Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Missing Data Conundrum

It's nearly quarter to two in the afternoon. It's been a busy day, but a productive one. A project I have been working on for almost four months has finally come to fruition. After months of working with a software developer, I finally have a working upgrade package for one of our vital systems. The code has been patched, the bugs eradicated and the end is in sight.

I had been given this project for the simple reason that I had heard the name of it sometime in the past. I had no idea what it was, what it did, who used it or why. I had been thrown in the deep end of the data pool. The current version we had was three years out of date, and the new version refused to work in our environment. It was my job to fix it!

To cut a very long and boring story very short. The software developer built us a new package and all was right in the universe. However, one part of it still refused to work, so on this particular Thursday, he had stripped it down once again and finally found the problem. Satisfied with a job well done, I thanked him, put the patched file in a safe place and sat back in my chair, giving myself a silent congratulations.

Then...

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Server Hardware Misconfiguration

Umm, it doesn't seem to be working correctly...
It's almost comical that nearly every technological addition or upgrade to our server room is fraught with one mindless defect or another upon arrival. Something may be missing, something may be broken, or the object itself is the wrong one, wrong size or even out of date.

I remember on one occasion we needed a simple power strip for a server rack to power some switches. Nothing fancy, but it needed to have certain connectors for it to do it's job. 5 months and 3 power strips (all wrong) later and we finally get one that we have to change the plug type on ourselves, because we couldn't afford to wait any longer for yet another product exchange.

We take every care to 'spec' out the equipment we need. We research what's available, we choose carefully to meet our needs and budget. Then we pass it on to the bean counters to mess it up in their own special way. Saving money is the name, buying crap, defective hardware is the game (as long as it's cheap).

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Head In The Cloud...

Coming Soon...
 "To the cloud..." those fateful words ring out like a foghorn of doom as the boss learns a new buzz word.

We know we are in for a battle of epic proportions as he tells us for the gazillionth time "Leicester has set it up, they use it, it works, it's wonderful. It is the greatest thing since Bill Gates sat down in his garage, and put white text on a black screen and called it DOS!"

Yes, it's that time again. The new users have got to be created, and the management have come up with yet another fantastical, hair-raising idea to completely screw it up, make our lives uncomfortable, and confuse the users even more.

They have heard of this amazing new invention called 'the cloud'. A 'simple' solution to all of our problems. Actually it's a very complicated way to cause us yet more problems on top of the ones we already have. But there is no telling the upper classes of the bean counters; it's the latest thing. SO, WE MUST HAVE IT!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Freshly Baked Chaos with a Side of Laptop

Sometimes I wonder why I bother!

It's the first lates of the new year, and nothing and no one prepares me for the evening ahead. And it started off so promising too.

It was all planned out, I had a pile of laptops to fix/image/configure and a phone ready to ring off the hook with stupid questions from idiotic users. Then it all went to hell. For some reason every idiot user chose tonight to show their talents at their very best.

It starts off with the usual innocent job that turns out to be a false alarm. I was asked to fix a faulty projector/computer situation that was magically working perfectly when I got to the room. WHEN I GOT TO THE ROOM!

Friday, 9 March 2012

The Lunacy of Technology

It is an understatement to say that modern technology has come on in leaps and bounds in the last fifteen years or so. When I was at school, I remember marvelling at the release of the brand new Intel Pentium 200 processor. A few years later came the Pentium 2, and the newer AMD chips. Then there were the RAM chips that increased in capacity (and length), and the 80 MB hard drives that became 500 MB, and later to 6.4GB.

"Too big. We'll never fill it" we would say as we looked wide eyed at the wondrous, yet mysterious black box encased in anti-static bags, wrapped in bubble wrap, and hidden behind protective glass. It constantly amazes me now at the total disregard for these precautions, as attitudes towards the delicacy of components has changed. In comparison, the price of technology has reduced, allowing people to care less.

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Empty Mailbox

It's the umpteenth attempt at calling her; I have been trying to get in touch with a user for over a fortnight after a fault was passed on to me from our helpdesk:

"A huge chunk of my emails are missing". It had claimed in big bold capital letters; providing lots of useful information to go on as usual.

The problem is urgent, and absolutely must be fixed immediately (apparently). As urgent as is may be, all attempts to contact the person who reported the fault have been in vain.

I hang up the phone again after the about the twelfth ring, and with everlasting regret, I send the user another email explaining that I was looking into their fault, and needed to speak with them about it. Finally a few hours later I get the returning phone call:

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Server Upgrade Uncertainty

I am often asked what it is like to work in IT Support. Most people assume that it is a geeky and uncool job. Others believe it to be never ending fun; playing with gadgets all day long and never doing any "real work". The rest are usually amazed at the flashing lights, and the unidentifiable, yet intriguing components that lay about the office, and believe it to be a glamorous, and trouble free profession. Most never see what we do in the background, unable to appreciate the hard work we do: The early mornings, the late nights, the endless progression bars. Failures and down time are fixed in their memories like the 1966 world cup, but our successes are usually forgotten almost instantaneously.

Occasionally, but not very often, the frustrations of the IT world come not from the users, but from the systems themselves.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Problem with being an IT Specialist

After being in the business of IT Support for so many years, I have learnt never to admit to it to people outside of work: Sometimes, not even then.

"Why?" You may ask me.

Well, despite the obvious lull on your social life, once somebody knows that you have superhuman IT skills, you're screwed. Doomed forever to be plagued by never ending computer questions from people who have no idea what they are asking in the first place.

Even worse, when these people discover what you do, they tell others, and before you know it you have an even larger posse contacting you, expecting computer advice, and fixes for free. People you have never even met.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The New User Influxation

The place is in chaos, the servers are maxed out, everybody is stressed, tensions are high and no one can remember their password, date of birth or even their name. The same time every year we get a huge influx of new users: More users to report problems, more users to create them. Each one has to be registered on the system to get their vital computer user accounts, and then have to go through a long, gruelling induction by our highly trained specialists.

I say gruelling, as it is more taxing for the inductors than for the inductees. From the stories they have told me it resembles a cross between the London riots, and the Krypton Factor for the technologically afraid.

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Phone Scam

For months I have had numerous reports from colleagues, friends and family members about a guy with an Indian accent, phoning them up at home and claiming to work for Microsoft. Or more specifically 'Microsoft Windows'.

First of all, before I go on, any idiot knows that Microsoft is the company and Microsoft Windows is the product. But not this one. This is a special kind of idiot, he is twice as stupid and says he works for  'Microsoft Windows'.

This 2x idiot, this Fonejacker rip-off, this stinking piece of garbage, is nothing more than a scammer, a con artist and a thief. Do not mistake him for a hacker either. Hacking requires skill and intelligence.This is nothing more than a petty criminal, who wants your hard earned cash.

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