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Archive for March, 2011

Well, here it is 5:15 PM and I’m ready to go. No, not for home. I just got ready for tomorrow’s call. Not time to go home, yet. I’m scheduled to head East, tomorrow, to Hedgesville, WV for a backup/restore software install on one of our MFP’s and to do some more training.

This was one of those clients that I had to wait on their IT Department, after I installed the machine, to make sure it was up on the network, and then install the drivers as well as setup the Scan To Email feature on it.

Yeah, I can, and most of the time do, set this up myself. However, sometimes the clients IT Dept. wants to do this; with which I have no problems and am happy, actually, that they do so. This way, if there are any problems with the install, it’s not my fault.

Anyway, just packed everything up that I will need and I’m ready to go. Got my bag with my field laptop, USB devices and software. I have all I need, including my camera.

Tomorrow, I’ll drop off my wife, we both work the same place, and head straight out. I won’t have to sign out, she will do that for me. This way I can get on the road quicker and there won’t be any holdup’s at work.

You see, many times if I go in to sign out for myself someone always has a question or a problem and I usually wind up getting out late. This way, by having my wife sign me out, I don’t have to go in and I don’t have to worry about getting stuck at the office.

I like getting out as it breaks up my time and work, and gives me something different each time I’m on the road; not to mention the photo ops I get for my Road Trip Photography collection. Tell you what. If I get something on this trip I’ll come back and update this post and include a photo of what I got.

Anyway, as I finish this, I’m now ready to leave for home. As you can see this took about 15 minutes to write and it gives me my post for this week.

Will I miss this? Some, mostly the road trips I go on and the clients I meet and with which I work. Otherwise, no, I won’t miss the often times of being involved with activities that take me from tedium to boredom and back again.

Yes, even in Information Technology there are times that are just plain mind boggling in the most mundane of activities with which we become involved. Then we have those moments that challenge us to outer limits and brings us back to reality and fun once again.

Tomorrow just may be one of those days. I’ll let you know…

P.S. I’ve scheduled this post to be published at the same time I leave for all points East…

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One of the things that I like about my job are the sites, sounds and scenes that I see when I’m Out On The Road.

You see, part of my job is to go out and install or network our equipment that our clients purchase from us. So, I get to travel quite a bit in MD, WV, VA and PA, and it’s not always on the main roads or Interstates.

For example, this photo here was taken on a local road that runs from Berkeley Springs, WV to Martinsburg, WV. This time, I took a few moments to stop and capture this image.

If you click on the image you will see it in its original size and sharpness…

I’ve seen this place many times but I’ve never had the opportunity to stop and photograph it. This time I did. I’ve also posted this image on my photography blog called Riff’s Photography Journal.

When you have time, check out the site. Photography is what I do when I’m not working in Information Technology.

So, there you have it. Just one example of what I get to see because of the work that I do when I’m Out On The Road…

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Well, you’ve seen where I worked when I first started here and, on the same page, where I work now… The Beginnings Of Something New…  but, you haven’t seen where I used to work. So, here it is…

Old Work Space

Yeah, that’s me. I’m not really doing anything. I’m just posing for the purpose of this photo. Basically I worked on copiers, typewriters and other office equipment; along with setups, deliveries and anything else the boss wanted.

However, I did succeed in going from service technician to service manager to manager of information technology. That’s just a fancy title because I am a one man shop, and along with keeping our own network up and running I also take care of our clients networking needs where our equipment is installed.

The question I’m often asked is will I miss being a service technician and the answer is no. While I feel that I was good at what I did, and I did enjoy it while working on the equipment, it just wasn’t challenging enough for me. A lot of the work was repetitive and after a while one got pretty good at what you were doing without really thinking about it.

Working in information technology is quite different. There really isn’t much repetitive work and you need to keep thinking about what you are doing. There never is a level where you can say I know it all and you can sit back and rest.

There is a constant change going on with most of it being new, better, upgrades, etc. and if you don’t keep up on it you will find yourself lagging behind, and it will make you work that much harder to do.

So, there is a lot of reading, studying and learning going on and everyday something new always comes up. That is what makes this work challenging. Some days I will go home being so brain drained that the last thing I want to do is sit at another computer. But, guess what?

Here I am sitting at a computer updating one of the three blogs that I keep up, in addition to working on the photography that I do as well as being in my digital darkroom. If you want to see the other two blogs that I work on, they are listed here:

Riff’s Photography Journal

Riff’s Christian Journal

So, there you are. You’ve now seen where I started, where I am now and what I used to do…

I’m not sure what you will be reading about next week but I am sure it will be interesting. Maybe something along the lines of what I see when I’m out and about in my travels to our clients. Ummm, I wonder…

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Not Your Normal Hours

Well, here I am, at one of my work spaces. It’s about 5:20 PM and I’m still at work while everyone else has left. My hours are a little different.

I come in later than the other employees and I leave later than they do. The reason for that is that there are many things that I can do, that I need to do, un-interrupted, and that can only be done if there are no other employees around.

Many things like updates, virus checks and data cleanup are important but I can do these after normal working hours so that the employees work won’t be interrupted while I do my thing. So, my working hours needs to be different.

Now it is true that I do spend a good bit of my time at clients offices but when I’m not out in the field I also take care of our own in-house network. What you see here are the four servers that we use. Without divulging information, these four servers are for the network, data storage, order taking and internet web site operation.

And, yeah, that is me on one of my laptops checking out some information. BTW, that is one of our MFP’s that we sell and work quite well for copying, printing, scanning (network scanning, email scanning, USB scanning, etc.) and faxing. And they can do so in a multi-tasking situation. IOW’s they can do more than one thing at a time. They are really quite fascinating.

In fact, these are the machines that I will go out and network for our clients and set them up for the use they need or I will work with their IT people in making sure they are up and operating the way the clients want.

It is interesting working in Information Technology and I enjoy the work that I’m involved with on a daily basis. This is just but one of the many things with which I am involved.

However, there are only ten more months to have fun with this before the retirement date arrives…

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The Guts In The Box…

Being in Information Technology, especially in a small business, means being counted on to do many things. One of them is working on PC’s.

It was when I started to work on this one that I was reminded how many times someone always says, “so, that’s what it looks like inside the box.” With that in mind I thought that this would be a good time to look around and see what is there.

The first thing you might notice is the bronze looking thing with fins on it. That is the heatsink for the CPU. This is needed because the CPU (central processing unit) runs at a high temperature. As it does, this heatsink pulls the heat away from the device. The fan that you see off to the left, along with the heatsink has a plastic cover over both so that the fan pulls air through the fins on the heatsink and out through the fan, and this helps to keep the CPU from overheating.

An over heated CPU can cause numerous problems, but the most problematic one is where your computer will start to hang up and you have to shut it off, let it cool and then re-start it. It will then run fine until the CPU overheat’s again and you experience the freeze one more time. In most cases the problem is either a bad fan or a dirty fan or a combination of both, along with dust on the fins of the heatsink.

Now, in the middle, the long, thin dark items are the memory sticks. Off to the immediate right is the Hard Drive and up in the top right side is the Floppy Drive, which most PC’s no longer have, and the CD/DVD Rom Drive.

The Green board in the bottom is the Mother Board where all action is coordinated. The rest of what you see are the various cables that connect the devices to the Mother Board and the electrical connectors that run from the Power Supply – upper top left side – to the devices that need it.

The white and green slots on the Mother Board are places where you can add additional devices, if they are needed, such as a separate Graphics Card. And last, but not least, down in the middle bottom of the photo is a little round object which is the battery backup for the Mother Board. This is what keeps your PC running with the correct time and date, etc. when it is either shut off or the power goes off completely. Now this is only for the Mother Board. It is not the Battery Backup that is needed if you are running the PC and you lose power to the system. That kind of a Backup is external.

So, basically that is it. There isn’t a whole lot there and much of what you see is what can be unplugged and replaced with little or no problems. If you know what you are doing.

If you ever do go inside your PC and you want to replace something, here is a little tip. To prevent a shock or even a feedback to the device being replaced and to keep things from being damaged – do this. After shutting down the PC and before taking the cover off, unplugged the power cord from the computer and then push in your on/off button, as if you were going to turn it on, and then count to ten. Then, push again the power button to turn it back off. With some PC’s you can’t turn it back off so don’t be alarmed if, after putting the cover back on and you insert the power cable that the PC starts to run. Just let it go and it will boot up normally.

The reason for going through this routine is so that before you touch anything inside, you will have drained all of the residual electricity on the Mother Board and this decreases the chances of electrical shock to you or the devices you are working on.

So, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed your little trip inside a PC, and remember, unless you know what you are doing you really should leave this to those who do – like me. It will save you time and money and maybe even from buying a new PC. However, at least you know what one now looks like without having to open yours up, and hopefully you will never have to.

Will I miss doing this when I retire? I don’t think so, but at least I’ll know what to do if I ever have to do this with my own… 🙂

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