Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Parking Garage Job

So I grew up in Charlottesville.  I graduated high school in 1988 and by 1989 I was living at home kind of trying to find a job.  So I ended up working for the Piedmont Virginia Parking Company.

I manned the parking booth at the 14th, Chancellor and Elliewood lots.  Sat, took tickets.

So yeah picture it.  A time capsule memory.  Me in 1990, 20 years old, sitting in the booth at the 14th street garage.  taking tickets, putting them in the machine, making change.

I had a small black and white tv/cassette/radio combo that I carried.  I watched a lot of tv.  I carried a cooler.  I made some money, I was in some bands playing guitar in my 20's so it was a cool slack job while I lived in my parents' basement.

So I remember watching ALF.  I watched it every week, I had the same schedule.  And then it was coming to an end.  I watched part one of the finale, then they pre-empted part two for something and they never showed it.  I am one of the fans that got left hanging.

I was never a very good employee and I wandered off after a few months.

Flying it Solo

Ok, this is regarding a job I had pre 9-11 so travel was a bit different.  There was no smart phone.  My PDA was a Palm III color, and it was BADASS.  It had Ir and I could talk to my computer without plugging it in.  SWEEET.

So I get this job.  I am a systems/networking guy, blah blah.  I worked at this place and they sent me to california and then to seattle on this task to set up two offices.

So to be more specific I managed this network and I sat at HQ and I was kind of the mastermind of this connected Windows NT4 network.  We ran Exchange 5.5, so I had a distributed directory across 12 LANs connected via this server/firewall/vpn solution.  I am the master of my domain, the first thing I did was walk the point of contact through setting up VNC, then I didn't have to bother anyone from there.

So it is easy, I need to go and supervise two office moves.  Basically, I need to make sure that the lights go blinky blinky.  Since we were outsourcing the server rack move, I just needed to locate the ISP's D-Mark (the point of demarkation) and connect it to the VPN/server deal.  I have to use my mad skillz and get the ISP's bits and bytes to flow into this little portion of my network.  Once it can connect to the Internet, then with my BORG setup, it will re-assimilate to the collective.  Web surfing happens locally, web filtering rules are inherited, the mail server synchronizes, the file shares work, the boss stays out of my office.I take my job seriously.  I have like this seven degrees of bacon thing that I do, but I make sure there are as many layers between me doing my thing and my boss being in my office as I can muster.  I run a tight ship.

So I have to go do this for two of the LANs that I have managed remotely for about 6 months.  Technically the holistic network is a complete piece of cake.  Fully documented, easy as pie.

I had never flown before.

So there is that.  So I get my ticket from my travel lady, and she has me drive to BWI to save money.  I am too green to find this unacceptable, but also CHO was smaller in 1999.  Anyway, I take my first flight and I fly from BWI to some hub somewhere, I change, and I fly into San Diego.

So just like the crappy plane ticket, she has rented me a crappy compact car to drive on the 5 or the 405 or whatever that was.  I hit the car desk and SCORE they have to upgrade me to a cadillac with about 50 miles on it.

So I left the parking structure and merged onto the california freeway at 5:10pm in a MONSTER car and every time I got scared I just floored it until I was away from everybody.  I drove north to Solana Beach.  My printed directions were perfect and the traffic was very easy by the time I got there.

The hotel was a block from the office.  The office was on the beach, on a sidestreet to the beach with INCREDIBLE views.  I was admiring the view as I was playing spider-man in my wingtip shoes testing all of the little network boxes all over the building.  When I plugged into the D-Mark, I was physically outside the second floor, wearing a tie.

And that's all there was to that.  I got the cable connected to my crap, it worked as expected, if there was any tweaking it was not as memorable as that view.

I spent three days there setting up computers and chilling at the beach.  Wait, I think it was a lot longer, I think there was a problem at the ISP and I had to extend.  It was a while ago.  I got it going though.

Then I had to fly into SEATAC.  So I zoom zoom back to the rental car place, I fly straight there I think, I rent another car, go to another hotel in Issaquah.  This is one of our larger offices, and we just inherited some programmers.  Late 90's techies.

So this time I get to the building, and it is not obvious where the D-mark is.  It is always a grey plastic box with a phone service tag on it, or tagged whoever came and tested it before I got there.  I think it was 3am when I found the D-mark along the back wall in a basement room, I found a 9 inch wire coming out that was stripped and had the two wires sitting there.  I hooked it all up and was able to get it to communicate with my crap.

So I got irritated with my boss who was supposed to PM this whole thing, we had to have someone come in and run a cable up to our office.  Boom, my stuff worked.  I forget how many days that took.

From SEATAC I flew into Minneapolis, and I remember banking a bit over a big body of water I think.  I spent an hour there then came back to BWI.  Then a long drive home.

So that was neat, I kept that job for a little over a year.