I have to be careful what I say here, for obvious reasons, so you’ll have to work with me at reading between the lines, the lines that in my own self interest I cannot state outright.
In the past year at my current gig, and my current gig is Cisco kid and front man for all the big telecomms companies, and their clients, which is all the high street and industrial sites you can shake a stick it, so basically a broad and very representative cross section of the industry, so yes, in the past year at my current gig, I have seen changes.
These are not changes for the better, and even if you do not do my job, you literally cannot live without coming into contact with the sites I work at, so, you should be worried.
Edward Snowdon / NSA aside, the job at the fundamental level is the same, I work *at* layers 2 and 3 all day long, which of course means touching all the other layers too, to make sure what I have just done is working as expected, or has fixed the fault, etc etc etc, but 90% of the job is switches and routers.
It should not really be a surprise that this hasn’t changed appreciably in the past 12 months, because it (the internet and technology) hasn’t changed appreciably in the past 12 months.
What has changed is management and the economy, and those things affect everything else about my job.
Depending on the job and the client, there are now up to three separate entities that want to know when I arrive on site, when I start work, when I finish work, when I leave site, and to give me opening and closing ticket numbers for all these things…. a year ago there was one, our own NOC.
These things are “important” in the sense that it is this paper chase that ensures that everyone in the chain gets paid, and everyone in the chain knows what everyone else is doing.
If you are thinking we are getting to the point where 99 people in mission control in Houston give one monkey in a tinfoil suit the go ahead to undo three screws and open an access panel, you’re getting the right idea.
If you think every one of those 99 people has a better salary and a better job title than the monkey in the tinfoil suit, you’re getting the right idea.
Let me give you a small example of management and complexity.
Nowadays the essential tools are a smartphone and laptop.
The smartphone, it is used to make phone calls, it is used to send and receive emails, it is used to tether the laptop to allow transfer of files and remote sessions, and it is used to log into corporate systems like work diaries and updating job ticket info via VPN sessions….. it is also used as often as not as a camera, a gps, and a torch / magnifier.
Phone calls, they are fairly easy for phones to make, call quality can vary widely, and usually does as the network carrier tries to squeeze ever more blood out of the stone, but generally speaking you can make a call any time you like.
Emails are like sms, it’s a push service, doesn’t matter what reception is like now, sooner or later you’ll come in range of a strong enough signal and push will work.
Tethering is the next level of difficulty, maintaining a network connection to t’internet via the mobile company’s portal, but again, http is a resilient technology that harks back to the days of 9,600 baud, so mainly it works, eventually.
Then there is VPN, this is the hardest one of all, as it sits on top of all the other layers of what a mobile phone does, and has to do it without interruption for the VPN to work, think streaming video with no buffering or pausing.
Thanks to the changes in management and the 99 people in mission control waiting to give me the green light to do x, VPN is now the mission critical technology, and, you guessed it, by definition VPN is also the flakiest, and this is BEFORE the phone network itself starts suffering from congestion and other issues.
So this mission critical piece of kit was selected on the basis of it worked in the corporate HQ in London 400 metres and line of sight from three separate 4g base stations, why would it not work in rural here-be-dragonshire 300 miles away???? and it is cheap cheap cheap per month per handset, so what if the monthly data limits per handset are measly, so we have to turn off dropbox uploads via mobile data….
So the 99 people in mission control are having meetings and memos and stuff, trying to resolve their 99 separate issues and sets of requirements, which currently are not being met to five nines six sigma astroglide three bangs for your butt standards… go figure…
Along with this influx of new creative and management types in the food chain, the amount and quality of information I am given about each job, prior to arrival on site, falls from minimalist through woefully incomplete and incorrect into the territory known as sweet fuck all.
So I’ll sit outside the address I have been given, and ring the number I have been given, probably not of the remote engineer or project manager, probably just the generic NOC main switchboard number, and a job number, and say, sweetly, “So, what the fuck am I supposed to be doing here today, apart from turning up?“
I’ll then go on-site and ask the bods there, who despite their total lack of technical knowledge, often know more than mission control, because mission control were told, but have lost the data… “no, it’s been playing up for 3 weeks, I keep telling them the same thing and they keep ignoring me“, is a common refrain that I hear.
Since mission control only ever contact me and speak to me (as opposed to talk to me, or listen to me) as an individual when there has been a fuck up and a post mortem is in the winds, it is painfully obvious that not only is my input as unwelcome as that of the aforementioned on site non technical bods, it basically doesn’t exist.
I am not in and of mission control, ergo I cannot possibly have anything useful to say.
*this* my friends is a truism I have seen repeated over and over and over again throughout my life and across every business sector and country.
I’m not saying the monkey in the tinfoil suit should be propelled from monkey status to the Oracle of Delphi at the right hand of God on the highest chair in mission control…. I’m as likely to be talking crap and missing the bigger picture as anyone in mission control.
I’m not even saying the monkey in the tinfoil suit *does* know anything they do not already know… “Well fucking DUH… did you cunts not think to go to the mobile carriers and say our first priority is stable VPN everywhere, whaddaya got? Did you cunts not think telling an engineer the scope of works prior to arrival on site was a useful idea? Do you cunts not think giving the engineer copies of the latest relevant procedure for each job as a matter of course would be preferable to the usual boilerplate disclaimer that the latest project documents could be found somewhere in the encorpera intranet wikidoc server?“
Of course they know all this shit, but it doesn’t matter which monkey in mission control you talk to, it’s never the one who made these choices, just the one who has to work with them… and so do you.
If you are a class A fucking idiot you will stick your head above the parapet and actually fucking RESPOND to one of the fucking memo’s sent out after mission control’s post mortem decides they Need Another Seven Astronauts, your job as a monkey in a tinfoil suit in orbit is to READ this shit, not comment on it.
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail… if all you have are mangers in mission control, every problem looks like something that needs more micro-management….
If you are a class B fucking idiot, you will start writing..
09:00 arrived on site in car park
09:05 reported to agency A that I am on site 09:12 reported to agency B that I am on site 09:20 managed to enter site and get to work location 09:35 managed to get in touch with agency A and get go ahead 09:47 managed to get in touch with agency B and get go ahead 09:49 commence work 09:50 job done, problem resolved yadda yadda yadda 10:42 finally leave site
That’s taking the piss outta mission control boy.
So why these changes in my workplace?
Because of the economy, dummy, a company cannot grow, shrink, expand, contract, do business, not do business, take on new customers, respond to new partners and market changes, without taking on more managers.
And yes, you guessed it, a goodly proportion of these useless assholes looking to have check-boxes ass cunt and mouth filled so they can proceed with their ISO certification are fucking wimminz.
Bitch, all you do every day is type shit into engineer’s daily fucking diaries, is it really so much fucking trouble to make that information both complete and accurate, and longer than this paragraph?
So I have a fucking clue what I am supposed to be doing?
That way I can get off site quicker and chill, content with the knowledge that I removed those three fasteners and opened the access panel with as much skill and style and panache as any other monkey who ever donned a tinfoil suit, and get on with more important shit in my life, like scratching my balls….