IT Philosophy

Words of Wisdom About Your Career & Life

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This article is wise beyond the wisdom of the ages because it is precisely what I ‘take to the bank’ when I supposedly “waste my time” playing World of Warcraft. The two big ones are Strategy (long term planning/goals) and Tactics (specific, short-term, goal-oriented plans for achieving an essential piece of your strategy). B$

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Role Reversal: The Band vs. Apple Watch

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AP MICROSOFT FITNESS DATA F

In a lot of ways, I’m starting to draw the conclusion from their actions that Microsoft is acting more like Apple did in it’s heyday and Apple like Microsoft…as this article about Microsoft’s The Band points out.

I’m rooting for Microsoft…who used to be my arch-enemy and less for Apple, who appears to be lacking in the vision that used to emanate from it.

Keep an eye on Yahoo as well. Necessity to stay alive rears it’s entrepreneurial head. Down but not out.

Innovation comes from taking risks with capital, effort by a team of talented believers and evangelists and is sparked by the vision created by entrepreneurs. Does that describe today’s Apple? B$

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 vs. Apples new MacBook, March 2015

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I thought it was important to put a date in the title because technical comparisons have a very short half-life.

Since our shop appears to moving away from Dell laptops in favor of Microsoft Surface Pros, I thought it would be cool to say a couple of things and then point you to the article that compares it to it’s Apple equivalent.

I believe a lot of IT groups that are close to their customers (and recommend/purchase these items for their customers) really need these kinds of comparisons along with doing their own homework to form a clear understanding of the good, bad & ugly aspects of these consumer-level platforms. Then you can give your customers usable advice and perhaps avoid your own IT headaches when you have to support this stuff. <smile>

Although, in our shop, the tendency for our Mac users is to go to the ‘Air’ versions of Apple’s product line, the comparison I link to at the end of this rant is a still good comparison to make. Just keep in mind that this article doesn’t take into account OS differences; always a factor in enterprise-level computing.

So, some comments about the Surface Pro:

  • Surface Pro’s 1 & 2 kinda sucked on features, usability and performance.
  • Surface Pro 3’s features, usability and performance are outstanding.
  • Imaging a Surface Pro 3 is a BITCH because it doesn’t like to boot to our MDT deployment share from USB Stick. That may be solved that using the Microsoft’s new Surface Pro drivers package. I’ll plug those puppies into MDT and see if it helps; then report my success/failure.
    • I’m also sure that I haven’t researched this issue enough. I’ll bet there is a method to boot these puppies to MDT that we haven’t tried yet because of the task-time-compression that our IT shop is dealing with currently.
  • In summary, the two biggest complaints on the Surface Pro:
    • It’s a bitch to image (for now!)
    • The thin keyboard (an extra purchase) has a “PC Jr” kind of feel to it. For those of you that aren’t 117 years old, another way of saying that is that it doesn’t provide enough bio-feedback on your fingers when you type. If you’ve ever tried to use the Win8.1 keyboard on a touch screen for speed touch typing, that’s the equivalent experience. I venture to guess that this complaint only comes from those who were trained on traditional keyboards, which give you a specific tactile feedback that you’ve hit the right key and that the “keystroke” was actually registered by the computer. I think the younger crowd have & will take to new input devices it quite easily, IMHO.

All that said, here’s the article on Tech Republic. Be careful: they’re data miners at Tech Republic. Just read it, close the page then clear any cookies they left you, lest they sign you up for tons of spam.

B$

 

Why is Internet Explorer security such a challenge?

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This is the best brief primer on IE vulnerabilities and browser/internet exploits that I’ve seen in awhile.

It also contains some great advice for the IT pro and the typical user as well. Don’t forget to click the links within the article if you don’t understand something. F’rinstance: I didn’t know what a ‘Zero-Day Exploit‘ was.

SEXY New Site ALERT! – DeployHappiness

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I just found a insanely great deployment/group policy site for those of us ‘in the BIZ’ called DeployHappiness .

You’ll find this intro screen at http://deployhappiness.com/about-deployhappiness/

Joseph, you’ve put together a kickass site, sir.  Thanks!

AboutDeployHappiness

When to Pull the Plug

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IT support people are pure problem-solvers. Now this fact can be a blessing or it can be a curse.
I recently met up with a support guy that was telling me about the time he spent two hours troubleshooting a printing problem just to find that it was third-party firewall that was The culprit.
If so my first question was what did you do once you found out it was the firewall? And his response was, I spent the next hour and a half spinning my wheels trying to fix a firewall I knew nothing about.
Finally, a coworker handed him a slip of paper with the support number for the firewall company and said you need to push this user to the firewall support staff.
We all want to solve problems. That’s why we get paid the exorbitant amount of money that we’re being paid. But it is a smart and seasoned technician that knows when to pull the plug.
This benefits not only the technician who does not want to waste his/her valuable time chasing ghosts but it also saves the user’s time. The users time is valuable as well. Maybe even – dare I say it – more important?
So I’d like to ask you IT people out there is to consider not only your time but also your user’s time and gauge your troubleshooting to that end. And that sometimes means passing the problem on people who know way more about the issue than you do. B$

Sent from my iPhone

IT Helpdesk: Remember Your Roots

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It finally happened…it all fell into place (for once).  After three years of not being able to get the time to do it, Summer came and I was given the time and the latitude to get the classroom computers RIGHT this time.

So I meticulously created a classroom image with all the trimmings and then imaged all of the classrooms Bing-Bam-BOOM.  I then arranged everything in a clean order on the start menu (Win7 desktops) and on the taskbar so that professors, staff and visiting lecturers alike would MARVEL at the clean, efficient and …dare I say it?… beautiful interface.  I then FROZE the masterpieces in Faronics Deep Freeze and went on to my next Sistine Chapel.

And then one of my staff customers, in charge of a set of classrooms lowers the boom on me: “I need the icons in this order: X then Y then Z but only after Q.”

SonofaB… !

This is precisely what I thought of when the request was made:

Now normally I wouldn’t be so sensitive about such matters.  But, I had spent many hours planning & executing these upgrades to the classrooms, and I didn’t expect the opportunity to do it again for another 3 years.  So, naturally, I was initially quite pissed.  However, being the consummate professional that I am <smirk> I called the customer up and tried to explain that if I changed those classrooms, I would have to change all of the other classrooms in order to provide everyone using those computers with the same experience no matter what geographical location they taught at.  I was not convincing enough and I had promised half-heartedly to consult my manager and see what could be done.

Was I going to consult with my manager?  Uh…NO.  These things are delegated to me for a reason and I’m not about to take his confidence in my abilities so lightly as to run back to him every time I need a simple decision made.  I appear to be a rarity in this respect and I’m proud of the fact that, good or bad, I can:

  • Determine if the problem really requires escalation to an already overworked manager.
  • Make the call and then stand by it.
  • Man-up if I EFF up.
  • Keep my mouth shut if I do a good job.
    • (I’m not always successful at keeping my mouth shut, as my coworkers will attest)

So back to the issue at hand:  Having REAL problems to deal with, I’ve been sitting on this customer’s request for a few days.  So here I am on a Saturday morning, remoting-in to each classroom and changing the fricken icons.  I’m waiting for one of you to ask why.

…glad you asked.

It dawned on me last night as I ‘escaped’ from work that I had forgotten my helpdesk ‘root axioms’ and I had also forgotten the basic libertarian tenets that I claim to cherish:

  • Your customer is right unless they’re stupid and even then you must consider their request.
  • Decisions affecting the end user should nearly always be made by the person closest to the end user.

My customer is a very savvy, smart and dedicated person.  Her request came with the fact that she is on the front lines of these classrooms and has to deal with all of the issues that come up.  Bottom Line:

  • She’s not making these requests lightly.
  • She knows way more about what her customers need than I do…PERIOD.

So…while I have one window open updating the classrooms in my office dressed in a T-Shirt and boxer-briefs (ewwwww!), I’m writing this in my technical blog to remind you out there that you may think you’re the SHIT (and to some extent, you’re correct) but you don’t know everything.

The more you remind yourself of your limitations.  The more you remind yourself that those closest to the problem usually have the better solution.  The more you remind yourself that you are INDEED ‘The SHIT’ and that you need humble yourself before those who know way the EFF more than you do…

…The better technician, customer service specialist and person you’ll be.

B$