bynkii (bynkii) wrote,

It's "kick the IT guy" season again

About once a year, something happens where you suddenly get the IT needs to learn They Serve Us, not the other way around meme going around. This year, it's over the iPhone. Now, let me say that there have been some really stupid things said about the iPhone.

From GracefulFlavor we have this:
If the iPhone wants to play ball with business users, it must do Exchange. Apple has opened itself up to Windows in ways many thought we would never see (iTunes and Safari on Windows, Boot Camp), so perhaps the same strategy should be applied here.

The problem is, it ignores one very real fact:

Not all business rely on Exchange or high-end groupware servers

I know that there's this assumption that business communications must always equal Exchange, but it's not true, not at all. Is Exchange extremely popular? Sure, no doubt. Is it an absolute requirement that you must use Exchange to have a usable business communications infrastructure? Not even close. Is it true that you must have <expensive-assed groupware suite> to have a usable, well-run business communications infrastructure?


Don't get me wrong, i think Apple needs to deal with Exchange users much better than their dreams of forklift upgrades and client-side plugins would show, but the idea that everything must work with Exchange to succeed in business is inane. Just not in Jeff's world. As he says in his article:
As a guy who works in management at a large corporation, I think Gruber’s idea sounds fine in theory and on paper, but won’t get very far in practice. More succinctly, I think Gruber’s idea is ahead of its time and the enterprise culture isn’t ready, on a wholesale level, to look at open Exchange alternatives.

Read that quote carefully. I'll almost guarantee that Jeff's idea of a typical user base is not anything below 4 digits. That doesn't exist in his world.

But Jeff? There's a lot of small businesses who don't want to piss around with Exchange, and the required infrastructure it makes. They don't want to deal with that and a BlackBerry server, or Exchange + Active Directory + IIS, (What, you think Outlook Web Access comes from magical webmail fairies?) and GoodLink. In fact, there's a lot of business moving towards the Google idea of things. For them? The iPhone is brilliant. That market is big enough to keep Apple selling a lot of iPhones. Jeff's article really only applies to large scale enterprise, and even then, I think he's overstating some things.

I think the Gartner report that Macworld is talking about in this article is just so much bulldookey, and not worth the electrons its printed on. Gartner has no idea whatsoever of what Apple is planning on doing with the iPhone, yet that doesn't stop them from spouting out of their nethers on how it will suck. Ah well, gotta make a living some how I suppose.

However, that's not what I'm annoyed about.

John then goes on to quote this Craigslist post and says:
This guy perfectly captures the sort of guy I was talking about when I asked yesterday whether anti-iPhone IT managers view their role as serving or ruling.

Now, I am not going to say that there aren't some seriously insecure, power-mad, empire-building assholes in IT. I've worked with far too many. But just like the vast majority of cops are not straight out of Serpico, the vast majority of IT people are not power-mad assholes who think the company lives for them.

Not that you can tell anyone that, especially far too many Mac users. Just say "IT" and you get boos, hisses, occasional spitting. I get that. I understand that IT sucks for too many people. It sucks for IT people. What, you think being the Cop/Janitor/Sewer Worker of the tech revolution is some kind of glamor job? Stop watching Tron. I got news for you, most of the stuff IT pushes is rarely IT's idea. Crap like WebSense is not how we want to spend our days. But lazy managers, and people too stupid to know when to not surf porn, or that spending all day on is not a good idea, create that situation. Of course there's no technical solution, but hey, let's foist it on IT, then blame them when the solution sucks, as it must. I also think Gruber took that post a little too seriously, it's obviously just a rant, although I've seen far too many of the situations the post covers for my own sanity.

Aaron Adams did a really good job of counterpointing the Craigslist post, and I think I'll steal the idea. Not that I disagree with Aaron's replies, but I think hammering home the fact that the basic ideas in the Craigslist post are legitimate has value. So here's mine:
1.They are all my computers; I am only letting you borrow them. People constantly laugh at me when I say this, with no idea that I am absolutely serious. I have been given the responsibility of every computer in the office; they are all under my auspices, bar none. if I am gracious enough to give you access to one of my computers, then be nice to it. Talk to it kindly, call it a nice computer, and occasionally pat the monitor. Your computer – and your IT guy – will thank you for it. Also, this applies to printers, the network connection to the outside world, the videoconference system, and the phone system. Mine. All mine. Get it? Good.

Like it or not, unless you paid for it, that's not your computer. It's the company's. Large, small, doesn't matter. Not your personal computer. You may be the primary user of said computer, but it's not yours. That means that on a regular basis, company policy is going to trump your desire. No, it was not my idea to not allow you to install stuff. Personally, I don't care. But the truth is, there's a lot of stuff, even if it's not malware, that is going to hose up your ability to work. Part of my job, and it's not my favorite part by a long shot, is to keep that computer running in the way the company wants not just so you can get work done, but so you don't adversely affect others. That means telling you "no". You don't like it? Neither do I. But at the end of the day, it's a company resource, just like your desk. Do you really want to fight for your right to play WoW? Are Bonzi buddies worth protracted intercine warfare?I'd like to think they aren't, but that's your call.
2. If you are going to use my stuff, then use it properly. This means LEARN ABOUT FUCKING SPYWARE. If you absolutely HAVE to go to some site during work hours (and we’ll talk about this in a minute), then make sure, when the popups start showing up, you click the little black X in the upper right hand corner. Don’t click the big flashing “OK” in the middle. Don’t. Whatever it is you think you should do – if it’s not that little grey X in the uppermost right corner, don’t do it. Don’t. Just. Fucking. Don’t.

I don't expect you to do my job for me. In fact, I'd rather you didn't try, it's harder than it looks. What you see as "five seconds of work" is the result of over fifteen years of experience and education. However, just like you have to know what is and is not safe to do in your car, your house, at the airport, well, you have to learn what is and what is not safe to do on your computer. I know you think "how can I cause problems by myself?". Well, keep in mind that a single laptop with Code Red/Nimda took down the entire Nortel network at their home office, or so the story goes. Since the source was reliable, I'll accept it as truth. One single computer, behind the firewall can cause a huge amount of problems, especially if the human does an unsafe thing. I am dealing with hundreds of you, and there's just one me. In my department, four me's. Including the help desk, eight me's. That's not a great ratio. So that means, when I remind you not to click on stuff if you don't know what it is, or it isn't what you expected, or whatever the reason, please, for the love of dog, don't click on it. If you have a question, call me. Yes, I can be curt on the phone, as I regularly pack 12 hours of work into an 8 hour day, but in the end, calling me or someone else in IT is the better solution. Don't like having your system hosed, or reimaged a lot? Then stop doing things that we tell you not to do. Believe me, we wish as much as you, no, wait, far more than you will ever know that malware wasn't a problem. But it is. So when we tell you that no, the Wall Street Journal doesn't love you, there's not a million dollars for you in Nigeria, and eBay most certainly did not send that email, could you try listening to us? Just the once? For a change?
3. We know. Yeah, that’s right, we know. Every little site you’ve gone to. All the email that passes through your computers. All the instant message chats you have. We know. All of them. So the next time you decide you just HAVE to visit some idiotic website with a movie of two guys fucking a chicken, the next time you HAVE to spam emails to all your friends about the cute guy you hooked up with the other night and he gave you chlamydia, the next time you HAVE to talk to your ex-girlfriend about hooking up one more time behind your fiance’s back, think twice about who might be reading that shit, and if you’ve pissed your IT guys off. Because we know.

This one is dead on. I do know. I run the email server, the firewall, and all the file servers. Within this network, you have no secrets. Think you're hiding shoutcast or whatever from me? Nessus and other tools say you're wrong. However, the other side to this is, as Aaron said, I don't care. Trust me, unless you're Jenna Jameson, and you're having an affair with Jenna Bush, there's nothing you mail, IM, or whatever that I care about enough to read. For one, your life is fundamentally of no interest to me on most levels, and for two, getting caught pulling that kind of crap is a career-ending move. Trust me, for me to go through your email requires three levels of explicit approval from people far above my pay grade, and even then? Y'all are boring as hell. So do us all a favor. Stop being dumb. You're a grownup, you know what's appropriate work behavior. Exert some friggin' self control, okay? The last time I had to read someone's email store, I ran out of vodka. There's some seriously disturbed people out there.
4. Do not take advantage of us, or our toys. It’s awful nice of us to provide you with a boatload of network storage space for your own private use. Oh, and incidentally, that network storage space at work? IT’S FOR WORK PURPOSES. That means take the seventeen gigabytes of mp3s from some shitty hip-hop artist that you got from some peer-to-peer and GET THEM OFF MY FUCKING NETWORK. I won’t ask nicely again. And listen to some real music – hip-hop sucks.
I know that some times, iPods/Zunes/Whatever break, or you have some situation where you need to dump a ton of personal stuff on the network or your hard drive. But don't try to hide it from me, and don't get snippy when I delete it to create space for work files. The company servers are not your MP3/Porn storage. Your hard drive being full because you've been ripping all the DVDs on the planet to .VOB files? Not my fault, not my problem, and yes, in that case I will tell you to get rid of them or I will. Unless DVD rips are part of your job, don't hassle me because I have the temerity to suggest that your work computer be used for work-related items. For laptops, I am more flexible, but still, don't be a jerk about it, or the next time, I very well may just delete them without warning you, and when you complain, hide, and well, behind company policy. You want me to bend, don't kick me when I can't bend as far as you like. I am far better at deleting than you are at hiding, and I can justify it better than you can.
5. Learn to share. Look, I realize that the computer came with Windows XP. I don’t like it any more than you do. But really – that T1 we’ve got? It’s for everyone, so you can’t hog all our bandwidth by downloading the entire Fedora Core 3. Do it from home. If you want to bring it in to work and dual-boot your drive, I really don’t have a problem with it. But go back to kindergarden first and realize that hoarding is a bad thing, ok? Thanks.

He's absolutely right here. That bandwidth to the world is not yours. It's everyone's and work has priority. If you need to download huge files for work on a regular basis, or the occasional (LEGAL!!) file for home/etc uses, that's not a problem. In both cases, just let me know so when I see Nagios screaming, I know what's going on. I don't like surprises. No IT person does. We are not "Surprise People". But if you abuse the bandwidth, then when, not if, the orders come down on high to "do something", well, I'm going to lock you down so hard you'll think you're on CompuServe with a 300 baud modem, and when you complain, I'll show you a detailed history of your greed, and then the orders from on high, and I'll not feel the least bit bad about it. Don't make my day suck, I'll not make your career suck.
6. The computer I let you use is for your use alone. This is somewhat malleable, where if someone at work needs your machine for a minute, you can let them use it. When your fourteen year old son comes to the office with you on Saturday and you let him use one of MY computers, then bitch to me about spyware, well, I’m just gonna tell you to lick the crack of my ass and spit in a cup. Sure, I’ll fix your machine, but after that you’re gonna have two icons on your desktop; “Go To Work” and “Go Home”, and “Go Home” won’t work until 5:30. Think I can’t do it? Try me.

I have a kid. I know that most offices are boring as hell for kids, and some times, you have to bring them with you. However, that doesn't morph a company - provided system into a temporary PlayStation. If you let your kid on the computer with your login, and that computer suddenly grows spyware and hoses up my network? I'll come to you first and try to handle it there. Give me a bunch of attitude, and I report you to the security team, and let you hang from their gibbet. You think I'm mean? You ain't seen nothing yet.
7. Are you a Program Manager? Then keep your fucking hands off of my fucking computers. This is non-negotiable. You people could fuck up a free lunch. Get the fuck away from them or I will stab you in the neck with a pencil.

8. Are you in sales? Please see #7. You people are worse than Program Managers. Drink bleach.

9. Are you in Engineering? I realize that most of you have forgotten more about hardware than I will ever know. This doesn’t really give you the right to attempt to overclock the PC I’ve let you use to Ludicrious Speed. Please use discretion. Attempting to eke out a few hundred more hertz is fine; requisitioning a Freon Cooling Unit because 3.06G just isn’t fast enough is a little overkill. Trust me.

I've yet to see that any job description makes for better or worse users. Some of my biggest headaches work in IT, within printer-heaving distance of my cube. Don't think I haven't been tempted. HP 4350s land hard. But don't act like your job gives you priviledges. Unless your job puts you way up at the top of the totem pole, you don't get special. There's some exceptions. Yes, <department> gets away with murder, well, reasonable murder. Why? Because they work with me, they listen to me, and they show me they can handle a little extra leeway without it blowing up in my face. They also give me doughnuts and good bourbon on my birthday. Learn from them. Seriously. If nothing else, the less of a problem your actions are to me, the less time I have to spend cleaning up from them. That works out for both of us. Oh, and if you come bitching to me that the CEO gets to do damned near whatever they want, and you, the awesomely powerful middle manager doesn't, I'm going to laugh at you. Seriously, get a clue about corporate politics already.
10. Oh, so you have a laptop of your own? Keep. It. Off. My. Network. If I catch an unknown machine anywhere on my net (please see #3), I will fuck that machine up so badly your high-school TI calculator will be a Beowulf Cluster compared to your new paperweight. Also, I don't fix home computers. Tough shit. I hope you get herpes.
If you have to bring a non-work laptop onto my network, then please, come talk to me. Let me make sure it's not going to do bad things, because you aren't aware of the thousands of ways it can do this. Let me help you set it up so you can use it to get work done, instead of trying to backdoor the company systems. Because if you don't, and your laptop causes me problems, I won't sabotage it, but you'll never get it on the network again, and I will find you. (Hint, I really DO know where all the ethernet jacks and wireless networks are. You cannot hide from me, so stop trying, it's insulting.) I will then turn you over to the security team. You don't want that. Ever.
11. If you want something from your IT Department, email is your friend. This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but still – if you need something from me, email it to me. Don’t blindly call me, don’t magically materialize next to my desk and sit there while I’m working on something, waiting for me to pay attention to you – email it to me. I’m not doing shit for you until I have a paper trail originating from you about it. You can follow up with a phone call, that’s fine; you can come over and say, “I just shot you an email, can we discuss?” – that’s fine too. If you just come over and leer at me while I’m in the middle of something, I will ignore you, and mentally give you cancer with my mind.

I guarantee you that if you try to use anything but email, well, by the time either one of us hangs up the phone, I will have 20 emails with the same priority as your request, (#1, isn't everything?), but the difference is, I will have forgotten yours, because it's not in email. Email is my memory, it is my working life. If you email me, the chances are, I might be able to do it nigh-instantly while I'm doing 20 other things, (ADD is your friend in IT). Voice, or worse, coming to my desk grinds my ability to work to a halt, and puts me behind. That means that even if I do remember what you wanted, or even who you are, I'm sure not going to make your request a priority if I can avoid it, since your request just hosed up the requests of 20 other people. You're not the only person with needs. Send me the email, and good things happen. Anything else? Not so much. Unless you're the CEO, in which case, I know who butters the side of my bread I know is buttered. CEOs go to the head of the line. You? Don't.
12. Anti-virus software. Look, people, it’s there for a fucking reason. Don’t try to shut it off, please? Can we at least agree on that? We spent a lot of money on that software so that it would be up and running all the time, and it’s not really my fault if you have fifty applications open and “the anti-virus software is slowing my machine down!!” So I’ll make a deal with you; if you don’t shut my anti-virus software on my computers off, I won’t shove an abacus straight up your ass. Ok? Good.

Look, here's a secret: IT hates, hates, hateshatesHATES AV software. It's a huge pain in the ass, breaks everything, (No really, don't believe me? At once point, Acrobat Pro 6 for OS X on multiple CPU G4 towers where Symantec AV was installed could ONLY work if you disabled one of the CPUs. Trust me, your hate of AV is nothing compared to ours), grinds performance to a halt, and is the biggest time-sucker known to man. It blows on every level, but until I get the budget and sanction for my "beat malware writers like a baby seal" project, we're stuck with it. Worse, in many environment, AV software is a legal requirement, or at least regulatory. If you think for two seconds that I'm going to take a government bullet for the team so you can avoid AV software, you are not just kidding yourself, you are pathologically delusional. I'll throw you to that pack of wolves so fast, you won't remember leaving your chair.

Keep in mind that the same idiots making your life hell make my life hell, and then force me to make your life even worse. The more you work with us, the more we work with you. The better you treat us, the better we treat you. You only have to worry about your little slice of the world, we have to worry about the whole friggin' thing. Sometimes that puts us at odds, but stop thinking we create most of it. For the vast majority of us, it's just as much a pain as it is for you.

So can we please stop tarring IT with this damned "power-mad" brush? Especially Mac users, who as a rule, are completely unable to deal with people calling them names. You don't want IT to call you "Mac Users" with the same tone they use for "Crackhead vomit is on my shoe", then stop referring to us the same way.

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