Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Casual Jeans Tuesday! Casual Jeans Tuesday!
The dress code of the unconcerned continues!
This morning I read through another long and incomprehensible on-call schedule and escalation procedure that seems to have been generated automatically by some program the sales department is trying out or has stolen off the internet. It reads like tax paperwork.
A sample:

"Weekday evenings between 5pm and 12am modified escalations will be applied until approximately June 15th, at which time standard escalation procedures should be followed. Between the hours of Midnight and 6am standard escalation procedures should be followed. At no time should a technician be engaged at a time that prohibits response within the four-hour Service Level Agreement, with the exception of Federal Holidays and issues occurring during the outage windows on this schedule: Link Goes Nowhere."

Looks to me like the end result is that I get called for pretty much everything, including explaining the schedule.

Yesterday I spent my lunch listening to another employee vent his paranoid theories about the restructuring. I'm naturally paranoid, so I generally assume I'm over-reacting. This guy has been with the company for over five years and has been through more restructuring than just about anyone I know. If he is wearing the tinfoil hat, maybe I'm on to something.
There was a competitive discussion in the Control Center yesterday, and not just the usual heated discussion about lunch choices and the fact that the room is tiny and positively pressurized and that air flows in but never out unless a door is opened.
This discussion was a full-on geek-off.
I saw the set up happening. A few of the front line phone people had been gathering data about the competitors for about the last week in the hopes of seeing a big, nasty, dorky argument.
In Tech culture there is an involuntary impulse to be regarded as the Alpha Geek in any given setting. Normally this hierarchy is established with little conflict through demonstration of one's Geek Fu. There are also many different versions of the Fu. I'm content to have established my Microsoft Fu, but would never challenge the Network Fu of a colleague. It isn't my place, and would just be bad form.
Apparently, the challenge being built up by first level support was a head to head Microsoft Fu challenge. They know how I work, and spent a week sizing up the new guy, then asked a technical question "to the room".
You could see the question rise into the air, frame by frame as it ran up the bamboo and was subjected to the 360 degree camera spin. The question leapt off the end of the stalk, swords flashing and descended to land on the desk between us. "What is the best way to set up a Licensing Server using Windows 2003?"
The question turned to face the new guy. He responded, "Just load it on a Domain Controller. Clients look there first anyway and the processor load is so light no one will ever notice an impact."
A good answer. The question staggered back and fell across my laptop, refusing to die without staring daggers at me. I owed the question. It had fought bravely.
"You can do that. Or you can load it on a virtual server. That way if the box dies your can just re-image it and not have to deal with re-activation through Microsoft."

Let's go to the scoreboard:
Microsoft best practices: 0 points awarded. Best practices is not the way to win at Geek Fu, anyway.
Functionality: New guy = 1, Me = 0. His way would definitely work. Also it saves time and resources.
Style: New guy = 0, Me = 1. My answer used new technology to save resources and provide quick recovery while also taking a stab at Microsoft. Attacking Microsoft always adds Geek Fu credibility.
Damn. A draw.
This would have to be settled through anecdotal combat. This process is a bit graphic for most. It is the equivalent of a steel-cage deathmatch where the audience takes a folding chair to the teeth.
His turn, "I worked one place where they loaded the TS licensing service on the file and print servers, then forgot about it and rebuilt them. Their whole remote environment was offline for almost two days while they figured it out."
Light chuckles filled the Control Center. Lost corporate revenue through stupidity is good.
I defended myself, "I told the accounting staff at one place I worked that the 'Temporary licenses will expire in 90 days' messages were real and that they needed to spend money but they never moved on it. The clock ticked down and Microsoft turned off their access, then they had to pay extra for a rush order so the CEO could continue to check his email from home."
More laughter. Pretty close though. I had to make accountants look bad.
Instead of turning back around, his chair spun towards me. He came at me again, "One time the CEO at that last company grabbed a new laptop, just loaded by the IT staff and took it on vacation to Aspen. He tried to log in from some cabin in the woods, but his account had never authenticated to the domain so he was locked out. He was so pissed the company flew me to Aspen to give him a new laptop with his account cached so I could walk him through resetting the password. They paid for me to spend the weekend there."
An incompetent CEO AND a free trip to Aspen? That is unfair. I didn't know we were going to fight dirty. But if that is the way this is going to go . . .
"The CEO at one place I worked had a habit of checking data on Saturday nights and locking out his application account. They paid me to shadow his session and unlock his account as he went so it wouldn't annoy him. I spent many Saturday nights playing Dungeons and Dragons and billing the company with my laptop open, unlocking his account and rolling dice in anger."
I threw in Dungeons and Dragons! Game, set, match, right?
He answered, "You play? Me too. What do you think of the new Magic of Incarnum rules?"
I struggled to keep panic off my face, "I haven't tried it. No need to complicate the game with a new magic system."
I guess he sensed fear, because he pressed the advantage,"It isn't too bad. I think it is about like the rules for psionics."
Crap! "We don't even use psionics!" Did I say that out loud? I'm losing my touch! And Geek Fu!
I got desperate,"We've been in and out of the same campaign for a couple of years, every other Saturday night, so we haven't had enough need for new characters to try out psionics. I have the book."
These matches are always to the death. That is the way it works. He answered,"My group has played every Saturday night for seven years."
Audience participation is rarely allowed, but in this case I welcomed the interruption. One of the network guys said, "But Garrick has a wife and kid and you've never even mentioned having a girlfriend."
Relief flooded my face another added,"His wife is really hot, too."
As I said earlier, Geek Fu is always to the death. My finishing move was,"She just gave me the complete Firefly series DVD boxed set, too."
"Awesome," he conceded. His chair spun back around.
When you can snatch the packet from my firewall, grasshopper, then will you be ready.


Andrew Moore said...

Firefly on DVD - the ultimate coup de grace.

Touche, Alpha Geek, touche.

Adrian said...

A fine example. The pack chooses its Alpha.
However, the drawn out extra rounds were unnecessary. 1 point of Functionality vs. 1 point of Style is NOT a draw. Style is much more important than Functionality, otherwise everything would be sold in brushed aluminum boxes and priced for the job they could do. (Alienware?)

Anonymous said...

Why, I ask WHY!!!! Someone dared bring you into a D&D fight and you didn't bring up a super broken character!!! Why? All the God level NPC's that we must deal with in every campaign, and not even a mention of a nixie...

Shame on you! you didn't complete the kill.

What happened to the Dungeon Master I once feared?

Darrell Davis said...

o Ps
Love the link!
also you used more tech terms increasing the points of your Fu