Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hello, operator?

I’ve got an old bank of data modems dialling out repeatedly to one of our suppliers at the moment. It’s good fun. Since most PBX’s don’t know what to do when you don’t select an option, it transfers you through to an operator. Of course, in this case, the agent on the phone will just get a load of whistles + squeals until the hang up. Probably got 15-20 modems on the go at the moment, all set for auto-redial.

Might give it another 20 minutes or so then call them up and see if we can discuss why my parts ordered yesterday for a 9a.m delivery still haven’t turned up and why I got a load of attitude from some snotty little kid plucked straight from school trying to patronise me about the fact that they don’t handle deliveries personally and so can’t be held responsible for delays.

Yes, sunshine, when you’re dealing with me, it’s all very personal.

A shock a day keeps the bandits at bay

Am really not in the mood to be here today. Whenever you end up having to work such a weird couple of shift patterns, you just feel wiped out. This is the downside to working in IT support and only just about made up for by the additional pay allowance. Still, since I’m unlikely to win any awards for employee of the month, I’m not too bothered.

We’ve actually had quite a few problems with vandalism on machines recently. People have trying to prise the cases open and are breaking the locks on them (yes, most are lockable cases). This is annoying as it means a report has to be filed, I have to deal with the helldesk to get it resolved, and money which should be getting filtered in my beer money or junket fund gets squandered on replacement cases.

So, am running a little 12v battery inside the cases with a wiring loop running to the lock at the rear. Insulated off, this should prevent the entire case becoming live, although to be honest I wouldn’t be too concerned if it did. But, 12v is enough to give people a decent little shock should they try anything.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Pop-ups galore

My attention returned to the intern this afternoon. After a bit of a nap followed by an extended lunch hour and a half, I kept using Remote Support to take control and load up various sites unsuitable for the office, shall we say. Hoping that his supervisor would walk past in light of his performance assessment from last week, this kept me entertained for a good hour or so. Don’t know why he didn’t just logoff. But, I overhead one of the sales assistants talking about it around the coffee machine - along the lines of “and did you see what he was looking at earlier?!”.

Word is bound to spread and get back to his supervisor by Friday morning…

Rise + shine

Truth be told, I’d fallen asleep around midnight and was rudely awoken at 4a.m by the early-bird engineer. A good trick I learnt a while back was to close your office door and scatter a box of paper clips on the floor. Then lie down with your foot pressed against the door and have a nice bit sleep. Should someone walk in, the door is stopped by your foot, you get woken up by the bashing of wood against bone, and it looks like you’re just trying to pick up all the paper clips. Of course, a comfortable floor helps.

Still, my cross-over cabling caused chaos. The early-bird engineer replacing me didn’t perform any routine checks (I knew he wouldn’t), so it wasn’t until a little after 8a.m the problems started. The helldesk were overloaded by 8.30a.m apparently, and they’d actually called me by 9a.m. I managed to wangle an additional call-out bonus since technically I was off-shift, and rocked up half an hour ago to what looked like a scene from War of the Worlds.

All sorted now though. Everyone thinks I’m wonderful by getting it all resolved so quickly. The helldesk look like (even more, if possible) incompetent fools. Plus, it’ll be lunch time in a little over an hour.

Now then, where’s those paperclips…

Monday, April 03, 2006

Keeping an eye open for ghosts

Looking on the bright side, I didn't have to face a Monday morning. Just as well really. With payday falling ever so conveniently on Friday, the weekend was begging to eat (or rather drink) up all my money. Still, having being called last night by our on-call engineer saying he was ill (he better be on death's door), I pulled working the graveyard shift tonight.

For those not familiar with graveyard shifts, it's where you get to sleep at your desk, wander around the building checking through people's drawers for good stuff to steal, and get paid an out-of-hours bonus. A good deal all things considered, except we don't have the 12-hour rule built into our contracts (something that will be changed in a couple of months when it's due for renewal), so I'll be working until 4a.m, then will be back in at 10a.m. It's a split-shift thing which balances out apparently. Not that I'll do much tomorrow either.

But, enough of the explanations. I like the graveyard shift, aside from the previously mentioned pleasures of getting paid extra to steal stuff, as the security guards are always a good laugh. Not uncommon for the scotch to get brought out by midnight and low-grade porn to be loaded up on the security monitors. I also have a good few hours without any of the helldesk around which makes it very peaceful, and loads of time to cause problems.

In fact, I've come up with a good one this evening - I'm about half-way through switching all our backbone patch cables to cross-over cables. I know fine well none of the techies on the rota first thing in the morning will figure it out, meaning I get to ride into work on my steed at 10a.m (well, maybe a touch later...), shout at them all to give me 20 minutes in the server room to sort things out, before casually walking out with everything working.

One worrying thing has caught my attention though. There's a few people reading this now (the more the merrier - tell all your friends, especially those working in IT that want some practical suggestions rather than comic-book stories found elsewhere) and e-mailing me, but a certain Snowman (or Snowball, or something) displays a worrying self-photo on their website. Nuff said about that the better. Keep up the studies young man - you'll get that job flipping burgers in McDonalds once you graduate no problem.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Things not to do on Friday - 1) annoy me

Hacking the access time logs on our swipe card system is becoming my new favourite hobby. I got bladdered last night and only rolled into work about 20 minutes ago, but again, if anyone checks with security I entered the building at 8.26a.m.

My adjustments yesterday really seems to have caused problems for our intern. Saw him holding back the tears as I came in. Looked like he was heading to the beancounters, probably to pour his heart to his cousin, wondering how he could have received such a harsh assessment of his work when he’s tried so hard to be punctual and hasn’t even used the Internet all week. Still, he’s got next to turn over a new leaf and really excel himself, so long as I don’t get in the way, of course.

But, as soon as I parked myself in my office, the phone goes. One of our sister companies asking for some IT support. Asked them how they got my number and why they weren’t running through their own systems support and it turns out this seminar the IT Manager attended a couple of days ago included him handing out my phone number to the execs from our sister companies in a shameless brown-nosing effort to keep them sweet. As if running all the systems here isn’t a full time job (well, as full time as an 11.20a.m start can be…), I now have incompetent fools from other companies wanting to be best-buddies with me needing help installing their new printer. Told them their printer actually uses Canon drivers, and directed them to the Canon website in search of a 993c inket printer driver to download and install.

Might need to update by inbound call handling scripts to re-direct them elsewhere like I often do with salespeople. And I should go explain to the boss why it’s not a good idea to hand out my direct line to every Tom, Dick + Harry who can’t tell the ‘On’ button from their own arse.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Performance evaluations

Well, the hardware tech got around to re-imaging the IT Manager’s laptop, much to my amusement. The IT Manager was not happy and has launched some internal investigation to find the ‘joker’ that ‘violated acceptable user policies’ on so many of the office machines. He feels he needs to crack down the amount of ‘practical jokes’ going on. I take offence at that, wasn’t a practical joke at all – well, the Live CD’s were, but his machine was an unashamed act of pure vandalism.

But, our intern has not escaped my games today. After getting bored with this head of department from this morning (and yes, her home directory isn’t very homely anymore, unless you live in a home recently burgled leaving nothing but some old milk and cheese in the fridge), I decided to play with various log files.

I know he’s going to get his end of week evaluation tomorrow morning, which includes going over things like how punctual you’ve been, amount of time taken on breaks, internet usage times, etc. They’re now showing him rocking up anywhere between 5 and 25 minutes late the last 4 days, leaving a couple of minutes early each night, and taking a few extra minutes each break period. Plus, there are a number of ‘Access Denied’ messages for his Internet usage.

It’s nothing that will get him booted out, wouldn’t be any fun that way, but certainly enough for him to get a rap on the knuckles and leave him squirming to think of excuses.

I am not a morning person

Just had a head of department send me a very snotty e-mail complaining about my attitude this morning. She caught me in the lift and asked me to set a projector up in one of the meeting rooms to which I replied the helldesk were responsible for such requests, not the network manager, who has slightly more pressing matters to take of. Like getting breakfast from the canteen. Or a cup of coffee.

Turns it she took offence, surprise surprise, and is insisting on an apology. I would send a reply to her e-mail, except her e-mail had just gone down, taking her mailbox with it. Am guessing when the helldesk try restoring it, a security error might present itself informing them the operation could not be completed. I suppose I could call her on the phone, but then again I’m guessing her phone is currently engaged, on a call to the helldesk reporting her machine ‘just died on me’. A similar problem to her mailbox may become apparent with her home directory. Haven’t decided on that last part.

How’s that for a bad attitude?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Drink, anyone?

Well, the IT Manager only rolled in 20 minutes ago. Must have been a free lunch on or something. Claimed the traffic was a nightmare too, which of course explains why it took 2 ½ hours to travel 25 minutes across town from where his seminar was. Got to hand it to him, he’s a master at blagging free food + drink.

Still, the helldesk have been suitably confused by his machine continually booting into Edubuntu each time they power his laptop up. I casually wandered past and suggested the laptop gets re-imaged, knowing the IT Manager probably has a stack of porn on it already, even though he only received it a couple of weeks ago. The colour drained from his face quicker than the remaining drops of wine from the bottom of his glass when someone informs him it’s their round.

Wonder how long it will take for them to figure out the BIOS has been changed and the CD-ROM disabled. Suppose it will keep the techie busy for a good hour or so.

Look kids - pretty icons

With the IT Manager out this morning, it’s been a perfect opportunity to have some fun. Can remember reading a couple of weeks ago about some French guy popping Linux Live CD’s into computers in various shops around Paris or somewhere foreign like that, then rebooting them for a laugh. Let the side down a bit by also providing instructions as how to get Windows back, but the idea was sound.

So, whipped off a dozen or so Edubuntu CD’s (very kidified and simplistic!) on our duplicator first thing this morning and wandered around the building slipping them into various drives whilst people had gone off for their morning coffee. Of course, the IT Manager’s shiny new laptop has been treated to a full install. Gave me something to do for half an hour.

The helldesk have already figured out what’s been going on after the phones started ringing and one of them checked out the machine in question, so are now just telling people to reboot and remove the CD. They’ll just tell the IT Manager to do this when he gets back into the office this afternoon and that’s the fun will really start…

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Up + down + up + down

Turns out playing with the lifts wasn't much of a challenge. They hadn't changed the admin codes so it was very easy to zip down to the basement and randomly mash the keypads to send lifts to various different floors. One of the security cameras is on the blink meaning I can't see when the fools from the beancounter department are using the lift, spoiling part of the fun.

But, at least the interns' machine was returned from the workshops with new RAM. Am concerned about the hardware tech - he never repairs things that quickly. Will need see what's wrong with him. Gives me more opportunities to cause some problems for the little kid though. E-mails could be the next step in harassing him, or MSN maybe. Was being very (un)subtle in talking with one of the helldesk trying to suss out whether IM was allowed in the workplace. MSN is too easy to intercept, though scanning through some of the stuff our very naughty admin assistant from research sends to her boyfriend certainly brightens the day up somewhat!

Need coffee quick

Admittedly I had far too much to drink last night, which explains why I didn't roll into work until 10a.m. Being able to manipulate the access card systems means the logs will actually show I got in at 8.20a.m, much to the annoyance of the IT manager who's already started yapping on, thinking he's caught me only just getting into the office. I told him to go check the logs with security if he doesn't believe me, and explained I'd being doing some maintenance on the finance server to ensure the root cause of yesterday's failure had been eliminated.

It's been a while since I messed around with the elevator controls. That could be today's task. When the maintenance guys were in a couple of months ago it looked suspiciously like they were changing the pin codes for the admin menus. Naughty naughty. Still, I do like a challenge.

No prizes for guessing who's likely to get stuck in it.