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You Did It! You’re A Hero!

, , , , | Working | CREDIT: Korochun | August 3, 2021

It’s an average post-holiday weekday afternoon at my work, which means that I am mostly hanging out, answering various questions from our first line of contact, clarifying department rules, and updating procedures. I am also checking up on various ancient work orders gathering dust in our queue, usually for lack of customer or management response, and indiscriminately nuking the ones that I can close due to lack of customer response while auto-repeating a stage in an ongoing mobile game event. Just your usual Tier III slow day help desk stuff.

An email chime rings.

My emails normally don’t have audio alerts, except for a select group of very high-ranked people who need urgent Tier-III attention to address their pressing problems, such as plugging in a monitor.

Among the team, I’m the one on actual emails and calls that afternoon, so I pop it open. Huh, it looks like our CEO is trying to join a conference via a specific app, but it’s just not working. Oh, and the conference started half an hour ago and they need someone to come up “in the next two minutes.” Call me crazy, but if I have an important conference coming up using a program that I have not tested before, I might call IT out BEFORE the conference starts.

As I enter the CEO’s office one walk up the stairs later, I discover that he’s got a whole setup going with a smartphone clamped in with actual proper hardware, good lighting, the whole thing. Frankly, I am impressed and relieved. This specific conferencing software doesn’t play well with our firewall sometimes, but if it goes out over the smartphone Wi-Fi, that’s way easier; they have their own, much laxer rules.

Me: “So can you tell me exactly what is wrong?”

He is in a hurry, and I figure we both have things we’d rather be doing that don’t involve making polite small talk for half an hour.

CEO: “My conference app is not working.”

He waves at the phone, which does indeed appear blank. The app is up, but other than the meeting name, it’s just basically blank. I can hear people on the other end, but no matter if I click camera or mic buttons, nothing happens. A suspicion forms in my head.

Me: “Okay, drop the session and start it again with me looking over your shoulder. Let’s go step by step.”

Everything goes perfectly fine, the app joins a meeting, he types out a name and — why the ever-loving f*** is he clicking “Don’t Allow” to every prompt that comes up?

Me: *Very diplomatically* “Why are you clicking ‘Don’t Allow’ to every prompt that comes up?”

CEO: “Oh, I was told I shouldn’t let apps access stuff on my phone.”

Me: “If you don’t let this conferencing app access your microphone or camera, it will not be able able to transmit anything using your microphone or camera.”

CEO: “Oh, is that how it works?”

Me: “Yeah. Let me reset your permissions in the settings… Here you go. Camera and audio feed. You are live.”

CEO: “Wow, you are great! I think they’ve been trying to solve my issue for over a year now with this phone app, and you fixed it in two minutes!”

Me: *Laughs* “No problem, you have a good day.”

Another horrible suspicion formed in my head.

Back at my desk, after restarting my mobile game stage — you have to have priorities — I started digging in the call logging system. Sure enough, there was a work order sent directly to our networking team, bypassing all normal channels — me — from fourteen months before, highest priority, with four different techs all going back and forth about how our CEO’s phone did not permit video and audio traffic from this conferencing app over our Wi-Fi network. Vendors were contacted, entire network closets were torn apart and put back together, and multiple Wi-Fi modems and APs were replaced. There were thousands of dollars and close to a thousand man-hours put in by people with six-digit salaries trying to fix this elusive issue.

All because none of these Senior Network Engineers had ever heard of Rule Zero: Don’t Trust The Customer.

As a Tier III tech, I have the ability to hijack assignments and make sure that everybody involved gets a message when I close the work order. This one was particularly satisfying to close, with a solution description saying, “Customer was denying permission to access phone resources to the app. No actual network issue is apparent. See Work Order [Number].”

This story is part of our Best Of August 2021 roundup!

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