Raven's Home : Sysadmin : A Day in the Life of a BOFH : Today is officially UBERLuser Day!
Today is officially UBERLuser Day!
You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villiany...
Today was complete and utter UBER-Luser today. It's not that a lot of servers crashed or emergencies happened. (There's a REASON I blacked out of my memory the bulk of Friday....) But it seems I got the most IGNORANT gits in the world today.
See, I'm stuck on the phone firewall. Now, in the proper realm of things, I am supposed to be the one the firewall PROTECTS. Unfortunately, the re-engineering bug hit my dept several years ago and now they decided rather than having groups of people who knew their users and area and machines very well, they were going to make EVERYONE make themselves familiar with EVERY system in EVERY site and EVERY user base, despite the fact that it's technically impossible and infeasable. We could barely keep up with our user's future needs BEFORE they chased off all the intelligent people and when we sat near them. Now we're lumped into one isolated group (almost a plus, but lusers can still find us, so that doesn't help).
In any case, perfectly good engineers are stuck answering the phone and fielding luser calls. Despite my protests that I would end up screaming at lusers by the end of the first week, I got stuck in the new Help Desk group. (Hey, I know my limits, I should get some credit for that...) It's a three-month rotation and I have 6 weeks to go, two of which will be vacation weeks if I plan it right.... If they try to make me stay longer (hard to rotate people if no one will rotate in, and HR said they can't force us in the future), I'll get a psychiatrist's note that will explain I'll go postal if necessary. My SO has guns, I can do it.
So this is today. I was hard-pressed not to call anyone idiots. To top it off, my ISP (well, if you can call it that) keeps crapping out and losing my entire rant. It's not a good day. These are just most of the actual lusers I had to help. There's a slew of people I shunted off to the RIGHT Help Desk for their problem. Unfortunately, we're the biggest help desk in the division, so everyone just calls us and hopes we know how to do such things as refill the power towel dispensers, fix their lights, install their phones, manage the mainframe (located in another state and owned by another group), set up their voice mail and all the other things that have nothing whatsoever to do with us.
Her Xterm shit itself. Unfortunately, the luser is not coherent
enough for me to find out whether she's kicked out a network cable,
the remote site's net connection is burping again or her Xterm
shit itself. Finally I got her to start reading me the words appearing
on her BIG 19" screen and determined the term was hosed. She wasn't
quite capable of asking her cow-orkers if they were having problems
Luser called a WEEK ago, claiming to have a problem with
his lab PC. His location was so helpfully described as "the SE
corner" (this might be the lcow-orker's fault who took the info, too)
so I spent 10 minutes wandering about the lab calling "Mark? Mark!"
One sweep, no response, went back and logged the attempt and
shelved it. Luser calls back finally and wants me to come out to
the building he's *actually* in, which I don't have access to.
A member of MY OWN IS DEPT decides it's far too much
effort to get off his ass and log his own problem report, so he
calls the Help Desk (which is up to its ears in calls). I get the
lucky privilege of being his personal secretary and typing it in
for him. I'm going to go postal on the next cow-orkers that decides
those of us forced into the phone support team are their personal
secretaries. "Could you page Bob for me? Tell him the restaurant
is packed and we're going to Bobos instead." "Um, I forgot Jane's
number, could you transfer me to her?" I think the word I'm looking
for is... BITE ME!
It's not so much his luserness as much as the fact that this
particular machine he can't print from belongs to a group of ladmins
who refuse to believe their machines are the misconfigured pieces
of crap they are. It's always the OTHER system's fault, ANY other
system's fault! So I got this delightful conversation back...
LAdmin : I don't think it's our system. Have you checked
the print spooler?
Me : Look, every other machine in the world can print to this printer. It's not the spooler.
LA : Give me the name of the guy you talked to and I'll clear this up with him.
Me (having lied aout talking to the spooler's local admin): IT'S NOT the SPOOLER. Just kick the queue, will you?
LA : Well, I kicked the queue and nothing's - Oh, there it goes. Never mind.
Me (under my breath) : Fsckin' luser.
First of all, I had just finished a quart (little over a liter
for the SI folks) of iced tea and figured, heck, it's busy,
I can get in one more call before a trip to the ladies room.
I mean, how long can it take?
I have since learned a new meaning for forever.
These people are the type that make you wonder why they were given computers in the first place. The ACTUAL user is some guy whom I never spoke to. A woman, whom I am assuming is his secretary, sounds like one of those old ladies with the poofy 'do and big rimless glasses that seem to thrive here in my new building. They always have no clue about computers and remind you of your grandmother, except in a bad way. They like to nag about "Why isn't this fixed yet?" They want STATUS on their problems. *sigh*
1) They are trying to send email from his UNIX acct to his Mac acct. Everyone under God's Green Earth can send mail to either account from either platform. He can send mail to anyone else, EXCEPT from the UNIX to the Mac. It's like a specific curse meant JUST FOR ME.
2) They don't actually start out with a shell on their UNIX acct when they log in. They seem to get shunted into this window manager hell that only lets them select operations from a menu, which is probably REALLY good with these folks, but not so good when they have no clue as to what system they are logged into. I wept on the phone for quite a while trying to get her to understand what I was asking for. "Hostname? What is hostname? The machine I am logged into? It is The Machine! It's the <platform>" "Ma'am, there are many more than one <platform> machine out there. That doesn't narrow it down enough. That's the KIND of machine, not the NAME." It was like a FSCKIN' "Spock's Brain" flashback.
Finally, she is searching through the menus and she bleats something about "local xterm" and I practically scream "YES!" in relief. I managed to get a hostname from them, for all the good it did me.
3) Why do user express astonishment at the concept of machines and other pieces of hardware having identifying names? What. do you think that's the only server in the entire world, that we don't need some way of knowing which is which?
4) And the best part was that the phone was NOWHERE NEAR the computer, which made a drearily over-long call turn into a sadistic torture session. (See "drank a quart of tea" above). I'd ask a question or ask her to try something (you can only ask them one thing at a time as well, otherwise, their brains overload and not in the nice messy way we'd like, but in a petulant whining way that makes the call worse) and she'd patter off for a minute or two while I'm crossing my legs and cursing under my breath (with the mic covered - they like speakerphone around here and who knows who's listening on the other end).
Wants a restore of something he deleted a week ago. Has no
idea what server he is on. Since he's in another area that we
just recently sucked into our bloated dept, I don't have an account
in that domain to check it out myself.
Moved from a machine of one architecture to another without telling
us and wonders why she can't read her mail or anything. I push the
mute button, laugh a lot and then tell her where the move forms
are and hang up.
Another FSCKIN' Mac user. If you think the UNIX people
have problems figuring out the concept of hostname....
Granted, our BMacOFHs make periodic sweeps where they claim to be installing security and virus protection software, but when they leave, the computer never works the same again. I have nothing but respect for them when I'm not the one fielding the LuserCalls. :)
So she cannot print in Tabloid format anymore. I try to get a printer name from her, but all I can get out of her is "It's LaserWriter 8". Uh-huh. Honey, there is no such printer named that. "But that's what it says! That's what it always said!" Without a useful printer name, it's a little hard to see what in particular is not working. so I just type it all in and punish the BMacOFHs by sending it to them.
Two more Mac users whose machines are inexplicably
freaking out again. Like there's anything I can do to keep THAT
from happening. One guy SWEARS there is no hard power reset on
his machine. This might be true (how should I know, it's a Mac piece
of crap), but how fsckin' stupid. I mean sometimes the Big Red
Switch is your only recourse. It was hung so badly that soft reboot
wouldn't work. I was leery about asking him to yank the power cord
Interspersed between these luser calls, I have walk-ins who aren't quite used to not having a support team around wandering up to my cube bleating "Are YOU my IS support person?" to which I can safely answer "Nope. You don't have one anymore. Call the Help Desk and *someone* will help you out." Well, that's when I'm not actually on the phone. When I'm on the phone, I get to wave the one imperious hand in a bold "Hush!" sweep, point to the headset without ever actually turning to look at them and pray they leave before I'm done with the call.
So to recover, I have Oysterband blaring on my headphones for the rest of the afternoon. Jam Tomorrow, Shit Today. Pretty much sums up our "re-engineered" department....
Friday, I am on vacation for a week, which will culminate in a weekend spent at IrishFest in Milwaukee getting pissed on single-barrel, single-malt Scotch and listening to good music. (Unfortunately, the rest of the week is spent getting my life in order, including shovelling out the house, in lieu of that Spring Cleaning.)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- Heather Garvey | Bug accidentally used the term _information [email protected] | superhighway_, and so we were able to administer UNIX Sysadmin | a beating. BOFH | -- _Microserfs_, Douglas Coupland
Last Modified : Feb. 12, 1999
Heather Garvey / [email protected]