When the IT Hits the Fan-02.24.15

So, yeah I was right. Welcome to my life.

Tuesday, 02/24/15. Yeah ok, just a normal day. If your day happens to consist of dealing with Demonically Possessed Network Copiers and Printers.

Apparently we are the proud owners of a fussy, Prima-Donna Konica Bizhub copier. I get a call from our Documentation department. Apparently Tray 3 wasn’t working. So I pull the tray, check things out. No jams, no stuck roller, absolutely nothing wrong. On the screen is simply said “Tray 3 is unavailable currently”.

What the hell?! Is it on a fucking smoke break! Like, “No, I’m just not feeling it today. I’ll be in my trailer.”

Turned it off and back on and suddenly it was fine. No indication at all as to why it just didn’t feel like working.

I hate printers. And copiers.

Next up, right as I was going back to my desk from arguing with a bitchy copier, I get one of our staff at my desk.
Oh, look. It’s a problem with the Staff HP Laserjet 4250 printer!

Did I mention already that I hate printers?

He shows me the pages that he printed out. They look like several print jobs had over-layed themselves all onto a single page. There was multiple different documents obvious on the printed papers and they weren’t even all his.

So, I go down and check out the printer. Print out a couple test pages and configuration pages. Everything looks fine. I have the staffer print again. It prints just fine!

Ok, so apparently the printer missed it’s dose of Prozac or something! Seriously, I fucking hate printers!

Next up in Rigsby’s 3-Ring Circus for Tuesday.

One of our Program Managers has a customer who is supposedly putting some critical documents for an order onto our FTP site. Now, mind you, this customer is a major name in the Enterprise Infrastructure equipment industry. They design cutting edge, seriously expensive network security equipment. In theory they should probably know how to use FTP since it’s older than Dinosaur farts. There must be something wrong with our FTP!

Nope, I test their account and I double-check my test to see that the document I used for testing is sitting in their FTP folder on our server. Worked great.

So, I send our PM their credentials again, along with very clear, concise instructions on how to use the Windows File browser to connect, since that’s more stable and universal than needing to describe to them how to access through an internet browser.

Still no luck. They then email me a print screen of their screen showing all of the files that they insist were uploaded to our FTP site.

The email said “Please look for this folder <folder name>” and on their screen was very clearly the folder, showing all of the files in question, and the path to where this folder was located.

The folder is in C:\Users\<persons name>\Documents\<folder name>

C:!!!

Again, C:!!!

For the non-geek out there, C: is the hard drive letter for the computer you’re sitting at!

In other words, this employee for a company that manufacturing networking equipment was dropping the files into a folder in his drive and wondering why it was that we didn’t see them!!!

sigh

When the IT Hits the Fan-02.23.15

When the IT Hits the Fan-02.23.15

Yeah, I think I’m in for an interesting week.

Monday,02/23/15 before I could even get my coffee, I get frantic calls from multiple people because a critical application/file server used by around 30 people wasn’t letting anyone remote in and their mapped drives to it weren’t connecting.

Walk into the Server Room and I immediately hear a beeping, which if you’re in this industry you’ll probably immediately cringe. Beeping is bad. Beeping from inside a Server Room is even worse.

Our old Dell PowerEdge 2850 Server that serves applications, tools, and shared profiles to our Test Department had a wonderful little message scrolling across ECC Unrecoverable Error. In non-geek speak that can mean either failed memory, a bad memory slot, or a completely failed motherboard. Guess which one ours was.

Yeah, after spending an hour swapping memory, one pair of sticks at a time, turning on the server, then turning back off and repeating, nothing worked. The motherboard was fried. The story does have a happy ending at least.

[Side Note: we’ve had another old, unused 2850 sitting in the server rack for a couple years now that I just couldn’t bring myself to scrap]

I ended up calling Dell’s Infrastructure Engineer department and found out that we could safely pull out the drives from the dead server and move them to the aforementioned unused server without any loss of data.

End of story here. After a couple hours of stress, cussing, and more stress, I was never so relieved to see an outdated copy of Windows Server coming up on the screen. Not so much as a hiccup to transfer. We got lucky.

Monday’s Second Adventure. We had gotten in some new Test equipment from a customer that is necessary for their products on Saturday and I got a call saying I needed to come out and get it on the network.

 

20150224_100450

Yeah…………… Thankfully the Test Technician who called me is a fairly computer savvy smartass. He was kidding. The machinery is pre-HP UX operating system, which came out in 1982. The system is so old that it’s operating system controls consists of a hand-held box with nothing more than OnOffYes, and No buttons. That’s it.

I’m pretty sure it was built to be networked by a telegraph. Or maybe smoke signals.

I’m writing this on Tuesday and I’ve already had write up content that has made me want to beat my head against my desk, so I wonder what the rest of this day will bring for me to write about tomorrow.

BOHICA The New Trend in IT

Just in case you’re not sure.

BOHICA stands for Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.

It started with BYOD or Bring Your Own Device. A plague with far too much material online for me to feel the need to add to it with descriptions and discussions here.

In short, BYOD is defined as “Let Employees use whatever equipment they want and stop bitching. It’s IT’s job to be responsible for it even if they’re not allowed to control it, take the blame for it when it goes wrong, and clean up the mess afterwards.”

Now, the newest incarnation of this trend is “Consumerization of IT”

Since we’re partially discussing word definitions.

Consumerization: n. The act of making things suitable for Consumers.
Consumer: A person who purchases goods and services for personal use.
IT: Short for Information Technology. The Department within a Company that is responsible for managing company owned computers, networks, and other business related technology.

So, hmm. “Consumerization of IT” essentially means:

“Let’s take all this software that’s designed for Consumers, aka “personal use, toss it into a Business environment, and then make IT responsible for whatever damage this causes.”

That description is embellished a bit but it’s still very nearly the exact definition of the Consumerization of IT trend.

Our Employees want a square peg to fit into this round hole so by god we’re going to hammer it in and you guys better deal with it and clean up the mess!

And, to add to this, as IT Professionals, we’re “resistant to change” or “too controlling” or just cranky if we object to this idea and try to suggest issues with the opening of the flood gates for uncontrolled usage of software, hardware, and services designed for “Personal Use” within a Business environment.

Plus, not only are we not supposed to be “resistant to change”, we’re expected to be held accountable for the damage this trend causes, when it happens (not if), and happily clean up the mess afterwards.

The Consumerization of IT trend is being 100% pushed by companies that stand to gain huge sources of revenue from it, will have zero liability for it when it causes damage because, hey, it’s designed for personal use it’s the companies choice to use the software for an environment it wasn’t designed for, and it’s the job of the IT Department to clean up the damage.

To top this whole idea off, it’s being swallowed whole by the Enterprise/Business world as a majority like the good little Corporate Lemmings that they are.

BOHICA fellow IT Professionals and fair warning, there is no lube or rubber gloves being used this time.

Challenging a Techno-Social Myth

Challenging a Techno-Social Myth

I was initially going to call this write up Challenging Einstein which would have been way more eye catching of a title.

However, Einstein never actually said the quote listed in the photo below so I would have been propagating an incorrect quote just for the sake of attracting readers if I had done so.

Since you’re currently reading this, obviously my boring title still worked anyway.

Einstein

Here’s the thing, that quote was probably done by some angry old Psychologist who got bumped into on the sidewalk by some teenager doing what those girls in the picture are doing.

So he took Einstein’s actual quote, which is:

“It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity. I hope that someday, our humanity might yet surpass our technology”

Then he bent the real quote to fit his own frustrations, shook his old Motorola brick phone in the air angrily, and created a new viral urban myth using Einstein to give his antiquated way of thinking some sense of credence.

I’m neither going to agree, nor disagree with Einstein’s actual quote, but I am going to argue that misquote shown in the photo. (Except for the part about idiots. That part is solid fact)

Take this photo from November 22, 1963 which has also been used in a viral campaign to argue that misquote as a partial example of my thoughts.

newspapers

The argument, as shown in the first photo, is that as we advance we are spending all of our time glued to our devices and we are not being ‘social’. We are supposedly not interacting with each other anymore but only with our technology.

I disagree with that way of thinking.

I think it’s more a matter of challenging the traditional definition of “human interaction”.
I interact constantly. I guarantee every one of those girls in the photo above are chatting, texting, IM’ing, etc. with friends. They are possibly being social and interacting with people they would have never had the remotest chance of ever communicating with 50 years ago.

I have probably 100+ friends from online communities. Quite a few I’ve met in person at Microsoft’s TechEd conference but they’re still only friends that I’ll only ever meet in person when I attend that conference.

I have many more in other parts of the world that I have never, likely will never, meet in person who would actually let me sleep on their couch should I somehow find myself in their area. In every definition of the word, these people are friends.

I have many more online people that I regularly converse with who at least qualify as regular acquaintances.

In “real life”, I might have 2, maybe 3 friends.

Back in 1963 our flow of news and information was strictly one way. Those folks shown in that old photo likely never spoke a single word with each other during that commute. They also had no technological means to ‘speak’ with anyone via mobile communications. The only means of getting information they had was either by newspaper, television, or radio. One way. No “interaction” what so ever.

If anything, technology has made humanity more interactive.

I’ve chatted on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, with  individuals who, by all accounts, are famous within their industry and I have even met in person and shared beers together. There’s no way I’d ever get a chance to meet these people in person without having talked on social media first.

So what exactly is considered “human interaction” today?

Perhaps we should be updating our way of thinking to match our advances in culture and technology.

The Darkside and the Geekside

This isn’t really an IT related post. It’s more of a “What makes Rigsby tick” post. I know, damned scary thought.

I know full well there are many online friends who have had their fill of my mood swings, self-deprecating comments, and overall “PMS’ing Eeyore” attitude at times and quite a few have reached the point where they’re sick of dealing with me.

I suddenly had the idea to try and dump some of what goes on in my mind into print. I know full well that what I’m going to talk about is far from uncommon, especially in our industry, so maybe my little ‘soul baring’ will make someone else feel a little better.

I’ve always had a high aptitude for technology. I’ve been into tearing apart and rebuilding anything with a power cord since I was big enough to hold a screwdriver. My first PC was a 386SX, which I promptly opened up and replaced the hard drive, added more memory, a better speaker, etc.

Basically the Analytical side of my mind has always been dominant. I had an IQ test done when I was 12 and scored in the mid 160’s. Human average IQ is from 90 – 109. I’m in no way bragging or saying I’m smarter than anyone else or any such thing. IQ doesn’t mean squat unless you pursue higher education and take advantage of it and I never really did. All it is, is your ability to learn.

It in no way makes you any more intelligent that the next person. Especially if that next person has furthered their education.

The only reason I’m even mentioning it is to set the background a bit.

It’s medically documented that individuals with higher than average aptitude for the analytical side of their mind also have a high chance for struggling with the artistic/emotional side of their brain.

Hence the saying of “There’s a fine line between Genius and Insanity”

Mind you, I’m sane and stable as a rock. But, I’ve had self-esteem issues and “negative attitude” my entire life. I do my best to balance this out with a wry wit, sarcastic humor, and “I don’t give a shit” attitude but it doesn’t always work.

Now, these situations are automatically the recipe for a rough time. Being technically inclined I naturally got into Information Technology as a career.

Well, I’ve found myself surrounded with friends who are some of the top minds in the entire industry. Brilliant, accomplished Leaders in the IT Professional industry. Microsoft MVPs and Certified Teachers, Professionals who speak at tech conferences. All around awesome people, some of the friendliest and coolest you’ll ever meet.

However, they’re intimidating as hell!

Shadows that are big enough to get frost bite when standing in them. Professionals who can have a ‘brain fart’ and forget more skills than I’ll ever have. Really difficult individuals to compare ones self to when you’ve already struggled with self-esteem issues your whole life.

Combine that with my chosen place of employment being High Tech Manufacturing, which in itself is also filled with highly intelligent, highly educated people. It is also, oddly enough, filled with old technology. By the nature of the industry the equipment used is highly expensive and built really well. So, the computers running most of the equipment are old. Running old software and old operating systems.

You’re probably not seeing where this is going.

It boils down to me, being really good with technology that’s old enough that no one else in the IT Industry cares about and, due to my employment, being in a situation where I have zero incentive to learn new, updated skills because they wouldn’t be used anyway and surrounded by toss in all my friends who are vastly smarter than I am.

Sprinkle liberally with strong doses of self-esteem issues, bouts of depression and  personal life struggles recently and shake well. What you get is,

Me.

Just Upgrade or maybe not

As IT Professionals a core element of our industry is the fact that technology is constantly evolving, advancing, and changing into newer ways of doing things.

This movement is coupled with, and magnified by, the fact that technology companies cancel support for the older products and technology.

A natural byproduct of being an IT Pro is that we develop the opinion that it’s our job to ‘champion’, or evangelize, our individual stance on what direction we feel these changes should be made with those we support.

Always pushing our employers and our customers into implementing the newest technology and replacing the systems that are no longer supported.

“The solution to your issue is  to implement BYOD now!”

“XP is no longer supported, you HAVE to upgrade immediately!”

“You’re still on OSX 10.5, are you crazy?!”

“That system is still running Ubuntu 10.04. Are you an idiot?”

“OMG! My Android phone is so much better than your stupid iPhone!”

“Why in the world did you reformat that old computer? It’s slower than my phone. Throw it away!”

The Internet is full of articles on “how” to upgrade or “why” to upgrade, all written by IT Professionals that are true experts in their fields.

I want to approach this topic from a different angle. To perhaps offer another perspective and a potential reminder to others in this industry.

1. First off, no it’s actually not our jobs to push our employers and customers into replacing their systems.

As IT Professionals we stand between an Industry that moves at unrelenting speed and the Consumer/Customer/User/Employer that implements new things at their own pace, if they do it at all.

It’s our job to provide a cushion between these two equal and opposite realities. We examine both the needs of the end user and the available new products and technology in order to be a trusted voice of reason for both sides.

We review the requirements of the user so that we can advise on the best solutions for their needs.

We also provide feedback into the industry as to those end user requirements so that we can help shape the future technology movement.

We are the only ones who have view of both sides so we are the experts at making the best fit between the two.

2. Don’t be a dick.

Seriously, the IT Professionals industry is full of Champions, Evangelists, Experts, Gurus, Consultants, etc.

What it doesn’t need are Fanboy/Fangirls.

Support your opinions and preferred solutions, sure, but don’t be a mindless zealot.

No solution to any problem was ever properly solved by someone with an agenda, on some kind of campaign.

Just look at our Governments as an example.

When you’re surrounded by round holes and all you have are square pegs, and a hammer, it’s not your job, or your right to make those square pegs fit anyway.

Shoving your views and opinions on what the end user should do down their throats, purely based on your own opinions, is an abusive use of our position.

3. I know it’s a shock but sometimes “just upgrade” is actually not the right answer.

Heresy! I’m going to be strung up on my server rack and get my coffee taken away by the flaming keyboard wielding mob of IT Professionals!

It’s a scary idea, but it’s true! There might actually be reasons that the end user is using their outdated technology.

Hardware compatibility with certain peripherals such as specialized controllers.

Software compatibility with expensive or irreplaceable software suites.

The system might still be perfectly capable of doing what it’s supposed to do.

Hell, maybe they just like it.

Or, yeah, they might not know what their options are.

Whatever the situation, there IS ALWAYS a reason someone isn’t implementing changes on their own.

Frankly you should be happy that they aren’t making their own changes because if they were, we’d be unemployed.

Use your knowledge and view of the situation to carefully review the users needs, and wants, and see if there is a way for them to get the same experience with more modern technology.

If there isn’t a way, then support their decisions, offer advice and use your skills to make their current systems work the best way possible.

If they don’t want to, or simply can’t, upgrade their XP machine, let them know all the reasons it’s important to replace it if/when they can but also go over all the options for making it as secure as possible so that they can continue using it. Then, revisit the situation at a later date to see if anything has changed.

Don’t belittle them for their decisions because when it comes down to it, you work for them. Not the other way around.