Support diary: Tom S. (Tuesday)

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Here’s what happened to our intrepid system administrator on Tuesday.

Read Monday’s entry .

Get up and do the morning thing with the wife, the cats, and the coffee. I’m running a little late this morning because I watched football last night—Packers and 49ers. (For a detailed view of my morning thing, please refer to Monday’s entry .)

0630: Who’s supporting whom?
I pick up last night’s backups from the production customer service box and zip down to my building. I have one voice message from a user on travel in Hawaii. He’s having trouble dialing in. Ready for another gripe? The IT group that is running the firewall has also recently taken over domain login, e-mail, and remote access services for the entire facility.

This group belongs to NETWORK SERVICES. And our domain became a resource domain. Basically, they take all the credit for “running the network” and we (“resource domains”) are left to deal with the angry users. Their level of support is basically to keep e-mail running. Any problem with the client is our problem (even if it is their fault). Example: Our user in Hawaii. We’ve been here before, many times. Network Services’ RAS sucks. He can’t dial in. He doesn’t get an answer. It’s not my problem. It’s not my RAS he cannot dial into.

It’s Network Services’ problem. It’s this group’s RAS he cannot dial into. But Network Services insists he call me. So I have him dial in to their server—no answer. I then have him dial in to one of our computers. It works fine (as expected). I try to dial in to their server—no answer. So now I have to call them and explain everything I’ve done. They assure me that the system is working properly and to check the users’ settings again. Well, although the user and I don’t change squat in our settings, mysteriously it all starts working again.

Every call is like this, whether it concerns e-mail, logging in, or dialing in. Every reply from Network Services is defensive. And they are only available during business hours. They support around 6,000 people; you’d think they’d have some sort of 24/7 support.

We have people strewn across many time zones. You’d think they'd support a wider range of time. That really helps the user trying to troubleshoot a problem dialing in from home.

My users cringe when I tell them they have to call Network Services. They beg me to try and fix it (whatever it is). I’m not saying I’m a Network GOD (even though it hangs below my nametag outside my cube), but the level of service I provide far surpasses that of our “Network Services.”

But hey, I’m not bitter (heh heh heh); it’s kind of made my job easier. Anyway, I jot down the highlights of his message, check my e-mail, and head for the coffee mess. Next, I’m off to the LAN room to take care of the rest of the backups and plow through some logs.

I get a message from one of the secretaries saying her computer doesn’t do anything. Well, she was right, it doesn’t do anything. The HDD made its final metamorphosis into a paperweight (it was beautiful). Her computer came from a batch of 100 that we got back in 1994 (Pentium 100’s Whoohoo!). They all sucked. Since we were buying so many, it had to go out for bid. And we were stuck with the low bidder. Twenty didn’t work out of the box; another 30 had HDD failures in the first year. Granted, all were eventually fixed under warranty, but that was dragged out so long that some went out of warranty. The rest were eventually fixed free of charge but not without large amounts of hassle. There are less than ten left now, and we’re going to have a party when the last one dies. I set her up with a loaner and move on.

My friends and I take up a quick game of Quake II with the Weapons of Destruction Mod. It’s hysterical, and a great stress reliever. We play Quake III too, but not everyone has the video to handle it. I chow down my lunch and catch up on the Web headlines.

I call the user in Hawaii to see how he's doing. Everything is okay. A new PC arrives for one of our users. It’s a Dell PIII 500 (they’re so cheap now). I configure it with our business apps and antivirus [software] and put it aside. The dude with the bar-coding machine will be by tomorrow to bar code it.

1530: Antivirus concerns
Minor virus problem XM.Laroux.AE. The AntiVirus program wasn’t working right. The user said there were errors every morning when he booted his computer but wasn’t worried about it. I cleaned up the machine and had him inform the sender (not work related) of the virus. I then sent out another reminder e-mail to everyone about the importance of having a working, up-to-date antivirus program installed. I later downloaded the latest updates and mailed out another e-mail with a link to those updates.

I grab a stack of printouts off my printer and stuff them in my bag. It’s a list of all the computers in our division. I’ll be going through them tonight.
If you’d like to comment on Tom’s day, please post a comment below. If you’d like to write a support diary for TechRepublic, please send me a note .

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