Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Hell-idays

When people ask me what I do for a living, I automatically spit out a practiced phrase: "I work in the recovery and recycling of polycyclic organophosphanes." They leave me alone after that. Doctors understand. If people know that you really work with computers in some manner -- no matter how far removed from home PC maintenance it might be -- they figure you'll be happy to help them with their problem in your off time.

Funny how that knife so rarely cuts in both directions.
"OK, and while I'm fixing your malware-infected computer, you can write me a 40-page report comparing $HedgeFund with $GrowthFund."

"No problem. I'll fix your hard drive and make your computer 'unbreakable' while you bore out my car's engine, add a mad blower and custom exhaust."

"OK, while I recover the document you 'saved' to a non-existent drive, you can go kill a cow, butcher it completely and fill my freezer."

Funny how there are so few takers.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried to hide what I do from the extended family, word got out and five -- count 'em, five -- fucking laptops arrived with three families, all of which I could "easily fix" while at the same time cooking a five-course dinner for their dozen-and-a-half hungry gobs.

Trying to explain your job administering heavy iron has as much in common with their Yahoo! Messenger software as running a feedlot does with cooking in a four-star restaurant is pointless. You work in "computers". You must know.

"But it's just a simple problem."
If it's so fucking simple, fix it yourself.
"But you're the computer expert."

If Yahoo! ever ports their Messenger to AIX and you happen to buy an RS6000, then perhaps I may be able to help. The only way I can fix your Windows XP Home machine is to uninstall all that "important" shit you just can't live without, because a browser's not a browser without at least half a dozen third-party toolbars. And your spyware-filled icon buddies. And five different chat clients.

The only way I can "fix" your computer and "make it work" is to delete everything and start over, making it -- in your eyes, oh extended fambly members -- not work. And should your machine be so fucked by the hells you've visited upon it that you're willing to accept my radical idea, you'll only fill it back up with the same shit which broke it before as soon as you get home. A week later I'll get a call bitching about how I didn't really fix it, that it's now worse than it was before, and that I have some nerve calling myself a computer expert (something I've never in my life called myself).

I fucking hate family gatherings.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Haikus for You

Two more tickets closed
I was right as usual.
Root Cause: 17.

My mood was so good.
Nothing could sink my spirit...
Then meetings started.

Advancement: again not.
A "merit" raise did come through;
Half inflation's rate.

Holidays begin.
I leave this hell behind me.
For snow-covered lands.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Battleground Europe?

So I'm looking through the referrers and see a spike from Slashdot because, well, I wrote a decent comment which was uprated quickly. Fair enough, but the spike was higher than I'dseen in the past. I looked further and saw just as many referrers from .

Battleground Europe? Dunno it. <click>

You are not logged in or you do not have permission to access this page.

I'm not logged in because I'm not a member. No problem, I'll sign up.

Sorry, registration has been disabled by the administrator.

Guess not.

So someone wrote something about my blog, referred to a particular post, and I have no fucking idea what was interesting enough to get that kind of response. I don't know whether it's for something helpful or insightful I wrote about Windows' internal workings, how to download the Sun JRE, or if perhaps someone on the forum claimed that I'm the devil incarnate and others are just checking out the blog to confirm this before joining the pitchfork-wielding mob.

Don't get me wrong: I appreciate the response. I'd just like to know what it's in response to. And why.

If someone from BE could either paste the post that points here or better yet, mail me the contents of the thread, I'd seriously appreciate it. If you're all sworn to secrecy or something I promise not to tell. This is purely for my own edification, though the more I know about what people like to read, the more I can write in that direction.

Unless, of course, you really are with the pitchfork crowd, in which case I'd probably call you a fuckwit, although I'd be more than happy to debate you on whatever topic it is you want to string me up over. Maybe I'm the fuckwit. Stranger things have happened. Hell, I even ate Icelandic rotten shark a second time. And, truth be told, a third as well.

Anyway, back to some private life stuff. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to post a comment.

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Cow-Orkers XIII: Don Quixote

There are certain sorts of people you can count on to talk non-stop. Canadians, for example. All you have to do is mention hockey. Or pilots. Mention anything technical about flying to a pilot and sit back in the comfort that is knowing you won't be expected to open your mouth for the next two hours. If someone wearing chromed heel pumps walks by a gaggle of New York City women sipping lattes, no one in the vicinity will even hear sirens over the babble about Dolce & Gabbana and Jimmy Chu emanating from that table.

Mention the fucking internal process databases and my neighbour Joey will be on the phone for up to eight hours, murdering the English language at over 90dB.

Joey doesn't have a loud voice normally. He's on the phone as I type this and I'm still able to concentrate. It's only when he tries to speak English. He's uncomfortable with the language (for good reason) and you can hear it in his voice as it rises in tone and volume. And it stays at a level which allows the entire wing to hear him. They don't like it anymore than I do but they've yet to say anything to him. They do mention it to me because, having been voted Most Likely to Climb A Tall Tower with a High-Powered Riffle seven years in a row, the patience and
fortitude required to tolerate this day-in and day-out is not what one would expect from me. From me they only expect screaming and Scanners-style head explosions.

A couple of guys here play Bingo, filling in cards with the words and phrases he's most likely to say and checking them off for the win: Greta, Jim, patch repository, crash log DB, Chermany, 'I tell him zat before', 'the system he is waiting', 'he did went', and so on. The game started as a tally system but when "crash log DB" reached 40 inside an hour (with "Greta" a close second at 38), it got tiresome and even more disruptive trying to keep up.

Ripa isn't as bad. She talks on and on but she isn't doing it at over 92dB. I know he hits 95dB because I bought a fucking Radio Shack decibel meter and measured him. The normal office range is 48-62dB. It doesn't hit 70dB when he's on the phone in German. The sound rockets up to the 85-90dB range which means he's one hundred times louder Not 20 times, 100. When he hits 95dB he's reached 200-400 times the loudness, and hit it he does, repeatedly.

All of this blabbering of his is nothing but whinging about the fact that this system -- his baby -- was moved to the US months ago and it ain't going to change. His US counterparts made a play for control, won it with the data center argument (since we in Germany don't have one) and he can't let go. Joey tilts at this windmill at least three times a week for no fewer than two hours at a time, and generally four to six.

I've asked him nicely and repeatedly to be quieter. On his good days I've explained to him how loud he gets when he speaks in English. I've had to tell him to STFU him when I've tried to hear what the fuck was being said in a conf call I was stuck on.

When I told him again to STFU yesterday, he essploded.

"I am NOT yell in ze phone!"
I showed him the dB meter. The fucker actually hit 98 dB.

"I can't help zis!"
Yes you can, Sparky. You only hit 62dB when you speak in German.

"Vye doan YU move zen?!"
Ah, clever. I should move my three computers and four screens to a conference room in order to work while you whinge away at Jim and Greta in the US for eight hours on end without once even checking your mail much less actually using one of the four workstations on your desk. You're disrupting the entire fucking wing but I'm the one who should move to a conf room.

"Vye doan chu talk wiz Vera ze manager zen?!"
Because, you little pussy motherfucker, I actually believe the two of us ought to be able to talk to each other like adults rather than running like little schoolgirls to the fucking teacher.

Other cow-orkers on the floor couldn't stifle their laughter at this point -- someone not only took Joey to task but more or less called him out for being such a bitch. No surprise that it was me but I'm currently back at the top of Vera's shitlist so this won't help much despite every other cow-orker's willingness to confirm the problem. The schoolgirl remark may well prevent Joey running to Vera like the little bitch he can be but the three-week vacation I'm about to take will do much more to repair the peace.

Three weeks away from these fuckwits. Be still my heart. Or better yet, his.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Survey Says...

Dear Microsoft,

When I fill out your dynamic survey, and in it I specify that I'm not a manager (question #21), that I have nothing to do with corporate policy (question #25) and that my job duties entail IT and software support (question #35), do not then throw management-style idiotspeak at me in a follow-up question.
In your current job, which of these statements best describes your strategic engagement with corporate IT policy?
Please select only one.

  • Setting IT strategy, policies and/or goals for your company
  • Working with others to help establish IT strategy, policy or goals for your company
  • Translating business requirements of internal clients into technology solutions
  • Implementing established IT strategy, policies or goals

None of those, you fuckwits. What the fuck does number three even mean?

At 2:30 yesterday some guys from $BigComputerCo stopped by to meet me in the CubeDesk of Hate. They're involved in hardware consulting for customers implementing $OurBigApp. Hi, How are you?, Nice to meet you, Thanks for the card, Why the fuck are you talking to me? I don't even deal with these guys tangentially. An hour later Shrek told me that we're going out to drink Gl├╝hwein (mulled wine) with them in half an hour. Cool beans!

That half hour became a full hour, in which time the rain had started. Instead of going within walking distance of my home we were going to the winter fairgrounds. Fine. Then Shrek told me they're treating us. Aw, HELLS yeah!

The guys were nice enough, the beer was free, we chatted for a few hours, and at the end of it I may be getting some free rack boxen. Big rack boxen. Stuff that's anything from 4-16U and runs some flavour of UNIX. Now I just have to figure out where the hell to plug it in -- I can't afford the juice at home.

One week from today I will be in a bar in Paris although not on $BigComputerCo's dime. Say luh gair.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Creation 'Science'

Over at Whateveresque there's a LOLCreashun thread with LOLcats-style TOAP on John Scalzi's Creationist Museum photos. While some of them are pretty good, one particular picture stands out. User "saswann" summed up my daily life.

In other news: if I catch the person who keeps throwing away my jars of mustard and mayo he's going to find out about Survival of the Evilist when I go all Darwin on his ass.

A particular ticket has been dragging on for months. Thanks to a number of my absences Mini-Me's been in on the action. Their claim is that $OurBigApp doesn't work. There are "communication problems" and user sessions constantly die, resulting in lost work and much logging in again and again. For five months they've displayed a level of incompetence on par with that of FEMA during a CAT-5 hurricane.

We again were forced to participate in a Web and phone conference. They again tried to first connect via Citrix. I again told them to cut it out. They again tried to connect via terminal services. I again told them to cut it out. They again were unable to reproduce the problem.

As four different "admins" in three different locations -- none of whom knew what the other was doing or had done -- struggled to get a machine up and connected, I directed a question at the lead "admin". The words came out before the brain could stop them: "So this issue that we've been working on is about 'connectivity problems'... which you've been continually unable to demonstrate to us in conferences you've demanded we hold because of... your own internal connectivity problems, right?"

"Yes. I mean, no! I mean, not as such. We're trying to demonstrate this for you now."
"You're trying to demonstrate connectivity problems but you can't because you're having connectivity problems."
"You don't understand what the problem is."

Yes I do, Sparky. I showed you back in July that your traceroutes demonstrated the problem quite clearly. I told you back then that when 60% of your internal network pings fail, your network sucks and it rather than $OurBigApp is the source of your trouble. You refuse to accept this fact. If our app can't communicate with the server, it hangs and dies. This should not be a surprise, especially to someone who works as a system administrator for one of the world's top-ten telecomms providers.

There's another conference next week. Mini-Me and I are intent on closing this ticket with a Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit within an hour of hanging up on them.


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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.