Welcome to Salem, Massachusetts

I was recently told that my blog entries are being read and that it is a concern that the topics I write about are actually being practiced.  I was also told that I may want to remove certain entries from this blog.  So, today’s post is directed towards those who might wish to restrain my creative efforts and censor my mind….

To Whom it may concern,

I wanted to write a humorous style blog on Information Technology and all that that implies.  Be it office or cubicle humor, past experiences twisted to induce laughter, encounters with stereotypical management styles that would make the average cube jockey lose all life force.  It is all meant in humor.  Sometimes my ideas are so far fetched that even remotely considering their use or practice would require a career change or a major metropolitan relocation.  I don’t know of any of these ideas being practiced nor do I care.  I write about things that are funny to me and if the reader gets a chuckle from reading my musings then I have done my job.

In closing, I wish to make a statement, using the generic school paper editor voice… “They can’t censor me, man!  I got rights!  First Amendment rights, man!”

Off to burn books…!!!


Mark That!

Living in a cube environment with many intelligent people has it’s challenges. Especially when it comes to being conscientious about what you say, how you say it and to whom you say it. There is something I got from a local radio station, Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket, that upsets this balance and makes our working environment a lot more fun. Here it is.

When someone is talking and they say something that might sound questionable, if heard out of context, we say, “Mark.” Radio stations use this term to make note of the tape counter so some piece of audio can be pulled from that tape at a later date and replay. The local station does it to later pull something from tape that can be replayed and used out of context for comedic purposes.
Here’s an example. The person who is in charge of cell phones is on the phone explaining to a new recipient of a cell phone, how to use the charger. Now, we all know that’s what they are REALLY talking about, but this is what we hear…

“Yes. Now take the little round thing and stick it in the hole.” I hear this and shout, “Mark.”

Everyone in the immediate area bursts out in laughter because they we thinking the same thing. We do it all the time. The other funny part about it, is that now everyone, including me, has to watch how you word everything you say, you might get “Marked.” For shock value, I will say something that they can Mark, just to give a laugh.

Another cube activity is targeted at the chronic speaker phone user. I love this. Many times, when calling for a vendor for support you may be put “on hold” for great periods of time. Using a speaker phone eliminates the “cauliflower ear.” The bad side is it tends to disturb people in surrounding cubes. The remedy for speaker phone users is the Fart Drop. I have a collection of “drops” I have built over time. Most of which I got from the above mentioned radio station. A drop is a very small sound byte, usually consisting of something that had been Marked and then separated to play out of context. Drops can also be sound effects, such as the fart drop.
When someone is talking on their speaker phone, you give them warning, by singing the phrase, “Speeeeaaaakkkerrr Phooooonnnnnne” Several times. If this does not cause them to pick up the receiver. Set off your drops. The person on the other end will then hear that and they caller will almost immediately pickup the receiver and now has to give an explanation of what that noise was.

One other item. When someone is telling a story and they use obvious references to something questionable, like body parts or acts of sexual congress. Ask them, “What do you mean?” or “What is that, exactly?” or even, “I’m not sure what that is.” You talk about uncomfortable. It’s fun. We never mean any harm with our office antics. And they tend to lighten up what has become a “no talking, no talking” style of POW camp’ish work environment these days.

Sheesh, people lighten up. If you’re so uptight about anything that might be said, you need a vacation in the Caribbean.


The server just crashed – how to reboot without permission

“What? It was hosed! I had to power cycle it.” I reply to my boss, asking me why I rebooted the proxy server in the middle of the day. “It’s back up now”, I tell him. I think to myself, “Whew! That was close. Mental note, don’t try THAT setting again.”

Why did I try a setting on a production server in the middle of the day? Simple. Because I can. I know how to cover it up. I’m a master of deception. Editing logs, performing tasks as the server itself (Hello, Bindview Nazis!), Touching files (Hello Tripwire neophytes!), taking monitoring daemons off line while I work and blame them. It’s all there.

I’m joking, of course. Aside for the occasional server reset to apply a new toy. I’ve been doing this for a long time and you learn how to get around permission. I mean, you have a fix for a problem and the server needs to be reset before the fix can take effect, but you can’t reboot the server until “after hours.” Hell, that could be 6 hours from now. So, during lunch, when the usage is usually lower, power cycle the box. Untraceable by normal means, and if you have LightsOut boards, schedule a power cycle when you’re not there! Years ago, I used this excuse more than once a week. Apply your SPs and then the next time the server bounces, viola! Applied. Owned. Most of the time, the management is clueless as to what you do anyway. All they know is that you are not supposed to make changes during the day or outside the maintenance window. If they get too nosy, Geek Roll them.

“Why did the server get rebooted at 10:30 AM?” The IT Director corners you.

“The SSL certs were out of sync with the directory. The reboot sync’d them back up with LDAP and now the credit card orders are processing again. Happens from time to time.” You reply.

“Good recovery.” He says. “Just let me know when you to it again, in the future, so I can alert the helpdesk.”

“Will do, Chief!” You respond.

Now you think to yourself, “What a moron.”

BTW, THAT is not a good example of a Geek Roll. Usually it encompasses a great deal more of acronyms and the stuff you normally talk about with your, dudes. A good Geek Roll will give the listener a distinct, “Destination Host Unknown” look. At that point, you could even ask for permission for other things, like upgrading all of your M$ servers to Linux and it wouldn’t snap him out of it. VP’s have a blocking mechanism that causes them to simply tell you that they don’t have time for all that crap.

Anyway, you can ALWAYS find a legitimate reason for kaboing’ing a box that for some reason, never wrote out the abend log before it went down… Weird.


Network Administration or Maintaining the Fourth Reich

As I have stated, I have been in IT, mainly Network Engineering for over 20 years, and I have seen my share of Network Administrators.

They are a unique breed of individuals, often sitting at the console for hours on end. They are genetically selected for this purpose, due to their large badder capacity and slower metabolism. They don’t require large amounts of food and often lack skin pigmentation due to lack of sunlight exposure. It’s true, I read about it on Wikipedia.

Because of these reasons, they tend to be very controlling about their environment. Demanding that everything is done just a certain way. If a new guy creates a new group and omits anything, then the Network Administrator will quickly discover the discrepancy, actually stand up, leave his lair and promptly reprimand the new guy, ensuring he knows where his flaws were made and a full re-iteration of the proper procedures will ensue. When the dust clears, the new guy is left slumped in his cube, remnants of dried vomit on his shirt and near death, and fully reprogrammed. The Network Administrator dusts off his hands, returns to his console and continues his routines as if nothing had happened. Stopping briefly to clean his fingernails.

If the new guy commits multiple offenses, he is then ushered to an awaiting rail car with all of his belongings and sent to one of the camps in Poland or the unemployment office, whichever is closer.

Others, who have survived the multiple floggings of repetitive information, walk around like zombies, their soulless eyes look past you. Speaking to them is useless as they have purposefully punctured their own eardrums in a plight to not be subjected to these endless dronings. Some try to work from home, but this does not stop the reciprocal emails and text messages from “the one who monitors all.” Still others, who have not yet deafened themselves, try the iPod technique. This simply causes the Network Administrator to hover and perhaps even touch you in attempt to get your attention before you are beaten.

In all seriousness, I find the need for order and uniformity among common objects a must. It makes searching easier, you don’t have users with 8 different titles for the same job. Common objects all look and act the same. And it’s the Network Administrator that makes that happen.

Just don’t get your fingers too close to his mouth…


What users don’t know won’t hurt them.

In the world of network administration/management, one frequents himself with interfacing with … Users.

Users come in all different varieties from Power users to “Where’s the Any Key?” users. From simple administrative assistants to CEOs.

Users can also be defined in other categories. These users range from the user who calls every other day, because she can’t remember her password, to the user who tries to remove a non-removable CD-ROM from his laptop and then launches it at you when he realizes that the ribbon cable should not be visible.

Then there is the user who never calls. This user will be asked to fill out some survey, that was concocted by some brilliant uber manager to measure “How we’re doing” with the user community, and states that he has NEVER been able to print and NEVER gets any help and now rates you a zero.

Let’s look at the words users use.

Never – “I have never been able to access that application” Interpretation: You haven’t been able to access this application “since” you got back from your six month maternity leave and haven’t been told by your supervisor that that application isn’t used any more. Another example would be that this user can’t print to a certain printer because they have Never tried. Hence, they have Never been able to print to this printer. It makes sense to them.

Everyone – “Everyone is getting an error when they login” Interpretation: This user hasn’t actually determined that everyone is getting the same error, they say this because they think it will get their problem addressed faster. Actually it slows the process because the unsuspecting administrator begins troubleshooting the situation on a grander scale to determine why the entire facility is “off-line”, instead of looking at the fact that he selected “Workstation Only” when she logged in.

No One – “No one can print” Interpretation: See Everyone above.

Nothing – “I turn on my PC and nothing happens” Interpretation: I turned my monitor on and not my PC, which is on the floor, and now nothing is displayed, except maybe “Monitor Going to Sleep.”

One other thing users will do and that is, users will flat out lie about something they have done and want to blame it on you.

You announce that this weekend the company will be upgraded to the next version of the spreadsheet software. That, when the users login on Monday, the new icon will visible on their desktops and they need to call the HelpDesk, if they have any problems. Big mistake. First thing Monday morning, you get a call. Some user in Paulsboro got the message about the upgrade and now all of his files on the server are missing and he is demanding to know what you did. I know. It has nothing to do with the upgrade. So you look on the server in his user directory and, yep, no files. You think, “Let’s look at Salvage to see what might have happened. Oh look”, you say, “Salvage shows all the files were deleted that morning and, the Deletor is the user who called!” Now, you know that this Bozo whacked his files and is too embarrassed to confess, so he blames your upgrade on it. It’s an easy out for him. You salvage his files and tell him a lie about what the real cause is. “You must’ve lost your connection to the server.”, you say. “Logout and log back in and see if that fixes it. I’m able to see all of your files.”, you tell him. He does as he’s told and viola! You saved him from coming clean and he no longer blames you. Whatever.

Then there is the public announcement of a server upgrade and, once again, if you have any problems, call the HelpDesk. Only, this time, the upgrade gets canceled after everyone’s gone home. The trap is set. The next morning… here they come. My mouse doesn’t work. My monitor is spitting sparks. I have a run in my pantyhose. When did they all start? After the upgrade, (that never took place.)

Users. G-d Bless them. They are the reason we have jobs. They are also the reason some of us drink, abuse controlled substances, kick our pets and probably the root cause of some incidents of road rage.

That’s why, most of the time we just don’t tell them, because… What users don’t know won’t hurt them.



I’m just kicking off this blog as # 2. I have another, see link on the right. I will be posting more humorous subjects. Some may be completely fictitious. Other’s may be based off of personal and professional encounters. Visit often and enjoy what you find here.

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