Closing Up Shop

November 14, 2008

Well, it’s time to close up shop on One Man IT Shop. No, I didn’t lose my job. This blog sounded like an interesting concept–and I think it was. However, I just haven’t had the time to make the blog all that I wanted it to be. There are simply not enough hours in the day. We have a policy against blogging at work, and by the time I get home I’m ready to do something fun and not think about work.

5 posts in 5 months simply doesn’t cut it. So this is goodnight and goodbye. I’m probably talking to an empty room, but that’s ok. I will still be actively posting to my personal blog, Dad in the Headlights, so keep in touch there.

Thin Is In

September 23, 2008

Our manufacturing environment is very harsh. There’s lots of welding, sanding, and grinding. There are lots of chemicals and gases. And there are extreme temperatures. This is definitely not an environment conducive to computing. However, we do have several computers in the shop that operate in this nasty environment. The equipment is all covered in dirt and if you open up the computer, you can’t believe that it is still working. Needless to say, the computers in the shop are prone to frequent failure.

These computers run a single, very light, application that just writes some data to database on central server. We have a small stockpile of used computers loaded with the application that are just sitting waiting to be swapped out when one of the computers in the shop gives up the ghost. However, it’s a pain to load new machines and swap them out when they break.

Enter the HP Compaq t5135:


This is a solid state thin client. It’s 7-1/3 inches long and wide, and 2 inches thick. It weighs just 3 pounds. This is a solid state device whose only purpose is to connect to another computer on the network. We are piloting replacing all the full-blow PCs in the shop with these thin clients. They idea is the thin clients will use RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) to connect to a central computer where they will run the necessary software. This will be seamless to the user. It will still appear to them to be running locally.

Our thought is that with no moving parts (particularly the fan sucking in bad air) that they will last a lot longer. Plus, even if they do go bad, it’s literally a matter of unplugging the bad one and plugging a new one it.

We’re piloting this in one area to see how it goes. If it works, we’ll replace all the shop computers with thin clients. I’ll keep you posted.

Unemployed (For Now)

July 21, 2008

The final week at the old job was quite a challenge. I had accepted the finality of it and just wanted the week to be over so that I could move on. I grew more excited that the end was near as the week wore on. Then Friday rolled around. I had decided that I would spend the morning saying good-bye to as many people as I could. As I made the rounds, I felt a profound sadness. After all, these are the folks that I have shared a substantial part of my last 17 years with. We have shared teamwork, laughter, hard work, success (most of the time), and failure (occasionally). But we have always been a team…at times like a family. That’s the toughest thing to leave behind–the wonderful people.

As I walked out the door for the final time, a smile swept across my face. And in fact this smile lasted the rest of the day. It was a selfish smile. One celebrating the accomplishments of my time there, the fact that the turmoil is finished for me, and that I am moving on to a new, exciting chapter in my career.

For my colleagues that remain, I wish nothing but the best for them. Despite the huge personnel cuts, I still have a lot of friends at the company and the company means a lot to the local economy. I wish nothing but success for the company and my former colleagues going forward.

Short Timer’s Syndrome

July 3, 2008

With only a couple of weeks left at my old job, I’ve got a serious case of short timer’s syndrome. I am just going through the motions at this point. I show up at 8am and leave at 5pm. I’m getting the job done, but that’s about it. In some ways I hate the fact that I have this attitude. I’ve never been a workaholic, but I have always prided myself in doing the best job I can do. However, it’s hard to muster the initiative to go above and beyond the minimum required…particularly since it was my employer’s choice not to retain me in the outsourcing effort.

Also, I’m going to take a week off between jobs. We’re taking the trailer up to Cascade to camp for a week. One week to reflect upon 17 years at my first “real” job. I’m really looking forward to it. I want to get my batteries re-charged so I can hit the ground running at my new job.

Lots of Paperwork

June 29, 2008

On Wednesday, I went over to my new employer to fill out all the necessary paperwork. I was handed a stack of paperwork at least an inch thick. As it turned out, most it was the employee handbook and safety training. Still, I did have about a dozen papers to sign. Strange thing was that probably 4 of the agreements involved me acknowledging that I’m an “at will” employee. They all said basically the same thing with slightly different wording. It must have been “lawyers gone wild” at some point to end up with this. The hiring manager acknowledged that it was probably overkill and that he’s going to look at streamlining it.

Aside from that, I got to meet several of the employees. They are excited to get a full-time IT person that they can call and get assistance from. They have been using an outside contractor that they have to call and then wait for him to find the time to drop by.

I’m excited to get started. These next several weeks can’t pass fast enough.

My New Adventure

June 25, 2008

18 years ago I was a starry-eyed intern working in the IT department of a Fortune 500 company. I absolutely loved my summer working there and learned a ton. I enjoyed it so much that I joined the company full time the next spring. My intention had been to spend my entire career with the company. I guess that I’m just loyal like that.

Unfortunately it was not to be. I found out in October of last year that I (along with about half of my department) would be losing my job to outsourcing. This week I was offered an IT Administrator position with a small manufacturing company. I will basically be the one man IT shop for the company. They were looking for a heavy emphasis on database and software skills (my areas of expertise), but also network and workstation support skills (areas of weakness for me). Thankfully they are willing to allow me to endure the learning curve in my weak areas to gain my skills that are my strong suite.

This is going to be quite an adventure. It’s a pretty radical change to go from a very specialized position in a sprawling global company to the jack of all trades in a mom-and-pop company. I am simultaneously excited and nervous. I am looking forward to working in a company where I’ll actually know everyone. I also cannot wait to soak up lots of new knowledge and broaden my skill set.

I intend to chronicle my journey here at “One Man IT Shop”. I hope you enjoy sharing the journey with me. I’d love to hear any comments you have along the way.