Monday, August 5, 2013


You guys are not going to believe this dispatch. I know you aren’t! I can barely believe it myself. But here goes.

So some time last Thursday I finished copying all of the files that need to be shuttled from one network to the other. (Huzzah.) Well, mostly. There were still x percentage of files that couldn’t be copied for one reason or another, and I may go back and try those again when I do my mandatory second sweep later on, but be that as it may. Mostly finished, I e-mailed my IT support guy on Friday morning to see if he was available to physically swap the drive where I had been loading the files from my unclassified workstation to my classified workstation.

Just so we’re clear here: the unclassified and classified networks are completely separate. They are distinct from one another in the physical sense and the virtual sense. In my cubicle I have one monitor, one keyboard and one mouse. I also have a switchbox which connects those aforementioned peripherals to two separate tower terminals, one of which is then connected via cable to the unclassified network while the other is connected via cable to the classified network. In order to access either network I have to first log in to the appropriate workstation, which entails physically inserting an access card into an electronic reader and then inputting a PIN. Predictably, I have two separate access cards, one for the low-security side and one for high-security.

Right, so in the afternoon on Friday I hear back from my IT guy and he says he’ll be right over. I log off my low-security workstation and wander off for a bit, while he powers the computer down and removes the drive and swaps it over to the high side. My guy is done by the time I get back so he suggests that, first, I log on to my low-security machine and make sure he took the right drive out. Ha ha. So I do, and everything looks correct. Second, I need to log in on the high side and make sure the portable drive is now visible there, since that’ll be my starting point for copying the files up. So I get out my classified access card and put it in the card reader and lean back while the “reading card …” message cycles. And cycles. And cycles. And cycles.

I hadn’t logged on to the high side in about two days or so, but hadn’t had any trouble then. My IT guy suggested I restart the classified computer and try again. I did, to no avail. He suggested we go over to the communal classified workstation and see if I could log in there. I could not. He walked me all the way back to the IT supply area on the opposite side of our floor, got me a new card reader, had me hook it up to my secure workstation, and had me try one more time. Still couldn’t get in.

So the inescapable conclusion was that somehow my access card had gotten broken and would need to be replaced. Which is a bit of a process, as you can well imagine. Nobody who controls that re-issuing process was in on Friday, but I composed an e-mail explaining the need for the request and sent it off anyway. Fortunately I heard back first thing this morning that my request was received and I would be notified when the new card was in. Meanwhile, there’s nothing I can do on my project. Granted, at least half (and arguably the much more important half) of the project is in someone else’s hands now, as I need my server configured and someone else has been tasked with taking care of that for me, and that’s not supposed to be completed until the end of the week, but if it does get completed I would have no way of checking or testing it because I have no way of gaining access to the classified network at all. All I can do is hope that my new access card shows up before I become the chokepoint for the project moving forward, especially know that we’re so close to the finish line.

But is it any wonder that this weekend, when I took my family to a cookout at our friends’ house and caught up with some people I hadn’t seen in too long, that I spent a fair amount of time telling folks that I was feeling very much done with my current job. I still don’t want to burn bridges by leaving mid-project, but once this beast is off my back, I can’t imagine I’ll wait too long to start investigating the potential existence of greener pastures. This job has a lot of good perks, and I have tons of practice in dealing with the inevitable institutional frustrations of it, but at a certain point enough is enough, even for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment