|  BlueWolf's Howl   | Comics and Art  | Higher Level  | Photography  | Poetry and Stories  |
|  Chess  |  Letterboxing  |
|  2003 Blogathon Archive  |   2005 Blogathon Archive  | 8th Layer Archive  | Blue702 Archive  |

BlueWolf's Howl

« Knowledge Management | Bluewolf's Howl | Universal Tech Support »

May 31, 2003

Mind Moochers

No, Mad Bull, you're not a mind moocher. You work with the system. You KNOW something. You HAVE something to give back. There are many that don't.

As you can see, Mad Bull inspired this post from his comment in my last post. Perhaps there are people that don't know how bad it really is out there.

The first example that comes to mind is brought to us courtesy of Greenland. We have a "sister site" in Greenland. There are a couple of sysadmins there. The network was a wreck. They needed help desperately. My coworker (Joel from a Faire Wedding) was sent there to help them out. [This was before I started working there - a little over a year ago.]

All three of us have attained the NT4 MCSE. We know what it took to get there. I'm already a W2K MCSE, Joel needs one more test (that he's dragging his feet on) and the other guy needs three more tests. [He's doing the "I want to completely master the material before I take the test" thingie...but, that's another post.] We all know the basics. We all have areas where one is better at this and another is better at that. We know (and accept) that there are differences in ability and differences in experience within the ranks of those that are sysadmins. But there's a basic level of knowledge that we all have. And based on that foundation of knowledge, there are things that we all can understand.

Back to Greenland... Joel goes there to help them with their network. It's a train wreck. He starts fixing things and tries to help the sysadmins there to understand what he's doing and how he's doing it. He asks the MCSE if he took the Exchange exam as one of his electives. The guy says, "I don't know." WHAT? How do you not know? So, he asked him what electives he took. He still didn't know. HUH? How does that happen? I self-studied for the Exchange exam. I read 4 thick books cover-to-cover and was doing nothing but email migrations all day at work... It was a tough exam. I remember it. I passed the exam back in 1998 and I still remember every bit of preparation. My other elective [TCP/IP] was just as demanding. It took a lot of time and effort to learn subnetting. How do you not know what electives you took? Hmmm...perhaps it's because someone else took the exam FOR you?

No matter what country you live in, you cannot expect that those in other countries are following the same rules that you are in your country. This is not to say that only the United States follows the rules. There are unscrupulous people everywhere in every country that always want to bend or break the rules. We all suffer for it. The users in Greenland are certainly suffering for it. They have an admin who meets the criteria on paper, but never bothered to learn the material he needs to know to do the job. That's a mind moocher. He wants the position and the job, but doesn't want to put forth the effort to know (or learn) what he needs to keep the system running properly.

And now over to Massachusetts... (yeah, we have it here in the U.S. too) They send a guy from "higher headquarters" to set up four NT workstation clients that are supposed to connect to the network at the higher headquarters. Now, remember they have three MCSEs with clearances that they don't TRUST to create these workstations - so, they're sending an "expert" that they know and trust... And I'm supposed to watch the "expert" and learn about how to set up these special workstations.

I watched in horror as he bumbled through setting up NT workstation on this machine. (He didn't even get to the "special" part, yet.) It was very obvious that he didn't know the operating system. Oh, this "expert"... he's got a MASTERS DEGREE in Information Systems and he's A+ certified. Huh? Okay, so he had trouble installing a new Fortezza card reader... But, he had trouble installing Workstation? It was an abomination. I had to get the other admins to see this. They watched. They rolled their eyes. He obviously had no clue about what he was doing. He was following a checklist and STILL could not get it right. And he's getting PISSED that I'm not sitting by his side and learning all I can from the "guru"...

He finally gets the workstation set up. Then he takes out a tape and starts doing a backup - quite pleased with himself. He's going to do an NT backup and restore it to the other 3 machines and be done. Ta-da! He's sooooo slick. I should be swooning. I was puking. I went and got Joel to witness this. Joel asks him what he's doing. He explains what (he thinks) he's doing. Joel says, "I want to see you do this," and leans against the wall with his arms crossed, smiling. The guy says, "haven't you ever seen this done before?" Joel says, "I want to see you do this."

We watch as the backup runs. We watch as he tries to restore. We watch as the deck of cards comes tumbling down upon his head. Now both machines are toast and he's cursing... He has no idea what went wrong. He's seen other people do it. We look at each other and leave the area. He wouldn't listen to us even if we did try to explain it to him -- he's the expert. Never mind the fact that we use Ghost on a regular basis to deploy W2K workstations. Never mind that we know better than to boot up two machines on a network with the same IP address. It's all irrelevant. He's the guru. We're supposed to be watching and learning. I'm waiting on the "learning" part...

Okay...so let's move onto the "special" part of these workstations. They use individual workstations with a personal address book in the profile. Since there will be multiple users on *our* workstations, it would be best to use the Contacts for addresses - so they can share the same address book (which you can't do simultaneously with a *.pab file - especially in an individual's profile path). I ask "the guru" about it. He says, "you can't - you have to use the *.pab file." Okay. Why? "Because it says here on page 28 that you use the *.pab." Okay, I can read. But, WHY do you have to use the *.pab instead of contacts? "Because it says here you have to use it." That's not an answer. I had to fight my way to his supervisor to get a real answer. The answer is: you have to use the PAB because the way this version of the software was written, it will only copy the certificate (public key) to the PAB and won't copy the certificate to the Contacts entry. The next version will allow you to use Contacts. The next version isn't authorized yet. [It's currently running now and we're using Contacts now - but at that time it wasn't authorized. For those "in the know"...I'm talking about DMS 2.2 vs DMS 3.0.]

Oh...and I got in trouble for not helping this guy. Yeah, he works for a different company. Yeah, he works for the one of the companies that wants the contract to remote manage OUR network so they can "get rid of us expensive technicians"... Hmmm - I refuse to cover up his incompetence.

One more personal example... Another company from the same "higher headquarters" group. Same as above. These are the "experts" that want to replace us with...

Two guys come out to install the new firewalls for us. The idea is to set up two new firewalls and replace the two we have (on older hardware). Joel is the firewall expert. He's been working with and maintaining the two firewalls since they were originally installed. He's done a number of upgrades to the software and knows those firewalls inside out. He took his own backups of the system and configuration before they started working on them.

They get to our site - out come the checklists. They start - and so do the problems. A task that was not supposed to involve us ends up being on our shoulders. So now we have to do our jobs with one less person -- Joel's busy helping the "experts" with their install. Since this is getting to novel proportions, I'll be brief. It's deja vu all over again. "Joel...I'm having a problem with this. Can you check your router configuration?" [The routers were not altered - why would a firewall changeover to the same IP addresses and names be a ROUTER problem?] And why are we helping the "experts"??? Mind moochers.

Ah...and here's an example from an Exchange newsgroup:

Hi, I am a Newbie, I want to connect two site in one organization. How can I
do that?

PS. two site, each site in its own domain.

Thanks you very much!!

Where is this guy an admin??? Even if he's setting it up on his own home test network or lab... Sheesh... This is covered thoroughly in ANY of the books on Exchange. How do you get a job when you have to be walked through the tasks that comprise that job?

You get the job by being willing to do it for less money. And you're willing to do it for less money because you are putting forth less effort. If you had to sacrifice nights and weekends studying... If you had to put up $125 US for each test... If you had to pay $50 (or more) for each book... Then you want something back from all that effort. You want something back from those 8 to 10 years of networking that you've put in... And you don't want someone who has "an interest in computers" taking that job from you by their willingness to work for less and then ASK YOU FOR THE ANSWERS to cover their incompetence and laziness...

That's a mind moocher.

Posted by BlueWolf on May 31, 2003 09:22 AM