Sanguinem Non Habere Tempus

Sorry for appearing pretentious with the title, but I’m in one of those whimsical moods, characteristic of the end of a busy day, (so, more to come in future).

Its been a very busy day for all. To start with, Mark, unfortunately, was unavoidably out this morning which left me with the unenviable tasks of running the shop, effecting customer repairs and attending a Techstart board meeting at the same time. Couple this with being short-staffed and you can see where I’m coming from (and, if you’ve worked it out, the blog title). Fortunately, both Mark and I are used to this, (and particularly proud of the fact that we have never had to close due to staff shortage).

Apart from Mark, myself and Susie (our training manager), Techstart is wholly staffed by volunteers. This means that between the three of us, we have to create a working atmosphere and environment such that people want to come to us to work and then want to stay when they do. I think we have achieved that with some measure of success. Unfortunately there’s only so much one can do against illness and circumstance, which is what happened today. So, to start off the day, there was only myself and two volunteers to run the shop. Consequently, thanks to Susie and the very understanding members of the board, I was able to flit between the meeting and the shop floor when needed. Eventually, the meeting ended and this, closely followed by Mark’s arrival, eased things somewhat.

One of the increasingly more popular services that Techstart offers is our repair service. This is one of my primary area’s of responsibility. Having spent a large part of my career in IT customer service (most of it, actually), I tend to be a bit draconian when it comes to customer machines. I have a set of rules I’ve built up over the years that I try to stick to when it comes to customers and their machines:

  1. Never, ever lie to a customer about a fault. If it’s a simple fault that will take five minutes to fix then tell them.
  2. Along with No1, do not, under any circumstances, invent a fault to increase charges.
  3. Always treat customer machines with care and respect.They’re not your property.
  4. There is no such thing as “that will do”. Repairs must be complete and whole and the machine fully tested.
  5. If you damage a machine during repair, own up. Don’t try to hide it. Sometimes you’ve just got to take the hit.
  6. Never try to hide not knowing something in jargon. If you don’t know, admit it and say you can find out.
  7. Never belittle a customer by trying to sound superior. Even if you do know more than them, its just plain rude.

Following these rules is probably why I’m not driving an Audi R8 and holidaying in Tahiti but then, I get more pleasure out of seeing customer’s faces when they discover that their precious family photo’s, music and writings are safe within a working machine, or that the something they’ve been working on for years has not been lost. (I wouldn’t mind the R8 though).

To be fair, most of the repairs that come through our doors are the result of viral or malware infection and are easy fixes, albeit time-consuming ones. Sometimes, though, we do get hard ones, such as one where the customer was told by various parties that the hard drive had failed and all her data had been lost and she would have to replace it. None had offered to attempt recovery. It took me less than 24 hours to recover nearly all the data and, after replacing the drive and OS, the machine was back to almost new. I have to admit, we take tenacity to new heights but, so far, we haven’t had a customer machine that we’ve been unable to repair.

We just don’t give up.

Nothing Important Happened Today…

Great. Start my new blog by ripping off the X-Files. Its true though. A very quiet day. It usually is on a Tuesday, since we’re closed to the public. We use Tuesdays to sort stuff out, like the network, servers and general maintenance. Oh, and building Linux suites. Something that Mark and I were doing tonight.

Mark decided he didn’t really like the seating area at the front of the store and wanted to do something with it. I remarked that with the continued rise of the Linux desktop distro’s it might be a good idea to have an area where our customers can try out Linux. He agreed so we started pulling everything apart and rebuilding. Both of us have a bit of an ‘over the top’ view of how things should look so, dual screens on everything, big network switch, everything in black. I had to leave before we’d finished so I left Mark to it. My job for the morning is to install the OS’s. We’re thinking Elementry OS, Mint 17 and Zorin, three of the easiest distro’s to use for non-Linux users. I also need to put in a new router to isolate this small network from the rest but still give it internet access. Should be fun.

So, if you’ve never used Linux, come down to TechStart and give it a try. You never know, you may like it.

 

Day off, Get Bored, Start Blog…

The title says it all I suppose. Having been woken by the dog at 7am and not needing to get ready for work, I was immediately on the computer. After absorbing the news sites, Twitter and Facebook, (yes, to my never ending shame, I do like to read a bit of gossip), I sat back and wondered what to do. After coming up blank on my other blogs, staring at the screen, unable to think of a thing to write, I thought about my current position, and so The Diary was born.

I’m the Assistant Manager for a community interest project called TechStart, based in my home town of Aldershot. I’m also the network designer and systems admin. My boss Mark and I also fulfil the roles of customer service engineers, IT trainers and sales engineers. This means I am many things within TechStart, as is Mark. I am also a woman (as if the header page isn’t a dead giveaway), which means that, in the great, seemingly male-dominated world of IT, there can be extra obstacles to overcome. This blog is the result of wanting to see, and share, those obstacles, if and when encountered, and share them, in the hope that it may help, in some small way, to reduce or even eliminate them.

I am also trans, (another dead giveaway in the header), giving rise to a completely separate set of problems that only trans people will encounter, so I will write about these as well, for much the same reasons.

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t gone into this with any great deal of planning. Its not going to be filled with long-winded analyses of situations, (although I will talk about them), nor is it a platform for insults, slanging matches, take-downs or other bad behaviour (not that I do such things). There may be days that I miss, days that I am so tired I cannot post , but generally I will try to keep up.

Christine x