Support diary: Tony Geraghty (Wednesday)

Our support diary author hails from Dublin, Ireland.

Today Tony beats a virus and troubleshoots missing network printers.


Read Monday’s entry.

Read Tuesday’s entry.


8:20 A.M.
A pretty heavy fog bank caused traffic chaos this morning, so I arrive a little later than usual. All backups check out okay, and everything seems to be running smoothly. A news item mentions the power cut yesterday. Apparently, our outage was the first of a number that affected various parts of the city late last night. Head office wasn't affected by any of the later cuts, but I'm concerned we may have a reoccurrence of yesterday’s fun and games.

8:45 A.M.
A minor virus problem in one of our UK sites turns out to be bigger than anticipated. A scheduled scan of the domain picked up a Word macro virus on one of the PCs. The virus managed to infect some files on a network drive before it was zapped, so I instigate a domain-wide scan to ensure it hasn't spread too far.

9:30 A.M.
The virus scan returns an “all clear.” It seems the macro virus didn't get very far before Dr. Solomon stomped it. Just as the scan finishes, my boss lets me know he accidentally deleted a folder from his network drive. I reinsert last night’s backup tape and start the restore job.

12:00 P.M.
It has been another quiet morning. Two more printer problems have arisen, but they're simple enough to fix. The first is a physical inability to print envelopes from an inkjet. This is resolved easily enough by removing some paper jammed under the roller. The second is slightly more interesting—it’s a side effect of yesterday’s power cut. It seems the user was using a label printer when her machine went down, and the drivers have become corrupt. One reinstall later and things are back to normal.

Another user rings to ask if I'll take a look at an old PC and evaluate whether it can be upgraded to meet the company standard, or if its only value is to a local charity.

12:30 P.M.
A quick word with my operations manager turns into a brief review on our policy for backing up data, and the physical layout of the shared drives on each domain server on the WAN. Following that, it’s off to lunch.

2:00 P.M.
Once back from lunch, I check all is well and then pay a scheduled visit to another building in the compound to sort out one or two problems. We've just recently added the eight machines in this building to our head office NT domain, and I've agreed to visit and ensure everything is running smoothly and iron out any "bedding-down" problems which may have occurred.

Two users are looking for access to a network printer, and a third wants me to take a look at her PC. It is reportedly hanging on boot-up occasionally. I quickly install the printers and move on to the PC with startup problems. It boots cleanly for me on the first attempt, but the user reports that it is an erratic problem. While it’s booting, I notice that it’s an old P75 with only 8 megs of RAM. This could be part of the problem, as it’s running an early release of Windows 95. The dusty environment in which it’s located certainly isn't helping matters either.

I'm aware of a spare P200 machine in this office and suggest migrating the user's files to this PC instead of trying to rescue the antique. The user is more than happy to go along with that, so I have a quick word with her office manager to ensure he has no objections. Upon examining the P200, I discover there is no network card installed, and it, too, is running an early release of Win 95. I decide to bring the machine back to my office and install a network card, some extra RAM, and NT 4.0 before going ahead with the changeover.

4:00 P.M.
My colleague who is on a site visit to the UK this week rings me to request some equipment be sent over. He needs a spare video card and some RAM to address some performance issues. We chat for a few minutes. Things are going well for him, so he should be back in Dublin by Friday.

No sooner have we finished speaking than I receive a call to inform me that a recently supplied A3 color laser printer in another of our UK offices has disappeared from the network. Rebooting the printer doesn't help, and I know I haven't repeated my famous IP address conflict error, so I have someone on site check the physical connections from the NIC to the wall port, and from the patch panel to the hub. Everything checks out, and replacing the cables doesn't help, so I begin to wonder if the problem lies with the printer’s NIC.

As a short-term measure, we decide to plug the printer into the parallel port of a spare PC and use it as a print server. I agree to call them tomorrow and talk them through installing TCP/IP networking on the spare machine.

5:10 P.M.
Another division in the UK reports a problem with e-mail—they aren't receiving any! I ask the obvious question: Are they sure they are being sent some? They assure me certain clients and customers have insisted they had, indeed, sent e-mail and were awaiting a response.

As I investigate further, I'm informed this issue can wait until tomorrow, as the user I'm talking to is in a hurry to leave for the evening. Nevertheless, after he's left for home, I take a peek at the mail server. It seems to be hung on its dialup cycle. I kill two processes that appear to be hung, but to no avail. It looks like we need to reboot.

Rebooting the system makes things worse. It hasn't come back up! Calling the remote office is fruitless. Everyone seems to have gone home for the evening. There isn't much I can do if the server hasn't rebooted, so I decide to wait until tomorrow and talk to someone who can visually check the status of the machine. I catch up on some administration paperwork and decide to call it a day at 6:00 P.M.
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