Friday, June 27, 2008

Happy 700th Post, Interwebz

Friday afternoon I had a "Strategy Meeting" with some members of upper management, my manager, and some of the key people on the "Plan" team.
The question of job roles came up, since most of upper management only sees consultants by their cost-center code.
When it was my turn, the assumption that I mitigate security issues was voiced.
My manager replied,"Garrick doesn't actually fix anything."
To be fair, I don't.
I coordinate the efforts of several different teams to congeal a unified response to risk from both inside and outside the company.
Did I clarify in that way? Oh, hell no.
I went with my gut response which was,"It's just kind of a personal policy I have."
This went over better than one would expect actually. Normally when I tell the truth the reaction from management is more visceral.
Anyway, the point is this:
I now officially have a tag line for my self-produced corporate business card which reads, "Garrick doesn't actually fix anything" - Garrick's manager, June 27, 2008
It is important to set expectations early on in the relationship, in my opinion. The time period between the exchange of business cards and the awkward moment when one tries to figure out where to stash a newly-acquired business card from someone else is that time.
In other news, I'm again staring into the grim face of another long weekend. When I get a final official close date on the house and my exodus from the hotel I'm sleeping fitfully in, I'll pass it along.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Command-C, Command-V

Columbia, South Carolina (WISTV) - Researchers at the University of South Carolina have stumbled upon an intriguing development during their regular study of I.T. Professionals and other Nocturnal Cultures.
The study, funded in part by a grant from the National Institute of Sleep, was designed to track productivity and interpersonal relations among close-knit social groups.
Department Director Dr. Laura Kleinhoff has announced the discovery of a mutation among this largely migratory population.
"I don't know how else to say it, really," Kleinhoff notes,"It seems certain individuals have developed the ability to alter the immutable laws of time itself. I would assume it is a survival mechanism."
"The discovery hinges on simple math," explains graduate student Matt Jeffries, "If a project will require 400 billable hours of labor, and one subtracts 200 billable hours for meetings, there is no way for the project to complete within the ten week schedule. Yet they do!"
And apparently they do it regularly enough to take it for granted.
"The key is in knowing which business unit to bill time to," Lead Server Admin Leo Martin states during an interview conducted as a part of the regular study,"Let's say, for example, I'm working on one thing for business unit A while I'm working on a different thing for business unit B. I finish both things in an hour. The same hour. I just bill each business unit for my time. Which was a whole hour. Each."
While ethically questionable, this seems to satisfy at least the mathematical portion of the question. Other, more urgent, questions remain.
"Aside from the whole altering-the-law-of-time thing, there are physical mutations," Jeffries states,"They develop a sensitivity to sunlight. They ignore whole food groups. They laugh at each other when they quote Monty Python."
As yet, no one knows what prompted the activation of this X-Factor in the human genomes, but there are several theories.
"My guess is gamma rays," Kleinhoff notes,"Other theories are everything from the ingestion of something which used to be take-out in the break room refrigerator to close proximity to multiple electronic devices for extended periods of time. Smart money is always on gamma rays, though."
"It could be all these cellphones I carry around," Martin Anderson (Unix Admin) states,"I keep at least three on me at all times. There is the on-call phone, my work phone and my personal iPhone. I stay especially close to my iPhone. I rub it all over myself all the time, really. Especially around my genitals."
Not everyone is convinced, though. Noted Biochemist Dr. Ann Murphy has published the opinion that,"The ability to alter the any of the fundamental laws of the universe would have astounding effects across more areas than Technical Services. These guys can't even get my wireless mouse to stop squealing every time the guy in the next office spins his mouse wheel."
The group in the study seems content to go about their day-to-day project work, regardless of the debate raging across the research sector.
"Well, there are two kinds of people," Martin notes,"There always have been. There is us, and there are users. It isn't like we are going to suddenly stop ignoring the users or something. I've got stuff to do."
Kleinhoff is currently trying to get these I.T. workers declared a separate species through legislation.
"It is vital, now that we have discovered this population, that we protect it," She explains,"The numbers are limited and the individuals displaying the most profound mutation seem to have almost no chance at breeding at all. Within a generation, these shy and gentle creatures could be completely extinct."
"Altering the laws of time is cool and all," Anderson admits,"But I'm not giving up my TiVo with the firmware hack. No freaking way."
"'With great power comes great responsibility', right?" Anonymous case study A2634 has scrawled in his questionnaire,"And I'm going to be totally responsible with this whole altering the laws of time thing. Right after I finish photoshopping Rick Astley's head onto John McCain's body and posting it to my Facebook page."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Eleven Pages First Thing In The Morning

Every morning at about 7:15 I get an updated project overview in my inbasket. Every morning I must print this and bring it to the 9 o'clock meeting. Since there are ten people in that meeting, I've stopped whining about the environmental impact of our process. One hundred and ten pages a day, plus the spare copies the coordinator brings.
And anything else which needs printing. And there is a lot of that stuff. It makes me emotional. And my coworkers have learned that if I don't get coffee very quickly my mood deteriorates and my productivity ramps down to nothing and I cry a little more than most of them are comfortable with.
Usually the other guy on my team who gets in early just stands at the door of my cubicle holding his coffee cup until I get up to get coffee. No words are needed. We usually maintain the silence until after coffee is purchased. We both know it is probably safer.
This morning he spoke.

Coworker: Coffee?

Me: Should I be concerned by your inflection? I noticed it went up at the end as though there were uncertainty. Do you know something about the coffee?

Coworker: No, not specifically. Sorry for the confusion. I was just hoping to get an idea of the time-frame surrounding the inevitable coffee. I'm impressed that you noticed my inflection. I guess that is why you are in security.

Me: It may very well be. Where did I leave my pants?

Coworker: Did you say "Where did I leave my pants?"?

Me: Never mind. Here they are. Let's go.

I've given up on the Wii. Having never seen one outside the display model anywhere, I have no choice left but to consider them fictional like unicorns, fairies and giraffes.
In researching other options, I've managed to come up with even more questions than I started with. For example, what is the point of "included leather padded arm rests and the new ergonomic layout of the controls" in the PainStation?
I doubt they will offer that through MyCokeReward Points, anyway.
For the record, thanks in no small part to all the emailed in codes from you guys, there are over 8,000 points lying in wait in my account for something awesome to be offered. There is a pretty staggering buffet of crap up there now. My hope is that by the time they offer a Toyota Prius I'll have enough points to have one delivered to my house on the back of some giant, smoke-belching diesel flat-bed truck, ensuring a carbon-neutral status within a few decades. I've got time, after all.
It's not like the planet is going anywhere.
Coffee is good.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Monday afternoon one of these guys was walking across my hotel parking lot. Normally, seeing a bug would not merit a post, but the Carolina Green June Beetle is truly freaking massive. I mean two-hands-to-pick-up-but-holy-crap-why-would-you-do-that massive. And it was moving towards my car.
So I moved my car.
This brought up a question specific to this species but asked as recently as yesterday about the more common, regular-sized June Beetle.
Why are there June Bugs? What purpose could they possible serve?
I suspect that the fear of getting one tangled in one's hair might provide a boost to our flagging salon industry, but surely nature has a mid-year niche that needs filling.
Wikipedia says the grubs eat grass roots all winter before emerging in the spring as beetles which eat leaves, bark and organic material of an undisclosed nature. These insects are generally killed by bug zappers (while people watch and drink Pabst Blue Ribbon), house cats (over a period of several days per beetle), or by special flies which lay eggs on their backs (while the beetles are in flight) which hatch and then eat the June Beetles alive from the inside. Given the choice, I'd just keep eating grass roots.
The Green June Beetle has much the same life cycle, except that they are freaking huge. The family also includes a type of beetle called a "cockchafer", which thankfully does not well tolerate air pollution of any kind. Keep driving, America. No matter the cost.
I thought my encounters with the rougher side of Carolina wildlife were at an end until I got to work this morning.
You know those little shifty jumping spiders? One was on my Ctrl key.
How can I possibly log in to a Windows machine with a spider on my Ctrl key?
Resisting the urge to smash the keyboard into tiny bits with my flatscreen monitor, I just turned around and went downstairs for coffee. The spider was gone by the time I'd stalled for about 45 minutes down there by slowly stirring my Splenda.
At least, I hope he is gone.
If I see him again I'm putting in a move request and getting a fresh cubicle.
In other news, my new work cellphone may need a new number, since the Lexington Public Library is pretty certain I have three overdue books from there and they keep calling me and yelling through some robotic auto-dialer.
I'd call and talk to a person, but what if the titles are embarrassing and they choose to not believe me? What if it is Dean Koontz novels or something? I'd never be able to show my face in there. Not that I ever have before. Or even know where it is, really.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Why I Hugged A Coworker This Morning

Since the weekends mean all I have to do with my time is play online games and watch Big Momma's House and Big Momma's House Two, I've spent a good deal of time trying to explore areas of the game I'd ignored.
This was made easier by the almost dissolution of my formerly awesome raiding guild after the old guild leader took some time off and one of the officers raided the guild bank.
This weekend saw the beginning of the Midsummer Fire Festival! This in-game event features bonfires scattered at various locations across the game world. Visiting a friendly fire at level 70 gives the character about six gold and five tokens called "Burning Blossoms" which are traded at vendors for items only available until July 4th. Visiting and "desecrating" an unfriendly bonfire in enemy territory grants 10 Blossoms and twelve gold. By mid-afternoon Sunday I'd accumulated over 450 Blossoms -- Enough to buy the most exclusive item and almost enough for a spare.
Sadly, there was some unpleasantness in desecrating a couple of the fires in enemy territory.
The enemy bonfire desecration process involves an instant player versus player effect. Suddenly, whether you want them to or not, enemy players can attack you. If nothing happens, the effect goes away after five minutes.
While paying my desecration visit to the Alliance hamlet of Auberdine in Darkshore something horrible happened.
An enemy player attacked me. The little fella was about sixty levels behind Webinara, so he actually missed. However, Webinara's faithful animal companion took offense and swatted the guy like a bug. And this happened close enough to a guard for that guy to come after me. His death brought friends of his, along with a bunch of players coming to punish Webinara for disturbing the idyllic setting. And they kept coming. And the further away they were from me when they died, the more guards would become upset.
I don't really know what happened after that. There was a red haze and then I woke up in a pile of the dead. Except for the couple of non-Player versus Player enabled avatars cowering by the harbormaster at the end of the dock, it seems Webinara killed every living thing in the town of Auberdine.
Anyway, I'm really sorry about that. If you were in the area and playing Alliance between about 1:55 and 2:15 EST, sorry.
I don't know what came over me.
Anyway, our guild has stopped raiding, like I said. In fact, most of the guilds on my server have stalled out since no one has a Priest with the Shadow specialty. There are a couple of reasons for this shortage. Most Priest characters are expected to heal, so the Shadow specialty with a concentration on curses and damage is generally less popular. Also, Shadow Priests do really well in Player versus Player and don't spend a lot of time raiding. I, however, love them. See, Shadow Priests have unique abilities which grant people in their group health and mana for spells all the time. They are like portable mana batteries for anyone standing near them.
Oh, how I love Shadow Priests.
And now I know I work with one. He admitted it to me after we spent about ten minutes talking about our daughters and Webkinz.
Our guild has no Shadow Priest. His Shadow Priest has no guild. I hugged and hugged and hugged him. Right in the hallway, completely unashamedly.
Now I have to get him to drop $25 to move his character to my server. Or give him $25.
I know this probably seems odd, but the idea of having my own personal mana battery makes me feel all tingly.
Also, I stayed up until midnight watching 300 on HBO. I could have stayed up to watch Die Hard 2, but knew I'd have to leave the hotel immediately to have a steak and objectify someone.

Okay, now that that is out of the way -- Here is a homework assignment:

Please visit your local geek hang out (comic book store, Best Buy, or the Sci-Fi section of Hollywood Video come to mind) and diagnose with authority.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Oh, yeah?

Mindset Media and Nielsen Research just published a study of the "mindset" of 25,000 American adults. They determined that people who are early adopters of new technology (known to most as "geeks") are, as a group, likely to score high in leadership qualities, dynamism, and assertiveness. This same group is likely to be arrogant and conceited.
First: "Dynamism"? noun - A theory that all phenomena (as matter or motion) can be explained as manifestations of force.
or - A dynamic or expansionist quality.
Expansionist? Like Manifest Destiny? Who paid for this study?
Probably not geeks, if you ask me.
How dare they imply that I am arrogant?
And Mindset Media and Nielsen Research can just fix their own damn computers from here on out because I know I wouldn't bother to reply to their stupid cries for help. I'm way too good for that.
In other news, I failed. Well, as it was explained to me "no one fails", but I'll be getting no credit for the training course last week with the whole card swap nuclear incident.
As a result, I have to take another class to satisfy our training requirements.
I'm the only one amused by the fact that the class I'm scheduled to take on July 7th is a Business Ethics class called "Our Values". Roleplaying exercises are a core component of this class. In short, I'm screwed.
Especially since I already asked around to find out if anyone had a copy of the quiz at the end.
I like to be prepared. Preparation is one of "My Values".
No joke -- The question has been asked if there is a remedial version of the class that I could take or if I could just do the online course from my (or preferably my manager's) desk. With someone else using the mouse.
I can only hope for social promotion at this point.
In even more other news, my backup totally quit this morning and was escorted off campus. There was no specific "incident", but a rogue geek with elevated rights is not a geek one wants to have near a network jack.

Also, holy crap look at this!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Corporate Structure

We had our regular daily constant project meeting again today. Like every day. Until we all die.
This meeting was much like the ones from earlier this week in that the Project Manager neglected to show up.
We took a little time out from the meeting to discuss what that Project Manager guy is supposed to do and why we are managing just fine without his input.
This is another case marked by a total lack of job description.
Given that, there is also no list of required qualifications for the position.
I put forth the theory that "Project Manager" is an inherited title, like Baron or Earl or (my favorite) Viscount. If one's parent was a Project Manager, then that career path is open to them. Since no one had any evidence to counter my theory, it was added to the official project document as an "outstanding concern or issue".
The fun part will be finding out if the Project Manager actually ever reads that document.
I'm willing to put money on the fact that he does not, being entirely occupied with increased bandit activity along the trade road and a blight in the barley fields.
For the record, my title (which according to my recently penned job description is "Dark Lord of Policies Both Corporeal and Necromantic") is not inherited.
My daughter will need to find her own route to total global domination. I think she may already be working on that.
On the subject of initiatives with global scale, we are finally annoyingly close to having a finalized closing date on the new World Headquarters of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng World Wide Amalgamated Disinformation Center and User Disposal Crawlspace, LLC.
This process has been slowed by repeated questions like "Wait, you already own a house?" and "What do you mean you already own a house out of state?" and "What do you mean on this form where you refer to the house as a 'spare house' on line J and then 'world headquarters of a bunch of scribbles' on line N?"
Further delays included requests for documents proving we owed less on a car than our out-dated credit report showed like "Can you show us that you paid the note last week even though we have no record of your having ever, ever been late?"
There were also delays which could be termed (by harsher critics) as self-inflicted. These always arrived in the form of questions such as, "Does the house already have a moat or do you want to have one rolled into the loan amount?" and "Have you really found an insurance policy which covers water damage related to self-constructed arrow slits?" and the (I'm sure more typical) "What? Are you drunk?"
I've been told that this is all just part of the home buying process. Especially the heavy drinking.
The remaining work is all in scheduling the move from Houston to here, which must begin on a specific date but will not be complete for "up to a week", leaving us with no way to know if there will be any place to put our stuff when it arrives.
It all may seem totally illogical and impossible to manage with any sense of clarity but I assure you it is, in fact, totally illogical and impossible to manage with any sense of clarity.
I'm not sure how the rest of the world deals with uncertainty, but I almost always mitigate it through chemical means. Or violence. Or sometimes knitting.
Anyone need a doily? Or, like, eight or nine doilies?
In the interest of disclosure, I had a single beer last night and woke up with a nasty headache this morning which directly resulted in my volunteering to take charge of a project without first asking what the project entailed or negotiating to be paid in unicorns. I think I've learned my lesson.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not Sleeping Enough, Probably

This morning I was forced to make a very poor decision regarding security. I say "forced" because there was actually no decision to be made.
Doing things the right way would simply result in the application not working, so I endorsed the idea of doing things the wrong way.
It happens from time to time, but the idea of a vendor-supplied solution causing a re-architecture on our end still bugs me.
Also today my headhunter showed up with the sign for my cubicle. For the record, I'm even spelled right.
He had been planning to drop by work for a visit for a while now, but this particular visit gave him the opportunity to introduce me to his boss.
We chatted about the house buying and selling process, my hotel where they changed the sheets yesterday for the first time in a month, and how I was adjusting to South Carolina and the freakish weather patterns we've been having. By "freakish" I assume he meant "unnaturally warm" and not some rain of blood I'd slept through. I do so hate sleeping through a rain of blood.
One of these topics (and to be honest I'm not sure which) set me off. I remember talking about the little liquor bottles. I remember talking about an interview I'd seen of a guy living just south of the Texas border who complained about Americans crossing the border to buy cheap gasoline.
I think, though I'm not sure, I talked about Iron Man. I was certainly thinking about Iron Man.
My memory of the event snaps back into focus with my headhunter's boss saying,"Jesus Christ, man! You are an HR nightmare!"
In my opinion, that is hardly a fair assessment. For one thing, I'm always very nice to whoever conducts the interview whenever I am summoned to HR. Secondly, they would be able to talk about "Industry Salary Guidelines" and "Employee Benefits Awareness Programs" all the time if people (dare I say "visionaries in the field of human interaction"?) didn't give them something interesting to talk about.
Also, I never shy away from bringing cookies with me.
A lot of people will tell you to take a detailed written time line of the events in question when you are asked to pay a visit to HR. I will tell you that the time line is nice, but will never carry you as far as even a box of store-bought cookies.
HR people are a lot like regular people in two notable ways:

1. Love of cookies

2. Need to have an interesting story to tell to loved ones at the evening meal

If, for example, an employee were to dash through the cafeteria yelling "Holy crap! The bees are eating me! The bees are eating me!" when, in fact, the bees were doing no such thing, he or she might be summoned to HR for an interview about causing a disturbance.
The evening meal story loses the punchline altogether if it ends with "and we fired him".
A much better ending is, "We called him in for an interview and he brought a bunch of sugar cookies." Or snickerdoodles. You know. Whatever.
The actual type of cookie is unimportant. Unless you shop at one of those X-rated bakeries.
At an X-rated bakery, probably the worst thing you can do is grab a box of "Assorted" and drag them to your HR interview.
The Assorted X-rated cookies are more a drop-by-HR-because-you-were-thinking-of-them kind of snack.
When there has been an incident, err on the side of boring when selecting the cookies.
This wasn't at all what I was going to blog about.

But look! Evidence of ancient nerds!
It says they don't know what game the ancient Romans played, but it is a safe bet there were dragons involved somewhere.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Team Lunch

After a couple of days of troubleshooting, the current issues impacting our production environment are not solved. However, I have managed to prove that the issues are not related to anything I did, and that is quite a bit more important than an actual resolution anyway.
Calendars aligned across the group this afternoon to allow for a brief "Team Lunch" in the cafeteria downstairs. We grabbed a large table and began discussing work issues.
The conversation naturally evolved into one about who is gay in the entertainment industry and, more importantly, how we felt about it when we found out.
Of course, a table full of manly I.T. guys surrounded by a sea of non-I.T. people tends to draw attention anyway.
I wonder if any of us will be reported for the near-constant exclamations of,"Holy crap! I know, right? . . . Not that there is anything wrong with that!"
I think the "Not that there is anything wrong with that!" should cover us in the event HR tries to crack down on us for creating a hostile cafeteria environment.
Neil Patrick Harris? Seriously? Doogie Howser, M.D.? I, for one, was astounded.

Rob Halford? From Judas Priest? Who saw that coming?

Certainly not this little metal fan.
George Michael managed to surprise no one at the table no matter how old they were when Wham!: Make It Big was splattering singles all over the Top 40.

Um. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

In other news, I had a closed-door meeting with my manager this morning. He told me that HR wants a copy of my job description to place in my file. Further, he'd like me to write it and give it to him by close of business on Thursday.
I blinked.
I nodded.
I was incapable of speech, as all of my brain function was running through the absolutely astounding potential for abuse which had just been handed to me as an action item.
Only after I had left and closed the door behind me could I mutter,"You're ****ing kidding me, right?"
No one answered.
Do you know what this means?
By the end of the week, I could be "extracting genetic material from pre-historic resin to create living dinosaurs". I could be "in charge of Death Star turbolaser operations". I could, in theory, spend my days "plying the waterways of the southern colonies in search of rum-laden merchant vessels ripe for plunder". As far as anyone knows, I may very well be "Chief Executive MP3 Server Administrator".
In fact, given that my only concrete instruction so far is "write your job description", chances are I do all of those things.
And probably "re-order the fundamental laws of space and time to eliminate user issues before the users themselves are even born".

Monday, June 16, 2008

Poor Layout

I'll apologize in advance for posting another restroom-related entry:
"Sorry about that."
In our new space on the seventh floor, we've had to adjust to a new restroom design. In this building, the restrooms are located off the side hallway which leads to the stairwell. The rooms are shaped oddly, but this has little impact on the functionality of the space.
To gain entry to the seventh floor men's room, one must make a left turn into the side hallway, then enter the doorway on the left at the end. Once inside, a "modesty partition" forces a right turn followed by a hard left turn for the urinals.
When completing this left turn, the first obstacle is a wall-mounted aerosol deodorizer on the left. These devices are timed to spray at intervals depending on unknown parameters. I'm not sure if the standard time for them is mandated by the state or if Texaco has published a white paper on it. A few times I've entered and started the turn in time to hear the "pfsssst" noise and pass through the cool mist of perceived cleanliness.
Today, I made the corner too fast and caught the whole "pfsssst" right in my left eye.
To anyone who has ever been sprayed in the eye with an aerosol, it is no surprise that the appropriate response is to grab one's face, fall to the floor and shriek "HOLY CRAP MY FREAKING EYE!"
I was wearing my reading glasses and (when my vision returned) I noticed that the left lens was coated, front and back, in a semi-transparent waxy material. If that much was blocked by glass, I can only imagine what a full-dose shot would have been like.
There are certain situations where one would expect to be blasted in the eye by various substances. Were I to attempt to snatch a purse, I would expect a shot of pepper spray in the face. Except in Denver, where I would expect an eye-full of "Bear Mace". If I were to peacefully protest something Republicans like, I'd expect to have tear gas swabbed into place on my eyeballs because the GOP likes to appear environmentally conscious in certain circumstances and aerosol is bad for the planet.
Walking to the urinal, I have no reason to expect anything to be sprayed into my eye, so I was caught off guard.
After about an hour, the burning subsided to a mild tingle and my vision began to return to the effected orb, but I doubt the guy who was in the last stall has recovered from my screaming and flailing around on the tile while he was taking care of business.
In all, it was the most time I've spent on the floor of a men's room in some time and probably the most ever on a Monday morning when I hadn't even been drinking.
There are two things I've taken away from the incident.
The first is that I should "Tokyo Drift" around that last left turn, hug the outside wall, or listen from the safety of the doorway for the "pfsssst" and time my turn to happen before the next burst.
The second is that I probably have the best smelling eyeball in South Carolina right now, even if no one will take me up on my offer to smell it.

I saw the Edward Norton Hulk movie on Friday night with a coworker.
Everyone knows that Bruce Banner was given the Hulk powers through an experiment with gamma radiation. One of the coolest things about this Hulk movie is that the whole origin thing is covered behind the opening credits so no movie time is wasted on it and they can get right to the smashy parts.
Smashy parts are why people go to see a movie like this. I'm glad someone picked up on that.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Roleplay? Me?

I was totally correct in my suspicions about the demographic of the "Business Negotiation" training class. There were a few admins, a couple of I.T. people, and a whole lot of executives who I will likely never see again.
We spent a good deal of time talking about "closing", which made me freak out about buying a house. We discussed body language, dominant seating positions and comfort zones.
I drew an adorable kitten on my notebook. She had striped fur and long whiskers and I titled my sketch "Princess Muffin".
I did perk up when we got to the "practical" part of the class, which involved splitting up into pairs and conducting an actual negotiation. We were all given colored index cards and a list of "wants" and "needs" we had which had some points of conflict. One person was given the role of "manager" and one was given the role of "employee".
The index cards were used to accelerate the process to meet the time frame of the class, I think, since they were to be played to simulate outside influences.
Our green card was to be labeled "Peace", our yellow card "Arm", and our pink card "Nuke". Everyone dutifully scribbled this into place, assisted by a PowerPoint slide projected on the wall as a visual instruction manual.
I love games with rules. I especially love familiar-seeming games with rules like these.
The "Arm" card is played one round prior to "Nuke" and signifies a break-down in communication. "Nuke" is last resort and the one round delay translates in most cases to mutually assured destruction. "Peace" is played to resume talks in case both parties move to "Arm" but hesitate.
I wonder how these training exercises were done before the nuclear age? Was it "Veiled Hostility", "Influenza Blankets" and "Poisoned Wells"?
Anyway, since everyone needs a laugh at the geek's expense, I was given the role of "Manager" and partnered with some slightly older executive-type gentleman. His demands for "larger cubicles", "casual jeans Fridays" and "discounted meals in the cafeteria for people working through lunch" were clearly stated, as well as his desire for more money per hour and, if possible, better parking.
I listened patiently, my own list of demands ("fewer requests for comp time", a "shortened help desk queue", and "more restricted access to internet resources for employees without a clear business need") battling with my want list of employees in ties and fewer wasted hours in (ironically) training. I kept them all to myself, though, both needs and wants, and waited for his list to be completely expressed.
I would not call his opening statement "impassioned", but his arguments were well-formed, in my opinion. Someone reads Business Week, probably the print version.
Anyway, the silliness of the exercise got to me, so before I spoke a word I held up my pink card and tore it in half in front of everyone.
"Let's take the pink card off the table to start with. Having a looming threat does nothing to foster good will. We should negotiate without that burden weighing us down."
The "employee" executive guy agreed immediately and tore up his "Nuke" card.
We were both commended by the instructor, who advised us that we had chosen the proper course, though negotiation would need to be more plainly stated and open and honest to compensate for the lack of urgency.
Then I placed my sundered pink card on the desk in front of me, the pieces clearly labeled "Pe" and "ace".
Then I played the "Arm" card and listed my demands and want list, in full. I also placed my green "Nuke" card, face up, on the desk. I tapped it twice, as though I were in a comic book store facing off against some arrogant twelve-year-old in a Magic: The Gathering tournament.
Negotiations complete, I took my seat back with the class.
There was some heated debate among the other attendees about whether using an alternate color scheme for the cards was "cheating" or, as I call it, "a creative use of existing game mechanics". Is it wrong to be deceptive in this situation or is it wrong to assume one's opponent is not? Compromise is not winning.
My final argument was that it is the assumed goal of anyone in any negotiation to ensure that their opponent holds as few cards as possible. Fact.
Roleplaying as a training exercise?
To some of us, roleplaying is serious business.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nothing Can Be Spared

I heard some time ago that there is a Smurfs movie in pre-production somewhere.
Having long-since exhausted the imaginations of every screenwriter on the planet, an ever art-conscious Hollywood must make every effort to entertain us all in these trying times -- Mostly by slaughtering every childhood cartoon memory people of my generation have.
I used to wake up at 6:30 CST on Saturdays to catch the Godzilla cartoon. I've made special effort to avoid downloading that show since I fear it has not stood up to the test of "Timeless Classic-ness", but Matthew Broderick went ahead and overwrote most of my feelings about the monster in 1998 anyway.
The Dungeons and Dragons cartoon show spent almost a full season making me happy about the great mainstreaming of the game itself which happened around the same time. I knew even as a child that the show was too campy for the gritty and awesome parts of the game itself, but I enjoyed the fact that they made the show at all. Not even Jeremy Irons could save the movie adaptation. I will give them credit for The Dragons of Autumn Twilight, though. It is a cartoon, as it should be, and too harsh for children, which it also should be. I think mine is one of four copies ever actually sold.
I should also admit that the movie adaptation of Josie and the Pussycats is filled with win.
Scooby Doo can also be added to the list of abused cartoon into film conversions, since "updating" involved the addition of bathroom humor and the removal of all the drug references. Wait. Maybe they added drug references. I'm not sure, but I'll admit to being drunk while watching both the movies and the cartoon. Recently.
Casper the Friendly Ghost was also brought into the grim reality of the latter part of the last century by going into the back story of the main character. Somewhere deep in the back of every cartoon viewer's mind, we knew Casper was a dead kid, but we repressed the thought and concentrated on what he was doing "in the now". Any movie which focuses on the "dead kid" aspect is not true to the escapist nature of all cartoons.
But I was talking about Smurfs. Like I am known to do.
While not predisposed to hating on the mere concept of a film adaptation, I will confess a bit of trepidation at the thought. There are a lot of things which should be done and even more which should not.
The filmmakers should finally address the exact nature of Smurf biology, putting to rest (except for the cartoon canon purists) the endless debate about the subject among our more pharmaceutically inclined populace. We all know that Gargamel created Smurfette, but that does not mean that she is the first female of the species. More likely she is the first of an entirely new physiologically similar species. The film is an opportunity to answer these question once and for most.
The film should not update the Smurfs to modern times, either, because part of the charm of the original series was the interaction with the feudal human society which lived nearby. If the human character (and don't doubt there will be at least one) is some career-driven advertising executive who comes to learn the value of friendship and loyalty, you can bet I'm going to freak right out.
The latest news I have is that the Smurf movie is currently not CGI, or at least not entirely. It will be primarily live action.
This is wrong. Let me tell you why:

There is a possibility the film will feature real-live people and CGI Smurfs. This technique has been used in films with great critical acclaim such as Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield and Garfield Two: A Tail of Two Kitties.
This might work, but only if they set the movie in the proper time period and answer all the Smurf reproductive questions. And possibly if they come up with some explanation of how the word "Smurf" came to mean so many things in the Smurf language without some misunderstanding plunging the whole society into a brutal war at some point.
Even if they do that, if some "making of" show comes out where Tom Cruise is complaining about sitting for six hours every morning while the makeup crew paints his torso blue I'm going to Belgium to wire the ground around the grave of Pierre Culliford so that his spinning can create sustainable power and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. At least that way some good can come of this.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Maintaining Appearances

Since interaction with people outside work is so limited, I've started to find myself caring what random people think.
And since the only people I ever speak to in-person outside work are store employees, this concern has drifted from amusement to genuine fear.
When I first arrived in town, I made a game of it. Stopping at Target in the middle of the night to buy fifty feet of rope, kitchen scissors, one-hundred "contractor grade" trash bags, duct tape and a gallon of all-surface cleaner was like a game to me. Would the clerk ask what I was doing? Would the police be notified?
Sadly, neither thing happened.
My natural paranoia filled in the blanks, letting me know in no uncertain terms that the check-out personnel were on to my game and judging me for how pathetic my cries for attention were becoming.
For a few weeks, I would visit the grocery store as normal. Food options are limited since I have only a microwave in my hotel room. Buying only enough to fit in my little hotel refrigerator started to look pathetic there in the shopping cart.
I knew that again the check-out people were judging me, only this time it was for living in a hotel completely alone, catching up on old TV and playing video games.
As I picked up groceries yesterday I made no conscious attempt to look less pitiful, yet I noticed that my food choices had evolved somewhat.
The cart was loaded with single-serve cans of multiple flavors of Diet Coke and foods which, while certainly microwavable, could only accurately be described as "appetizers".
Chicken nuggets, if of sufficient quality, are relatively low carb.
Looking from at the cart from the honest angle, one sees the diet of a man living in a tiny space all alone with an evening highlight of finding some kind of dip to use with the nuggets.
From a more objective (and generous) angle, I could have been hosting a party somewhere.
The contents of the cart could serve pretty well as the menu for a viewing of some type of sports thing or (more likely) that non-stop Lord of the Rings Extended Edition showing I've been promising to waste twelve hours on for about forever.
Given an objective view, the items in the cart can be less pathetic than reality would suggest.
When presented with a choice, I will almost always take the viewpoint which defies reality anyway.
But why do I care? It isn't a decision I made consciously. The concern I harbor for the opinions of total strangers says something about my own self-image, probably.
While an in-depth self-analysis is certainly in order here, I also avoid those. So the mystery will remain unsolved forever and I will always exist to store employees as a riddle wrapped in an enigma slathered in buffalo sauce.
Perhaps someday we will be judged not by the content of our carts but by the content of our DVD collections.
Today is not that day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Not Fast Enough

I was totally caught flat-footed. My coworkers are better at dodging than I am, I guess.
So far, aside from a day and a half of pre-employment training, I've managed to avoid trips back to the training area.
This all changes all too soon.
Someone from our group needed to take a class, and the short straw was pulled my me.
What the hell is "Business Negotiation" and why do I need to attend a half-day training session for it?
It isn't like we have the ability to say "no" to business requirements. For example: When someone suggests that someone from my team waste half a day in a "Business Negotiation" training class, someone has to go waste half a day in "Business Negotiation" class.
In my opinion, the only thing which qualifies a person to need a class like this is an inability to successfully dodge the request.
Well. Maybe I do need to go.
Anyway, as soon as the class fills up, that is where I will be hanging out.
These are the pitfalls which come with keeping a "tidy" calendar, I suppose.
If it goes anything like the last class, it will be filled with people who also failed to get out of it. Within an hour, most people will be staring glassy-eyed at the presenter with a pathetic string of drool pooling next to the keyboard of the training PC. Seriously, there are paper towels there for specifically that.
In other news, I've grabbed another couple of photos to share with you all about life in South Carolina. Please excuse the crappy cellphone quality.

This is in the first floor men's room in my new building. My gut reaction, every time this sign greets me on my way in, is to scrunch up my forehead, point at it and say,"No! Your hands are crawling with bacteria!" I generally go with my gut on this one, too.
Who is that sign to judge me? I wash my hands dozens of times a day and use that anti-bacterial gel crap.

This "business" is about a block from my hotel. I've never eaten there. It is rarely open, actually.
Has anyone ever seen a more obvious front for the mafia?
Capone's "Not Just Pizza"? I would guess they also offer racketeering, tax evasion, prostitution and protection schemes. And maybe a calzone.

Monday, June 09, 2008

No New Movies

I stared at the weekend from Friday morning and struggled to keep the panic off my face. If the weekend senses fear, it is driven to attack.
But seriously, what the hell was I supposed to do?
I've been over (and over) the fact that I have no life at all on the weekends. Without my family, I spend a lot of time in my crappy hotel room counting the smoke detector.
Start over.
Holy crap.
This past weekend, with nothing to see at the theatre and no reason to leave my hotel room at all, I decided to be productive online in World of Warcraft.
I've developed a system. Nothing ground-breaking or against the Terms of Service or anything, but since I've hit the level cap and have all the gear I can use from the content my guild is currently pwning, the only standard for progress is in-game gold.
Here, in short, is the system:
Webinara is a leatherworker who spends time gathering rare leather patterns. She also picks up the occasional bauble to sell on the in-game auction house.
I decided a while back that instead of having her spend time jogging between the auction house and the mail box, I'd create a character to do that for her. Webinara does the questing and the crafting, and my bank mule handles the business side.
The neat thing is that nothing in the game associates these two characters as being from the same account, so as my bank mule posts auctions and gathers cash, she also announces rare leather goods in trade chat in the major cities.
"Belt of Natural Power, Shadow Resistance Armor Kit, Nethercobra Leg Armor, your materials and tip please."
Responses are generally, "How can you make that stuff? You are a level one noob. lol."
And then my reply is,"I can't, but for five gold I can tell you who can."
Once the deal is done, Webinara logs in, makes the stuff, collects another tip and goes back to questing.
By using two characters, I can also cause some . . . market price volatility. First, Webinara builds up a stockpile of items which sell normally for 350 gold. My bank character posts a few at 1000 gold, then Webinara buys them. Item price databases are updated to reflect the "market change" at a cost to Webinara of a couple of gold in listing fees.
Then the bank mule posts the items again for 700 gold and they sell within a few hours to someone who sees a 30% discount from the "normal" price.
It sounds like kind of a pain, and there are probably more elegant ways to earn money, but the results are starting to speak for themselves.
Webinara has over four thousand gold right now, with enough buffer to cover "operational expenses" like arrows and equipment repairs.
My auction house mule broke the ten thousand gold mark on Saturday night.
Equating this to real-world, tangible things would be hard were it not for the Chinese in-game gold market. That rate puts the total asset value at over $500 real American dollars.
Last night my auction house mule bought every scrap of silk cloth available on the server and posted it all back up at a 50% mark up.
I've been analyzing the pre-production patch notes to start hoarding items which are cheap now but will be in demand in the future when new uses turn up.

I say this with grim certainty: My family has to get here soon.

Friday, June 06, 2008

In Which I Provide Support

Experiment Parameters:

Logged in 1pm EST to Google Chat, Yahoo IM, and the Live Help chat forums at two seemingly popular PC web portals after posting "I'd like to help" messages in the general forum of each.

I wasn't connected long enough to get any actual spam, but I may have to bleach all associated accounts after this. Here is the chat log, cleaned up for "prettiness" with the user name cleverly concealed--

User: Hey

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Have you rebooted?

User: What?

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Rebooted. Like power off the machine.

User: Yes

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Really?

User: Yes

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: When?

User: I just had a question about something and I thought I could get it answered

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Me too. When did you last reboot?

User: I've got these pop-up messages all the time and I can't make them stop

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: What do they say?

User: Random stuff

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Do you have an anti-virus and anti-spyware?

User: Yes

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Do you update the definition files regularly?

User: Yes

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: When was the last time?

User: I don't know

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: When I said "regularly" I meant "according to a schedule". Like you would know when it happens.

User: It happens at night

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Every night?

User: Yes

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: So you just leave your computer on all night

User: Yes its on all the time

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: All the time?

User: Yes

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: You didn't reboot at all, did you?

User: Fine. brb

User has gone offline

User: Okay. I'm still getting the pop up things

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: I need to narrow down some stuff to come up with a root cause. Would you mind doing a few troubleshooting steps for me?

User: Sure

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Click on 'Start', then 'Run' and type "cmd" with no quotes

User: Got it

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Do you see a prompt where you can type stuff?

User: Yes

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: There is your problem! You are running Windows. Of course you will have pop ups and spyware and junk.

User: Thats not helpful at all

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Well, I tried.

After that, there was some uncreative name-calling. If I'd had time to think I'd have done better.
I think this illustrates pretty well why I have never managed to secure a help desk position and also why, over the course of my career, I have been moved into positions of increasing isolation from the users.
It is just best for all parties involved.

A Few Things For Friday

There is an actual post coming later today, but I wanted to go over a few things this morning.
First, you absolutely must go to the website for the New Zealand Book Council. Immediately.
Second, in the meeting yesterday morning where we all go over the list of tasks and call out "percentages complete" while sitting in a circle, it was decided that we needed to track server deployment as part of the process.
While I understand the desire to have an accurate count of servers ready for use, no one in the meeting actually deploys servers. No one in the meeting has any control over that, either, so no one can call out a percentage with any kind of authority.
In fact, last Friday I went to the data center for the first time. I didn't have anything to actually do there, but the "Proactive Team" was given a tour by the same guy who gives tours to (I would guess) the 5th grade science classes.
We saw servers. We saw a giant mainframe. We saw about a zillion batteries being used for back up power. We saw something which disturbs me to the core of my being. And then we left, never to return. It was a big nerdy field trip.
Hmm . . . Where do I go from here? Do I talk about the thing that disturbs me or do I switch back to server deployment being added to the morning meeting form?
*flip coin*
What was tails?
Screw it.
Okay, so the form, right? The Keeper of the Plan (as I have come to call him) pasted the worksheet the Server Deployment Team uses to track server builds into our old sheet and mailed the compiled document to everyone.
The first thing I noticed is that the Server Deployment Team loves color. Their completion schedules are a rainbow of productivity.
What I learned about that is that I hate color on project plans. Especially big streaks of it on top of my own tasks which makes them appear highlighted, crossed out, or puce.
I opened it and said (in, apparently, my "outside voice") "Holy crap! The colors are freaking me out!"
So now I have a "random" urine test this afternoon. A "random" test which is nowhere on our project plan, by the way.
Anyway, each of these "completion zone" colors is labeled by letter. Phonetic designation, in a way.
There is a standard for that which is different here, too. And by "different" I mean "wrong".
A = Alpha -- We agree there.
B = Beta -- Okay. Looks good.
F = Frank -- Hmmm . . . Western Union Standard, I guess, but NATO (and me) calls it "Foxtrot"
H = Howie? -- No freaking way. "Hotel" or (maybe) "Henry" is correct.
K = Kaiser? -- What the hell? "Kilo", people. "Kilo". Or "King" if Western Union is less litigious than NATO.
L = Lemo? -- That's not even a freaking word! It should be "Lima" or "Lincoln".
M = Mint? -- No. "Mike" or "Mary", depending on which team you play for.
N = Nurd? -- This is an official project plan! "Nerd", while at least spelled correctly, is still freaking wrong. Say it with me: "November" or "New York" or "New York in November".
O = Oprah? -- I quit. I've never seen such a phoned-in phonetic alphabet ever. For the record, "Oscar" or "Ocean", for the win.
P = Plato? -- Points for looking like they are trying here. Points taken off for being wrong. "Papa" or "Peter" would make me less stabby.
R = Ralph? -- Hell, no. "Romeo" or "Roger". I, of course, prefer the NATO.
S = Sam? -- Is freaking Google blocked from their work area? "Sierra" or "Sugar" would match the phonetic alphabet the rest of us are using. Join us.

Okay. I'll be alright. The important thing is that while our task list now tracks the work these people are doing, none of them are invited to our meeting anyway. Therefore, any laps full of hot coffee they may receive today will not be a result of my flinging coffee while yelling "Take that!"

Why is there a quarter on my desk?

Oh yeah.
So during the data center tour we saw the mainframe. Actually, there are a couple of them. They are huge and black and process stuff. It is capable of processing a lot, in fact. Like over 30 Billon instructions a second. I didn't make that number up, either. It is one of the fastest computers in commercial use on the planet. I think literally the second or third fastest.
It is labeled "The Pig".
Everything else that happens here in computing (all of the Windows crap I do all the time) just exists to extract data from and push data to these mainframes. My whole business unit is, in fact, nicknamed "the lipstick on The Pig".
Oddly, I'm not disturbed by this.
I am disturbed by our tape back up system. There are "virtual tapes" for most things, but there are still a lot of "actual tapes" and system data backup activities happen all day every day. Our back up system is also one of the most advanced on the planet. I have nothing to do with that.
To be completely hpnest, the people who work with it don't have much to do with it either because of the robotic tape libraries. Plural. Like two dozen robots the size of my car which pull tapes, replace tapes, restore tapes, scan tapes and label tapes all day every day.
It is only a matter of time before they grow bored enough to revolt and kill us all with the grim efficiency coded into their silicon souls.
I've plotted my escape route (two stairways and a dash through the bushes, for the record) but I have not color coded it. Nor will I.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I Got Some Good Stuff

I'll edit these down and pick my favorite, but I'll post some excerpts now:

User: Hello. Can you help me?

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: OMG! Put some pants on!

User: What?

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Pants! Now!

User: I'm wearing pants.

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: I thought so. Put on an extra pair right now over the ones you are wearing.

User: I wanted help with a computer problem

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: And I want to tell a bunch of random strangers to wear multiple pairs of pants at the same time. It's part one of my master plan.

User: Master plan? I just want to know where to get an ink refill for my HP printer.

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Do you want to hear part two of my master plan?

User: Does it involve ink?

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: No. Don't be ridiculous. It involves Christian Bale. I haven't figured out exactly how it involves him, but anything which includes Christian Bale is an almost certain success.

User: Do you even work for HP?

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Oh, hell no. I did for a week. It was twisted weird, though.

User has left the conversation


User: Sometimes my internet connection just stops working. Like I can see websites I have open but new ones can't be found and I have to reboot the computer to fix it.

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: So what is the problem?

User: My internet stops working

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: But you said rebooting fixes it.

User: But I have to reboot a lot

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Define "a lot".

User: two or three times a night

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Remember Windows 95?

User: sorta

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: That was some slick automation of the process which you have been doing manually.

User: rebooting?

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: All the damn time. There you are, surfing the intarwebs, typing some stuff, sending an email and BAM! Blue Screen Of Death! Am I right?

User: I still get those

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: But not as much. They removed a lot of that functionality in XP and Vista. With 95, when Windows freaked out and stopped working the OS would signal that it needed a break and handle the reboot process for you. Now it is all manual. Complete crap if you ask me.

User: So what do I do?

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Scheduled reboots every fifteen minutes.

User: Seriously?

Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng: Use an egg timer.

User: You suck

User has left the conversation

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I'm Anticipating A Stunning Failure

But I'll be trying anyway. At the very least, being in IM contact with an actual, real-live user should cure me of the odd delusion that I miss them in some way.
I'll be on IM tomorrow afternoon and trolling self-help message boards for as little time as it takes to find an issue and resolve it for free.
The rest of the day I'll spend trying to figure out how to write my time off as a charitable contribution.

There were two meetings this morning and I skipped 50% of them in favor of doing actual work. In the one I did attend I "accidentally" referred to the Proactive Team (of which I am a member) as the "Inactive Team" due to our constant, action-free discussions. The remark was met with laughter.
I followed up with the standard,"Thank you, thank you. Don't forget to tip your waitstaff. I'll be here all week."
To which my manager replied,"Don't count on it."
There was even more laughter following that, and we went on discussing stuff I get the feeling we all care less and less about as the project drags along.
Our team was held after the meeting for another discussion about how we should be more careful in the descriptions we use on the task list, since just about everything reads as vague to the Project Review Team.
Yes, the Proactive Team (which is different than the Reactive Team) is subject to review by an external Project Review Team. All three teams print out the daily status update every morning before attending a meeting where we read portions of it to one another.
This is all fine. No one seems to care that the company is paying a room full of hourly consultants to participate in the technical equivalent to a coffee house poetry reading minus the scones.
Except that this morning there were scones left over in the room by the overnight audit team.
I did not choose to eat the scones, though they looked fluffy and delicious and seemed to be packed with (possibly) cinnamon.
No. I have to draw the line somewhere and that line . . . is at scones.
I could not make this stuff up and one time I wrote a 50,000 word novel about giant robots made out of trash.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

June 3

This was the best picture I could come up with, but my good friend Jon goes in for surgery today and I can't find much else to stress about immediately.
"Mufflet" is our beloved guild leader. Even before his meteoric rise to in-game power, we ran through a number of dungeons together. We worked out a unique group synergy where he would rush in in bear form and chew on the bad guys, then resurrect me after the fight with his druidic magic. Ah, teamwork.
Most of my raiding memories involve the view of the bad guy blocked by Mufflet's enormous bear butt.
Quick note: Do NOT Google "bear butt". I may never have all my sight back, and I may never care.
Anyway, whatever strange medical procedures they do up in the frozen lands to the north ("Nurse! I need 20cc's of beaver, stat!") I look forward to your full and quick recovery.
Also, I need a quick loan from the guild bank.
You know.
They happen.

Monday, June 02, 2008

So . . . About the Screaming Rant This Morning . . .

I was informed that the rant was completely justified and totally understandable given the totally impossible tasks which I've found myself without the system access rights to complete.
It just should have happened further away from the other teams, since now they think I'm cracking under the pressure.
For the record (and I explained this, too) I'm not cracking.
My natural response to calamity which I have no control over is a complete sense of calm.
Ranting, for me, is never based in panic. Ranting is based in anger.
Ranting is just another tool to communicate my displeasure at the way things at work are structured, or not structured as the case may be.
In this case, the security patches I'm not authorized to deploy myself yet am somehow responsible for deploying -- did not deploy over the weekend. I was asked why. I have no idea. Hell, I don't even know what happens after the change request was placed. Where do those go?
Could I have deployed the patches myself on Sunday? Sure, but I don't have access to the tool for that.
What about manual deployment? Of course, but I don't have remote access and my security badge doesn't work on the weekend.
Can I check to see if the patch was deployed to at least some of the servers? Not as me, no, but there is a service account I can use. My account doesn't have access to the servers in question at all.
I think a rant, however poorly geographically placed, is an important corporate communication tool. It is my responsibility to use all the communications tools at my disposal -- Especially when my technical tools are so horribly gimped.
Anyway, when the facts were arrayed before the audit team, the response was a disheartening "Wow. You are screwed!"
And that four word summary naturally carried over into a screaming, profanity-laced rant. As, in my opinion, it should.
Again, for the sake of clarity, I'm not cracking. I'm communicating in a way which seems to the uniformed to look an awful lot like cracking when, in fact, it is merely the way I keep myself from putting mechanical pencils into people. Perfectly healthy. Nothing to see here. Please move about your business.
Stage two of my communication technique involves quiet sobbing peppered with an occasional,"Oh, no reason," and "everything is fine," and "thanks for asking but I've got it covered."
Want to hear the most awesome part? Of course you do.
The most awesome part was the call in the early afternoon from the Change Control department which sought to place the blame for the weekend outage on the patches which I requested but were never implemented. I think I'm in the clear on that one unless, as I told them, "the mere act of submitting an official request for change, which your department completely ignored, somehow broke a totally unrelated application in a different environment through some bizarre butterfly effect."
To which they replied, "So you are saying you don't know for sure."
Which began a perfectly reasonable second rant from me.
My coworkers gave it an 8.8 for quality and originality, though the overall critique was that it was too "adverby".