Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm Apparently A Racist Technician

Last week was one of those weeks I literally wanted to get up and just walk out of my office and never return. Well, every week is like that, but I digress.

We use Canon color copier/printers here like there's no tomorrow. They get hammered day after day. And they break. All the fucking time. We got a new printer about 5 months ago. It's a Canon Color ImageRunner 5051 (should be 5150, if you know what I mean). It's brown. Not gray or white like most of Canon's equipment. We had a naming contest and the name we came up with was Brown Sugar. Harmless, right? I sent out an email "introducing" the new printer to the entire office and got no complaints other than several saying they wouldn't be able to get the Rolling Stones song out of their head when printing to it. Oh, how cute. Wrong.

Oh, and btw, HR is a part of this distribution list.

Fast forward to three weeks ago. Brown Sugar is acting up again and I have to take it offline while I await the Canon tech to show up. I send out an email telling people to print to one of our other color printers. The HR Director emails me asking if I can please change the name. I had a gut feeling where she was going so I just ignored the request.

Jump to last week and same situation plays out. She again emails me if we can have a re-naming contest. I knew where she was going with this. I emailed back asking if she didn't like the Rolling Stones. Her reply was that she was, but she was also a "diversity HR Director." BAM. There it is. For a guy who is about as liberal as they come, this finally told me the days of political correctness had gone too far.

I asked several of my black friends if they found the name "Brown Sugar" offensive. Each one of them looked like I had two heads and said, "Are you crazy?" One put it perfectly: "I'm black, not brown, so why should I care?"

I'm letting my boss and the HR Director fight this battle. I'm so dumbfounded that I may have to not only re-name the RIP server, but go through the fucking effort of removing the printer from the 75+ workstations in our office and re-installing it for everyone. Of all the things I have on my list, this is not something I care to waste my time on....especially when someone is being beyond hyper-sensitive about a non-racial name for a goddamn printer. Does this also mean that Domino Sugar should rename their brown sugar products? Are the Rolling Stones secret members of the KKK?

As people like to say, FML.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Job Security vs My Sanity

It’s been a while since I have written anything here. I made the MISTAKE of going to a training class. Why was it a mistake? I learned a lot. I should have a new certification that I’ve wanted for a while. I also was out of the office for a week. THAT’S why it was a mistake. Even though I had a consultant covering for me while I was out, leaving the office is a double-edged sword for me.

I’m a firm believer in keeping your personal life and professional life separate as much as possible. I think it’s nice to just get away sometimes. Unfortunately, since I run all of IT at my company, I’m the only one who understands the way it’s all setup. I’m not saying the other guys in IT aren’t helpful. They just have much different skill sets. For example, my new boss who is also the CIO in training asked me this the other day: “Does the Operating System gets installed on the Hard Drive?” How do I respond to that? It boggles my mind that someone with a self-professed, 15 years of experience working in many different, fast-paced environments could not understand how an OS is installed. They just don't get the infrastructure, support sides of IT. When I leave for a day or two or even a week like I did for training my return is usually a nightmare.

When I arrived back at the office, the first thing I noticed was that there were 6 boxes of backup tapes from our off-site vendor sitting on my desk. Did the consultant not understand the directions I left for sending tapes off-site? I wish. He never bothered changing the tapes. So I was “lucky” enough to have 6 days of failed backups waiting for me. I immediately ran into the server closet and began rotating the tapes and getting the backups straightened out. Once that was complete, I headed back to my desk and got ready to start going through my open Help Desk tickets. Then I made yet another observation, my keyboard and mouse were different. How could I tell? Well my fancy keyboard with all the media keys and volume controls was on my chair and replaced by a regular no frills USB keyboard. I asked my boss if someone had been sleeping in my bed. He replied that they had received a last minute new hire and they needed to give them a computer, so they gave her mine. Wait…..WHAT?!??!?! YOU GAVE A USER MY COMPUTER?!?!?!?! ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKIN’ MIND?!?!?!?!? Why would you do that? Did you ever think that maybe I have sensitive information on my computer that a newbie shouldn’t see? Calm down Stranga. Let it go. It’s not worth losing your job.

It’s great that I have that luxury, especially in rough times like this. I actually control my job security. They can’t fire me, because as seen by my 6 days out of the office, they CAN’T do my job since I have 74 new Help Desk tickets waiting for me.Where should I draw the line though? I can't take a day off without getting blasted with a million phone calls, emails, smoke signals, faxes, whatever when someone can't figure out how to check if a power cord is plugged in when a user's computer won't turn on. By the way, that was an actual "Major Issue" while I was out. 3 guys, 2 days of troubleshooting, no one thought to check the power cord. Seriously? 

What should I do? Do I stay here and deal with levels of stupidity that are rarely seen? Or do I take my newly minted VCP and get out of Dodge? I'm leaning towards the second option. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The four letters that seem to accompany every single help desk request, ASAP. ASAP is an acronym for "as soon as possible". More often than not, however, it means as of yesterday. Most users in my company think they are the only people who actually work here. It's unfathomable to them that I could possibly be working on an issue for another person. When I'm lucky enough to actually get someone to use the help desk, those four letters always seem to appear somewhere on the request.

Well, that brings me to today. It's my 2nd day back from an extended stay in common sense land (aka: ANYWHERE BUT HERE). I have a certain VP who I don't really care for much call me up at around 9:10. I proceed to ignore the call. I then receive calls from him every 5 minutes until around 1:30 this afternoon. I do not receive any voicemails or help desks from him. Just hang ups. Finally I get a call from my boss at around 1:45 saying that I need to go see said VP ASAP (there's that word). "What's the issue?", I ask. "Oh, I don't know, but he said it was urgent. I get there and the problem is that the moron VP doesn't know how to transfer a call. Normally I would give him the benefit of the doubt since we just changed phone systems. Unfortunately for him, I included a cheat sheet with every phone. Each phone came equipped with a little 3x5 laminated card with instructions on how to perform day to day tasks (Transfer calls, check voicemail, conference call, etc) in hope that it would reduce my help desk volume related to phones. To my chagrin though, his lack of common sense would prove to be too strong for the power of reason.....

When I spoke to him regarding this urgent issue, I asked him, "Why didn't you look at the card?". He said he didn't have time to read instructions. He needed to learn this ASAP. So, you didn't have time to read 3 sentences on how to transfer a call, which even if you read at a 1st grade level would have taken 2 minutes at the most. Instead, you decided to call me for the next 4 and a half hours??? That seems like a much better use of your time as well as mine. Thanks for that. Yet another reason why, IT is HELL!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Welcome Back

Taking time off as an IT Admin really is a double edged sword. On the one side, you need to get away from the office before you start snapping necks. The constant complaining and getting shit on is enough to get to any man. Even one with a long fuse like myself. On the other side though, you know when you come back there is going to be a shit ton of work waiting for you.

Last week I was in training. I missed 5 days (+1 Personal Day yesterday, Mental Health Day). During that time the IIC claimed that there would be coverage while I was out. Of course, this coverage was probably a $15/hr tech right out of school that knows nothing. During my time off, I must have received 50 emails a day asking for shit. Why do I bother documenting things? I went so far that I created a folder on our shared drive called Help & How-To with step by step tutorials for users and admins alike. All you have to do is read them and you can figure things out. If you have the desire or the common sense. The kicker is that during the time I was gone one task above all else was left for me to handle. Instead of actually CHANGING the backups tapes, they decided to stack them on my desk and leave them there. So basically, I haven't had a backup at my main location for 10 calendar days. NO BACKUPS?!?!?!??! Of all the things to let slip, I mean come on. That's IT 101. Data protection. Data is the lifeblood of ALL IT organizations.

People may think I'm being mean when I call people names like the IIC (Idiot in Charge) and maybe I am. When you make mistakes like this though on a recurring basis one of two things needs to happen. You need to be replaced by a small shell script or I should be allowed to nunchuck your ass. It's sad that the people that make the decisions in most cases do not understand what they are deciding on, nor what the consequences of their actions will be. Yet another reason why there should be a personnel manager and a technical manager at my firm. I hate working with monkeys.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Can you show me...?

Here's something that never seems to stop: people who have used computers their entire career and can't do basic, basic things. Case in point is one user who really should have all of her technological devices removed from her possessions, even though she's sweet as pie. Today, she emails me this: "Can you show me how to save this link as a favorite? Or, any link for that matter?"

Now, the internet, with browsers, has been in existence since roughly 1994. That's a good 16 years or so. This woman is 42. And she still doesn't know how to save a fucking bookmark in Internet Explorer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reading Is Fundamental

I'm lucky enough to be out of the office for a week. Just being away from the building helps my mental health. Not only am I away, I'm training in something that really interests me. Of course even while I'm away the stupidity of my users follows me around.

I was dumb enough to check my email and I noticed that a particular user (a VP, of course), is not happy with me or my response to an issue she's having with her phone. Here's the kicker, she REPLIED TO MY OUT OF OFFICE EMAIL!!! The out of office email clearly states that I'm gone until the 21st. She emailed me this morning!! I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, I really did. I went so far that I even checked my email server to make sure the queues aren't backed up. Guess what? They're not. She's really just an idiot making a quarter million a year.

Is it that difficult to read the email and digest its meaning? I actually wrote it in English, not Klingon or Kryptonian. I hate stupid people. More so, I hate that I WORK WITH MONKEYS!! <<Bangs Head On Desk>>

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lovely View

This is another one from the archives.....When I was working at a major shoe company, I was a small part of our datacenter upgrade project. A small part not for lack of technical skill or know how but my manager and CIO decided to do it themselves thinking they knew best. I happened to be on vacation when most of the work took place and since I had no access to the plans, I had no idea what to expect. So I finally came back to the office and my co-worker says I need to check out the new space. I was asking questions on the way over. Did they put in a raised floor, how is the HVAC situation? Is there a drop ceiling? Did they run ladders between the racks? All pretty much standard stuff. It's the non-standard stuff I wasn't prepared for.....

This job was done during the summer and it was pretty hot outside. Sunny nearly every day. I walk into the room and there is a glare that temporarily blinded me. Mostly, because I wasn't expecting what I saw. They decided to pass on the drop ceiling and left 3 gigantic diagonal sky lights in place. With all the sunlight coming in, the room temperature raised about 15 degrees. Shouldn't be a problem with the high end AC's though. Except in all their wisdom they decided to pass on those as well. They put in 7000BTU units because they were on sale. $3 million dollars worth or equipment in the room and they wanted to pinch some pennies. Gotta love it. Then came my favorite part of the entire fiasco.....

As I said, it was summer time. It was dry for the most part, but it began to get very humid over the next couple of days. Followed by a huge storm. One day we noticed a pool of water on the floor of our new datacenter. Turns out the sky lights were leaking. No one took this into account. Then again, if we would have discussed this as a team, I'm sure the issue would have been addressed before we moved any equipment in there. Needless to say after it was all said and done, the Wonder Twins wound up spending a lot more fixing the issues that they caused by pinching those pennies. Funny how that kind of thing always comes back to bite you in the ass.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Shit Rises to the Top

Stranga and I worked at the same company in New York for a couple of years together. We had a VP of IT (who, somehow, still holds that position) who pissed us off to no end for a number of reasons - one of them being she had/has virtually NO IT experience. She was annoying to talk to, offered nothing of value to our department whatsoever and, we figured, she must have blown someone to get such a high-level and well-paid position in a large company.

Anyway, this frustration was driven home to our entire team one day when we were discussing the move of one of the departments on another floor. The answer to one of her questions was, "Well, we'd just need to get a USB hub and hook it up." Her response: "What's that?"

Case closed. Yet she was (and is) making 6 figures a year....

User Error

One of the nightmares of being a desktop support dweeb is that 95% of all problems are human error. That means, the longer you do it, the more you begin to hate humanity. Case in point: I get a frantic message from a girl here yesterday saying the printer next to her cubicle won't print anything. When I go to her desk, she's not there. I do some test prints from her computer, no problem. This morning, she asks me if I fixed it. I said the printer was working fine. I ask, "Did you try to print something before you called me yesterday?" Her answer: "Um, well, no." Just fucking shoot me. (Or at least bake me something tasty to make up for it....)

The fun isn't relegated only to PC users. Mac users are just as much fun. A few weeks ago, I have one of our newbies come up to me and says, "There is something MAJOR wrong with my computer and I NEED you to fix it." OK, what's the problem? "Yesterday, I worked all day on two different files. But now, when I open them, they have the same artwork! My computer lost all the changes I made to the one file! You have to get it back!" Sweet little girl, that's what we call 'User Error.' Computers cannot go and make wholesale changes to your files and just randomly replace your artwork. You saved both files with the same artwork yourself because you weren't paying attention. Your Mac didn't decide to screw you and do it on its own. There's nothing wrong with your computer at all. Looks like you will have to re-do your work.... Ugh....

Rock Star

So the IIC decided to hire one of his friends. Apparently he worked with this guy at another shithole and his description of the guy was as follows: "He knows his shit cold. He's a great programmer. He knows Desktops and Networking and even knows some things about servers. He's a Rock Star.". Hmmm. So what you're telling me is, I could learn a thing or two. Great. It'll be nice to have some help around here.

For those of you who don't know. I currently work as a Network Admin at a fashion company. I have 3 locations and about 225 users. I also manage 45 servers (both physical & virtual), a phone system and provide desktop support as well. Oh wait, it gets better. I'm the only support person. Ok, go ahead, read that again. Yep, the ONLY support guy. So EVERYONE in the company comes looking for me at the first sign of an issue.

When I heard that we were getting a Rock Star I think I was more excited than anyone. I figured I would have someone to help out with someone of the support calls and I could have a chance to make some changes around here infrastructure wise. It'll be great!! I get a call from the IIC this morning that Rock Star needs some help with configuring a console on our AS400. His primary function here is AS400 support so I wasn't sure what he needed help with since that's not my area of expertise. Basically, Rock Star needs a static IP. He has to connect via a crossover cable and wants to make sure he can communicate with the AS400. No problem. I'm actually glad he asked me instead of just taking one and causing a conflict. We're off to a good start. We have multiple VLANs here since we like to keep server traffic separate from user traffic so he's going to need a server IP. I find an open one and email him the info that he'll need. I also explain to him that the address will only work when he's connected directly to the AS400. When he is ready to connect back to the user network just set his IP back to DHCP and he'll be good.

An hour later.....

My phone rings and it's the IIC. "Stranga.....this is unacceptable. Rock Star has been sitting here for an hour unable to work. I asked you to help him out and he can't get any work done. What is the problem?" My first thought is, WTF are you talking about? He was working fine. I gave him the info he needed, explained to him to change his machine back to DHCP and he can rock and roll. What's the issue? "He knows what you said and he understands that he needs to set his machine back to DHCP, he just doesn't know how."

Wait a second.....

Did he just say.....


He couldn't have.....

I'm speechless.

Rock Star can't turn DHCP on? I thought he knew his shit cold? YOU SAID HE WAS A FUCKING ROCK STAR!! Come on man!! That's ri-god-damn-diculous. So after I walked him through the techincalilty of the task at hand Rock Star asked if I can make him a document with screenshots so he can make the change in the future. Just another reason why.....

IT is HELL!!

Shortcuts? What the hell are those?

Unless I'm mistaken, it's now 2010. As far back as I can possibly remember, both Windows and Mac OS have had the ability to create shortcuts (so, what, almost 30 years now?). So how the fuck is it possible people STILL call me because they deleted a shortcut on their desktop and don't know what to do? This is grounds for revoking someone's computer permanently.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

From The Archives

This one happened a couple of years back.....

I had just started a new job as a LAN Administrator at a pretty well known shoe company. I started at a pretty busy time since there were a number of migrations in progress and a few more coming down the road. I come into work 15 minutes early and notice our Exchange cluster is on the secondary server. My comrades are all discussing how the consultants fucked something up but didn't bother to do any troubleshooting. Good thing I didn't bang out sick. While I'm going through the Event logs (you think anyone else would have tried that?). I come to find out the information store crapped out around 3am. That could be for a number of reasons though as we have another group of consultants migrating all of our PST's to a product called Unlimited Mail. Unfortunately to do this you need to migrate them to the users' mailboxes first. So our exchange database is half a Terabyte right now. So I keep going through the event logs and find out that BOTH servers rebooted at 5am. At EXACTLY 5am. Guess why? Can you guess? Did you figure it out? These numb nuts that I work with turned Microsoft's Automatic Updates on.....on ALL of our servers. Not only did the turn it on, they set it to install all the updates and reboot automatically. That's not the best part though. You would think that if you have a cluster setup you may want to stagger the updates if you decide that you have to do them automatically, so that, I don't know.......YOUR ENTIRE EXCHANGE CLUSTER ISN'T REBOOTING AT THE SAME FREAKIN' TIME!!!!!!!!!!! And for THIS reason.........."IT is HELL!!" Please shoot me. Maybe I should become a Cracker Jack vendor at Yankee Stadium or something.

Side Note: I made sure to set up a WSUS server and create a GPO forcing Automatic Updates to Download and Notify. If only the very well paid consultants would have paid attention to detail. All of this could have been avoided.

Advanced Notice

I don't know about you but I like being prepared for things. I never want to be the guy who forgets something or delays a project because I wasn't paying attention. I feel like it makes you look bad both professionally and personally. I've been complaining about the New Hire procedures at my company for longer than I'd care to remember. I understand that every once in a while you're going to have a last minute new hire to fill an unexpected vacancy, for a busy season, whatever. Unfortunately for me however, it seems that 98.3% of the New Hires around here fall under the category of last minute. Take yesterday for instance.....

A finance guy walks into my office with a woman in tow. He introduces her as.....I forgot her name. Sue me. Anyway he says this is Finance chick and she started today. Of course, she would like a laptop because she takes her work home with her (Translation: I don't own a computer and I need something my 8 year old can play Farmville on). Thanks to the stinginess of upper management I do not have any spare equipment on hand. I'm forced to order equipment as soon as a New Hire Form is submitted. This is why the NHF clearly states "PLEASE ALLOW US TWO WEEKS TO HAVE YOUR NEW HIRE SETUP". Once in a while, items are back ordered and we're not going to get them in time for the new hire's start date. You get the point. So I don't have any equipment onsite, luckily for them someone just quit in another department. I'll just re-image the machine and get Finance Girl setup temporarily. Then, I can order her a laptop and she's in business. I explain to Finance Guy and Girl that I'll get her setup by tomorrow morning. Finance Guy is OK with that, everybody wins. Or so I thought.....

A little background info. In comes my new IIC (Idiot in charge). My old boss was recently let go, so rather than split myself and the programmers up and let me continue to run everything like I currently am, the Powers That Be decided they were going to promote one of the programmers and make me report to him. It helps that he's the owner's best friend. The guy is great to have a beer with. I like him a lot personally. By his own admission though, he's as technical as my dog. That tends to pose a problem as you could imagine. On top of that, since he just got the new gig, he wants to make everyone happy, which tends to pose a problem.....for me. When he wants to make people happy that means, he tells them it'll get done then I actually have to do the work.

So IIC tells Finance Guy that he'll setup the PC for Finance Girl himself. That's great I'll let IIC setup the computer, I'll create her accounts as soon as I get a second and she'll be home free. AWESOME! First thing this morning, (Side note: I'm not a morning person. I like angry music and no interruptions in the morning. I don't turn on the lights in my office until 4pm. I just want to be left alone.) Finance Girl waddles into my office before I can even sit down and enjoy the hell that is about to begin. Where's my PC? Do you have an ETA on when it will be setup? Ummm.....wasn't IIC going to do that for you? Yeah, he forgot. Lovely. So guess who it falls on to take care of it. So of course, 5 minutes later my phone rings and it's IIC and he wants me to take care of the issue for her. I tell him I'm changing the backup tapes and sending them offsite. Then I play dumb and say "I thought you already set her up?". He tells me that he just forgot and asked if I could take care of it. He then proceeds to say the words that set me off.

I know how frustrating this is for you.....

What part? The part where I have to cover your ass because you're making empty promises? The part where I have to bend over backwards to miracle a PC and phone onto someone's desk because their fucking boss couldn't spend 5 minutes to fill out a NHF? Or the part where you're trying to bond with me and tell me that you feel my pain when really you're just trying to calm me down so you can come through and look like a White Knight?

Some of you may think I'm just whining and complaining. My biggest flaw may be that I care too much. Even though I'm not appreciated by my company, other people get the accolades that I deserve, and I'm severely underpaid. I still bust my ass to get the job done. In case you were wondering, Finance Girl was setup within 15 minutes. Finance Guy was super happy that the turnaround was so quick even though he submitted the NHF two hours AFTER Finance Girl has started. I just wish my boss would get my back and try to enforce the procedure in place instead of trying to make me bend over backwards when users "forget" to inform me of a new hire that's joining the company.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Who We Are

IT is Hell is a blog by a couple of Information Technology Network Administrators.

We use this space for a couple of reasons:

First, to keep our own sanity. What do I mean by that? I'll tell you. Basically, the IT world sucks. Especially for people in support. All we hear day after day, is "This is broken", "It won't let me in.", "I need this ASAP." We hear all of your whining and complaining non-stop every day we come to work and sometimes the stupidity levels are off the charts. Unfortunately, I don't have anyone here at work to vent to so I'm just going to throw my frustrations out into cyberspace before I explode. This is my way of screaming SERENITY NOW!! SERENITY NOW!!

Second, people are fucking stupid. You know it, I know it, I wish they knew it. The sheer levels of ineptitude out there are astonishing. I think these people deserve to be mocked. Relentlessly.  So I'm going to do it. I could care less about offending people. If you don't like what I write, don't read it. That's all it takes.

Finally, I'd really like to help other suffering IT guys deal with their own pain. I want to give them an outlet to share their frustrations with the morons of the world. Most of the time these individuals are in cushy upper management positions, taking all the credit for the work that we, the datacenter dwellers actually do. As my buddy D-Rock always says, "Shit rises to the top"

I hope you enjoy what we have to offer here, feel free to follow us, email us, talk shit about us. It's all good. We can take it. Let the journey begin.....