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A Fitting Moniker

, , , , , , , | Working | May 17, 2022

Someone once put up a nameplate in our engineering office:

Nameplate: “Herdaing Katz, engineering manager.”

I have no idea if it was an actual person or not. I was afraid to ask!

Another Exhausting Workplace

, , , , , | Working | May 12, 2022

I am a young woman in engineering. As a result, my opinion doesn’t carry much weight despite being the most experienced. Additionally, I am often blamed for my coworkers’ screw-ups as I am supposed to be mother-henning them with no actual authority.

Despite trying my best to explain backwards compatibility to a coworker several times, he still thinks he knows best. As a result, several functions a client was using become defunct, and their code breaks which, obviously, annoys them. After a bit of pulling teeth (and having [Client] back me up), I get my coworker to agree to put those functions back in so it is backwards compatible and we are not creating issues for them. 

It is also worth noting that my manager is just kind of a waste of space. She wastes hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a week being argumentative and dooms-daying every little decision despite not knowing what the heck is going on. It isn’t a technical knowledge transfer issue. It just goes one ear and out the other in favor of acting like the sky is falling if she doesn’t step in.

Manager: “What version are we on? Is the version going to change?”

Me: “We are on version [number] and it will be changed once we fix [client-found bug].”

Manager: “And are there any changes we need to make? I know [Client] had an issue that needs to be resolved.”

Me: *Biting my tongue* “Well, we need to add back a few depreciated functions for [Client] so their code doesn’t break. [Coworker] suggested we put them all in one section to organize them better.”

Manager: “So, have we thought through how this will affect our clients? We don’t want to break their code.”

Me: *Gobsmacked* “You mean besides giving them back functionality that they were using and making them happy?”

At this point, I just let her rant herself silly about the pros and cons. At last, [Coworker] finally agreed to fix it and it was fixed within the hour, after a week of banging my head against that wall.

I am leaving in three weeks, so it will be interesting to see what happens down the line when I am not there to stop them from doing something too fatalistic or act as the scapegoat.

Sometimes You Need A Refresher… Or Five

, , , , , | Working | May 11, 2022

I am a twenty-seven-year-old engineer who works at an engineering consultation company. Basically, we work with large clients to help them solve their most complex engineering projects. Oftentimes, these are issues that a fleet of PhDs cannot even solve on their own, and we are giving these tasks to a single person —often with only a Bachelor’s degree to their name. This is a long way of saying that I work with a bunch of smart people.

I am one of two female engineers, surrounded by mostly men who are “older” than me and all have at least a Masters. (The oldest one is thirty-one years old.) This means I end up holding their hands quite a bit.

Coworker #1: “What is the password for the [Desktop]?”

Me: *Walks over* “Uh, no idea. Why do you need it?”

Coworker #2: “We are trying to connect to the VPN.”

Me: *Pauses* “Why?”

Coworker #2: “We are trying to access the shared folders and we need to connect to the VPN.”

Me: *Addressing [Coworker #1]* “First of all, the VPN is to access the Internet remotely. This guy is connected directly into the Internet via that Ethernet cable.”

He seems to get it.

Coworker #2: “But how does it connect to the Internet?”

Me: “See that green cord coming out of the computer and going into the wall right there?”

Coworker #1: “Oh, yeah!”

Me: “It is connected directly to the router.”

At this time, I get onto the URL that allows you to access data remotely on any web browser.

Coworker #2: “So, it is already connected?”

Me: “Yeah. Second of all, the login that you use for this computer isn’t connected to the network. It is a basic guest login. So, knowing the password to it to get onto the VPN wouldn’t have done any good.”

Coworker #3: “What do you mean by that?”

Me: “My login credentials allow me to log on to any company computer, right? Well, there is nothing like that set up for [Desktop]. I mean, you can log onto it using your credentials, but not to [Username]. That is a local account to store our network licenses on.”

Coworker #1: “I see. So the password wouldn’t have worked to connecting onto the VPN.”

Me: “Correct.”

I motion toward the website and show him me logging in.

Me: “We can also remote into the Shared Folders using our login credentials. As you see, there are the Shared Folders.”

Coworker #2: “But we are having issues with the share folders.”

Me: “Yeah, well, you can still access it using the method I just showed you.”

I log out so [Coworker #1] can try.

Coworker #2: “So, is this an [IT] issue or what? Because we cannot access the Shared Folders on this computer.”

Me: “Well, normally, you can put in your credentials and access the Shared Folders remotely from the desktop, but I am guessing this is a you-did-something issue. Restarting the computer can help.”

Coworker #3: “So, we should restart the computer?”

Me: “If you want to kick everyone off the network licenses, sure. Or you could just use the URL I provided to download files. It doesn’t affect me, but your other coworkers might be mad.”

Coworker #1: “I only have a couple of files anyway.”

Me: “Sounds good to me.” *Walks away*

This is the fourth or fifth time I have had this conversation with these three. Their heads are just so full of complex problems that the basic solutions elude them. Documentation doesn’t help. I’ve tried. 

So, any time you are feeling down about yourself, remember the time a PhD, a PhD candidate, and a man with his Master’s in computer engineering all tried to connect a desktop to the VPN. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.

Never Take The Rock’s Puns For Granite

, , , , , , | Working | March 25, 2022

I work in a small engineering office. It’s the last day of work before the Christmas shutdown, and I’ve taken the opportunity to try and finish filing the massive pile of paperwork on my desk that has accumulated over the past year into a bin bag. The only other person in the office is my coworker, who is doing a similar job. It’s his last day here, as he has a new job starting in the new year.

We’re chatting away, and as so often happens in any conversation that has me in it, the topic turns to puns. I’ve just told a joke and received a huge groan in response. 

Me: “Yeah, that was a bad one.”

Coworker: “By definition, all your puns are bad.”

Me: “That’s true.”

Coworker: “Have you seen the new film Jungle Cruise?”

Me: “I haven’t, but I’ve heard The Rock tells lots and lots of bad puns. You know, I never thought I would hear anyone comparing me with The Rock.”

Coworker: “I meant just the bad puns.”

Me: “No, I prefer to believe my first thought.”

Coworker: “He said in it, ‘My girlfriend was cross-eyed.’”

Me: “Let me guess: we could never see eye to eye?”

Coworker: “Yup! And he thought she was seeing someone on the side.”

Me: “A lovely example of vitreous humor.”

My coworker says nothing but gives me a blank look.

Me: “The liquid inside the eye is called Vitreous Humor.” 

Coworker: “Yeah, that went straight over my head.”

Me: “Next time, I’ll do something a little bit cornea.”

My coworker groans and collapses onto the desk.

Coworker: “You know, this is one bit of the job I’m not going to miss!”

Wonders Never Cease

, , , , , , | Working | March 14, 2022

I work for an engineer who submits plans for the county to review. A plan has been rejected by the county reviewer due to not having a paper showing the required calculations. We did the calculations a month ago but we may have forgotten to send the PDF scan paper. We send the PDF again. A few days later we get an email.

Reviewer: “File does not contain all of the calculations. Please submit the calculations.”

I review the calculations and sure enough, everything is there. I email him back.

Me: “All of the calculations you asked for are on the sheet. Can you review each page and tell us what is missing?”

He replies to me a few hours later.

Reviewer: “Oh, you are right. They are there. I didn’t know I could change pages in the PDF. Thank you so much for telling me about different pages.”

He had been a reviewer for over a decade and was in his early thirties. I guess they didn’t teach him that PDFs can have more than one page.