* Posts by PM from Hell

248 publicly visible posts • joined 24 Mar 2017


Microsoft may stop bundling Teams with Office amid antitrust probe threat

PM from Hell

Re: A separate licence for Teams would be a bad idea for the public sector

I've worked with several organisations who have tried to move away from Office it's just been impossible. one organisation ended up licencing every desktop for Gsuite and Office. The simple fact of the matter is that if you run large Scale IT organisations supporting many thousands of users and hundreds of applications it is impossible to remove office without a disastrous effect on the end user experience. I'm a Project Manager working with a variety of organisations but the reliance on a minute by minute basis on the ability to extract data, produce letters, send emails etc from corporate apps is business critical, there is no other office which offers this level of integration reliably. it may work 90% of th time once you have worked with the 3rd party software provider to perform the integration but you'll be running a non-standard configuration and that will cause issues around application patching and upgrades. In the real world of Corporate IT most of us are implementing Commercial Off The Shelf software and for anything less than a multi billion pound a year turnover company I'm doing it with out of th ebox configurations and workflows restricting changes to 'personalisation' to fit the organisation standards. We do not have the resources for anything else, our developers are working full time on the 'niche' applications which are required to run a particular process peculiar o the organisation or plugging gaps in the COTS offering to allow better intra application integration.

At a personal level I've been working with Gsuite for 10 years and the spellcheck is still not good enough, I have mild dyslexia and lean heavily on the spell check tools, the quality of work I can produce is measurably lower on G Suite because of this and I have to rely on more colleague support for proof reading which i a real cost in terms of productivity. During COvid, the County COuncil I was working with had to move from having 3-400 remote workers to several thousands over a 2 week period, at the same time it was battling to realign service provision to our most vulnerable citizens to protect both them and our staff, we had to close day centres, change the way home care was delivered and deploy a couple of thousand laptops and PC's. Th IT team did a fantastic job supporting this initially, then developing a volunteering application to allow voluntary organisations to co-ordinate the pandemic response but the fact that we could hugely ramp up Teams usage by just increasing the size of the internet connectivity was an absolute life saver. I' a pragmatic user of microsoft services, dislike a lot about the companies practices but suggesting that adding additional costs to using Teams would increase competition in the corporate sector is just naive.

Support chap put PC into 'drying mode' and users believed it was real

PM from Hell

Re: Nipples and sonic screwdrivers

Ive been using my Thinkpad Carbon personal laptop for 3 years (bought at 3 years old refurbished) and I just had to look at it and confirm it does have a nipple, I've never got on with them and would have swore it didn't have one until I checked.

Why ChatGPT should be considered a malevolent AI – and be destroyed

PM from Hell

Lets see how far we get

There is a twitter hashtag putin gorilla sex tape trending on twitter at the moment, could ChatGPT be influenced to provide an article on this

Keeping printers quiet broke disk drives, thanks to very fuzzy logic

PM from Hell

Re: Other things can get clogged too

During early PC roll out's we used to supply base unit stands which did exactly that, lifted the bases unit high enough to avoid sucking in dust. It had the secondary benefit or reducing the number of call outs caused by people 'accidentally' kicking over their base units.

PM from Hell

Company employees

Employees of IBM were IBM'ers, Employees of ICL were ICL'ers, Digital Equipment employee's were DEC'ers but employees of Wang always referred to themselves as employees of Wang Corporation

A tip for content filter evaluators: erase the list of sites you tested, don't share them on 100 PCs

PM from Hell

child filters

I tried child filters early ion but it stopped my 13 year old daughter even doing her geography homework.

Subsidies? All UK chip industry needs is tax, rule tweaks, claims rightwing thinktank

PM from Hell

Re: Good grief

We have a centre of chip excellence in our village, they also make very nice pies

Unix is dead. Long live Unix!

PM from Hell

Re: FreeBSD

You may be technically correct but it can't call itself Unix any more. if it doesn't participate, pass the compatibility tests and leases the trademark it's no longer able to call itself UNIX.

I'm not sure FOSS has won, it feels like Marketing has won yet again

PM from Hell

Re: About 15 years ago...

If that's a VME outsourcer get me the the contact details. Most of my exc olleagues will have retired now and I need an easier role.

Nice smart device – how long does it get software updates?

PM from Hell

I hope you live alone, although I do find the idea of yor family being plunged into darkness every time you leave the house hysterical

PM from Hell

Re: Nobody

see my comment above

PM from Hell

Re: Nobody

We use the Labrador intrusion detection system. its not 100% effective but we have a backup Labrador in case the first one is in power saving mode.

PM from Hell

Re: Nobody

my dishwasher and the last 3 from different manufacturers all had a delay function you could use by pushing the start button several times.

PM from Hell

Re: Nobody

Nice to see that some teen traits haven't been changed by the digital revolution. I was having the same issue 20 years ago.

'What's the point of me being in my office, just because they want to see me in the office?'

PM from Hell

Re: Odd joke revived

The Prof does care if you skive off all term then work like hell at the end as he will have no chance to steer you in the right direction, there's huge risk of failure in that approach, I've seen the same thing on development projects where dev's would not share interfaces between modules until 'it's ready for testing' sure enough as they had interpreted the interface requirements differently and theAPI calls were using different data structures on each side, Cue days of rework and a lesson learned by me, no matter how detailed the spec there is always some ambiguity, if dev's are developing interacting code lets get a skeleton in place and as soon as its fir to send the data across then lets see what both sides produce and can handle. on more than one occasion it's transpired that the interface design wasn't rich enough to support the required functionality and I could then go back and negotiate a change.

IBM manager sues for $5m claiming postnatal demotion

PM from Hell

Re: It really is a choice- but it's the mother choice, not the employers

Even in the cases you have describe there would be no reason to disadvantage all women during or after childbirth. Many women do return to the workplace to high pressure roles successfully, some by choice some because their income is required to pay the family bills. My own sister was back in full time work 2 weeks after the baby was born working whatever hours were required to do the job. She had a lot of family support but ti was still hard, the only thing that would have been harder would have been 'supported' by being demoted and not being able to pay the bills. You even stated in your response that it is a choice and you are correct, but it's the woman's choice not the employers. The UK isn't perfect by any means but the rights of women to take maternity leave then return to their previous role is pretty much a given for good employers. These rights are still mandated by law they are not an option. The vast majority of women I have worked with have returned from maternity leave and done a cracking job despite the horrible transition to leaving a baby at home the guilt they feel and the utter exhaustion any new baby brings. You ignore the impact that a new baby can have on the new father too, My eldest daughter didn't sleep through a full night from being 6 months old to 4 my wife had to be awake with her during the day so I did take dome of the burden, this included spending an entire night walking around the lounge carrying her as she would wake up screaming if I stopped moving, this lead to many days when I would appear at work utterly exhausted and struggle to get through the day and a number of days where I did have to call in sick as I know I could not have performed and it would have been dangerous for me to drive and I know from my own life experience that this is not unusual but no-one suggests removing opportunities or responsibilities from new fathers on the that basis, indeed I got nothing but support from my colleagues who could step in when required and from my managers, perhaps the fact that several of them had small children played a part in that. I did fulfill my job responsibilities and this did mean continuing to travel for consultancy work, in fact about the only concession I can remember female colleagues requesting was to get home every night, as a team we were happy to swap assignments to make sure that happened, because we were a team, we were all under huge amounts of pressure and all relied on each other.

Investor tells Google: Cut costs now and stop paying staff so much

PM from Hell

Re: Too many paid too much

Unfortunately I don't think I'd get 2 full grown muddy labs in a PRT pod, and as yet neither one has mastered riding a bicycle.

PM from Hell

Re: Too many paid too much

I live in a rural village, there is a bus to the nearest town 1-2 times per day, we have 2 Labradors who we drive to a local park or exercise field most days, We drive estate cars with a significant amount of dog gear in the back for walks, balls, leads, first aid kit, towels. our walking boots waterproof coats etc. all this stuff takes up space and having to load it into a different 'shared transport' every day would be a major pain. The first aid kit is there from bitter experience and there is always the risk that a walk will need to be cut short so a dog can be patched up or even taken to the vets.

In addition I have dog guards in the cars, rubber boot mat's to protect the car and yet the tailgate section is still covered in mud this time of year. I also have to wonder how many people would want to share a journey with 2 over excited Labradors and their owners carrying rucksacks full of doggy gear on the way out and the either very wet or muddy owners and dogs on the way back, I also have cars with leather seats so they are wipe clean by the way.

We feed the dogs on raw food which we buy froze, do you want to travel on a hot day beside a guy with 30 rolls of slowly defrosting animal food?

The nearest supermarket is 7 miles away as well and whilst we do have shopping delivered we also do need to do grocery shops at times.

I've not even talked about the impossibility of using public transport to get to work, a 20 mile, 35 minute journey becomes a 2 hour one on the bus, starting off with a 5 mile journey in the wrong direction and with the return journey needing to be started by 4:30 pm for the last bus home. I've tried car sharing but the people looking to share were so far off my journey route or travel timetable that I never found any matches which don't significantly increase the journey distance and time.

FAA asks for vendor feedback on $10b tech contract

PM from Hell

no bespoke code

I Implement COTS packages for a living, no 2 implementation of the same product have been the same yet. So the only client specific items will be System Configuration, workflow config, business rules based processing, document formatting, screen design ooh and legacy interfaces, never forget the interfaces, I imagine there will need to be some ETL to get data out and into the COTS data warehouse (because Data Warehouses never need any logic to normalize and transform data from different sources)

Yup I cant see any problems with that

IT manager's 'think outside the box' edict was, for once, not (only) a revolting cliché

PM from Hell

protective film? That was a privacy screen

Back in the early days of PC's we bought a range of very expensive machines for developers, one of the 'benefits' was that each screen came with a privacy screen attached to it, the management thought this was a good idea as the team worked on police systems. In reality they made the screen slightly blurry much worse than our mainframe terminals and also almost completely prevented co working when looking into a problem as both programmers had to somehow get their heads directly in line with the 14 inch screen.

When we deployed some to user offices one used did attempt to remove the 'protective screen' making the device unusable as the CRTY was covered in lumps of resin and torn plastic.

A final 'benefit' was that if you touched the screen with the end of your pen to show someone which line to look at the ink was instantly absorbed into the plastic, so we had a number of blurry rainbow colored devices nobody wanted to use. Our next batch of PC's were Compaq's dearer, but bigger screens you could read and share

Hot, sweaty builders hosed a server – literally – leaving support with an all-night RAID repair job

PM from Hell

New Build DC's

I've been involved in several new built DC's large and small

My three lessons are:

1/ lift every floor tile and check the whole roof void. In one case the builders had swept all the concrete dust, fag packets and other refuse into the center of the floor before fitting the tiles, I've also found lengths of unused cable, packaging and insulation trimmings in roof voids

2/ Sink test the aircon before installing any kit, bring in heaters and stress the aircon, I've had under powered aircon units installed in error, a blocked exit vent (it was hidden in a decorative clock tower and the builders sealed it to keep pigeons out)

3/ Confirm all breaks in the walls ceiling and floors of the 'cube' are properly sealed with the correct fire resistant /expanding sealants' all easy things to fix when the DC is empty and absolutely painful one fully populated.

PM from Hell

Re: Botched Aircon

When ICL release their S39 range of mainframes the temperature window for the CPU's was very narrow, we often had to install an underfloor air dam to reduce the airflow through the CPU cabinet as they were getting too chilled and pulling errors. They had been designed for the expected DC temperature range but in a big DC the sir through the flow would often start off very cold at one end in order to keep the other end cool enough

Data loss prevention emergency tactic: keep your finger on the power button for the foreseeable future

PM from Hell

The National Health Service

The National Health Service is the state health care provider for UK citizens, it ids funded from general taxation but is under huge pressures, the far right have suggested that the only way to rescue the NHS is to move to an insurance based service as in the USA. As a very well paid but self employed IT consultant, that would probably bankrupt myself and many others. My wife has a lifelong health condition requiring regular blood tests a raft of drugs and annual consultations with one of the world wide experts in the condition. A recent hospital stay of my own would have cost us tens of thousands of pounds, I'm still awaiting the results of the tests taken during a post stay diagnostic visit and, whilst i have worries about my long term health, I have no worries about the cost of future treatment as there will be no cost (other than parking charges at the hospital).

It is essential that reporting on the NHS reflects it's true status and it is completely unacceptable to describe it in US terms as this is normalising the idea that such a change to its status would be acceptable. Please correct the working in the article to reflect the true position.

No, working in IT does not mean you can fix anything with a soldering iron

PM from Hell

family support

The most irritating thing about family support is that whilst they will call you when they are completely in the sh1t, they'll take advice from any 'expert' to get themselves there in the first place.

My mother finally got around to getting broadband many years ago and was with AOL and needed a router. I had a spare identical to the one I was already using, it just needed a config tweak to change the MBTU size as AOL used a whacky one. The 'expert' she had paid to set up her new (old and refurbished but still expensive) laptop told her that it would be impossible to use that router as 'its not compatible). When I was called because 'nothing works' a couple of weeks later I found that not onlyhad he charged her over £100 for a router that retailed and £80, it was exactly the same model that I had offered for free. The first issue was that 'her guy' didnt know about the MTBU fix and so the connection was very flaky, the second was that there was no virus protection on the laptop which was infested with viruses, he had installed evaluation copies of products which had then expired, the disk was fragmented to hell and it was missing a service pack (he couldn't download it because the internet connection was so flaky). Needless to say I had given up Saturday morning for this and had plans with my children that afternoon but I didn't get home until 8PM.

I got a call a couple of weeks later complaining that 'the expert' had come back and told her I had 'undone' all his good work and had de-stablised the laptop, he she paid him again to 'fix it'. I never offered to help again.

The second irritating part of supporting family is their belief that all the spares you provide are free. If you turn up with a sound card and memory so you can make your nephews game work there is never an offer of payment, yes I had those spares but they were also earmarked for my sons new computer so I was then stuck paying again for them. My sisters PC always ran like a dog because it didn't have enough memory. I didn't have anything compatible so I refused to go out and buy it, I even gave them a copy of the advert showing where to buy it, at the best price but visit after visit I would be asked to 'tune' the PC, this again usually required the removal of half a dozen viruses as their son kept turning the virus protection off as it made it run faster. In the end I just refused to even look at it and they bought a new PC rather than spending £40 on some additional memory

Datacenter migration plan missed one vital detail: The leaky roof

PM from Hell

Architect Smartitect

I've been involved in a few new build projects, IT are never allowed on site until first fix is completed so we al;ways have the same issue how am I going to get cables between floors, where can I put my network trunking in that 2 inch false sealing and the current favorite why are their no power outlets in that hot desking / cafe area and why is there nowhere for me to put a wifi access point there when its will be the busiest place in the whole building as people vising HQ will obviously work there before and after meetings.

My most recent though were a deign which meant 'for aesthetic reasons' we had to mount the wi fi access points on top of cable trays in the false ceiling as they had not allowed space for them to hang below, this resulted in holes being cut into the tiles later so they could be mounted blow the trays and actually provide coverage, and the clown who specified a sealed 'clock tower'. The Clock Tower was a nice feature on top of the air vent from the DC cooling, the system ran fine for 48 hours until the backwash of super heated air closed down the air con units. apparently the spec on the vents at the top of the tower had been changed to stop pigeons nesting in there. Almost all these issues lead to significant cost increases for the IT solution, whether it was unexpectedly providing fibre interlinks between floors (not a bad design decision bit there was no budget for it), more wifi repeaters to provide coverage because signals were inhibited by decorative features, or expensive retro fitting and redecoration because the requirement to provide wires to desks had never been considered in the first place.

PM from Hell

Facilities 'so called' experts

Rant Warning

My Facilities team were the bane of my life and seemed to actively sabotage everything I did at my expense.

They replaced the spec of UPS I provided after 12 months research on current and future loading as ;'we know better and this will save electrical costs of operation'. I ended up with a UPS which couldn't support the start up load of the data center. Their proposed solution was to start up services 1 at a time, meaning return to service after an outage would take 7 hours. I ended up having to fund a larger replacement UPS from my budget, we got almost scrap value from the manufacturer for the undersized one. To make matter worse the larger one was a different range so all the tray work and cabling also needed replacing to fit it.

I was managing a PC roll out when they suddenly announced that they were taking away the storage for the roll out. Again their 'work around' was to leave pallets of PC's in offices as they were delivered awaiting roll out, we only lost one layer of a pallet where someone had emptied the bottom layer and removed the PC' but hey, that was only £10,000 of my money.

The most annoying was when I came to replace the air con units for the DC and change the airflow to botom to top, the old chillers had been fighting the cabinet cooling. By this time I had the support of my CIO so when they proposed installing 3 units rather than 3 this was knocked back and I had my way with 50% over capacity in normal operation, we managed this by cycling units with 2 out of 3 on at any one time and the 3rd as an active standby, suddenly the number of maintenance visits to replace fans and failing disc drives reduced considerably. Part of this may have been because during the work we discovered one of their team had drilled a hole through the data center floor from below but never admitted it so we had been cycling concrete dust through the DC for 18 months. They managed their final bit of sabotage though. The agreement had been that the old chiller on the roof of the building would be removed by crane and the new chiller installed on the existing steel work with new piping. This work was to take place when I was on holiday for 2 weeks. When I returned I found the chillers installed at ground level on a new concrete pad at the side of the car park, literally at the end of 2 parking spaces, but it was OK as they had "put cones out" I was incandescent and insisted on proper crash barriers rated to prevent a large van driving through them were installed and an enclosure built. They actually put acceptable barriers in all the way around but built a cage around the chillers with a wire roof, this provided a warm place to sleep for a couple of homeless people for a few days that winter, they obviously had a good time as we would find empty vodka bottled beside the cage most mornings. The combination of their lack of interest in providing a decent service, incompetence and sheer arrogance made me hate working with them, they also insisted in retaining a legacy door access system with its own wiring which would occasionally fail to allow doors to open at the far end of the building, Claiming it couldn't use our network wiring as it was 'special' and that our maintainers could not support the equipment as 'all the internals were 'proprietary tech' they would bitch about the cost of replacing a hard drive in the machine every few months but when the supplier suddenly couldn't source a 'proprietary disk' they finally let us open the box and we found a standard Western Digital 20 GB drive installed with a proprietary interface card connecting that to the motherboard. Sure enough we delved into our legacy spares cupboard and found a compatible, used, disk drive and fitted it and all was well. Up until that pint they had paid £1000 per time to have the drives swapped out, these disks had never cost us more than £200 even when they had been leading edge technology.

Chemical plant taken offline by the best one of all: C8H10N4O2

PM from Hell

Keyboard hell

I have 2 stories, the first was a user who on the very last day of operation of a legacy system poured orange juice into the proprietary keyboard. She told us straight away but we couldn't get the damn thing working again.Not only was the keyboard proprietary to the manufacturer but different models of terminal had different,m incompatible keyboards. Thus was the last of these machines to be decommissioned and it required one of my team to climb over the junk in the basement gathering any look alike keyboard, thankfully one of them was the right type.

the second was a field engineer who reported that his laptop had become 'contaminated' after sliding into a trench (these were high pressure mains engineers) as no one could identify what the green foam covering the machine was we had to have it destroyed as dangerous industrial waste.

Terminal downgrade saves the day after a client/server heist

PM from Hell

Re: Green screens were great!

I feel a bit hot and cold about Mira

Salesperson's tech dream delivered by ill-equipped consultant who charged for the inevitable fix

PM from Hell

Both ends need to prevent autoresponse hell

I'm a PM and find time after time I have to remind developers that what we are implementing has to cope gracefully with crap, this can be bad api's mis-configured data, random text or spam emails.

There have been so many examples of email auto-responders locking up exchange servers that there is no excuse for not coding a solution to this. If there is no alternative the service should pause itself and raise an alert which can be sent to a mailbox and the ITSM service to alert service management. the alert should include a reference to a log file entry which captures some meaningful diagnostic, at lest enough to identify the sender and the individual message plus failure reason. Your development should be idiot proof and bomb proof, you must always assume that every other team is incompetent and will send you meaningless data at some point. That will build in some forgiveness when there is a business process change on your end which your code does not cope with (and was never designed to). None of this is new or clever.

Keep your cables tidy. You never know when someone might need some wine

PM from Hell

Facilities Access

I have come across so many issues over the years because the facilities team have access to every room and just see the DC as an equipment store.

Now so many rooms are dark I dread to think how much crap is scattered through them.

Not to dis your diskette, but there are some unexpected sector holes

PM from Hell

Re: Closest I've seen...

Surely you mean Mices? and she should have been instructing them to remove their balls and check for fluff on the ball rollers.

Oracle 12.1 users warned as mainstream support ends in July

PM from Hell

Is this to force EBS customers to migrate to the cloud?

Migrating an on premises EBS install to release 19 is likely to be a 12 month project with no visible benefit at the end. It would probably make more sense to re-implement your ERP System in the cloud taking advantage of new app features rather than having a huge expense for a purely technical upgrade.

Watch a RAID rebuild or go to a Christmas party? Tough choice

PM from Hell

Re: IBM Engineer...

I have been a technical Support Manager my focus was always on maintaining service levels I could negotiate maintenance windows but unplanned outages were anathema. I've had many conversations with IBM engineers. I've always found with a bit of digging asking a few 'what if it's not that' questions would get us to the point where the engineer really wanted to be but wasn't allowed to tell me officially.

This was 15 years ago but even then engineers were under huge pressure to not pull spares from stores unless they were definitely going to be used as the engineering manager were trying to minimize spares costs.

A call to the Account Manager would normally result in a changed plan often with the 'if its not that there will be a charge' conversation. I think I ended up paying for one disk volume which wasn't required, the new disk was just added to the array providing some extra space. This was lower than the financial penalties that would have been extracted from my budget for an unplanned outage of that length.

As the Tech Support Manager it's your job to make sure that the change plan is properly planned, impact assessed and executed, Its also your job, having done that, to support the engineer and operator should things go wrong. There's only one person you should have been angry with and you see his face in the bathroom mirror every morning. I know the engineer was an IBM employee if he is the nominated site engineer he;'s still a member of 'My' team. Try that approach working with your vendor support staff, whether its hardware engineers, network specialists or devs and you'll find they suddenly get very open with you as y ou just want to work with them for a solution not point the finger of blame.

Whatever you do, don't show initiative if you value your job

PM from Hell

Re: Where were the procedures ?

And for gods sake optimize your queries! as an ex tech support manager I was often pressured to make more machine resources available when devs put non-optimized code live. As the dev teams would not work with us pre-production I'm afraid my default response ended up being to get a DBA / Sys Admin to identify the query hogging 99% of a CPU and then just telling the Devs the system was coming down until they had optimized the code at that point they would finally talk to a DBA who would assist them in optimizing the query and adding any additional indexes required or even move a disk partition onto a less busy drive. Now so many dev projects are in the cloud I'm seeing exactly the same issues which can cause huge cost issues for the operations teams as they have to throw more and more CPU's At projects to deliver acceptable performance rather than tuning code.

BOFH: Where do you think you are going with that toner cartridge?

PM from Hell

Re: Too Often...

I bought a shed full (literally) of HP Inkjet printers for a County Council through a properly managed tender, we explicitly included the fact that they had to be UK spec with UK power supplies and Cables.

We opened up the first box and sure enough it had an EU plug.

We contacted the reseller who blithely suggested that we should 'pop to Tandy and buy UK spec leads'. I'm not sure our local electrical shop would have had 250 leads in stock but as the supplier was at fault I expected him to make good. He was very upset as he was now going to lose money on the sale (this is probably true as margins for resellers were only about 2-3%. I'm afraid my view was that wasn't my problem, he could come and collect the pallets of Printers and I'd buy from the second placed reseller or he could supply the right CE marked leads.

Replacement leads would have cost us £625 and the difference in price between him and the 2nd placed company was £500 on a £40,000 deal, we were finding this was true for all hardware tenders at the time we'd run a tender for 1000 PC's and the top 3 bids would be within 4-500.

Beware the fury of a database developer torn from tables and SQL

PM from Hell

Don't forget to proofread

I Worked with a Welsh Council many years ago who were sold a Council Tax application.it needed all customer facing documents translating into Welsh.Testing had gone reasonably well especially as the proposed legislation had not been passed before The application was written so changes were required several times a week. It took weeks and weeks to find an English / Welsh Translator willing to take the job on due to the tight timescales and the technical nature of the documents. The translator finished and handed over the translations, it had been a tough job as the text had to fit into the same size text boxes as the original English.

On handing it over she asked the senior manager who he had engaged to do the proof reading. Needless to say another several weeks were spent finding somebody qualifies to perform the proofreading

Timescales were incredibly tight as Bills needed to be sent out on time.

Your software doesn't work when my PC is in 'O' mode

PM from Hell

Re: PC

As well as having the diskette pinned to the Acknowledgement slip (Only the very old will know what that meant) I have received a photocopy of a diskette.

You can buy a company. You can buy a product. Common sense? Trickier

PM from Hell

Re: 'twas ever thus

I moved into a new build house on a cold, wet day and turned the heating on, I did feel very warm after a while but put it down to the fact I was working hard, When we found a box with a thermometer in it turned up the temperature in the lounge was 26 degrees c and it went up to 30 before i gave up trying to get the thermostat to respond and turned off the boiler.

That was the situation for the next 48 hours while waited for the central heating engineer to return, turn on boiler, let the house get warm, turn off boiler.

When he arrived he checked everything declared it normal and wanted to walk away. On pressing him he finally went out to his van and came back with a new thermostat which he was just going to swap with the initially installed one. He was adamant that it must be a thermostat fault as he'd 'fitted hundreds of these systems' it tuned out the supplier had cage the wiring on the latest range it was there in the instructions but he never read them. The engineer was somewhat distressed as he';d fitted another 20 houses spread across several sites in the previous few weeks, all of which would now be about to use their heating.

Buying a USB adapter: Pennies. Knowing where to stick it: Priceless

PM from Hell

It wasn't dropped honest

How many times have you been called out to a laptop which suddenly stopped working to find obvious;y new cracks or grazes on the case and been told no its not been dropped!

'Enterprise' browser maker Island valued at $1.3bn out of the gate

PM from Hell

Re: Another browser

Super. I'm sure it will comply with all possible interpretations of the standards, just like all the others do.


Help, my IT team has no admin access to their own systems

PM from Hell

When tech support manager I always insisted on this. Imagine my embarrassment when after having had to retrieve the password for a mainframe system to heck up on dome config info, when my sysadmin was away for 2 weeks I left it in a shirt pocket and it was then washed. I had a very nervous 10 days hoping that there was no need for admin access to the system. All credit to him that there was no need for any system privilege access for the whole period. No Disks filled, nothing expired we didn't even need to create any new users while he was away.

Client demo in 30 minutes. Just what could go wrong?

PM from Hell

who needs the internet

I was managing a launch of a very early public access system in libraries, everything had been tested many times but the delivery of the kit and the kiosk to house it was late.

To make matters worse the cabinet provider delivered the kiosk to the IT department not the library on a day when no van was available. Fortunately that fitted in the back of my Ford Granada with the seats down.

We fitted everything into the cabinet and then found out that it refused to talk to the central server over the network, my technical team were getting nowhere and we had the Leader of the County Council, local MP Service director and press arriving in an hour.

The only quick and definite fix was to get the server to site and connect the kiosk directly to it.

I left the team sorting out cabling from the kiosk to a nearby issues desk and went to the the server in the trusty Granada. I did notice some white powder on the floor by the server (under a desk of course). I brought the server back it was connected to the kiosk, everything fired up and the launch was a success. All the way through the presentation of the new service, interviews etc I noticed my hands were itching bu was required to be present until the launch was completed.

By the time we managed to get out and adjourn to a local hostelry my hands were double their normal size and beetroot red. It turned out that the white powered was ant poison which was very toxic. needless to say once we sorted out the comms problem the server wasn't returned to the Library HQ but was installed in a rack in My data centre (having had the ant poison cleaned off the cabinet)

Saving a loved one from a document disaster

PM from Hell

Dogs dont do that but

My Labrador pup managed to hit my open laptop so hard wagging his tail that it was thrown from the coffee table onto the floor, thank heavens for SSD's

PM from Hell

Re: Imperrfect

RSI Existed for decades before the mouse or even computers. My mother was a contract Comptometer operator who had to give up her very well paid job because the pain got so bad.

Working with data prep operators in the mid 80's most were sporting wrist or elbow braces from injuries received initially from using card punch machines then on 1st generation key to disk systems.

Many typists themselves ended up with RSI and initial computer keyboard were sometimes worse than the IBM golfball typewriters they replaced. I do seem to remember speccing dedicated data prep keyboards from compaq when replacing a legacy key to disk system and providing upgraded keyboards for a secretarial pool after running some user experience exercises. I think they had to have longer travel to replicate the experience of using a typewrite as the expert typists muscle memory couldn't shorten the key depressions they had made several million times in the past.

In my first management role I was told anything over 4 pages in length had to be hand written and passed to the typists for transcription into a document. At that stage they were not actually saving drafts, every iteration was re-typed. As a technician I'd been typing my own documents for years and was used to basic text editing features like cutting and paste plus I have terrible writing. It took a stand up fight with my manager before I was even allowed to submit drafts as electronic documents (initally as wordpad documents) which were then retyped by the typists into wordperfect. It ws actually battle to get wordperfect licences for my team so we could stat to design forms to support the service management processes I had been brought in to implement

Apple seeks patent for 'innovation' resembling the ZX Spectrum, C64 and rPi 400

PM from Hell

Re: Output?

I'm a Contract PM and have a nice home office set up which has worked with every client I've worked with over the past 4 or 5 years. I suspect most of us who regularly work at home have something similar.

I use a desktop docking station with a USB connection to whichever laptop I'm currently using. That connects up to the dual screen set up, wireless keyboard and mouse, webcam, sound system etc.

It gives me a nice desktop space and an HD / HiFi set up for video calls

Whilst the dock is a Toshiba device the fact it uses display link drivers means that all the major laptop vendors have them included in their builds for their own 'universal' docking station. I've only had one issue where the helpful build engineers had removed all the 'extraneous' drivers from the build but that was fixed by a quick google search for the Dell docking station which included the display link drivers and a call to the clients service desk to have them installed off we went.

The proposed apple device adds nothing to this set up and would actually complicate things probably at increased cost

Fujitsu confirms end date for mainframe and Unix systems

PM from Hell

Re: Support for five more years ?

When I was involved in mainframe support the replacement cycle was 3-5 years to keep increasing capacity. There will be some customers who will need to increase capacity to either keep decent levels of system performance or to provide additional capacity to support the migration work. Whilst in some cases this can be provided by an additional lower spec mainframe some will need the additional power on a single mainframe.

BOFH: Time to put the Pretty Dumb F in PDF reader

PM from Hell


During my time managing tech teams I've lost count of the number of MSC / PHD holders I've managed this included a surprising number of nuclear physicists a real rocket scientist (he was a missile designed in a previous career) and someone who had a doctorate in the study of mosquitoes but couldn't do field work as a dose of malaria would kill him :(but also managed people who started off in plumbing butchery and the armed services.

Non of it matters to me as long as they have the right attitude, can learn new technologies and have a structured diagnostic approach to problem solving (although even that can be taught).

PM from Hell

Copyright and licencing

Back in the dim and distant past when I was first involved in 'free' software I had problems getting legal advice on copyright and licencing. Having an academic librarian for a wife helped immensely as they had already had to go through similar processes to understand exactly how many pages of a book could be photocopied for research and had had to go through the mill on understand how on-line database user accounts could be used on subscription services.

At one point I think I was getting requests for 'free' utility installs every week, always network wide, always free only to home users and almost always installing some piece of crap software alongside the 'free' utility. The best examples were the the tool which insisted in printing out money off vouchers for american grocery stores. And another which installed a very 'leaky' internet browser.

I implemented a simple process to identify the business case, confirming the benefits against the time my team would spend testing the software and building a supportable install pack and confirming that the requester would be responsible for any licence fees.

The number of requests dropped down to about 6 per year, of those about 2 were granted, 3 of the other 4 were rejected because they functions they provided were often in MS office or one of the existing tools we already provided and the final one because it was basically malware.

Software guy smashes through the Somebody Else's Problem field to save the day

PM from Hell

Re: I recognise the story

I was tech support manager for a County Council. When the legislation on working on electrical equipment changed I had to organise a course on how to fit a plug on a mains lead for my comms team. The same team who literally built the x.25 switches for each site at the time from the chassis up :(.

Our site electrician was actually embarrassed to have to do this for us but we needed the sign off of the H&SE ream were going to ban us from working on any electrical equipment. The Desktop team didn't have to have the training as all their mains leads came with molded plugs and were never re-wired.

By the nature of the role members of both teams would regularly be working on hot devices with the case removed when performing testing.

How do you call support when the telephones go TITSUP*?

PM from Hell

booking time

I was once asked to start booking time for my tech team in 6 minutes slots 'because that's what lawyers do' I had a chat with a friend who was a lawyer who confirmed that whilst in theory he did that in reality he worked in 30 minute intervals and that he also had a very nice PDA (when these things were new) with an app to allow it to happen.

I 'enthusiastically' agreed with my boss that this was the way forward and talked to him about the efficiencies we'd have with the guys being able to just press a button to start / stop recording their time on projects then presented him with the proposal to buy and implement the PDA's, Server app and associated infrastructure and the cost of an administrator to manage it all.

Unfortunately he turned it down so we carried on just 'making it up' at the end of the week before going to the pub.

He din't realise we had stopped doing time sheets 2 years earlier, our admin team couldn't cope with a team where members might be working on 20 different projects in a week so we 'piloted' a weekly review / reporting process.