Secret Diaries…..

whats behind the wrapper?

Browsing Posts tagged secret diary

As anyone with any knowledge of physics knows energy can never be destroyed, this presents a problem for those of us working in the wonderful world of .  Computers use energy and then that energy is left hanging around as heat, obviously this heat has to be dissapated somehow.  For a common desktop this task is performed by a combination of heatsinks and fans, in the realm of the server things become a little more challenging…

For a start, servers are normally in a rack, in a room all on their own, rack servers have a lot less free space inside them for air to move so the chassis itself contains a fantastic brute force collection of fans sucking in at the front and pushing out at the rear.  Great right?  But where does this heat go when its left the server?  In a well configured server room its sucked out by some sort of system whilst is blown in by the same system.

This of course is in a well configured system, in the room that its currently my task to maintain the process of keeping the servers cool involves an inadequate air con unit, 2 floor standing fans and a portable unit.  This is because the people who put in failled to communicate at all and so now rather than out room running at a relatively chilly 19 degrees its a far warmer 34.  Thus pushing the temperature of the servers up and resulting i the newest addition to our server rack overheating and shutting down 5 times in the past week.

Discussions are currently on going on the subject of replacing the current unit but until those discussions reach some kind of conclusion every so often I have no other choice but to swear, walk into the room and hit the reset button.  This is followed by a 15 minute wait as first the VMWare hypervisor reboots and then the 6 virtual machines power on.

The upside to this is I have made some cash out of

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staff as a general rule suffer from a lack of appreciation by their colleagues when things are working right, this is something that anyone working in a support role has to get used too but its a fairly bitter pill to swallow.  What makes harder to deal with of course is the level of abuse you take when things go wrong.

A lot of this comes from the fact that many employees and businesses don’t tend to ‘notice’ when everything is fully functional, its like not really being aware of the water pipes at home until you turn on the tap and nothing comes out. Its just there. As long as works seems unimportant, when breaks you realise how vital is. This perception of isn’t particularly likely to change, now affects every aspect of our lives which results in a certain amount of blindness to its existence. This isn’t something that ‘society’ can really be blamed for, professionals have brought on themselves. We’ve done so much to make seamlessly integrate itself into peoples lives its no surprise that no longer registers on peoples radar until breaks.

None of this makes any difference to the average pro of course, the moment users start clamouring for help because this or that ‘is broken’ we find ourselves seriously wondering where exactly all these people were when we keep things running while the rest of the world fell apart. Where was the praise when kept the company working with employees trapped in their homes by snow and ice still able to get on with their working day? The truth is, its not coming, we will forever be the unsung heroes of the corporate world. The mysterious figures who swoop in when the whole thing goes to hell in a hand basket and pick up the pieces putting companies back on their feet.

Its a tough job, but we’ll keep doing because every now and then, usually when you least expect someone will walk past your desk and say “thanks for your help, you guys do a really good job”.

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The massive post cull which recently took place on this site is an attempt at adding some direction to proceedings, from now on this site will try to give an insight into the daily lives of those who contribute and hopefully some hints and tips to those who are following the ‘same’ path.

As the new title suggests, most entries will be ‘ of a….’ affairs talking about some aspect of the daily life of the author, you’ll also find occasional hints, tips and useful site links sprinkled about the place.  There should be a minimum of 1 article a week published on a Friday but there are very likely to be other pieces published throughout the working week.

Keep watching this space, hopefully the writing will improve if nothing else!

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OK….  So its been a while.  Again.

Since the end of August I’ve been busy though, and so has this sites other contributor who has gone from being a trainee teacher to an NQT in her first full time teaching job with Ofsted showing up to inspect the school with very little notice.  We’ve moved into our own little pad and are currently surrounded by cardboard boxes as we try and organise to look like a home rather than a warehouse.

But thats not what your here for, if you’ve stumbled across this ’ll likely be because of the word ‘ ’ in the subject line so my home and love life will be as interesting to you as watching paint dry (unless thats how you get your kicks of course).  Lets get down to , the life of an is periods of intense boredom followed by extreme pressure and a list full o f criticals (a lot like life generally) the trick as a good is to make sure you can deal with the criticals efficiently with minimal impact to your users.

continue reading…

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The last time you heard from me was back in March when I’d just passed the CompTIA A+ Essentials exam, in the months since I’ve added the A+ exam to the collection making me officially CompTIA A+ certified an I’m working hard on the Network+ (using the new 2009 objectives so woohoo! no in depth knowledge of Token Ring required!).

Apart from that I’m expanding my programming skill set to further aid with projects here at work (namely our shiny new intranet) and otherwise expanding my knowledge.  I’ve also become an AMBCS (Associate Member of the British Computer Society in case you didn’t know) so some nice new letters after my name :)

What else do I have to say after 5 months absence?

I’ve become increasingly frustrated by peoples fire and forget attitude to emails, a huge number of users around the globe appear to be under the impression that emails are totally fail safe, I’m here to tell you this is a long way from the truth.  Between your mail server and that of your recipient there’s a thousand and one different things which can stop your email getting through, quite apart from spam filters and addresses typos every email you send has to pass through a number of different points along its route any of which can fail and stop your email in its tracks.

Lets illustrate the point a little, between my companies offices and the hosting centre where our website sits there are 8 ‘hops’ each hop is a router which handles passing information on to the next step along the route to the destination server.  If any of these hops goes down then the route has to be renegoitiated to get round the break.  This 8 hop route covers a distance of all of about 30 miles by the way.

So lets look at the relative separation between hotmails servers and our mail server here, a much greater geographical distance with even more points of failure.  You see, its a miracle your emails arrive anywhere you actually intend them to.  So the next time someone says no when you ask if they received your email, think before you reply because its entirely likely the reason didn’t is nothing to do with either of you and is actually because of a faulty step along the way.

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Those of you who have been really paying attention will have spotted an interesting little titbit in my twitter updates, you see last week I passed the wonders of the CompTIA A+ Essentials exam.  This brings me one step close to having a concrete record of my skills, not bad when its been your job for 3 years.


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I’m still thinking through the consequences of a staff briefing at work yesterday which contained mention of two of the most unpleasant terms you can hear in your working life, redundancy and pay cut. We are officially feeling the effects of the economic hole that British banks have dug for us, which is unsurprising when you think about most of our clients are retired and living off investment income which means they’ve just seen that income slashed by the massive drop in interest rates. Along with this the falling value of the pound has pushed costs up significantly, particularly in Europe.

All this leads to a situation which many working here have never really experienced, in any real sense hasn’t been too much of a worry for the younger generation and as a result our definition of ‘essential purchase’ is now being found to be flawed. So its time to cut costs both at work and at home, at work this is difficult, purchases are already only made when necessary for business functions rather than going for the nice to haves. At home on the other hand things are a little easier, WoW is gone, dad can foot the bill for the Napster subscription because he uses more than me at the moment anyway and my subscription to CustomPC will be coming to an end. The three regular payments that will hang around are this web space (£5 a month I think I can swallow), my car and its associated bits and bobs (because frankly at the moment would probably cost me more to get rid of than keep ) and my mobile (without which I’d actually find difficult to communicate with the outside world). All these will help reduce the outgoings but I’ll also be looking to increase the incomings which hopefully will include the for the design and construction of a website for the playschool where Funkymonarch’s mum works.

Aside from all this I really need to sit and think about what my options for the future are and precisely where I’m going with my (work) life, do I stay in or is now the time to consider other possible career choices? Is now the wrong time to be considering a massive change in direction? A whole myriad of factors will go into making these decisions and the upshot of all I don’t even know yet, what ever happens interesting times are ahead.

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Having difficulty writing this, largely because the majority of support stories have already been told elsewhere. The truth is most of the problems any has to deal with on a day to day basis are down to a lack of user education, that’s why you see so many ‘hilarious’ user error tales all over the place. departments suffer from incredible difficulty when comes to educating users because there is not often the time to steal staff away from their desks for the purposes of education.

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Hello and welcome to the first chapter of the of an , a story of the trials and tribulations of working in for a small travel company in the UK. I suppose the best place to begin is the beginning……

[Cue flashback music and weird wibbly screen effect]
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There comes a time when you hear songs on the radio/ipod that seem to so resemble your life. For example right now the songs I would chose to sum up my time at university would be Frustration, On My Own Again, All By Myself and The Drugs Don’t Work. Don’t worry people, I’m not about to get all suicidal ’s just a mixture of things. Teaching has now caused me to have migrains and with the added stress of this ongoing neccessity for paper work, planning and assignments, paracetamol will only do so much to stop the continuous headache I am trying to overcome. continue reading…

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