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(AL.com)   We laid off 40 percent of our IT staff and refused to upgrade outdated equipment...let's watch what happens   (blog.al.com) divider line 347
    More: Fail, Jefferson County, information technology, Emergency Management Agency, computer crashes, county manager, equipment  
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38662 clicks; posted to Main » on 09 Jun 2012 at 11:15 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-06-09 11:23:13 PM
If SAP can run on an old 486, it must have run so horribly slow I'm surprised anyone noticed it was offline.

If I wasn't a state employee myself, I'd find this pretty amusing, but damn if it doesn't piss me off. State governments keep pulling the plug on so many positions and important infrastructure, I'm actually becoming worried that something seriously bad is going to happen. It's one thing for it to be the server that runs the financials, but my guess is that somewhere there's some ancient system about to implode that runs something more important, like the local 911 service, or some other security/emergency system.
 
2012-06-09 11:25:08 PM
Bet they got a full complement of fully automatic assault rifles, body armor, and military-grade weaponry, though.
 
2012-06-09 11:26:18 PM
Is the power cord plugged in?
 
2012-06-09 11:26:27 PM
Cloud computing is being hyped as a way to bypass equipment and maintenance costs. anything wrong with that picture?
 
2012-06-09 11:27:24 PM
I guess somebody didn't do the needful
 
2012-06-09 11:27:54 PM
It's ok. We don't need government. Big business will take care of us. Oh, and God, God will also take care of us. Just not the government or the school system or foreigners. They suck.

Damn it, where are my god damn fritos? If it's not one thing, it's another.
 
2012-06-09 11:28:39 PM
media.al.com

My decisions were good, it was the implementation!
 
2012-06-09 11:28:58 PM

GAT_00: cman: GAT_00: cman: GAT_00: Hey, what do you know, Republican government policy is completely idiotic and fails horribly.

Same can be said for every government policy in existence

You're ex-military. So you're saying, you are, or rather were, part of the problem?

Oh of course I was

I've had this same conversation recently with someone who is not only currently working for a university and government entity as I am, but has worked for a city government in the past. He didn't understand why I said he was a hypocrite for complaining about government inefficiency WHILE he was on the clock working for the government.

Basically, I don't think you should be allowed to complain about government inefficiency if you were part of the problem. Particularly when you're actively working for the government or taking money from them.


you need to look up what the word hypocrite means.
basically you're a f*cking idiot.
 
2012-06-09 11:29:21 PM
The Carl's Jr. drive-thru screen had a "found new hardware wizard" dialog on it yesterday.
 
2012-06-09 11:30:17 PM

tb tibbles: Cloud computing is being hyped as a way to bypass equipment and maintenance costs. anything wrong with that picture?


Wait until they price it out. Cloud can be a viable alternative, but you really have to analyze your use cases. Also, with all the privacy requirements, most government agencies really can't get involved with cloud stuff, not unless everything is certified compliant, which usually means even more money.

IT doesn't have to be complicated at all, but you do need to hire and keep some good people, or it gets really difficult fast.
 
2012-06-09 11:30:40 PM

tb tibbles: Cloud computing is being hyped as a way to bypass equipment and maintenance costs. anything wrong with that picture?


Well, here's the thing. In this case, it appears they've been allowed to underinvest in the maintenance of their SAP system. If they moved to the cloud, they would have been forced to pay proper maintenance for their financials.
 
2012-06-09 11:30:46 PM

Cake Hunter: To ears!


'ere, 'ere!
 
2012-06-09 11:32:35 PM

Babwa Wawa: SAP is a beast not to be f*cked with.


Agreed. You can make SAP sing and dance if you know how, but it isn't software that you can "walk through" and figure it out without training.
 
2012-06-09 11:33:44 PM
Also you can try to be as efficient as possible but if the boss puts the kibosh on any changes you want to make then there is nothing you can do. I spent months at my last job trying to weed out old unnecessary crap that was made our office and storage areas look like something out of hoarders. But about 95% of the time i was not allowed to get rid of anything in case "we needed it". Trying to find anything in that place was an adventure in frustration and no amount of begging or pleading would change that. And don't even get me started and their computers. I'm not even an IT guy but I suddenly became one.
 
2012-06-09 11:33:57 PM
They can throw out the IT Dept. where I work. The lone requirement seems to be "Must have been born during the Eisenhower administration". We've got software that was copyrighted in 1980 for the love of FSM. Feels like we should be starting everything up in DOS prompt.

/And we're not a government agency
 
2012-06-09 11:33:59 PM

Benjamin Orr: I guess somebody didn't do the needful


Perhaps they didn't ask for the correct advise?
 
2012-06-09 11:39:23 PM
just go back to COBOL
 
2012-06-09 11:39:39 PM

cman: GAT_00: Hey, what do you know, Republican government policy is completely idiotic and fails horribly.


Just so you know, Jefferson County is in financial trouble because the people and businesses who actually make money are moving out of JC and have been for years because increasing population of African American influence in the county. Along with the successful business goes tax revenue. JC is a lost cause. No one can live there nor would they want to. Has nothing to do with Republicans. Same thing happened in Selma and trust me, you don't even want to take that exit off I-65.
 
2012-06-09 11:39:59 PM

GAT_00: cman: GAT_00: cman: There was absolutely nothing that I could do about government inefficiency.

I find that hard to believe. If it's inefficient everywhere, why are you incapable of improving anything?

If you put it in that way, then the only inefficiencies that I could improve would be so small that they would not be worth my time of even typing them out.

But anything is better than nothing, right? Every little bit helps, especially if it's something repetitive and common.

You get the point I'm making here, right? I'm just finishing a bottle of Moscato that I started like two hours ago so I should probably say it right out.

You worked for the government. I'm sure you found things that could have been improved, otherwise your assertion that the government is inefficient at everything is bullshiat right from the get-go. What I get from you is that you knew it sucked, never bothered to try to fix or improve everything, and now biatch about how bad everything was.

If you never try to fix something that's wrong, you're to blame too. Because not only did you see something was wrong, you intentionally refused to fix it. And to me, that's worse, to see a problem and refuse to fix it, and then biatch about it like it's all someone else's fault. If you're involved, you're to blame too.


You try to fix it, and you're accused of insubordination.
 
2012-06-09 11:40:45 PM

Ken VeryBigLiar: They can throw out the IT Dept. where I work. The lone requirement seems to be "Must have been born during the Eisenhower administration". We've got software that was copyrighted in 1980 for the love of FSM. Feels like we should be starting everything up in DOS prompt.

/And we're not a government agency


I'm worked for a department store credit department around 9 years ago. They had those old school workstations with the orange crt screens, the keyboards had the double row of F keys, dot matrix printers, and tape back ups. I think my computer was built in '86. I laughed when i saw it all. It was like going back in time...
 
2012-06-09 11:43:06 PM
I guess since this is the 21st century, Jefferson County has never heard of a little thing called a calculator or pencil and paper.

/there was actually life before the year 1980, I swear it.
 
2012-06-09 11:45:06 PM
You get a government bailout
 
2012-06-09 11:45:54 PM

WhackingDay: Wait until they price it out. Cloud can be a viable alternative, but you really have to analyze your use cases. Also, with all the privacy requirements, most government agencies really can't get involved with cloud stuff, not unless everything is certified compliant, which usually means even more money.


So usually the "certifications" mean something fairly arbitrary. They'll usually piggyback onto something FIPS compliant.

The real question is around availability and responsiveness. Cloud providers pretty much universally only guarantee 3 9's, and even then it's only around service availability, rather than data availability. Most enterprises design for 4 to 5 9's service and data availability. So where I see people tripping up internally is where they design to assure availability numbers that the cloud providers aren't even shooting for or even mentioning. Seeing that every extra nine after 3 costs 10x the price of the solution, it really doesn't surprise me that internal shops can't compete on price.

Then you have the responsiveness, which ties into that as well. If you are designing for 4 or 5 9's then you need a lot of structure in place to ensure that you can achieve that. If you can take 10 hours of unplanned downtime a year, then you don't have to go through all that stuff (and I assure you your cloud provider doesn't).

I went through this all the time when I managed a data center. "How much data loss can we tolerate in the event of a data center failure for this app?" "None." "OK, here's the bill for a zero data loss solution. Or we could take 10 minutes data loss and it will cost about 5% of that. Your call."
 
2012-06-09 11:46:08 PM
Vendors gonna vend.
Lawyers gonna law.
 
2012-06-09 11:46:17 PM
Just so you know, Jefferson County is in financial trouble because the people and businesses who actually make money are moving out of JC and have been for years because increasing population of African American influence in the county

i437.photobucket.com">
 
2012-06-09 11:48:51 PM

lenfromak: Babwa Wawa: SAP is a beast not to be f*cked with.

Agreed. You can make SAP sing and dance if you know how, but it isn't software that you can "walk through" and figure it out without training.


Ugh SAP and I have a very tenuous relationship right now. The fun part is dealing with the high priced designers/programmers commissioning the new system. A simple thing like a translation of XML messages from the plant floor takes months to argue through.
 
2012-06-09 11:49:14 PM
Those IT guys...they're just an expense. And why can't we run a 10 year-old server running Windows 2000 as a domain controller? It's still working, amirite? Virtualization? What is that?

Yes, IT costs money...but doing it right will save money in the long run.
 
2012-06-09 11:49:31 PM
I live in jeff co. Whats funny is the laid off a bunch of support staff and brought in a guy from roads and transportation to work on computers because he had seniority in the counties merit system.
 
2012-06-09 11:50:26 PM

fragMasterFlash: OMG, this can only end badly! Unless management gets a bonus, that is...


Amen Brother. Move government operations closer and closer to private sector protocols and you get - well, read the article.

There was a time when basic operational skills were taught to every drunken frat-boy in year one on the way to their daddy-paid frat-boy MBA diploma. Crazy stuff like this: "You do away with people and you do away with outside maintenance contracts that take care of that proprietary equipment, and you're left with the inability to operate government," Stephens said.
Derptastic. And simply the state of things awaitin'
 
2012-06-09 11:50:36 PM

Tellingthem: I'm worked for a department store credit department around 9 years ago. They had those old school workstations with the orange crt screens, the keyboards had the double row of F keys, dot matrix printers, and tape back ups. I think my computer was built in '86. I laughed when i saw it all. It was like going back in time...


I work in insurance so old people who haven't had to adapt is far from unusual but the current workplace is like stepping in to 1992. I fully expect to walk in Monday to a conversation about how funny "Full House" was on Friday.
 
2012-06-09 11:52:15 PM
40 percent of the average office's IT staff sits there, picking their noses while watching videos all day.
Let's hope they laid off the right 40%.
 
2012-06-09 11:53:37 PM

Fiction Fan: Just so you know, Jefferson County is in financial trouble because the people and businesses who actually make money are moving out of JC and have been for years because increasing population of African American influence in the county

[i437.photobucket.com image 538x362]">


"Just so ya know, Jefferson County be in financial trouble cus da people and businesses who actually make money is movin out of JC and gots been fo years cus increasin population of African American influence in da county - aww yea foo"

Not sure if that helps, it was the first eubonics translator page on google.
 
2012-06-09 11:53:49 PM

detroitdoesntsuckthatbad: lenfromak: Babwa Wawa: SAP is a beast not to be f*cked with.

Agreed. You can make SAP sing and dance if you know how, but it isn't software that you can "walk through" and figure it out without training.

Ugh SAP and I have a very tenuous relationship right now. The fun part is dealing with the high priced designers/programmers commissioning the new system. A simple thing like a translation of XML messages from the plant floor takes months to argue through.


I reckon you could go with Oracle and see how they do. They'll rape you, stick you with the bar tab, and then complain you didn't pay for the hotel room.

The problem with business process software isn't the software. It's that it's all about business process. If you have a hard time fixing processes in a manual world, software isn't going to solve it - in fact it'll more likely magnify the problem.
 
2012-06-09 11:55:40 PM
But, small government is all efficient, right?
 
2012-06-09 11:57:03 PM

Ceteris Paribus says: That's symptomatic of severe financial distress


Not really. Cutting maintenance is one of the common "easy" cuts. Never mind that it usually costs more in the long run.

Di Atribe: This is what happens when you cut taxes over & over & over. People lose their jobs & technology suffers & vendors don't get paid. Remember that next time you're biatching about your tax bill.


But look at how the politician's pet projects fair.

Tellingthem: Ken VeryBigLiar: They can throw out the IT Dept. where I work. The lone requirement seems to be "Must have been born during the Eisenhower administration". We've got software that was copyrighted in 1980 for the love of FSM. Feels like we should be starting everything up in DOS prompt.

/And we're not a government agency

I'm worked for a department store credit department around 9 years ago. They had those old school workstations with the orange crt screens, the keyboards had the double row of F keys, dot matrix printers, and tape back ups. I think my computer was built in '86. I laughed when i saw it all. It was like going back in time...


I've got a double row of F keys on the left of this keyboard. While they aren't nearly as vital as they used to be I still make plenty of use of them even running the latest and greatest. I much prefer them on the left because I can touch type them, I can't reliably touch type the ones up on top.
 
2012-06-09 11:57:20 PM
What I never got was how my last employer treated the IT guys. The first department to get anything new, from chairs to computers, was H.R. The last two departments to get anything new was Accounting and IT.

As bad as Accounting had it, IT had it worse. Their A+ techs were paid less than $10/hr on average and were the guys tasked with repairing all the computers in the company, not to mention basic software upgrades. The guys that were in jobs that required bachelors degrees in the IT department were paid less than $15/hour salaried, worked every other weekend on top of their 45 work week (that company believed that if you were salaried you had to put in at least 45 hours a week, but only paid for 40), not to mention late nights if something went wrong with the network. Our IT department had to justify every expense, even if it was a screw driver for the A+ guys to my boss (I worked accounting, expense reporting), attach receipts and detailed justification for why that screw driver was needed. H.R. could send a guy to New York City for one night, spend $1,000 on a hotel for that one night, a $125 dinner and explain that receipts were not needed because it was an official H.R. function, and H.R. function was all the justificiation needed. In H.R., a simple file clerk made at least $13/hour. Now, compare that with the above mentioned A+ tech and remember that it doesn't take any education at all to be a file clerk.

When I gave my exit interview, I pointed out that I did the expense reports for both H.R. and IT. I said that the only thing I'm sad that I will miss is when someone in IT gets pissed off enough at their treatment as the red headed step child and manages to use a simple virus to completely destroy this company, or repairs your work laptops and uses what's on there to get you all fired.

I've been looking at job ads. My wife been trying to get me into a tech support job. I've been showing her the job ads and the pay for tech support jobs and telling her that the pay is almost poverty and job requires dealing with complete and total morons who are too stupid to be using a computer. Companies need the computer and network to function in order to make them money, but they don't want to pay people the money that technicans are actually worth to keep the system up and running.
 
2012-06-09 11:57:23 PM
Data Center: It's networking's fault
Network: It's voice's fault.
Voice: Email was down.
Deskside: It's summer. Several techs are on vacation.
Service Desk: Please hold.
 
2012-06-09 11:57:30 PM

detroitdoesntsuckthatbad: The fun part is dealing with the high priced designers/programmers commissioning the new system. A simple thing like a translation of XML messages from the plant floor takes months to argue through.


Is that just an IBM culture thing? We've had a bunch of contractors from there recently that have been awfully pissy. It's not that they're bad at their job, they're just unpleasant to work with. At least they're not inept, like Infosys...
 
2012-06-09 11:58:08 PM

Fista-Phobia: Yeah. Service Desk ass reaming followed by some Lean Six Sigma project managers with capes.


I call them "Mighty Mouse"
 
2012-06-09 11:58:55 PM
Somewhere, right this moment, Grover Norquist is reading this article and furiously masturbating.
 
2012-06-09 11:59:41 PM
Oh what I wouldn't give to be a fly on a wall in that situation...

As someone said earlier. Paper, pencil, calculator? OMG MATH AND WRITING R HARD!

In all seriousness, I've worked in IT for both government and private sector. In many places, the IT staff is very undervalued and often shoved aside. But, oh boy! When something breaks they are breaking down doors to find someone to fix it.

Legacy software and systems are by far the worst to deal with in terms of their users. Especially when you have to explain to them that the only machine to run a certain system has a fried motherboard that you can't get a replacement for and the software won't run on a newer system. And they were told months ago, they should probably migrate to a newer version on newer equipment because a failure was eminent. Gotta love it.
 
2012-06-10 12:01:41 AM

the_chief: The Carl's Jr. drive-thru screen had a "found new hardware wizard" dialog on it yesterday.


...and I see a JavaScript Error about 1/3 of the time. I'm sure we'd be surprised how many displays and kiosks simply run flash/browser content... but theirs is clearly implemented badly.

But yeah - I'm afraid my company's IT dept is in the same boat. Used to be almost aggressive with infrastructure and doing internal custom development... but we've lost a few good guys without even replacing their positions, and it feels like we're a major failure away from the whole department walking away. We already had a problem with a phone switch that was maintenance-related, and what we paid in consulting costs and SLA penalties for that single event would have easily kept our telephony engineer in-house for at least a year.
 
2012-06-10 12:06:29 AM
"Thank you for calling Jefferson County, my name Peggy."
They just need to outsource more. Yeah, thats the ticket!
 
2012-06-10 12:06:32 AM

detroitdoesntsuckthatbad: lenfromak: Babwa Wawa: SAP is a beast not to be f*cked with.

Agreed. You can make SAP sing and dance if you know how, but it isn't software that you can "walk through" and figure it out without training.

Ugh SAP and I have a very tenuous relationship right now. The fun part is dealing with the high priced designers/programmers commissioning the new system. A simple thing like a translation of XML messages from the plant floor takes months to argue through.


We could have gone without mentioning SAP.

*eye twitch*

I was the SAP biatch at my old job. Big Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company. Always sent to troubleshoot out of team. Most of the time, it was an ID10T error on the part of the users, but oh gawd, when something was farked up on the other side of things, was it ever. Then trying to run that over FDA approved Windows builds that weren't always "standard" made things even worse at times when you got into R&D areas.
 
2012-06-10 12:06:37 AM
This is why hosting companies are projected to grow by like 20x in the next few years. Not crap like host gator or something, but real managed hosting.
 
2012-06-10 12:06:48 AM
There are danger in signing maintenance contracts without having IT check it out first.

They you might need... A Contract-Killer


3.bp.blogspot.com
 
2012-06-10 12:07:10 AM

cman: GAT_00: cman: GAT_00: Hey, what do you know, Republican government policy is completely idiotic and fails horribly.

Same can be said for every government policy in existence

You're ex-military. So you're saying, you are, or rather were, part of the problem?

Oh of course I was


Hell, some, nay nearly all of us are still part of the problem even after we got out.
 
2012-06-10 12:08:18 AM
Dammit... I thought the link got embedded right.

A Contract-Killer
 
2012-06-10 12:10:13 AM

detroitdoesntsuckthatbad: lenfromak: Babwa Wawa: SAP is a beast not to be f*cked with.

Agreed. You can make SAP sing and dance if you know how, but it isn't software that you can "walk through" and figure it out without training.

Ugh SAP and I have a very tenuous relationship right now. The fun part is dealing with the high priced designers/programmers commissioning the new system. A simple thing like a translation of XML messages from the plant floor takes months to argue through.



I was the only person in the whole department I worked in (outside of the finance dept) that knew how to pull SAP reports. They thought I was a god. Lucky for me the person who had vacated the position set me up with all of her customized queries.
 
2012-06-10 12:10:47 AM

phoxxy: Oh what I wouldn't give to be a fly on a wall in that situation...

As someone said earlier. Paper, pencil, calculator? OMG MATH AND WRITING R HARD!

In all seriousness, I've worked in IT for both government and private sector. In many places, the IT staff is very undervalued and often shoved aside. But, oh boy! When something breaks they are breaking down doors to find someone to fix it.

Legacy software and systems are by far the worst to deal with in terms of their users. Especially when you have to explain to them that the only machine to run a certain system has a fried motherboard that you can't get a replacement for and the software won't run on a newer system. And they were told months ago, they should probably migrate to a newer version on newer equipment because a failure was eminent. Gotta love it.


I worked industrial manufacturing process control for years. Nothing better than gettig capital improvement after capital improvement denied and then getting a phone call that we're losing 50,000$/hour thanks to a broken sensor that hasn't been manufactured since 1985. Now that control systems have begun integration with business systems the line between engineering and IT have blurred. Who's my boss- Director of Engineering or the CIO? At least I know I can always get a job.
 
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