Track Tales

So I got sent to San Francisco on Sept 30th…

October 12th, 2009 by Conductor

Goal was to setup a remote access system that would make it easier for a team working there to be connected to the home office.

Had to get about a dozen laptops and 4 printers and a multifunction device online and working, along with the 2 devices that handled the connections. Pretty simple in theory, and the original plan had me leaving on the October 5th, since the multifunction device wasn’t slated to arrive until the 2nd, giving me enough time to setup and test everything. Initial setup went ok, and I spent the 1st couple of days getting the laptops current on Windows Updates, and generally testing out the connection.

Then the multifunction arrived, at least the printer section did, a day early.  It was covered in toner, as the box appears to have been rolled across the country. Thanks, FedEx Ground! Called the home office, and after convincing them that cleaning the thing was not an option, they acquired and had a new device sent out for delivery on Monday.  So I’ve basically got a day to get that up assuming everything goes well, then fly back to NY.  As you may have guessed, that didn’t happen.

To spare you the long version, (and it is long), if you’re ever going on a trip, and are debating whether or not to take an item with you that you probably won’t need, but if you do it’s the only thing that will help, take that item.

The day the replacement multifunction arrived, the internet connection went batshit insane. Had I followed my initial instinct and taken the network testing device with me, I may have been able to help fix the issue a day or two sooner, but in the end it took until Thursday to resolve. While that was going on I was able to work with people back in the home office and discern that the multifunction device had old firmware that was preventing the custom functions we load from working, and get that resolved.

With everything working as designed, I finally came home on Saturday.

Can’t complain too much since it did turn out to be a week of basically light duty while staying in a posh hotel for free.

Oh, I did get to see the Blue angels buzzing the city at very low levels for a couple of days.  Even before 9/11 that wouldn’t have gone over well in New York, and there’s no way they’d get to do it these days, despite how freaking cool it is. Blast our horribly busy air corridor.

I also got to see part of the Love Day Parade. This was good and bad at the same time. Good in that there were a large number of attractive women wearing lots of spandex, and more often than not not very much at all.  Bad in that nearly everyone in the parade was doing the same thing. That includes men and women of various ages and levels of physical conditioning in varying (occasionally excessive) states of undress.

Now, I’m not the finest example of fitness out there by any stretch of the imagination. However, I don’t go prancing down the street mostly naked dancing to club music, although the Love Day Parade is probably the one an only place I could get away with it without people throwing clothes at me.

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Odd one. Shot down after already scrubbing the mission, returning to base, and hanging out in the O-Club.

March 3rd, 2009 by Conductor

Yeah, that pretty much covers what happened.

Not at all pleasant, but it is what it is.
No point in going further with it, as it’d just be a waste of time and energy, not to mention serving no useful purpose.

In other, non-emotionally numbing news, I’ve headed back underground.

Due to the inclement weather (rapid snow followed by frigid cold)  I took the Bus/Subway combo into work yesterday, and the Subway today (seeing as there were no buses and standing to wait for one… well it was just too damned cold for that). Yesterday the streets were a mess around here as usual, and I really didn’t feel up to dealing with all the people who have no idea how to drive on snow and ice. Same thing today, and probably tomorrow, maybe Thursday & Friday as well.  Monday wasn’t terrible, although the lack of a non-limited bus on the way home was annoying. Not as annoying as discovering I’d power walked 10 blocks to get home in time to watch House in HD (new TV), only to find a double episode of 24, a show I don’t watch and have never warmed up to.

Today was less pleasant, what with having to hoof it to the train, then wait forever for the 1 train at Times Square, which turned out to affect a good number of my coworkers as well. The ride home was uneventful, the playlist was good and long enough to last all the way home with tracks to spare, even with the walk from the subway to the house.

Yesterday I also made a decision that could turn out really well, or be the worst clusterfuck of a mistake I’ve made in a good long time. Not going to go into details about it just yet, though.

Check back in a few weeks to see if it’s going OK, or if I’m updating my resume and cursing excessively about what an idiotic mistake it was.

The only expectation I’m trying to take into this is that it’ll be different, which I feel like I desperately need.

To hope for the best… I’d like to, but at the moment, hope’s something people delude themselves with to stave off the inevitable letdown.

Aaaand that’s as close as I want to get to being this dude today, so I’ll end this here.

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Can’t sleep. Stupid brain won’t shut down.

August 10th, 2008 by Conductor

I think too much.

So I’m lying here, tired, wanting to fall asleep, but unable to.

Instead I’m thinking about school and how I hated having to hold back so the other kids could have their turn to answer questions. Looking back, I really resent having to do that. Not that I wanted to deprive my classmates the chance to learn and show what they knew, but most of the time, it seemed to me they didn’t want to answer the questions. I did, so why not just let me answer them? It was probably at it’s worst in grade school and junior high, but I don’t think it ever stopped.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t the master of all subjects, far from it. But for those classes where I enjoyed the subject or was just plain good at it without even really trying, it was so annoying to have to hold back.

It was better in college I think, but I think that was mainly because it was less of a question and answer type environment.

Now that I’ve been in the workforce for several years, I’m feeling that way again, only it’s a bit different.

Half the time I’m annoyed that some people at work just expect me to have the answers for everything, simply because I have a good memory and am familiar with the patterns of problems that keep happening with slight variations over and over again. Actually, I’m think it might bother me more that people who’ve been there as long or longer don’t recognize and remember these things. At times I want to ask them how they can’t remember, “You were there! We worked on fixing it together. Did you block it out or something? I mean it wasn’t the greatest day ever, but still…”

Feh. Maybe my memory is just freakish. By extension I suppose that makes me (more of) a freak. Yay.

Anyway, the other half of the time I’m just ticked off that people do things so haphazardly, and without hashing out what could go wrong with something before they do it. They’re so focused on getting something out there by a certain date that they wind out forcing people that are capable of putting out truly kick ass work to constantly churn out rush jobs to meet the deadlines set by people that couldn’t do the work if they tried. The end result is more stuff for me and the folks I work with to clean up after. Almost every single time.

If they’d just ask the people who actually have to deal with the stuff on a daily basis, we could tell them the pitfalls beforehand. Granted, that probably wouldn’t stop the litany of insane deadlines and half-assed end results, but it might slow it down and maybe get rid of some of the more obvious screwups.

So after that chunk of venting, I should be ready to sleep now. But I’m not. Because those were just second and third level thoughts my mind tried turning to in order to stop thinking about the one thing that’s really keeping me awake.

A few posts ago I mentioned going after what you want or risk losing it forever. I’m still ‘there’ as it were.

What I want isn’t a thing, it’s a person. All I have to do is ask a question. I should have asked a year ago. But I can’t do it. I’m terrified that it’ll come out weird or creepy or just sound totally inept. I’m more terrified they’ll say no. It always comes down to that.

Right now, right this minute, I think I could do it, but of course it’s 4am on a Sunday, which would totally fulfill the weird, creepy, and inept fears all in one fell swoop.

How bad have I got it? I found myself wanting to get stuck in an elevator, and I despise elevators. Also, I do believe I’d take a bullet or knife for this person if it would keep them from harm. Worse yet, I actually care what this person thinks.
And now it’s 5:15am.

To quote South Park, “That’s pretty fucked up right there.”

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It should be obvious but…

July 19th, 2008 by Conductor

I still have to remind myself that some people don’t like finding out that they’re very predictable.

However, it’s still fun doing it, and I am a Professional Bastard, so I do it anyway.

Sometimes I do wonder though if I’m actually that fast to recognize people’s patterns of behavior, or if it’s just that I just accept it right away and move on from there. Meanwhile, (at least from my perspective), other people see the pattern, but it either doesn’t register, or they’re consciously or subconsciously ignoring it, often to their own detriment.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that people, possibly myself included, are often oblivious to how busy they actually are at work. Actually, I’m usually painfully aware of how busy I am, but don’t have time to do more than grumble about it and press on until the work gets done.

A few months ago, (or was it last year?), I was trying to explain to someone that they didn’t see the same thing on one device as they saw on their own because they were always doing something. The person thought I was kidding, but I told him I wasn’t. He then actually looked at his calendar and had to go a few weeks before finding a day with nothing scheduled. There was a third person in the room and we had a little chuckle about it, but I was a little concerned that this was really a revelation to this person, and a felt a little bad about it. I still wonder if that’s the first time in a while he’d actually looked at it that way. Hopefully he’ll take it as an impetus to slow down a bit and not be booked so solidly.

This came up the other day when I told someone I wanted to see when they’d be free for lunch because they were always busy. Again the initial denial, but then they had to reschedule because they realized they were in fact very busy. I was too busy myself to do anything worse than a mild I told you so.

As for myself, again, I tend to be painfully aware of how busy I am, but some days the hours slip by like seconds. But they keep paying me, so I keep going back. Still it’s a bad day when I can’t even find time to pass by my one calming influence there. I would like to bottle that and carry it around with me, but they’d quickly suffocate if I closed it, and dragging a person sized bottle around all day would be inconvenient and highly conspicuous, which is a no-no on a team that’s supposed to slip in, fix what’s broken and get out.

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Flashbacks and What Ifs…

September 25th, 2007 by Conductor

Was going through some old files a little while ago, and found a file outlining an interview I had lined up from the time when I was out of work in 1999 & 2000.

The date of the interview was 9/25/2000. I recall that it was a bright sunny day, with hardly a cloud to be seen. 7 years later and I open the file up. Weird, huh?

But wait, it gets better.

The interview was with the New York office of Marsh and McLennan, who at the time had their offices in the World Trade Center. Specifically, 1 World Trade on the 96th floor.

At that point in time, I was just about at the point where I’d take any job that paid a decent salary, and this one, despite not feeling like a job I actually wanted, was offering good money, was a fairly short commute, and they were willing to hire me.

A few days before, I’d had an interview for a temp gig at the Law Firm I’m employed at today, and I was leaning towards that job, as it was a more along the lines of what I was good at at that time, and being a 6 month gig, would get me a paycheck while I explored other options, something I really needed at the time. I told the person who interviewed me that I was interested, but I’d had one more interview scheduled and would like to let them know after that.

I took the Law Firm gig, of course, and while I’ve since complained about things at that job to the point of wanting to quit more than once, it’s still beats the other job in one critical way. A year later I was a helpdesk analyst at the law firm, and watched in horror as the WTC towers were hit and subsequently fell on September 11th. It too, was a bright sunny day, with hardly a cloud to be seen.

A few days later I found the visitors pass I had from Marsh a year earlier, and as more information came in I realized that had I taken that job, I would more than likely have been on one of the floors that were destroyed.

That shook me up a bit, needless to say. If I’d been in a different mood, or the interviewers had made the job seem more enticing, I might have taken the job at Marsh, and would probably be dead.

Looking back, it’s a bit creepy even now, but I guess enough time has passed that I’m not quite as freaked out about it as I used to be. I just felt it was worth mentioning.

And as I look out the window, once again, it seems to be a bright sunny day, with hardly a cloud to be seen.

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He just HAD to have one that ‘vibrate’ worked on…

May 4th, 2007 by Conductor

Some days, I hate people.

Not all people mind you. Sleeping babies are cool.

Unfortunately, my users are not sleeping babies. At least not literally.

Anyway, this is about vibrating. Vibrating Blackberries that is. For brevity, I’ll refer to Blackberries as BB’s.
Here’s the breakdown:

  • User calls the Helpdesk, reports their BB doesn’t vibrate, even though they set it to vibrate when they get email.
  • Helpdesk advises user to send the device and their passwords down to my group so we can see about getting the vibes back in their BB. (And yes, we have to have the Helpdesk remind the users to provide their BB password. Some of them apparently think we really are psychic or just keep 820 BB passwords committed to memory. They are mistaken. We appear psychic because they do the same dumb things over and over and over, and if we remember a BB password, it’s either really unique, or they break,lose, or just complain about their devices with machine like frequency.)
  • We get the BB, test it, and sure enough, it doesn’t vibrate. It’s got the latest firmware, got the DST patch, sends and receives fine, but no vibrate. Ok, we have spares, so we’ll swap the data over to one, then RMA the non buzzin’ BB with the Provider if it’s still under warranty. It is a tedious process, but if we can get it replaced under warranty instead of shelling out a couple hundred bucks…
  • Data swap goes smoothly. Slowly because the user has 1994 emails on their device, but smoothly. 1994 is not a record by a long shot for us, but on older devices like the 7250, it’s slow.
  • Activated the replacement unit, no issues. Install two pieces of software via download, and it’s good to go so we send it back to the user.
  • About 1 hour later, user calls the helpdesk, getting an error on the device he can’t clear. He’s sending it down to us again. Joy…
  • Get the device, sure enough, big old error message. Fine. Every now and then a device goes south for unknown reasons. His old device just up and decided not to vibrate anymore. (We choose not to speculate on how much vibration it takes to wear out the vibration function on a blackberry, but feel free to do so yourselves.) So we restore his data to another spare device, activate it, and the same thing happens.
  • Fan-Fuckin’-Tastic! Ok, let’s try another device. Same result. Different vendor? Nope, Same error. How about a device normally reserved for partners? Works like a charm, of course. He’s not getting that one. Sorry. Not happening. Call us when you make partner or counsel and we’ll hook you up. Anyway. At this point (actually back at the 2nd device) I realized it’s the data screwing up the show, but there’s 30 sections that could be doing it on their own or pulling some tag team action.
  • To give you a sense of how much time has passed, it takes about 25 to 30 minutes to do the data restore to a device, and 10 to 15 to activate the unit. We tried 5 units.
  • So, the day is drawing to it’s scheduled end, and I’m annoyed now. So I grab one of the devices, which I had previously wiped and reloaded, and activated it without restoring any of his data. Works fine no errors. I synch it so it pulls down his contacts and notebook, and synchs an in house app we have on all our devices. Still working fine, so it’s not his address book or notebook, or the app data. Looking ok so far, but it’s after 6pm at this point, and the stumpy little union shit that was laying new carpet in the hallway is mixing up some really toxic shit outside our office, presumably to glue the cheap ass carpet or the piece of felt paper they call padding to the floor.
  • Anyway, I restore his backed up messages to his device to see if it’ll work with those on and not crash. That worked, I reset the device 3 times to make sure, and it ran fine. So back it went.
  • Of course by this time it’s 7:15pm, I’m tired and annoyed. So I walk out of our office, intending to stop by the mailroom on my way out to have them deliver the device. But wait! Stumpy’s there and the way out is blocked. Stumpy, being the small man (literally and figuratively) that he is, provides no fucking help at all besides saying “you were warned” over and over. I was tempted to kick over his bucket of adhesive and inform him that I was not warned that the entire hallway and all the exits would be blocked, just that I might have to step over some equipment on my way out, but decided he’s not worth the damned effort.
  • Back at my desk, I call the security desk to see if they can open the door at our end of the hallway, which hadn’t yet be slathered in noxious goo. They said there’s another door, but they have to check and call me back. Yay. But, true to their word they call back in a minute or two, and tell me to walk down the hall to records, where someone will show me the way out. Ok.
  • I do so, and one of the records staff shows me the other back door which is in the far corner of their department. News to me and I’ve been there almost 7 years. Anyway, I’m free, I walk up to the evening delivery window of the mailroom to hand off the internal delivery, and go home.

All that because a blackberry didn’t vibrate anymore. I am SO dismantling that damned thing in the morning.


Ok, so like I said I would, I took apart the BB that wouldn’t vibrate. What I found was dust. Lots of compacted dust. So much in fact, that clogged up the mechanism inside the BB that makes it vibrate. Several blasts of canned air later, and it’s vibrating like, well… fill in your own simile. So no need to RMA the thing, and back into inventory it goes. This could have been avoided altogether if people didn’t treat the stock belt holster like some sort of nerd badge of shame, instead of tossing their BB into their pocket or purse like it was something sturdy like house keys or coins.

I’m not even going to go into the user that doesn’t seem to understand that a 19 Gigabyte mail file is why Lotus Notes chokes when you try to close the program. (Around 1Gigabyte is about the largest you want them to be before odd and eventually rather bad things happen.)
So yeah, I hate people sometimes.

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