Software

Diary of an IT manager: Tanya Buba (Thursday)

A visit from the corporate IT team means more work and more stress for an IT manager. In this edition of our weeklong diary, manager Tanya Buba catches up on her help desk responsibilities while she prepares for a visit from corporate HQ.


This week, IT Manager Republic will feature the daily diary of Tanya Buba, IT manager for a network affiliate television station in Louisville, KY.

9:00 A.M.
I stopped for coffee on the way to work this morning, so I can jump into the day with both feet. I sense the need to be Tech Support/Help Desk today. The general manager’s assistant has a list of “when you get time” requests. I change the backup tape and head to my office.

Since I didn’t get to archive my e-mail last night, I have to tackle that chore. I have roughly 40 messages that are waiting for user response, need input from a vendor, or require my attention when I find the time.
Get caught up on this week’s diary.Monday: Meeting the demands of a new promotionTuesday: Working while staying home with a sick childWednesday: Tips for setting up a new machine
11:00 A.M.
One photographer needs my help setting the refresh rate on his monitor so the scan doesn’t show up when he videotapes the monitor. He’s also wondering why no sound plays on the speakers he borrowed from another system.

A quick check of his system properties shows the driver isn’t installed. I recently rebuilt his system, so I go back to the checklist and check my notes. Since his coworkers don’t have speakers (not enough to go around), I opted not to fool with it at the time. But since he needs to have the sound while he’s videotaping, the installation of the driver is now justified.

The kicker is that I didn’t document the sound card information, so I don’t know what kind he has. Before cracking the case, I do a little more digging. I know the general history of his machine and pull the Y2K documentation. (When I made the Y2K compliance checks, I had the foresight to document the system configurations.) I could not locate the information on his specific system, but I had several with similar configurations. In this case, two and two equaled a Vortex Aureal 3D PCI card. I grab the CD, and presto, he has sound.

1:00 P.M.
I have a lunch meeting scheduled today, so I actually get away for a whole hour for lunch! When I return, the accounting department needs my help. The manager is worried that a data entry user is accessing the wrong file. Unfortunately, we determine that the user has been using the wrong file all along. I edit his ini file to prompt him with the correct file by default and make similar changes to the data entry systems just for good measure.

I make my way to the newsroom. As I’ve mentioned, I work at a television station so I spend a significant portion of my time here. Netbeui needs to be removed from all computers on the network. We don’t have a use for the protocol on our network and it broadcasts unnecessary chatter, bogging down throughput.

One by one, I log on and remove the protocol, along with a few unnecessary dial-up adapters. I check for antivirus versions and update as needed. I create a shortcut to the signature updates on the users’ desktops so after I download the latest patterns, I can send out an APB for users to execute the upgrade using the shortcut. I really need to push these through the Netware login, but I just haven’t done it yet.

I’m also taking the opportunity to revamp computer names and workgroups on the network. Each department has its own workgroup, but this makes for too much clutter when browsing. I’ve devised a more organized approach, using just one workgroup but still retaining department and individual user information. The description field is occupied by basic system information, so I decided to alter the computer name. Each system will contain the department name (or appropriate abbreviation) followed by an underscore, the user’s first initial, and last name—up to seven letters maximum. Users systems will still show up grouped by department but all within the same workgroup.

3:00 P.M.
Having ignored a laser printer project for too long, I begin to feel guilty. I take the broadcast unit to my office to do the upgrades. After locating a decent screwdriver, I finally remove the superglued-in screws.

The expansion board doesn’t line up well enough to make this an easy task, so I opt to remove a few more screws. Finally it’s in and sits properly in the opening. I grabbed the wrong ROM chip for the memory upgrade so I have to make another trip to the lab.

I get the equipment reassembled and realize the dip switches are on the internal boards! I have to remove the screws again! I feel like an amateur, but I chalk it up to working too hard. They say you can’t be all things to all people, but in my case, I have to make it work. This small setback didn’t affect any users, so I try not to beat myself up too badly and move on.
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4:30 P.M.
The Internet account rep is asking whether he gets a new monitor with his new system. Gimme, gimme, gimme! Since I know the user well, I drop off the monitor—still in its original packing. He agrees to do the manual labor, and I know he can handle it.

5:00 P.M.
Our corporate IT team is coming in for a visit this weekend. Since they won’t be at the television station until after 4, I can expect a long day tomorrow, and I’ll likely work the entire weekend. I need to make room so that three additional people can work in my office. Nothing like a visit from Corporate to get me organized. I haul out three computers slated for rebuild plus I remove a monitor and some miscellaneous spare parts. I provide a couple of spare network connections so they can use their laptops to check their e-mail while they’re here.

6:00 P.M.
I’m beat. I check with my boss, and he says it’s OK for me to come in at 11 A.M. tomorrow. He remembers the marathon hours I worked last time Corporate was here. I put in 40 hours just over the weekend so I imagine the same time commitment will be required this weekend as well. Needless to say, my work ethic is never questioned.
Do you have a corporate team that is in charge of reviewing your IT department? Are these reviews helpful or are they a burden? Tell us how you manage this by posting a comment to this article orsending us a letter.

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