Obey Wheaton’s Law!

As some may recall, a few months back, I pulled the trigger on beginning my own IT cybersecurity company, and it started off rather slowly, despite my best efforts in advertising and word of mouth. In August, I was invited to join a business networking group in my area that met once a week for a breakfast meeting/conference and to pass along buisness, and which only allows one member per business field, meaning in a group comprising major lawyers/law firms, doctors, accountants, real estate agents, and several local and national banks, I was the sole IT person there. They were only too happy to have me aboard, and with very good reason from what I discovered soon enough.

Slowly, I began hearing horror stories that the previous IT company representative they had, who was the owner and head tech of the company… let’s just say he was a certified, Grade-A jackass. He overcharged the other members every chance he got, told them to get equipment that was either unnecessary, a horribly bad and overpriced mismatch for their business and then either refused to set it up or would set it up so badly, they’d be forced to call him back at extra $350 hourly expense, gave vague and contradictory advice, his schpeals every meeting were little more than “Look at me, rah rah rah” sessions with very vague info on what he actually did, and in one case, flat out told one of the other members in the chapter who’s the owner of a prominent accounting firm in the State, with customers covering a good chunk of the Western Hemisphere, and whose soda budget is bigger than half the member’s salaries combined, that he wouldn’t provde tech support for her company any more because her company was now too small for him. Needless to say, when the annual membership committee met, they gave this guy Das Boot, letting the other chapters in the state know not to bring this guy in.

In just the month I’ve been with them so far, they’ve referred some good business my way, and that’s just the beginning. I already have three more major referrals from them, two with the possibility of being $6k-7k each for cybersecurity pen tests, a third from the vice president of the state chapter to do his company’s annual PC cleanup, and yesterday, the lady who’s the head of $accountingFirm was so impresed that I got rid of all the bloatware the previous IT guy had put on her computer, making her computer usable again, she wants me to be her go-to IT guy from here on out and even asked me to do some reasearch for her on a new SAN/NAS system with a virtual AD server so she can store the 45+ years of digitized client files such that her employees are able to better access them, since the previous IT guy refused to take the job. And she told me yesterday as I was finishing up, that she would do everything in her power to steer more IT business my way, especially from some of her prominent clients that have businesses of their own, or who are in need of cybersecurity as well as some good old-fashioned tech support.

Just goes to show that obeying Wheaton’s Law has it’s perks.

People really do think we’re magicians…

It’s early. I’m the only one here. Hardly any offices are open, but we have to have an early guy both in case someone does call and also to work on imaging computers, and this week that’s me.

I’m in the middle of imaging three different machines when I notice there’s a ticket in the queue, and it’s not one of those automatically generated warnings that I can essentially ignore. It’s a VIP asking me to remote to a user’s computer and figure out why she keeps losing connection.

Okay, a few things…

First, I cannot remotely connect to a user’s computer without their permission. Even if I wanted to. Our program prevents this. And needless to say, this VIP did not have the login credentials I would need to get into her computer.

Second, even if I could, an issue like random disconnects is something that should really be looked at in person. Sure, I can check settings, change any that look wrong and do a network analysis, etc., but chances are good that it’s something environmental causing this issue (and the fact that she’s the only one having it doubles the chances that it’s something physical and near her).

Third, if she really is losing connection like this, and I’m connected to her remotely, I’ll lose connection as well, and that means getting her to log me back in, etc. once her connection is restored. Even doing something like an IP release/renew would cut me off from her computer.

I called the VIP, who seemed surprised to hear from me. She literally thought I could remote into that computer, work my magic and fix it. In fact, she specifically wanted it done now because the user is in meetings all morning and she thought it would give me all the time I needed to root around looking for a solution! Yeah, sorry, but the user not being there makes things harder, not easier. Even for issues that aren’t about connectivity, there might be restarts necessary, and I might need to login as the user, meaning the user has to be there in case I can’t get reconnected or we need their login.

But apparently I’m a magician and I should be able to figure out a way around these things…

Outside my scope of support

A few days ago, I picked up a call ane began with my standard schpeal. The lady on the line was a nurse located at a site somewhere in the Pacific Nrthwest. I only say that to emphasize the distance between her and myself, as I’m located somewhere in Sunny South Florida.

She called in because she insisted that it was “critical to patient care” that she receive a 2nd monitor, and so she can do her job. I informed her that her local IT folks would be responsible for it, and she replied that she was given our number by the local IT shop. Confused as to why they would do that, I explained to her that my group in The Matrix handles issues far more sizeable than a request for a monitor, and none of my group works even remotely close to her facility. Getting agitated, she insisted on knowing why I couldn’t just give her a monitor.

That’s when I began breaking it down for her. I told her first that we didn’t even have any monitors to give her, as we are not her local IT shop. Secondly, we were not in the habit of doing work simply because an IT team decided to be lazy.  Third, the travel costs from Sunny South Florida to the her office in the Pacific Northwest would be sky-high, and the travel and budget folks would have my head on a silver platter, and that’s even if I somehow got it approved, and found a monitor to give to her. And lastly, a 2nd monitor hardly qualified as being “critical to patient care”, and if I had to hazard a guess, one of her coworkers in the ward got a 2nd monitor, she saw how shiny said 2nd monitor was, and wanted one as well. I told her to call the local IT folks back and request a 2nd monitor, and if they had any trouble, to call me.

I never got a call or an email back.

How not to stay employed…

The last month or so, I’ve been playing dime-store psychologist to $supervisor, all on account of the FNG.

For several months now, the FNG has been marching to the beat of his own drum, and while I generally have no problem with that, he seems to be marching himself right off the proverbial cliff and trying to take our department down with it. For starters, he honestly believed that he no longer needed to be a part of the official shift IM, which is what we’ve used not only to disseminate info, but to discuss issues of the day, figure out who is taking which ticket/wmail/phone call, but also to ask questions if one of us is unsure of something, as well as generally talk to each other, and check whether anyone on the shift is doing their jobs.

But not the FNG. Not only was he refusing to participate, he was actively taking himself out of the chat and setting his IM program to “Do Not Disturb”, meaning we couldn’t IM him, forcing others to email and call him on the phone, neither of which he was responding to in a timely manner, if at all. And when both $supervisor and $assistantSupervisor asked why he refused to participate, he became defensive & beliggerent, saying he wasn’t required to participate in it, and was only required to work for 65% of the shift, and no more. He also claimed he was doing the work of someone several paygrades higher, and more work than anyone else on any of the shifts. When $supervisor asked him to provide evidence to that effect, as well as written documentation in any of the SOP’s where it said the staff only needed to work 65% of the shift, that the shift IM was optional, and other claims he made, the FNG outright refused, instead going to the Union to file a grievance.

$supervisor wasn’t too terribly happy with that. When $unionRep contacted him to discuss the grievance, $supervisor provided several volumes of evidence, including written Reports of Contact, IM’s, emails and call logs spanning the last 4 and a half years, in which the FNG wouldn’t even answer basic questions, or going off on random tangents that had nothing to do with the question or topic at hand, as well as ticket counts, showing in fact that the FNG had the lowest count of tickets, emails answered, calls answered and spent the longest time of anyone in a “Not Ready” status in our phone system. In addition, many of the call logs $supervisor provided showed the FNG was, in fact, taking personal calls from his wife or other numbers not associated with any facility, as well as IM’s from several staff members showing that the FNG was spending most of the times he actually worked on tickets or emails, asking for assistance on even basic issues that people in the same pay grade as him had long-since mastered. That, or the FNG would IM them to ask when the next holiday was, after several emails were already sent out with the dates of the next several holidays, and the FNG himself was told of when the Federal holiday was.

$supervisor provided all of our SOP’s, showing that the claims the FNG made of the 65% work-shift requirement, the IM being optional, etc., were mere figments of the FNG’s imagination. $supervisor even brought forth evidence of several cases of outright insubordination on the part of the FNG, in which he refused to perform even basic work requested of him by $supervisor, and several instances in which he completely ignored $supervisor and coworkers alike, remaining utterly silent during times when there was a flood of emails and tickets, and doing none of them. Dates, times, as well as copies of emails and IM’s were provided to $unionRep, as well as the few responses $supervisor received from the FNG in which he was being outright insubordinate.

And even after the FNG’s telework was revoked for the insubordination and failing to perfome his duties, he filed yet a 2nd grievance, stating that he needed to be on telework because he claimed that not only was he a new father, but his grandmother had recently died and he was never given any time to grieve. This information was all new to $supervisor and $divisionChief, who was also getting involved since the FNG had named him in the grievance. In $divisionChief’s case, the FNG claimed that $divisionChief was yeling at him, when the only proof he could provide to that effect was the FNG’s claim that $divisionChief sent several IM’s that were all in caps. And at no point did the FNG even request to put leave in to go tend to his grandmother’s affairs, or to help take care of his child, despite the FNG’s assertions that he did (and his lack of evidence thereof).

Also, $supervisor had sent an email to the staff of all three shifts, asking if anyone was willing to volunteer to switch to the day shift for the forseeable future, since it was one person short on account of a staffmember’s long overdue retirement. Instead of a simple “yes” or “no” response, the FNG sent a 5 paragraph reply-all email to everyone, telling $supervisor in no uncertain terms (with the entire staff watching) how to do his job, including telling him what should be done to cover the extra slot on the day shift (such as overtime for the techs, doing a round-robin, etc.), his claim that he (the FNG) was doing the most work of anyone on any of the shifts, his claim that he’s trying to better himself by taking classes and becoming an Uber/Lyft driver, and because of that as well as his continuing health issues, the fact that he’s a new father, and an assortment of other topics, that working on the day shift wouldn’t be condusive to his needs. The best part came when one of his coworkers replied to the FNG’s email with “In other words, No”. Whether the FNG responded to that, none of the rest of us know, but needless to say, that was duly forwarded to $unionRep.

Despite the incredible level of stress the FNG’s union grievances have caused, $supervisor has little doubt of the outcome, and the fact that they will rule in our department’s favor. $supervisor wryly admitted that if anyone was going to file the first Union grievance of the department, it was a tossup between the FNG and the Obnoxious Union Narcissist. And talking with other staff on the FNG’s shift, the nicest thing anyone said about him was that the FNG was “worse than useless”, and if he ended up leaving, quitting, or being fired, the performance of the shift, and the entire department overall would actually improve.