Re: To my shame ..
There was a time when we did not expend resources analyzing people like him for individual and granular defects which could be labeled. We just called them "assholes" and moved on, often without them around anymore.
835 posts • joined 21 Nov 2007
I have never really liked this "rule." One could interpret that to mean something like "if the password is just one character off, accept it," or in any case spending time trying to interpret what the sender meant rather than what was sent. This idea may sound good in principle, look good on paper, and may make everyone experience good feels, but it cannot and does not work in the real world.
A customer called me to tell me about an Excel spreadsheet which was crashing at a particular point. This was repeatable on the machine but no one else had the problem. I did what every good tech does: removed and re-installed Office. No dice, it still crashed at exactly the same point performing exactly the same actions. After browsing around for a few hours hoping I could find someone coming close to the issue, I decided we would re-load Windows 7 from scratch and try again. The user went to a spare laptop while I re-loaded theirs.
But then another call came. This spare laptop was also crashing, but with a different spreadsheet and at a different point. Again, repeatable, but also afflicting another machine. What the...? While investigating I had another user tell me they had crashing problems, but with yet a different spreadsheet.
We had different versions of Excel across several machines, all running an up-to-date installation of Windows 7. Common threads were eliminated: it was not caused by accessing over the network as a local copy performed identically; the anti-virus was uninstalled for testing; all updates were checked. But another common object remained.
Just barely a week earlier I read an article written by a programmer who was the liaison between product support and the programming group. He mentioned how one of the first things he asked when being escalated a ticket was, what CPU is the customer running? With the answer he would pull known errata for that particular CPU.
The common thread in my situation? All computers involved were Dell laptops, all but one the same model, and all running superseded BIOS versions. It was a shot in the dark but I understand CPUs have bugs, having been around so long, and I also know that BIOS updates will often carry CPU micro-code updates. What the heck, right?
As I live and breath, updating the BIOS on all of the laptops fixed the crashing problems for all spreadsheets involved. How esoteric can you get? I might have stumbled across that at some point in a desperate carpet-bomb approach to update all drives and BIOS and whatever else, but to specifically target that solution? I might not have if not for an article, written by a programmer to share his experiences, and stumbled upon by a tech just falling down a rabbit hole one night.
Being an independent body I have the luxury that many imprisoned within a hierarchical management chain of command lack. That is telling someone about themselves when they deserve it, and subsequently refusing service. (On the other hand, there is something to be said about a steady paycheck as well. You take the good with the bad.)
I have had three customers in my time read me a line of bullshit then double-down, and I terminated my business relationship with them right on the spot. One of them a similar situation to that of "Leon." Customers like this are the worst kind and will always abuse you.
Now, I have also had a few customers embellish their situations, and when called out they sheepishly accepted, we had a chuckle, and we moved on. In one situation I was more diplomatic than the situation warranted, and we moved on never again speaking of the event. In fact, I had mostly forgotten about these until being forced to recall. These are good, human, customers, Whereas the other kind are demon spawn direct from Hell sent to test your fortitude, and they can return to Hell.
NOT posting anonymously because, if the demons read this, they likely know who they are.
In the interest of fairness, there has been a situation in which I completely and utterly [expletive deleted] up and was summarily dismissed, deservedly so. It works both ways, I just make it a priority to never be in the position of "dismissee."
In my experience, and I hazard to say I am not alone in this, this report is bullshit.
Technology is the problem, and equally whether on-premise or on someone else's server (the "cloud.") Internet goes down. Services suffer down-time because of some dipstick pushing the wrong button or forgetting to install a certificate or pulling the wrong cable or committing a bad configuration or routing fails because China or a data center in BFE suffers a power outage and the redundancy fails or or or or. Firewalls lock up. Switches glitch during power events, irrespective of the UPS. UPS batteries need changing. Internal network goes nuts because some remotely managed VoIP phone suddenly storms off its assigned VLAN. USB scanners refuse to wake up after going into power saving mode. Printers... oh, God, printers!
We work when we need to. Customers experience problems whenever they please irrespective of where their services are hosted. Sleep be damned. Shove this "report" right up your output ports.
The extended space or double space after a sentence actually makes it stand out more and easier to visually discern individual sentences. Web pages have always flummoxed my skimming because of this and I have found it quite annoying.
But then I also have a "-- \n" at the start of my email signature, which is no more than five lines long.
The unknown shared infrastructure can be a nightmare. I had a customer whose Internet uplink is absolutely critical. So we brought both ComCast cable and Embarq ADSL into the office to give us redundant routing since both were subject to sporadic outages, always at the most inopportune time.
This arrangement worked very well, with ComCast suffering numerous outages and Embarq only a few. Until the tree up the road dropped a rather sizeable branch onto some suspended cables. Both services went out.
This got sorted during the repair as ComCast had to run a temporary drop from the other side of the property. Not so temporary but to our benefit. Until a few months later when the call came that, again, both connections had gone down.
Come to find out that during that period, ComCast and Embarq in our area were both routing through Level3, which had suffered a core routing melt-down.
Nothing can be made fool-proof. The situation is much better now in a new location and new services, but I still expect the shoe to drop.
I learned COBOL in high school on a System/34, among other system-related stuff. Up to then I had been a BASIC programmer with a sprinkle of TMS-9900 assembler and learning 6502. COBOL was fun, but I thought it lacked pizzazz; it was plain and not a very sexy language. Then we took a semester tryst with the mistress RPG-II and I learned the true meaning of pain. Twas impressed upon me early in life that the sparkly, sexy things are not always what they appear to be, and plain is just fine.
Later in college I took a couple of COBOL classes. Actually had quite some fun with RM*COSTAR and brought a copy home to run in CrossPC (or was it PC Task?) on my Amiga. The next semester I found an Amiga native COBOL compiler and worked with the programmer to troubleshoot it so it would compile my class programs properly. This was about the time of the start of the Y2K panic, and while some of my class-mates dreamed of making huge bank by saving the world, for whatever reason I decided against such a path.
I still thought I was pretty cool for being so young and having learned COBOL. That was until I met a guy roughly my age who programmed COBOL-II for a living. Funny thing about it, thinking about his personality, he and the language are a perfect fit.
Yeah, my first hard drive was a Quantum 80MB for my Amiga 2000.
The next page of comments gets into loose connectors. It reminded me of my first Amiga hard drive experience. I had a GVP A530+ (68EC030, 8MB RAM, and a 40MB Seagate SCSI hard drive) which would sometimes just not want to boot, throwing up the Kickstart "insert Workbench floppy" screen. I fussed with that thing so much, seating and re-seating everything including the SCSI cable. Not even swearing, begging, and praying would fix it.
TURNED OUT that the SCSI cable was the problem, but not because it kept working loose. This particular cable had something weird in the IDC connector which made it work only when it was NOT fully seated. I figured out putting the lid back on the accelerator would move the cable just enough to un-seat it into a working position. As this was a two-inch cable likely made specifically for the short distance between the SCSI header and the drive I really wanted and tried to make it work, but wound up replacing it with a longer cable onto which I eventually hung three other SCSI drives for a whopping 500-some MB of total storage.
Of course, next time the problem occurred, the user decided to repeat what they thought they'd observed the techie doing, and hit the PC so hard that it actually did break it for good.
I learned over the years that certain customers should never witness or have explained to them how you fixed a specific problem. Then any time there is a problem they will attempt the same procedure in an attempt to avoid calling (thus spending money on a visit.) Ultimately the call comes, usually after a long bit of down-time and stewing in frustration.
I call this the "man with a hammer" problem, hearkening back to the proverb, "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail."
My Taco Bell back in the 90s had a Unix machine in the office, which I am almost certain ran SCO, connected to the Par register system. In the late 2000s I did some call-out IT work for a McDonald's contractor. In each office I found two machines, one running Windows Server 2003 and the other running some flavor of *nix (not sure if Linux or good ol' System V Unix,) with some really cool integration between the two.
As a matter of policy, I do not delete customer data or information. I will happily explain how to do it but I will not pull the trigger without making a CYA backup of my own. This came in handy once as a short-lived customer flat-out accused me of deleting important files out of his archive, files he had not touched in several years, archives in which he said there was absolutely nothing critical. The accusations and abusive attitude we not enough to push me over the edge, but the threats of legal action certainly were.
I restored his files all while he seethed over my shoulder, handed him an invoice and a list of other IT people he could call for any future needs.
Yes, I have. There are sooooo many that I cannot count but do remember a few specific incidents. Everyone ranging from the normal home user to business owners and c-level execs. Grandmother who lost family photos in emails kept in Deleted Items, attorneys and other firms involved in litigation who thought it smart to store the relevant emails in Deleted Items rather than creating a new folder. Seriously. I literally cannot fathom why. Why?!
Fortunately in almost every case I was able to recover them by slightly altering the header of the PST and run of SCANPST against it. Outlook Express was a little different but not impossible, and Outlook's Recover Deleted Items against Exchange has been a life-saver more than once. I want to say that fortune smiled on all but two or three lost souls who emptied their Deleted Items so long before discovering missing information that they were no longer recoverable.
My first encounter as a fresh and new IT consultant was a migration into Exchange 2003 before any service pack releases. We were going to head right up against limitations of the data stores, even with multiples. It was decided that we would clear users' Deleted Items before the import, which we found greatly and significantly reduced the amount of required space. Cue a call two days later from accounting. Fortunately, and I really have no idea why we did this, but copies of their PSTs were made before emptying the trash.
Harsh lessons learned.
I, too, have used similar analogues with my customers: would you store your lunch in your recycle bin or trash can?
It is not uncommon for users at any level to be unhappy with what is provided for them, especially with the constant bombardment of tech blogs, ShamWow-type YouTube channels, and the like. IT by Magazine (or IT by Blog) turns into a shadow IT infrastructure in short order... because, like, why can't we use this a-ma-zing software, and it's cheaper than my Netflix, duh.
Google showed the way with Chrome early on when it became possible for a user to "install" it without local machine administrative privileges. That turned out to be quite successful for a free product. Microsoft is not stupid. It sees that and says, "huh, imagine if we could push a product out to users for $5 or whatever a pop the way Google pushed Chrome for free." Even better is the product will get pushed out with a subscription model similar to that of a gym membership. Cha-ching.
"there are no current plans to extend it to other Office 365 services"
No current plans, so it says.
"we're being responsive to our customers who have requested this capability", adding that "organizations can rely on their own internal policies, procedures and communications to ensure that those individuals making self-service purchases are complying with company policies"
Users often demand things outside of the way things are done, ignoring situations in which things are done a certain way due to silly little things like regulatory compliance or statutory requirement. While user input is not always ignored or rejected out-right, sometimes they have to be told "no" until a later time. In any case, Microsoft knows damn well that users will violate policy if it suits their convenience. The three precipitants of user misbehavior are a motivated user, an attractive feature, and lack of hard prevention on the part of the administrators. The first two parts are already present, and Microsoft is prying custodianship away from administrators.
"'Microsoft will provide standard support for self-service purchasers.' In practice, though, users may well channel queries to their internal IT support and this is something Microsoft cannot control."
Neither does Microsoft care to control how users get support. Users will demand in the most obnoxious ways their organizational IT support provide assistance with their surreptitiously purchased product, and they will get it the same way iPhone users eventually get support in an Android-only shop -- to shut them up.
"Admins may choose to assign a centrally purchased license to users of the cancelled subscription."
Translation: once your users become accustomed to their new processes under your IT know-it-all noses, then train new hires and the work-flow becomes dependent upon these products, even when stymied by the short-comings, when the department manager who bought the crap in the first place leaves and takes the license with them, YOU will get to foot the bill on a new, central license for a product you never approved, never wanted, and probably already purchased an alternative product in the first place. (Was there a place for a period in that sentence?!)
In environments where administrators do not have necessary controls, many due to management requirements, users will happily bring in elicit licenses from home or improper licensing from school for a business to use. Then managers ring up IT wanting to know why suddenly they cannot get some program working, and they need it working right now because of a deadline tomorrow.
"Currently the company is in effect stating that it knows better than IT admins what is best for their users. That this move is unpopular with those admins is unsurprising."
Microsoft does not give a flying flip about the IT admin in the field. Even with the love-fest of the early 2000s with all the free TS2, inexpensive TechNet and Action Packs, it was all a ploy to make us feel good about being on the ground floor of an IT workplace revolution and turn us into support drones making enough money from it to keep us happy. But Microsoft no longer needs us as the users can plug in directly to Microsoft's systems management and product licensing and, having done our jobs, we can bugger off.
This is like being the guy at school whom all the other guys want as a friend, but what they really want is to bang your sister.
To a large degree this arrangement with an intermediate interpreter (secretary) would be preferred to a C-level banging out some Great New Idea into an incomprehensible missive in an Ambien-induced flash of brilliance, or off-the-cuff responses in a fully-awake fit of rage.
Exec: To: so-and-so, message: $!&^% YOU!
Secretary: "We appreciate your letter dated last Monday and, for the following reasons, politely disagree with your assertion."
Here's a pint mate. Ignore the other lad, and later we'll discuss how to hide your editor's body for throwing you into the pit of hell with the likes of us.
I am with you on this. The "visiting journo" was sarcastic and meant to imply what you articulated. While I apologize for nothing I would certainly pony up for a second pint for the poor bloke.
One mistake, however: politics has not been a tittering matter for quite some time and is, in fact, killing comedy altogether.
people have no clue of how those taxes benefit them
Some people have no idea nor memory of when we did just fine without many taxes. Nor how only 10% of taxes collected actually provide any kind of benefit -- not a very good return on investment.
Til they don't., then hear them scream.
They scream, anyway. So let them.
Like in the old days when having a big rack of servers was a status symbol among geeks, now running a server farm from your back pocket is oh-so chic. I still rather enjoy my ring-tones as they help prevent, long term, those phantom ring vibrations we learned about during the Blackberry hey-day when people would still feel their phone ringing even when the network was down. Plus since my phone often sits docked (yes, a charging stand, wanna fight about it?) in another room after 5pm, being able to hear it is handy.
When the phone is attached to my hip during my regular working day, I have noticed the ringtone draws strange looks. I mean, so totally 2000s, right? Now if your phone is not sitting on a desk using the leg-room cut-out as a reverberation chamber, or you cannot feel its vibrations through the floor and walls, well, why bother? This type of ringing is the only invasion allowed within our now sound-sterile environments in which everyone wears headphones and no one talks to each other using vocal cords, but instead using messaging apps (because SMS is soooooo 90s, old-timer.)
I must admit to spending an extra amount of time giving certain contacts special notification sounds so I can quickly determine whether this call or message can wait, and for how long, without diverting too much of my attention from what is at hand.
Well, in the business world, anyway. The personal world is much different. Back in the whenevers it was mostly business people, or people with more money than self-awareness, who had the phones in public and if their obnoxiously loud conversations were not grabbing attention it was the obnoxiously loud obnoxious sounds for every kind of notification. Now it seems business people, and those without the need to be noticed by others, try to keep a low profile.
Even with my mass customizations I try to fly low with simple sound effects, like a click for a message, etc.
Sometimes I feel like I might understand how some felt when disco died.
Lastly, someone tell SME and YouTube that region restrictions are soooooo aughties.
For that matter, California, which this thread cites as the epicenter of this so-called "rot," has had economic growth that's twice the national average over the last several years. Clearly it's not as crippling as all that.
Yet California carries at least $1T and rising state debt, holds at least $1T in "unfunded liabilities" such as pensions, has a massive and increasing poverty and homeless problem, massively increasing cost of living including the highest debt-to-income ratio in the country and a housing market which is steadily pricing people out, among other failings.
I would not point to California any more than I would point to Venezuela as a success story.
Why does it always have to be so apocalyptic? I agree that slacktivist slogans generally achieve nothing and are a distraction, but I don't really think it's fair to think of them as the proof of decadance.
Because it is not just slogans and distractions anymore. While the social justice crowds are not large enough in numbers to exert social pressure, they are loud and obnoxious enough and have established themselves in positions of consequence so what they do is now disruptive and destructive.
Hashtags don't put food on the table, a roof over your head and your kids in school.
No, but "fairness" would dictate everyone else take care of those aspects and more.
If we do not put our collective foot down now we will continue to lose ground as more people, companies, and politicians are intimidated by the scenes, tantrums, and violence.
Indeed, but as the third leg of the post-modernist triad, "inclusiveness" demands enforcement via intolerance.
I am disappointed this article does not delve deeper into the new Code of Conduct and the fallout which has accompanied its implementation, let alone completely ignoring the "killswitch" post to the LKML. There are a number of videos popping up on YouTube which go into debate and what is actually happening behind the scenes, including the ousting of contributors for comments or behavior deemed as bad from many years prior. I strongly suggest people go check them out.
If the new CoCs are allowed to continue as they are, if you want to be a dev of any kind you had better keep your nose clean from the time you enter the world, not just the on-line world, by being Supreme Being "inclusive" and "tolerant" or they will look for your indiscretions, they will find all your posts, and they will kill your career, summarily tossing you into the Shitlord Abyss.
"even after this event, he would never back up his data."
Pretty safe bet. I am rather impressed you were able to re-load the heads without damaging them, or them already being damaged by seeking off the edge of the platter. I am also curious as to what kind of error or event would cause a seek off the edge.
"Indeed, this article gives me an itch to rummage my drawer and see if any of the ancient Symbian Nokia's contained therein there still work..."
I am still quite happily using my Sony Ericsson C905a. So long as AT&T's network does not go full LTE it will be with me. I also picked up a bunch of extras from a phone shop so I always have spare parts.
I did a recent stint where change meetings were the boogeyman, directly causing my part of the world to go T.I.T.S.U.P. a couple of times.
And, really, you never know what kind of vendor you will get. I have worked with more than one vendor which told me they would not support the product if we did not do certain things their way, and this usually happened on the day of installation even with several calls and emails beforehand supposedly detailing the process and our requirements.
From turning off all workstation firewalls*, to blank SQL sa passswords, to, yes, full take-over of IIS installations in bindings -- as happened here -- or putting an application in the default website rather than its own. As well, the customer had no means to stand up another server just for the application so we would have to go with it, at least for a short time.
* still forced by a major medical software vendor for one of its Borged products which I will not name, but it does rhyme with Henry Schein.
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