Archive for the 'Tech 101' Category


IT Guy’s prayer

Conan the IT Guy

“ROM! I’ve never prayed to you before, as I don’t know your e-mail or IM addy. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good techs or bad, or whether we liked Apple or Windows or Linux. No… all that matters is that one supported many. That is what is important. Networking pleases you, ROM. So grant me one request: Grant me stable servers! And if you do not listen … then log off!”


Day of the Weasel

Even the fellas in IT have a bad day. Today was mine.

Now, generally, if an IT guy screws up, it can be a disaster. They could accidentally shut servers down. They can fry a hard drive. My error was minor by comparison of all that.

See, a user was having problems printing to a color printer. The print jobs weren’t going through. Communication error — which can mean basically anything from wrong drivers to a network issue to a bad cable. Let the troubleshooting fun begin!

The infamous weasel picture

While I was running through the scenarios of what could be wrong, one of the guys told me that a super special lockdown had been put on who could print color and who couldn’t. Oh, OK, lockdown. Got it.

I chat with the lead tech … super secret lockdown doesn’t apply to this user. Blah.

After some monkeying around, I found the problem … a wrong IP address. For you non-geeks, this is like expecting to end up at the right destination with wrong directions. It just doesn’t work like that.

So, without realizing that OSX 10.6 is unforgiving about modifying printer definitions … I accidentally nuked the user’s printer definitions while trying to edit them. Which one? All of them.


“No big deal,” I thought. “Rookie mistake. Fix it and everything will be good.” So, I go back to my computer, write down the IP addresses of the 2 other printers he needed. Install. Done. Then I do a test print … of a weasel.

Now, when you work solo at night (the other techs are in different locations), you find yourself doing stupid stuff to humor yourself. Me? It’s weasels. If I do an install or upgrade, I google images of weasels to make sure the browsers are working properly. Install an aircard? Weasel search. Test print? Pictures of weasels. You get the idea.

The whole weasel thing stems from when I was a graphic artist production manager in Florida. Instead of trying to work with our salespeople, we had a very adversarial relationship with them. When stuff would go wrong, some would fudge their paperwork to try and make it look like my department’s fault.  I would literally have to spend hours every night reviewing and photocopying stuff in a massive game of “cover your ass.” And this went on for years. When I think about all the man hours wasted in this childish game of “catch the salesweasel in a lie,” it enrages me. If you work in sales, I apologize. I’m still bitter. Get me drunk and bring it up, you’ll see. To this day, I can’t refer to anyone who works in sales as anything but a salesweasel or a saleshole … but I really prefer salesweasel, and it’s usually preceded with “fucking.”

Oh sure, they LOOK cute...

So, back to the weasel printing. There I am, printing pictures of weasels. First one comes out black/white on a color printer. That shouldn’t be. Spend some time and fix that. On the second printer, it prints just fine. Third printer, nothing.

Now, this was odd. I watched it go through the print queue. It printed. I know it printed. But it wasn’t on the printer. Hmmm. Double checked the IP address. It was correct. Tried a different driver. Printed again. Watched it go through.


Maybe it was his machine. So, I go to a different machine. Install it. Grab the picture of the weasel. Print. Go back to the printer.


Baffled, I had to IM one of the other techs. “I can’t seem to print to this certain printer no matter what. It’s gotta be a wrong IP address.”

Other tech: “Hold on.”

Sure enough, the printed copy of the IP addresses was wrong. Lesson learned — don’t trust the paper — ping that shit instead.

Installed the printer with the correct IP. Magically, it prints. One more job down.

Immediately, the wheels in my brain started turning. Just where the hell did all those other weasel pictures print to? OH SHIT, did they go to the big boss? One of the other big bosses? THE OWNER? OH FUCK ME. I could just see myself trying to answer to the honchos about why I was sending pictures of weasels to their printers from a different user’s machine. OH FUCK OH FUCK OH FUCK. And all their office doors were locked. OH DAMMIT.

I nervously asked the other tech about where I sent all those pictures of weasels to.

“Hold on.”



How do you actually do this?

I know I’ve only been working in the I.T. Department for a short time, but some things have become amazingly clear.

I can't believe you're so flipping dumb!

When it comes to technology, people are amazingly dumb.

Now, I’m not saying I am the be all and end all of computer knowledge. In fact, I am the proverbial n00b in the world of ultrageeks.

When I started, I knew there would be problem people. I figured that most of the calls would come from the older folks who legitimately have reason to be technologically challenged. Others would be legit problems that required some system checking. In my wildest dreams, I never expected people — my age or younger — to be calling me with some of the problems that they do. A perfect example of this are the folks stare at a log in screen and can’t figure out how to log in to a machine because someone changed the username.

And yes, this did happen today.


I’m shocked to the point where I feel compelled to start a new section on the blog. I’m calling it “Tech 101.” I feel this is the only way that I’ll be able to preserve my sanity, and hope the technologically challenged can learn from others’ mistakes.

♣ ♣ ♣

Today’s entry involves 2 stories. The first comes from Nervous Panic Guy.

Rebel Without A Mouse

NPG needed to upgrade his Realplayer to be able to stream a video. But, naturally, security settings prevented him from doing so. My first reaction to him was, “Wait, people still use Realplayer?” He shot me an incredulous look, so I set to work on his machine. As I was working, he said he doesn’t understand why we have to have such restrictions on the machines.

“I mean, what, are you guys afraid people will be sitting there listening to rock ‘n roll music all day?”

Rock ‘n roll. Yup, before we know it, users are going to be greasing up their hair and riding motorcycles in the office. They’ll start smoking cigarettes in violation of office policy, wearing leather jackets or poodle skirts, and calling managers “Squares.”

Rock ‘n roll is IT’s biggest fear. Especially when it is the soundtrack in some porn … which is streaming from a virus-infested web site.

After NPG’s computer was upgraded, the screen came up where he had to put in his username and password.

And me and another tech watched him sit there and look at the screen for a full minute, stumped by 2 empty fields and a blinking cursor.

“Oh, this looks different than it did before.”

Yeah, because your username wasn’t already in the first field.

NPG is a perfect example of why the average user isn’t allowed to download diddly-squat to a company computer.

♣ ♣ ♣

Today was actually pretty slow. I was doing fresh installs on a couple machines, while one of the other guys was refurbishing a battered laptop.

Now, our users can be pretty rough on equipment since they’re out in the field so much, so we go through a lot of equipment. We’re always stripping one machine down and using its parts to build another. And again, in my short time there, I’ve seen quite a few things that made me shake my head.

So, when I heard the other tech say “What the fuck!?”, I wasn’t really surprised. But then he started laughing and said, “Dude, come here. How the hell does this happen?”

Now, if you can’t see this (it’s not really clear), all 4 cursor keys are gouged.

How the hell do you do this to your machine? Seriously? Even if you have long fingernails, why the hell are you using them on the keys? I mean, no other keys were damaged, just these 4.

Users, you continue to befuddle me.

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