Thursday, July 23, 2015

Monthly Check-In

Time for the Monthly check-in.

My back is still terrible... Meh...

I am trying out for a band.  I am kind of excited about this one because it is a Christian Hard Rock band.  I really like the guys in the band and I'm having a great time jamming with them and learning their stuff.  I should know if the next bit if I'm in or not, but whatever happens I'm leaving it up to God.

THE WIFE (She Who Must Be Obeyed) is doing well as are the kids.  Ben is still Ben and has adapted to High School very well.  Despite what he thinks I think of him, I love him and I am very, very proud of him.

Chris has graduated and is looking at a career in law enforcement.  I'm running a doc through the printer for him as I type for his next phase of the interview process.

Andrew (The Boy in the Bubble) has his own family.  A lovely wife and daughter who I adore and he is a hard working father.  He puts his family first and I am extremely proud of him.

The girls are their adorable selves.  Always with smiles, whines or random acts of annoyance they make my day.  Lucie is a Whovian (although she is a HUGE fan of the 12th doctor and I'm still not there yet) while Sadie is my Scooby Doo buddy.  I secretly fear she only watches the show to amuse me, but hey, WHATEVER WORKS AMIRIGHT?

I hope my friends are doing well.  I have asked Lucie and Sadie to contribute cartoons to the blog, but nothing yet.  We'll see how the future goes.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Thoughts On The New State Of Marriage

Homosexual marriage is now Federal law.  Or rather the states no longer have the right to accept marriage as only between one man and one woman.

So what's the big deal?

As I've gotten older I realized the "Slippery Slope" argument is very valid.  I couldn't understand it when I was younger, but unfortunately age has proven it to be true.  In the 90's I remember the agument for Civil Unions for gay couples came up.  It was overwealmingly unpopular.  The argument at the tme was that would lead to Gay Marriage.

"No, that's not what we want", was the reply.

Yet, here we are.

"Polygamy will never be an issue, this is not about polygamy and it is an insult to compare the two."

I'm willing to bet money on what is next.  You see, once you change something that has been a religious anchor of Western culture it opens the door for other arguments.

The polygamists can now argue that their rights are being infringed because they cannot marry the two or three men or women they love.  The laws were changed to allow one man and one man to be "Married" or one woman and one woman to be "Married", why limit marriage to only "Two People"?

Don't you love?  Can't love win?  Why are you so Poligaphobic?

You are such a Hater! #H8tr

When the definition of an institution (or the word itself changes) then you can't morally say that it can't change for another group.  The new "Marriages" are not a commitment before God, they are a government contract.  I don't expect polygamy to be the end of this abomination.  Marriage between son and mother?  Marriage between father and daughter?  Marriage beween two brothers?  Why not?  Only those "Nutty Christians" who "Cling to their guns and religion" syand opposed.

The fact the Federal Government is now defining a "Marriage" is exactly why we on the right were so opposed to changing it.

The box is open, Pandora.  There is no closing it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Art Of Troubleshooting

I've worked tech support for a long time.  Too long actually.  I've watched people come and go, new ideas get implemented and then tanked, old ideas rehashed as new ideas and then tanked.  The one thing that is constant is the methodology of troubleshooting.

I'd like to say it's an art.  It is a skill but I don't know if it can actually be taught.  I've seen a lot of people that can pass all these wonderful tests that crap themselves when a down system call comes in.

Case in point: Down system with a HIGHLY AGITATED customer.  His boss is yelling at him, the users are yelling at him.  Everyone wants the system back online but no one seems to know how to get to that state.

Phones are offline but powered up.

The server is running.

The Phone switch is running.

The IP Network is working for everyone.

Tier 1 gets the call and the customer explodes on them.  They want to troubleshoot as they have been down for over an hour and need this fixed immediately.

Troubleshooting has to begin with the flow of data.  Data is life.

Approach the problem from the most likely to the least likely point of failure.  The phones are down and are all in the same physical building.  They span across multiple phone switches, but the same phone switches that have some non-working phones have working phones.

The customer reset phones and the phone switches and things didn't fix themselves so he called TAC (which is the right thing to do when you are stuck).  The only thing I can fault him on was panicking when things went South.

Panic. Never. Helps.

Follow the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's rule: "Don't Panic".

In this case we had to look from Most Likely to Least Likely.  It is HIGHLY unlikely that 50 phones all suddenly go bad at exactly the same time with exactly the same symptoms.  Think from the phone out.

Phones are network devices first and foremost.

Does the phone have power? Yes
Does the phone boot up? Yes
Can the phone get a DHCP address? No
Does it come up with a cached IP address? Yes
Can you ping the phone's IP address from the server? No
Can you ping the phone's IP address from the phone switch? No
Can you ping the server from the phone? No
Can you ping the phone switch from the phone? No

From these quick tests we've determined the phone is getting power from the network POE switch (so likely the network cable between the phone and network switch is OK).  The phone boots up which indicates internally the phone is OK (no hardware/firmware failure).  The phone DOES NOT get an IP address (potential network problem).  The phone does indicate it's using its cached DHCP address (so the network used to work) but you cannot ping it from the phone equipment it has to connect to in order to operate.  You also cannot ping the phone equipment from the phone sooooo... SURVEY SAYS????

*ding*           IP Network Problem!

Rebooting the network switch the phones connected to corrected the problem and the phones logged in successfully.  Total time to identify the point of failure was around 10 minutes.

I'm not bashing the customer AT ALL.  I just want to use this to give an example of how important clear thinking, identification of the problem and an understanding of data flow is to proper troubleshooting.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hypothetical Question

Claudia over at had a post about the Commies (ie: the Left) choosing our candidates for us in the elections. Specifically they are telling us how Sarah Palin is not electable.

I (and several other readers) completely disagree with that notion. One thing that did come to my mind is, what if the Democrats succeed in eliminating Palin from the elections? What is she "Went Rogue"(tm) and decided to run as an Independent?

I would vote for her. Would you? I wondered how many might:


Who would you vote for in 2016?

Republican: Jeb Bush
Democrat: Hillary Clinton
Independent: Sarah Palin
Poll Maker

I'm curious. Feedback on if I'm throwing my vote away!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Laugh, Cry, Whatever

I'm on site this week.  I have a customer who is experiencing a problem with their PRI provider.  They have an existing span which fails when they move it to our equipment.  It's actually a very interesting failure as this absolutely SHOULD work.

So why am I dragging my butt out of bed, putting on my pajamas and blogging about it?

I am a low-level minion now at COMPANY NAME REDACTED so my job is to answer the phone, work the problem and move on.  I was passed over for promotion and I would normally say something like, "The other guy is really good and they had a tough choice" except for I was hired for that job.  I was supposed to be a low-level minion at COMPANY NAME REDACTED while I learned the product and then I was to be moved to a mid-level minion.  Instead, I am in support queue Hell.

Low level minions are NOT supposed to go on site.  So why am I?  As my boss put it, I am just the eyes and ears for our top-level minion.

Of course, he didn't respond to my IMs or emails all day today, so I did what I do.  I worked the problem.

I shouldn't gripe but I've been doing support for fifteen years at this point.  The way to be successful at support is to get the call, work the call, fix the problem.  Three simple steps.  Support isn't like making widgets where each widget is exactly the same and you should be able to make 30 an hour or whatever, each support case is different, different things have been tried, the setup for each is different, you must be flexible and it takes however long it takes.

With the advent of "The Great Recession" (tm) employers started hiring "Consultants" (remember kids, if you aren't part of the solution, you're a consultant) to review "Metrics".  Metrics are all about how to do more with less.  So the assembly line of support is created.

Get the call, work the call, give the customer something to do, get off the call and onto the next call.

I STRONGLY disagree with this model as I am one of the guys who gets the frustrated and now pissed of customer who has been fighting a problem all day long and feeling like he's getting the run around.  I (and some others) wind up working the call and trying to recover the customer and making sure the problem gets fixed.  This is great for CSAT, but total crap for Metrics.  I take longer to work calls and therefore pull fewer.  Although when I do send a case up, chances are fair that it is a legit problem. (Not always, I am human.)

So my stubborn insistence on doing things the right way directly impacted my moving to mid-level minion.

So, what does this mean?  Nothing really.  No time to write (beyond this), no time to rehearse music, no time to play in a band outside of church, no time for illustrations.

In short, no time for fun in life.  Makes you wonder, "Why bother?"

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Magic Of Apathy

A co-worker found a very effective way to deal with difficult cases.  He followed Roderick's Rules and performed a "Deny, Deny, Deny".

Let me expand.

I get a frustrated customer from Widgets Inc. that said my co-worker (let's call him "Fred" for this example) was supposed to have called him back last night.  I check the case and there are no notes from Fred and Fred did not take ownership of the case.  So, as far as our records showed, Fred never touched the case or talked to this customer.

Normally in tech support you follow the "Trust, but verify" model which means, the person on the phone isn't lying to you, but they might be wrong in what they are telling you.  This is a pretty effective method for everything so I tried to reach Fred on IM.  Unfortunately Fred was at lunch.

The customer was VERY SPECIFIC about what Fred did, said and told them he was going to do.  Plus they were pretty upset that they weren't called back.  So I wind up working the case with an unhappy customer trying to get them back to happy status.

It was a beautiful job on Fred's part.  He ditches the unhappy customer, the difficult case, plus his STATS look good and since he put nothing in the case, he gets no blow back.

I'm now working under a couple of different stat metrics which are screwing me.  First, the more cases you pull, the better your stats.  Balance that with the customer satisfaction survey (CSAT) and it rolls together to determine who gets a better shift at the end of the rotation.

Fool me once...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Body Envy

I was in high school when the movie Top Gun came out in 1986.  I remember the volleyball scene and while the scene was in there to provide eye candy for the ladies, it was soul crushing for a 14 year old airplane geek.

Well, hello there ladies!
Yep, I wanted to fly jets.  Prior to 1986 I wasn't looking anywhere other than the cockpit of an F-15.  It was (and still is) a BEAST of an aircraft.  Top Gun changed that for me and I was dying to fly an F-14.  When the F-18 came to the fleet, I was still a Tomcat fanboy.

Furthermore, I wanted to be a sex symbol.  To have the ladies oooh and ahhh over my chiseled features.

I wanted to be a hunky guy like Val Kilmer.

Finally I accomplished at 42 what I couldn't do at 14.

Well, hello ladies!  NOM!  NOM!  NOM!
Yep, I finally have Val Kilmer's body.  We are literally twice then man we used to be.