Printers

Support diary: Matthew M. (Monday)

Have you ever been tempted to read someone else's diary? Here's your chance. This week we're publishing the diary of an NT administrator with a lot on his plate.


MatthewMercurioisthemanagerofinformationsystemsforClearChannelBroadcasting’sLouisville,KY,market.

8:00 A.M.: The week begins
I arrived at work and started my day with my usual coffee and three sugars. Then, I proceeded straight to the server room and changed my weekend backup tape to the Monday tape. I used Cheyenne ARCserve Back Up Utility. I recommend this over any of the WinNT OEM stuff.

8:30 A.M: Began processing e-mail/voice mail/work orders
I always process the previous day's e-mails, voice mails (unless it is an emergency), and work orders in order to plan my day. Work orders are the “Request For Service” forms my users fill out when they need me to fix something. At 9, I was interrupted by the department head meeting.

At 10:00 A.M., I returned to my office and my e-mails. I answered most of the previous day’s e-mails during this hour and made most of my return phone calls. E-mails and voice mails that required immediate attention, I handled right away, but all non-imperative concerns I saved for the next morning. I also went through all of my turned-in work orders and made my schedule for that day. Usually I can never stick to the schedule because something always comes up that requires my attention. But, I always make sure that the work order gets put back into the lineup for the next day. After making my schedule and sending it to the printer, I started in on my service forms.

First up was a jammed floppy drive. I know, I know—this sounds trivial. But when you have an enraged sales assistant trying to get out that 10-page proposal to her salespeople by 11:00 A.M. and they have a bad case of the Gorilla Syndrome, it becomes an emergency. Oh, and for those of you who don't know what the Gorilla Syndrome is, just picture a human being running out of their office waving their hands up and down and then over their heads wildly—you will notice that they start to resemble a gorilla.

Anyway, back to the jammed floppy drive. Turns out, it was just one of the metal brackets off a broken floppy disk that was stuck in the drive. So I did what any well-equipped PC tech would do and ran back to my office to get my super-dooper metal bracket removal tool, otherwise known as a straightened-out paperclip with a hook bent on one side. I strategically placed the removal tool in the drive and surgically removed the metal bracket. Voila, everything was once again right with the universe. And yes, I was once again "SuperHumanPC-Guy" and the sales assistant nearly signed over her first unborn child to me to show her gratitude.

10:45 A.M.: Copier connection crisis
Next stop was the copier. It seemed that somehow the copier dropped its connection to the network and nobody was able to print to it. You see, we have two Cannon color copiers that are equipped with a Fiery Print Server. Once you plug one of these babies into your network outlet on the wall, the possibilities are endless. You can print to them, scan on them (both locally and remotely), copy on them and, if you really wanted to, you could print your hot iron transfers for T-shirt making on them—just don't try to copy a $10 bill on them because they are set to shut down if someone tries this, and you can't restart them. The only way to get them restarted is to call the FBI where they have the unlocking code.

Anyway, it seems over the weekend someone had inadvertently turned off the copier and then turned it back on again. When this happened, the DHCP server assigned it a new IP that conflicted with a machine that had a static IP. My solution was to go through the Fiery's IP setup on the LCD screen-panel located on the front of the copier and reset the IP to a static IP. Everything worked and the copier started printing right away.

11:00 A.M.: Keeping up the stock
Before I went on to my next project, I had to go back to my office and place an order for some supplies that I needed. I used a Web site called CDW.com to order my supplies. They set up an extranet for me and my staff to use. They gave me—and certain people that I granted permission to (Man! I love this power stuff!)—a username and password. That way I could make purchases on the Internet with a 30-day pay agreement.

I ordered the stuff and two days later it showed up at my door! They automatically sent me an invoice for my records and one to the accounts payable for them to pay. I love this service, especially for the IT person on the go—it gives you more time to concentrate on other important issues—like getting the latest "Joe Cartoon" downloaded.

11:30 A.M.: Time for one more before lunch
This one was a little more complicated, but after fiddlin' with it I was able to get it straightened out. Oh, and by the way—“fiddlin'" is a technical term used by SuperHumanPC-Guys meaning determining the cause of the problem and arriving at a solution.

The problem was with a Microsoft Office 2000 install. It seemed that on this particular install, the Excel record macro's function was not working. After consulting various Web sites and then finally referring to my "Microsoft Press Office 2000 Step by Step" book, I found out how to fix it. The solution was to re-install Excel, but this time choosing Custom Install and making sure I selected "Install All" from the menu. Apparently this installs more tools that are not available on the default setup.

12:00 Noon: Yeah!!!!!! Lunch!!!
SuperHumanPC-Guys need nourishment constantly!

1:00 P.M.: Scanning for viruses
Time to check my e-mail virus scan log. I use a program called Trend ScanMail to scan my Exchange Server everyday at 1:00 P.M. When it performs the scan, it automatically writes a log to show what it found—if anything—and what it did with it. With all the viruses spreading around, I like to stay on top of these things. Unfortunately, though, most of our viruses that come into our Exchange box are usually from our corporate headquarters in San Antonio. I wish they would use what I use to disinfect their system. They probably need a SuperHumanPC-Guy.

1:30 P.M.: Killing time
OK, I had a few minutes to kill before I rushed off to do a taping for a television computer show that I am involved with. So I began to work on one of my long-term projects that I have set for myself. It involves re-imaging 20 recycled PCs so I can hand them out to the little needy salespeople who don't have any PCs on their desk. No PCs means no Solitaire!

I used Norton's Ghost imaging software to push a copy of an image to several machines. I love Ghost because it allows me to customize the image copying process by adding different switches. Once set up correctly, you can literally place a floppy disk with the DOS network card driver of the specific NIC in the machine and toggle some switches, hit the power button, and walk away. As long as you make the floppy bootable and have all the correct drivers and files on the disk, you can literally put a disk in each of your machines and then turn on the box—Ghost will do the rest.

I have set up an NT Server with Ghost Server running on it on my workbench in my office and also used a separate 16-port hub to create a small standalone network. Now all I do is plug my PCs into the hub, insert the Ghost floppy disk, hit the power switch, and watch the blinking lights on the hub as the image is sucked across to the new machines.

2:00 P.M.: Time to play TV star
Sometimes SuperHumanPC-Guy has to put on other hats, and this time it was a television-computer-geek show hat. Two days a month, I tape two shows each day that run for four nights a week here in my city. These shows are geared to the beginner/novice users. We show off new technology, review products, and help with computer problems fielded from our audience through e-mail.

Today I showed off a couple of items. One was the Shockmachine, which is completely free and downloadable from Shockwave. The other was a new digital camera from IXLA called the 640Pro. The Shockmachine allows you to download cartridges from their Web site and play them in this player. You can watch cartoons, play games, and do puzzles.

The Dilbert cartoons are one of SuperHumanPC-Guy's favorites. If you work in the computer industry in any kind of capacity, then Dilbert is the cartoon that hits home the most! Now for the IXLA camera—it's a whole new ballgame.

First of all, this camera is made of a mixture between pot metal and plastic and feels very cheap to the touch. It does not have a rear viewer and the flash is set on a three-second delay. Not going to get that Kodak moment with this camera. Even if you did, the picture quality is so bad that you wouldn't be able to recognize the subject of your picture from a 2-foot distance! That's not all. This camera with the software costs a whopping $199! The only thing that I liked about the camera is not the camera at all, but the software that came with it. My advice is to stay away from this one. There will be more economical and quality-built cameras out soon.

4:00 P.M.: Back to the cyber-salt mines
Back at my office, there were a ton of messages waiting for me concerning our Web sites and e-mail. You see, I work for a large broadcasting company that owns between 800 and 900 radio and television stations across the country. Here at my location, we have eight radio stations and one news network, and yes, each one of them has their own Web site.

Now since we just made the jump to our corporate WAN, the corporate geeks, otherwise known as what we lovingly call the “Big Giant Head,” in all their very limited wisdom, thought it would be best to move our Web sites from our local ISP, which was housing them, to the corporate servers. So I was instructed to move all the stuff over to them. They ensured me that all the DNS points and MX records for the domains had been changed from our local ISP to their servers. Last week I instructed our Web department to start FTP-ing the sites up to the corporate servers located in two different parts of the country.

Hmmmmmmm. That’s not how SuperHumanPC-Guy would have set it up, but then again, I guess we can't all be SuperHumanPC-Guys! Anyway, our Web department had finished with the file transfers and notified our ISP to cut our connection. It took us about a week to get all the files sent up to the new servers.

Our original T1 line had been reduced to a 256-connection speed because the Big Giant Head decided it would be more cost-effective—another non-SuperHumanPC-Guy decision. Well, to make a long story short, apparently our local ISP had just cut the T1 connection and now we were totally on the corporate WAN.

One would think that the plan was coming together, but in reality the DNS points were never changed, or at least they weren’t changed correctly, and none of the MX records were ever changed. So now we were left without any Web sites up and no e-mail for about 250 very angry users. My phone was smoking from all the calls that were coming in. I decided to make a spam voice mail to everyone and let them know that our department was on top of the situation and to have some patience, that the connection would be fixed as soon as possible.

After making the spam message and saying some very colorful adjectives under my breath, I picked up the phone and called the Big Giant Head, who were happy to inform me that “Oh, by the way, you may experience some technical difficulties because some mistakes had been made with the DNS points and MX records.” Well, duh…

What I wanted to know was when were they going to have us up again! The best answer they gave me was “give us a call back in a week.” Now even being a SuperHumanPC-Guy, I didn't think my super powers would ward off the angry masses of salespeople that just recently had a fax from the Meijer store stating, “If we don’t get our e-mail back up, they will pull their advertising buy.” That equates to, oh, about a half a million bucks in revenue! No pressure here!

5:00 P.M.: Time to slip out the back quietly
I was never so glad to see the clock strike 5. I packed up my gear, loaded my laptop in my bag, and quietly stepped out the back door. As I drove out of the parking lot, I started telling myself, “tomorrow is another day” and “everything will be better tomorrow.” Then another thought came to me: “Hmm…I do have some vacation time.”
To comment on this diary entry, please post a comment below or follow this link to write to Matthew .

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox