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Stuck

Second day back after surgery, I had my 6-month probationary meeting.

I passed. They’re stuck with me.

Hehehe.

Ha.

HahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHA*cough*cough* sorry, erm, don’t know what came over me there.

Ahem.

Surgery

For those wondering about the lack of posts over the last week, the explanation is that I had to undergo some unexpected surgery on Wednesday, and have been off work since then recovering. Normal ranting will hopefully resume next week.

Objects in mirror are less Angry than they appear

People who know me in real life will be well aware that I’m not nearly as rage-filled in person as I am on this blog. That’s partly down to the cathartic nature of writing, and partly due to the fact that I’m genuinely a lot happier in my new job than I was working in my previous institution. That, combined with the ongoing summer break, means I’ll be posting less frequently in future.

Starting next week, I’ll still be posting, but not daily. That schedule may or may not continue once September arrives, depending, of course, on how much the existing RM curriculum network irritates me once I’m dealing with it on a daily basis once more. Only time will tell.

Graft

If you are a supplier wanting to do business with me, know this: I take a very dim view of offers of free gifts.

I don’t care if it’s the way business is done.

I don’t care if every other school is doing it.

I believe in better.

The money I spend is not my own. In my current position, it is taxpayer’s money. If I accept something from you that is only of use to me, in return for money that is not mine, that is theft. There is at least one person in my school that takes part in this kind of bribery, and I have been extremely critical of it. I refuse even to look the other way, let alone be party to it.

By all means knock some money off my order. If you waive the next-day delivery charge, you bring yourself that much closer to ‘best-value’, even if your goods prices are no better than the next guy. Offer me, personally, anything more valuable than a promotional mug or pad of Post-It notes, and you are only hurting your chances of me using you as a supplier.

It’s not your computer

Not long ago, I was faced at another school I support with a situation where a teacher who had recently gone on maternity leave had to be pressured by management to return their laptop while they were away, so that their substitute had a laptop to use.

The ICT co-ordinator bemoaned the ignorant excuses they gave: “I don’t want people looking at my personal email or files!” This was someone who didn’t really understand that if you log on with a different account, you get different files and settings. This explanation had to be put to the teacher several times before she finally relented and brought the laptop in.

I listened and agreed with all of the ICT co-ordinator’s complaints, before pointing out that they need not have had the discussion at all. Management only needed to say one thing.

“This laptop is not yours. It is the school’s. We decide who uses it.”

Platitudes are relevant in certain situations, but the fact is, teachers in many schools seem to think that the laptop they are loaned is a perk of the job. It isn’t. If it was, it would be a taxable benefit. So, until they start paying tax on ‘their’ laptop, they can shut their cake-hole and comply with any request the school makes regarding that equipment’s use.

Anger Management

Sometimes when I get annoyed, I’ll have to vent to someone to cool off.

Sometimes I go for a walk.

Sometimes it becomes that day’s blog post.

Eventually, it becomes clear that there is only one way to deal with it.

I handed in my notice today. At the end of June, I will be taking up a Network Manager post in a school much closer to home. It’s more responsibility, better pay, and less than 10 minutes drive from my house.

It’s hard to be angry on a day like today.

Promotion

Two years ago I learned that my nickname amongst the sixth form was “The Angry Man”. It eventually inspired the name of this blog.

Today, I learned that I have been promoted. Apparently, I am now known amongst the sixth form as “Captain Angry”.

Procedure

LadiesMan and I were having a discussion the other day about our frustration over people failing to follow seemingly simple instructions, when I had an epiphany and realised why we find it so irritating.

By their very nature, computers rely on procedure. A computer program is a set procedure. The computer follows the procedure, and does exactly what is asked of it. If this doesn’t achieve the intended goal, then it’s because the procedure is wrong.

As IT staff, our jobs revolve around the same sort of procedure. If we want the computer to do something, we follow a procedure in order to achieve it. Sometimes when there are unexpected problems, we have to discern the correct procedure, but the next time we have the same problem, we know what procedure to follow in order to fix it. The procedure is there for a reason. Not following it, or deviating from any part of it, will mean that the end goal will not be reached.

In this way, our jobs are an exact science. It may sometimes seem like working with computers involves a lot of luck, intuition, and voodoo, but that’s only because the underlying logic behind a problem is often not fully understood.

Most people’s jobs do not follow this rationale. Teaching, for example, is by no means an exact science (even teaching science). A teacher can (and often needs to) improvise and deviate from a lesson plan in order to effectively teach a particular class or individual student.

All of which brings us to the crux of the problem.

IT staff expect procedures to be followed.

Maybe our jobs make us that way; perhaps a person with that mindset is drawn to the job; maybe a little of both. Nonetheless, it is how we think, and for some of us, how we live. Even at home I have procedures. I have a particular order for doing the dishes. It’s not just habit; I’ve thought that procedure through and have reasons for each step being in the order it is. When I then have to deal with people who do not think this way, it’s not just a conflict of work styles, it’s a conflict of my very nature.

When we tell someone they need to come straight back after lunch, and they say they will, we expect them to do that. We don’t expect them to detour via a computer room for 15 minutes so they can quickly check their email, thus interrupting the work we are doing on their account which requires them to be logged off.  If they do this, and then turn up at our office complaining that their account is still broken, we are forced to tell them that we will now have to start over and that they will have to wait even longer before they can use their account.

They will grumble, blaming us for not warning them of this consequence. We will grumble because we made it perfectly clear that they needed to come to us directly and that an explicit warning should not have been necessary since they had agreed a course of action under which the problem could not occur.

In the end, neither view is right. It is simply a fundamental difference in the ways two people can think. It will always be so, and it will always be frustrating for both parties.

At least now, I’m aware of it. From this day forward, so are you.

No, the Internet is not broken.

The Internet (Credit: The Opte Project)

Every single IT Support professional has heard it at some point.

“The Internet’s broken.”

No. No, it’s not.

Microsoft’s Ray Fleming explains our shared dislike of this moronic phrase in a little more detail: “3 billion nodes, millions of switches/hubs/routers, thousands of undersea cables. They’re broken?”

If the Internet broke, the result would be epic in proportion. I think it’s fair to say that the Internet is now the primary communication network for pretty much the entire planet. Ignoring the utter implausibility of the concept, let’s assume  that it suddenly stopped working in its entirety.

Worldwide communications would be utterly disrupted. Almost all electronic commerce, globally, would stop. There would be chaos. It would be the only story running on any news channel, assuming they could broadcast at all given that a lot of their equipment relies on the Internet too.

So, even if it had stopped working, I’d well know about it by now. If you come and tell me that the Internet is broken, either you’re wrong, or you’re wasting your time.

The Opte Project)

The Internet (Credit: The Opte Project)

The Test

The IT Support department has a film library of exactly 1 title.

The only reason we have it is for use testing whether a DVD player, or DVD playback on a computer, is working correctly. Its provenance is a mystery; the only history of it I know is that it has been customarily passed from technician to technician over the years. A little over a year ago, the guardianship of this hallowed object passed, fatefully, to me.

The DVD is Anger Management, starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson.

The funny thing is, I’ve never watched past the first minute.

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