Friday, September 30, 2005

The Whack-A-Mole Keyboard

I cannot type. No, that's not quite true. I typically type using the "5 finger" method, a step above "hunt-and-peck". I can even get up to 40 words per minute. But it's not 100% accurate. When I'm having a particularly difficult time typing, I will say that I need the "whack-a-mole" keyboard with big keys that I can smack with a hammer. "K!" *bam* "E!" *bam* "Y!" *bam*

Reading on I see that someone has, in fact, invented just that: The Sledgehammer Keyboard.

It needs TWO hammers!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

In the dungeon

This mornings bike ride into work was entertaining. The thunderstorms had ended just as I was getting up but it was still raining quite heavily on the way in. Nothing like arriving at work soaking wet.

Then, arriving on my floor and beginning the process of moving to my new cubicle. Someone had stolen the nice, new chair that had been there and left me a piece of junk that was more beat up than the chair I had now. I asked around but noone would fess up. Eventually, my Team Lead said that he and the other leads had claimed them. T**** said that she had had her chair for a long time and R**** just denied it. That left only my Team Lead to have taken it.

"Thanks a lot, J***."

"You're welcome."


I started moving my things and, once my computer was in place I turned it on and "tried it on for size." It was kind of bright so I climbed up and disconnected two on the fluorescent lights. Now it seemed a little dark but I had to make it that way to reduce the glare.

Perhaps I'll get a desk lamp to keep it from seeming like I'm in a dungeon.

I wasn't able to find a periscope but I did take a webcam to work. With that, I can mount it on a pole or something and use it just like a high-tech periscope. The problem is, the webcam is an old one that doesn't have drivers for WinXP.

I have a new webcam that I was going to bring in but I just read my daughter's blog. It seems that she's gotten a new tatoo and, to post a picture of it for all to see she was going to ask me to bring up the webcam for her when I visit her at school the weekend. Funny that I have to learn about this in her blog rather then her sending me an e-mail, IMing me or talking to me on the phone.

What a strange commentary on modern communication.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Main Street Theft.

When I got back to my bike today after work, I discovered that someone had stolen my handlebar bag. The contents were two or three chemical glow sticks and an almost empty bottle of chain lube but the bag itself was worth $20 or so. Not a tremendous loss but something I will eventually have to replace.

Apparently a busy street is not enough to deter petty criminals and someone without biking gear taking something from a locked-up bike obviously not his isn't enough to get the attention of nearby pedestrians.

I suppose I should start parking in the building. There really isn't a place to park the bike inside. There are no bike racks in the parking garage. Any railing I could lock my bike to is part of a thoroughfare and thus could be hindering pedestrian traffic. I don't want to just find, as was suggested by building security, "an out of the way corner" and just leave it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Movin' on up.

In an effort to find places for the new analysts to actually work, The Powers That Be have added four new cubicles. The rest of the Help Desk have half-height cubes so that everyone can see (and be seen) by everyone. The Bank didn't have any more pieces to put together half cubes and weren't going to spend any more money than is absolutely necessary so the four additional cubes stuck on the end are full, high-wall cubes.

And so the struggle began as to who would actually get them. The Hardware Guy and The Programmer were the two top choices because they really don't interract with anyone on a regular basis. They just sit and do their thing. Two down, two to go.

Well, 1 to go because I was offered one of the cubes.

I was a little hesitant to accept. I'm already as far away from the windows as one could be without being in the hallway. The cube I would be in was actually even further away from the windows and, with the high walls, I'd have to stand on a box to see them. I asked if anyone else wanted the cube and was told that they were being offered to those "who could work well unsupervised."

For as bad an egg as I am, they still think it's appropriate to put me in a position where noone will be able to see what I'm doing. A mark of respect, I suppose.

So, I'm going to accept. But I'll need a periscope or something so I won't be completely isolated.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Short Memories.

Lots of fun today. Twice today, D**** interrupted my class to ask me about changes he was making to a document that I had created to keep track of the accesses that had been granted or were still needed for new analysts. He was clearly working from an old document because it did not have the new accesses that we had received for a financial services group that is having their help desk responsibilities rolled into ours.

So, R*** the Education Coordinator later asks; "I know you are leaving early next Friday, would you be available to come in on Saturday?"


I was talking off early next Friday so I can spend the weekend visiting my daughter at college for Parent's Day.

Even later, D**** the HR Rep comes over to tell me that the week after next will be the third training group and by then I'll have to have this group (currently at the one week mark) up and running. So, what took three weeks with the last group will need to take two weeks for this current group. And to get the group after that up and running even more quickly I'll be spending six hours a day training instead of the current four hours.

I was unable to contain my joy.

And then I brought up the issue with D****. I asked if he had taken on the responsibility of tracking all the analysts accesses. I had thought to say that I didn't want to work with him because of all the previous issues (Something Stinks-16 Dec 2004) that I considered unresolved but instead I was more forceful.

"I won't work with him on this."

D***, as she almost always does, had a look on her face that was "I don't know what your talking about," having clearly forgotten the reminder I had sent her a month ago. (Do you remember when-25 Aug 2005) So, I had to explain it to her.

"Well, we're a teem and we have to be able to work together."

"I will not work with him."

She just said, "OK", and moved on the the training schedule again, apparently burying her head in the sand hoping it would all go away.

But, at the end of the day before going home I went to her cube to explain just how seriously I took this.

"The only thing that prevented my walking out of here that day was that I had a meeting with you in half an hour. If it wasn't for that, I would have been out of her and been calling a lawyer. And I would have been fully justified to do so. . . If he had said something like that to a Bank employee, The Bank would have had him fired. If I had said something like that to one of the people I was training, I wouldn't be a trainer anymore. As it was, he got a stern talking to. I don't consider the issue resolved."

"What do you expect?"

"I got what I expected. He got a stern talking to. But that's not what I believe should have been done. In just about any other business environment he would have been fired. At the very least he wouldn't be a team lead any more. I know that sort of action is never going to happen."

I told her I considered this the third major incident and, given that nothing of any significance has been done for any of those, I have no reason to believe that it won't happen again. She again got the quizzical look and I had to remind her of the incident where he warned me that "it's a tough job market out there" and the other where he accused me of "Just Geis being Geis" and refused to take the situation into the privacy of an office with the Site Manager, instead keeping it out on the floor in an attempt to embarrass me publicly.

She said that if I was angry all the time then maybe I shouldn't be working there. I didn't take it as a threat that I would be fired but as a suggestion that perhaps I should either get with the program or go somewhere else. Sorry, I'm not going to quit over this. They're going to have to fire me and then I'll have all this documentary evidence to take to a lawyer.

But I didn't say that. I simply reiterated, "I will not work with D**** without the filter of management. I will talk to you and you can talk to him then he can talk to you and back to me."

She suggested that since T*** is new to being the Site Manager and hasn't been involved in this, perhaps I should talk to him.

I know my employee folder has a lot of this stuff documented but, even though I've suggested it, I'm pretty sure that T*** hasn't gone through it. Hell, even D**** has forgotten issues I voiced less than a month ago. So I suppose I'll have to create an information package with all the relevant stuff and set up a meeting.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Day two of this batch of training and the guy who didn't show up yesterday didn't show again today. I was also told that one of the six remaining has decided that it's too far for him to drive for part time at $12 an hour and will no longer be joining us. That's a 30% loss in the first two days. A new record.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Out of the gate.

The second batch of eight started training today. Actually, they only hired seven and one of those didn't show up because he was in an auto accident yesterday. I don't know whether he didn't show because he was hospitalized or because he didn't have transportation but I figure if he doesn't show tomorrow then he's going to be asked not to bother.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Training Spaces

N*** tells me that the Help Desk has gotten approval for additional cubicles for our additional staff. Four cubes will be set up on the floor and four desks in the training room will be cubed off.

"So, with half the space from the training room gone, where will I do training next week when I get eight more people in here? And then what about the eight people coming after that?"

He didn't know anything about that. Apparently we're going to have to scramble, beg or otherwise seek out a place to train. We have two desks available on the floor now. Four additional cubes on the floor and four in the training room will make ten. Of course, we only have seven computers so, without the computers, the cubes are useless. We're still going to be a dozen cubes and computers short.

Oh, and the scheme for the third eight is that Management wants them to be trained on passwords so that they can get on the phones in three days. It typically takes three weeks to get people up to the point that they are taking calls, sometimes longer. But three days! That's completely unreasonable. And considering that it typically takes at least two weeks to get accounts for people, there is no way they are going to be up and running in three days no matter what sort of miracle I pull out of my ass.

In the e-mail I sent to the Site Manager and Education Coordinator, I used "slipshod training and piss-poor customer service" to express my opinion about this idea. The response I received expressed that they shared my concerns but tough cookies. It wasn't said like that but I was given the impression that this pressure is coming from The Corporate Overlords and The Bank so we have to come up with some ambitious plan, even if such plan is totally unreasonable and has no hope of actually succeeding.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Faronics fraud

I received an e-mail this morning that purported to be from Paypal:

Because of the recent Internet fraud activity and the recent innovations in our anti-fraud Department we are planning to introduce a new checking and money transfer coming from the PayPal system confirmation. You`ll get a notification about every PayPal transaction on to your mobile phone.

For this we strongly reccomend you to click the link bellow and update your personal info by entering the paypal site and entering your cell phone number.

Now, I've received these sorts of messages before and was able to immediately recognize it as fraudlent. The mispellings of "reccomend", "bellow" and a few gramatical problems helped. The way to know for sure is to point (but not click) on the link and see that the website it would take you to is instead of

So, I went to Network Solutions and did a WHOIS on the address and learned that it was registered by one Brent Smithurst of British Columbia two days ago. An internet search found out that Brent is Vice President of Technical Operations of Faronics Corporation in Coquitlam, BC.

So what Brent is doing is prending to be Paypal so he can mine the Internet for Paypal account passwords and cell phone numbers.

So, just for laughs, I went to the site and signed into the fraudlent Paypal site using Brent's e-mail address and the password "fraudster". It looked just like a Paypal site and even the code was lifted straight from Paypal's site, but since it allowed me to sign in with Brent's e-mail address and a made up password, it is not Paypal's site. (Unless Brent happened to have the password "fraudster".)

The site asked for credit card information, including the number on the back to "prove" that you actually have the card in your hands. It asked for a cell phone number. It asked for social security number. I filled in some information on behalf of Brent and submitted it whereupon it redirected me to an actual Paypal login site where I was told the login information I had entered was incorrect.

The irony of all this is that Faronics produces products to protect computers from unauthorized executables. I can't help but think that their products protect you from competators executables but allow the worms and viruses produced by the back offices at Faronics right on in.

I have, of course, forwarded all this information to Paypal. I hope that monday morning, Brent will be receiving a call from Paypal's lawyers or, better yet, from the Canadian authorities.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Third time's a charm.

So, R*** the Education Coordinator informs me that after the next batch of eight new hires that will be starting the 19th, there will be yet another batch of eight new hires. This is all on top of the fact that we don't have desks, or computers for the first batch of eight (now six because two have quit already). We have two desks available. There are three in the training room for a total of five. But we need to find places for twenty-two additional staff.

Oh, sure. techs have been in measuring the cubicles looking to add a few more, and there has been talk about of re-working all the cubicles to be two feet smaller and thus squeeze in another row but even that radical reconstruction doesn't find room for nearly doubling the staff in the Help Desk area. And they haven't actually done any work. They just show up again a few days later and measure the same things over again. During one day, techs were under my desk three times. What the hell did they see the third time that they didn't see the first two?

D****, the HR Contact said "It won't happen overnight," but I countered "I don't expect it to happen overnight but it has been going on four weeks now and the weeks are rolling by quickly. Very soon, 'not happening overnight' is going to become 'too late.'"

R*** is asking if I'd be willing to do earn some overtime and do some training on weekends. I suppose they have to since there aren't enough desks or the training room available during the week. And me, like an idiot, said, "I suppose. I'll have to check exactly when to see if I already have something scheduled."

A few weeks of sixteen hours of overtime will be nice but it won't make up for the fact that I haven't gotten a raise in THREE FUCKING YEARS!

It's not like I have much of a choice, though. It's an impossible task, getting worse and worse but if it's to have any hope of working out, I'm going to be the one to make it happen.