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Time Is Fine-ite

, , , , , | Right | August 24, 2022

I used to be a parking attendant in a seafront car park for a council contractor — one of those folks you shout “get a real job” at, you know.

Summertime on the seafront was hellish — hot with surprisingly little wind, snaking between lanes of parked cars checking for pay-and-display tickets.

The job itself wasn’t tough. I had a handheld computer, a waist-mounted printer, and a holdall of sticky yellow bags, and I just had to type, print, bag, and stick. Parked cars, easy. Parked brains, less so.

Working in pairs for “safety”, we trundled through the overflowing car park, handing out fines and helpful tourist advice in equal measure. This was fortunate, as one of our “customers” turned up to shout at us.

Customer: “Why have I gotten this fine?!”

Me: “You were late back to your car, sir.”

Customer: “So what? I was only two hours late. You should show some patience.”

A Million And A Half For Bare Bones?!

, , , , , , , , | Friendly | August 24, 2022

My husband and I were looking for our first house. His mother said one of her friends had a home she wanted to sell so we went to take a look.

It was a waste of time.

There was plaster dust all over, and entire chunks of walls and ceiling light fixtures were removed. The bathrooms each had a tub, but the toilets and sinks were removed. The friend walked us into what was supposed to be the kitchen, but it was all torn apart. There were no cabinets or tabletops, and there was a pipe sticking out of the wall where I assume the sink should be.

Friend: “It’s going to be about $1,500,000, but it’s going to be beautiful when it’s all put together.”

Me: “Wow. How long will the renovations take?”

Friend: “Oh, that’s up to you.”

Husband: “Sorry? I don’t understand.”

Friend: *With a condescending laugh* “Well, you buy it and do the renovations yourself.”

Me: “But… there’s nothing. Not even a sink.”

Friend: “Yes, I took everything out. I bought it, so I’m taking it with me.”

Husband: “You want us to pay $1,500,000 for a gutted house?”

Friend: “Well, there are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a living space. You’ve seen the kitchen. There’s about half an acre for a yard.”

Me: “But… there’s literally nothing here. What about temperature control?”

Friend: “We used space heaters and window units. It’s about $200 to $500 a month depending on usage.”

Me: “No. I’m sorry to waste your time. We’re not buying this.”

Friend: “Why? It’s a great house! I’ve made many happy memories here!”

Husband: “I can’t even see this place being worth that much if you hadn’t stripped it down to nothing. We are absolutely not paying to have to do the renovations.”

Friend: “I looked up the value on [Website]! That’s what it says!”

Husband: “Okay, thank you for your time.”

We went home and looked at the website she mentioned. The house was listed at $150,000, not $1,500,000. My mother-in-law gave us a hard time for not buying the house, saying it would have been a good Christian deed. We eventually found a place that we liked… in another state.

Eighteen Days To Go…

, , , , | Right | August 24, 2022

The sibling of a client/friend called on a Friday afternoon, in a panic. He was opening a restaurant in twenty days and had exactly zero design done. He needed a logo, livery, a menu, a sign, interior design, lighting, fixtures, furniture, and a rear courtyard landscape (over two phases). He seemed really excited, if a little frazzled, to bring me on. 

After our initial phone conversation, I visited the site, made measurements, walked through all the different areas we’d be working on, and told him I’d be back the next day with an estimate and to meet his partners. 

Upon my return twenty-four hours later, I delivered the estimate and walked all the parties through what was, honestly, an absurdly low bid for the amount of work and the turnaround time. In spite of my coming in well under half the stated budget and offering to do a significant amount of fabrication and install myself, he balked at the price. 

Not wanting to put any more pressure on him, I told him to consult his partners and get back to me that evening, since time was of the essence. This was, for the record, the Saturday before Mother’s Day. On my way to my girlfriend’s parents’ house that evening, I got a call. 

Client: “Hey, so, a couple of things…”

I was thinking, “Here we go…”

Client: “Did I mention to you that we need the logo on Monday, so we can get it to the signmaker for our city inspection on Wednesday?”

Me: “Uh, no?”

Client: “Oh, yeah, we need that. And we looked at your estimate. We’d like you to give us three logo options, and if we like one, we’ll buy it from you and then proceed from there.”

Me: “Wait, what? You want me to work on spec over Mother’s Day and maybe you’ll buy something? That’s not how this works!”

Client: “Oh, well, when I was having my house built, I had three designs from architects before anyone got paid.”

Me: “And if I had called you six months ago begging to design your restaurant, maybe you’d have a point. But you called me, just two days ago, in a panic, and now you want me to work for free?”

Client: “Well, yeah.”

Me: “Good luck with that.”

I hung up.

Dine, Dash, Bash

, , , , , | Right | August 23, 2022

A couple with a toddler eats their whole meal and walks out without paying. My manager — a rockin’ grandma type of older lady — walks out to the husband in the parking lot and confronts him.

Customer: “The food was bad!”

Manager: “You ate all of it, and regardless, you have to pay anyway.”

Customer: “No.”

Manager: “Then I guess I’m calling the cops.”

He gives in. The check is about thirty dollars, and my manager walks back inside with two twenties. A minute later, the guy comes back inside, and my manager is standing by the host stand. He walks up and says:

Customer: “Hey, I gave you forty for a thirty-dollar tab. Where’s my change?”

Manager: “Are you crazy? You’re not getting change; that’s the tip for my server!”

He stormed off.

Legally, he could have gotten the manager in trouble, but he just stood outside for a minute with this stunned look on his face and drove off. We never heard from him again.

Translation: My Bosses Are Really Cheap, So I Have To Be IT MacGyver

, , , , , , | Working | CREDIT: Daritari | August 23, 2022

My first non-internship IT role was as the sole actual IT person for a small community clinic. The layout was like this: the main building had a 10Mbps/5Mbps connection. The office building had a dedicated fiber run from it to the main clinic building. The small satellite clinic had a dedicated T1 connection to the main clinic.

There was one domain controller on the entire system. One. It was a pizza box system because VMware was new and expensive. (It was not really that expensive, but that’s what they kept telling me.) It was running on Windows Server 2003 R2 (2008 was a new thing at the time). This was right about the time Windows Server 2000 SP4 went EOL (end-of-life).

The issue? They had slow login times at the satellite clinic. Five people worked in that clinic, and every morning, at logon, it would take the users anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes to successfully log on to their systems. We continually received help desk tickets on the issue. Every time I went to test with the user who submitted the ticket, the login time was long but not fifteen minutes — more like five.

Finally, I got fed up with it, and I put an old desktop computer in between the router and the switch at the remote clinic, running a free packet analyzer to help me troubleshoot. Surely there was something amiss here.

The next morning, I came in and checked the logs. Well, that’s weird. Why was SMB (Server Message Block protocol) pushing a ton of traffic when they log on? I checked the domain controller. Well, that’d do it: roaming profiles. Every morning, those users would log in at the same time and try to push MASSIVE amounts of user documents across that 1.5-Mbps T1. Every morning, those users would call the help desk and say, “It’s taking forever to log in.” And every morning, I would work with a user, and the login time would be far less, because the system wasn’t powered off, and therefore, the profile would stay cached.

I went to my boss, who was the Director of Finance.

Me: “Hey, [Boss], I figured out why they take forever to log in every morning.”

Boss: “Yeah? What’s that?”

Me: “They’re using roaming profiles.”

Boss: “What’s that?”

I sighed and proceeded to explain roaming profiles in as close to an orange crayon method as I could.

Boss: “Okay, so what’s the fix?”

Me: “Either we disable roaming profiles, or they need a local domain controller. We should have two anyway, just in case something goes awry with one or the other.”

Boss: “We don’t have money for that, and we can’t disable their profiles being backed up to the server. What else you got?”

Me: “A lot of unhappy users, that’s what we’ve got. I’ll explain what’s wrong to them, and then you can explain why we can’t fix it.”

Boss: “Can’t you just do it? You’re the IT guy.”

Me: “Sure, but I’m going to tell them who told me we couldn’t fix it.”

The next step was that I went to her boss, the clinic director. That conversation went as well as the previous one had. Same response: no money, and we can’t change settings.

Okay, back to the drawing board.

I went to our boneyard, a room in the basement of the office building where we stored old, washed-up PCs before they’d get recycled. I found an old PC with a halfway usable processor. It was an AMD Athlon XP 3200, with a Bioware motherboard with four memory slots. I managed to dig up four 2GB DDR DIMMs (ram). Yes, they were old then. They’re ancient now.

I dug around and found four 250GB 5200RPM 3.5″ hard drives. The motherboard had SATA on it and a built-in RAID controller (life saver). I set up the four drives in RAID 5. I continued digging, trying to find a Server 2003 license. I was unable to locate that, but I found a Server 2000 SP4. I said, “Screw it,” and installed that, promoted it to DC, replicated the remote users’ profiles to it, and changed their targets. I took the server to the remote site and installed it.

I got a call from that site the next day.

User: “Oh, wow! You fixed it! It took almost no time to log in today! Thank you so much!”

Me: “You’re welcome. Let us know if you have any more issues with it, okay?”

User: “Will do!”

I called my boss.

Me: “I fixed the satellite office.”

Boss: “How?”

Me: “Using old equipment that should’ve been recycled years ago. It’s a bandaid fix. We need to have a new server in the budget, period.”

Boss: “I’ll forward your request to [Big Boss].”

Budget time rolled around: no server. The justification? “It’s working now, so why do we need it?”

I left that place within a month after that.

It might still be running this way. I am not sure.