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Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Heroes and nonentities

Todays contribution to the general insanity is not related to parking enforcement, except very distantly. I’ve been hearing about this ‘Children’s Index’ over the past few days and would like to share a little insider info about my experience with Social Services.

A few years ago, when I was not quite so old, grey and unwanted most dearly beloved reader, I worked on IT support for a large Social Services department (But then they are all large aren’t they? I would say bloated and elephantine, although that would probably give offence to any Pachyderm-like readers of this blog – sorry chaps.) One day, a few short weeks after starting on the job, I was sent to one of the regional offices to fix a computer which, so I was told, was faulty.

Upon arrival at the office, I asked about the machine in question, and was told that the usual user was off sick with ‘Stress’ and would not be able to tell me exactly what was the matter. Okay, I had the administrator password and could easily run a few diagnostics before declaring that the machine needed a software re-image, or not as the case might be. Upon being shown up to the offending machine I was confronted with the following; The little beige Dell (That was the make) was switched off and sitting on a desk in front of a window overlooking a pleasantly begardened courtyard. Upon the desk was something quite, quite bizarre. A carefully arranged circle of quartz crystals, of varying type, each carefully blu-tacked to the desks surface surrounded the computer. Hanging from the ceiling directly over the machine was a Dreamcatcher. In my naiveté I asked one of the nearby Social Workers why all the decoration?
“Don’t switch it on!” One woman nearly had a fit of the vapours right there and then. “It’s evil! That Computer is evil.”
“Sorry?” I responded in genuine puzzlement. “Did I hear you correctly?”
“Don’t be sarcastic!” She snapped. “Just take it away! Take it away!”
At this point I made the critical error of questioning the users assertions. “I’ll just run a few checks first.”
“No you mustn’t! It’s possessed!” Someone else chimed in.
“All right, all right. I’ll replace it.” Rather than get into trouble with my new employers for offending their staff I surrendered and dismantled the machine before replacing it with a brand spanking new box and monitor.

Notwithstanding, I cleared all the pseudo science crap off the desk and ensured that everything was working fine before returning to base. Once back in the relative sanity (Oh my) of the support office I connected the machine up and had a look at the state of the profiles and 4Gb (Ah, those were the days) hard disk before wiping the hard drive and re-imaging it for redeployment. Sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed; the user had been in the habit of switching the machine off at the mains instead of shutting it down properly. The hard disk was almost completely full of data fragments and multiple duplicate profiles in the ‘WINNT’ directory indicating repeated hard reboots on a Novell based network. The swap file was crammed. No wonder it had been crashing like a hippy on bad acid. After a re-image I tested it, and the machine ran quite happily overnight without a problem. There was nothing really wrong with this computer at all, although the service record showed that it had been given the Rolls-Royce treatment, memory upgrades, new video card, new hard drives. Multiple support calls citing “The Screens locked up.” Or “It’s broken.”

The user in question was a Social Worker with over ten years experience. Yet they had displayed a woeful ignorance of even the most basic tenets of Computer use. I was amazed that said person was able to get out of bed in the morning unassisted.

My point is this; The Government are proposing to allow people with this level of incompetence unprecedented access to sensitive information about us and our children? This is a very, very, bad idea.

In addition, the proposal that being a ‘Celebrity’ can buy your way off this database when people with ‘Drug and Alcohol’ issues regularly appear feted as ‘Celebrities’ in the popular press is a bit of a cheek. The vacuous insanity of it all defies my considerable powers of invective.


Blogger Rhea said...

Oh I quite agree. A government sucessfully implementing and using IT is an oxymoron ... or just moronic, not sure.

They should freeze all hardware/software budgets immediately and put it all into training their staff to use this new fangled elastic-trickery.

Thursday, September 07, 2006 1:42:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading your fantastic blog for a while now and there's something i'm curious about. You write in a way that suggests to me you are quite educated and i really wonder what attracted you to parking enforcement.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 2:12:00 am  
Blogger Bill Sticker said...


Attracted to parking enforcement? No, complete and utter financial desperation.



Sunday, September 10, 2006 6:21:00 am  

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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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