Archive for June, 2004

Zero-day’s, Sharpreader Woes and Techrepublic

Friday, June 25th, 2004

As usual I was quite bored at work today, so I spent the day mucking around the internet, cathing up on IT news and stuff.

First off I ran into Now I have come across this community/site before, but never actually payed it much attention. Apon closer inspection however, I must conclude that it is pretty cool, as the subject matter is really in line with my own interests within the IT industry; systems administration, but more from a general sort of point of view, as apposed to very detailed technical stuff. Dont get me wrong, I really enjouw hardcore technical stuff, but this site, and especially its forum community may seal a gab in my online reading.
John, if you read this, this might indeed be that kind of community we discussed some weeks back!

RSS Is fast becomming my main input for news, uhh…. duh.. I guess. Sharpreader has been my main aggregator for a while, but its updates are slow to come, and it has some serious performance issues, and like suddenly not wanting to update at all. So I will be looking for new ones, if you have suggestions please tell me! I like plain and simple feed readers, but reliable!

Promoted, and the chaos of corperate politics.

Saturday, June 19th, 2004

Yesterday I had a long-due twice-annual talk with my personnel manager.
Somewhat to my surprise it was a very open and relaxed talk, and I think I can say with some certainty that my relationship with her is the best I have had when it comes to managers. We talked a bit about past jobs I have done for the company, and the difficulty I felt being motived when stuck on a job that is not an ideal-match for my interests and skills. In particular,  I am referring to being stuck on end-user support type jobs, while my heart is really in systems and network administration. We talked a bit about the trouble I have been having dealing with politics on a job, and how this would improve with time and experience, and I raised the point about account managers on the company not properly understanding the people and the technology culture the where dealing with, and for once I genuinely felt that my concerns where actually being listened to.

Now to place this in some kind of context; I have never felt that way about the company I work for. I have always felt that their first and foremost priority was writing hours, making the money, and keeping the customer happy in the shot-to-ultra-short term.  On the other hand the company had been going through a period, due to rapid growth, and the placement of a new management team, of placing the concerns and well-being of its employees a very distant last. I and many others at the company have come to expect that our wishes are usually ignored, and it sometimes seemed that all the company was interested in doing was screwing people.

Now of late, I have become somewhat more informed of where these problems stem from, and its somewhat down to a top-level management that doesn’t really know how to deal with techies, and dint seem to be in tune with the attitude that many of now have toward the company, in particular the feeling if involvement with company matters and the level of expectancy toward the management keeping its promises. Now they are slowly starting to work out how to best navigate the employee base they have, and after some talks with them personally, I am pretty convinced they at least mean well.

The middle management on the other hand are the actual cause of a lot of the relationship problem. Apart from the usual individuals that are megalomaniacs went it comes to managing people, it seems that overall they still don’t really have their act together. It seems particularly hard for them to communicate the wishes of top level management in a way that doesn’t offend just about everyone. They seem to be conditioned into being extra hard on people, and that has resulted in some pretty hefty disputed about pay, leased cars, etc. And when it comes to administration on their side, they seem to be so overworked that nothing gets taken care of, the pcprive project being a prime example of corporate ineptitude in getting the ‘job done’.

Now within this mess of this company I have been trying to build a name for myself, but at the same time, have tried to avoid being stuck on jobs that I really didn’t find interesting. Since I have been with them I have been a Support-technician on paper, and personally my salary has not been more than a few dozen euros about minimum wage. I have been stuck with that label for 3 years now, and though my skills have certainly surpassed the level of a ‘support-medewerker’, they (the managers), don’t seem to have caught on. How could they? They are not technical after all, they don’t understand what it takes to set up a network and all the services it needs, and then to document it all as well (a lost skill if ever there was one). However, the last few months I have been on jobs that have afforded me the opportunity to ‘show my stuff’, and in the presence of influential people no less. Now these influential people I speak off are the top-brass of the company. They are the kind of employees that score very well with the management, because they have that very high salesmen enthusiasm, and a are very very good at speaking manager-speak.  Now don’t get me wrong, I know how to talk to most managers.. I have learned to use words like ‘Fixed-price’, ‘Total Cost of Ownership’, ‘Economies of scale’, and ‘Synergy’ in everyday conversation likes its a fucking religion. But these guys, they are just experts at this, and sometimes at a cost to their technical skills, I have found.

But like I said, these guys are influential within the company, and what they say matters. The last few jobs I have done have been noticed, and when it was time  for my personal manager to look at my record with the company, and talk to people I have worked with, the impression I have made with some of these guys bore fruits.

So now I have been promoted to Assistant Systems administrator, this despite the fact that I don’t yet have even MCSA certification, which is supposed to be a pre-requisite.

Now personally, I, and some others round me, are of the belief that I am at least of Network-specialist/Consultant standard. But to me being raised officially above the level of a support guy, is an acknowledgment of the fact that I am technically more profishient than when they hired me. Its a sign of respect, and that is very very rare in this company, very rare indeed.

On top of this, she mentioned the fact that I was possibly due for a raise.  Now this had to due with the fact that years ago, i signed a study-agreement to get certified on 2000, and would receive and additional 20-odd euros per certification I would receive. Now I had never actually finished my study, and I never pursued the matter when I recently got my first 2003 certification, as I felt I had lost my right to it because I had not fulfilled my side of the agreement in getting certified within a certain Timeframe,e. So it was rather surprising when she mentioned this. especially if you consider the fact that we as employees are not accustomed to getting any breaks from our management, if anything, we where used to being screwed whenever they could get away with it. Perhaps my salary now, and for now, as in that there is a salary freeze, is an example of how people like me are screwed, my bruto salary is 1340 euros, I have been made to understand that is lower even than most cleaners earns.

But dispite my salary being a pretty dark cloud overall, I left that conversation beeling somewhat better, and, seeing that the pcprive thing is now actually up and running, I am beginning to feel more positive about the company as a whole.

Hi Imz!

Thursday, June 17th, 2004

*waves at Imz*

This week started with a new client. Client is a christian charity organisation, which for me means that A. There is no IT budget cause they are dependant on subsidy and charity, and B. I am not allowed to swear.

A is somthing I am used to, in fact, I now believe that IT budget is a MYTH, told to unsuspecting Service Desk n00bs to help them sleep at night.

Today and Yesterday we moved the whole server park to new location. The sysadmin was all in cheer and glee, the new building is the first he as been in with a proper server-room. But the idea by the management to actually designate this room as his office has met with some resistance on his part, and I, as outside IT person in the semi-consultant role, have voiced my opposition to the suggestion (I acted like I thought it was a joke, and turned ultra-serious when they explained it wasn’t, I even started quoting Dutch workplace regulatory law!)

Spent the rest of the day doing one of my favorite sysadmin passtimes, making Visio diagrams of the network topologies (no seriously! I like it! .. What?… what?)

Booooring weekends….

Sunday, June 13th, 2004

All my weekends seem to be alike.. sleep out till 2pm (or later), and just hang and be completely bored..
At the moment I find some distraction in Counter-Strike..but other than that.. *sigh*
I should actually be studying.. but I really cant be bothererd.

Te warm voor een pak

Wednesday, June 9th, 2004

Loop 2 weken rond op een nieuwe klus, denk ik bij mezelf; laat ik eens uber-professioneel doen, en de hele klus lanmg in pak rondlopen. Nou dat werkt aardig, IT-ers worden al vaak niet zo serieus genomen, maar als je rondloopt in pak met eens tropdas dan wekt dat automatisch al een niveau van respect op. Je bent niet langer die “ingehuurde IT-er”, maar nu ben je de “Externe Consultant/Contracter”, die waarschijnlijk heel duur is (!) en wiens tijd we dus ook niet zomaar mogen verspillen. H et practische verschil is dat ik ineens bij allemaal vergaderingen wordt betrokken en met ook nog eens luisterd naar mijn mening… wow. Een goede ervaring dus, en de bijkomende nadelen (ongemakkelijk broek, jeuk, restrictief jasje) wegen niet op tegen de voordelen die ik meemaak in de omgang met mensen! Ik ga dit weekend op zoek naar wat meer van dit soort kleding… hier kan ik wel aan wennen! haha! Nou moet je niet denken dat ik mijn ware indentiteit af heb geschud.. de stropdassen die ik erbij draag zeggen je misschien al genoeg: Laterz.