With over 20+ years’ experience in IT and 40+ years of being a geek I have grown up with technology gradually enveloping the world, from the days of simple home pong games on a grandstand, using some form of magic to get games to load from cassette tape through to supporting data centres hosting thousands of servers for tens of thousands users I think I have seen it all.
I would describe working with technology as paralleling managing a squadron of 4-year olds attending a grizzly bears picnic, no matter how great the promises of behaviour somethings getting bitten...the kids or the bears. Despite the sheer mental trauma this has inflicted on my poor psyche I have also had the great (mis)fortune of encountering some of the most hilarious moments of my life. From home/business users, colleagues, management, directors and at times myself...I think my ability to be shocked by anything has all but gone.
It would only be fair to share some of these with you all, far too many for a single blog entry so I shall make this an ongoing series :)
The Desktop Backgroud
Now this story goes back to a time where your IT teams consisted of people who somewhat fell in to the role, our curiosity for technology and creativity to miraculously resolve issues through mystical arts was only surpassed by our resolve too...how can I say this clearly...too completely f**k about where possible.
To set the tone and help you identify the mentality of my team and I, we were in our early 20's, enjoyed significant consumption of alcohol and generally having fun ...at the time South park had not been on the go all that long and we could be seen and audibly heard echoing the wonderful phrase "Timmy" to each other whenever and wherever opportunity presented...an unoccupied phone in an open plan office, across the floors of an industrial factory, the directors conference room speakerphone....nothing was really off limits.
It was during one of our highly effective brain storming sessions which were the source of our greatest "creativity" we decided we needed to create a unique company desktop background to convey to our userbase the accessibility of their talented IT team. For inspiration we chose to somewhat emulate the poster for "Trainspotting" with us all collectively giving either giving the middle finger or the V's (we were a team of three) ...our brain storming session continued so we could identify the most suitable information we wished to portray to our users with us finally deciding that "?Company Name? IT Department - F**KING your Computers since 1999" was the winner.
We then took advantage of group policy (apply settings to networked computers - for our none technical readers) and deployed our desktop background to our spare laptop, I know what you are all thinking "it got deployed to all office computers"...nope that would have likely been a more favourable result than what did happen with it. We immediately deleted our group policy and had a chuckle at our desktop background then tucked the laptop away in its bag for it to sit long enough that we forgot about our desktop background modification.
The day finally arrived when my colleague received a phone call from the directors’ conference room, a rather frustrated and grumpy director demanding a laptop immediately as his has failed and he needs to deliver his presentation. Without a second thought, my colleague reacted like a heroic caped crusader (albeit with no cape and significantly less finesse) leapt in to action, grabbed the "spare" laptop and was off round to the directors’ conference room in a flash.
With a quiet knock on the door of the conference room he was asked to "come in" in a manner somewhat reminiscent to that of a head teachers office. He opened the door to find the entire board of directors, various team leaders from the production floor, a senior technical team of a third-party application developers and their own directors...a sight that easily transformed any IT person in to a feckless bumbling ne'er-do-well. He successfully connected the laptop to the conference room projector, booted up the laptop with the expected "Windows 95" boot screen and they were presented with the usual windows logon prompt. With the greatest of pride, he presented the keyboard to the director as if passing the Olympic flame to its awaiting cauldron...the director who was clearly already a bit embarrassed and frustrated over his technical issue bashed in his password and was presented with "your account has been locked out" response...this one doesn’t work either he snapped. This could have been sorted out as soon as he phoned if he had shared that snippet of information...but nope no such luck.
Our technical caped crusader dove in to action and for simplicity and time efficiency used the test user account...logged on successfully and in fully projected 24 foot by 15 foot display the entire conference room was presented with "?Company Name? IT Department - F**KING your Computers since 1999". A look of sheer terror befell my poor colleague...his IT career flashing before his eyes he hesitantly looked round the room to a group of people with the same stupefied look on their faces...except for one director who thankfully burst in to hysterics provoking the same reaction in everyone else.
A quick removal of the offending background, transfer of the directors’ PowerPoint presentation and a very quick swift toe out of the conference room back to the Batcave to regale the story to me and the other member of my team. Ironically, we never actually provided a proper companywide desktop background.