool. I'd also like to thank our intrepid producer, Mark Boszko. Say hello, Mark.

Mark Boszko: Hello Mark.

Brent Simmons: And especially, I want to thank you for listening. Thank you. Music!