Data Management

Diary of an IT manager: Mark D. Gonzales (Thursday)

The new database is a constant headache, but this week isn't all bad for IT manager Mark D. Gonzales. Check out his journal entry for today.


This week, IT Manager Republic will feature the daily diary of Mark Gonzales, IT manager for the department of emergency management with the county government in Pueblo, CO.

7:30 A.M.
It’s the start of a brand new day. My desk is stacked with snail mail from yesterday, and paper notes are everywhere. At the bottom of a paper stack, I have the new FTP (file transfer protocol) and Ping software that I had my computer specialist order. It takes me a few minutes to register it online.

In my e-mail, I notice that the database developer has already sent me the updated changes I requested yesterday. I give the developer a call to thank him for working on it last night. I quickly install the new version of the database on our NT server and let everyone know it is now available. I am going to try to spend only a few hours on the new database today because it has already taken up most of my week.
Get caught up on this week’s diary.Read Monday’s installment.Read Tuesday’s installment.Read Wednesday’s installment.
8:15 A.M.
A visitor arrives at my office door. It’s the staff member who has been doing the data entry for the new database. We discuss how nice the latest version of the database is, and how some of the new functions have really helped with the data entry process.

We notice that the layout in one of the forms could be improved. We want the form to be easy to look at and read. We make a few design changes. Then I notice the time; it’s already 10:00 A.M.! Where did the morning go? I need to stick to the plan and not spend any more time with this database today.

10:05 A.M.
I get a phone call from a contingency organization of which I am a member. They ask me if I am interested in running for the position of program director. I must admit that I am flattered. I reply that I am interested, and ask them to e-mail me a description of the responsibilities involved. This sounds like a great opportunity.

Then a tech magazine calls to offer to continue my free subscription. They tell me it will only take a minute to re-subscribe over the phone, so I agree to answer the questions. Ten minutes later I am just getting off the phone. That took way too long.

Another phone call, and this time it’s our GIS (geographical information system) manager. He explains that there is a new feature that the director wants to see in the ArcView application. I have to meet with the GIS manager tomorrow morning to go over the work that will be required. I hope the new features won’t take too much time to complete.

Part of what the director is requiring will mean that the staff members in the field will need to gather additional information. They are out there now, so I had better try to get ahold of them before they return to the office.

12:00 P.M.
Lunchtime already! I have a friend at my door that has come to pick me up for lunch. He is looking at his watch, giving me the evil eye. I had better get moving.

1:00 P.M.
I receive a page informing me that our Outdoor Warning System has a fatal error and is down. I grab our computer specialist, and he goes into action.

Thank goodness for the good ol’ reboot function. The problem is corrected immediately. This system has been giving us problems lately. I am going to have to check into it more thoroughly when I get an extra minute or two.

Later I receive a call from a system administrator who is located at one of our remote sites. He has noticed that our SUN server (Solaris v2.6 and Oracle v7.3.4) has a hung process, which is affecting the other remote sites. The ping script that is set up in one of our software applications is the cause of the problem.

I learn a few new things while we are on the phone. For example, I discover that by using “ping –n,” the ping process will not do a host lookup. The problem we are encountering is that the ping script is doing a DNS (domain name server) lookup. This is causing Solaris to “hang a process,” and unfortunately this is also causing the remote sites to encounter the same problem.

I also learn that you can do a “netstat –s” in Solaris v2.6 to get some basic information on network statistics. This tool will come in handy when monitoring how much of the bandwidth we are utilizing on our microwave WAN.

1:50 P.M.
I do a little poking around using the new “netstat –s” tool. There is a lot of information being provided, and I am going to need to go through what I can and cannot use for reporting purposes. This is going to take a little while.

Later, I stop for a minute and organize my thoughts. I need to review again what my goals are for the week. Then, I listen to my voice mail for the day, and finish going through the rest of my e-mail.

4:00 P.M.
I look up and it’s already 4 o’clock. This week has been a little unusual in the fact that I have not been staying late here at the office. I usually don’t get out of here until about 6 P.M., but my family has asked me to try to get home early. I decide to organize my chicken-scratch notes from throughout the day and get ready for tomorrow.
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