Friday, November 04, 2005

Nervous Tick

Nervous Tick
Several years ago, I work for a publicly listed Irish company.  This company knew every trick in the book and generally treated both their customers and their employees with utter contempt.  Never one to let the truth get in the way of making money, they were a triumph of style over substance.  Everyone of their senior management was more incompetent than the next and the whole organisation flew by the seat of its thread-bare pants.

This company always liked to push the technology as far as it could go.  They always insisted on having the latest version of Microsoft Office/windows but like everything else, their IT system was a cobbled together hotchpotch of pirated software and half-baked ideas.  Groups of 20 or more staff shared the same login id to reduce the number of site licences required for those piece of software that the company couldn’t steal.  None of their employees got any training and their particular version of software didn’t have any of the help files installed (pre-release version was the standard line from the IT manager).

Unsurprisingly their network was highly unreliable.  Between 8–10 system crashes per day was not uncommon.  My colleagues and I lost countless hours of work from files that were corrupted during these crashes.  There was one particular detailed financial analysis document that I remember working on.  I’d spent over six months pulling together pivot tables, bar charts and pages and pages of pro-forma data.  The night before I was due to make a presentation to the Finance Director, my document crashed.  Unfortunately, not only did my pc crash but so too did the entire network.  I wasn’t too worried because I knew that the beauty of the network is that everything was backed up to tape on a weekly basis.  Fortunately this was a Tuesday night (17:47pm on Tuesday 1st June 1999, if you must know – that timeline is burned in my brain forever.)  Being a Tuesday, I’d at most only have lost 2 days work.  

It was at this point that I learned that the network manager had opted for a “parallel randomised tape back-up regime” which sounded pretty technical and reassuring to me.  This sophisticated disaster recovery plan came unstuck however because the guy whose job it was to switch the tapes had left the company a year previous.  Hence the randomised tape back-up strategy meant that they had two back-ups of the network but both versions contained identical copies of all files (“resilience swapping”).  Worse still both tapes had the corrupted version of my file.  My presentation to the Financial Director was a nightmare that I’d not wish on my worst enemy (i.e. the IT Director).  Suffice to say that I’ve never really recovered from the ordeal.  

The worst part of it all is that I’ve developed a nervous tick that involves a subconscious and repeated “Cntrl + S” manoeuvre with the little finger and index finger of my left hand.  I can’t stop and think without nervously tapping a quick control + S or five for safety’s sake.  Any keystroke eavesdropper on my machine gets a lot of useless static.  This involuntary nervous tick has served me well over the years.  Until now that is.  With, this harmless reflex is translated into a “Go publish” command and as a result there have been a lot of unintended half-blogs.  A sort of pre-mature bloggification, if you will.

Damn those bastards to hell.  I hate them.  I despise that organisation with a vengeance normally reserved for Scooter Libby and Carl Rove.

(I know that putting “Hate”, “Libby” and “Rove” in the same paragraph is a shameless attempt to pull some covert CIA traffic onto my blog, but you have to understand where this girl is coming from.  I’m a woman on the edge!)

But I feel so much better for having shared that with you.  You are such a wonderful listener!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I came across your blog by accident while scrolling down new Irish blogs.

I must say I like the way you present it: it's clear and well laid out. also I like the way you lay out the text, with different colours.

I too am new to blogging and am slowly sorting out my blog at

1:09 p.m., November 06, 2005  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Thks. I checked out your blog - excellent stuff & clearly a very exciting time for you - Tried to leave a comment but wasn't able.

Failte abhaile!

1:37 p.m., November 07, 2005  

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