Monday, August 17, 2015

Office haps

Before I explain what's been going on at work lately, a quick sidenote: usually the blog gets a few dozen hits per day, with occasional spikes into the upper double digits. Last week, for three days in a row, the site got hundreds (plural!) of hits per day. These hits all originated in ... China. Now, I'm not saying that these were attempts by Chinese government hackers to conduct some low-friction social engineering for nefarious purposes, that basically because there's a high incidence of the phrase "government contracting" in my U.S.-based blog they figured they might as well see if I was giving away state secrets for nothing. But I'm not not saying that, either. Anyway, in case you ever thought that my general policy of blogonymity plus only speaking about the work I do in the vaguest of ways was excessive, I point to this incident as reason why that policy should and will continue.

Anyway, moving on ... so my team consists of a bunch of subject matter experts who have to process information using a custom system. My job (in theory) is keeping that custom system up and running. There are also a couple of data admins whose entire job is getting info out of a completely separate system and entering it by hand into our system. As I mentioned not too long ago, I've been tasked recently with some of those data admin duties. The reason for this is because one of the data admins left a few months ago, replacing her took an egregiously long time, and we now have the equivalent of one and a half data admins, the one who's been here a while accounts for a whole and the new hire who's still learning the ropes is a half. And the veteran data admin went on vacation for two weeks starting on the 3rd of this month, so she's back today but the past couple of weeks have kept me busy with a never-ending stream of simple, tedious, time-consuming work. I try to be a good-spirited team player, but I admit it's been a drag.

I also may have inadvertently thrown my vacationing colleague under the bus in my handling of special data admin requests, because my goal was to get them done as quickly as possible, and apparently I know a few backdoor shortcuts that put the regular DA approach to shame. I violated Montgomery Scott's first maxim, and now there's no going back. Ah well.

In other workplace news, we're currently changing the physical security protocols, with the changeover allegedly being completed by Labor Day. Basically where we used to have one ID card that let us swipe in and out of the office suite, and another completely separate ID card that let us access the computer network, we will now have one all-purpose card for both. Which is nice and convenient, and they've been promising this for months and months, as evidenced by the fact that I got my card provisioned so long ago I can't remember when it was but I know they have literally shut down the office where I got it done in a round of efficiency realignments. In any case, lately we've been getting memos and reminders from the secruity team to test our new cards and make sure they work on the suite doors. I tested mine and ... it didn't work. Then I had to make a special trip to one of the remaining security offices, where there was a line out the door and they were walking among the crowd triaging, and I was directed to a kiosk that could scan and check my card, and the machine said everything was good to go. So back at my office, I tried again, and it still didn't work. I was not looking forward to whatever hoops I would have to jump through to get someone to believe me over the auto-scan kiosk.

But as it turned out, I overheard some of my co-workers talking and it was very fortunate I did, because it saved me an inordinate load of time and embarrassment. As it happens, they've once again relegated the contractors to a second-class status, because we're not allowed to open or close the office for the day by ourselves. That in turn means non-contractors are given a special numeric code for performing those tasks, and it further means that non-contractors swipe their cards through a reader and then enter the code on a keypad if necessary, while contractors hold their cards against the keypad just to pass through. Somehow in all the messaging about the changeover I missed this crucial point, but once I lucked into being within earshot of someone commenting on it, I was able to test my card the actual correct way, and long story short everything's fine. Just way harder than it needs to be, as usual.

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