April 17th, 2005

old school hacker, bug

What a day at work...

I came in to work this morning after about four hours of sleep to learn that yeah, it was going to be a ten hour shift! Voluntary, of course. Since it was an impromptu shift extension, the phone goons didn't have to stay past their scheduled end of shift (eight hours) if they didn't want to, but supervisors and staff got to stay as long as there were phone goons to watch! Whee!

It was about that time that we, in the form of Cute Geek Super (followed by the rest of us), discovered that one of the computers in the back room, Tombstone, was inaccessible. (Someone in the company evidently thought it would be cute, or perhaps sufficiently interesting yet bland enough for Corporate, to name not only rooms, but also pieces of the computer system, after local geography. So we've got the Grand Canyon phone room, the Lake Havasu phone room, and then the box Tombstone (among many others) in the back computer room (which is doubtless named something else cute and local).) Tombstone holds certain crucial files, such as the supervisor memos, many shared documentation files, and, especially, my precious check-in hours spreadsheets!

This was only a minor inconvenience, I decided. I could use Excel and create a new spreadsheet and keep half track of things, at least until IT got the thing functioning. There had already been a few pages sent off to IT; they'd be there to fix things any time. I headed off to get people seated in their booths with far too much energy. (Stressy College Chick Super may or may not have noticed the coincidence between the timing of Figment's arrival and my perking way up.) I was ready for a very good shift.

That was about when the Cute Geek Super discovered that actually, when one tried to log in to go on the phones, one encountered certain dreadful and fatal errors, and could not actually get anything done. It seemed that the interviewing system also ran through Tombstone, which was proving to be a fairly deadly obstacle in our day.

IT had been paged at 7:45 when Tombstone was discovered to be down, and again at 8:00. By 8:15, some of us were getting annoyed when no one from IT had so much as called in to see what we were making a fuss over. Stressy College Chick Shift Ops Super was nervous when they still hadn't responded to the fourth page at 8:30, and called a head honcho, and they determined that if IT hadn't answered the fifth page (8:45) by nine, that Stressy College Chick was calling not one of the intermediate or junior IT guys, but the lead IT guy, at home. The rationale was generally that the page should have summoned whatever IT guy who was on duty to call in, and when five pages did not summon an IT guy, the head IT guy should know about this. Fires were evidently lit under the appropriate tails.

There was reasonably little for me to do, once I had determined that yes, all sixty-five phone goons who were in out of the eighty-odd who were scheduled in were sitting cooling their heels and collecting downtime pay, so I went out on the floor and wandered and played riot control. (I realized about two hours before shift end that I could have actually done some paper distribution as well, because there were performance memos still to hand out. Oops.) Figment was a Good Little Phone Goon and managed to finagle permission to go through training surveys (that portion of the system was live enough to work); the Stressy College Chick said that anyone who wanted to do training surveys could do so, on the reasonable grounds that hey, nothing else was going on...

By 9:15, we were reasonably assured that someone from IT was on his way. "How far out does he live?" "I dunno." I started up a new Excel spreadsheet and amused myself by trying to calculate the person-hours we'd already accumulated on System Is Down downtime (at a minimum of $8.50+$0.50 per person-hour). The total was not nice.

The plan for strategic retreat went something like this: if IT failed to show up and/or fix the problem by 10-ish, Stressy College Chick would obtain permission to try Cute Geek Super's proposed work-around, through the old piece of software (Lucent PowerDialer) that we hadn't used in years (and 3/4 of the phone goons never were trained on). Cute Geek Super would do a trial call to see if it took. If it took in the system, we'd wind up spending serious amounts of time getting the phone center trained on the software and operational, but we'd finally wind up limping towards productivity. If that failed, then everyone would wind up going home, and there would be an utter hours panic Sunday and so on to the end of the month.

By 9:45, IT still wasn't there. I did my level best to keep those phone goons around me informed of the situation, and keep the noise level down to a dull roar. I poked at my spreadsheet.

IT, in the person of the 30-something young man with the sandy hair in the business haircut (the one who'd so famously knocked over his chair and huffed off with one of the computers tucked under his arm), was finally routed out of bed and showed up, insufficiently caffienated and with a rumpled iteration of one of his usual crisp button-down shirts (gaping at the neck instead of buttoned up all the way), around 10:10 or so. I wandered off the floor back into the bullpen to see what was up. IT took stock of the situation and disappeared into the back. I sat down at my desk and fiddled with the lame spreadsheet I'd concocted, to see if I could make it start adding things better, and keep track of the mounting tally of downtime, and took the internal phone call from the machine room at 10:14.

The system was back up.

IT re-appeared as the entire call center got itself set up, logged in, turned on, and dialing within what looked like a record five minutes. It seemed that Tombstone had unbooted itself in the process of processing an automatic update sometime Friday night, but had not rebooted for Saturday morning. "I keep telling them that having them do automatic updates Friday night is stupid," IT lamented. "They should do them Thursday night, that way we'll be here in the morning to deal with things if anything goes wrong, instead of having them do it on Friday when we won't be here Saturday morning."

$1161+ later, maybe they'll take his suggestion...
  • Current Music
phone, cordless phone

Fitting In

Next up: why "Satanism" in the workplace is hilarious (no disrespect to either me or actual Satanists intended).

But first, some sleep.
phone, cordless phone

Work Discussions

"Did anyone flush the dialer?"
*checks* "No! No one flushed the dialer! Argh! Kids! Why don't they ever flush the dialer? How 'come they're always leaving their mess for me to clean up?"
  • Current Mood
    silly silly
high energy magic

One of the Team

Yesterday I was informed in no uncertain terms that I was an official member of the supervisory team at work. Not according to Upper Management, but according to the rest of the supervisory team.

Whenever there's someone new in a workplace, especially a workplace where there are a lot of workers being supervised, and a tight-knit crew of supervisors, it takes some burn-in time for a new person to get accepted. Someone can get promoted, but can always be an outsider, and for a while, it was looking like that might be me.

But yesterday, Rev. Nice Super conclusively demonstrated that I was now a part of the team.

Everybody hassles everybody in my workplace. Not maliciously, or to the point of distress -- Cute Geek Super was giving me a hard time when I was trying to get something in the break cards spreadsheet last night, and I told him that seriously, I was about yea close to the edge, and he sobered up and gave it to me straight -- but enough to make the workplace really interesting.

I first got wind of the fact that I was now "in" when Rev. Nice Super asked me if I could cast spells. Somehow, this wound up degenerating (by Rev. Nice Super's own unique blend of facetious fallacious logic) into the decision that I am clearly and obviously a Satanist. (Those who have not met me may have perhaps gathered that I wear a lot of black. Those who have met me outside of the workplace may not be aware that I almost exclusively wear black to work, to the point where it is commented on when I wear any other color. Me wearing any other color to work usually means either that I am feeling festive for some reason, or that it is laundry day.) This topic came up in debate for the entirety of the rest of the day. I can tell, just by the tone of it, that Satanism is what Rev. Nice Super is going to tease me about unless and until he finds something else that he finds just as fascinating about me to poke at.

Since it's Rev. Nice Super who's in the middle of all this, and because he has that "I'm debating, don't mess with my lack of logic" look on his face when he's doing this, that it's all good. This is not a politically correct workplace.
_schools120835, IRL, professional, Naomi, _schools3485

Ethnicity (and sexuality) in the Workplace

This is not a politically correct workplace. Since we have a reasonably diverse supervisory staff, and we work in a workplace where the clients care about ethnicity in the context of surveys, there's a lot of give and take on subjects that many workplaces might be afraid to even start to bring up.

On Friday, Cute Geek Super, Rev. Nice Super, Skinny Spiky-Haired Super (who hasn't a proper nickname yet), Superman Shirt Super, and probably a few others, were discussing the topic of race on the next census. It was Cute Geek Super's position that since people were really not paying attention to race when falling in love these days, that the next census should probably just have "White" and "Not White" as the categories, because by that time, there would be so many people needing to have "ethnic background" as a multiple-choice question that putting it as a single-choice answer would not make any sense.

And the guys were holding their arms next to each other so Rev. Nice Super could shoot down Cute Geek Super's claim that he was naturally more tan than most white guys. (Rev. Nice Super is black, Cute Geek Super is hispanic, Skinny Spiky-Haired Super is asian, and Superman Shirt Super is white. This is ordinarily of no real importance except in purposes of debate.) Cute Geek Super and Superman Shirt Super turned out to have arms just about the same color, though Cute Geek Super was just a hair paler. In the way that such workplace debates usually do shift focus so no one branch of a topic is beaten down into the ground, the focus next shifted to how people's skin reacts to the sun. Cute Geek Super said that while he just got tanner, the more sun he was exposed to, white guys turned pink and burned first, then tanned.

Superman Shirt Super was going to debate that, based evidently off of the fact that he knew white guys who didn't burn (perhaps himself included), and he thought that enough sun exposure would turn Cute Geek Super's light olive complexion pink instead of darker. He started this off by trying to say, "You don't get much more Caucasian than I am." But Superman Shirt Super is known for the sorts of slips of tongue that even the Rev. Spooner might not have been able to live down. What came out of Superman Shirt Super's mouth, instead, was: "You don't get as much cock, as asian as I am."

That was the conversation-stopper, as the entirety of the supervisory staff wound up helpless with laughter. In addition to being very caucasian, Superman Shirt Super is also very straight, and when guys who are straight and slightly uptight about this say things like that, all pretense of a work ethic is temporarily lost until the laughter gets back under control. The conversation switched to "Great moments in Superman Shirt Super's vocabulary" after everyone picked themselves back up off the floor." He's evidently made no few conversational slips like this, but this was the latest and greatest of them all.

I love my workplace.
  • Current Mood
    pink with a slight green tinge