Thursday, September 22, 2011

The secret of my success

Or, how to increase your salary, impress your boss and make your job easier.

Ready for the secret? Here goes...


I know... doesn't sound very profound, does it? Yet that's the "secret", at least for any sort of job in a technical field.

I started as a computer technical support staffer many years ago. I still remember how I got started supporting phone systems. My boss told me that I was in charge of every piece of hardware in the computer room, including the PBX. I said, "But Ted... I don't know anything about phones!" His reply was "Oh, just call the vendor for any moves or programming changes."

That's NOT what you say to me if you want me to leave it alone. I watched over the tech's shoulder as he made programming changes. I asked him about the wiring. And when we upgraded the PBX the next year, we got them to toss in two classes: basic database and voice mail.

Over the years at that job, I took three more classes from the manufacturer. I joined the regional user's group and took classes at the regional user's conference. I subscribed to a mailing list for Nortel users. I read articles in some of the freebie magazines.

Every time I came back from a class, I wound up immediately implementing some of my new-found knowledge to solve some problem or other that we were looking for a solution for. And gee... whaddaya know? My title went from tech support to telecom administrator to telecom manager. And my salary climbed to 250% of what I'd started at.

What am I reading today? A chapter on traffic data analysis reports for the PBX that my company uses. You see, this company uses a different PBX than the last one did... so I get to learn all over again.

The more I know, the less I have to call the vendor about... and the more I get to impress my boss when I tell him "Oh, I can do that!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scenes from work.

Help ticket says "Incoming calls rings only once, sometimes it does not ring."

Check the status of the extension in the phone system and see this: Ring Cut Off Act? Yes.

Walk over, find phone, press Menu, ->, -> then "Ringer Active".

User: "You make it look so easy!"

Me: "Twenty years of experience makes anything look easy!

Seriously... the reason it looks easy is that I've made the mistake before of thinking something like this was hardware related, or some esoteric programming thing. Experience is a wonderful thing - it enables you to recognize a mistake before you make it again. So when I hear that complaint now? I look to see if the phone is forwarded, the ringer turned off, or the volume cranked all the way down. It's just that those are the most likely things causing it... and I know that because I've seen it before. And NOT known what it was.

When you realize that you've made a stupid rookie mistake you REMEMBER it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gee, how time flies. So much for actually doing anything on this blog in a timely fashion. Photobucket

Well, let's see if I can start something again. Neanderpundit has an interesting meme on his blog:

Take the knife out of your pocket and take a picture of it, and post it. Or post a picture of the same knife from a brochure or whatever.

No, not your favorite knife, or your prettiest, but the one that never leaves your side. Mine’s a Schrade 897 Uncle Henry, made in USA, from when they still were made in the USA. it’s stainless because I can’t find carbon steel ones anymore.

I thought about it... and realized that there are actually THREE knives that don't leave my side these days. 

From left to right, that's a Super Leatherman Tool, a Buck Vantage (engraved on the blade with GOAL and NES (Gun Owner's Action League and and the working tools of a Belly Mason, a Case Masonic Hobo Trapper. (the trapper comes apart so you can use the knife and fork separately).

I've carried a pocket knife of some sort or another for around 40+ years, every day. The day that I got my Cub Scout Knife & Axe merit badge, my dad took me down to Goodman's Hardware and bought me a pocket knife. I've carried one every day I can ever since. Except when disarmed by cruise companies, airlines, court officers (jury duty) and similar nervous nellies who think that I can't be trusted. 
And I've noticed something - very few people carry a knife these days and most people seem freaked that I carry such a "large" one. (why do I hear Paul Hogan in my mind right now? ). Yet I USE the darned things most every day. Why not carry one of man's earliest and most useful tools?

I don't understand. Perhaps this is a failing on my part, but I simply don't comprehend. And it's not even a new phenomenon; I'd get this reaction 20 years ago when I carried a Schrade that was about the same size, but fully serrated. I used that on a daily basis to open shipping boxes for work... and people would be freaked out by how "big" it was. 

Look, folks... A kukri is a big knife. A Gerber Mark II is a big knife. A Ka-Bar (what our boys carried for a combat knife in WWII) is a big knife. A folding pocket knife is NOT a big knife; it's the right size to hold and be useful. Would I be more "civilized" if I carried this?

Does smaller = "civilized", even if it's too small to be terribly useful? Or is it that the smaller "gentleman's" knife is too small to be a weapon? In which case, is it "civilized" to be unarmed?

*sigh* I guess I don't get the whole "politically correct" thing.