Our guest contributor is an MCSE and a control freak by nature.

To introduce myself, I’m a client support analyst for a Fortune 500 company. Along with one associate, I support around 450 people in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, but we don’t really travel all that much. Except for the occasional admin issue, most of my tickets are generated by one office, so that is where my office is and where I spend 95% of my time. Users are supposed to call a central Help Desk at the company headquarters and Help Desk personnel generate tickets when they can’t solve the problem themselves.

For my users, however, I tend to be the Help Desk as well. They know and trust me and have my cell phone number. When a user calls, unless I direct them elsewhere, I’ll just generate and close the ticket myself. My boss really hates this practice, but since I’m able to keep all my sites happy and haven’t asked him to hire any help, he lets me get away with it. The effect of doing business this way is that we’re Help Desk, Network Engineering, Server admin, and break/fix. It makes for a few long days, but I’m a control freak by nature so there’s probably no other choice. Fortunately, my associate likes to do things this way as well and is more than willing to do his share of the work.

The week started on Saturday
This week began a bit early for me. My sites are all in good shape, and the boss decided that my associate could handle things while I help out in Manhattan. Various circumstances have left the New York group way behind in tickets. I’m supposed to show up Monday morning and hope to have them all caught up by Wednesday. I love this kind of thing.

The Client Support Analysts in New York are coworkers with whom I’ve spoken on the phone several times but never met. Not only will this give me the opportunity to work directly with them, but I’ll be able to build up credit for when I’m in the same fix. The problem was, I was not really as prepared as I let on, so my work week began Saturday around noon. I had four tasks to complete in order to look as together as I want coworkers to believe that I am:

  1. Create a new image for the Dell GXIs.
  2. Burn a CD with that image.
  3. Create user IDs for the latest group of trainees and give the appropriate access.
  4. Organize a big bag of CDs I use regularly.

The big bag was a real mess, and, all in all, it took about four hours to get everything done.

Monday, 8:30 A.M.
Since I flew in Sunday night, Monday morning starts out in Manhattan. My NYC counterpart (hereinafter referred to as “NYC”) and I introduce ourselves and, after pouring a couple of cups of coffee and hooking up my laptop, we get right to work. The ticket numbers are already lower than they were Friday. NYC busted his butt Friday so we could be sure and finish before I have to leave. He just didn’t have the time to input the closures. While he does that, I start on the install of a replacement PC.

Installing new computers used to be a pain, but now we create a ghost image for every PC type and use that. It takes, at most, 20 minutes to download on the new computer. Afterwards, it might take another 10 minutes to individualize the PC. We’ve been using ghost in my sites for a couple of years now, but some IT people are reluctant to use it on NT machines because of the SID. The SID is really not an issue though. The only time it comes into play is when the system is on a domain. The trick is to create a ghost image of a system that has never been on a domain. After downloading that image, you can put the new computer on the domain and it will receive a new SID.

10:00 A.M.
We print off all the open tickets and make a game plan. We’ll work together on the two replacements and split up the others. One I close almost immediately. A user wants dial-up capability from her PC. She has complete Internet access, so dial-up should not be an issue. I find the user and explain the problem of security. She says it doesn’t matter. Her boss ordered a new PC anyway. I try to explain that it won’t work on the new PC either, and that if she just explains what she needs to access, I should be able to get her there through the Internet. She says that’s not possible and brushes me off. Oh well, we can close this ticket, but NYC will have to deal with it in a couple of weeks.

1:20 P.M.
We set up three more PCs and install a new printer and a new fax. Just when we think it’s safe to go to lunch, a user from one of my sites calls. After lunch, that location lost all network connectivity. He just wants to make sure I know. Well I don’t know. I go back to my laptop and check on tickets. There are no tickets assigned to me. I checked and can’t ping the router. After a couple of calls I discover that, because of a storm in the Southeast, some frame relay was down. I relay this to my users and promise that I’ll check their connectivity and make a few more calls if they’re not back up soon.

Another site calls with network outage. I explain the Southeast problem but check a few things just in case. Turns out they weren’t routed through the Southeast. I can ping their router. Everyone reboots and is back. Don’t know what hiccuped, but they seem to be OK. They have my number if it comes up again.

2:00 P.M.
It finally looks like we have time for lunch. We’ve already closed seven tickets: four PC replacements, a printer install, a fax install, and the user who wanted dial-up. If we can keep this up, we’ll finish the Manhattan office today and go upstate tomorrow. We get back from lunch at 2:50, and now I can ping the router at my site that was down. They are back.

After lunch, things get a little tougher. One user has a nagging problem with 95 on his laptop. He has just backed up, so we decide to re-image the disk. Unfortunately, the image we had used had a different network card. We load the drivers for his computer, but 95 is giving us a fit with it. We can’t seem to get TCP/IP to bind. We go to 3Com and get the latest drivers. While I play around with it, NYC closes the last three tickets.

6:05 P.M.
NYC joins me in my quest with the 95 laptop. Together we convince 95 that the 3Com token ring card is really an IBM and get it to bind. Stranger things have happened.

We remember some detail work left out on the new installs. Because we hadn’t configured the network logins for individual groups, everyone will have to type in their entire user name. It takes us about 30 minutes to go back and add those.

7:00 P.M.
We pack everything up and go out for a nice dinner on the company. Tomorrow I’m taking the train upstate. NYC will meet me at the station, and we’ll go to another site from there.
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