Collaboration

Diary of an IT Manager: Tanya Buba (Wednesday)

If you miss one day of work, you can become buried under e-mail, task requests, and overdue projects. Today's installment of this week-long journal focuses on how IT manager Tanya Buba finds clever shortcuts to make her job easier.


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.
Today, I’m going to be playing catch-up. On my way to get coffee, I am literally mobbed by four individuals from three different departments.
  • Sales has a myriad of questions about printers and needs some part numbers.
  • The Internet team needs my assistance with its latest project.
  • Another employee needs a list of all phone numbers in the building.

I satisfy all of their requests quickly, and then I sneak off to the data center to change the backup tape.
Get caught up on this week’s diary.Monday: Meeting the demands of a new promotion.Tuesday: Working while staying home with a sick child.
11:00 A.M.
Whew! I have a lot more catching up to do than I thought. The general manager of the television station wants a different phone. I make a few phone calls to research prices. I call our vendor and while I’m on hold waiting for someone to answer my call, I answer a few e-mails and do some intranet updates.

2:00 P.M.
How the morning flew by! My main priority today is to put a new Dell PIII-600 in place for an account rep with the Internet team.

The Internet team bought this system about a year ago, but it was never put in place. The team was bouncing back and forth over which employee was going to get it. The account rep won out because his existing system was locking up two to three times a day.

This was a hand-me-down in every sense of the word. I usually FDISK all systems and rebuild them to make sure any file corruption doesn’t get inherited by an unsuspecting user. However, this was a case of “gotta have it yesterday,” so the rep inherited a three-year-old system on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Now the system is screaming for some attention.

I lug the system out of storage, unpack it, and crack open the case. I need to install a WinTV card in the system first. The user doesn’t really need it for what he does, but I’m under the direction of his boss to install it.

Rebuilding can be a time-consuming process. However, the procedures I have established for attaching new and rebuilt systems to our network have cut the process down to an hour or two.

I don’t ghost anything, mainly because of licensing issues—but also because every department requires a slightly different menu of applications. For example, some users get Office Professional, but most get Office Standard. Everything is installed from scratch, and licensing information is documented on every install, if applicable.

I have simplified most of the process by using a DOS boot disk that attaches the system to the network using startnet. I update the NIC drivers on the disk to keep everything current and have assembled all applicable drives in our environment onto the disk. Since we only use 3COM cards, I use their Card Find Utility to identify the “unknown,” search out those drivers on their Web site, and add it to my LAN bootup disk. This system uses a 3C905C-TX, and I know from my last rebuild that startnet is already using that driver, so I let ‘er rip!
One resource I’d like to share with you is a free subscription site called Driver Guide. A word of caution: Many of the drivers listed are posted by subscribers. While I haven’t had any problems, it’s a good idea, if your antivirus software allows it, to scan the download before you run it. Also, Driver Guide will often post a comparable file to download—try these first before you try subscriber files.
After logging in to the network through DOS, I change to my utilities directory and run a batch file to copy the basics to the local drive—NIC drivers along with Novell and Windows stuff. If the system decides to drop off the network after it is put in place, the local drive will have what I need to get it reattached without taking the PC to the lab.

The batch file makes a directory called Apps and all designated utility files are placed there. This makes each system consistent, so I don’t have to pull my hair out looking for NIC drivers. I’m surprised to see the files copy down so fast today. That’s a good sign that this process won’t take too long.

In order to keep all the systems the same, I developed a checklist so I don’t leave anything out. The checklist makes it easier to explain to the user that since I didn’t install Napster, I don’t have any idea why it won’t work. I’ve documented the basic system information on this PC, so all that’s left is to install the applications and configure the user’s printers.

This will be an easy setup because this user just needs the basics: Office Professional, a few sales-specific applications, an e-mail profile, and printers. I check my watch and am amazed that I’ve been in the lab for two hours.

5:00 P.M.
We have another problem with our phones that broadcast into the television studio for viewer calls. The phone bank consists of an outside line that dumps into a hunt group, which then rolls over to one of nine internal extensions when one of the lines is busy.

The technician heading the project is at my door, and he’s telling me the new equipment doesn’t work. He’s ready to throw in the towel when I remember our freelance wiring guy is in the building pulling some cable. While taking him to meet with the technician, I brief him on the problem.

Even though the phone lines are physically working properly, they need to be configured specifically for this particular piece of equipment. The wiring guy says it isn’t a problem and that he can come back tomorrow to do the job. We all go to my office and run through it again while I print out a list of the pad addresses and extension numbers associated with that line.

It’s 6:00 P.M. now, and I need to make a stop on my way home, so e-mail will have to wait until tomorrow.
What’s your policy? Do IT managers take the threat of licensing violations seriously enough? Post a comment below or send us a letter.

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