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Ask Slashdot: What Are The Lesser-Known Roles Of The IT Department? 355

chadenright writes: On the same day that I was hired into a new IT position, my new employer also bought a pair of $1,500 conference phones from a third-party vendor, which turned out to be defective; I've spent a chunk of the last two weeks arguing with the vendor. During the process I've learned that, as the IT guy, I'm also the antibody of the corporation and my job is to prevent not just malware and viruses but also junk hardware from entering my business's system. As a software engineer who is new to the IT side of things, I have to ask, what else have you learned about IT?
What fresh hell has this software engineer gotten themselves into? Leave your best answers in the comments. What are the lesser-known roles of the IT department?
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Ask Slashdot: What Are The Lesser-Known Roles Of The IT Department?

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  • by bferrell ( 253291 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @03:36AM (#54823831) Homepage Journal

    You may have been living in some sort of fantasy world of siloed functions.

    In a large enough organization, there might be specialists in telecom, desktop hardware and server hardware, but usually IT, in general, is charged with all facets of the IT plant... Workstations, servers, networking hardware and telecom (including switching, carrier interconnect and endpoints like conference phones).

    If what you want is to JUST develop software, you need to be in a different role.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 17, 2017 @04:34AM (#54823975)

      Hell, if it has electricity or moving parts, it seems to be I.T. Yes, you will get helpdesk tickets about the vending machine.

      And since I.T. tends to be the one dept that has actual tools and an understanding of systems, our one seems to end up fixing doors.

      • To be honest, it kind of seems to make sense to have some kind of unified problem-reporting system. Who handles the problem in the end is a different matter.
        • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

          To be honest, it kind of seems to make sense to have some kind of unified problem-reporting system. Who handles the problem in the end is a different matter.

          You mean if someone needs support the request actually has to go in a queue with everyone else's? Mind blown.

        • With this enlightenment, you have taken the first step to understanding ITSM.

      • lol, IT is everything that should work but doesnt which includes...from the help desk at level 1...the light bulbs in every office to the starbucks coffee pot in a vp's office that got unplugged by the janitor that works graves. as soon as the general public walks out of their house, gets into their vehicle to drive to work...their IQ drops to 0. they just expect IT to work but are clueless on how to plug the coffee pot back in.
      • by usuallylost ( 2468686 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @09:32AM (#54824989)

        It also varies upon where you are in the company. I am the sole IT person working at small, about 100 people, remote office of a much larger company, about 8,000 people. I am the only person in the building who has tools. I get pretty much anything that breaks even if it isn't technically IT related. A lot of the stuff will eventually get handled by the appropriate departments in the company but I am pretty much always the first responder. In addition to my regular IT work I've fixed doors, the refrigerator, the microwave, a garbage disposal, turned off more than one plumbing fixture that was spraying water, assembled furniture and probably more stuff I've forgotten. If I was working at one of our bigger offices I'd wouldn't do all of that. On the other hand, I'd have to commute to one of our bigger offices so it is a reasonable trade off in my view. Besides this other stuff gives me the occasional change of pace.

      • by rnturn ( 11092 )
        I headed up the technical services department at a company where that was, pretty much, the attitude of the other departments. I jokingly asked once whether they thought I/we could build/MacGiver a phaser out of old office supplies found behind the filing cabinets and the answer came back "Yes".
    • Most of the time IT is actually running the business at a VP level, and the organization just doesn't realize it and will not pay IT VP level pay, power, and prestige.
      Because many work processes are controlled by computers. People to to IT and not their managers or higher level bosess for problems and questions on how to do their job.
      I once got called out from a VP because I was making business decisions without her advice. Because her personal went to me and ask how should I do X. So I gave them the answ

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        IT departments almost never "run" businesses, or if they do, they do so poorly. I've run into so many tail-wagging-the-dog situations in which a customer's business people were hamstrung by their IT departments. It is as though the purpose of IT departments is to find a reason to say "NO" to everything - to find excuses instead of solutions. It was so refreshing when I finally ran into a customer who had their ducks in a row. The CIO emphatically said, "Out of the question! Absolutely not!" to a proposal we

        • by sycodon ( 149926 )

          "IT departments don't run business."

          That's like saying Mechanics don't run the Metro Bus system.

          That's like saying the crew Chief of a fighter jet doesn't fight the battle.

          The CEO is merely the bus driver. The pilot just flies and fights the plane.

          Nor mechanics, no crew chiefs, no buses or fighter jets.

          If you go to the CEO of Walmart and say, "I have this great new POS system", It's the CIO's job to determine if it's going to require upgrading every store's data connections, maybe new servers to support the

          • by sycodon ( 149926 )

            I forgot...if the CEO STILL wants to proceed, then IT is on the hook for making he realizes the true costs, not just the cost of your software licenses.

      • by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @07:18AM (#54824399) Homepage
        There's some truth in this. In our organization, we get audited for ISO 900x compliance every year, and they have to go through all of our processes and validate that we're following our procedures, etc., but during that audit, if the answer is, "our ERP system does that / enforces that" then the auditor essentially goes, "ok, good" and moves on. The funny thing is that we have a custom-programmed ERP system that we're updating and changing all the time. The auditor certainly never audits our software development process or how we incorporate business processes into the ERP system. Apparently to him it's just "magic." However, people come to me (the ERP programmer) all the time with process problems, and I implement solutions directly in the ERP system to solve those problems, often only with the input of the person doing the job, because in many cases it's just obvious what should be done. I occasionally bring these decisions up to management, but most of the time they just defer to me anyway. So in many ways IT here (or at least the ERP development part) is just a branch of management. I find the whole thing rather silly.
      • In what universe does IT run the business? None, unless it's an IT company.

      • So if it has anything to do about computers they ask the IT guy even though they are so many different levels you can specialize in.

        Not just computers. Anything with electricity and/or a sensor.
        My first job I had a VP who needed a large corner office with lots of windows at the far end of the building. And she needed to be able to walk into it through the emergency exit next to the office, because she couldn't be asked to walk through the whole building. So we were asked to make the security work out so she could have her own private doorway. And we were not allowed to spend any money doing it. End result? We just disabled the alarm and security on that door.
        Her second issue was that her big corner office at the far end of the building with lots of windows was too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Compounding this, she needed to have her door closed all the time, and sat nearly touching the window. Since she had a thermostat, she constantly adjusted it. Not realizing that it didn't do anything, because it was just there to gather zone temp information. IT would get a request every week or two to fix her thermostat, because her office was uncomfortable. Finally got approval to get the HVAC guys in, and they immediately pointed out that when the building was built, they cheaped out on the HVAC system and it didn't have capacity to cool the square footage of that wing. Given this new information, the VP continued to ask IT to fix her thermostat every few weeks.

    • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @06:06AM (#54824207)
      There's this proverb that computer science is about as much concerned with computers as astronomy is concerned with telescopes. I'd also add the corollary that yes, CS is not about hardware which is why we have computer engineering for designing and building them and IT for operating them. What got to be called "IT" is *exactly* the part where hardware comes into play.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @06:40AM (#54824289) Homepage

      Since he describes himself as "the IT guy" I think this is very far from the enterprise, probably a jack-of-all-trades position in a small company. Since he switched from software development he probably thought of it as running operations keeping the production servers, clients and the network running, secure and up to date.

      As a software engineer who is new to the IT side of things, I have to ask, what else have you learned about IT?

      I never worked that position but... forget the I in IT. You're now the "tech guy", expect to deal with everything from conference phones, photocopiers, printers, the coffee machine, the vending machine, phones and tablets, basically everything the janitor won't touch. And even then expect to get roped in if the thermostat or window shutters aren't working properly to see if you have any tech tips. If you become a bigger organization you split out the server/client into ops and leave the rest for an infrastructure guy. If you become really big you split out the network from that again and put that into ops too. But until there's somebody else you can point to - and no, they think of you as the most qualified "tech" person - you're stuck with it.

      • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @08:57AM (#54824795) Homepage

        Forgive me in advance, as I've told this story before: Back in the mid 90's, I used to work part-time at Kroger (grocery store) as sacker. That job paid minimum wage, but, we got tips for sacking the groceries, carting them off to the parking lot, and unloading them into the back of the vehicle. I don't see that going on anymore, an in many cases, the person working the till does the bagging (customer still puts the bags into his/her own cart). But I digress...

        One day, the janitor was out for a week. I was called out to fill the position in his absence. In fact, just to show how hard of a worker I was, I took extra effort to clean the restrooms and mops the floors more thoroughly. Never did see that guy come back to work. However, I was rewarded via holding the janitor position for the remainder of my employment (which I quit after six months). Why would I stick around?? I worked harder, and made LESS money as it was still minimum wage WITHOUT tips. Yeah, I said to myself "fuck this shit, I'm out of here!".

        So what's the point in telling this story?? That no good deed goes unpunished. If you work in IT, don't be "that guy". Being the eager beaver will get you known as the tech guy who's prompt. That's a bonus, but it will hold you back from further advancement. Trust me, I know how that movie played out too.

        Oh, what's it like to be young, ignorant, and down right foolish. I wish I could go back in time and slap myself several times, HARD!

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          I was called out to fill the position in his absence. In fact, just to show how hard of a worker I was, I took extra effort (...) So what's the point in telling this story?? That no good deed goes unpunished.

          You know, this could have been a success story if this was work duties you really wanted but didn't have the qualifications or experience for. Yeah, showing great aptitude for a job you don't want is a bad idea because at the end of the day the company is trying to solve a giant puzzle matching work with workers, if you're already a great fit for a missing piece why shuffle the tiles? If you want to move upwards you have to show the skills necessary for that position and could contribute more value there, n

          • FYI, it was part-time work out of high school while I was waiting for community college.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by trybywrench ( 584843 )
          "One day, the janitor was out for a week. I was called out to fill the position in his absence. In fact, just to show how hard of a worker I was, I took extra effort to clean the restrooms and mops the floors more thoroughly. Never did see that guy come back to work. However, I was rewarded via holding the janitor position for the remainder of my employment (which I quit after six months). Why would I stick around?? I worked harder, and made LESS money as it was still minimum wage WITHOUT tips. Yeah, I said
          • All water under the bridge now. But, I'm actually very thankful for this job, and its outcome. It served a very valuable life lesson, and served me well. You can't really buy that. Major ROI of my time there :)

            Respect goes both ways. While I could have negotiated, why? No, seriously, why?! They obviously didn't have enough respect for me to put me back on the original job I was hired to do. Why would I want to fight for it? That tells me it could happen again. No. I'm passive aggressive for sure. But, what

          • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @10:39AM (#54825401)

            you volunteer to take on this other role and demonstrate your mastery and then you negotiate compensation for it

            For a job on a fixed wage?
            You seem a little bit out of touch so perhaps should not be so critical.

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )
      Apparently you haven't seen these new job descriptions that are two pages long. Job Title is apparently meaningless because they just put down every job duty of like 3-4 different people these days.
    • I am so glad I moved to a specialized type of IT Work. There are some thing I miss about being the generalist and the sysadmin-in-charge of how it all runs, but i don't miss the constant stream of everything-electrical-is-my-problem. Some orgs have good policies and people and it's good to be the sysadmin there. If it wasn't for my last boss being such a jackass and control freak I may have stayed there.

      but now--now I am in healthcare IT. It is it's own special sort of hell, but I don't have to work on ever

    • I've been running IT for a growing company for the last 10 years and since I started it has doubled in size. From about 45 people to 93, in two main locations in this country plus four sites in other parts of the world.

      My standard joke has been that everything with a power chord or a battery is my problem, except for the lights, but that doesn't even cover it. I've done everything from making sure there's equipment for the entertainment during our conferences, to making custom computer screen mounts for

    • by doggo ( 34827 )

      I (half) joke that my unofficial title is "Electron Wrangler", since anything that that gets plugged in seems to become my responsibility. From desktop support, to liaison with vendors, central IT, & telecomm.

      Never a dull moment.

  • by muphin ( 842524 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @03:40AM (#54823849) Homepage
    People believe peple in IT, alt hey di is browse the web and play video games... so they think we're disosable and can beused for any job...

    Main things are;
    - Laptops, PC, Phones (every brand)
    - Printers
    - Internet issues (yes with phones too)
    - Moving anything electrical; PC's, desks, pritners, microwaves, fridges....
    - fix anything hardware related; phones dead... fix it .... pritner doesnt work... open it up and fix it ...
    - Security; prevent users from doing dumb shit like open bad emails... oh wait they did, now you have to recover their encrypted data .. oh whats that no backups of PC's, they lost their data, now they complain tot heir boss you cant recover their data
    - cars; their car wont start.. oh your technical, you should know how to fix it...

    oh so much more....
    • by muphin ( 842524 )
      Also forgot...
      Mind Reader! - they are so vague about an issue, provide no technical information, or errors that you have to put on your inspector gadget hat and try and work out what they say.

      in essence, you are
      an electrician
      a removalist
      a plumber
      a garbage man

      you are over worked, under paid, and over utilised!
    • You forgot "giving advice and recommendations on employees own systems"
    • Certainly anything that uses electricity (I've been asked to fix a kettle once).
      Anything related to anything that uses electricity (moving desks, because they have computers on them).

  • electricity (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 17, 2017 @03:42AM (#54823855)

    As a web developer, i had to take care of the electricy in the building as well. So basically, whenever there was a power outage, it was my fault. I had to upgrade the fuses in the building, because i figured they weren't strong enough.

    • I had to upgrade the fuses in the building, because i figured they weren't strong enough.


      The fact you even said this is proof that you didn't have a single fucking clue about what you were doing. Which was setting yourself up for a hefty lawsuit and possibly criminal charges stemming from the fire you started.

      Maybe the fire hasn't actually happened yet, but you've already set it up. Go read some basic info about fuses and then maybe you'll understand why you should be losing sleep over this.

      • I had to upgrade the fuses in the building, because i figured they weren't strong enough.


        You have been trolled by IT. Little known job #32766, trolling, well...., everyone, without their knowledge.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 17, 2017 @03:48AM (#54823867)

    I've learned that, as the IT guy, I'm also the antibody of the corporation and my job is to prevent not just malware and viruses but also junk hardware from entering my business's system.

    You know how some people have their immune system turn on themselves.

    Some IT-departments becomes like that.
    Instead of stopping malware and junk hardware they stop everything. It makes their job easier.

    A good IT department tries to figure out what the person they stopped was trying to accomplish and tries to find a secure way of doing that.
    Blocking everything would be like a janitor keeping everyone else out since maintenance gets easier that way.
    While the method works for their immediate task the company cannot survive such measures.

    • A good IT department tries to figure out what the person they stopped was trying to accomplish and tries to find a secure way of doing that.

      This assume you have the resources to do that But when you are seen as a “cost factor” by higher manglement, you often keep running after fires to extinguish, so never mind evaluating new stuff...

  • IT is a black hole (Score:4, Insightful)

    by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @03:48AM (#54823873) Homepage Journal

    IT is a black hole where money goes but never returns a wise friend once told me. Development/Engineering makes a product. Sales sells it. CEO's,CFO's, COO's all know how to quantify that kind of stuff, but an in-house service like IT? Makes their heads spin. We're also the department that helps inept employees look not so inept.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 17, 2017 @04:06AM (#54823927)

      Not so wise.

      Imagine running a company without IT. Compete with typewriters, rotary phones, snail mail, and nothing but manual processes.

      IT is the bedrock of every modern business. Without it, you might as well be Amish.

      • Agreed, but usually the rest of the business considers IT a cost center. Build a new feature into the product / website and the BA's or marketing take all the credit.
        • by Anon-Admin ( 443764 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @10:36AM (#54825365) Journal

          Last time I was told "IT is just a cost center" I looked at the VP and asked where he heard that. When he responded with "Accounting" I pointed out that accounting was a cost center as well, heck even your management position is a cost center. I don't understand what IT being a cost center has to do with anything as everyone not in sales is a cost center.

      • Imagine running a company without IT. Compete with typewriters, rotary phones, snail mail, and nothing but manual processes.

        No more bleeping apparatus complaining about this or that, refusing to work at all (up and dies, maybe bluescreen, maybe give up the magic smoke), deciding on the spot it needs to do something different and you, stupid luser, can just bloody well wait until it is done (*cough* updates *cough*), or simply make all your well-trodden "I do this in this way" paths up and vanish into something Shiny! and New! so you never again can get the same result (ribbons, or any other of a long list of "updates", "improvem

    • by RevDisk ( 740008 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @09:38AM (#54825027) Journal
      Your wise friend isn't very wise.

      Within the past six months? IT saved a hundred million dollar contract because we made an incredibly simple reporting portal. Think web version of Excel. Customer loved it. They did not want random Excel files with literally ten thousand VLOOKUPs every morning, which was the previous 'solution'. IT engineered a last minute audio-visual display for a very high name project. We bought and built something for a fraction the cost of leasing, and ended up using the very nice TVs afterwards to upgrade our conference rooms. We not only saved the company money on replacement, we turned a profit. IT facilitated selling stuff the company used to throw out. More money.

      If your IT department is a financial black hole, either you don't get what they do or their head needs to be fired. They should always be earning their keep.
    • Ask your "wise" friend:

      1) How will Development/Engineering design their products without functioning computers, phones, and teleconference software?
      2) How will Sales sell a product that Development & Engineering can't develop or engineer because their computers and communications systems don't work.
      3) How will C*O's get their reports when their servers don't work (I know they'll say, "Cloud!" [for stupid reasons that make no sense]), their engineers are dead in the water (or inching along, at best), and

  • Avoiding Shelfware (Score:5, Interesting)

    by niks42 ( 768188 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @04:05AM (#54823923)
    My role in IT was to stop people buying hardware and software without thinking through how it would be used, how all the bits would integrate together and who would support it. I work in hospitals, and they are the worst so far. Clinical departments think it is a good idea to spend a pile of money on some piece of hardware or software, only to find they either can't use it, it is too complex for their staff to learn, it doesn't fit with anything else, it has a huge dependency on something they didn't buy and so on. Most of it ends up not ever being used - hence shelfware.
    • My role in IT was to stop people buying hardware and software without thinking

      I would argue buying hardware and software is part of the IT role. Even if it's end-user specific stuff it is the IT department who should vet and procure the software. Otherwise you end up with a clusterf***k of licenses and hardware requiring drivers that would be impossible to properly manage from an audit, security, or even desktop imaging point of view.

    • Ahh, that is a new meaning of shelfware. It thought shelfware is what can be bought ready of "shelves" in the virtual stores, which is sually what you want, nothing too weird that will end up being a maintaince or use nightmare, only buy custom and rare things when it is absolutely necessary for the business, and ensure you have in-house expertise when you do.

  • With a wire (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I once got into trouble, for saying something like, I suppose a kettle has a wire on it, that must be our responsibility as well.
    ok it may have been fucking kettle.

  • by irving47 ( 73147 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @04:50AM (#54824011) Homepage

    You're going to see a lot of negative, bitter posts in here from guys who feel like they've been taken advantage of. I'm definitely one of them, but I won't bore you by parroting.
    Are you assertive? If not, that might be the one thing others might not think to advise you one. Find some way of ensuring you are treated fairly for performing beyond your "normal" role. Ask the other employees whether your employer is known for being a tight-ass with money and funds for projects. Ask if they're justly rewarded when they take on extra tasks. What I've learned is don't just "assume" or "hope" that you'll be noticed for being a "team player". If you have more than 2-3 people tell you what you don't want to hear, get out, or at least clear it up with your boss NOW. You're not asking for a raise, you just want to be sure you're not bitter, stressed, and burned out in a year.

  • If you work in a small company, most likely you will be asked to do things that are outside your job. What this will be will depend on the company.
    This is not limited to the IT department.

    The reason can be that due to the growing of the company the task was never pointed towards the correct department. If these are minor things, it will most likely not change, If it takes up too much time, it might be that they will address the issue and appoint it to the correct department.

    What you need to do if these thin

  • by what about ( 730877 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @05:51AM (#54824179) Homepage

    Most of today stuff has some "software" in it and "others" will try desperately to assign the "maintenance" of it to you.

    Do not fall for it easily: For every bad equipment you have to "handle" state clearly who bought/authorized it and that you cannot support a defective unit.

    Keep repeating it in every conversation/email.

    Yes, you will be hated, but really, the alternative is worse.
    (Alternative is: Being blamed for all crappy choices made by others)

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @06:15AM (#54824231)

    The problem with employers assuming they can still get away with a jack-of-all-trades "IT guy" position these days is the level of complexity and technical competence required to maintain systems properly. IT has fragmented down quite a bit, and one can make a career out of simply mastering IT security, and not ever even get into managing the other 90% of IT services.

    Consider some of the most common services we run today in business. Desktops, servers, printers, switches, routers, email, internet, database, file/print/DNS/DHCP, along with SPAM filters, firewalls, IDS/IPS, A/V and anti-malware to help protect it all. And we haven't even touched virtualization or voice/chat services yet. Think you're gonna hire one IT person to do it all, or even find someone who holds a competent level of knowledge? Do you have only one doctor you see for anything and everything? No. Sure, a lot of those services you could hire the magical "cloud" to run to minimize IT staffing needs, but if you're cloud-adverse (which is becoming more and more of a valid stance), that may not be a viable option. If you run a local data center, now you're talking UPS sizing, generators, fire suppression, and physical security. Should the level-1 junior IT person be in charge ot DR/BCP planning for all IT services? Probably not.

    IT should now be compared to the medical industry, where you have many specialists serving a compartmentalized field, due to complexity and skill required in each.. I'm not saying a small company needs to employ a staff of half a dozen specialists every time, but as the requirements list for IT services grows, so does the need for additional staff. Also, redundancy. Companies need to avoid the hit-by-a-bus scenario and ensure for every service the business relies on, you have primary and an alternate person named, and not merely on paper. Again, to compare to the medical industry, ongoing training is critical to maintaining competency.

    TL; DR - Even for small business, IT today is not simple or easy. Employers cannot assume to get away with a jack-of-all-trades IT position.

    • Actually, depending on what OS you are running, especially *nix, YES! I would expect that one IT guy can handle everything and I hire as many as I need to cover the size of my organization.

      Even I can handle all that, and I'm basically a software guy. BTW, you forgot the most important part: backups.

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <> on Monday July 17, 2017 @06:42AM (#54824299)

    - maintaining a high-traffic quake 3 arena server on company Hardware without anyone noticing

    - coming up with elaborate and well worded excuses as to why I don't have time to set up and maintain MS Office 365 and it's groupware mess and have them let the intern/media-communications do it (the poor fellows)

    - explaining for the n-th time to the utterly clueless online team and the consultant PMs what the difference between a client and a server is, why versioning is important, that it's not *my* versioning but *our* versioning, why ci is a good idea, why manual ftp and working directly on live is a bad idea

    - stareing, day in and day out with awe and amazement at the ultimate shitfest that is WordPresses application architecture and wondering how we as a human race even got this far ... That's just from the top of my head.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      - stareing, day in and day out with awe and amazement at the ultimate shitfest that is WordPresses application architecture and wondering how we as a human race even got this far ... That's just from the top of my head.

      How I envy you for the days when Wordpress seemed daunting.
      Alas, Magento2 has crossed my path and I felt my youthful innocense torn away.

      • WordPress is a fork of a project written in PHP 3. It's purely procedural, as PHP did not support classes or object-oriented programming at that time. There are lots of over-engineered piles of crap in the world, and the ones written in PHP are a special hell indeed, but at least from an architectural standpoint I sincerely hope that WordPress stands in a category of its own.

    • by jon3k ( 691256 )

      - stareing, day in and day out with awe and amazement at the ultimate shitfest that is WordPresses application architecture and wondering how we as a human race even got this far ... That's just from the top of my head.

      Low barrier to entry. They could get something up and running within a week and spend the rest of their lives making money trying to fix it.

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @07:04AM (#54824355)
    ... you are expected to know how to fix it.

    Whether it is the brand new cabinet of AI or the CIO's daughter's piece of crap bought off eBay. Or, depending on the size of the organisation, any other random piece of electronics owned by any staff member.

  • website white/blacklisting; corporate VPN setup, maintenance and wide deployment; machine (hard and and software) assignment, maintenance, violation-management and whatnot; support system setup provisioning and maintenance (ERPs, accounting, time-tracking...); version-control/website/applicational/db/issue-tracking hosting setup, maintenance and management; and the most common and cumbersome of all - wired and wireless network management for internal, external, transient and development usage. Good luck wit

  • Until the owner of the business comes to you asking about Bitcoin, you aint seen nothing. Especially when you tell your colleagues how much you made this last quarter (before it crashed again) and you get the "I asked you about this and you said not to worry about it" comment...

    So yes, apparently IT is also good for dispensing financial advice now too.

  • You have, at the broadest level, physical and virtual. Physical people deal with things like servers, switches, copiers, phones, etc. Virtual people deal with things like software support, development, databases, etc. Generally, organizations are aligned with three broad buckets: Development, Infrastructure, and Support. Security is a role as well, but many organizations place security outside of the broader IT organization.

    If you want to have structured rigidity to your role (ie, not asked to do things you

  • I never knew I would go into IT in order to become an accountant, calculating depreciation schedules and providing chargeback/showback charts to "internal customers."

    And I'm not some middle-management drone....

  • is part of the I.T. domain; especially in smaller Mom & Pop operations.
  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @09:03AM (#54824827)

    Oh no, they are arguing with a phone vendor, boo hoo.

    In the wake of the dot-com burst, the company I had been working at (well as much 'working' as college kids actually did at dot com startups) dissolved, so I found myself with the only job I could find, IT intern at the research site of an industrial equipment manufacturer. It paid barely more than minmum wage and capped my hours to 20 a week.

    The first day I was informed that they consider IT a part of facilities, so I would report to their director of facilities, and I was in fact *the* IT department. This seemed ok. They showed me to where I should sit, and it was a rickety table and cheap hard plastic chair in the closet with a rack of servers, a rack of telephony equipment, and bits of the HVAC control system around.

    The next day I went to ask for my work assignment and the facilities director wasn't there. A few hours later I was informed that they had fired him, and I was assuming the role of facilities. I asked if I could use his now empty office and was told no, those were only for director level executives, so I went through my tenure in the closet, not even allowed to use any of the empty offices or cubicles. But the fun had not yet begun.

    I quickly learned that the company had one rule: never ever ever call a vendor, even if under warranty. My first lesson was when they brought me in to look at some piece of industrial equipment used on factory floors for something or another. There was a computer attached saying that there was a fault in the equipment, and so the equipment would not run. After double checking the computer I said as near as I could tell, that the fault was legitimate, and we should call the manufacturer for guidance. I was informed we shouldn't do that, and I should try to diagnose the equipment myself. So I grabbed an oscilloscope and an ohmmeter and went about effectively trying to reverse engineer the monitoring circuitry of a broken whatever the hell it was. I did actually find an open in a fairly standard component, and said we could buy a new one for a couple dollars and see if that worked, was asked if I could repair it, so broke it's casing open and soldered it and the equipment actually worked.

    Another time the HVAC stopped working, and they asked me to dig into that. Fortunately there was some sort of locked down monitoring implementation and we had to call the vendor, who informed us that it would have been against our contract to even *try* to fix it.

    The last notable event along those lines came as one day the security system was emitting a little chirp every 5 minutes and had a fault light. They asked me to look at it, but knowing that I had no idea how to approach it and that a mistake could incur a hefty false alarm fine from the city, I refused. Ultimately some VP said 'fine, let me see'. Within 10 minutes of him 'seeing', the full alarm went off, and within 2 minutes two fire trucks and 3 police cars arrived and the company had to pay a large false alarm fine (for residential, there's leeway, but corporate alarm are treated a bit more strictly).

    Thankfully it only took about 3 months of working there before I found a better job.

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @09:05AM (#54824835) Journal

    I've done I.T. for everything from "running out of a large garage" type businesses to mid size companies with multiple offices.

    I'd have to say the weirdest variety of job expectations were at the smallest places. When you're the only I.T. guy hired full-time at a small business, you're immediately viewed as one of the "smart guys" who surely knows how to do X, Y and Z that people want to do - regardless of if it has much of anything to do with computers.

    The weirdest tasks of all had to be when I applied for a job in the local newspaper for a Macintosh tech for a small start-up business that wanted to refurbish older Macs and PCs to resell in daycare settings and secondarily to the public as "great first computers for small kids". I was unemployed at the time and needed to make the house and car payment, so wasn't being too selective. It turned out, the guy running this business came up with the idea because he already owned a number of daycare centers, as well as other rental property. He was a long time fan of Apple Macs, even though he wasn't that great at using them. (He was your typical older guy who attended those monthly users' group meetings held at the local library and knew just enough to be dangerous.) One of the interesting features of his house was this HUGE multi-bay garage built into the back side of a hill. He put about 6 rows of shelving units in part of it, where he collected up old, obsolete Macs that area schools, the local newspaper and others wanted to get rid of. He'd drive his van out to one of these places every so often with a trailer attached, and bring back 25 to 50 of the machines at a time.

    The rest of this garage was stuffed full with other odds and ends that looked like a scene from one of those "American Pickers" episodes on TV. He had tool and die equipment (as he said he used to work in that field years back), a huge collection of paint cans of various colors (probably whatever was left when his rentals needed repainting), a lot of miscellaneous hardware like chains, bolts, hooks, and several vehicles including an older car with less than 500 miles on it, sitting under a cover.

    Right away, this guy was maddening to work for. He insisted that I punch in and out on this old time clock he had sitting in the back on a desk. It was one of those green metal analog clocks where you had to line up the paper time card just right and press the big steel button on top to stamp your time on it. And as it was as ancient as most other junk in his garage, the clock often stopped -- so you had to make sure it was set right before punching your card. And the time it printed was barely legible either. I was supposed to be refurbishing these old Macs, putting collections of kids' games and learning programs on them, and tagging them with price sheets that told you exactly what the computer's configuration was. In reality, I'd get one or two finished only to find the hard drives were dying and they'd only boot correctly every other time. Then, I had to dig through a collection of used hard drives he kept around to try to find one that worked well enough so it would hold the information in a stable manner. Every so often, he'd come around trying to micro-manage my work and scold me about something or other I should be doing, in his opinion, in order to work faster.

    At some point, he figured out I knew how to do things like update web sites, so he'd regularly pull me away from what I was doing to come up to his office in the main part of the house. There, he'd have me update his daycare center web site or upload photos and edit descriptions of his rental homes, or edit listings on his personal .Mac web page trying to sell some of those nuts, bolts and chains he had around.

    In the winter months, he had this wood burning furnace contraption he built to heat the garage. So I had the task of tending the fire in it and adding logs to it regularly each day.

    Eventually, he decided to try to sell a bunch of these computers at a computer show at an area

  • Supporting company cell phones, unloading boxes of paper, moving furniture (tip: invest in some of those "moving men" things that you put on the feet).

  • ... it was in my scope of work.

    I was a one-man show for my 25 year career and I had the pbx, electrical installations, overhead paging system, smart phone/tablet issues, including negotiating contracts, moving furniture, moving boxes, taking possession of anything that had a wire or was unusual, fixing computers at each manager's home ...

    I also had my day job as Technology Administrator -- all the stuff a network administrator and systems analyst would do.

  • Let's see... Over the years... Cameras. Makes a bit of sense. It uses wired infrastructure. With IP cameras, network video recorders and POE switches, it makes more sense. Building environmental conditions. I just soldered up a bunch of Photons with some sensors and throw them around the various parts of the building relating to IT. Door access systems and badges. I've helped build portals and webapps for customers. Which was a primary save on a hundred million dollar customer who was very unha
    • I've had to help with laminators and overhead projectors (the old kind that uses a mirror and a bulb)
  • In high-school I got certified in life guarding. I took a few Red Cross classes on CPR, general first aid and safety, and of course life guarding.

    Fast forward to 20 years of being expired on all my certs, pudgy, and in no way fit to be a lifeguard - the H.R. department called me up to the big conference room to help them get some slides on the displays so they could teach those who showed up to the presentation about using the new A.E.D. The H.R. department was fumbling - badly - with everything to do wi

  • Really, the precise role of any position within the IT department, and indeed the role of the IT department as a whole, depends a fair bit on the company you work for. I've seen companies where most employees were fairly technical, and basic helpdesk support was rare. I've seen companies where most employees were supposed to be extremely technical, but people still needed help logging into their computers on an almost daily basis. I've seen companies where the IT department is largely about development an

  • Often I've gotten a ticket to help someone hooking up the computer and find out they moved the desk and computer to the other side of the room from the network connections so we have to move everything.
  • Dear Software Engineer,

    while the label might indicate that you are only responsible for software and the other layers do not need to concern you, this is not true for real software engineers, as the design and selection of hardware (execution environments, networking etc.) is also part of your job description. You are often not an operator, but you need to think about operation as well. In the first year of your studies, you might learned all the stuff which is relevant for operations on a basic level. Also

  • Oddest one I've heard is the sysadmin asked to sort out a problem with a urinal.
    I suppose at least that makes it an I pee address, but jokes aside it happened because we are seen as "techie" types so better at dealing with machinery and infrastructure than a receptionist.
  • A lot of IT shops that I've been in don't know how to manage obsolete inventory, throw everything into storage closets and run out of space for projects. Cleaning up my immediate work area and the storage closets is usually my first order of business. You can't work efficiently if you're buried in crap.
  • I.T. Hell (Score:4, Interesting)

    by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @10:39AM (#54825389)

    In addition to handling all software and hardware installation and support we are supposedly supposed to know every employee's role so that we can do their jobs for them. It never ceases to amaze me how many people think it's my job to do a vlookup or setup fuel routing solutions. Apparently we don't require our employees to know a damn thing, just push it to the I.T. department to get it a company with 1,000+ employees and an I.T. staff of 5.

    Notice I didn't say that we purchase software. No no....that would mean that we're involved in that process. Instead some other department purchases the software and then notifies IT after the fact. It doesn't matter if it will work with existing hardware/software because the software salesman said it will work just fine. And salesmen never lie.

    Some days I think I would rather flip burgers for a living.

  • Shooting nekkid chix (Score:4, Informative)

    by dasgoober ( 2882045 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @12:26PM (#54826279)

    I was the web/IT guy for an adult photography company. This company used to take test poloroids of in-coming models, to shop them around to the publishers, to determine if any of the publishers wanted the model to be featured in a layout. Now comes the advent of the digital camera, which would allow these test shots to be disseminated faster, and with less complications. So, being the IT guy, I'm tasked with working the digital camera, taking pictures of naked women in various poses, which jump-started a sideline business of being a nude (the girls, not me) photographer.
    And fueling a major portion of my sex life.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter