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IT Crises vs. Vacation: Sometimes It Isn't Pretty

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the could-put-strychnine-in-the-guacamole dept.

Businesses 352

CWmike writes "It's true that IT systems have become essential to business operations, but the successful functioning of the IT department shouldn't rest on any one person's shoulders. All told, vacations serve as mini tests to prove if a department can function when key players are away. That's the theory, anyway. In reality, IT departments sometimes flunk. The results can either be comical or turn out to be a serious wake-up call to organizations that need a better Plan B. To prime your mental pump before your own vacation, Computerworld compiled anecdotes about good vacations gone bad."

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352 comments

There can be only one... (0)

alphatel (1450715) | about 3 years ago | (#36712138)

It's essential to have some help from the outside during your IT admin vacation [nyte.com]

Re:There can be only one... (2, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | about 3 years ago | (#36712530)

The flip side to being "one deep" is you are more valuable. I would lean towards hoarding knowledge and being on-call. I don't WANT my employer to be comfortable functioning without me.

Be good at giving verbal instructions and at typing them on the fly for emailing.

Re:There can be only one... (4, Insightful)

Flyerman (1728812) | about 3 years ago | (#36712588)

You are weak to rely on your own knowledge to keep yourself employed. Be good at managing others in IT and you'll be far more indispensable.

You can, and will be replaced, and are foolish to think otherwise.

I would fire you for that (5, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about 3 years ago | (#36712726)

The flip side to being "one deep" is you are more valuable. I would lean towards hoarding knowledge and being on-call. I don't WANT my employer to be comfortable functioning without me.

Business is a team sport and you are definitely NOT being a team player. I have fired people for doing exactly what you are suggesting. It doesn't make you more valuable, it makes you a liability. You are putting the organization at risk for your own gain. If you make everything dependent on you and then you get hit by the proverbial bus, your selfishness has endangered everyone who depends on you. Single point of failure is a bad thing and information hoarding makes you a single point of failure. If the people you work for tolerate that kind of behavior from you, they are extremely foolish.

Re:There can be only one... (5, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 3 years ago | (#36712772)

I off and on contracted for a place where this was hugely important.

What they'd do is come up with some bullshit reason they were giving a bunch of people 2 or 3 extra weeks of vacation but it must be taken within a short time frame (that quarter or the next two quarters), usually times to align with the summer already planned vacations, and sometimes not entirely bullshit.

Either way, if you were gone for about 3 weeks, and no one really needed you for that time off, your job was going to be axed shortly. Maternity leave? No problem, your job will definitely be here when you get back because we'll try not to fill it at all, and if we don't need it, you're gone as soon as we're legally allowed when you get back.

It's slimy, but it's business.

Fault tolerance is a serious problem. If you only have two people who know a system, both of whom work in the same area, and both get the same infectious disease for a week you have a problem. On the other hand, having 3 or 4 people with redundant skills is a waste of money. I can see the appeal of cloudsourcing to a 3rd party in that regard.

On a personal basis, if you don't have something you, and only you can do until the day you retire you're taking serious risk. That doesn't have to be technical of course, you can be the only one who knows how to deal with the crazy redhead secretary in another department who bothers you all the time, or you could be the only one who knows how stuff in storage is laid out or whatever. It's a tricky balance between 'manpower intensive to replace' and 'crippling the company if you get hit by a bus'.

Re:There can be only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712854)

When push comes to shove, I've seen employers willing to pay for multiple people, in addition to a number of consultants, in order to be able to deal with someone who the company normally can't do without.

It is extreme, but a lot of PHBs are penny-wise, but pound foolish, and when ego steps in (say PHB versus admin who runs the show and keeps everything going), they might hemorrhage cash trying to replace the admin, but they would do it.

Re:There can be only one... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712882)

The flip side to being "one deep" is you are more valuable. I would lean towards hoarding knowledge and being on-call. I don't WANT my employer to be comfortable functioning without me.

Be good at giving verbal instructions and at typing them on the fly for emailing.

First thing I tell people who work for me is, "If you hide things just to make yourself more valuable and get you better job security, that tells me you don't think you're good enough to keep your job on just your merits. And if YOU don't think you're good enough, neither will I."

The real problem (5, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 3 years ago | (#36712152)

at least in the states is, companies have figured out they can get one person to do the work of two and pocket the other guy's salary. I'm seeing this everywhere in the form of longer wait times for services. It's also really screwing the economy because it means there's 1 less job available, so higher unemployment and less money circulating. We're heading back to the 1800s, when our masters argued that idle hands were the devil's playthings, and the lower class would just spend the time drinking anyway... Kiss your vacations (and your 40 hour work week) goodbye.

and that lead to the hit by bus problem what to yo (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 years ago | (#36712202)

and that lead to the hit by bus problem what do you do then hot shot?
Make person work from the hospital room high on pain killers? What if they are to out of it to work?

Hire some one real fast and hope they can get up to speed real fast on what your setup is like? and you better hope that there is some one there who knows how to hire tech people.

Have some other person fill in the roll + work there own job and hope they can do the tech stuff? And how long can you get by with that before burn out or there own job gets backed up?

Re:and that lead to the hit by bus problem what to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712234)

Most companies stupid enough to follow the OP's observation are stupid enough to bet that nothing catastrophic will happen to key people in their organization.

Basically, stupid companies will do stupid things and will suffer because of it. It's only a problem if it's systemic and I haven't noticed that yet.

Re:and that lead to the hit by bus problem what to (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712290)

Have some other person fill in the roll + work there own job and hope they can do the tech stuff?

This one. I work at a branch office for my company, and our IT department is chronically understaffed. We've got two people, covering a office of 600. When one of them was unable to work for a while (I don't know the reason) they had one of our chip designers cover for him. Apparently the "logic" was that our EDA programs run in a Linux environment, therefore designers must "know Linux", and isn't Linux all there is to IT? This arrangement went on for a few months.

We've also had our technicians forced to fill in for the facilities "team" (one guy) and at one point a test engineer was required to work as the receptionist/mailroom operator after the current one was laid off.

Not saying it's a good thing, but it's what companies have decided they can do.

Re:and that lead to the hit by bus problem what to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712650)

"Make person work from the hospital room high on pain killers? What if they are to out of it to work?"
That didn't stop D*P*nt. My fiance was a sort-of 2nd-in-command for a position that had no official 2nd-in-command. Her department was forced to bring in someone to downsize their IT; after firing most of the support (the Engineers *loved* getting Delhi on the phone for support, let me tell you! "What is METLAB? I have never hear of METLAB only.") staff, they started getting rid of everyone but the top person maintaining the database of engineering software licenses and engineers' workstations---except that the top person was less than a year from retirement and had been out on surgery.
When they called her, less than 24 hours after a full-anaesthesia surgery, to ask if she "really needed" my fiancee as her right-hand-(wo)man [she was going to be out for several more days, at least, following surgery, and had another surgery scheduled in another few months, mind you], she said something like, "Um.. I.. really.. need.. can okay.. not with her," so she was let go. Mind you, the papers you sign before surgery warn you not to make any important decisions for at least 24 hours following general anaesthesia!
I could continue to bitch about my fiance losing her job here, but my beef is with the exec brought in to lay people off---who didn't respect the team leader's request not to be bothered after her surgery. She *was* high on painkillers, still had GA in her system, and he expected her to make personnel decisions regarding a person she had been training to take over when she retired.

I didn't follow the fiasco afterward, but I did hear they didn't have much fun when she was trying to retire.

Re:The real problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712280)

We're heading back to the 1800s, when our masters argued that idle hands were the devil's playthings

You have a master? I have a boss. I think I see your problem.

Do you do what your boss tells you to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712610)

Then he's your master. Deal with it.

Re:Do you do what your boss tells you to do? (1)

Nursie (632944) | about 3 years ago | (#36712648)

Yeah, really not. I can tell him to take a hike and sell my skills elsewhere.

For now anyway (2)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 3 years ago | (#36713022)

but if it's one thing our ruling class is good at, it's screwing guys like you. Look at the IT field. They spent 10 years frantically training people for jobs that were being sent overseas (or given to H1-B visas). Hell, during the worst unemployment in 80 years they're arguing for MORE H1-B visas. There's even a law firm that specializing in telling businesses how to offer a job without having to hire an American (they're videos on youtube of them, too lazy to google right now).

Re:The real problem (4, Interesting)

Ephemeriis (315124) | about 3 years ago | (#36712398)

at least in the states is, companies have figured out they can get one person to do the work of two and pocket the other guy's salary.

This.

I'm working at a small hospital. Our entire IT department is just three people - one clinical liaison, me, and our manager.

The clinical liaison is awesome at what she does, but she can't build a server or fix a network issue or any of that. Her job is to train the nurses and explain the issues they have in terms we can understand and things like that. She isn't supposed to be technical support.

My manager is certainly skilled... But he's stuck in meetings most of the day, or working on grant proposals, or putting together purchase orders, or whatever. He's rarely available to fix technical issues.

Which means that all of the day-to-day support, and most of the longer-term projects, fall on my shoulders. I've been begging for another technical person for months, and it just isn't happening.

So I'm getting stuck working longer hours... And support is still suffering. It takes me longer to get to the little things, which gives them time to grow into bigger things. And the bigger things are getting fixed as quickly as possible, which means corners get cut. There's not enough time to properly plan/implement/train on new projects, which results in more things going wrong...

The end result is that I'm doing sloppy work, and causing more problems, which means more sloppy work... I can see what is happening, but I can't really do much about it. There's only so many hours I can work before becoming absolutely useless (As the 17-hour day I put in last week showed very clearly. I was completely useless the next day.)

I've got vacation time coming up next week... Which I've had to cut short, due to go-live for a new product... But I've still got a few days off. And, while I'm really looking forward to the break, I'm kind of dreading what I'll face when I come back to work.

Re:The real problem (4, Insightful)

JoeRandomHacker (983775) | about 3 years ago | (#36712504)

Here's a thought: stop working longer hours; you are just reinforcing management's bad behavior. At this point you are clearly too important to sack, so no worries there. Do your excellent job at a reasonable pace, and keep a backlog of things you have to do, making it available to interested parties who wonder why things aren't getting done faster. And when new work arrives, let them know that while you would be more than happy to fix their problems right away, there is a pile of other stuff to get through first, so it will have to wait. And most of all, stop worrying about it. It may be that nobody ever wises up and get you some technical help, but at least you'll be less overworked, and maybe a bit happier.

Re:The real problem (1)

TarPitt (217247) | about 3 years ago | (#36712688)

You can choose to stop working longer hours

And your company can choose to eliminate your position the next time they are thinking about layoffs.

Refusing to work insane hours gets you tagged as "not a team player". People so tagged get on the short list for reduction in force.

In most cases, employment protections do not exist in the USA, especially if a termination can be made to look like a layoff.

Re:The real problem (5, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 3 years ago | (#36712740)

It's like this. I work to enable me to enjoy the rest of my life, not for its own sake. If my life is really shitty as a result of my job, then I might be better off without it.

This is one of those things that happens because we allow it. If IT employees were willing, across the board, to demand proper respect and consideration from their employer, then there would be no problem. Until we stop cowering in fear of losing our jobs, we're going to be screwed unless we happen to get lucky and have a nice manager.

Re:The real problem (3, Insightful)

todrules (882424) | about 3 years ago | (#36712532)

It sounds like you are really in a downward spiral here. You need to start looking after yourself more and putting your foot down. It is commendable that you work so hard at your job, but at what cost? See about taking your original, planned vacation. Fill your boss and coworker in on the upcoming deployment, and let them handle it.

Re:The real problem (1)

mickwd (196449) | about 3 years ago | (#36712408)

"companies have figured out they can get one person to do the work of two and pocket the other guy's salary".

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2011-07-07/ [dilbert.com]

Re:The real problem (1)

hitmark (640295) | about 3 years ago | (#36712808)

Dilbert, being on the ball since 1980s.

Re:The real problem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712430)

The real problem is lazy whiners who feel entitled to be "given" a job, then they don't actually do the job well at all. Systemically, everything falls apart from there. Whining about having to do work takes about the same energy as doing the work, but somehow people like you expect to be taken seriously for your whining.

Wah, wah, wah. Cry about "the man" and your "corporate masters" and whatever other populist watchwords you need to hide your fundamental inability to compete. It's not my problem that you can't keep up.

Re:The real problem (1)

SkipStein (785325) | about 3 years ago | (#36712534)

I agree. Too many do the work of too few. I know of guys working over 100 hours a week, just to keep their jobs; they are virtual slaves and indentured servants to the 'employer' who takes advantage of this lousy economy. Yes major companies, IBM and so many others! The only way to change is for more people to become Free Agents and take care of themselves. It is very difficult, frustration and you often go hungry, but the rewards of Freedom and Self-sufficiency are worth it. If 'W2' employees continue to accept this mistreatment, it will never change. Ages ago, unions were formed to stop this form of abuse, but they themselves became abusers and owned by political machines. No hope there. We must promote more individual self sufficiency. Help folks gain control over their own lives and well being. Stop linking healthcare to jobs. Stop linking retirement to IRA's and corporate largess. People must learn to take responsibility for their own lives and those of their families. Otherwise, they will continue to be slaves to corporate machines who abuse and misuse resources, talent and people. Cheers, Skip Stein Free Agent and Proud of IT!

Re:The real problem (5, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 3 years ago | (#36712798)

I used to think like you do. I believed that it is every man for themselves and that money in the bank was the only way to assure my freedom.

But now that I have a ton of money in the bank and am effectively retired and can do as I please, I am not so sure. I am the richest person I know. Everybody else I know still puts in the 9-to-5 (or often 8 to 7 and sometimes weekends) grind.

I don't think it is feasible to expect everyone, or even a simple majority, to achieve what I have achieved. Maybe its because, looking back, I can see that ~90% of my success is due to nothing more than being in the right place and the right time while only 10% is due to my own fortitude. Few people will ever be lucky enough to find themselves in similarly favourable circumstances.

So while I am still strongly in favour of some the things you wrote, like a competitive market for healthcare. I am not so sure that a go it alone approach is ever going to be successful given the array of forces organised against the modern peon.

Re:The real problem (1)

SkipStein (785325) | about 3 years ago | (#36713002)

Well, it may be wishful thinking on my part. I hope to instill this 'fortitude' and attitude in my Grandkids; or at least some of them. It is surely not for everyone, but your success and mine should act as a possible model for others. What else can we hope for but to help others achieve success and some mode of happiness. Me, I've not achieved the monetary success that some have, but some level of independence in body, mind and spirit means more IMHO. While I consider myself 'semi-retired' or inactive is just a matter of semantics. I have started a couple of new business ventures to keep me occupied. Some in the past have failed, but others succeeded. It's not over until it's over! ! Cheers, Skip Stein

Re:The real problem (2)

DaMattster (977781) | about 3 years ago | (#36712850)

Freedom and self-sufficiency are easier said than done. There is an old adage, "It takes money to make money." In poor economic times (i.e. right now) credit can be difficult to obtain for those with good credit history. You yourself wrote, " It is very difficult, frustration and you often go hungry ....." Try telling that to your son or daughter while you are trying to make it on your own.

Re:The real problem (5, Insightful)

innerweb (721995) | about 3 years ago | (#36712576)

As always, the problem is management and management not knowing enough about what they are managing,

Most management has two issues they contend with when it comes to IT. One is they can not see how IT contributes to profit, and therefore see it as nothing more than cost. Another is they do not see how IT can help enhance and manage work flow.

For an IT person to be successful, they need to learn how their management hears things, and learn to talk to them in a way they will hear. Which means to get where you need to be and to get what you need you have to sell it by talking to them at their level. That may not be easy. Sometimes it involves golf games, sometimes fishing, whatever it takes to get to know management to understand what it is they see and hear (we all have filters). Once you learn how to communicate with them, then you have to start to educate them. Once they learn how IT truly can work, they will start to let you have projects that they would not have let you have before. Choose these projects carefully. The ones they can see and feel the success of get you *karma* points. These points become spendable for projects you need that they will not understand the benefit of. Do enough stuff they can see the benefit of, and eventually, they will see the justification of having another person.

Should it be this way? Probably not, but it is, so we in IT have to learn to deal with it. Remember that most management is ignorant about IT. And they want to stay that way . Management typically thinks it has too much on its own plate as it is. They manage things like IT by looking elsewhere and saying, hey see what they are bragging about, why are we not like that? Kind of like all those *investment* bankers who collapsed the economy on bad loans and derivatives. Many said, "Not smart", but their bosses ignored them, saying, "Look others are doing it and profiting , we need that profit as well."

We know that is not real management. But management does not care. If it does not bite them today, it is a good thing today.

That is why it is our job in IT to stealth educate our management. It is our job to know these things. It is also our job to communicate those needs effectively. That is where most in IT fall down. It is very hard to communicate IT effectively. It is even harder to do so when you do not have a grasp on the whole of the company's operations. To be able to explain IT in terms the rest of the company will understand, you have to know their jobs and how IT is used to help them. So, one of the reasons IT management is so extraordinarily tough is that you have to know everything about how the company works to be able to do the job effectively. That means not just running the IT department. It means knowing in full detail how the IT department impacts the company as a whole in every nook and corner. It actually means you wind up knowing more than anyone else in the company about how the company works. IT management is the hardest job in any company.

And that is a natural things when you think about what IT truly is in a company. It is everywhere in a company. The phone system, the desktops, the printers, the servers, the network, the data, the data sharing, the personnel, ... Companies work or don't work because of their Information flow. Information flows because of IT. IT becomes the lifeblood of the company. Wrong numbers in inventory, parts are not made. Wrong field size for an import, data lost. Wrong version of software, job might not get done. Nothing in a company is as pervasive as IT.

We could all go back to pen and paper to track things. We could remove all the digital IT in every company. The job could and would get done (well, most would). But, as what cost? This is probably the thing that an IT person has to understand the most to manage the company (not just IT). This cost reduction from using data systems is where management will understand you. But you have to understand it first. Only then can you demonstrate why hiring another person in IT is profitable.

Re:The real problem (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 3 years ago | (#36712936)

I prefer to use the "everyone is going to die*" allegory when talking to management. We need to upgrade Windows or everyone is going to die. We need a new server or everyone is going to die. We need to hire another admin or everyone except me is going to die next time I go on vacation. It's surprisingly effective, and it works every time.

* Of course technically everyone is STILL going to die, but that's one of those management blind spots you can gloss over with a vague hand wave.

Re:The real problem (0)

rcamans (252182) | about 3 years ago | (#36712658)

40 hour work week? I'm on a zero hour work week (Thanks, Obama). How about you?

Re:The real problem (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 3 years ago | (#36712848)

Unless you were a Federal employee, it's quite unlikely Obama had anything to do with your lack of employment. And even if you were, it's still not registering above zero percent chances.

Re:The real problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36713026)

That's why IT workers have to band together and unionize. It is simply absurd to tough it out like that, without vacations, without any form of job security, with that huge responsibility on your shoulders.

Some of the comments suggest techniques that are to no-ones benefit. Essentially making sure that the organization cannot survive without you *and* forfeiting any vacations, a strategy that is bad for the employee and bad for the organizations. This is one of those cases where a functioning union would benefit both.

Server needed rebooting .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712206)

> That was the case a few years ago when Laping took his young daughters on vacation to Disney World in Orlando, about a two-hour drive from his Tampa-area office .. Shortly after arriving at Disney, Laping got a call from the CEO and the power user saying one of the servers that provides Web services to Alumni Research's 300 clients was down .. That meant the server had to be rebooted, which required nothing more than pressing a button. The only problem was that nobody back in the office could find the right button ..

You have got to be kidding here, if it was a Linux box all he needed to do is type `shutdown -r 0 now' on the laptop., which begs the question as to the technical skill of the people at Alumni Research, wether on holiday or off ..

Re:Server needed rebooting .. (1)

mcavic (2007672) | about 3 years ago | (#36712334)

If the server was down, chances are the command prompt wasn't working. That's a hardware problem that shouldn't happen very often, but it does.

Re:Server needed rebooting .. (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 3 years ago | (#36712340)

Depending on what hung, it may be a bit more than 'init 6'. It is a bit strange though, that something expected to be highly available wast't powered through a remote-controlled unit. They are, like, less than $50 for an outlet [google.com] .

Re:Server needed rebooting .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712348)

> That was the case a few years ago when Laping took his young daughters on vacation to Disney World in Orlando, about a two-hour drive from his Tampa-area office .. Shortly after arriving at Disney, Laping got a call from the CEO and the power user saying one of the servers that provides Web services to Alumni Research's 300 clients was down .. That meant the server had to be rebooted, which required nothing more than pressing a button. The only problem was that nobody back in the office could find the right button ..

You have got to be kidding here, if it was a Linux box all he needed to do is type `shutdown -r 0 now' on the laptop., which begs the question as to the technical skill of the people at Alumni Research, wether on holiday or off ..

...Laping determined that the server's network interface card (NIC) had to be powered down.

Maybe the NIC was so f*'ed up, he couldn't connect to the server and therefore couldn't shut it down remotely.

Re:Server needed rebooting .. (1)

zaddikim (647701) | about 3 years ago | (#36712364)

hell, 'shutdown -i brings the same dialog on a windows box, unless it's somehow made unavailable on a server through some sort of policy madness. either way, he shouldn't have needed to travel any more at all.

Re:Server needed rebooting .. (1)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | about 3 years ago | (#36712438)

The CEO and the power user were mortified that they couldn't figure out which button to push, says Laping, but this particular machine was a Dell rack server with a flat design rather than the tower configuration with which the men were more familiar.

The two kept pushing a button that was for adjusting the display, not turning the unit on and off. When nothing happened, they panicked. In the end, everyone agreed that the easiest solution would be for Laping to physically fix things himself. "I had to drive two hours back to push a power button," says Laping, recalling that he turned right around and got back on the road once the NIC was up and running again.


All I could think of was The IT Crowd: http://youtu.be/nn2FB1P_Mn8 [youtu.be]

Everything the article says is true, but ... (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 3 years ago | (#36712232)

... it won't make any difference, I suspect. There are (at least) three big problems here:

  • Techie-macho. A lot of IT people have the idea that if you're not working at least twelve hours a day, six days a week, you're not really working. They don't just put up with sleep deprivation, irregular eating schedules, and the total lack of a social life when it's necessary to get the job done; they actively take pride in it. Vacation isn't even on their radar.
  • Management ignorance. IT is seen as a cost sink, so there's a reluctance to hire any more than the bare bones minimum staff to get the job done (and often, not even that.) When the inevitable problems occur as a result of this practice, it's seen as proof of IT's inefficiency and an excuse to cut their budget and resources even more.
  • (Often justified) paranoia. "If the boss knows the guy in the next cubicle over can take over for me when needed, I'll be the first one out the door in the next round of layoffs." This encourages "job security through obscurity," the creation of needlessly complex and poorly documented systems that only one person in the entire company can understand. It may not actually work, but people think it does, so they keep doing it.

And no, I don't know what the solution is. Just pointing out that it's a structural issue, and collecting anecdotes about how badly things tend to go wrong doesn't seem to be doing much to motivate anyone to try to fix the underlying problems.

Re:Everything the article says is true, but ... (1)

alphatel (1450715) | about 3 years ago | (#36712294)

That's destructive behavior. Any outside vendor can act as the body double. They would work to preserve their own role as emergency contact while reinforcing the value of the day-to-day admin.

Re:I don't know what the solution is (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 3 years ago | (#36712550)

The solution is a degree of trust and the maturity to realise that you won't get thrown out on your ear if you are delivering the goods and you're good at your job. You don't need to be a superhero - and you almost certainly aren't. Especially if you're regularly working more than 40 hours a week, the chances are a large proportion of those extra hours are spent fixing screwups caused by poor quality decisions or mistakes; made through tiredness.

Sure, in some places I've done the work of 3 people (though confidentiality prevents me from naming the other two), but I've done that within the bounds of a normal working week. The key is to realise that half the stuff you're asked to do is unnecessary or the result of chinese-whispers. Once you get back to the source and actually talk to the people involved I often find that what has filtered through to me via the chain of command is nothing like what they actually need, wanted or asked for.

Re:I don't know what the solution is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712748)

Another poster mentioned the necessity of understanding how other people in the organization think and communicate. I think this is critical in any technical role, as half of what you do is ensuring that people understand the value of what you do. They could find a dozen warm bodies on the street to fill my chair and do the physical things that I do, but my mind and my ability to look for better ways to do things is what makes me valuable.

Be that guy and no matter how capable others in the organization are of doing your job, you never lose your value to a good manager.

Re:I don't know what the solution is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712860)

Trust and maturity? You mean delusional, holier-than-thou, naivete. I've known people who got tossed on their ass because they completed their project to spec, with a high degree of quality, reliable performance, on time, and under budget. Why? Because management won't fire the people on an half done project. And, they where the only ones finished.

Re:I don't know what the solution is (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 3 years ago | (#36712864)

Indeed, and there are plenty of organizations which have that trust and maturity as part of their culture. Unfortunately, there are also a lot that don't. Personally, I've been extraordinarily lucky in my working life; the couple of times I've found myself working at places that pushed the "everyone has to be a superhero" mentality, or had such poor communication that it was nearly impossible to find out what people actually needed, have also been when the economy was doing well and there were better jobs available. In the current economic mess, people caught in that situation have a lot fewer options.

Re:Everything the article says is true, but ... (0)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | about 3 years ago | (#36712678)

Yeah, it's hard to compete with people who are better and more willing to work than you are. We should totally label that "the problem" and introduce artificial restrictions to "level the playing field" because that'll be good for... well, nobody, in the long run, but fuck that. You're entitled to be lazy!

Re:Everything the article says is true, but ... (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 3 years ago | (#36712810)

So you think overwork, burnout, and constant employee turnover are good things? You're either a sadist who enjoys treating other people like shit, or a masochist who enjoys being treated like shit; either way, don't expect rational people to buy into your sick ideology.

When I leave..... (1)

Proudrooster (580120) | about 3 years ago | (#36712238)

When I leave, I look my fellow co-workers in the eye and say, "If anything happens while I am on vacation. Whatever you do, don't call!" then I turn off my pager and put it on my desk and laugh manically!

Re:When I leave..... (5, Funny)

itchythebear (2198688) | about 3 years ago | (#36712284)

When I leave ... then I turn off my pager...

So I'm guessing the last time you left was sometime in the 90's?

*ducks*

Re:When I leave..... (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 3 years ago | (#36712298)

What is this "pager" you speak of?

My wife came up with a solution (2)

mbourgon (186257) | about 3 years ago | (#36712268)

We started going more exotic places. Places that don't have cell signal or internet access. If they want to call a boat to the tune of $5-$10 a minute they're welcome to.

Re:My wife came up with a solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712300)

Why would you welcome a call from work to a boat you are vacationing on?

Re:My wife came up with a solution (3, Insightful)

element-o.p. (939033) | about 3 years ago | (#36712540)

Why would you welcome a call from work to a boat you are vacationing on?

I've spent roughly one extra day this last week alone on the phone from home trying to fix technical problems at a couple of remote sites. If, as GPP stated, it was going to cost the company $5-$10 per minute to have me work those particular issues, that would be (($5|$10)/minute) x (60 minutes / hour) x 8 hours = $2400 - $4800, not including overtime (if GPP gets overtime; I'm salaried, so it wouldn't apply in my case), to fix the problem. That's somewhere between two weeks and one month's salary for another entry-level to somewhat-experienced IT person.

When it starts costing the company more to call me for help when I'm out of the office than it does to hire more help to take up the slack, they'll finally get the picture, and my life will get better.

Re:My wife came up with a solution (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 3 years ago | (#36712892)

When I'm on "vacation", I don't answer the phone when caller ID says it's work...

Re:My wife came up with a solution (2)

Machtyn (759119) | about 3 years ago | (#36712570)

The obvious point is obvious. If the company is in such desperate need if his services to spend $300 on a 30 minute phone call, then they must think it is serious enough he should be contacted. In such case, he would welcome the call (and probably be quite surprised by it.)

Re:My wife came up with a solution (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 3 years ago | (#36712780)

+1 - Exactly, this is why I go to a cabin in the mountains. No electricity and, by proxy, no internet, no phone, and certainly no cell service.

Leaving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712276)

This article is the short version for why I'm leaving IT. After eleven years in the industry, with these kinds of demands on my time and crap pay, it's just not worth it. I can make more money working in a garage than I can working in IT, with better pay, better vacation and better treatment.

IT can shove their jobs. If nothing changes in that industry, it's going to get very difficult to find qualified people.

vacation... or delayed punishment? (2)

v1 (525388) | about 3 years ago | (#36712288)

I know anytime I go on vacation, it causes major headaches for those that try to prevent me from being completely buried by the time I get back

But I'm always buried when I return. Then I have at least a week of torture trying to catch back up. People say someone else is going to get trained and certified to serve as a backup for me, but it never materializes.

I think most companies just have to experience the lesson the hard way, by a bus or a plane ticket. And even then, half of them don't learn anything from the lesson.

They're just too short-sighted. All they see is the cost of investment today, not the return of tomorrow. I find it amazing that business majors, managers, and CEOs don't have that skill. They are blind to the benefits to all involved, and are comforted in the peace they find in keeping their heads in the sand.

Law firm fails because of single disk failure? (1)

doperative (1958782) | about 3 years ago | (#36712302)

"On the night before Thanksgiving last year, T.J. Whelan .. phone started buzzing with texts .. The messages said there was no connectivity to the Microsoft Exchange cluster .. That meant that attorneys in the firm's two U.S. offices and two overseas offices were completely cut off from email .. The network manager contacted Dell support, which confirmed that the disks had failed but also reported that it might be a while before replacement parts could be located" ..

This beggers belief, the IT department of a major law firm don't keep a single harddrive as backup and don't have a standby system in place for just such an eventuality as a failed harddrive ..

Re:Law firm fails because of single disk failure? (3, Insightful)

paitre (32242) | about 3 years ago | (#36712350)

I'm not at all surprised by this, actually.

In my experience, there is a significant percentage (IME, most, but others may differ) of businesses that rely on Best Buy for hardware replacements. They see additional hardware lying around as a waste, and will not keep spares handy.

I can EASILY see this happening. EASILY.

Re:Law firm fails because of single disk failure? (1)

TarPitt (217247) | about 3 years ago | (#36712702)

This is a law firm

If they can't bill it to a client, they spend as little as possible on it.

The ultimate judge of "as little as possible" is a managing partner completely clueless about IT

Would not be surprising at all (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 3 years ago | (#36712776)

This beggers belief, the IT department of a major law firm don't keep a single harddrive as backup and don't have a standby system in place for just such an eventuality as a failed harddrive ..

I wouldn't be shocked by this at all. I've seen several companies keep all their financial records on a 10+ year old PC with NO backups of any kind. This sort of behavior is not uncommon. You would be shocked at how many companies (even big ones) are playing a game of Russian roulette with their IT systems.

Jesus. (1)

mikkelm (1000451) | about 3 years ago | (#36712318)

In the end, everyone agreed that the easiest solution would be for Laping to physically fix things himself. "I had to drive two hours back to push a power button," says Laping, recalling that he turned right around and got back on the road once the NIC was up and running again.

Lesson learned: Even with smart devices, wireless services and VPN technology, not every problem can be dealt with remotely; make sure your backups know the basics -- like how to power down

Lesson learned: Hire IT staff who have the mental capacity to download a hardware manual for the server, locate the power button on a diagram, and direct the on-site people to the correct button. That's just absurd.

Re:Jesus. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712330)

Or just pull the power cable, can't be that hard.

Re:Jesus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712750)

On a well-designed rack, it isn't easy to just "pull the plug". Of course, it isn't ridiculously difficult, but you don't want to make it too easy, either.

Still, not worth four hours of driving!

Re:Jesus. (1)

gotpaint32 (728082) | about 3 years ago | (#36712380)

Agreed, if this is mission critical stuff and you don't have staff living onsite there is no reason why they could not justify purchasing an IP KVM and a remote PDU for just this type of emergency. I'd imagine it would take at least thirty minutes to a few hours to have your on call person drive into the office and push a power button, whereas remote access would take what like 10 minutes?

Total holiday time (1)

rishistar (662278) | about 3 years ago | (#36712358)

I wonder if part of the culture of 'we can get by without backup for our IT guy' is down to total length of vacation time that someone has? In the UK its something like 25 days minimum (as opposed to the 10 or so including National holidays that were on offer in the US) and so maybe being able to cope with the systems administrator being away for a couple of weeks at a time is forced upon the organisation.

Re:Total holiday time (1)

houghi (78078) | about 3 years ago | (#36712510)

Same here. Also this is not only limited to IT. I have seen problems in many departments if only one person knew how to handle a specific task or situation.

No, it's insecurity (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 3 years ago | (#36712608)

I wonder if part of the culture of ' ...

I don't think so. I think a lot of the time the techies get caught up in their own self-image. They are often quite impressionable types and see techies in films and on TV - which almost always involves a lone uber-geek who single-handedy runs a billion $$ operation. Just like cops watch cop shows and "learn" how to behave from them, so it is with techies: they try to emulate what they see on TV or in films in some delusional idea that the programme shows how people think they *should* behave. Basically, they're just acting out their own fantasies. It's quite sad to watch as they are so obviously completely out of their depth - and end up utterly overwhelmed by it all.

Another reason for vacations: crooked employees (5, Interesting)

John Jorsett (171560) | about 3 years ago | (#36712360)

I'm personally aware thru my late father, who was an accountant, of two companies that had employees embezzling funds for years. One telltale sign was that they never took vacations, because their replacements would have discovered what they were up to. Businesses should insist that their personnel take time off, just to make malfeasance easier to detect.

Re:Another reason for vacations: crooked employees (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712378)

About the only thing availble for me to take where I work is the shitty coffee!

Re:Another reason for vacations: crooked employees (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about 3 years ago | (#36713018)

At least you get coffee from them. They took away our coffee machine!

Re:Another reason for vacations: crooked employees (1)

swalve (1980968) | about 3 years ago | (#36712784)

Many larger operations do just this sort of thing for employees in sensitive positions. "Hey Bob, you are on vacation this week. See you next Tuesday."

Maternity Leave... (1)

ideonexus (1257332) | about 3 years ago | (#36712372)

My wife and I are expecting to test our company next month when we're due to have our first child. She's the senior programmer and many help desk calls get forwarded to her every day and sometimes at 3AM. We've been joking that we're going to have photos of her taking support calls during labor.

In all seriousness, our options aren't good. We always bring our laptops on vacation with us knowing that our adventures might get put on hold to handle support calls. We're a company of five people, so we're stressing over how to handle my wife being out of work for a month of maternity leave. I'd like to have a week to enjoy the new baby, but understand that may not be practical. Luckily, we all telecommute, so when she comes back online we can work from home and take turns with the baby. : )

I feel for the senior IT people I've worked with in the past, who I've had to get out of bed late at night to assist me with something or other, even when they are bed-ridden with the flu.

Re:Maternity Leave... (1)

houghi (78078) | about 3 years ago | (#36712634)

At least you KNOW it is going to happen, so you can train people to handle those calls. Where I live (Belgium) getting a baby means generally about 5 months off.

When I am in my off time, I expect no calls, no nothing, except for extreme rare situation, say twice a year. I and everybody in the company has 32 days of payed holiday, so we are accustomed to have others do our job at least part of the time.

I would never take my portable on a holiday and I screen my calls. When I am not working, I am not working and that goes the same for my co workers.

Re:Maternity Leave... (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 3 years ago | (#36712736)

I feel for you. In situations like these, I just want to give the giant middle finger to IT and open up a Parking Lot or something.

Re:Maternity Leave... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712938)

Seriously? One month of maternity leave only? You want a week to enjoy the baby?

I stayed at home for 2 months to enjoy the baby. I can tell you, even that's not nearly enough :) However, it really helped to be at home for such a "long" time. No problems with sleeplessness at all (because I could just sleep whenever baby was sleeping and take turns with my wife too). I.e. she would sleep, while I was watching TV with baby sleeping on my stomach (the only position she would sleep in for some time). That's Canada though ...

All that talk of companies not functioning, because people have 2 weeks of vacation a year ... nonsense. In Germany I had 30 days of vacation ... and last time I checked there were no economic problems due to it.

Blame a lot of downsizing as well. (1)

KiltedKnight (171132) | about 3 years ago | (#36712402)

This is a problem with the downsizing of companies. They try to push as much work as possible onto as few people as possible, often burning out the good people because they never get any time off, are constantly on outage calls, etc., and then nobody listens to them because they've identified a myriad of problems... but fixing them would require not putting out that extra new feature so they use operations to hold things together while disregarding their importance.

Vactions as a test for..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712428)

Take a short vacation, when they panic call you ever 36 hours to fix things. Take it in stride, go see your boss and ask for a 5% raise.

If he balks at it tell him you are taking two weeks off this time someplace without cell service and when you get back the number will be 50%

Rinse and repeat as necessary.

It's worse the other way (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 years ago | (#36712432)

OK, let's say you go on vacation and nothing happens. Next time layoffs come around, you'll be perceived as non-essential.

Re:It's worse the other way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712578)

OK, let's say you go on vacation and nothing happens. Next time layoffs come around, you'll be perceived as non-essential.

In smaller companies it often works as "Sure you can take your vacation time but don't expect to have a job to come back to."

Re:It's worse the other way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712792)

The goal is to have an uninterrupted vacation by planning ahead for most problems that can occur in that timeframe, but still be irreplaceable beyond that. If the company fires you because they perceive you as non-essential, go on vacation, wait for the call and offer to take your old job back - with a raise.

Re:It's worse the other way (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 3 years ago | (#36712996)

That happened to me once. I was fired while on vacation and then a week later management called me and explained that they were "shortsighted" in my termination. They asked me to come back and they said they would guarantee the same salary, vacation, etc. I said, "Thank you for consideration. If you want me back, I need 10K more per year and an extra week of vacation and I need this in writing on an official letterhead." I got what I wanted .....

Vacation? we don't allow that nonsense here! (4, Interesting)

green1 (322787) | about 3 years ago | (#36712508)

At a previous company I worked for I went away for 3 days (friday-sunday) at a company that only worked mon-fri, so it was essentially just a single day off. I made everyone well aware that I would be out of town and unreachable.

I returned on Monday to find my boss had flown in from out of town and was sitting cross legged on the server room floor with one of our servers in pieces all around him. He informed me that there had been a hardware failure over the weekend and that I should have been there to deal with it. After I finished fixing the original problem, and the problems he had created by trying to fix things, and once everything was up and running again, he asked me for my security pass and escorted me off the premises citing "budget cuts".

Probably much better that I don't work there anymore...

Re:Vacation? we don't allow that nonsense here! (1)

kmdrtako (1971832) | about 3 years ago | (#36712552)

sounds to me like you have a good case for a wrongful termination suit.

Re:Vacation? we don't allow that nonsense here! (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 3 years ago | (#36712720)

It depends upon the state. A lot of states are simply, "at will," meaning that you can legally be terminated for farting in the wrong direction. Okay, I know that was an embellishment. In this case, sounds like getting unemployment would be a slam dunk.

Not just IT (1)

kmdrtako (1971832) | about 3 years ago | (#36712516)

The same sort of management short-sightedness happens in engineering and software development all the time.

Case in point, at a Fortune 200 companythe senior technical staff all left the project I was on left over the last three years, leaving me as the last senior person. Management saw it as an opportunity to save money and rarely backfilled, and never with senior people. I saw the writing on the wall and started looking over two years ago. Last summer I took a three week vacation and absolutely nothing got done while I was gone. You'd think that would have been management's wake up call, but for some reason it wasn't.

Not too surprisingly, management were blind-sided when I resigned earlier this year.

Re:Not just IT (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 3 years ago | (#36712968)

That is their fault. This posting is a nice segway from the earlier slashdot posting on MBAs. This is a prime and classic example of two many MBAs and not enough engineers/technical people.

MANAGER??? (1)

pigiron (104729) | about 3 years ago | (#36712536)

Anyone who has to be available to re-boot a server is not a "manager."

Vacation? How about WEEKENDS? (4, Interesting)

natoochtoniket (763630) | about 3 years ago | (#36712568)

My current company, has no vacations. You simply tell them when you are not going to be there, and they decide if they want to fire you for the absence.

They also do not have weekends. On the Friday before each customary "3-day" weekend the owner declares an emergency that, somehow, MUST be finished by Tuesday.

No one wants to work there for very long. Turnover is very high. Projects don't get finished, precisely because of the turnover. Other projects do get "finished', but don't work, also because of the turnover

The owner doesn't seem to realize that he is sabotaging his own projects.

Re:Vacation? How about WEEKENDS? (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 3 years ago | (#36712690)

Just wait until the economy improves, this guy is going to be in a world of hurt when there is a mass exodus.

Re:Vacation? How about WEEKENDS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36712924)

Depending on his reserves, he might not be around when the economy improves :-P

Re:Vacation? How about WEEKENDS? (1)

JoeWalsh (32530) | about 3 years ago | (#36712946)

Just wait until the economy improves, this guy is going to be in a world of hurt when there is a mass exodus.

Eh, that'll be in 10 years if we're lucky, at this rate.

The real lesson is... (2)

seifried (12921) | about 3 years ago | (#36712600)

If you are "indispensable" in the sense that without you the IT services can't be maintained/fixed then the company is f**ked regardless. You may go on vacation, get sick, get hit by a car, have a heart attack or simply get a new job. This is true of any job function, but seems especially true of IT, I suspect in large parts because each IT build-out is pretty much a custom job with all sorts of gotchas, exceptions and internal workarounds to address issues, and the system is rarely documented properly.

I find this especially strange since most companies now rely upon IT to carry out basic functions (telephone, email, workflow, etc.) but fail to treat it as a critical service (single points of failure, especially with respect to personal are more the rule than the exception). Oh well.

Every time (4, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | about 3 years ago | (#36712664)

Every time I go on holiday, something weird will happen with a system that's been running perfectly for years. It's guaranteed. And it won't just be because I've been kicking that system back into action all the time and "would get around to fixing it", I would get the really esoteric interconnected problems that suddenly crop up out of nowhere and you're never entirely sure you've solved until months afterwards.

However, my employer knows I'm on the end of a phone if it is indeed an emergency. They have called on me in Italy several times. The trick is to take holidays FAR AWAY from your place of work, and then they can't do anything but cope without you. Flying back to fix a company server? No thanks. Not unless you provide DOUBLE the time I'd taken off in lieu as compensation for ruining my long-planned holiday through poor planning / hiring. If a company can't cope without any single individual, then its hiring policies suck. What would you do if he went under a bus and was *never* coming back?

The worst that's ever happened to me is that I lined up my own brother to go into the company should the emergency they were having not be solved by my instructions. It was, however it would have be after-hours, because he works too, but they would at least have someone there who knew the right switch to press, could be talked through a RAID rebuild, etc. and not have to be led every step of the way and incur only a single day's downtime without making things worse.

Think the downtime wasn't important? It was a school with automated billing, parental contact, phone system, heating controls, registration, medical records, salaries, you name it, not to mention IT lessons and exams. Without registration, etc. the school is legally not allowed to open because they have no records of which children are where, no medical records, etc. Guess what? They coped for the day because they had contingency plans (i.e. cancel all IT lessons and do something else instead, catching up again next week, manual financial control, manual registration, etc.). There are very few companies that *can't* carry on if the IT dies. It might be inconvenient, it might mean harder and more work, but it's rarely impossible unless you're something like an ISP or a datacentre.

If there was nobody else suitable to come and fix the problem? Not hard - hire an IT guy to come in. You do have support contracts for your gear and software, yes? Or you could organise an emergency contractor to visit and fix your problem? It's not hard and the only problem there is finding the right guy (i.e. someone who *can* walk into the middle of a mess and at least get something working enough to last until the "real" IT guy gets back).

If you honestly, genuinely can't cope without an employee - you need him to train an assistant, or even two. It won't be perfect but it's better than nothing. Failing that, you need a large enough team that you can do something on the guy's instructions. Failing that, you need your support contracts which pretty much come as standard with business-level hardware/software. Failing that, you need a contractor at short-notice. If you can't do those four and get to a working system of some fashion within 24 hours, you were always going to be in deep shit whenever anything went wrong anyway. What would you do if the guy left and you had to find a replacement? What if he died? What if he suffered amnesia and forgot all the passwords? What if he was arrested? What if, what if, what if. Or you could just do the normal IT-thing and have backups - lots of them.

Nobody is that invaluable that they have to abandon holidays and drive away from their kids to come back after-hours. Sorry, it's just not true, and if it "is" then that's only the company's fault. It's purely a money saving solution rather than hiring someone else to fix the mess - get the guy who's away on holiday and pay him for a few extra hours - it's cheaper than calling on your support contracts or call-out fees for an emergency-fixer.

Want me to fix stuff when I'm on holiday? I'll give you a couple of hours on the phone at my convenience, and we'll negotiate on anything further (and yes, if you offered enough, I might come and do it but damn you'd have to offer a lot and it would include MORE holidays very soon afterwards that you'd have to cope without me). If you see that as a problem, either as a company, or in an employee, it means you haven't bothered to think "what if" at any point. What if your IT admin got pissed because you called him off his holiday all the time and decided to wipe all the passwords to all the switches and servers and wouldn't tell you the new ones? Hell, that's one step away from what the guy did in some US county somewhere and it took them months to recover.

If you have an IT guy who's that vital, you better make sure he never gets pissed off, never leaves, and never goes on holiday - and any raise he asks for you better give him. Or you could just hire another IT guy, get him trained by the first, or have decent support contracts and contingency plans and save yourself the hassle.

Vacation (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 3 years ago | (#36712680)

When I am on vacation, that is MY time, no one else's. It is a cherished benefit of the job, and as such, I make it clear that I will have LIMITED access to email only. That said, I usually take vacations in the mountains where there is no internet and no cell signal. I like it that way! My idea of a vacation is getting away from what is modern to what is simple.

My boss is very important to my company... (1)

thatbloke83 (1529851) | about 3 years ago | (#36712756)

As such, he also has a habit of making sure that when he does go on holiday, it's normally to the middle of nowhere where he gets no mobile signal and especially no internet for a week so that he isn't bothered by work stuff.

On the other side of the coin, that same boss recently asked me to drop 9 days off that i had booked off down to 4 days, as we're nearing crunch time for a critical project that will set us up for much much more work in the future if we get it right - I'm not going to get those 5 days of holiday back, as i'll have no chance to use them for the rest of the year, but they are at least going to sort me out with an appropriate bonus of some sort, so I figured why not :)

Fortunately, I like my job, the people I work with and my boss so as I didn't really have any plans for my holiday time (they fell through) it was an easy decision for me...

Common issues (2)

meerling (1487879) | about 3 years ago | (#36712826)

You wouldn't believe how many people I've talked to in a panic because they are having an issue and need to access the server, but the ONLY person with the key or password is unreachable. (On vacation with no contact number, not responding for some reason, or in a couple of cases, recently deceased.)

I know security people will often tell you to limit these things, especially passwords, so that only one person has it and it's not written down. Ignore that. You need to control access, but not so tightly that if one thing goes wrong your company is screwed. Always have a password log, and have it stored in a safe and fireproof location. Same with duplicate keys. It's actually safest if there are 2 backups, and at least one kept at a separate location. (In case of fire, flood, building blowing up, etc.) Obviously keep those secure, like in a safe. Is this 100% security on those things? No, but there's no such thing as 100% security, but it will allow you to keep reasonable security and acceptable ability to respond to emergencies. Both are important, and ignoring one to favor the other will eventually leave you screwed.

And follow the same advice for backups, you need them, they may fail, and they can get destroyed just like everything else. (Easier in a lot of cases.)

I like the following excerpt from the article: (1)

drolli (522659) | about 3 years ago | (#36712842)

The CEO and the power user were mortified that they couldn't figure out which button to push, says Laping, but this particular machine was a Dell rack server with a flat design rather than the tower configuration with which the men were more familiar.

The two kept pushing a button that was for adjusting the display, not turning the unit on and off. When nothing happened, they panicked.

Wait! The "Power User" has never seen the system restarting? He did not even know how to find the manual? The CEO and the power user where not able to take a photo and mail it so that a nice red mark could be placed and sent back, but they panicked over a server which is down?

Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36713004)

I just don't answer my work phone when I'm on vacation or not on call. Sure, maybe someday someone will consider me non-essential, but at least I'm not stressed out all the time. If you answer calls when you're not on the clock you're just encouraging that sort of behaviour and showing your boss why he doesn't need to hire another IT person.

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