Thursday, November 22, 2007

Some of My Best Friends Are Geeks

Now before I get into this angsty bit of prose, it's important that you know I am not an IT person. I have two home computers, a Mac which I have no idea to use as it's ClareBear's Design Machine and a cheap as chips 5 year old Dell which is now considered an antique but serves my bloggy purposes for the moment. My skill is influencing and communication according to a barage of psychometric tests I've endured over my many careers. I am considered a 'creative' with the ability to communicate complex issues with abject simplicity. I think that means so that a moron will understand. I think this is why I've always been nominated to 'deal' with IT types. I have patience, ask the right questions and I'm not afraid to have a go at the simpler troubleshooting.

However, I returned to work today amid chaos and collusion. The planned server upgrade for the weekend, orchestrated by our lovely little IT Geekybyte failed over the weekend. An issue with our industry database and some data integration instructions not being available. OK that sounds like I know what I'm talking about but basically it means that Geekybyte wasn't well supported and had to halt proceedings - all would be completed next weekend.

Despite an email I had sent to all staff saying that if the new servers weren't fully implemented this weekend, they would be next weekend, absolutely everyone assumed they would roll in on Monday to a bigger, brighter, better, faster (Gawd, sounds like a Daft Punk lyric) operating system. Obviously, disappointed they began to fume. Whilst I was standing next to Arky at an Automatic teller in Federation Square, all hell was breaking loose at work. Outlook had stalled, people couldn't log in, Word was freezing, Excel was crashing . . . only the very cool Argentinian had nothing to say about the matter. I was contacted by Charmers to troubleshoot the Outlook issue and thanks to Arky was able to resolve that particular problem over the phone but today . . . ahh today . . .

Every man and his dog reported problems. The message I got was, Geekybyte will be in on Friday to resolve them. Now that's not in his contract, he's supposed to offer support within 4 hours! Apparently Charmers had fought with Geekybyte who had been arrogant in response. Thommo had clashed with Geekybyte and the hairs on her arms were still raised with angry static. TheMostAnnoyingParaplannerInTheWorld (TMAPITW) signed incessantly at the slowness of her computer and the odd surprise pop up. TheBoss retained his Sgt Schultz demeanour. Sgt Bilko seemed unaware that anything untoward was going on. TheReceptionist was all a flutter and TheMauritian managed to delete a whole Excel Worksheet and blame it on server malfunction.

Fine, fine, fine . . the Bitch is back with her battle gear on so Geekybyte was emailed, frostily I might add. Aspersions about his ability and perhaps having bitten off more than he could chew were made. I also called his mobile but to no avail. Even I became a little hot under the collar, flung the 'F' word about in relation to IT people having crap communication skills, vented via MSN to Ark and aroused as much sympathy as a shrew deserves by the way, they stick together you know. By three I even shouted at a Tree Hugging Hippie volunteer manning the phones at the Wilderness Society because he couldn't operate a telephone . . poor mite, wasn't his fault.

So you get the picture. The workplace is a festering viper pit. Men pretty calm. Women like a rampaging rut of pre-menstrual monsters all ready to lynch this 8 stone, kid with skin that's never seen sunlight because their computers were . . well . . .SLOW?

Poor little lamb must have got a fright from the catty email. Departed his conference in Canberra and turned up on the doorstep at 4:30 to 'explain' what had happened. All was plausible. Most of the issues very simple to resolve and the slowness . . . well that will just have to wait until next weekend when the new servers are up and running. The whole thing was a lack of communication and for the most part a misunderstanding.

Now, herein lies the rub. Non computery types don't want to know how to use computers, they want someone there, 24/7 to pander to their whims and solve their problems . Geekybyte types want to solve their problems but in this case are outsourced and have a 4 hour telephone response time and a 12 hour on-site response time. Clearly something had been lost in the communication. Umm, that would be my fault.

He said: She was rude and snapped at me and wanted an immediate on site response
She said: he was arrogant and took an hour to call me back
He said: These problems won't exist next week
She said: it's all your fault I can't log on
He said: well maybe but you just have to change "Administrator" to "Parkside"
She said: Well it shouldn't have been changed to "Administrator" in the first place
He said: Point taken, sorry about that
She said: My excel spreadsheet is empty
He said: well you've deleted data
She said: but this didn't ever happen before you came along

Get the drift? Add another 20 lines and you see my afternoon with absolute clarity (I was not the 'she' saying these things by the way - they are a composite of complaints)

So, tomorrow I will have to call a meeting of the minds. Explain the 'arrangement' we have with our outsourcer and lower service expectations. Some smartass will try to change the subject completely and ask for a new screen. Another will then demand that we get someone who is capable of answering our every beck and call but for $150 an hour. (Tell 'em they're dreamin') Then, I'll have to go to Geekybyte and ask him not to be 'arrogant' and 'patronising' which are actually euphemisms for knowledgeable and technically minded.

I don't mind him. OK he says funny words like, 'offline' and 'hung applications' and 'go to start run'. But for some reason, my workplace wants his head on a platter more desperately than Herod wanted John the Baptist. Who's gonna protect him whilst I'm gone? Some of my best friends are geeks of the highest order. TheBenchwarmer isn't rude or arrogant, Arky certainly isn't rude or arrogant and I really don't think GeekyByte is either, just a little lacking in communication skills but in my experience, they make world class macchiatos, damn good tour guides and delicious barbecued beef. Not to mention a natural ability to play Guitar Hero Where would we be without their geeky little bones? They'd just say "Meh" and rule the world anyway . . .


Ryan said...

Ahha this post makes me chuckle as I can relate to it. More often than not, PEBKAC, but that could never ever be the case could it ;). Be nice to this young boy, he will save your ass when you need it as you have shown in previous postings. People get frustrated with technology because they don't want to understand how it works, and granted i suppose they shouldn't have to, but a little forethought and consideration goes a long way. Btw Baino, this is not directed at you, but at your colleagues who need to take a chill pill.

One thing that stands out to me here is that from what I understand you are running core services (Exchange, Server 2k3) on the same server as your industry applications? This will cause grief, as you have found, when things don't go as planned. Keep them separate, and keep your problems limited also :)

nonny said...

Jesus Baino they are such a shower of ass bandit, we got a new system a couple of weeks ago I took to hiding in my office with the blinds drawn and it wasn’t even anything to do with me. I never understand why people get so annoyed.

Baino said...

Ryan: Why thanks youngling. Yeh. I like the kid but I work with Accountancy types, hard to think outside the square if you know what I mean. And you're right. It's the industry software that causes the problems not the normal MS apps. I'll mention it to GeekyByte but I don't think we have a choice. We have a fileserver with all the files and a DB server with all the databases and apps. And if you know where I can buy chill pills, please let me know. I need about 100 kilos.

Nonny: I'm going to keep stealing your euphamismes "Ass bandits" Gold, pure gold! They're not bad people just a little deficient in the empathy hormone. I've worked it out. IT people are always considered as 'snow jobbers' due to a few 'snow boarders' who pretend they know what they're doing and they don't. All are tarred with the same brush. Tolerence rules I say! But then . . .I'm a retard.

Brianf said...

This why I no longer do "Desktop Support"
-She said: My excel spreadsheet is empty
He said: well you've deleted data
She said: but this didn't ever happen before you came along.-
I had a similar situation years ago and turned to the hapless secretary and explained to her, in no uncertain terms, EXACTLY what a PEBKAC error is.
I then requested and was granted a move to server administration and have never looked back.
Bloody Technopeasants!

b3n said...

Yeah, it's the same the world over. When we IT geeks are working overtime and sweating our arses off to keep the system up and running there's not a word of thanks, but when something goes wrong we are the worst scumbags on earth. Grrrr!!!
I love the users who come on and say that all their files have disappeared.
No love files do not just disappear, you've either deleted them or inadvertantly moved them to a location that you can't remember.

Baino said...

Hiya Technoboys: I had to Google PEBKAC! *technopeasant* he he! Thing is, we know we are that's why we hire an IT guy BUT . . my brothers are tradesmen and hate us office types for the same reason. They're not valued for getting office computers and electrics up and running but criticised for being too slow and wait for it *causing* downtime to fix problems. Catch 22 - damned if you do and damned if you don't. I'm pretty prolific with my thank yous and get on with GeekyByte. I really think it's a total lack of empathy. I'm sure some of our clients are blindsided by our financial industryspeak. In fact many have to have several meetings with their Advisers to fully understand the implications of our recommendations. If only our staff could put themselves in his shoes for a day!

Thebenchwarmer said...

Holy crap, I almost pissed myself laughing at this post... Mainly because I know EXACTLY what Geekybyte had to go through (seeing as I did that same job over there many many moons ago).

Very difficult environment to work with over there, not just because most people don't "get" IT, but because they don't want to get it. They don't see it as a tool to enable them to do their jobs better/faster/more efficiently, they see it as a necessary evil that has been forced on them by the fast paced times.

Them getting irky about Geekybyte not fixing the issue instantly is like blaming a doctor for not seeing you the minute you walk into the Medical Centre when you have a sniffle... Try to realise that

(1) you are NOT the only person/business in the world (and yes, there are businesses much bigger, much more important, and requiring much more attention than you. So if you're too cheap to pay for somebody to be onsite 24/7, then suck it in and shut the f*ck up.

(2) things have a process, and that has to be followed, if it wasn't everything would fall apart. And at the end of day, if there is a SLA in place with an outsourcer, give the courtesy of allowing for time, and allowing for the fact that the outsourcer too may have other clients.

Coming from the view of a major corporate, who also has outsourced IT, getting a 4-hour response time is a dream. We're lucky if we can get 2 business days, and we pay much more than $150 per hour.

That's all. My geeky rant at the rest of you "norms" (That's what us high-IQ, ultra-technical types call the rest of you) is over. Hope to hear more about it all soon.

GUITAR HERO RULZ!!!!!1!!one!

Anonymous said...

and I thought my job was insane ...

Baino said...

Ah Benchwarmer, if I was 30 years younger! You're a tonic my love. And you know who the major protaganist is don't you? I will have to hire a straightjacket to prevent bodily harm.

Mr D and I are fine. Tell him I appreciate him. I managed to get software support on the weekend and will take him morning tea tomorrow bless his little black rimmed glasses. (He shared his Soothers with me *bless*!)

And you bastard! You didn't tell me you could play GH . . if I'd known I'd have been round your place fucking practicing! That Ark dude needs some competition and I was unprepared and unworthy.

Anon: I wish I could say what I want to say but some read the blog. Makes life interesting and increases my value in the workplace! Fortunately, I have my marketing, website and copywriting to balance the angst. And the BenchWarmer to lunch with, he knows, he's been there.

PS: what sort of camera do you use . . I'm gonna buy myself a D-SLR for Christmas?

Anonymous said...

I use a not too expensive, easy to use and can be dropped without breaking Canon Powershot S3IS. It's value with great zoom, macro, movie filming and sound recording also. Much easier to use than an SLR but it can also be used as one if not going automatic! Think there's a S4IS now ... not sure :)

THommo said...

I object...I am peri-menopausal not pre-menstrual and he was strutting like a prima donna!...but then you know how i react to the "Pale Ones". I have been very good today...and believe it or not he has been far less snotty too! so all credit to you dahling for solving our IT dilemmas - you are a gem.