* Posts by jcitron

108 posts • joined 9 Jul 2014

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Sacked NCC Group grad trainee emailed 300 coworkers about Kali Linux VM 'playing up'

jcitron

Re: hardware problem ?

Yup. Excellent advice which I had to remember to do after I reimaged my laptop. Like most days in my life I get interrupted a gazillion times, came back and put in my tools thumb drive, then watched as my AV software decided I had naughty bits on it and wiped the stick for me.

jcitron

Re: I know it's unlikely

A coworker pranked another in an office I supported with a wireless keyboard and mouse. Periodically words would be changed in emails or documents, and the victim's mouse would move randomly.

I got a call from both the prankster and the victim and played along with it for a few months. Eventually the victim discovered the wireless dongle when he went to plug in a thumb drive.

Reverse Ferret! Forget what we told you – the iPad isn't really for work

jcitron

Re: Oh FFS

Not really. A few years ago the place I worked for added on a layer of data encryption on top of already slower machines. The 4GB laptops were slow enough handling those huge Excel spreadsheets, database applications, remote connections, and other things, and the EPE made it worse. The users complained all the time about the slow machines even when new out of the box.

The sales engineers and R&D folks, however, could not demo software using these 4GB laptops. One guy had a embarrassing machine lock up from what I was told, which may have cost the company a contract. After that the SEs were given special treatment with their nice Precision Workstation machines with 16GB while everyone else got the lower end Lenovo laptops the company would normally buy.

Being in IT, I was able to procure a "sample test machine" for myself. The faster processor and more memory really helped get past that bottleneck caused by the EPE. There was barely a chatter on the hard disk when opening up huge spreadsheets or other applications.

Underpowered hardware, just like any inadequate tool, makes for an unproductive environment, which actually costs a company in the long run. Sadly management and bean counters don't see it that way and will cut everything to the bone.

jcitron

I have a Dell XPS 18 Windows tablet PC, which I use to display sheet music instead of me having to flip pages while working on some large complex works which always have the page turns in the wrong place. The large screen is quick, and easy to see and responds quickly to my finger swipes needed to turn the pages in Acrobat. I tried an iPad for the same thing, but the ant-sized fonts on it made the text too small to differentiate between the fingerings on the music. Is that a 3 or a 5?; A 1 or a 4?

And by the way, a crappy 'droid tablet was worse too because it was not only too slow, and didn't always respond to the finger swipe needed to flip the pages. There's nothing worse knowing you have an impending page turn coming up, attempt to turn it and nothing happens!

Techie was bigged up by boss… only to cause mass Microsoft Exchange outage

jcitron

Re: Exchange seems to feature a lot

Yup. Lotus notes runs on "stuff". I supported a few of those in the past and periodically they would fall over with smiley faces and stuff on the console. At first I thought it was the ancient hardware they ran on then I left that company and low and behold the same thing used to happen on their boxes too. I would get a call that "Notes can't be reached", and I'd take a walk down the hall to press the reset button.

CC:Mail wasn't much better and that used to get the smiley-faces and stuff on its screen as well. A more than periodic fresh brains and we'd be up and running for another day or two.

But on the other side when the company split from its parent that ran CC:Mail and notes, I ran an Exchange 5.5 server for 10 years and never had a problem with it. It's quirky, but once you understand the setup, it's not bad.

I haven't used it in about 10 years, having retired in 2012, so I've forgotten a lot but it wasn't bad once it was up and running, and it's one of those pieces of software you don't do anything with unless you have to. You let it do its thing outside of periodic maintenance required and of course doing anything AFTER a successful back is a must as that guarantees there won't be a problem.

Rookie almost wipes customer's entire inventory – unbeknownst to sysadmin

jcitron

Re: @big_D

This is very familiar. I worked on Visual and Ontel terminals with motherboard and option boards like that. The difference was sometimes only an EPROM change or a jumper clip or add to change the model from one to another.

At the last manufacturing company I worked at, they made digital proofing systems that either had 2400 dpi imaging and ran at a normal speed, or some that had 2540 dpi with a turbo speed. The difference in cost was quite substantial, but the change was only a switch flip on the motherboard and a different EPROM.

There are many other examples of this even in recent years. There are some video cards by NVidia that could go from GTX gamer video cards to their Quadro professional series cards by adding a jumper or resistor and cutting an etch on the back of the board.

jcitron

Re: @big_D

One of these:

http://www.righto.com/2017/04/1950s-tax-preparation-plugboard.html

They are quite amazing beasts with all the switches, relays and mechanical parts.

I saw one of these in the hallway of a company I worked at as it was being carted off to scrap. I didn't know what it was at the time, sadly. You're right it was about the size of a VW Beetle!

jcitron

Ah yes. I discovered that myself the hard way.

That scary old system with 'do not touch' on it? Your boss very much wants you to touch it. Now what do you do?

jcitron

Re: 6 point plan?

That's what I ran into at a former company. Their legacy business system, not quite as old as some in the article but pretty old nonetheless, was in dire need of replacement in the late 2000s.

The company never budgeted anything IT-related and had even let the support contract go on the software, let alone hardware. The system was kept running with tape, wire, and squirrels running in cages. I left before replacing anything and the last I heard they're still running this ca. 1998 HP Proliant 5000r server and scrounging on E-bay for hard disks.

Oh well. That's their problem now and not mine. ;-)

Boss regrets pointing finger at chilled out techie who finished upgrade early

jcitron

Re: Oh so familiar

It definitely is.

In a former company I was at, the internet services were turned off rather suddenly one day. My boss blamed me for not checking the routers, etc., and I told him everything was fine.

He said "Call AT&T and find out what's going on. Yeah I know... AT&T, but anyway I called. After waiting a few minutes on the phone, the representative tells me that the services will work fine if you pay your bill!

Oops!

The boss didn't say a word and the next day we were up and running again.

Sysadmin misses out on paycheck after student test runs amok

jcitron

Re: or in the case of a hospital

I had an issue with cleaners knocking a cable out of the back of one of the VAXs that connected to an LP27. I would come in on my shift and find the jobs stuck in the queue, and while troubleshooting the problem, before calling DEC for service, I found the loose cable. The problem was I wasn't around when the cleaners were there most of the time, and then one day we crossed paths and the problem was solved.

2-bit punks' weak 40-bit crypto didn't help Tesla keyless fobs one bit

jcitron

Re: Problem-solution dichotomy

My old Toyota Celica remote lock FOB could unlock Saturns across the parking lot. It was funny seeing other cars blink simultaneously when mine did. The first time it occurred I thought it was one of those weird timing things when a bunch of things happen at the same time. Then another time I was at the market and parked next to a Saturn. When I opened my old Celica, the Saturn unlocked too.

Oops!

jcitron

Re: Problem-solution dichotomy

Remotely unlocking?

Sure when it's pouring rain beyond cats and dogs and you need to make that beeline for the driver's seat. I had an older-style car that needed to be unlocked manually, and more than once spent time fiddling with the keys as I tried to get in. I admit that I'm not the most coordinated soul, but still the convenience of just opening the door saves time.

The other situation is when you've got a ton of shit to put in the boot. I open my Jeep and pop the back hatch from my kitchen window, take the crap I need to carry with me and all I need to do is put it in and close. This works especially well when it's pouring or snowing miserably.

Keyless entry, well I see that as a mistake ready to happen and has already happened. My cousin left her fob at home, made it to work and couldn't leave so much for that grand idea. Another time she started her car and gave the fob to her husband who drove off to work in another direction. Unless the thing is attached to other keys, I can see this as an ongoing problem.

You'll never guess what you can do once you steal a laptop, reflash the BIOS, and reboot it

jcitron

Re: Again.. How many people turn their machine off?

Wake on LAN is a BIOS setting actually. I turn mine off on my desktop and All-in-1. I neglected to turn it off once and got awakened by a system update so now it's the first setting I change on the power management page in the BIOS.

I can see this being useful if the PC is in a corporate environment and the IT department pushes out system updates across the LAN, or needs to turn on servers remotely after a power down, but for genera home use it's not necessary.

Good luck to the people that take my All-in-1. They'll be dreadfully disappointed because all that's on that is Xodo PDF viewer and PDFs of sheet music. It beats turning pages while playing the piano!

My desktop gets turned off daily. It takes a less than 30 secs to boot, and few seconds to reload a browser after logging in. The browser I use, Opera, can be configured to reload last pages and tabs anyway so that's no biggy.

The Reg takes the US government's insider threat training course

jcitron

Re: how fucked up is that

That might explain the "attitude" when we call some government agency for assistance such as the Social Security office, or dealing in general with the DMV and the state tax office.

A flash of inspiration sees techie get dirty to fix hospital's woes

jcitron

Re: Dirty

Yes absolutely spot on here!

I had splits in my fingertips from using antibacterial goop on my hands when I was working from cleaning my hands after working with user's PCs. Yuck is beyond describing that. I've since retired and don't miss that!

Oh to save a few bucks/quid, get a Rocket. They're about $20.00 US on B&H or even Amazon. It's a squeeze-bulb in the shape of a rocket and it's a lot cheaper in the long run and nicer for the environment too. I've got one and it does a nice job getting the dust clumps out of fans and the crevices inside the case.

Definitely do this outside as you recommend.

jcitron

Re: Noisy phone lines in building

This sounds like a bigger nightmare coming with the old wiring and cut-off grounds. We purchased a house that had wiring like that and we hired an electrician to update the wiring for us. After pulling about 10,000 feet (not exaggerating) of dead lines out of the ceiling, and finding some cut-off live ones too, we're finally safely wired up. That wasn't all. To add insult to injury, the basement wiring was a single lamp cord wired to the wrong side of the fuse box!

But the telephone issues were interesting. When we first moved in, we used modems for internet service. We would dial out only to be kicked back, as you noted above, from 56K to 2400, or other times we couldn't get out at all. One day while the modem was dialing, we heard a local radio station interference on the modem! We called the local phone company office and the tech came out and did something on the pole to fix the problem, which I don't recall. In the end he said that it didn't surprise him, and was shocked that we got anything to work at all given the age of the phone lines in the city.

jcitron

Re: Noisy phone lines in building

I had that issue as well caused by an elevator (lift). The office admin's desk was located just to the side of the elevator and every time the elevator was called, and the motor kicked in, her display would wobble and bounce. It was interesting to watch, but probably annoying for her. We moved her to the other side of the lobby and away from the motors and that solved the problem. The phenomenon was quite fascinating actually and made me wonder white kind of effects the EMF was having on other things around nearby beside her NEC monitor.

Having worked with CRT video terminals in the past, I saw a rather interesting thing with displays not mounted properly in the chassis for the destination country. Due to the earth's magnetic poles and pull, the image on the CRT can be off kilter if, for example, the image is aligned for somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, but the display is sent to somewhere below the Equator. The good thing is today this is all obsolete due to CRTs going away and being replaced by LEDs. Still way cool how the magnetic fields can affect them.

jcitron

A panicking user because of a rotated desktop!

Yes That CTRL+ALT+arrow-key inadvertently sent a user in my office into a total panic. I was out at lunch, across the parking lot at the local sandwich shop and got a call on my cell phone. The shear panic in her voice at first made me think her PC caught on fire...

A boss pinching pennies may have cost his firm many, many pounds

jcitron

Re: Developer PC

This sounds terribly familiar. I worked for a life insurance company that used a similar setup. The computer room had a bunch of '386s for production, but developers got the old '286s. The network was ArcNet and there was a special network concentrator on the back wall of the computer room.

Their client server system was a bunch-o-Novell servers running TriMark software, aka Magic PC database with the HDD-less clients connected to it.

jcitron

A UPS is a perk

I worked for a small company back in the mid-1990s that developed CBTs.

We had been compiling a training program series and it was time to burn the master disc. The process took about 45 minutes to burn a disc since this was a P-90 and the CD-R was only 2x speed. Rather than wait around for the disc to burn, we would head out for lunch at the local pizza joint located across the parking-lot and come back in time to check the disk. This time, however, the disc had failed the burn about 90% of the way through due to a buffer under run issue.

I checked through the system, the hard drive was fine, I defragged it again, and there was no file sharing enabled. As I was checking the available hard drive space, the lights dimmed, and the system locked up. The dimming lights coincided directly with the A/C kicking on.

I mentioned to the boss that I found the problem and it's related to the power in the office, and we needed a UPS at least for this system.

The boss said that a UPS is a perk and we could live without it. The problem was we couldn't live without the UPS because the main development machine was glitching and rebooting randomly every time the air/con went on in the office. He wouldn't budge...

The boss got antsy and got on my case again about the failing discs. At $15 a pop back in the early 1990s, he was shelling out about $900 a week in CD-Rs for nothing because the failed discs were nothing but gold-colored coasters. I told him we need a UPS, but he still wouldn't shell out $350 bucks for one of those small APC units that weigh a ton and always have that flickering neon power switch.

After yet another failure, he decided I was doing something wrong and set out to burn a disc himself. He put his gold disc into the drive and started up the software. It was some special software we used then, and not anything like we have today. He hit the Burn button and he was so proud he could do it. :-)

Then it happened! At about 50% of the way through, the A/C kicked on and the lights dimmed. The disc continued to burn for a few seconds then a Buffer Under Run failure message showed up on the screen.

He didn't say anything, but the next day I had my "perk to protect the system and never had a problem afterwards.

Sysadmin sank IBM mainframe by going one VM too deep

jcitron

Re: pound

Yeah us Yanks have to fiddle with the Character Map thing in Windows (if one uses Windows) to get the real pound symbol.

ALT-key plus 0163 = £

I got used to doing this when I worked in desktop publishing. My old Varityper was easier to use because had special escape sequences to create ligature characters such as ü ö, etc., as needed. The £ symbol was {command-key} and L at the same time. There was no need to do the cumbersome ALT+code.

Back when I was a tech working on video terminals, there were some that had a compose key which made special characters even easier.

jcitron

You beat me to it.

"Surprised no-one's mentioned "sharp" yet, as in the musical symbol which is almost - but not quite - the same shape."

When I was five years old, I started piano lessons and noticed the similarity in shape.

Microsoft might not support Windows XP any more, but GandCrab v4.1 ransomware does

jcitron

Re: And people still use XP

I've supported more than a few machines like that as well. Here's one which was run by a small graphics company and print shop.

An RIP and controller box running proprietary software on Windows 3.1. The RIP software controlled an imagesetter for printing films for the printing industry. The PC hardware was an old EISA based system with a 486 DX-50 and 512 MB of RAM. 512MB hard disk, and a 3-Com Ethlink card with a Thin-net connector.

On top of Windows 3.1 was Microsoft's network add-on and then on that was COPS-Talk. COPS-Talk, aka Cooperative Printing Solutions network software provided the AppleTalk drivers to support the output device so the RIP could "publish" the printer as an Apple-compatible printer on the network as a Linotronics 330, although it really was an ECRM VR-30.

The VR-30 its self was connected to a proprietary SCSI card, which needed the EISA bus. Since I haven't seen this setup in about 6 years, I've forgotten what the SCSI spec was, but it was some powered SCSI line with the VR-30 being terminated internally.

I was, and I am still amazed today, that this setup even worked. By the time all the software loaded, there was less than 720K of RAM left for any processing.

This hardware was bought new in 1992 and was still in operation as far as I know in 2012!

User lubed PC with butter, because pressing a button didn't work

jcitron

That's right I still have an antique with those drives.

My Visual V1083, aka Commuter Computer, has those push-button floppy drives. It's been sometimes since I repaired those systems, like 32 years, so I can't remember the manufacturer. I think they were Teac floppy drives, but I might be confusing them with the ones in the Visual V1050 CP/M Plus machines which were built a bit earlier.

jcitron

Classic!

This is one of the best I've read yet and must pass this article on to some tech friends. :-)

jcitron

I used to find a good number of discount cards and snacks on my desk all the time at my last job before I retired. :-)

Then of course there's what I call the "Office Bitch". The one that does absolutely nothing but browse social media all day then complains that their PC is infected with a virus, and then goes as far as blaming IT for not fixing it because they're same ones who are also too busy to be around when their PC needs fixing.

IT worker used access privs to steal £1m from Scottish city council

jcitron
IT Angle

So where was the system audting in this?

It's hard to believe that this kind of thing could go on this long without being caught sooner. If the IT department was run properly, then there would have been safeguards in place such as account auditing.

When I worked for a life insurance company many years ago, the systems were logged, tracked, time stamped, and access was audited for any access required for personnel information and anything involving funds including accounting.

There were also specific users who had access to the specific systems, though administrators and other MIS/IT staff could access specific system areas, but in no way, shape or form, were IT people allowed near the accounting or personnel side of things (HR actually). Anyone, including IT staff were audited and the audit files were sent off to be examined on a frequent basis.

Even my old company, now closed due to the Great Depression of 2007-2009, had an auditing system implemented. This tracked all user logins and system access, though in the simplest form, and was recorded in the event viewer since we were using Windows NT 4.0 (shudders) at the time.

Perhaps this is the right way to do things, and the local city government, being local city government, did not think this far ahead, and placed too much trust in their IT staff.

Sysadmin jeered in staff cafeteria as he climbed ladder to fix PC

jcitron

Re: So ... I suppose you never worked in computer operations.

The promotion was well beyond just helpdesk actually, though the position was part of the helpdesk support team. I was moved from computer operations to Network Engineering, which involved the much higher echelons of Novell server support, network monitoring, etc.

This was all long before the days of IT and the "network admin" as we know it today. The team that I joined were the ones who were on call that got the reports and pages (yes a pager!) from the computer operations people when a server decided to crap on a hard drive, usually during the 3rd shift in the middle of a snowstorm, for example. We did not look down upon the computer operators and they were treated as part of the team, which they were as they played a critical role in keeping the company on track.

But the main point is computer operators do more than "just change tapes". That is part of the job, like every job including a network administrator being responsible for nightly backups. The responsibilities we had at the time went far beyond that, as I told.

Using proper user-management techniques and administration, accounts can be locked down and managed as needed rather than applying a all-in-one blanket approach, which you do. Why did you do this originally? Was the company that unsecure and being hacked so that the networks needed a lockdown? You didn't really explain this as this could have been a one-off situation which required this due to a high-security issue and legal implications.

Managing users is not difficult. It's one of those things that takes time to do the right way, with some thought and pro-active preplanning in addition to properly set IT policies. An Ad-hoc setup where everyone is given admin rights, has a password of PW12345678 which never expires, is truly bad. (The retired IT guy in me will have nightmares thinking about this latter point!).

Believe me I have been in both environments, and the former is much easier to work with from the get go. The latter is nasty and causes more work for the support staff, as well as opens up the company to legal trouble as well. A small company I worked for had this kind of environment, and after some management changes, I was promoted to a higher position within that company, which allowed me to enforce the "newer" security changes. This involved not only a buy-in from management, but also the users as well. There was some flak from the user-base initially, but after some training and policy enforcement, the understood the implications.

The biggest part of this was the user-training, which is also quite easy to do, but time-consuming, and lacking in a lot of organizations. Just because people "know" how to use a computer,doesn't mean they know how to use a computer in a corporate environment. The wing-it-on-the-fly setup with all having admin-rights, might work for Joe and Mary home-users who like to share photos with each other on their home NAS, but in a larger corporate environment things need to be a bit more secure, as you should know.

But anyway you are right on the BYOD stuff. Scary crap it is especially if the IT policies are not set properly, let alone the support issues which I mentioned on another post. This goes right along with that new Internet of Things (IoT), which allows remote control and access to all kinds of hardware.

jcitron

Re: So ... I suppose you never worked in computer operations.

@jake

"And no, I'm not a "BOFH". Do any of you lot even know what an Operator is? An operator is the flunky who swaps out tapes during late night backup runs. An operator keeps the admins in coffee and the printers in paper and ink. An operator counts supplies in the stock room. Most operators are interns these days. If you're a machinist, an operator deburs and degreases parts. Operators are rarely given jobs more important than remembering "one lump or two". The whole concept of an operator having admin access to corporate equipment is laughable."

I suppose by this statement you never worked as a computer operator. There's a lot more to this than you think. Admin rights is also necessary for many tasks which would be impossible to perform otherwise.

From 1988 to 1994, I was a computer operator for two organizations. My responsibilities went well and far beyond taking inventory, and mounting tapes, and sorting the printed reports, though this was part of the job.

In the first company, I was responsible for backing up 3 VAX 11/780s, 1 VAX 8350, 2 VAX 11/750s, and 2 Sun OS systems. The 3 VAX 11/780s and the 8350 ran VMS while the two engineering lab 11/750s ran Ultrix. The two early Sun systems ran of course their Sun OS with one actually being an Interleaf publishing system and the other for R&D and CAD.

On the VMS clustered machines, I submitted batch jobs, monitored the processes, and ensured all jobs completed successfully because there were dependencies of each job, which meant if one failed, then another would not complete.

In addition to the daily operations, I had what we referred to as additional projects. These projects included repairing printers, monitors, and video terminals. This in part was due to my skills as a hardware technician initially, and having come from the company that made the video terminals originally. I went through a closet full of dead equipment and with an oscilloscope, DVM, and some schematics, I was able to repair everything but two terminals which were totally fried inside due to a lightning strike on the building.

Other projects included replacing network equipment, running cables as needed, and even rewiring the punch panel. The previous operators were careless and had wires stretch haphazardly across the panel. My job was to carefully reroute these and re-punch them down.

When I wasn't monitoring the VAX batch jobs, I was also assisting the R&D department with their own proprietary Convergent Technologies workstations. These systems had an array of plug-in modules, which also needed swapping out, replacing, and repair. I did not have schematics for these, but was able to Frankenstein a few out of the scrap units.

The various printers not only needed their paper and ribbons, but sometimes the print heads needed replacing, or sometimes other parts. Two of these printers were those huge DEC LP27 band printers which would jam up, and require parts to be replaced. This usually occurred on weekends of course and the weekend operator would page me to come in and help repair one of these beasts.

Other projects came up from time to time including writing queries and building reports in Datatrieve32 and writing the batch jobs to submit these to the queue.

So why would we need admin rights?

Well we would need to do system shutdowns, cancel submitted jobs, add users to the systems, perform standalone backups and so many other tasks, which would be impossible without having admin rights.

Like all jobs these rights were given to us with the understanding of the implementations and consequences of things going wrong. Did we ever have a rogue employee? No. Never on my watch after I was promoted to lead operator.

In my final operator's position before I was promoted to helpdesk support, I ran a MicroVAX 4000 along with a massive cluster of Novell servers, and a remote IBM mainframe.

Our job description in this company involved daily backups of course, adding and removing users from the Novell server as required, clean up files, reboot and shutting down servers, workstations, and running batch jobs. All of this and a lot more, which I'm now forgetting with time since it's been 20 or more years since I was there.

In this job we were proficient in VMS, IBM MVS/TSO, SNA network printing, and Novell administrator roles. (I know I can hear you laugh because of the kinds of systems, but remember this was late 80s and early 90s).

The MVS/TSO system ran special batch jobs which required editing of the batch files prior to submission, and adding and deleting users. Being the MVS/TSO environment, the formatting had to be 100% accurate, otherwise, the job would fail. No extra spaces, nothing out of alignment. Absolutely perfect.

Since this was a financial institution, there were very specific SLA requirements set forth by regulations. Specific reports, checks, and letters needed to be printed and mailed by specific days. With these strict requirements, we had to maintain a nearly 24/7 363 day online availability. The systems were only taken down, usually during holidays, to perform maintenance and hardware replacement as required. With this availability requirements, we monitored the systems for failures and remained on call at all times. It was our responsibility to report problems to the on-call support person as well as to hardware manufacturers to replace failed equipment such as DEC and at the time Novell.

In addition to running batch jobs and performing backups, we too had special projects or specific areas of responsibility. My so-called pet project was documentation. Our manager developed a documentation server, which was to eventually contain every job that we ran regularly. The template was further refined and shared with the DBAs who needed special jobs run during the day.

Like many projects, this lead to others including report management and printing, and overall through my guidance the department went from an error prone operation to one that had a 99% success rate. The department also became proactive as we became aware of what was needed, and aware of the inter-operations of each and every task and job that was submitted on the systems. In doing this, I earned a company award and a nice little extra sum in my pay.

Again during this time there were no rogue employees and no need to limit our access to the systems. When an employee did leave, whether to move to another company position or changed employment, their user accounts were terminated according to security protocols. This is how all user accounts should be managed.

So yeah, we only make coffee?

jcitron

Re: So ...

I also developed a connection too with management doing stuff like this. The good people seasoned executives see that you and others like us see outside the box and have problem and critical thinking skills which go well for solving day-to-day problems.

Now that I am retired, I still get periodic calls from these people. Many of them are now retired as well, but call on me to help them with their computing needs. When I was in need of a new job, because the company was closing, the CEO of the company put together a nice recommendation letter, which landed me a nice job very quickly too at another company.

So in the end, it pays to be nice to people, and not stomp all over them. Sometimes you need to be firm, yet, show that human side as well. This world works both ways.

jcitron

Re: 95 and MSDOS

Yup. Windows 95 was basically WFW with a new shell.

I ran a WFW network for sometime and got "quite friendly" with the NET command. :-)

jcitron

Thin-net was great... I had someone move some furniture and place a heavy file cabinet on top of the network cable, which crushed it and caused an outage until I could put a terminator on the last PC before the break.

jcitron

My boss had me draw one up for the building we were in at the time. I did a fairly nice job in Excel too and it went quite well. I ran into issues though in the manufacturing area where the connections were in the ceiling with drop-down cables. I had to leave those blank but got everything else.

The project wasn't difficult just time consuming. We were lucky too that the contractor that built our network did a splendid job labeling everything in the first place, and unlike the previous building this was all new build. In the old place, there were multiple dead connections due to lightning strikes which had melted ports and even took out a switch at one point.

I did have a rogue Apple computer on the network. This machine took some hunting down after I got some phone calls from people who couldn't connect to the network. When I checked the switch to see if it had died or something, I noticed a solid port, both lights completely lit up with nothing on the other ports at all. (If the switch had died, I would need to call corporate network services to come in and replace the switch).

Since I had no map of this building, I had to do a walkabout. After about an hour, I found that little crappy Apple Mac sitting in one of the R&D labs slamming the network. I unplugged the POS from the network, and all the users could connect.

jcitron

Re: So ...

I already have the same answer as you when I think of BYOD!

That was the most annoying thing when I had to deal with the users.

- A user brings in his or her laptop because they like it better than their office machine, which works perfectly well.

- User puts in a ticket because laptop doesn't work on corporate LAN because they forgot to get the COD for the guest network and install VPN software, but the user still can't get things to work after installing the software and getting the code.

- We traipse down to help and find that the user's antivirus is blocking the corporate network and VPN, but the settings can't be changed because they got the laptop originally from their spouse who got it from their employer.

This scenario played out day after day at the last place I worked.

It only got worse when the company allowed multiple mobile devices, tablets, and phones to connect as well, and the users wanted to integrate the company's email client into them. This was big Red's Beehive (shudders), which required spinning in a chair while waiting for the golden red orb to appear and drop pixy dust on the user in order to get it to connect if it would at all. Well it seemed that way because that product required multiple contiguous steps, which had to be done exactly without interruption, (try to do that with people interrupting, phone calls, etc.), otherwise, you'd lose your place and have to start over!

But alas, I'm retired now so I don't have to think about this stuff anymore except in nightmares and memories.

jcitron

I actually headed up a project once to do such a thing.

I worked for a rather large financial institution. The previous IT support guy had setup the user desktops with their username as the machine name, such as Smith_J, for example. The situation you described is exactly the problem we ran into as machines were recycled in and out of use and storage.

The solution I came up with, and this was nearly 25 years ago now, is exactly that to rename all the machines using their asset tag assigned by the company. These were those metal tags which are epoxied to the case.

As I setup my proposal for this project, I went on to say that monitors didn't matter because they can be switched around without impact, but the PCs needed to be unique. Without the users being involved directly with the machine name, it became somewhat difficult identifying where the users were located.

To resolve this issue, the users too were instructed to tell the helpdesk not only their asset tag number, which was prominently displayed, but also their cube number.

Later on this became more important because users moved around the building on a monthly basis as the company was moving departments around. With the users moving around like this, we would spend way too much time looking for a user with PC X12432s, who we thought was on the 12th floor northwest corner, but now had moved to the 15th floor central.

To locate the users, we had a simple map, which I put together with the cube numbers on it. This became another project in its self because the company decided to re-layout the floor plan about six times in the few years I was with them.

jcitron

Re: What is this ?

Yes that's okay for home use where you might have 5 machines running at once, unless it's a house of geeks like mine, and even then the machines are named after their model and processor. AlienwareLT_6700k, for example.

Alabama joins anti-web-smut crusade with mandatory opt-out filters

jcitron

Re: Who wants to bet...

LOL!

I did a bit of traveling through them thar hills across the very deep Republican South. In one state, I think it was either Arkansas or Oklahoma, we saw a gigantic church sharing the parking lot with an adult bookstore.

Take a guess which side of the parking lot had more cars... :-)

If they are so bent on blocking this stuff, they definitely have something to hide!

Lloyds Banking Group to hang up on call centre staffers

jcitron

Re: Dear Lloyds Bank --- Yes Santander is fairly good.

I currently bank with Santander. Overall they seem to be good to their employees and everyone I've dealt with has always been friendly and seems to like their job, meaning I never felt the "I hate my job" vibes coming from anyone there.

They also kept their local call centers as well and haven't offshored their old Sovereign Bank operations, yet.

Installing disks is basically LEGO, right? This admin failed LEGO

jcitron

Not uncommon unfortunately.

It seems that many people fancy themselves to be electricians. A number of years ago we had some renovations and updates done to the house we had just purchased, and in the process the electrician uncovered what she called some really scary shit.

We had a whole basement, workshop included, not even fused. The previous owner ran the lines for the basement on the "wrong" side of the breaker box, bypassing the circuit breakers. If that wasn't bad enough, we found that he had used lamp zip cord to boot instead of the shielded wire!

Then there was the first floor. The kitchen, parlor and first two side rooms were all wired to a single 5A fuse while there was a single outlet in the kitchen connected to a 20A fuse.

While tracing wires, she came across others not grounded and some left uncapped in the ceiling, and many more ungrounded outlets and an unmounted ceiling fan.

She remarked she was quite amazed the house hadn't burned down before we purchased it!

After doing some research, we found out that the previous owner's son fancied himself as an electrician and had done the work on his dad's house. I hate to think that this idiot is still doing this today!

jcitron

Re: "press F1 "

That goes along with pressing the "Any key".

jcitron

I did that to myself

Yup I did that to myself and wondered why my system wouldn't boot!

In another rather amusing situation, my brother and I were adding an external SCSI hard drive to his PowerPC Mac. In the process of connecting things up, we created a closed loop system with no connection whatsoever back to the machine. We had the SCSI cable connected on both ends to the hard external drives and wondered why we couldn't see the "new" drive or any of the other drives he had on his desk. We still laugh about this one today.

Ohio bloke accused of torching own home after his pacemaker rats him out to cops

jcitron

Re: "pacemaker that called his alibi into question"

It could be too that the police looked at the trending data over time which would show his level of fitness as well his "strenuous escape".

My mum has something like this which phones home hourly now, literally. We try to make a phone call and there's that familiar modem sound as the transmitter is sending the data back to doc's office.

One day we did get a call from the doc's office, which we thought was odd. The attendant said there were signs she was under some stress, which she was.

Oracle 'systematically stiffed its salesforce' claims new sueball

jcitron

Re: Well that's a first

I was told this as well by some of the people I supported. Things were not this bad until Hurd took over. After that we all got screwed. I was in onsite support for OD. My manager was awesome, but the work load steadily increased to a point of ridiculous as staff was cut. Yeah, we were supporting nearly 700 people in our office and were then given global support as well.

Like you I am no longer there due to medical reasons, mind you but I don't miss the stress either.

Good luck and I'm sure you will do much better in another organization.

jcitron

Yes I heard this too more than once. The sales people, mostly very young college grads now because Hurd won't hire anymore seasoned sales people, are given a yarn and a big dance on how big their commissions will be as that will offset their pittance of a salary. In the end most of these people leave so the company never has to pay out, and those that do stay end up leaving eventually due to being screwed.

I was also told that executive bonuses are paid first then the commissions are paid out afterwards. Hurd, et al, get humungously insane amounts of cash bonuses, and once that's paid out they delay paying the sales people bonuses and then usually find a way to not pay them due to some technicality.

Being the local support tech, I was an ear to lean on when the frustration got pretty high, and I heard this first while I was still there from more than one sales representative, then later on from someone I spoke with at a car repair shop 3 years after I left.

It so happened we were talking about workplaces, and she was an outside sales rep. We talked at length, much to her boyfriend's irk, I think he was jealous, but I got the low down that this crap was true as it was the same as I heard in-house. I also found out that some of the big VPs I supported left as well and went off to places like SAP and SalesForce.

If Hurd keeps it up, he'll turn Oracle into another HP.

jcitron

Re: "'get as much $$$ by any means and spend as little $$$$ by any means"

I worked for Big Red in IT for the sales guys and I heard stuff all the time like this. These people don't make as much money as you think, and they will put you in debt in various ways. The sales people get a very small base salary with big promises of making a lot more.

The sales people incur a lot of on the road expenses which are put on corporate credit cards which they themselves will become responsible for if the company does not pay the bill. Now Oracle does not like to pay bills. I found this out the hard way for something really, really small. The process is to put in the expense report with the receipt. Coming from any other company, this is the normal process. You fill out the expense report form, attach mileage, gas, food, and other trip incurred receipts. No brainer... and your manager signs it off.

Oracle it seems likes to jerk off elephants and make the process overly complicated, but it's essentially the same. Using their online system, you insert scanned receipt(s), type up the form and send it off your manager for approval. This takes a day and the process is now in the queue. You're happy you're getting your money back and you can pay the now huge AMEX bill.

Once the approval comes back, you then go back into the submission and click some boxes on the form, and send the package off (again) this time to AP which is located in India.

Do you get your money right away? Nope. Instead you get an email from the useless ones in India stating they didn't get the invoice. You resubmit the invoice... Wait... nope no invoice still can't find it. Oh wait... the submission is wrong you have do it again. This is the same one your own manager has approved, but this jerk-off puts up the circle jerk to stall the process.

Then finally the claim is denied anyway because the submission was done too late for processing!

In my case it was $25.00 because we had a dinner expense. The $25.00 was for one other employee and myself. I sucked it up and dealt with that. But imagine what it's like when you've charged up $100s in airline and travel expenses, as well as other costs, and still get stuck with the bill. When people travel, they can incur $5,000 or more expenses in one shot.

Oracle sucks and I'm glad they got hit again with a lawsuit.

Stay out of my server room!

jcitron

Re: Beware cheap combo locks

We had one of those in one place I worked. The well used buttons were so dirty you didn't need to polish the surface.

In another place I was told to jiggle the knob a few knob a few times and press the numbers, which didn't matter which ones, and I could get in.

That was safe!

jcitron

Re: And this story is probably not the worst there is to come! - I can relate!

When my old company split of its corporate parent, we moved to a new facility where I had the opportunity to build a brand new server room/data center. This contained the 4 data servers, the Exchange server, an SQL server, the two domain controllers plus the network switches, and phone system.

The racks were neat, cabling and power cords done nicely on ladders and up from the floor, and the room became a showpiece. When management would have company, meaning C-level visitors from business partners, they would get the cook's tour including the computer room. They would compliment us on the neat, clean and organized setup, and I got some nice compliments from the management as well for keeping things neat and tidy.

Then it happened. The company downsized as its business shrank, and we moved. This beautiful showpiece became a closet in the new building. I was given a brief tour of the shared facility and what we had to work with. I was told initially I would have a former locked office, but no that wasn't the case. Instead I got what used to be a former ladies bathroom which was converted to a storage room! The plumbing was gone, but next door the former men's room remained and leaked occasionally, and that had me on edge. Luckily nothing passed into the server room, though there was a puddle or two more often than not out in the hallway.

The other problem was there was no ventilation to speak of. Since this room went from a bathroom to a storage room, the building's owner had facilities removed the air-conditioning vents which made the room hot enough to roast a turkey. I made it be known that under no circumstances would my servers operate in a room like that. My manager looked at me in disbelieve because I'm usually quiet and didn't say much, but in this situation I knew exactly what would happen after about in hour in the oven! They conceded and put in a window air-conditioning unit! Yes, one of those home/office jobs you get at the DIY home goods and appliance centers! It worked and brought the temperature down to a reasonable level and I was able to set things up for about 9 months when it suddenly stopped working over a weekend!

I came in that Monday to find the users complaining they couldn't log in. I walked down the hallway to the old bathroom, I mean server closet, and could feel the heat on the doorknob. When I opened the door, the server had shut themselves down and there were alarms buzzing like crazy. As I said before, you could roast a turkey in there! Until facilities got around to replacing the A/C unit, I kept the room shutdown except for the domain controllers and two servers when needed with big fans running to suck out the heat, though that didn't work very well, and even at that point, the room was more than uncomfortable so I shutdown everything when everyone went home for the evening.

Anyway, this was not fun and I felt it was a slap in my face since this critical infrastructure which was the pride of the operation, became a third-place citizen in the end that was placed in a former bathroom, no less!

You can always rely on the Ancient Ones to cock things up

jcitron

Re: Blood Sacrifice

The stuff magically floats about or has wings.

I too worked as a typesetter in a pre-press department located 2 floors from the press room and I would have ink on my clothes.

jcitron

Re: There will be blood...

You do know that's part of the kit.

Every time I replace a power supply, I end up with ripped fingers and a blood blister.

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