If you’ve been a faithful reader of Technibble so far, you may have noticed that our articles have been tech-related either as direct troubleshooting or developing social skills you’ll need in order to act and become a professional. However, thus far there haven’t been any real reports from workplaces that would showcase either of those two distinct, yet equally important aspects of being a successful technician. As this week’s special feature, what follows is a report from one such workplace, conducted by yours truly.
The importance of home turf
The workplace I was asked to do my magic at was familiar ground for me – a small company (the size of a SoHo) one of my relatives hs been working at for nearly a decade now. Since I was lucky enough to be there on several occasions in the past several years, having successfully done numerous minor and two major repairs on their machines, I was probably the first and most obvious choice they had, though I probably won’t ever know for sure. The task itself sounded relatively simple: the company’s antivirus license had run out two weeks ago, and they kept receiving emails from Avast asking if they wanted to renew it. As a result, the company wanted to find someone with enough time and will to re-register the software, update it, run a full scan of the machines and make sure no viruses remain.
The social aspect of the job was not much more complicated. Considering I’ve been there quite a few times, I had the luck (or advantage, depending on your point of view) of knowing the employees, their personalities, general work attitudes – and based on all that, the general amount of work that’d be necessary per their computer. Were that my first visit there, things would’ve been a lot more complicated; despite the fact it’s the same company, each of the employees would have to be treated individually, seeing as some might have objections towards a third party doing god-knows-what to their computer (which is what quite a few average computer users would probably think, anyway). As odd as it may seem, the employer’s orders don’t have much effect on the employees’ reactions – in fact, employers usually don’t have much in the way of computer skills, so it boils down to “just let the guy do his job”. On the other hand, knowing what the computers and their users are like is a two-edged sword: while the employees were generally friendly because of my overall help in the past encounters, the friendlier the employee, as it turned out, the more lax they were with their surfing, and with that, the bigger the amount of viruses that needed to be cleaned up. While the company has their own technician squad, they’re fairly specialized – and in fact, probably don’t want to deal with petty tasks such as virus cleanup. As you can see, the working environment was far from fully professional – but it was professional enough not to hinder my part of work.
The company itself is organized as a small ethernet-connected network consisting of seven computers, several network printers and a dedicated server/gateway, so the actual layout is relatively easy to follow without much trouble. All but two of the computers had Avast already installed, so the first task was to enter a new registration code and let the software update itself. After checking with all the employees that the computers weren’t needed for the moment – in fact, it was a slow enough day that nobody needed their computers till the day’s end – I made the first round-trip and updated all the licenses, which the software accepted without trouble. Along with that, I copied and installed three key elements from my usual toolkit CDs – Spybot S&D, SpywareBlaster and AdAware; knowing how often spyware is misdiagnosed as an actual virus or worm, it was better to let dedicated software take care of that. While five computers polled for online program updates, the remaining two had their own sets of trouble. One, a database server, had been using Avast and the same anti-spyware programs before, but without a replacement AV key (on account that it was supposedly never used for browsing, despite having a clear internet connection), so the whole ordeal had to be reinstalled in trial mode – enough to clean the computer before it lost its internet pathway. The other computer, a notebook, had a bundled copy of Norton AV 2006, which also expired, so it had to be removed and the registry cleaned in order to avoid false alarms and cross-AV-program trouble.
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