15 minutes – that’s all most of us get.  But my boss has had hours, if not more.  He is a good and difficult guy.  He was hard to like, but once liked, I can’t stop.  He’s famous.

He retired the other day.  I was able to speak about my experiences with him.  Here’s my talk.  It gave me about six minutes of fame.  Thanks John.scratch

John, I have to apologize.

As you know, IT has some trouble delivering exactly the level of IT service we should, based on known standards set in the airline magazines and IBM TV commercials. I always thought I was an OK IT guy. But over the last eight years and as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t make it work the way the TV ads promised.

In any event, I could always rely on John to tell me what was going on. He was usually the first to volunteer his opinion or observations about what we could do better. In his signature way, he would patiently and supportively identify the general problem along with enough information for me to go back with our team and figure out the problem. I’d like to say that we could usually solve the problem, but there were a lot of times that we couldn’t.

Recently, while doing a review of all our computer stuff, we came across some equipment that was obviously misconfigured. Recognizing this gear may have something to do with the issues plaguing John over the years, we decided we’d take a closer look.

Here’s what we found:

1. Blackberry Defunctionalizer 2850. This thing blocks phone calls and emails on the Blackberry using a pseudo-random algorithm based on how big the fonts are on the Blackberry. Works on meeting notices as well. John’s was set to miss calls and emails as well as fail on all the address lookups. We also figured out the Defunctionalizer is the only thing keeping us from doing NetMeeting on the Blackberry.

2. Account Regenerator – After logging in normally to a system, this software determines if you have been there before. If not, it creates a new account in the background with a password that you can’t change (apparently a SOX rule). Next time you go to that site, you have to put in the right ID and password. You only get one chance. If you get it wrong, it reboots your computer, without saving the email and powerpoint documents you’ve been working on for hours.

3. We found that John’s machine was running the SMDP protocol instead of SMTP, the normal email protocol. SMDP means Simple Message Desynchronization Protocol. It causes email both sent and received to be deleted or filed in your PST without you ever seeing it. The protocol works with some other expensive servers and uses a complicated algorithm based on position in the company, typing speed, and how often CAPLOCKs are used. This is the only reason why messages and meetings that Teresa sets up seem to work (she types fast), while most of John’s messages and meeting notices are lost.

4. John’s computer had a piece of malware software that implemented the rarely used II function, the “Ignore Input” function. It causes the system to ignore keyboard and mouse buttons, after pressing the same button more than once. Could you imagine having that on your computer? Everyone knows that the more you press buttons, the faster the computer responds. Sorry John.

5. MS Office Indiscriminator 2003 – its an appliance that randomly changes the location of the standard menu items in excel, powerpoint and word. It also disables the save button. The latest version varies its influence based on your user ID. Apparently, John was set to HIGH. Just like his “Windows Start/Stop Delay” setting.

John, I apologize that it took your retirement to get us to dig deep enough to find the root cause of issues you’ve faced for years. You were right all along. I’m confident, having done a quick review, no other individual has the same set of failures, though it appears there may be one or two others that have experienced at least one of these failures. I expect more may crop up as the organization evolves.

Dave, in all seriousness, if it happens, I ask you for the same level of patience and support John has given us over the years. We’ve learned a lot.


Posted on October 20, 2009 at 10:51 pm by OC · Permalink
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