Friday, November 30, 2007

Region Locking

That Citrix training I was promised? Yeah, it's right there with that advancement I was also promised. And the raise. There's Citrix training to be had, but not here, nosiree. It's too expensive here in Germany. Citrix offers training all over the world, even in Bulgrohungria. Do you see where this is going? I did as soon as my manager Vera mentioned it.

Citrix does offer training in Bulgrohungria but not in English. It's only available in the local Eastern European language which I, oddly enough, don't speak. Vera's great plan: send Mini-Me for the training. And she has another bright idea.

Vera has decided that it would be good to bring Mini-Me over here for "training", such training to be provided by this dog. Now I like the guy enough but there's one small problem which, despite me telling her repeatedly, Vera continues to ignore: I don't have anything to fucking train Mini-Me on! Nothing. Nada. Zip. Nimic. Diddly-squat.

I'm supposed to teach him Unicode? I haven't finished writing the training, a massive brain dump of everything I've learned over the past 30-some years about it and all related subjects. I'm supposed to teach him everything about I18N? Where the fuck would I start? I've never taught anyone I18N because as it applies to us, it's not something you can teach. You either know it or you don't. Citrix? How the fuck am I supposed to teach him anything about it when I haven't had any training myself?

Citrix training is shit to begin with. The company's software is built around licensing. The first classes are only concerned with licensing and license management. Fair enough, I guess, since you can't make Citrix work after installation without running all the goddamned licensing components. After that, who the fuck knows? I haven't had any fucking training and I can't get any time away from tickets to even try to figure out how this shit works.

If you want to do anything with Citrix, you have to become a member of the Citrix License Police Force. Cocksuckers.

My protests and explanations are being ignored. Vera's creaming to get Mini-Me over here. Call me a cynic (or maybe I recognise my own), but I can only surmise that Vera's doing this to try and shitcan both of us, me for failing to teach Mini-Me anything after we spent a couple thousand to get his ass over here, and him for not having learned anything after we spent a couple thousand to get his ass over here.

I don't begrudge him the trip. Hell, I'd like to meet him. It's also nice to travel on the company's dime and more power to him if he can swing it. But in this case there's precious little to be gained and much to be lost. I've got to write a formal E-Mail to Vera to recap the pointlessness of his trip in order to cover my ass and save his as well.

The real bitch of it all? The money Vera's willing to spend to bring Mini-Me over here is more than enough to cover my tuition for both the basic and advanced Citrix classes here, classes I could take and afterwards write and give presentations to spread the working knowledge throughout our division worldwide. Fuckwits. Sheer, utter, vindictive, scheming, dastardly fuckwits.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hey Dingbat!

Our Functional Team leader knows of this blog. Being German however, he knows not of All in the Family and so may take offense at being called "Meathead", but that's going to be his name. It's not nearly as bad as his office nickname which is, more or less, "cunt".

Joseph Heller wrote the script almost 50 years ago.

I'm the Duty Monkey today. I get to look at every fucking ticket which comes in and decide if it's really, really important and which group of ours gets stuck with it. There've been a lot of tickets coming in lately in my specialty areas but I'm no longer getting them, the reasons for this being withheld until I can figure out an analogy which won't clearly identify my employer and get me fired before I send my very long and detailed explanation of every reason why this new system is such ass.

REC: Hey, Meathead. I've got the morning's backlog sorted. Oh, and I can take ticket #A23-88ZQ. It's about $Issue which I did all the research on and wrote all the documentation about six years ago. Piece of piss.
Meathead: Nope. I'm assigning it to Klaus.
REC: WTF? He wasn't even with the company when that version was released!
Meathead: But he's coming up at the top of my list so he gets it.
REC: He's fucking swamped!
Meathead: Not according to the list here.
REC: Did you ask him if his workload is accurately represented?
Meathead: No need. The system says he's available.
REC: He just told me he's not, and in 15 minutes he's taking over as Duty Monkey.
Meathead: Well, he'll have to manage.
REC: Just give me the fucking ticket. I've already talked to him. He doesn't know this shit. The only person in Europe who does know it is me.
Meathead: I can't do that.
REC: Why the fuck not? You know damned well that I'm going to be the one resolving it anyway.
Meathead: See? You'll get an assist!
REC: I don't need a fucking assist. I need a ticket so that I don't get assigned some other problem that I have no idea about.
Meathead: I can't give it to you.
REC: Why the fuck not since I'm going to be the one to resolve it?
Meathead: Because you want it.
REC: What the...?
Meathead: You can't choose your tickets. They have to be assigned now. And since you want it that's like picking it yourself and you can't do that so I have to give it to someone else.
REC: Because I'm the only person available who knows how to resolve the problem you're not going to give it to me?
Meathead: Right.
REC: So instead I have to resolve it anyway but I won't get the credit.
Meathead: Exactly.
REC: And I'll have to do this resolution while I'm struggling to find some person who happens to know how to handle the shit you assigned to me that I haven't got a clue about.
Meathead: Precisely.
REC: This is fucking insane.
Meathead: This is how we have to do things. Oh, I do have a ticket for you: #A12-1AP0.
REC: And it's about... what exactly?
Meathead: Pending threads in a DB2 system running on OS/390 causing crashes. I'm sure you'll figure out something.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Successful Life of Crime

If you're not willing to join the rat race -- and really, who could blame you? -- you will in all likelihood consider some other sort of career path. Unless your goal is state-<sponsored/enforced/delete as necessary> care, there are a few important things you need to remember.

1) When you enter a secure building, try not to look directly at the cameras. Hats and scarves are your friends. Dreadlocks, Mohawks, and custom Bayern München football jerseys with your own name on them are not.
2) When choosing the prospective laptop to abscond with, check the soon-to-be-previous owner's title on the door of his office. The higher that person's position, the more vigourously the return of the object will be sought. Avoid "director", "manager" and any acronym beginning with a "C".
3) Having obtained the laptop, you must replace hard drive with a new drive of similar capacity. A little planning and patience will allow you to both swap the used drive with the new one and return the used drive as defective for a full refund (unless you boosted that, too, in which case you have an extra drive you can then format and sell as new).
4) Do not place your newly-obtained laptop on eBay one day after acquisition.
5) When you do put the laptop up for auction some weeks later, list it as being sold from a different city. If possible, list it from a neighbouring country. Computer buyers are willing to pay shipping.
6) Ensure the serial number can't be seen in photos of the laptop.

If you fail to observe these simple rules, you -- just like Markus S. -- could face €2500 in fines plus court costs and lawyer's fees, six months of prison and another €3100 bill to pay CBL for data recovery from the quick-formatted drive.


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Friday, November 23, 2007

Check-one-two! Check-one-two!

"REC! You still haven't signed up for the new version 4.b certification training!"
"You said it was optional. It's 70% $Area_I_don't _work_in and not 5% of what I do work in."
"It's mandatory. You have to sign up!"
"I have a mail from you that says..."
"It's now mandatory! Sign up today!"

And so once again I have to take a week of advanced classroom training about subjects I know nothing about to get a certification I don't need for things that I don't work with. Such is corporate life and I have no idea how I've held out this long. The last time we had such training was four years ago with the version 3 roll-out. You could only attempt the certification three times and if you didn't make it, you lost your job. I failed twice but then it turned out a similar but higher-level certification would also cover the basic necessary one. I failed that one on my first attempt.

I was given two weeks off to study to take it again because they weren't willing to lose me for the corporate bullshit of requiring everyone to be certified. I spent the time studying and creating a very small, compact and useful cheat sheet. I went in to take the test. This time I'd taken extra precautions. I'd shown up in a suit, and in my breast pocket was a mini recorder which I'd tested the night before. I read every question and answer out loud before answering it.

I failed again, but this time I had everything I needed. I transcribed the entire tape, then over the next couple days went over every bloody question with my cow-orkers. Armed with the correct answers to every single question I returned for what would probably be my last chance. It wasn't hard to position myself out of view of the cameras and the company doing the testing wasn't all that interested in this anyway. It was easy enough to slip my notes between the pages of scratch paper and took my sweet time.

I didn't score 100% -- two or three of the "correct" answers they had were wrong. Still, it was more than a passing grade and my ass was saved. The Übermanager gave a sigh of relief.

Currently, word is that there's a certification test but no maximum number of attempts. Of course, this training and certification were optional and voluntary two weeks ago so I have little doubt that the passing certification will likewise become mandatory. My only hope is that the testing is held at the shithole "training center" and not here on $MegaCorp's premises, a longshot on par with the odds of hitting the lottery jackpot.

I have no qualms about cheating for this cert. It's not "real", it's unnecessary, and it has nothing to do with my work. It's corporate bullshit so that they can tell customers "Look! All our monkeys are certified!" They actually believe customers attach any meaning to this.

I'm not too worried about sneaking notes into the room. My real concern is that since moving I don't know where the pocket recorder disappeared to and I may have to shell out another €40 or so for a new one. I wonder if I can write that off my taxes as a necessity for my job...

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Press Save to Reboot

I had to update a Notice today because Sun finally fixed a bug which we reference because, well, it fucks up $OurBigApp rather severely. I'd been putting it off for a few days since I'm so backlogged but I finally got it sorted. When I went to save the doc in Word, I did what I always do: hit control-S. And my desktop rebooted. Firefox may have a session restore but there's no such thing in Notepad. Three blog entries must now be rewritten from scratch.

Little has changed on the customer front:
"We want to do the impossible."
"But we want to."
"We NEED to."
"Not acceptable. You have to make it work!"

Right. I need to figure out a way for them to reboot a server on which persistent, interactive user sessions are running without those sessions being killed. I'm a big fan of String Theory (not surprisingly I'm in the M-Theory camp) and I know there are two ways that this problem can be resolved:
  1. Move to a different universe. Since they've imagined such a thing being possible there is a chance which is ever-so-slightly greater than zero that one of the other possible universes allows the rebooting of Windows 2003 servers while managing to maintain secure persistent sessions.

  2. Keep rebooting. Thanks to Uncertainty, sooner or later you'll reboot that server and the sessions will all remain connected. This may involve some creative use of a wormhole in conjunction with the server or router, but it may be possible to achieve once before our own galaxy is ripped to shreds or possibly incorporated into the Andromeda galaxy. On a bright note, should the galaxies collide our Sun should still have a couple billion years left in the main sequence before going all red giant on us. At that point any concerns about session persistence after reboots will likely be moved to the back burner, so to speak.
I'd strongly recommend the second solution since it's more likely to occur. I've experienced something similar myself. Back in the early '80s I was sitting at a Moon Cresta video game and had only a couple dollars left in my pocket. Only a couple days before I'd dealt with a weird error on a prototype board we'd built. Even though we were doing chip resets and warm reboots, we hadn't bothered to run a RAM-clearing routine because, well, you expect 4116s and 4164s to be full of 0s when you turn them on. Not so. An idea formed.

I started switching the game off and on very quickly. This generally resulted in garbage on the screen that self-corrected within 10 seconds, but after a minute of this I'd jumbled a name in the high score table. I kept switching the game off and on and finally it worked: the machine came up with 42 credits. I got very good at Moon Cresta that day and was able to sell the remaining 20 credits.

True, RAM is usually cleared before the OS starts, but if it's a really fast reboot, maybe -- just maybe -- those persistent sessions will remain connected. I'd sooner believe that Microsoft will one day write a truly professional server OS that doesn't need constant rebooting and even if they manage that, it's guaranteed to come with a Teletubbies UI. But hope springs eternal, right? Right?


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Friday, November 02, 2007

In My Absence

Thanks to Mini-Me I'm not getting fired although this could well be a curse in disguise. While I'm away that poor monkey's charged with the task of sorting all my ticket callbacks. There are only two or three that I expected could come back, all owned and run by some superlative fuckwits.

Maybe I should start sending out hand-scrawled resumes listing my education as "10th grade (twice)" with post-not-quite-graduate specialised studies in DOS 3.0 and Microsoft Works (no it doesn't!) at Jake & Abner's SuperTech Skool of Advanced Computamatic Training, (Big Bone Lick, Kentucky campus) because apparently it's attendees of such fine institutions who are being hired by the biggest names in corporate bigness worldwide.

The Scotchlandia portion of my vacation is over and thanks to management's speed in replying to me I wasn't able to book an affordable ticket to the US until Tuesday so I'm taking care of stuff at home, currently certain liquid items and a Web site redesign, with a purchase of computer parts planned tomorrow since the magic smoke escaped from three different places on the primary (games & Photoshop) machine, so no San Andreas for me before tomorrow night.

While catching up on my mail Mini-Me caught me logged into GhugelMail and we had a brief chat:
Mini-Me: : 'sup, canine.
REC: working on a site redesign.
Mini-Me: : I wanted to tell you I finished that ticket with the connectivity problem.
REC: Got the PHP shit working and now I'm breaking out headers and footers and shit. stupid old design with multi-nested tables I screwed up 10 years ago.
Mini-Me: fucking retards.
they didn't do shit.
REC: What do you mean?
Mini-Me: i had to fucking uninstall from their machine, during a webconf. they couldn't even run the script to collect info about all patches installed.
REC: fucking morons
Mini-Me: : after uninstalling the MS patches [documented in Notice A223-A1 which we told them to read back in August] the application ran fine and dandy
and their boss, you remember the fag who couldn't 'organize' shit and wanted us to be "more analytic"? he didn't move a finger.
Mini-Me: talked yesterday with him, he asked his subordinates if they attached this and that, they said no, and he just moved on.
I recorded the whole damn thing, it's attached to the ticket. good speed, low cpu, fast navigation.
they can kiss our monkey asses.
i've never seen anyone that lazy.
they couldn't even read the notice, I had to give them the list of shit to uninstall.
i talked to Vera this morning, she couldn't say shit to us.
she just listened and nodded.
REC: Four months and repeated attempts of explicit instructions and they couldn't even send a fucking ping result. I just showed my technotard girlfriend here how fucking complex it is to get a ping and a traceroute.
Mini-Me: it wouldn't surprise me for these morons to give bad numbers in the survey
REC: No doubt
Mini-Me: well, i taught these guys how to start > run, type msinfo32, enter and save the nfo file.
REC: Just as complex
Mini-Me: it took about 10-15 minutes.
REC: The fucking instructions on that were in the fucking request for info three months ago!
Mini-Me: who the fuck hired these guys?
they're IT...
they couldn't get organized enough to send in the ethereal logs.
and it's been 2 weeks.
oh, and another precious thing: the guy with the 150 mb filemon log.
he didn't take that log when they had issues with the server.
REC: Of course not
Mini-Me: you asked for a log, he gave you a log. you should have specified to take it during the outage.
you can't expect him to think that far.
REC: How stupid of me
Mini-Me: and your queue goes on and on...
Had I been on that conf call I would've lost it. I never would've had a chance to hit the mute button before exploding and I'd be scrawling out my resume. I wonder what kind of signing bonus I can demand if I manage to do it in blue crayon...

I can't get too upset though. Six distilleries visited in the past week, 12 rare bottles brought back, another week and a half of freedom to go, Absolut Pears finally available in Germany (though at a 40% premium). Things are looking OK. I may even get a chance to do some flying while in the States.

For the next few days I've got some very tedious site redesign to do. If anyone knows of a good site to learn PHP on (preferably with interactive tutorials) I'd appreciate a link. So far I've managed to INCLUDE the top segment and the sidebar menu from only one file each in one location and I've got PHP handling HTML files so I don't have to rename them but I'm sure there's more I can do to ease future pain. With the restructuring at the orifice I should have even more free time to build stupid Web sites. More on this in a week or two.

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In compliance with $MegaCorp's general policies as well as my desire to
continue living under a roof and not the sky or a bus shelter, I add this:

The views expressed on this blog are my own and
do not necessarily reflect the views of $MegaCorp, even if every
single one of my cow-orkers who has discovered this blog agrees with me
and would also like to see the implementation of Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit.