Data Centers

Support diary: Anonymous (Thursday)

At the home office on Thursday, our guest contributor faced hardware troubles and data entry doldrums.


Today our contributor wishes for a voice-activated data entry application.

Read Monday’s entry.

Read Tuesday’s entry.

Read Wednesday’s entry.

9:00 A.M.
Home again. My local associate handled things so well, there is little work to do. I have a voice mail from last night that a user can’t log into the Lotus Notes server, but that problem was fixed before I got here. All I really need to do today is input tickets for the things my associate did while I was gone.

I guess I should explain that. Like a lot of big companies, the one I work for has more than one group that supports users. My associate and I have been working together for three years, yet we work for different people. He is really supposed to support applications and I’m really supposed to support the network, hardware, and client software. We find it easier to just do whatever needs to be done at the time and not worry about whose job it is.

Recently, the department my associate worked for merged with my department. Sounds great, right? Wrong. My department measures the need for people by the number of tickets. My associate’s group never used the ticketing system. He is supposed to be on our system soon, but no one knows when. His job is not in danger, but I fear if he leaves on his own, he will not be replaced because the ticket numbers just don’t back up a need for the position. So, I’ve decided that until he has access to the ticketing system, I’ll input tickets for him. It’s my least favorite part of the job but I can’t risk being left alone.

10:15 A.M.
We have several visitors from Marketing today. As usual, it is a surprise. Visitors used to be a bit of a pain because most of the other offices in our company are Ethernet but we are Token Ring. Recently, we installed a 12-port Ethernet Hub so helping visitors connect is much easier. I ask the Marketing people where they want to set up and quickly connect those cubes to the new hub.

One of the Sales Managers pops by my desk complaining that it takes a long time to open files from the server. I check the connection, but the server doesn’t seem all that busy. We walk over to his desk, and we’re able to open and close files fine. I explain that I’ve been watching the server off and on for a while now, and there’s no doubt that the usage spikes for brief periods. In fact, we’ll be addressing that in about a week. Someone from the enterprise group is expected next week, and together he and I will replace our servers. The manager understands and thanks me for my time.

11:30 A.M.
One of my users calls. The program his group uses for sales seems to be stuck. By his description it sounds like the mainframe part of the application is slow. This program uses a lot of different resources, and the users find it difficult to tell where the breakdown occurs. I take down his information and contact the support for that application. I was right. Mainframe users were experiencing brief lockups. I contact the user and let him know what I found out. As I suspected, it’s working Okay now.

NOON
I catch up with a few of the folks around the office on what I missed while in NY, change the back up tapes, and leave for a quick lunch.

1:00 P.M.
I try to input the tickets from my associate’s work, but it’s slow going. Wish there was an easier way.

A couple of members of my team in Chicago call about two issues. An OH office is complaining that the dumb terminals don’t work anymore. We’re really surprised. All of those terminals were supposed to have been disposed of over a year ago. Apparently, they were working up until last week, so the controller must still be out there. Everyone is able to get mainframe connectivity through his or her PC now. One of us will have to drive out and dispose of that equipment next week.

The other issue is the software I used for data transfer in New York, FastLynx. The admin wants to buy a copy to evaluate. She will probably end up buying it for everyone. Basically, our problem is that we want to transfer files from a Windows 95 PC to an NT PC that has been formatted NTSF only.

Windows 95 can’t handle NTFS. So, even though they both have IP numbers and are on the network, the 95 machine cannot connect to the NT machine. FastLynx is software that allows this connection. Now there may be another way. It seems to me that you should be able to configure 95 so that the NT machine can map to it. I’ve never been able to do it. It’s probably really simple and I’ll feel dumb about it later, but for now this software is pretty cheap. I bought my copy for personal use, but now that the office is using it so much I’ll probably expense it.

I promise to e-mail her a description and the company’s URL, which I do immediately. I then call the Ohio office and verify that everyone has mainframe access via their PCs and that they don’t need the dumb terminals. I let them know someone will be up next week to get rid of that stuff. I have no idea what to do with that junk, but hopefully someone on my team will be able to help out.

2:10 P.M.
One of the visiting marketers has no Token Ring or Ethernet card. He says the support staff in his home office can’t get the Ethernet card to work in his laptop, so they put it in his docking station. I don’t have any Extra Ethernet Cards, but I try to install a Token Ring card I have lying around.

The PCMCIA slots never show the card, no matter how I set the PCIC controller in the bios setup. Just in case my card is dead, I try it in another laptop. It works great. I give the user the bad news and suggest we call in a ticket together. This laptop needs to be replaced and sent in for repair. He has a meeting to go to but says he would appreciate the help tomorrow if I have time. I will make the time. If he calls it in himself the Help Desk will just send the ticket to the same guys who, like me, will not have the parts or tools to deal with this situation. With me on the call as well, I’m sure I can get them to replace the laptop.

3:05 P.M.
One of my users calls to complain about the fax server. She feels certain her customers have faxed her, but nothing has shown up in her e-mail. She used an intranet site to request a fax to herself but still didn’t receive anything. I check the fax server logs and see nothing for her, but it only goes back about 15 minutes. I’ll get the log from the full day at 5:00 P.M.

I e-mail her with the same e-mail address the fax server uses, and she gets it immediately. The intranet site she used may be way backed up on requests, so she tests the site by using a standard fax machine in another part of the office. The fax arrives. She will double check with her customers and let me know if they complain of busy signals or no answers. Everything is probably fine, but there could be a problem with one of the modems in the bank.

3:30 P.M.
Back to the tickets. No new ones are opened, so I continue inputting the old ones.

That’s a wrap
Finally done with all the tickets. I should probably do those much faster than I do, but it’s hard to concentrate on something so boring. The day doesn’t feel very productive, but maybe that’s because of all the work we did in New York. Whatever the reason, it’s 6:00 P.M. and time to go home.
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