I . . . . . Live!

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Where to begin?

Well, things have been complicated. To say that I have been busy with work would be an understatement. And as a result, I have not had the time to read LJ in three or four weeks. So firstly, I am apologizing for giving everyone the short end of the stick but I have simply not had the bandwidth. And secondly, LJ won’t let me go that far back easally, so if there is something important that I should know, please, please, please let me know!

That all having been said, let’s see if I can run the past month or so down.

  • I was really busy with several projects at work.
  • I was then given a promotion.
  • I tried to take a vacation.
  • I came back to even more work
  • We got upgrades at work!

So, let’s take this short and sweet.

The projects have been really eating into my time, but it has all paid off, finally.

At the end of April, one of the customers of one of my teammates called in with a desperate issue. Their previous Exchange Administrator was gone, and their Network guy was to be his replacement. Well, that is all well and good but the previous admin had not put limits on people’s Inboxes and they actually had users with 16 GB inboxes. The end result? The drive array for storage was full and Exchange was down. Another engineer and I worked for about six hours on a server that is not something that we would normally support (i.e. a server that we did not build, deploy, or host) but since this customer had been a customer of ours for almost ten years and a very loyal customer through thick and thin, I decided to pull a miracle out of my butt (where else would I hide them) and show the customer just how good we are.

What I was not expecting, happened the next day – when first an email came out followed by our CEO suddenly showing up at my desk.

Email follows – with names, etc. obscured for the privacy of others.

From: S**** V********** < ------- The CEO of the Company Sent: Tuesday, 27 April, 2004 17:02 To: *Corporate Wide Email Alias* Subject: FW: Great examples of the DataReturn principle Congrats to David Harwell and M****** H****! Many of you have helped along the way too (see comments below) so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your diligence and willingness to make a difference for %CUSTOMER% and all of our customers. S**** -----Original Message----- From: S**** V********** Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 2004 3:09 PM To: *CUSTOMER'S EMAIL* Cc: *INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL EMAIL ADDRESSES* Subject: Re: Great examples of the DataReturn principle Scott, Thank you for the note - I'll pass the kudos on to the team. Nothing makes me more proud than knowing we made a difference... Regards, S**** -----Original Message----- From: *CUSTOMER'S EMAIL* To: *MY CEO'S EMAIL ADDRESS* CC: *INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL EMAIL ADDRESSES* Sent: Tue Apr 27 14:57:31 2004 Subject: Great examples of the DataReturn principle S**** I just wanted to bring to your attention a couple of your engineers and their personification of DataReturn’s business principle; ”We exist to improve the lives of those who use and deploy IT”. We had a crisis last evening involving one of our Exchange servers. It was looking as if we were going to have to contend with an extended outage of our email services for most of %CUSTOMER'S% offices, and there did not seem to be a simple solution to the issue. I suggested to D*** L***, our Network Operations manager that he might want to contact our DataReturn SWAT team to see if there might be some Exchange talent on the current shift. We were put in contact with David Harwell and M****** H****. Both of these guys worked tirelessly with D*** until the problem was resolved. Just so are aware, this is not an isolated incident. Over the last couple of years, we have experienced flawless technical assistance when it was requested. I remarked to B*** M**** that I would not even remotely class Microsoft’s Premier Technical Support with DataReturn’s engineering expertise. There is no comparison. You should be very proud of your people and the way that your vision and principles show through in your team’s customer service and technical abilities. Sincerely, S**** M***** managing director IT operations %CLIENT COMPANY% office: %PHONE NUMBER% mobile: %PHONE NUMBER%

A direct thank you and handshake from the CEO – sometimes the smallest things really flatter and please me.


Over the next week or so I also ended up debugging ASP code to rescue a customer’s site that their developer had frelled by not paying attention to what he was doing when he uploaded flawed code and didn’t establish the necessary resources on the server to support the code.

You know what? Now I remember why I have no desire to make a living as a developer again. It’s fun to do for short periods of time, but after a very short while, I get annoyed with having to clean up after other people’s screw-ups.


So immediately before I actually took time off from work,* the re-org happened.

To make a long story short, I wound up with a nice promotion, that changed my work hours from 7am to 7pm Saturday through Tuesday to 9am to 6pm Monday through Friday**. Yes, I know that this is a sign that the end of the world is nigh, but bear with me.

I almost dropped my teeth when I saw my new job responsibilities.

  • Owns the “technical” relationship for assigned customers. Works closely with TAM ensuring all aspects of customers ongoing system administration is successful.
  • Creation and Maintenance of application flow diagram for assigned customers
  • Creation and maintenance of customer monitors for assigned customers
  • Creation and maintenance of RTS, How To, and Informational articles as appropriate.
  • Review of RTS/SOP information that applies to assigned customers. (i.e. if someone else writes an article pertaining to a System Engineers account, he or she verified it for accuracy).
  • Available for escalations for their assigned customers 24×7 (System Engineers are paired up and will take turns rotating on call duties).
  • Assist TAM and Change Management team in planning scheduled rollouts for assigned customers.
  • Works closely with Implementation on new implementation on in place upgrades and new client set ups.
  • Continual review of tickets ensuring system admin is taking care of their customers needs.
  • Takes ownership of customers issues as necessary, working problems to resolution (following all ticket/issue handling procedures and guidelines).

The challenging part is that whereas before I was in one way or another, responsible for every customer we had, now I have only one customer to be responsible for. But this is the third largest customer that we have. And to say that they are a little bit on the needy side is putting it mildly.

For the first three weeks of this, my home phone rang at least once a night, every night. And I would get at least one call on my cell phone every morning and usually in the evening too. But now, after a lot of hard work, I think that not only am I getting a good grip on the customer, but they are starting to understand that I take my duties very seriously.

In the mean time, the police still had not found my stolen car, and I had to replace it. So this is what I wound up with.

He’s comfortable, I have room for five people in there, and I can haul “stuff”. I’m happy.

Even if people keep looking at me and saying “David, a truck?” with really strange looks on their faces. Rest assurred, I am more than butch enough to drive a truck.


I also made two trips in this month period.

The first one was the most painful. When my mother died, her instructions were that she be cremated and there only be a memorial service. Well, we did that but at the time, my father wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with the ashes. So he thought about it. Well, he finally decided to spread the ashes in the memorial garden in Longview. So I got up Wednesday morning, had one thing to take care of for work and was going to leave out, drive to Waco (three hour drive), pick up my grandmother, drive her and me to Longview the next morning (three to four hour drive depending on traffic), attend the interrment service the next morning, and then drive back to Waco that afternoon (once again three to four hours), and then finally on Saturday – drive back to Dallas (three hours). I made it. – And let’s just say that I really needed some time off to recover, but that was not to be.

Second trip was Mother’s Day weekend. Originally my grandmother was going to go to that also, but she decided that she didn’t want to go so it was just me. I had fun. I got to meet my step-uncle Don for the first time as well as his partner, Robert. They are a hoot. Don works for a software company in Hawaii as a project manager so we were able to speak the same language.

I’m a little conflicted with Mother’s Day as you can suspect. But I think that I will eventually work it all out.

All in all, I was pretty overwhelmed at the start of all of this. There is a lot of responsibility but I know I can handle it. My parents didn’t raise an anal-retentive overachiever for nothing you know!

Last couple of geek notes:

We got new ‘puters at work! And we get to build them ourselves! So my new work box is an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ with 512 MB of RAM a 128 MB video card, and all sorts of goodies*** that I get to trick out the way that I want to! So in some ways it is Christmas in May!

One more thing about the new ‘puter – after two years, I get to keep it. *glee*

Things finally slowed down enough today that I had the time to write out this mega post. But while doing it I noticed a few things that struck in my mind.

Catholic Voters Told To Support Anti-Gay Candidates Or Lose Communion – I am not Roman Catholic, but I did go to a RC school run by nuns for several years and being Anglican, I can relate to an extent to where they are coming from. What the Roman Catholic Bishop of Colorado Springs is threatening is really serious, and extremely hurtful. I have to think that this is going to backfire and end up driving people away from the church. Sometimes people really task me.

And finally, while I am making a list of movies that I want to see this summer, I have found two that are going to be fun.

Shaolin Soccer – A crazy over the top mix of Football, Kung Fu, and The Matrix. And yes, you heard me right. Big portions of the movie show the game of soccer in bullet time. At one point in the trailer, the kicked ball morphs into a fiery comet and then a flaming tiger as it races across the field. Later on, another ball creates a vortex as it flies through the air, chewing up the field and everything in its path. As well as players constantly defying the laws of physics by leaping several stories and doing impossible back-flips. It is showing at the Angelika Film Center & Café here in Dallas you can bet that I am going to go see this!

The Thunderbirds Are Go! – OK, I am dating myself by saying that I remember this show growing up and I really, really, wanted to be Virgil Tracy, the pilot of Thunderbird 2. Yeah, the International Rescue rockets were cool, but Thunderbird 2 had all of the really cool tech toys. The rocket pilots would always get there first, but Virgil would come soaring in and be ready to deploy all of the cool rescue gear that the other ships couldn’t carry. This was a really great kids show and I am really looking forward to seeing what they will accomplish with a live action movie later this summer.


* Yes you heard me right, I took time off and even left the city. For all the good that it did.
** Hell yes, for the first time in over ten years, I am now working normal people hours!
*** Let’s see, the motherboard has a built in RAID controller, SATA, gigabit ethernet, 6.1 Surround Sound, firewire, USB2, and a redundant BIOS.

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