“We’re dead in the water …”

With large companies, you will often have multiple divisions all running their own IT operations, in addition to the Central IT Department.

What invariably happens is that some bright spark will get the clever idea to centralise the divisions’ IT functions to Central IT.  To save money and reduce headcount are two reasons oft given.

The company divisions hate this as they lose control of their business critical IT.  And lose control of their IT priorities.

The linchpin of any centralisation push is “who controls the funds”.  If the divisions maintain the funding, they can still run their own IT shops.  And buy in their own services.

So now you have the background …

So I asked the question in a Central IT all staff forum,
“Will other divisions be mandated by the CEO to purchase our services?”

‘If we think like that, we’re dead in the water …’, replied our chief sales wallah.

Several years later, I was reminded by a colleague,
“If you sit down by the river bank and wait long enough, you will see the bodies of your enemies float by.”  and “The Chief Sales Wallah has been sacked.”.

“Why Assholes Fool Themselves”

1. You and your organisation are effective despite rather than because you are a demeaning jerk.  You make the mistake of attributing success to the virtues of your nasty ways, even though your demeaning actions actually undermine performance.

2. You mistake your successful power grab for organisational success,  The skills that get you a powerful job are different – often the opposite – from the skills needed to do the job well.

3. The news is bad, but people only tell you good news.  The ‘shoot the messenger’ problem means that people are afraid to give you bad news, because you will blame and humiliate them.  So you think things are going great, even though problems abound.

4. People put on an act when you are around.  Fear causes people to do the ‘right’ things when you are watching them.  As soon as you leave, they revert to less effective or downright destructive behaviour – which you don’t see.

5. People work to avoid your wrath rather than to do what is best for the organisation.  The only employees who can survive your management style devote all their energy to avoiding blame rather than fixing problems.

6. You are being charged ‘asshole taxes’ but don’t know it.  You are such a jerk that people are willing to work for you and your company only if you pay them premium rates.

7. Your enemies are silent (for now), but the list keeps growing.  Your demeaning actions mean that day after day, you turn more people against you, and you don’t realise it.  Your enemies don’t have the power to trash you right now, but are laying in wait to drive you out.

– from the book “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t” by Robert I. Sutton.

“I have a user on site that has over 20gig in a CSC folder in windows”

In a Windows 7 Administration course today, I was telling this story, which my fellow students thought was hilarious.  Back in early 2007, this email forwarded along to me for attention:

RE: Fw: Attn: Issues with the New Windows XP image


I have a user on site that has over 20gig in a CSC folder in windows the folder appears to be hidden and has weird permissions on it most machines this folder is small but this machine it has gone out of control, What is that folder for? c:\windows\CSC

If I can hear from someone ASAP that would be great


The customer leapt to the conclusion that because a company called “CSC” was doing the desktop deployment for him, we’d have nothing better to do then drop 20 gigabytes worth of files onto a random PC.

My reply, remembering that I was dealing with an customer who we were deploying 1600 copies of Windows XP to, was:


It’s not us! 🙂

Google is your friend here:


What are all these files in my C:\WINDOWS\CSC directory?
This is where Windows keeps the files that you have marked for being available offline. (CSC was the working name for the feature now called Offline Files. It stands for Client-Side Caching.)

I still read The Old New Thing daily, and also still tell people that Google is their friend.

Must be talking about Diners Club.

Diners Card Logo - should be called "Arseholes Are Us""It takes you two months to process my company credit card expense reimbursement.  So I get in trouble every month for incurring late fees.  Why must I be punished for your incompetence?"  'Apparently I'm awesome.'

This happened to me once.  One of my previous employers insisted on the use of a Diners Club charge cardfor business travel.  “The Card No One Accepts!”, we’d joke, as few companies WOULD accept it.  “High merchant fees”, was the excuse a retailer would often give.

Anyhow, our “awesome” accounts department failed to process an invoice on time, so I got hit with a charge for $39.34.

Diner's Card - Liquidated Damages

Since then, I maintained a positive balance on my Diners card.

But the really annoying thing??? When I closed my Diners Card account, the bastards at Diners refused to pay me the credit balance.

Diners Card - Credit Balance

Oh yes, after all these years, it still annoys me.  It will be a cold night in Hell before I ever have another Diners Club Card.

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Ball juggling

Sheepie Back in October 2006, one of the CSC Australia sales reps rocks up to my desk
“That price quote Wayne gave us for support 4 different versions of SheepBotherer, is unacceptable, the customer won’t wear it AND I want you to change it!”

Who’s doing the work?
“Ah, Wayne’s team.”

Wayne has a fair idea of the cost to do it, his team has been doing that type work for the last year.
“Ah, but the customer thinks it’s too expensive”

Perhaps the customer needs to realise that juggling 4 balls is more difficult than one ball.

Now go away.

It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled, or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat, and dust, and n blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
– Theodore Roosevelt

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Staff problems

Note: this was a post from 2008, when I was working for CSC Australia.

I’m having all the joys of, not only leading my band of Merry Men, but another group while their manager is away.

And it’s been a painful time.

Issues I’ve dealt with so far:

  1. recalcitrant off-shore Delhi-based IT workers not taking any responsibility for making things happen.
  2. recalcitrant on-shore IT workers not taking any responsibility for making things happen.
  3. a couple of “Health and Safety” issues.
  4. a contractor thinking that we subsidise his 2 hour lunches.
  5. customers complaining that work is delayed (see points 1, 2 & 3).
  6. staff complaining that “we don’t provide any training”, but when I organise funding for training, they can’t be stuffed registering for it until all the training places are gone.

It’s rather like cat herding, which EDS demonstrates below:

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Why Service Level Agreements trend towards BS.

bpc Work with a big enough organisation and you’ll come across the Service Level Agreement (SLA).

An SLA basically says, “we’ll provide you with x level of service, for y dollars.  If we don’t provide you with that service, we’ll give you something in return.”

That “something” might be a partial refund of your y dollars; or a credit towards a future service.

There was one customer organisation who demanded that they have an IT technician based at their head office.  But didn’t want to pay for the premium service.
Big IT Company did the calculations, and said

No, that’ll cost us $10,000 a month to place someone there.  And only $5,000 a month in missed SLA penalties if we don’t.  We’ll take the penalties, thank you.

My, didn’t THAT improve the relationship with the customer.

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A price to pay

Note: I wrote this in March 2007, but didn’t publish it at the time.  As far as I know “George” is still working for my previous employer.  There was a price in saving George.

The day started at 6am, with me speaking with a USA based co-worker.
The day finished at 9pm with me speaking with a UK-based co-worker.

I love working for a Global IT company, NOT.

I do have a couple of work practices that I try and live by:

  • always try and have a "win" on Fridays.
  • avoid those people who schedule meetings on Friday afternoons, they are a waste of space
  • OA5, which was something I picked up from a Dilbert book.
    Out at 5, where all staff should be out the door, and on the way home to their families.
  • POETS day is Friday.
  • Never give bad news on a Friday.

So when my boss rang Friday and said "We can’t afford George anymore, we need to let him go", I was p*ssed.

George is one of the nicest guys I’ve worked with. He’s a fine, righteous gentleman who’s nearing retirement. A quiet achiever.

"Bugger that", I thought.

After having a think about George, I suggested that it would be poor form to sack George, as he’s:

  • one of us, and we should look after our own.
  • working on a sledload of customer issues.
  • we recently gave him an award for outstanding customer service.

Boss advises today (Tuesday) that George has been saved.

I’m happy, (but it’s not a Friday.)

And there will be a price to pay for saving him, I wonder what it will be.

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“Guess I’m buying my own FIGJAM mug then.”

“FIGJAM, what’s that?”, asks my significant other.

Oh, just an industry acronym.

I’ve worked so long in IT, that I was trained on the 7 OSI protocol layers, as part of a job requirement.  I don’t think people learn it these days, unless you’re doing your Cisco CCIE certification.

Anyhow, there is now an 8th layer, as in “It’s a Layer 8 issue”.  The 8th layer is the person who is causing the ID10T error, all because they have not RTFM’d.

Now IT users are funny beasts.  Often when we see a problem reported though to us, it’s not stated clearly.

“It doesn’t work”

… or in one recent case “My computer is slow”, actually was “I am not able to read emails on my BlackBerry.”

That’ll be because Chucky, you don’t have a BlackBerry Service with us.  “Would Sir like us to arrange one?”

The legendary Roger Forsey* tells the story of the bloke who wanders into a hardware store,

“I want a drill.”
’What kind would you like Sir?’
”I don’t know, I just want a drill.”

The customer actually needs to make a hole in something.  Whether he actually wants a drill to do this, is unknown.

* – The sharpest Active Directory bloke I know.  Some of the Department of Civil Aviation stories he tells are hilarious.

FIGJAM F$^& I’m Good, Just Ask Me
Layer 8 The person sitting at the keyboard.
ID10T Idiot
PEBKAC Problem exists between keyboard and chair
RTFM Read The Friendly Manual
Excessive air gap “There was an excessive air gap between the power cord and the wall socket”
ie. cable not plugged in.
ESU Equipment Superior to User
MOE Massive Operator Error

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