We're taking a bit of a breather while the world rearranges its underpants. Meanwhile, the other blog is here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The biggest, wettest and scariest rides in town

It's been a lousy day and it's not even scream at the lunchtime network failure time yet.

The train into Manchester was down to two carriages again, twice this week. It's normally standing room only on the four-carriage train so you can guess how much fun this was. Luckily it was one of the newer stock, circa 1984, so you had something to hang onto other than the adjoining passengers. In my case it was the overhead lightbulb. A traipse across town, where the trams are providing "excellent service" by having all the track this side of the Great Barrier Reef dug up for the summer, or the whole of human history, whichever turns out to be the longer. Then onto the new train service into Helminthdale, which is served by a fleet of things which appear to be nothing so much as a bunch of old shopping trolleys loosely bound onto bogeys. These provide a filling rattler of a ride at the best of times, which means that I have to sit at 45º from the vertical with my arm stretched horizontally and bent back such that I can drink my cup of coffee by craning my neck and pursing my lips to catch the liquid as it flails around in the air while we negotiate the points in the track. All the while hoping not to catch the eye of any of the tattooed bruisers travelling with me on the train. Or their gentlemen friends. Today wasn't the best of times and the spasm that rocked the carriage as we passed the vinegar works resulted in my having a lap full of scaldingly hot coffee. With my social life any thoughts of serious damage are purely academic, which is just as well as there was no polite way of running through the inventory at the time.

Getting into the office was the usual treat. The first thing to hit you on a cold wet day is the hot dry atmosphere. Today's a hot wet day so the office is hotter and drier than usual. The second thing to hit you is the day's list of new problems to be solved.
  • I wait fifteen minutes for my PC to boot up. I'm lucky: I've got one of the old ones so it's not got as much time-wasting crap loaded onto the logging-in script and the security settings let me log on, eventually, at the first time of asking. (It does take three of four goes to get it to log off, but that's a different issue entirely.)
  • For the umpteenth time there's a message from Catty Library. Can they have a list of all the talking books? Customers want to know what they have in stock. For the umpteenth time I say no, they can't. If customers want to know what's in stock they can look on the shelves; look on the catalogue; or ask a member if staff if the talking book they couldn't find on the shelves or on the catalogue is going to be available any time. To be fair, they've only been live on the catalogue for twenty years.
  • Two printers have died. As have the two PCs at Raccoonville that were only fixed last week. I log the problems with the helpdesk.
  • Somebody in the IT section has obviously been fiddling round with user network policies again. Three people can't access their email any more and Salome can only get access to the internet by filling in an online form that only access the password before the last one that expired. I log these with the helpdesk.
  • Bronwyn asks if we can run a YouTube video to support tomorrow's author visit. The answer is yes. Sort of. We can't use a staff PC because staff aren't allowed access to YouTube and staff PCs have the soundcards disabled for no apparent reason. We could do it with the public PCs, so long as people don't mind sharing headphones. Or we could... Anyway, the answer's really no but we can fudge something and if we feed the audience up with enough tea and biscuits they'll scarcely notice.
  • I talk two people at Umpty Library through the process of reinstalling the network printer on their PCs after it unaccountably disppeared after somebody in the IT section didn't make any changes to user policies, absolutely not, oh no. These are logged with the helpdesk.
  • I log a call with our filtering service to ask why Delicious is today blocked as being a pornographic chat site...
  • ..and why the pornographic chat sites that customers are regularly checking up at Gypsy Lane Library aren't being blocked despite being reported last week.
  • And dealing with a request from Catty Library for a list of talking books at the library. I point out that there's no use in my selecting the stock from the catalogue and printing it off for them as they'll be getting at least twenty new titles a month because they're on standing order from the supplier. I don't point out that it's futile to expect them to keep this list up to date by themselves as they're always "far too busy" for any piece of work floating their way.
  • The circulation system tells me that four non-existant books have been issued to borrowers. A little detective work reconnects the lending logs to physical operational reality.
  • Three people complain that they've been removed from the corporate address book. Which is a puzzle because I can find them clearly enough. It takes me and the helpdesk a few minutes to realise that we're working with older PCs that the plaintiffs and they're only missing from the address books of Outlook 2007 users.

Actually, now I come to write it down it's not so bad really. It's just the usual routine. I must be getting old.


Metody Jankowiak said...

Kevin Musgrove,
You have Metody's sympathy; life for you is seeming like a trial. Why is librarians with angst? Metody was introduced (by social worker when in prison)to poet 'Pop' Larkin who Metody was told was too a librarian. Mr. Larkin was very cynical no? Strange as books of his home on farm in Kent was very upbeat in mood. Also Mr. Larkin was always laughing on television with his little friend Ernest Wise.

jen the ex-library moose said...

Sounds about right. mine favoutate enquiry today was: 'ive found a well in my garden' i politly looked at every map going from 1851 to 1953 and there is no well.. i ask how deep it is, they shrug and say it only appeared the other day... i sigh and realise theyve probably found a puddle. Sometimes i wonder if im better off in libraries...

jen the ex-library moose said...

oh, and our printing isnt working.. ive not bothered reporting it as a) itll probably be fine tommorow and b) i dont really care!

Kevin Musgrove said...

Hello Metdoy! And thanks for the sympathy. Cynics make the best comedians, which is why Larkin is so popular even today.

And hello Jen! At least Henry Irving will have given you some good news today. (-:

Affer said...

When these things are written down, one realises that, no matter how much technology has advanced, most of GB is still remarkably inefficient. If it helps: I was once Sales Manager of a typically Yorkshire manufacturer of shock absorbers (fortunately now long gone). The customers were some of the UK's larger motor manufacturers and, after a particularly bad day, the MD walked past to see me at my desk, staring into space. "Ah, Affer. How are things?" he asked. "Well," I said, "Today, through non-delivery, we have stopped production lines at Ford, Rover, LandRover, Bedford Trucks and ERF" - which was indeed true. "You know your trouble?" he asked rhetorically. "You're always so f***ing negative!"

KAZ said...

'A lap full of scaldingly hot coffee'
!!! yikes!!!
That happened to a colleague at work one day and they kept him in MRI overnight for observation.
Oh and he had no 'social life' whatsoever.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Affer, that sounds so true to form even today.

Kaz: yikes indeed! My injuries are nothing that can't be cured by rubbing Sudafed into the insides of my upper thighs. Which is what passes for a social life round here these days.