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Why We Should Be Allowed To Do Our Job

By Robotech ·
Got called once on Monday this week and then on Tuesday. A user in one of the trailers had problems accessing the server, which is a domain controller, file server, and application server.
On both occasions the client had restarted the server before calling me (I'm not on staff, I'm a consultant) hoping that this would solve the problem.
When that failed on both occasions, they decided to call me. On both occasions all I had to do was log the user off and log back in... problem solved. I told the client that the next time it happened they shouldn't restart the server, that they should call me first thing.
Yesterday, Thursday, I was called again. This time the server wasn't restarted and so I could troubleshoot. This time, several PCs were affected, including some on the main building.
Right away I realized that the problem had nothing to do with the slow Cat5 connection (less than 10Mps bandwidth) linking the main building with the other two trailers.
The messages on the Windows XP workstations spoke of security violations, and the inability to contact a domain server, but the server was up and running fine. In fact, a couple months ago I had installed a second NIC and enabled DNS round-robin (a crude but effective form of load balancing, which I decided to implement since Win2K Server only has load balancing in the Advanced Server version).
I checked the event logs on one of the affected PCs, as well as the server, there were no security violations. I decided to ping one of the network cards on the server, so I pinged X.X.X.4 (where X is an octet that I don?t want you to know). There was 100% packet loss, in other words, no reply. I decided to ping the other NIC card, X.X.X.5 and I got a response, 0% packet loss. Something was wrong with the first NIC.
I went to the server and checked the status; the first NIC was not registering any packet transmission activity, even though it was shown in the system tray as connected.
I have PC Anywhere running, which allows me to log into the server from one of the remote offices, so I began to think that maybe PC Anywhere had locked up the connection. I closed PC Anywhere, but that didn?t help. After all, PC Anywhere was listening on both NICs, why would it lock up only one?
I disabled the NIC and re-enabled it, packet transmission began on the NIC and everyone could now connect to the server without any error messages.
I promptly went out and got a generic $14.00 NIC from a popular retail store. That afternoon I ran a diagnostic on the NIC when everyone had left the office. The NIC failed the twister loop back test the first time, on the second try it passed all tests. On the third try it failed the Ethernet loop-back test. On the fourth and fifth try it passed all tests. On the sixth try it failed both the twister and Ethernet loop-back tests. I replaced the NETGEAR NIC (thanks to NETGEAR for their diagnostic tools, and solid documentation)generic NIC. Windows didn?t even detect new hardware. I had to take the NIC back out and return it to the store last night. Instead I got a LINKSYS NIC which I installed this morning, and everything is working fine again.

The moral of this story is:
1. Customers should not try to cut corners by doing stuff like restarting the servers. In this case, I?m going to bill the customer for those two occasions that they restarted the server and I had to drive out, only to log the user out and log them back in. Had they not restarted the server I would have figured out the problem the first time.
2. Regardless of how many messages you get from a machine, always use good troubleshooting methodology, PING, TRACERT etc.
3. The most important, don?t use cheap hardware, it costs you in the long run.

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by GuruOfDos In reply to Why We Should Be Allowed ...

My boss doesn't even know what my job involves! He's happy to task me with the stuff he can't be bothered to do. "Mike, make me a brochure in Word and print me twenty copies" or "I can't print to the printer...sort it out while I go to lunch". He seems to thinks that if everyone can use their computers, I have nothing better to do!

If he can't do something on his computer it's always MY fault not his or it's a hardware problem or 'the ISP has been nothing but trouble since we went to Broadband'. I'm there to keep things running smoothly and the quietly I get on with it, the better!

Last week, he nearly threw his PC across the office. It kept crashing, the screen kept going blank and it was really on it's last legs. I told him it was shagged out (486DX4 100, 32Mb RAM, 1.2Gb HDD, 16x CD) and he really needed to replace it. His comment? "Why do I need a new computer when I pay you your inflated salary to keep the ones we have working?".

There was no answer to that! I just waited until he was out of the office for a day, bought a brand new computer, stripped the innards out of it and installed them in his old case. The new computer had a lot of extra goodies that the old one didn't like a CDRW, modem and DVD drive. The modem ended up in the spares box (for 'homers'), and the other components got 'lost' in other PC's around the company.

When he came back, he noticed one of the 'lads' was watching a DVD during his lunch-hour. Naturally I was accused of needlessly wasting resources on other computers when his needed a rebuild. He then went to his office, fired up the computer (now a 2GHz AMD, 512Mb, 40Gb HDD but still using the 16x CD) and it flew.

"See..." he said, "nothing wrong with this old thing that a little TLC can't take care of!"

Perhaps I should have kept his innards and just given it a new case. But what then??

"MIKE!!!!! This new computer is just as bad as the last one...take it back, get a refund...and fix the old one!"

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by Cactus Pete In reply to Quietly...

Your kids are going to be SPOILED!! At least, they'll think they are :)

I would have left that place a long time ago. Anyone who thinks my salary is inflated is welcome to the job, if they want it so bad. And if it's someone higher up, hey, they hired me, they can fire me and try getting along with someone else [or nobody else, if it's so damned easy].

The percent of people currently in this field able to do my job competently is probably 5. So I figure I only compete with the top 5%, and I expect to be paid [or otherwise compensated] in the top 5%, too.

OK, looking back on what I've typed so far - it appears that this issue is one of my "buttons" like that thread we had going on earlier this year. Sorry for ranting, really. But man...

I don't know how you take it, Mike.

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You wouldn't believe...

by GuruOfDos In reply to Man...

How much 'good stuff' falls off the end of the bench and into the 'personal' box!!

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by Cactus Pete In reply to You wouldn't believe...

That happened to me before.

IBM used to send several parts out to solve a single issue. But they didn't always ask for the parts back, if they weren't needed. I ended up building an entire computer, eventually - even the case with a serial number.

I believe they were still profitable that year, so I'm not upset.

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