Posted tagged ‘work’

Keeping alert at work

June 23, 2009

For IT support staff, sometimes it’s drought, and sometimes it’s flooding.  For me at least, it’s rarely much in between.  And since our hiring freeze, incidents that are within my scope are scarce.  I read this article today on Tech Republic regarding night shift boredom on the help desk.  Now, I don’t do “help desk” per se, and I don’t do night shift, but I do have the same essential issue – my quality of work depends on my alertness of mind.

I like Jeff’s ideas.  He’s pretty much hit the nail on the head.  I would add a few ideas, though.  Here’s my comment I posted on the thread:

First thing (which you alluded to) is physically keeping the body alert. Walking, running, even having a treadmill or bike in the office (depending on your corporate culture) could be a help. Proper ergonomics (especially neck and back) are a must.

Mental stimulation is key as well. I love designing things, so designing a woodworking project or a guitar or a computer program will keep me rolling at all but the most sleepy of times. If you like to hack (in the old-school non-destructive sense), and you have the authority to set up an old ‘retired’ asset, set up a dev box and write code. Save all of it, too. That kind of analytical thinking will not only keep you awake, but will also sharpen your analytical skills and broaden your knowledge.

Eating right is a big factor. While a Coke can provide a short buzz, it also makes you crash afterwards. Eat plenty of fruits/veggies, and take a multivitamin. Stay away from fast food, etc… all the things we already knew but don’t practice. =D

So what are your secrets for ensuring that, when the next phone call or meeting comes, that you are at the top of your game?


IT workers and health

June 2, 2009

It’s an important topic, I think.  See the link for some more information on popular office problems.

One of the things you need to know about IT work

November 10, 2008

So, if you read my seven-part series this April titled “So You Wanna Break Into IT,” you read about some of the things I appreciate (or things I felt you need to know) about IT work.  Today was a good example of oddities of the IT world.

My job is primarily as a desktop support technician.  I’m an onsite one-man Help Desk, handling tiers 1 and 2 on our desktop issues virtually singlehandedly.  And the crazy thing about that is – when nothing is broken, I have very little to do.  In fact, today nothing broke.  I had some other projects to work on for some of the day, but my supervisor’s rule is that when you don’t have issues to take care of, you are free to do what you want.  What a great boss.  But the catch is that just because I wasn’t busy during the DAY doesn’t mean I wasn’t busy all evening.

My job description tells me I am responsible for moving PC equipment.  What wasn’t in that description is moving everything else that users have at their desks (but I end up doing that anyway).  As a result of a recent reorg, we are moving most of our 100 users this week.  And I’m not complaining – the OT pay is great around the holiday season.  But I (along with our network administrator and our maintenance technician) are spending most of our evenings this week moving stuff and testing PCs to see if they will connect to network resources properly after being moved.

So I  don’t mind that much – as I said above, the pay is outstanding.  But I just find it ironic that I spent most of my day not busy (although it was important that I be there just in case something went wrong), and spent my whole evening working hard.  Such is the life of IT staff from time to time.  One of the uniquenessses of the field.

Any strange things about IT work you want to share?  Leave me a comment.  Or if you want, send it to me over email – bfpower at g m a i l dotcom and I will consider “syndicating” it on the blog.  Just put something eye-catching and non-spammy in the subject line.

So You Wanna Break Into IT? (Part 7 – Customer Service)

April 14, 2008

If you cringe when someone says “customer service,” IT may not be the thing for you. In my side work as a technical consultant, service is a large part of my position – I would say as much as 60%. And really, the goal of IT is to add value to the business. You can’t do this if you make the customer feel incompetent, if you appear incompetent to her, or if you stress him out just by being there. There are numerous frightening stories out there about bad CS, and I would suspect that many a business has been damaged or destroyed because they didn’t care about the customer.

And customer service doesn’t stop with the customer – direct reports (and perhaps supervisors too) are customers. My current supervisor is awesome – he feels that we need to provide incredible customer service and top-notch issue resolution. Beyond that, most things are very flexible and common-sense. He empowers us to make decisions about the issues we face, even in an entry-level position (which is especially important with me being some 2000 miles away). It’s so logical. I know not all managers are like that, but it makes for a great working environment here.

This is the last post in this series.  Thanks to all of you who came back and read the whole thing.  I will still be writing on tech topics, so keep coming back!  I’m always on the lookout for other tech blogs, so if you have a site of your own, let me know in a comment and I would love to check it out!  By the way, don’t put more than one or two links in your comment – WordPress automatically blocks comments with too many links.



So You Wanna Break Into IT? (Part 6 – The Money Myth)

April 11, 2008

OK, let’s just admit it. The pay is good, even at entry level. I understand some people in the industry feel they don’t make a lot, but if you have the skills, you can find another job that does pay well. I live in Podunk, Montana, but I still have a stable job with good pay and basically the best benefits package available to anyone in our small town. My wife, son, and I are able to live fairly comfortably off of my income. But one thing needs to be clear.

You have to be ready to work your tail off. You can’t except to waltz in with a couple of entry-level (or higher) certifications thinking you deserve 85K a year (or a job at all, for that matter). In general (and of course with some exceptions), your pay rate is directly proportional to your work ethic. This tends to be true in any field, and I wish my generation understood this. There are no free rides, and the quality of the ride you get depends largely on your determination, not on the cosmic lottery (see installment one regarding passion for work and number four regarding respectability).

Get some entry-level experience and move from there. Some of the most successful IT pros I know got there by climbing the stairs from the ground floor. In fact, probably pretty much all of them did. I started just over a year ago with no degree and a very basic certification (CIW Foundations) but lots of drive and a foot in the door. Now, I hold several more certifications and am in school pursuing my degree, but that means nothing if I had a reputation as a “loafer.”

The “cosmic lottery” people are few and far between. Yes, network – and use those connections. Yes, go to school and get your degree, even if you’re past typical college age (hey, I am…). Yes, call your cousin and ask him about that Unix guy he knows that needs a junior admin. But more than anything else, learn to enjoy work and you will succeed.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” (Edison)

Migrate your printers list with printmig

January 31, 2008

I think that continually learning and growing is the mark of a great IT pro.  In light of that, today I stumbled across a find I won’t forget.  This may be old news to some of you, but if you’re like me, you’ve sometimes spent your time working harder instead of smarter.  Here’s the smarter.  It’s called printmig.  It’s designed for Windows Server, but it works perfectly on XP workstations.  It migrates your printer settings to a new machines. 

At our office, we have about 15 printers set up on our network.  We don’t use a print server (for very good reasons due to the nature of our business).  The problem is, every time I have developed a new image (we have about 5 models of PC out there on the floor, plus at least 3 models of laptop) or edited an old image, I have entered all the printers manually, creating a TCP/IP port, loading drivers, etc. 

No longer do I have to do this.  Printmig allows you to save your entire printer configuration as a .cab file and load it directly onto another machine.  One caveat – you need to make sure any specialty printers (app-specific faxes, Adobe Distiller, etc) have the appropriate program installed before you copy the printers over (I am already accustomed to adding printers after programs in my image dev process, so no loss here). 

One of my rules in tech support is that “if you’re having a problem with it, someone else probably has too.”  So if you’re like me, here’s a little something to help you in your image development.  Enjoy.



So tell me what you think!  Have you used other printer migration software?  I’d love to hear about it.

Why another blog?

January 25, 2008

My idea behind having this blog is to chronicle my own adventures in technology – specifically, in IT.  My hope is that information and discussion on this blog will help you and me in the “stuff we need to get done.”  I hope that you will feel free to discuss and give input.  I intend to primarily cover the following topics:


          technology news

          cultural context of technology

          tips, tricks, and ideas

          solution of tech issues


Of course, if you have questions or want to see a topic covered, let me know.