Tuesday, April 6, 2010

And the beat goes on

Some days, work is like being a rower on a slave ship, pulling your oar to the beat of the drum. Other days, it's like bailing water out of the sinking ship.

The past couple of weeks, we've been taking on water.

We use a information system and our vendor has remote access, which is helpful since they are based in Florida. Customer support is a good thing - when it's actually supportive.

It seems their database isn't reliable in a sense that if a user "disconnects" from the network, let's say during a power outage, and that user is in the middle of updating a record, then they try to get back into that record, the database shuts down. It becomes one big useless rock and no one can gain access.

They decided to install a utility to monitor when these events occur and it promptly removed anyone from accessing the servers except through the console. That makes it kind of tough when a guy like me has to check on things or perform a function when I want to be at home once in a while. I have to physically be there to log into them.

The wife told me last week to get a new job. I don't normally cow-tow to her orders (I'm not a wimp, mind you) but this wears on a guy. I get calls when not "on-call" and now having to fix other people's mistakes, ugh. I'm fairly good at figuring out problems and people send me theirs. I've put in a ton of hours for my employer with several 24+ hour support "days" and that kind of wears one down. If the alternative is unemployment, a job like this is gold.

Back to the story: After a week of denying they did anything, the vendor basically washed their hands. After chewing them out and being put on a short-leash by my boss, I set out to prove them wrong (another thing I'm fairly good at).

And I did. They admitted last week they installed this and then "offered" to help. Cute, since they are 2000 miles away and there's no remote access. Thanks, but it's obvious I was on my own.

I found the utility they "installed" and I write that because it didn't run properly to begin with and failed to monitor anything. The service failed to run but still blocked our access. (I'm not going to get too technical, but it blocked the TCP port from listening for Remote Desktop access.) They tried to uninstall it to cover themselves on 4 of the 5 servers and the uninstall process failed. Found that out on the fifth server they left it on when I tried to get rid of it.

I ran my test tonight on one server and was able to stop it from starting up and blocking. I can remote into it now. Next, schedule a late night reboot of the rest of the servers since this takes the vendor's system down and people tend to want to get on it.

It was a good day. I proved myself right, I proved a bunch of people who were "smarter" than me wrong and I fixed it on one server and will finish by the weekend. The boss and I had a chat about my role in the organization.

I'll make up having the good day with having a crown put on a tooth tomorrow.

Then it's back to the slave ship with me on one side and everyone else on the other, as we joyously paddle in circles once again.


Cashner said...

Hang in there, stranded! Everyone silly enough to work knows what you mean.

Cashner said...

Hang in there, stranded! Everyone silly enough to work knows what you mean.