The End is Near, You IT Bastards!

A special guest post by Jimmy James Bettencourt

The way IT is managed is totally borked. This is a travesty. But a change is coming. A change we can use.

Listen. I work for a not so large educational institution in the middle of a major country that you have probably heard of. I’m required to use a desktop at work that runs Windows, and a laptop that runs Windows. The laptop is not really required, but when I insisted that my college provide me with a laptop for teaching (so, in a sense, I require it) they provided me with a managed Windows laptop. Whatever. My point is that the laptop cannot be used for teaching because it requires forty five minutes of dicking around with virus checking before it runs effectively enough to open a presentation file. My desktop, once started and once the evil Outlook is fired up, takes about an hour to chug through syncing and virus checking before I can use it.

The reason for these problems, and many other problems in the computer world in the business or institutional setting, is very simple, but no one will tell you the truth about it because they are afraid. Indeed, I am afraid. Which is why I appreciate Greg Laden letting me post this item, pseudonymously, on his site. Recently, I wrote an email asking for a small change in the way my computer system works so that I could do some specific thing more efficiently (I wanted to install Cygwin), and I also asked for the installation of OpenOffice.com office suite instead of Microsoft Office. This request had to be processed via my IT department’s manager, who refused the request. Not only did he refuse the request, but he also sent an email complaining mightily about my request to my boss, my bosses boss, and my bosses bosses boss, which pretty much means the Governor got a copy of this complaint. Someone along the line spilled the beans to me (I’m not saying who).

So what is the reason that everything in institutionalized IT is fucked? And why is this fucked-upness going to end soon? If you are an IT manager, this truth is going to hurt, so sit down and put on your helmet. If you are the victim of IT managers, you’re going to like this.

The reason is simple. It is a combination of the Agency Effect and Inequality of Access to Information. The second item first: Inequality in Access is, in this case, a combination of information being hidden, obscured intentionally by IT professionals, and simple differential of what people know. In this case, this means that IT professionals know stuff that is very important but that no one else in the decision making process knows. The other word for this is “Having your boss by the short hairs.”

The Agency Effect is less widely known, but more widely relevant. And it is quite simple. The agent always acts in the agent’s own interest. That’s it. What this means is the following. You are in charge of the computers in your agency. There is a threat of attack by a virus. There are two ways to thwart the threat. One involves some training of all computer users, and the implementation of a 90 percent effective software solution that won’t get to much in the way. The other solution requires no user training but is a 100 percent solution but will hobble all of the computers so most people will not be able to do their job. If you are an IT manager, which do you do?

Remember. You are the agent. The agent always acts in the agent’s self interest. You don’t care about the goals of the intuition or the goals of the other agents in the institution. You could care less if everybody’s computer becomes as useful as a new wart on their collective asses. All you care about is that your ass is covered from any kind of virus attack. And implementing the second solution will involve no training, and training involves interacting with the other people in the institution, and you have spent your entire miserable career pissing off everybody within ten miles of your little IT enclave so you really don’t want any interpersonal interaction with anyone.

Obviously, solution two is your choice. Never mind that at any other level, from any other perspective, measured in any rational way, number one should be your choice. You pick number two because you are an insular, selfish, socially ignorant drone.

That’s the agency effect.

I do not know the solution to this problem, even though I’ve suggested that the problem will go away. The reason I know the problem will go away is simple.

Obama.

I saw an IT media drone on the TV earlier today who made an astute observation followed by the dumbest thing I’ve heard anyone say in, I dunno, hours at least. (This was Jose Antonio Vargas of the Wasthington Post, being interviewed on Countdown.)

He noted that the Obama Team is (like a) silicon valley startup, and the White House is, as he put it, “an institution.” In so noting, he was talking about the fact that the Obama Team uses high tech cell phones, emails, hot laptops, and so on and so forth, and the White House does not have plug in or wireless internet access in every room or other modern systems of communication, IM or even access to Facebook.

That was a good observation. The dumb part was his answer to the question “What will the Obama Team Do?”

The answer was, unbelievably unless you realize that this young man was Yet Another IT Drone Fuckwad, “Oh, well, the Obama team will simply have to adapt.”

Hmmm…… well. Let’s see.

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT

I do not think so. No. I think the Obama Team, the S.V. Startup, The Wired, will not adapt. They have been operating from the Community Organizing base, took the reigns of power. No, no, they Took The Reigns of Power. Of the entire country. And they show up for work the first day and discover that the power center is sitting there deeply ensconced in the mid 20th century.

No. They will not adapt. They will insist on change. They will make change. And they will lead the way in a national, nay, GLOBAL revolution of Those Who Are Trying to Function against The IT Agents.

This is the beginning of the end of the tyranny of the ignorance, the tyranny of the slovenly agent, the tyranny of fear of technology. Universities and businesses will fire their IT managers, convert their servers into anchors for the row boat, and get Google accounts. Windows upgrade paths will be circumvented. The True Cost of Computing will be realized … memory chips, baby, memory chips. Give me any decent processor, upgrade the memory, install Linux, get a Google account, and you need very little more. The vast majority of the “services” provided by IT departments will be obviated, and their asinine self-interested bad decisions will no longer get in the way because they won’t exist.

The end is near, IT manager. Near.

sed ‘s/managed desktop/bite my ass/g’ < my_life

Comments

  1. #1 Dan J
    January 23, 2009

    Oh, well, the Obama team will simply have to adapt.

    Yes, I must wholeheartedly agree. That’s a line from yet another drone that needs to be taken out of our wonderful IT machinery before it all rusts away.

    This is not 1947, 1968, 1976, nor even 1995. It’s 2009 and we are rejoicing in the 21st century and all the marvels it has to offer. The ‘tards in the agencies need to learn to lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

  2. #2 Tony P
    January 23, 2009

    When I was an I.T. director I had to be certain everything just worked. It meant no unapproved applications though I did make it clear what could be installed.

    OpenOffice was one of them. But then we used Thunderbird for the mail client and Firefox for web.

    Didn’t have that much control on individual desktops and laptops but we did control server folders rather tightly.

  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    January 23, 2009

    This is the kind of institutional thinking that leads to things like this.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    January 23, 2009

    Blogroll = N + 1

  5. #5 Stephanie Z
    January 23, 2009

    Notice the name on it? Poor bastard.

  6. #6 Dan J
    January 24, 2009

    Love that link Stephanie. I recently set up two new PCs at work and have learned quite quickly how much I loathe Windows Vista. One of the systems might be easily converted to Linux without much trouble for the users, but the other (for the boss) would require that I spend the next several months in the boss’s office to provide technical assistance.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    January 24, 2009

    Ouch. We’ve broken his pseudonym (jim = james)

  8. #8 Stephanie Z
    January 24, 2009

    Yeah, he was telling us about it tonight, and we had to say, “James, shhh. Use your Linux voice.”

  9. #9 John S. Wilkins
    January 24, 2009

    I think the reason for this sort of bastardry is quite simple: IT is a sheltered workshop for support people. It enables those who can’t fo very much of anything else to justify large budgets, staffing, and empire expansion, simply because they act as though they and only they know what is True and Right.

    I worked once in a place where the head of IT would out and out lie in meetings to get control over things. He hated me, because I had a computing degree and had run my own department for 20 years, including running my own DNS, email servers, backups and tech support, because we were Mac and the university were Windows. When at the Uni they tried to make us comply with “IT Policy”, I simply said that I’d buy commercial internet access and run my department, which saved the uni over $2 million a year, as a separate entity. As several of the well-heeled faculties also wanted to do that as well, it threatened a revolt and subsequent collapse of IT Power, so he folded.

    But I have never found any value in a centralised IT department, because everything is run for the benefit of that department and not the client departments. It’s like saying that because the railways maintain the tracks, they get to say how the goods are to be transported, and what goods.

  10. #10 Lassi Hippeläinen
    January 24, 2009

    Your problem in a nutshell: the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

    We have to thank Enron for SOX, but don’t think that only publicly traded companies are affected. The law may not say so, but in practise all organisations will be in the same situation.

    The idea of SOX is to protect stockholder value by making sure that for each problem a culprit can always be found. The consequence in the IT world is a requirement to protect the IT infrastructure against attacks. Companies must have a planned and managed network, with proper “policies” for every situation. And they must verify that the policies are followed. So don’t blame the IT guys, they are just following the orders from the legal dept.

    What it means is that your solution 1 is not an option. No amount of training will stop people from downloading shit, if they get the chance. And when the shit hits the fan and spreads to all company desktops (and even worse: to the customers of the company) someone in the IT dept will be hanged by his balls.

    The long term solution would be to use software that isn’t easy to bork with malware. As an operating system Linux is better than Windows, but it isn’t bulletproof either. It doesn’t protect against application-layer mischief. So don’t hold your breath while waiting for the end.

  11. #11 Equisetum
    January 24, 2009

    I guess we were lucky with our IT group. I was talking to one of the guys who was fixing someone’s Windows registry and I mentioned the linux server that I maintained for our department. He just said, “Yeah, we knew there was one somewhere on the network, we just didn’t know who runs it” and left it that. No griping, no demands to take it down.

  12. #12 satat
    January 24, 2009

    As an IT bastard, I’d have to say I agree with you, but with a lot of people there has to be a limit of what they can do, especially on Windows boxen in an institution with possible secure information at risk.

    Most people don’t seem to know jack and or sh1t about security nor care, and could care less about the software installed, crap accessed or why in the nine hells they really need a dancing/moving/stupid/pointless desktop buddy or some other dreck.

    And there is that whole accountability thing …

    I do agree with you that your request was no un-reasonable, but if they are managing the updates of the managed systems, they probably have a limited list of things they monitor.

    They shouldn’t have gotten peeved about it though.

    Unofficially use a live cd linux distro

    – satat

  13. #13 Wayne Conrad
    January 24, 2009

    Knoppix is a bootable Linux on a CD, with openoffice and other programs. You don’t have to install it. http://www.knoppix.net/

  14. #14 Stephanie Z
    January 24, 2009

    Lassi, Sarbox has nothing to do with educational institutions, it’s a set of accounting and auditing practices, and the problems in IT far predate it’s passage. As far as institutional contributions to the problem go, a much bigger problem is that most companies, as organizations, are still scared of technology. They’re willing to use as much as they have to in order to get things done, and no more–because more is someone goofing off, not someone figuring out how to get other things done.

    The biggest problem at JJ’s institution is that the IT group he’s dealing with is only doing half their job. They’ve got the part about making sure very bad things don’t happen down. What they’ve forgotten, because it is convenient for them to do so, is that as part of that process, they also become responsible for facilitating the good things. It’s my understanding that the blame for this lies at the top, with a director who is widely known to be a dickhead, who doesn’t want to be responsible for anything but tries to keep people under him from moving somewhere where they can do some good.

  15. #15 D. C. Sessions
    January 24, 2009

    Knoppix is a bootable Linux on a CD, with openoffice and other programs. You don’t have to install it.

    Klaus’ little baby is sweet, but to be fair most Linux distributions now come as live CDs — including (gasp!) Gentoo.

    Me, I’m in an interesting counterexample. Corporate IT has most of the problems cited, although we’re a bit looser than some. However, the engineering side has no real choice but to run on Linux — and the IT crew want absolutely nothing to do with it, so Engineering has its own staff (of two) to run all of the line-of-business systems. The users/admin there is a bit of an embarrassment to the Microsoft side of things, but they’re busy pretending not to notice.

  16. #16 Regis Philips
    January 24, 2009

    Sorry to hear of the draconian policies at your institution. I work at a mid sized university in the midwest and have to say while there’s a lack of direction from the computer center, there are pretty much no restrictions on what can be installed on our computers.

  17. #17 Erunyauve
    January 24, 2009

    I’m at a midsized university in New England, and I don’t really have problems in this area. People run Mac, Linux, etc with impunity and the IT department is quite good about keeping everything smooth.
    But then, it is nationally-recognized tech school and if a “Windows Only” rule was handed down the students (led by the CompSci department) would revolt. Saved by the students.

  18. #18 Lassi Hippeläinen
    January 24, 2009

    Stephanie Z: “Sarbox has nothing to do with educational institutions”

    I wrote: “The law may not say so, but in practise all organisations will be in the same situation.” Even educational institutions have business relations with the outside world. Sooner or later Some Boss will demand that the organisation must be SOX-compliant, because that’s what the business partners require in the small print of some deal. Even if only one customer requires it, SOX compliancy will then pollute the whole net, or the Boss loses the deal.

    Besides, running a network that way is what netadmins learn in school, and what their toolkits are based on.

    It is possible to write a policy that gives some lab free hands, but don’t expect to connect that lab to the rest of the institution without a firewall that is controlled from the IT side. That includes all laptops that are not managed by the IT folks. You can have it both ways, but only if you have separate machines for both networks.

    “The biggest problem at JJ’s institution is…” Sorry, I’m not familiar with JJ’s institution, I’m only commenting in a general way. But it is true that often the end user view gets steamrolled in the process. The old classic “Users Are Not the Enemy” by Adams and Sasse is still good reading, even though it discusses only passwords. The psychology is still valid. I couldn’t find the full article online, but here is a Powerpoint set:
    http://www.ece.cmu.edu/~jmmccune/talks/srg2.6.2004.ppt

  19. #19 llewelly
    January 24, 2009

    Reading this article is like looking at one of those weird 19th-century taxidermy conglomerations – like the head of a goat sewn onto the body of a goose. The part about the incompetent technology people at your institution, and the part about the technology requirements of Obama’s administration have nothing to do with each other. In particular, there is no reason to believe Obama’s remaking of white house IT will have any effect on your university’s IT.

  20. #20 mark
    January 24, 2009

    Where I work, if something can be bought at the same store that also sells computers, we have to do the purchase through IT. That renders most transactions very, very, very much more difficult and time-consuming. Being a government office, we also have to buy from specified dealers whenever possible. This means I have to go to a real manufacturer/dealer and gather specifications, part numbers, &c., then go to the approved vendor and tell him where he can obtain the product in order to sell it to me. Furthermore, we’re also told that stuff like laptops for field use (bright sun, rain, mountains, boats) must be the same models purchased for our secretaries and administrators. My office computer is running Windows2000!

  21. #21 CyberLizard
    January 24, 2009

    There is more than one face to IT. Most typical corporate users only see the hardass institutional face that won’t let them install that really cute kitty screensaver. Fortunately, I work in development. We write the software. Since our company’s business is selling software our productivity is paramount. I’ve been in places where the IT department would try to institute ridiculous software installation rules or insanely inefficient virus scanners that evaluated every friggin keystroke. Basically, it leaves the developers dead in the water and nothing gets done. Once the higher-ups get wind of it, they come down hard and order IT to get us working again.

    I personally try to make friends with the IT guys. I sympathise with their predicament of having to deal with absolutely retarded users who call looking for the “any” key.

    This isn’t to say that all developers are like me; it’s been my experience that the older developers (and by older, I mean older languages like RPG or Cobol, not older individuals) tend to treat the PC like some mystery black box and generally call IT for any little thing that happens outside of a terminal emulator.

    Even though we manage to circumvent a lot of the managed PC nonsense, we still have to go through purchasing and licensing at the corporate level; an absolute nightmare. M$ caused a lot of the problems in this area with their crackdowns and audits scaring the crap out of corporate.

  22. #22 JM
    January 24, 2009

    “IT is a sheltered workshop for support people.”

    You’re definitely onto something there. I work at the other end of the IT chain (development) and it’s really hard for us to get even essential tools installed so we can’t even do our basic jobs.

    I once worked at a place where one guy had acquired a spare PC, converted it to a linux box and hidden it behind the kick boards in his cubicle (there was a cable space about 20cm across) that no-one in support or management knew about.

    He used that box to do his work on.

    One day I accidentally revealed this fact to our divisional manager who said “Ohhhhh he’s not allowed to do that”. Fortunately, she had the good sense to forget that I ever told her.

  23. #23 Epicanis
    January 24, 2009

    The explanation is the same as for the majority of other human mental failings:

    1)People are Lazy.
    2)Thinking is Work.

    The IT people tend to think “Hey, I spent all that money and all those hours memorizing answers for the MCSE test. Now I’m done, right?” They don’t want to learn anything new. It takes too much mental effort to run around rebooting computers and clicking the “update” buttons for people as it is.

    This is one reason my degree is in Microbiology and not some variation of “computer science/engineering/MIS/etc.”, despite my two decades of experience with computers. I got absolutely sick of the fact that no matter what my title was or what I could do, I always ended up effectively being “Windows® Reboot Monkey”.

    “Hey, you know how you’ve been looking for a new system for inter-office calls because we’re paying so much for what we have now? Well, I’ve been looking at this Asterisk PBX thing, and we’ve already got dedicated WAN links. It’s a really nifty system, it’s legally free, supports virtually every documented VOIP standard plus a few undocumented ones, and it runs on Linux so there’s no problem with licence tracking and fees. It’s possible it might not do what we need, but it’ll cost virtually nothing to try it out and in the process we’ll at least develop some in-house knowledge of PBX systems for when we evaluate the next option – what do you say?”

    “That’s nice. Hey, my ‘Outlook’ froze up again, can you take a look at it?” (Reboot Computer. Receive Banana.)

    (Strangely enough, I’m back in IT for now. I originally intended never to touch IT professionally again and instead to go into biotech, but the local well-known college was advertising for a Linux nerd in the biochemistry department…)

  24. #24 ancientTechie
    January 24, 2009

    I’m not counting on IT policy trickle down from the White House to change anything at the university where I work as a software developer. I am currently involved in a struggle to bring a decent server for our department’s software online. The server provided by IT has been hopelessly screwed up for months and, when we complained, we were told that we really shouldn’t be using it for anything important, anyway — even though that was the only server IT would let us use! Evidently, anything not instituted by IT is, by the IT department’s definition, unimportant.

  25. #25 David Harmon
    January 24, 2009

    First, a couple bits of nitpicking:

    What you’re calling the “Law of Agency” is better known as The Iron Law of Institutions. Try googling each of those two phrases, and see which one gets you the “right” definition….

    took the reigns of power

    Not just No, but Ouch! Obama began his “reign” by taking the reins of power. (I quote the former word because it’s usually applied to monarchs rather than Presidents.)

    On to the meat: Obama is certain to provide much better leadership than ShrubCo, but he’s going to be spending a lot of time weeding out the ILoI types from the government itself. He’s simply not in a position to go through a million companies and colleges blasting idiots.

    This sort of thing is where IT types really need formal professional status, including backing from accreditation boards. We also need leadership that has enough balls to stand up to administrative and executive abuse….

  26. #26 Bob
    January 24, 2009

    Thanks for the ad hominem attack insulting me and my job. Great way to win friends and influence people.

  27. #27 Jimmy James
    January 24, 2009

    David: I’m actually falling back, and I’m such a bastard for doing this, on my graduate training and extensive reading in behavioral analytics when I refer to the Agency Effect. I find it more reliable and useful than only thinking what Google and Wikipedia tell me to think.

    Bob. If I call you pathetic, that is ad hominem. if I call you wrong in every way, that is just telling you the way it is. The fact that you don’t know what ad hominem means is …

    … PATHETIC!

    Many of the interesting suggestions above are obviated by the fact that live cd’s or USB disks can not be used to boot a system with a locked down bios.

  28. #28 george.w
    January 24, 2009

    IT at our university is a fractured universe. We have different levels of users, from individuals who should never be within a mile of administrative control of their desktops, to individuals who bring in their own Linux laptops and we also unofficially install OO.o on their desktops for them. That’s on the user side.

    Administratively we basically have to beg for money and personnel lines, and every new platform you support is a fiscal challenge. In our business college I had to fight to get one row of Macs in the lab (we have marketing majors! Their whole industry is dominated by Macs!). But there are a number of specialized statistical and analysis programs we use that are Windows only. And who insists on them? The professors, that’s who. These are the same individuals who throw a fit if an icon changes color from one version to the next so they can’t find the application.

    Then there’s central services which insists on no hubs, no machines without (their flavor of) antivirus, and using Exchange for email, and several other crippling limitations. The “University standard” is XP – we are skipping Vista and there is great anticipation of W7.

    In general, we keep all our machines working much better than the ones in pseudo-anon’s post. But I take issue with anon’s characterization of support personnel. To be clear: we can think of much more interesting things to be doing for our “customers” than telling them to reboot Windows. Resistance to change comes from above us and mostly from our customer base, but we’d LOVE to switch to a real OS that doesn’t suck. Among other things it would better serve the University’s mission, about which we also care very much.

    I think if you asked a lot of support personnel, you’d find most of them would like to see change. The worst sin that Windows commits is that it bores the living crap out of us, and we wouldn’t miss it if it went away.

  29. #29 yogi-one
    January 24, 2009

    The world’s WORST computer setup:

    Compac desktop, HP printer, a restricted user license setup, Norton Anti-virus, and Internet Explorer.

    Windows is loading your preferences…please wait
    Running antivirus on your file…please wait
    Some scripts on your page are not running properly…
    Downloading important security updates…please wait
    Installing updates…please wait
    You must restart the computer for updates to take effect…
    An application is not shutting down properly..continue or end now..
    Would you like to send an error notification to Microsoft?
    Restating your computer….
    Windows is saving your settings…please wait
    Windows is shutting down…
    Windows is still shutting down…
    Windows is stillshutting down…
    Windows is STILL shutting down…

    (Sleleton of user collapses through cobwebs onto keyboard…)

  30. #30 Greg Laden
    January 24, 2009

    There are unused icons on your desktop, and my favorite, SOME ITEMS MAY NOT BE VISIBLE BECAUSE THIS WHOPPING BIG NOTICE ABOUT HOW SOME ITEMS MAY NOT BE VISIBLE IS COVERING THEM UP

  31. #31 satat
    January 25, 2009

    Locked down bios? No problem. Remove and discharge the battery that powers the cmos chip that stores your bios settings. Some models have either jumpers or switches that also reset the bios.

    Also, my personal favorite laptop friendly live-cd is Backtrack 3… it’s for auditing and securing wireless networks.

    It’s like waltzing around on the internet with the equivalent of a loaded gun. :)

    – satat

  32. #32 Dan J
    January 25, 2009

    There are unused icons on your desktop.

    Yes, I got this one on an XP virtual machine just a few minutes ago. I get the impression that Microsoft is still trying to cover the least common denominator; totally clueless computer users.

    Remove and discharge the battery that powers the cmos chip that stores your bios settings. Some models have either jumpers or switches that also reset the bios.

    Not terribly likely in a university computer lab, or even your own office at a university when it’s their equipment, not your own.

  33. #33 khan
    January 25, 2009

    Is anyone else old enough to remember when the central ‘big iron’ folks tried to prevent the company purchase of PCs?

    (Back when you put you bundled cards and a 7-track tape into the bin and said a prayer to Hephaestus)

  34. #34 Patrick
    January 25, 2009

    Current IT worker here who’s gonna give you some advice:

    1) What do you expect from someone who gets paid 1/4 what you make? Often times, IT workers are contract employees who have absolutely no stake in the company they “work” for. They will do the bare minimum to keep the system chugging and all the while, peruse http://www.dice.com looking for a better job.

    2) We have to know A LOT. I work for an insurance company of 500 employees and I support between 1000 and 2000 different computer programs. Each department has different requirements, different user competency levels and even different hardware. When I get routed a help desk ticket or a major incident call from a director I
    m expected to have it solved yesterday. No matter that I don’t exactly why your mid 90’s archaic acounting software through a seg fault, it needs to be fixed NOW. This is often stressful, but I find it to be the most rewarding part of the job, Im constantly learning new and “interesting” ways computers get screwed up.

    3) You may think being turned down an install of a well-known piece of software is ubsurd, but I guarentee there is a reason behind the madness. Maybe the prog you asked for doesn’t play nice behind a managed network. Maybe it tries to auto-update through locked ports and sets off alarms all over teh network security department all day. Just because you think a particular program will help your productivity doesnt mean your solution is right for the company as a whole.

    4) Question, but don’t bash. It’s ok to question your IT department and talk to them about anything technically related to your job, but don’t expect them to be overtly optimistic about your proposol. It is in their best interest to ALWAYS see the negatives, thats how they got into that job, they find the defaults and cracks in systems and know how to fix them.

    In the end,
    IT are glorified janitors. Would you go to your janitor and complain that the elavators are too slow? IT exists to keep the business systems running, they aren’t their to re-invent your business through technology, if you are looking for that; look for a systems architect, or network architecht, someone who looks at the big picture of technology/business integration. Don’t be mad at the help desk because you can’t install firefox, these policies almost always originate in the board room and trickle down into IT.

    -Patrick

  35. #35 Jimmy James
    January 25, 2009

    What do you expect from someone who gets paid 1/4 what you make?

    The director of my IT department, who sets the objectionable policies, makes more than I do.

    I work for an insurance company of 500 employees and I support between 1000 and 2000 different computer programs.

    Two thousand different computer programs? No you don’t.

    Just because you think a particular program will help your productivity doesnt mean your solution is right for the company as a whole.

    Wrong on all counts.

    Question, but don’t bash. It’s ok to question your IT department and talk to them about anything technically related to your job, but don’t expect them to be overtly optimistic about your proposol. It is in their best interest to ALWAYS see the negatives

    That was my policy until a simple request was converted into a situation in which I was called into a dean-level person’s office to read me the riot act. (Of course, this dean-person did not appreciate being used as a pawn of the IT directory in question, so it rather backfired).

    Patrick: Nothing we are talking about has to do with the help desk. The help desk people are brilliant, by the way. I never mentioned them.

    Your point about IT people always seeing the negative: Yes, exactly, and that is the problem. If the traffic department was allowed to act on that sort of philosophy, the roads would all be closed all the time. But the average person GETS roads, so they can’t get away with that.

    Please re read the post so you can understand what it says.

    jj

  36. #36 Patrick
    January 25, 2009

    OK, I re-read your article and I do see where you are coming from, however I really think what your dealing with is a personal problem with your particular IT director.

    From an administrators point of view, I want you to do as little non-work essential things as possible. I also want to make all work things AS efficient as possible. It sounds like your IT guy adheres to the former but strays from the later.

    Again, I have to reiterate the statement that just because you think a particular program will help you, it may hurt the business overall by overtaxing IT workers and thus decreasing company wide efficiency.

    Also, I DO support between 1000-2000 programs, and yes, this seems like a lot, but trust me, we have systems dating back to the 1980s that are still running (mostly do to hipaa compliance), we support 5 different operating systems. This doesn’t mean I constantly have issues with all of the different programs, but it does mean that I occasionally have to deal with some pretty obscure issues.

    A lot of our issues are exactly opposite of yours. We had a IT director that let all users have admin acess to their machines, now after a serious security breach, we have cracked down a bit, but users still demand the most obscure programs, hell we have 4 different screen capture programs alone just for windows 2000. The bottom line is this: users will never have enough information to be “educated computer users.” We have a full training program which we update yearly and put our users through, but this doesn’t mean we are going to let them install things and download things willy nilly. There is a reason why he have process to approve programs for our network. Managed networks need to WORK 99.99999% (otherwise known as 5 9’s) If even one of the big three (Network Security, Infrastructure, IT) objects about a given program, it won’t (or shouldn’t) go through. Basicly if you work in cUbeSA, don’t expect to like your work PC, it’s not really a Personal Computer its more a WT, Work Terminal. If you really are having issues with IT, try to get an outside consulting firm to look at the department, they tend to do descent jobs of telling the board what the workers already know ;)

    -Patrick

  37. #37 Les
    January 28, 2009

    Personally I find it funny that someone thinks Obama being in the White House is going to cause Linux to suddenly become the OS of choice and unseat Microsoft.

    Sounds to me like JJ may have an incompetent IT manager, but that doesn’t mean every IT manager is incompetent. I’ve worked in a lot of places for a lot of different companies ranging from Ford Motor Company to a big .Com everyone uses, but I can’t name due to an NDA. Most of my background is in the Windows environment, but my current job has me supporting mostly Ubuntu based machines. I’ve seen Linux using shops that were just as badly run as any Windows shop I’ve worked in and I’ve seen Windows run just as efficiently as any Linux shop I’ve been in.

    The simple truth of the matter is that it has more to do with the people running the show than it does the technology being used. That includes not only the IT Manager, but the upper executives who make the decisions for good or ill. I can recall a decision at Ford several years back to start buying all their PCs without a floppy drive for “security purposes.” Never mind the fact that they left the use of USB flash drives as an option or the fact that at the time their staging process for new installs required the use of a floppy drive. It had nothing to do with security and everything to do with the fact that Dell had started charging a small extra fee to put floppy drives in when they had previously included them in the cost of the machine. Ask the exec who made the decision though and you got a bullshit “security” reply and he wasn’t the IT manager.