Diary of an IT manager: Tanya Buba (Monday)

An IT manager at a television station describes her efforts to prove that she can handle all the new responsibilities she has inherited after receiving a promotion.

This week, IT Manager Republic will feature the daily diary of Tanya Buba, IT manager for a network affiliate television station in Louisville, KY.

7:30 A.M.
I’m a no-fuss kinda’ gal, so I quickly shower, grab a cup of coffee and my pager, and I’m on my way.

I had the good fortune to inherit the position of IT manager after my boss left the television station for greener pastures. After three months of single-handedly running the entire IT department, I was formally promoted. I’m currently in charge of more than 150 workstations, about 200 users, six servers, and a combination of routers and hubs.

9:00 A.M.
Time to start the workday. I stop by the receptionist’s desk to help her learn a few tasks, and she is thrilled. From a distance, I hear her call me a “computer goddess.” A quick stop at the backup server tells me the weekend backup went off without a hitch.

The backup server was the cause of one of my first trials-by-fire in my new job. It was Christmas weekend when I received the fateful call that e-mail was down, and there was no Internet access. I learned this after driving four hours to spend the holidays with my family. The backup server, which doubles as our DHCP server, had had a meltdown. Once all the IP leases had expired, there was nothing to hand out renewals, so a rebuild was in order. I installed two 20-GB hard drives, which were mirrored for redundancy.

After fighting the NT install because of the SCSI card, the DHCP scope was set. I added a few exclusions for those employees who are restricted from Internet access and I configured backup functions using ArcServe 2000. Now, a month later, it’s still purring like a kitten. So my first major undertaking was a success. I change the tape and head to my office.

I’m expecting our telephone vendor to arrive this morning to repair a problem with delayed voice mail message delivery. Several users have complained about not being notified of messages until several hours after they were received. I suspect there is a problem with the message-waiting indicator function.

Then, the research director calls me and says she doesn’t have a dial tone on the modem. Here’s how the conversation unfolds:
Me: Is the phone line connected to the modem?
Research director: Yes
Me: Is the modem turned on?
Research director: Well, the phone line is plugged into the wall and it’s labeled data.
Me: But is it plugged into the modem?
Research director: We’ve never had a modem.

Good grief! I know this is not accurate, so I stop by to check on it. There is a modem hiding out under a desk—unplugged. Yes, I’m laughing to myself, but the issue is actually worse than we thought.

The dial-up connection had been deleted. Since she is very familiar with the application, I ask her to contact the vendor and get their help in reconfiguring the dial-up settings. I check back with her later, and all is working again.

11:00 A.M.
I receive a page from the newsroom. One of our vendors wants to do a software upgrade and needs the Administrator password. Mondays are never a good day to do this, but I agree to allow the project to move forward since we seem to have some nasty weather heading our way.

Keep in mind that I work at a television station that broadcasts several hours of news programming daily. The system in question broadcasts the list of schools and businesses that have closed due to weather problems. I’ll check back with him to see how he is doing. I’m already late for our department meeting.

At the weekly department meeting, I’m hoping to hear about our WAN upgrade. Things haven’t been quite right since we relocated our firewall to our parent company. After working through some minor issues, we discovered that their ISP is shortchanging them on bandwidth. Hopefully, when they get that resolved, our issues will be resolved. A note from corporate explains that an all-hands-on-deck meeting has been called with the vendor for tomorrow.

12:00 P.M.
I check my voice and e-mail for any issues from the end users. The users in my organization have been incredibly patient while I’ve adjusted to my hectic new position. After two months, I’m beginning to develop some training ideas to help make the end users more self-sufficient.

I receive a call from the general manager’s administrative assistant, and she asks when I will set up their new fax machine. Like many IT pros, if it has an on/off switch, it falls in my domain. I’m in charge of any technology from faxes to copiers and all the toner in between.

1:45 P.M.
It’s almost time for our weekly department-head meeting when I realize I haven’t eaten lunch. Oh well, a half hour is plenty of time. I arrive to the meeting on time and am glad that I grabbed a quick lunch because the meeting is a long one.

3:45 P.M.
I begin planning the newsroom laser project. In addition to the project equipment, my refurbished network cards are also ready. As you may know, 3Com provides lifetime warranties on their network cards (ISA, PCI, and PCMCIA). So I just send the NIC back when it starts dropping off the network, and 3Com will rework it.

We are replacing a script printer that uses expensive five-part carbon paper with five laser printers. The script printer is dot-matrix technology and requires much more tender loving care than I can offer, which is to say that my department lacks the time and money that the printer demands. We will route all five printers through a buffered data broadcast unit from Black Box connected to a NetPort server. We will make use of a single Novell print queue for users to select when printing, which will be redirected through the serial interface on the print server. After laying it all out, I feel confident that the project will go off without a hitch.

5:30 P.M.
Most of the users have gone home. However, since the evening newscasts begin airing at 5:00 P.M., I’m required to stay until 6:00 P.M. But I typically stay about an hour later than that anyway. This is when I archive my e-mail, address unfinished business, and complete administrative work.
What advice would you give to a new IT manager for prioritizing his or her job responsibilities? Post a comment below or send us an e-mail.

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