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Teh Grumpy Coder Comments from the Digital Underbelly

I know it's a tough call dealing with users all day, but sometimes you just have to wonder WTF is going on with the Help Desk.

My client has a tool they run called Sulimina, you can look it up, and I might get some heat for this, but the dang thing looks like it was written in DOS. It's used in the factory to enter data into the database and it sucks. Now, I'm saying that without ever having used the factory tool, but I can safely say it because I have to deal with the data they enter.

Many fields have NO validation on them... strictly free form entry. So where I am expecting, for example, "A007", I have found "A 007", "A7", or any variation of an "A" followed by some other string of zeroes with a "7" somewhere in it. I've gone so far as to strip off the first letter, and remove all zeros and spaces prior to doing a compare just to maybe get a comparison, because you KNOW whose tool is going to be blamed for crappy results!

The latest thing that had to do with this 'tool' was that they had been working a bug and had changed the revision letter on an assembly 5 times one day early in October. Rather than enter each as a line item, they batched them in. Ultimately it becomes the same thing, but batches are SOOO much more fun because whoever wrote this stupid batch function inserts the entries in the database all with the time stamp when the batch is run. So, for those of you following along, I now have 5 revision letter changes that all have the EXACT time stamp out to the limit of the number of digits Oracle stores! No amount of telling them that this is a bad thing will stop them from doing it. So my solution is just to ask what they want the revision to be and jamming that data in there... because if I rely on the database, it's a crapshoot which one I get first.

But back to the HelpDesk (thought I totally forgot where I was, didn't you?)...

I moved everything over to this new PC, so they could 'sundown' the old one that's been here since before me (4-1/2 years). One thing I had not had them install yet was the afore-mentioned 'tool'. When the revision letter problem surfaced, I needed it installed, so I called the Help Desk.

That HelpDesk call went well... he took over the PC, installed the PREVIOUS version of Oracle, then the 'tool'... with about 3 reboots involved. He hung around on the phone while I ran the tool and it worked... booya.

Then I tried to run my database tool, and it puked on it's shoes. My first thought was the path environment variable and I wasn't wrong... whoever wrote the install for Oracle 9x jammed the Oracle 9x path onto the FRONT of the path variable... and someone needs to give the guy that wrote that a little exercise in how Path statments are accessed! I moved that to the back and... hmmm it STILL didn't work.

Rather than waste a bunch more time, I called the Help Desk and told them what had been done, what I'd done, and what wasn't working. Now here's the reason for this post... his response was "What would you like me to do?" ... huh? ... I asked "this can't be the first problem you've had installing old stuff over new stuff?". He said "I can make an appointment to have desktop support come out"... geez this is like waiting for the cable guy. I told him I'd fix it myself.

Thinking about it, the next logical thing was the TNS file. Of course installing 9x wouldn't mess with the TNS file for 10x, would it? ... oh yeah... they overwrote it! ... and then they wonder why developers and IT don't get along... I know it's not MY machine, but I'm expected to do work on it, so just use your power for good, ok???

So I fixed the TNS file to point to my server, and we're off to the races, kicking butt and taking names until I try to run Visual Studio in debug mode... now IT doesn't work.

I have no answer for this one, but I had to modify the 9x TNS file to get Visual Studio to run in debug... but at least it works.

So to the HelpDesk operator that asked "What do you want me to do?"

Nothing man, I've got it covered...

Posted on Monday, December 7, 2009 9:23 AM Rants | Back to top

Comments on this post: Why Help Desks get a bad rap

# re: Why Help Desks get a bad rap
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I love a good rant. My tech support at work is just then next dude smarter than me. Once you've heard the Help Desk tell you to re-image your laptop, you know they just don't want you to call back.
Left by Ken on Dec 07, 2009 5:50 PM

# re: Why Help Desks get a bad rap
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lol... they wanted to re-image this box because I complained about it seemed too slow... the processor seemed to be running high for no reason.

After their re-image comment, I dug deeper and found that an update they did hadn't installed correctly and something behind it in the queue was throwing an error every 20 seconds and that's the slowdown I was seeing.

Once I downloaded the update and installed it myself, everything else fell into place.
Left by Dave on Dec 08, 2009 8:20 AM

# Re: Why Help Desks get a bad rap
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When you really have that kind of problems, lol i just don't give up!
Left by Web Hosting Reseller on Feb 24, 2010 1:41 PM

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