Tuesday, December 17, 2019


IT folks live in a different kind of work world. Generally they know more than the people who pay them, and yet they often can't blatantly tell those folks what is really going on.

The war stories go on (I have a great one I'll save for later) everything from "My cup-holder doesn't work" (CD drawer broke) to smoke.exe (which may be apocryphal IDK)
In order to keep their jobs and still communicate effectively a few acronyms were created. The acronyms can be added to the report or "trouble ticket" and the IT folks will understand, and no one will get fired.

PEBCAK - Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard

PICNIC - Problem in chair, not in computer.

ID-10-T error -  look at it again it will come to you :D

Networking - layer 8 issue - There are only 7 layers in a network. The 8th would be in the chair again.

1. Physical  (e.g. cable, RJ45)
2. Data Link  (e.g. MAC, switches)
3. Network  (e.g. IP, routers)
4. Transport  (e.g. TCP, UDP, port numbers)
5. Session  (e.g. Syn/Ack)
6. Presentation  (e.g. encryption, ASCII, PNG, MIDI)
7. Application  (e.g. SNMP, HTTP, FTP)

Click, Click, Click

It was nearing Christmas time and Dan had been around the block with tech support, which is how he came to me. I was the final "tier" of support and customers were sent to our team when all else failed.
As I read his trouble tickets I thought "Holy Sh**" Dan had made 18 calls to Tech Support and no one had been able to fix his issue. His problem was simple, really; his hard drive kept dying. It would work fine for a few days and then start generating write errors, eventually turning into a BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death).

We had made him sit through 4 FFR (format and re-installs) of Win 95 on the original hard drive. The process takes about an hour. We then sent him 4 more hard drives which forced him to sit through the FFR process 4 more times. They all did the same thing.

It's important to note here, that Dan bought an $800 system. We had spent nearly $2,000 trying to fix it. We could have shipped him a new one for just under $500.

Granted, I had access to some resources that lower tiers did not; I could call the warehouse and have them check on shipments, incoming and outgoing. I could request expedited service (and they had better make it happen) when they got a call from me they called me "sir". I usually put a stop to that right away and had them use my name. I used this ability sparingly and treated them with the kind of respect they deserved; for that reason they were always fine hearing from me. When someone helped resolve and issue they always got a "star" from me, which meant a $10.00 bonus in their paycheck.

With Dan it was different. I had to ask them to check on a shipment of Hard Drives that we received, and find out what was wrong with them because, according to policy, every hard drive that Dan had replaced came from the same box.

I assured the fellow I was talking to that he had done nothing wrong but could I speak to the Ship/Rec Supervisor. When I had him on the phone I asked him to look up recall orders, which took a while. Sure enough there was a recall for that specific box of Hard Drives. I did not ask the Supervisor why they had not been returned.

I got Dan back on the phone. I was writing up an order, with the justifications to send him a new (not refurbished) system. While I talked with him I heard a clicking sound in the background; Click, Click, Click. I ask him if that was the hard drive.
"No," He said, "That's my 38."

I was hoping he did not mean a revolver, but I pressed the red button to start recording everything and signal the team lead that we had a 911 situation.

"Dan?" I said, "I'm writing up and order to send you...";
Dan interrupted me, "Not another hard drive"
"No," I replied. Click, Click, Click; BANG!

"Dan?" I closed my eyes.
"It's dead. I shot it."

Relief swept over me. I did not cancel the 911 alert, and the team lead was coming up the aisle. I was afraid he might turn the weapon on himself.
I struggled to find something to say that would defuse the situation.

"Dan," I said after a few beats, "You realize that voids your warranty?" I kept my fingers crossed.
There was a moments silence and then Dan burst into laughter. He dropped the phone. In order to recover it he had to put the gun on the table, I thought heard him do that. He grabbed the receiver but was laughing so hard he had to sit on the floor.

"I..." laughed Dan. "I hadn't... considered...that." He was still laughing and had forgot about the gun. Some of this I found out later.

When he calmed down a bit I chatted him for a few minutes and told him I was sending off a new system. I called the Warehouse and asked them to expedite the shipment.

I got a box of chocolate chip cookies from Dan a week later with a nice thank you note. I got a $10 bonus in my paycheck, too.