Software

Admin Diary: California Virus Fighter (Thursday)

Our valiant virus fighter hops a jet to solve network problems at a remote site. How's it go? Here's a hint: Our admin has to go to Macy's for a change of clothes.


4:30 A.M.
It feels like I just went to sleep. It’s still dark out. I drag myself out of bed so I can get ready and be at the airport to check in on time.
Get caught up on this week's Admin Diary entries:Read Monday's installmentRead Tuesday’s installmentRead Wednesday’s installment
5:45 A.M.
The freeway is heavy. I didn’t know people got up this early.

6:15 A.M.
Thank God for Starbucks! They didn’t have my favorite Latte, but they did have my Caramel Frappuccino. All the sugar and caffeine in it should wire me up, at least for the first part of the day.

7:35 A.M.
My flight is 30 minutes late in taking off. I’m hoping I can still get there before most of the users get in.

8:35 A.M.
I step off the plane into freezing weather. I didn’t bring a jacket because I figured I wouldn’t be outside much. I run to catch a cab.

9:15 A.M.
I get in the office and almost everyone is already in. They are all waiting to get onto e-mail and start working. I meet up with the network guy, Stan. He says they didn’t find any viruses on any user machines the night before. My thought is to go to each e-mail box and start looking at the Inbox, Sent Items, and Deleted Items folders to see if the infected e-mail may be in there. We start our work, and then my cell phone battery dies—damn!

10:30 A.M.
Caroline, the office manager, was nice enough to go out and get me a charger for my cell phone. It’s powering up, and we still haven’t found a thing. It’s pretty safe to assume that wherever the virus was on any machine in the network, it’s gone now. I’m still wondering how it got up to Sacramento without the infected user from L.A. being connected to their server.

We try and find more information on the virus, but sources all say pretty much the same thing. I’m hoping that we’re not dealing with some mutation of the virus. I get an e-mail from my friend. His wife isn’t feeling well, and they need to cancel out of the trip to San Diego. They tell us they wouldn’t feel hurt if we went without them. I’m bummed, but I’m beginning to doubt that I’ll be in the mood or have the energy to make the trip, regardless.

11:00 A.M.
We call up Symantec to see if they have any additional info on the virus. According to them, it only goes to network drives mapped by a user. They won’t rule out the possibility that it could go to an unconnected server through the network connection, but they don’t have any confirmation. I’m just hoping that we have gotten rid of it.

11:30 A.M.
All hell is breaking loose with the e-mail in L.A. The server is slow and the Internet Mail Connector (IMC) keeps filling up. We finally kick everyone out of the e-mail system until further notice. We’re stopping and starting the server. We’re stopping and starting services. Everything it’s doing is somewhat typical of a virus, but we can’t rule out the recent e-mail debacle. One thing we know for sure: If we stop the IMC, the CPU stops peaking at 100%.

2:00 P.M.
I’m getting hungry, as are Cynthia and Stan. I recommend to Max that we leave the IMC off for now. The staff can exchange e-mail; they just can’t send or receive e-mail from the Internet. I’m wondering if we’re being used as a mail relay for some spammer. I suggest that he call Sam, who works with the routers, and see if he can dial in and check the traffic on the routers.

3:15 P.M.
After a good lunch, we return to the office. I call Max, and he says that Sam can’t find anything unusual. I suggest we call Phil, who set up the server and has quite a bit more experience dealing with Exchange than I do.

I check my voice mail, and the first message is an unknown voice saying, “You better get back in the office! I’m getting all this e-mail and don’t know what to do. Someone better fix this, and now!” The caller doesn’t leave a name or number, so there’s not much I can do about that. The second message is someone threatening a class action lawsuit unless something is done. I forward both messages to Max for him to take care of. I decide to start on the server restore while I wait to hear more from him on both issues.

4:15 P.M.
I spent the last hour dealing with a whole bunch of other issues, besides restoring the files. I finally get to the tape back-up unit and try to restore again—watch: It’ll work now that I’m up there. It’s still asking for the right tape, even though it’s loaded. I eject the cartridge and ask Cynthia for the other tapes during the week. Maybe I’ve got the wrong one loaded? I load them all up, and start the restore. IT WORKS! It’s slow going, though. I’m hoping it’ll finish before I have to leave to catch my plane. I want to make sure it restores the files properly before I go.

5:45 P.M.
The restore is still going slow. It’s only at 2%. This isn’t going to finish in time for me to catch my flight. I call up United to see if there are any more flights after mine, but it’s the last one.

6:30 P.M.
The restore is still going. It’s only at 3% now. Looks like I’m spending the night in Sacramento. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but all I’ve got is the clothes I’m already wearing and my laptop bag. Luckily, there’s a mall next to the hotel where I’ll stay.

7:00 P.M.
I get to the Holiday Inn, and they’re out of their normal rooms; the only thing they have left is the corporate level. I’m too tired to care. They mention I still have time to catch the complimentary refreshments in the executive lounge.

7:10 P.M.
FREE BEER! I find my favorite beer in the executive lounge. Best of all, it’s free. I grab a couple and head to my room.

8:00 P.M.
I check in with Max, and he’s waiting on Sam and his co-worker to come out. They’re going to take a closer look at everything. He mentions that he’s tried to call me on my cell phone and is getting frustrated that he can’t reach me. He says he’ll call me at the hotel if he needs me. I let him know I’m going to go out to get some clothes and a bite to eat.

I call up my wife and let her know I’m spending the night. My 2œ-year-old son is mad. He can’t figure out why I’m not home. Normally, when I go somewhere for the night, he knows I’m going to be gone. I told him I’d see him at the end of the day, and he wants to know why he won’t. I ask him to be good, but I know it’s going to be hard for my wife. I do miss them both.

8:30 P.M.
The only halfway decent selection of clothes I can find is at Macy’s. Their prices are high for my taste. I usually buy my stuff at Target for half the price.

I get a Polo shirt and the all-essential package of fresh underwear. For me, $9.00 for a three-pack is expensive. I usually get a 10-pack for the same price. I’m not cheap; I’d just rather spend the money on other things, like computer stuff.

9:00 P.M.
I get back and there's no call from Max. No news is good news. I settle down to eat dinner and watch a flick. They’re showing Star Wars Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace on the pay-per-view system. Wahoo! I punch it up, sit back, and try to forget about the last 36 hours.

11:30 P.M.
Still no phone calls from Max, so I’m assuming things are okay. I dial in and the mail server is looking good. I check my voice mail and find out that they believe to have fixed it with help from Microsoft. I talk to my wife, and then eventually fall asleep about 2:00 A.M.
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