Support Diary: Alex Champness (Monday)

Find out how one hardworking IT pro juggles multiple responsibilities as a one-man IT department.

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.

8:30 A.M.
I travel through the usual traffic, rain, and fog to reach Colchester and am glad to arrive at my dry office.

I check my e-mail first thing. Our sales staff works on Saturday and nearly always has problems. This time, a printer is reporting a problem with the print bar that the head moves along. A quick cleaning with some WD-40 and household oil solves the problem.

Next, I devote some time to continue writing a set of installation procedures for a new system my company is taking on. I also have to finish editing a computer map of the company. I started this project soon after taking over the IT department 14 months ago. Until now, no one knew which computers were where.

11:00 A.M.
Now I can give our NT servers a quick check. The Colchester server seems to be having a problem with the backup. A quick tweak should fix it. Our London server has a recurring problem. The file Store.exe will not stop growing. The file is meant to be a temporary store, but it is not dumping any files. Once the file grows too large, users are prevented from logging on, and the server has to be rebooted. I am still looking for a solution for this one.

The Chelmsford server’s WINS is reporting “an exception during the process of sending a push notification to another WINS.” I’ll keep an eye on this. The problem is due to me rebooting one of our WAN’s other servers at a different site. In a minute, I’ll make sure everything is running okay.

12:00 P.M.
A user in London calls to report a sewage flood. They’ve had to move all the computers from the lower floor. I can sense a nasty job coming my way. I will definitely have to visit the London office sometime this week but will leave it until the sewage problem is resolved.

12:30 P.M.
Nightmare. An irate London user calls to say her fax machine is broken and blames me. Every company has someone like this. You know the one, no matter what you do, it’s never good enough, and they trash every electronic thing they touch.

During the call, she brings up two other problems. Apparently her e-mail is not working. I ask her if she has the address right—this doesn’t go down too well! Their Zeta fax (PC faxing system) is not working. A quick check with Exchange and Event Viewer shows no obvious problems.

A dial-in check on the London server reveals an IRQ conflict with the internal modem. This system was installed before I started working here and has never worked. Until now, no one had realized the problem because they all use the normal fax machine.

2:30 P.M.
After a quick lunch, it’s time to swap out a few workstations. Several of our designers work with graphics software to create ”photo real” images. The pictures show our customers what their finished interior will look like. A new designer recently took over for an employee that was let go due to suspicious circumstances. The computer this designer is using is fairly low speed and needs to be changed. After a quick swap, I check on the e-mail and then load the graphics software and catalogues.

4:00 P.M.
It’s now time for a trip to our warehouse. The warehouseman was made redundant, and I must remove and store his computer in my office. I return to my desk and focus my attention on our intranet. I spend the rest of the afternoon setting the home pages on each employee’s Internet browser to our intranet. Only the financial controller and myself have automatic Internet access. Other employees must get special permission to use our proxy server.

5:45 P.M.
Time to go home.
Do you have an answer for Alex’s problem with the Store.exe file? Post a comment below or send us an e-mail.

This diary recounts Alex's week from Monday, March 26, to Friday, March 30, 2001.

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