I really do enjoy my job very much. I get to do so many very different things. I'm one of two primary people for supporting the modems we have in our 400+ patrol cars (I have a depressing number of AT commands to communicate with these modems totally memorized at this point, and I came up with the current programming). I'm one of a very small team that supports the Mobile Data Computers (MDC's) that use these modems to get criminal history data from our system remotely. I'm one of a slightly larger team that supports our 600+ desktop computers (I really started in the industry being Microsoft Tech Support for Windows XP, I can do basic troubleshooting on Windows issues without conscious thought). I'm part of an even larger group that supports the criminal history database for our department, used by at least 6 other agencies as well as our own. I deal with user issues and server issues on this application. The server that runs this application is Unix, so I've also learned many Unix commands, even a little VI. I am a certified Administrator on this application (there was a test and everything). I am THE person responsible for maintaining a map of the county which is displayed for dispatchers in their communications center, and deputies out in the field. It displays the location of calls that are recorded by 911 call takers and also the location of the cars that have GPS antennas for their modems that we’ve set up to work with our application on the Unix server (all that modem programming and Unix knowledge is for a reason). I've also been handed the role of helping manage Windows servers, Exchange, Active Directory, file shares, and the domain in general. I’m the person to ask Excel questions, even though most questions I get asked are basic formulas or formatting issues. I can make data in Excel sing and dance to any tune you want… just name the tune (macros, advanced formulas, conditional formatting, pivot tables). I even know some basics about networking, though mostly from a home networking perspective. Personally I wouldn't class my networking knowledge above basic desktop support (in this day and age, if your computer is not connected to a network of some kind… you won’t be reading this). If you ask me to configure your firewall, switch or router, I won't know where to start without hitting the web (even then, I'll probably assume you could probably get better advice from someone who actually knows what they're doing). If you ask me to fix your network connection, I will get you connected, or I'll be able to tell you exactly where the connection breaks (so hopefully how to fix it). Which leads into the "but..."
We're working on a huge project right now. We're rolling out 230 HP Blade PC's. I'm working quite closely with the contractors helping us set this up (I’ve left work well after 7 most nights this week, at 9:30 one night... I usually leave at 3:30). When we had the first meetings with these contractors, they were a little confused as to what I was doing there. Other people were being assigned all the primary roles (yet oddly I was doing the most talking from our side). They finally asked what my roll was supposed to be... my boss responded, "Tam's my SWAT Team" (I got a warm fuzzy feeling). So far my SWAT duties (other than learning as much as I can about the whole process, and doing anything else that needs to be done when there's no one else handy to do them), have been pretty much keeping things going when we come up against something we did not foresee. We started off with a networking problem. We were planning on using dynamically assigned DHCP groups for all of our blades. We soon came to realize that because of certain special requirements of our Criminal Database software and security requirements by the state and federal governments that we would have to reserve IP’s based on MAC address in DHCP (I should have forseen this, but our Networking Guy didn't either). We didn’t think of this until after the fact, because our entire network up until now has had statically assigned IP’s. That’s how our Networking Guy set things up. Which leads into the “but…”
I had never personally messed with setting up DHCP before this project began. I knew the very basics of it, because it’s used in home networking all the time, but I knew nothing about setting it up and administrating it. Tuesday evening, after the person who we expected to be in charge of the DHCP had gone home, I was telling the consultant how I’d never done anything as far as setting up DHCP , as he walked me through setting stuff up. Thursday morning I was telling them how I’d already reserved an IP for all the available MAC addresses we had up on the subnet in question, before the meeting, so they’d be ready for whatever we were going to do after. I now appear to be the DHCP person. You’ll notice that DHCP person is somehow not the Network Guy, which leads into the “but…”
Our Networking Guy is a Pro-Unix/Pro-Linx/Anit-Windows Guy. Every single networking problem I go to him with, his first response is, “It must be a Windows problem.” Never mind that I was originally a Windows tech… if it was Windows problem, by the time I call the Network Guy, I think it should be kind of assumed I have done a reasonable job in fixing any kind of Windows problem. When I worked as a front line Windows Tech Support person, there were consultants, the people the front line called for support, who cringed to see my name flash on their phone, because they knew I’d already done everything they could think to tell me. There will be times when I forget something I should have tested, or should have gotten some information I didn’t, but that’s the exception to the rule. I don’t mind too much if you ask me what I’ve checked/done (I would probably even ask people to do it again as a troubleshooter), but I HATE it when, without even asking any real questions, or asking only basic setup information, it’s passed back as a Windows problem (Static IP, Subnet Mask, Default Gateway, DNS is set right, must be a Windows problem). If I call and say your stuff don’t work, there’s a very good chance it doesn’t. Which leads to the “but…”
And here’s the “but…” Today, I explained for the third time to Network Guy, who keeps his DNS server in a VI file on a Unix server (is this really just a shared host file? Or am I missing something), that DHCP meant DYNAMIC IP assigning. He thought it should mean if the IP changed the computer name should too… or how would DNS keep up? I can’t count the number of times he’s said that to me this week and I’ve tried to explain how it actually works, keep in mind, I’m not a networking person. I almost had the person in my unit who’s job it is to train new recruits try teach him what the word DYNAMIC meant ("As in what the first letter stands for in DHCP?"). This is the THIRD time during the main push of this project, which has lasted a week so far, that I’ve explained that Dynamic assignment though DHCP will mean that a computer name might have a different IP the next time it logs on (we already know the important ones to the state, which will be statically assigned though DHCP). If he tries to bring it to my attention again, I think I may snap.