Support Diary: Alex Champness (Friday)

The week is coming to a close, but our one-man IT department is busier than ever. Broken faxes, problems with the backup, and special requests from senior management keep Alex on his toes.

This week, Support Republic will feature the daily diary of Alex Champness, an IT manager from Colchester, Essex, UK. Alex runs the IT department for Nicholas Anthony, a company that designs kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom interiors. He supports its offices in Colchester, London, and Chelmsford. Alex recently appeared in a TechRepublic Featured Member Profile. Click here to read the interview and learn more about Alex.
Get caught up on Alex’s diary.Monday: Juggling multiple responsibilities as a one-man IT departmentTuesday: Dealing with Mother NatureWednesday: Surviving a hectic day without losing your coolThursday: Balancing end-user support with other IT duties
8:30 A.M.
Friday has arrived, and the sun is shining—finally. Hopefully, the good weather will continue into the weekend.

Six months ago, a director demanded that he have a laptop, and so I purchased one for him. Since then, it has sat in the office, only being used by two directors to send and receive e-mail. As the machine could be put to better use elsewhere, I have devised a plan to secretly replace it with an old, reconfigured desktop. With both directors out of the office, the opportunity for my clandestine switch arises. I quickly swap the machines and must now wait for the directors to return.
How do you handle special requests from managers, directors, or executives? Are these individuals constantly asking the IT department for special treatment? If you have a successful method for handling these sensitive situations, share it with your fellow TechRepublic members. Post a comment below or send us an e-mail.
9:30 A.M.
Back at my desk, I receive a call from the director. He is not happy about losing his laptop. Feeling brave, I tell him that he is wasting resources by only using the laptop for e-mail. Luckily, he seems to agree.

I begin receiving e-mails from several users regarding the training schedule I sent out on Wednesday. Several people are away or can’t make their scheduled times. I update the schedule and send out a revised copy.

11:00 A.M.
I am still working on the backup problems we’ve been having. Seagate support has sent me several e-mails, one of which included an executable to test the drive’s ability to read and write correctly. Full of hope, I install and run the program. Unfortunately, the application cannot find the tape drive. This problem is starting to really annoy me. I call an engineer friend who luckily has a spare tape drive and SCSI card. He will bring them around later so that we can at least do a backup.

A call from the sales desk takes me downstairs. (Working on the first floor and having my most needy users on the ground floor can be like step aerobics sometimes.) It’s their printer again. Apparently, they have just changed the ink cartridge, but the out-of-colored-ink light is still flashing. I do all the usual checks, reset the printer, look at the diagnostics, but nothing extinguishes the out-of-colored-ink light. My suspicions arise when I remove the cartridge and it feels very lightweight. I quiz the users on when they last changed the cartridge. “About two or three weeks ago,” they reply. I change the cartridge and trudge my way back up the stairs, problem solved.

12:30 P.M.
I finish adding the FrontPage server extensions to the server and set up the intranet. There seem to be some problems running the message board; the server extensions are working, but some of the pages have errors. More time will be required to make it work properly.

A call comes in on my mobile from the employment agency I’ve been using. They tell me I should be making at least double my current salary. I’m glad to hear this news—it’s no fun being unappreciated and underpaid.

2:30 P.M.
A user in our Chelmsford office (another branch) calls; their fax machine is broken. “Ah ha,” I say to myself, “a golden opportunity to eliminate another fax machine.” Our users have the ability to send faxes from their PCs, but instead most choose to use a fax machine. My plan is to eventually have everyone sending and receiving faxes using their PCs and a network scanner.

As usual on Fridays, our sales department calls with several last-minute problems. They work on Saturdays, giving presentations to numerous customers. This tends to put a lot of pressure on our aging machines, and I nearly always have to bail out some anxious user. Unfortunately, they always leave things until the last possible moment.

5:45 P.M.
I decide it’s time to stop and end the day. If I were to stay until everything was finished, I’d be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I go home looking forward to the weekend and seeing the sea.

This diary recounts Alex’s week from March 26 to March 30, 2001.

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