Supporting new technology

During this Guild Meeting Jeff Davis, support guru extraordinaire, showed members how to counteract the cringing effect new software and hardware produce in a company.

On May 18th Jeff Davis shared support strategy for dealing with new application and software rollouts. If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting.

On May 18th Jeff Davis shared support strategy for dealing with new application and software rollouts. If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting.

Note: TechProGuild edits Guild Meeting transcripts for clarity.

Welcome to the Guild Meeting!
MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to tonight's TechProGuild Guild Meeting! Our speaker tonight is TechRepublic's Support guru—the famous (and sometimes infamous) Jeff Davis. Tonight Jeff will talk about preparing Support to handle new technology. And for the member who asks Jeff the most questions we'll award a nice TechRepublic T-shirt and matching hat!

JEFF DAVIS: Folks, I'd like to thank you all for joining us. One of the things I like to do in my chats is ask everyone to mention their job title and city on the first post. Thanks.

MIKKILUSA: PC support specialist Kennewick WA.

SPITTSLE: Desktop Analyst, Milwaukee, WI.

BRIANRI: Senior Technical Support Rep from Redmond WA.

JASONB: Computer Technician Seabrook, NH.

MIKKILUSA: Cool another Washingtonian.

SOLSON2: I am an IT support person working in RTP, NC.

JEFF DAVIS: Jeff Davis, Community Editor, Louisville, KY. Let's do a quick roll call. How many end users in your shop? 130.


BRIANRI: 1200.

MIKKILUSA: 130 or so also.


SOLSON2: 1000.

Up and running
JEFF DAVIS: 4000 down to 50—what a diverse group. But we all have many challenges in common, keeping the systems up and running and the users productive. To kick things off, I'd like to share a couple of anecdotes from our experiences here at TechRepublic.

If any of our IT guys are in the crowd tonight, I feel safe because they're out of reach! :] But I won't say anything I wouldn't or haven't already said.

SOLSON2: We lost our RAID this weekend and I would like to know if there is a way to recover from a corrupt MFT. Well, we already replaced the files, what a nightmare.

JEFF DAVIS: Anybody have any suggestions for Solson2? This might be a good one to post in our forums. We got hit pretty hard by the ILoveYou thing, and we had to restore files from our "live" servers—ironic when we rebuild those directories so frequently.

SOLSON2: One of our IS people told us to replace the operating system but it wasn't damaged.

BRIANRI: We got off lucky. Can you say "GroupWise"?

JEFF DAVIS: I've seen many systems revived on the Windows side simply by reinstalling W95 or W98 right over the top of the existing installation.

SOLSON2: We also got hit hard from the ILoveYou virus and had to format many of our computers.

Mixed office installations
JEFF DAVIS: My first beef is about mixed Office installations. I'm talking about some users on Office 97 and some upgraded to Office 2000. Problem in anyone else's house?

SOLSON2: This RAID was running on an ALPHA NT 4.0.

MIKKILUSA: Nope no 2000, Office all 97.

JMACAULAY: Isn't 97 famous for incompatibility issues?

SOLSON2: Yes, we have even used MAC exchange with the PCs, difficult to set up to exchange info.

SPITTSLE: The average user has a tough enough time with one application version, let alone two.

JASONB: Yes, a lot of complaints about the 2000, some users want to go back to 97.

BRIANRI: I have not yet heard of customers with 2000 on their home PCs.

SOLSON2: GroupWise?

BRIANRI: It's Novell's mail client solson2.

JEFF DAVIS: JMacaulay, not sure which incompatibility issues you mean. But our IT guys made it the new default for new systems for new hires.

MIKKILUSA: Yes Solson GroupWise 5.5, Novell product.

SOLSON2: I am using 2000 NT and 2000 Office at home, like it much.

JMACAULAY: Same here.

SOLSON2: We're not using any Novell product.

JEFF DAVIS: But are you picky about having the same version on every end user system?

JASONB: It's more of a training thing, fifty secretaries who need training on the Office 2000.

BRIANRI: Our shop is a Win95 desk and Novell networks.

End user systems
MIKKILUSA: Yes. We are close to being done with our 2000 evaluation, just waiting for the 1st service pack.

JEFF DAVIS: At some point our IT guys made O2K the default install on new machines.

TLSNC: It sure makes it a lot easier to support over the phone.

MIKKILUSA: 2000 on desktops only.

SPITTSLE: We have a standard image on all of our PCs, but the folks have different versions at home and on laptops. It can be quite challenging to manage.

JEFF DAVIS: They also made NT the default OS. Some weird behaviors started occurring in our shared Office apps—go figure.

ZOP12: Just got Win2K AS installed, locked it up like 4 times already. :)

MIKKILUSA: Cool, Brianri. Us, too, but have NT and 98 and 95 mix is why we may just go all 2000.

JEFF DAVIS: One of the things that kills me about O2K is the multiple-instance behavior - new document/sheet, new window on the taskbar.

SOLSON2: Installing 2000 NT on a laptop is a breeze, love it.

BRIANRI: That is our feeling too, Mikkilusa. One BIG move to 2000.

JEFF DAVIS: Tlsnc—you hit the nail on the head. The reason for consistent installs is simplicity.

MIKKILUSA: That is annoying, Jeff. You have a fix for us on it?

TLSNC: Boy do I hate that too, Jeff.
Our Guild Meetings feature top-flight professionals leading discussions on interesting and valuable IT issues. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Notes TechMail, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.
Don’t you just hate it?
JASONB: That and all the calls I have gotten about things missing from the menus.

JEFF DAVIS: Mikkilusa, I'm working on it! Lunch with Gates next week.

SOLSON2: One thing I don't like with 2000 NT is that it is slow to bring up your desktop.

JEFF DAVIS: I tell you though; I've had people flame to me in the Support inbox about how they LOVE those extra windows. I don't get it.

MIKKILUSA: I have pounded out most of our annoying things on W2K but why do we have to run Microsoft's Novell client and Novell's client in order to see print ques?

TLSNC: Yeah, it is not too bad if you have the techs to hold their hands at desk side.

JEFF DAVIS: Solson2, you know what I think the problem is? We're trying to put W2K on machines that are under equipped for the *y*ob.

SOLSON2: What is under equipped? I am 128 megs of memory.

JEFF DAVIS: *MS Novell client and Novell client to see print queues? Same reason NetWare assumes you don't want simultaneous logins and NT allows it?

MIKKILUSA: I have 1 machine from Dell that just came with 2000 and it does not need both clients, yet 2 others they shipped did. I AM SO CONFUSED?

JEFF DAVIS: Here's another bummer about upgrading some poor non-technical editor to News—the My Documents paradigm disappears. Mikkilusa, that's a good question for our NetWare/NT guru in residence, John Sheesley. I'll ask him about it.

MIKKILUSA: Yeah, take out of documents and put the folder in the root. Make your life happy, Jeff.

TLSNC: Please explain, Jeff.

Latest version of NetWare
MIKKILUSA: I did Jeff he said got me.

SOLSON2: What is the latest version of NetWare?



JEFF DAVIS: Tlsnc, when the NTws upgrade was made on this person's laptop, for "security reasons" the box was set up with very strict access.

SPITTSLE: 5.2? When did that happen?

TLSNC: Oh, my sympathies.

JEFF DAVIS: Spittsle, search for NetWare on our site—you'll find all ze details. Tlsnc, the thing was, because the policy was ruling the bootup, this person's files, the ones she used every single day, were under some convoluted directory name blah/blah/personal/her name. It was unwieldy. It was confusing. It wasn't explained to her where her files were. I had to do follow-up training because the tech Ghosted and ran. You know what bothers me most about that "more secure" mentality? By definitions, these personal computers are *public computers.* By definition, we don't have any "personal" files on our machines. They're for business only, right?

Brien Posey is one sharp cookie. Worked with him at Cobb Group.

MIKKILUSA: Yea Jeff, go with that thought.

JEFF DAVIS: Hey, I can dream, can't I?

SPITTSLE: Only management thinks that they are for business use only.

MIKKILUSA: Yes, you can.

What’s next on the agenda?
JEFF DAVIS: We're about halfway through tonight's chat. Does anyone have a specific question or topic to address? If not, quick roll call: How many of you are taping Frazier like I am? :)

MIKKILUSA: I need a write up: backdrops and the resources they suck to plead a case on them these rotating backdrops got to be resource hogs.

TLSNC: Not me.

MIKKILUSA: Will be on in 2 hours.

JEFF DAVIS: Ah, I forgot about the time difference.

BRIANRI: What are some suggestions for bringing support people up to speed on Win2K?

SOLSON2: No not me.

JEFF DAVIS: Here's my two cents for introducing new technologies to either a) your help desk people or b) your end users or c) both.

JMACAULAY: Give 'em free copies!

MIKKILUSA: That is kind of spit in the ocean, pretty broad.

SOLSON2: So how does the Blue Screen Of Death for 2000 look compared to NT 4.0?

JEFF DAVIS: BrianRi—on Windows 2K? I'm personally starting by reading a book on Active Directory.

Management standardized equipment
JASONB: My biggest problem is how do you get management to standardize equipment? I only know about a new machine when it comes in and the user needs help configuring it.

JEFF DAVIS: JasonB, one answer is to only let one department order equipment. Easier said than done, of course.

SOLSON2: That is a problem where I work.

JMACAULAY: Vendor specificity might help. Lemna Bros. in NYC uses only Compaq.

BRIANRI: Active Directory? Is that Microsoft's NDS?

SPITTSLE: It's very challenging to change the organization's mode of thinking. We went from a completely open environment to a very standardized one, and two years later are still trying to get people to buy into it.

SOLSON2: Compaq, yuck.

JEFF DAVIS: BrianRi - as one who has endured upgrades since DOS 1.0, my best advice is "compare it to NT." You say and document things like, "Remember in NT 3.51 or 4.x you did flip? Well, in W2K it's flop."

JASONB: Sure is. Each user orders their own equipment as they think they need it. We have one machine that I would love to have for gaming being used for word processing.

SOLSON2: We have a Compaq that when you first start it will not boot up unless you shut it off first.

Supporting an environment
JEFF DAVIS: JasonB, I don't envy supporting that environment.

SPITTSLE: It has to start at the top of the organization.

SOLSON2: I mean turn it off completely and then it reboots.

JASONB: I won't be much longer. The search is on.

JMACAULAY: Well, they didn't hire me!

JEFF DAVIS: Spittsle, you're right. If the coach doesn't say do it, nobody does it. JMacaulay, do you mean Compaq?

JMACAULAY: No, Lehman Bros.

TLSNC: Well who is driving the push to the new technology then if it isn't the top?

JEFF DAVIS: One trick I like when rolling out a new anything is to do a department at a time, if possible. Train a trainer—the big cheese in the department—get them all up to speed. Debug your process before you tackle the masses. Tlsnc, the thing is, most people at the top think of IT like they do the light bill—necessary evil.

JASONB: Worst part is all the PCs are tied into an AS/400 and I have to put emulation boards into the new machines. One user ordered a machine with no extra slots so I tore out his sound card and made him suffer.

JEFF DAVIS: JasonB—dude, you need a policy? Or should I say, after they lose you, they'll need more than a policy.

SOLSON2: So why does my Compaq have to be turned off and then turned back on to boot it up?

BRIANRI: Jasonb, what about Client Access?

What about Client Access?
JASONB: They sure do.

SPITTSLE: When we did our big rollout, we had a "leave behind consultant" in each department for a week.

SOLSON2: Hardware or software error?

TLSNC: Not bad Jeff. I sometimes start with the "squeaky wheel" in the department.

MIKKILUSA: It is a Compaq solson2.

JEFF DAVIS: Solson2, send me a detailed description via e-mail at and maybe I can use it as a Pop 'Quiz topic.

MIKKILUSA: Could be both.

SOLSON2: That's only half the problem.

MIKKILUSA: More like a prayer request Jeff.

JASONB: Brianri I don’t understand the question.

JEFF DAVIS: Spittsle, I like the "leave behind consultant" thing. It's a built-in liaison to IT. Something we all need - better relations with the masses.

BRIANRI: Sorry JasonB do you have to use emulator boards for your connection to the As/400?

SPITTSLE: Our customers LOVED the consultant. It really helped ease the transition.

SOLSON2: Well this is a production machine and Compaq wants to reinstall all the software. It has many difficult setups and is a BIG nightmare to setup.

JASONB: Yes we do. I have 2 networks on each PC, one Windows and the other to the AS/400.

JEFF DAVIS: You know what else helps make users more amenable to change? NOTICE. Nothing makes them madder than being surprised. "What do you mean my files aren't going to be in the same place any more?" If you're going to make a radical change like rename a server or upgrade an end user's machine, GIVE THEM NOTICE.

What do you do?
MIKKILUSA: Here is a good user one. A director calls me in his office. He has discovered a server security problem so I go and he says watch what happens when I click Cancel at the login screen. I say ok, then he says look I can still get on my computer. I say yea? He says, well why? I was nice and said yes, notice no network drives?

SOLSON2: And then you hear, what do you mean they're over there?

BRIANRI: True, but how do you communicate the change? E-mail, they auto-delete anything from IS.

SOLSON2: I say just pull the plug and ask for forgiveness later.

JASONB: Surprise is good for them, when we abandoned the AS/400 dummy terminals the buttons they were used to were different on the PC.

JEFF DAVIS: Okay, so surprise might be good, but if you're going to do it, create a "leave-behind." A 1-page summary, explanation, a manual.

MIKKILUSA: AS/400, oh what a pain.

LHJP: Hi all.

BRIANRI: I grew up on the AS/400. :)

JEFF DAVIS: There must be something good about the AS/400, but they sure can't find anybody who knows them, at least in our market.

There must be something good there…
MIKKILUSA: As long as the drive letter is the same they never notice Jeff.

BRIANRI: Where is that?

JASONB: Yes, very, but I don’t have to configure it, just set up the emulation boards.

MIKKILUSA: I grew bald from AS/400 brainri.

JASONB: We have a specialist who comes in that lives and breaths AS/400.

SOLSON2: Does WinNT 4.0 with Service Pack 6a support USB?

SPITTSLE: How can you keep the support staff positive??? Burnout seems to be prevalent.

JEFF DAVIS: JasonB, and what would happen if he were abducted by aliens? Who's next in the guru chain?

BRIANRI: I am well on my way mikkilusa! That’s why I moved to PCs. :)

JASONB: Will have to pay the aliens ransom....

JEFF DAVIS: Spittsle, you treat them and tell them to act like heroes.

SOLSON2: Macs are fun to work with, especially when you get to hook them up to NT.

JMACAULAY: Could I collect some advice for ideal partition schemes using a 2000/98 dual boot and a 10-gig drive?

MIKKILUSA: I just did that Mac.

SOLSON2: Use 2 drive letters.

Advice on ideal partition
MIKKILUSA: Use a MBR program is my best advice.

JEFF DAVIS: Jmacaulay, if you'll send me e-mail at, I'll send you a detailed answer. It's pretty cool—there's a formula that tells you how many gigs for the operating system, for various components, for optimal performance.

SOLSON2: Split it in half.

SPITTSLE: It just seems tough since the majority of calls they receive are complaints or problems. After eight hours, they have to crawl home sometimes.

JMACAULAY: Very nice. Thanks.

MIKKILUSA: Partition manager by a guy named ranish is good.

JEFF DAVIS: Spittsle, it's like that movie Pushing Tin (?). You have stress; you learn to deal with it. You beat it.

SOLSON2: I had 2000/98 installed on my laptop and finally removed 98. Does anyone use RAS to fix problems from home?

MIKKILUSA: If you have CD burner you need 98 still, solson.

SOLSON2: 2000 doesn't support a burner?

JEFF DAVIS: Solson2, our guys use some freeware that's remote-control heaven. Send me a note and I'll send you the URL.

TLSNC: I used RAS to support 425 servers at sites all over VA and MD.

SOLSON2: Okay.

JEFF DAVIS: Mikkilusa-amen - crush the pagers.

MIKKILUSA: Adaptec has a release solson but U MUST PAY.

Setup Netmeeting
SOLSON2: I setup Netmeeting, hey it works.

SPITTSLE: We use McAfee Remote Control. Remote Control has saved me so many miles!

JEFF DAVIS: Tlsnc, didn't mean to dis RAS.

SOLSON2: Anyone ever tried ControlIt from Computer Associates?

JEFF DAVIS: Hey, I have thin-client printers (a PC and a printer, no keyboard or monitor) and PCAnywhere solutions still out there.

JEFF DAVIS: Solson2, haven't tried it but LOVE CA.

MIKKILUSA: PCAnyware same deal you want it to work on 2000 U MUST PAY.

SOLSON2: We use the Alpha computers so I have to be choosy.

TLSNC: No, problem. You use what you have until something better comes along.

BRIANRI: We use PCAnywhere to assist our field force.

JEFF DAVIS: I believe it’s, if you want to check it out.

SPITTSLE: Anyone try NetOP remote control???

SOLSON2: I don't think PCAnywhere runs on Alpha

JEFF DAVIS: Folks, we're coming up on the top of the hour, and I want to thank you all again for joining our Guild Meeting this evening.
Our Guild Meetings feature top-flight professionals leading discussions on interesting and valuable IT issues. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Notes TechMail, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

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