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[Table] IAmA: I used to work as IT support at the main office of one of the largest oil companies in the world. AMA!

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Date: 2013-06-23
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Questions Answers
What's the dumbest question someone has ever asked you in your job as IT support? I can imagine that there'd be quite a few! There were many questions indeed. What amazed me the most is that people who worked with a program that costed a few hundred thousand dollars in licencing actually had no idea how a computer worked.. Also all these damn lawyers requesting a larger Outlook inbox, having no idea about what a megabyte was and that there could actually be limitations in a computer.
Anyway, the dumbest and most annoying thing was probably the time I got a servicecall from a user complaining that his mouse didnt work properly. I had to walk from my office across the entire building (about 10 min walk), just to find out that it he actually just thought his mouse cord was too short. Because he had twisted it about 3 times around his screen / other equipment. I untangled the cord and asked him if that solved the problem, the answer was yes, yes it did.
Haha wow! That'd really have ticked you off! I'm currently studying Year 11 and I want to go into IT somewhere in the future, somewhere in networking. How did you get into the position you are currently in? Do you have any advice? As disappointing as it may sound, alot of IT jobs is gotten through connections with people. I had a friend who managed to get me an job interview at this place and the boss really liked me, so I got the job.
My best advice is to get out there, even for free internships or whatever. You don't need alot of "school knowledge" as you will be given alot of training at the job.
When searching IT jobs (especially onsite/support), just ignore the requirements. I'm lacking alot of the certificates that would be required of me, but yet, here I am.
Also onsite support is a great way of starting out, as your job description will pretty much say that all you do is general support to users, but as you will be the only IT guy around, you will usually be trained in alot of other things aswell, and it's not required of you to know much beforehand. :)
In IT, do you ever have to make your own network cable? If so, how do you do it? Yea you do, you basically just put the cords in the socket, hehe. Link to www.wikihow.com
Howdy. What do they use the 3D projectors for? And did they really need them, or is there enough money floating around that it's easy to get approval for whatever they want? I believe the large, proper, 3D projectors were used for highend meetings and conferenses, also to somehow project oilpipe blueprints in 3D and things like that.
They probably did not need them, but I can certainly see the advantage in projecting something over a conference room instead of browsing around in a CAD program or such.
The smaller 3D projectors were used for random things, meetings and whatnot, also Game of Thrones and World of Warcraft :) They required 3D glasses though, the larger ones didn't.
EDIT: Yes, there was a huge amount of waste. Every piece of equipment had to be really high-end and as soon as something was used it was thrown away, as the companies management couldn't be expected to work with "used" equipment.. This was everything from expensive headsets and webcams to mouses, keyboards and even computers.
Were you able to keep any of these expensive things they just threw away? Where I work, people can recycle laptops and desktops, so we'll pull some RAM, wireless cards etc if we need a part. Nopes, like I previously wrote, it was all strictly sent for demolision/recycling, atleast the computer parts. We were free to take cables/mouses/cameras etc though.
Well to be fair, it's not like they are ever going to run out of money, so why not get the top shelf stuff? This is true. The company among the top 50 companies world wide, so I guess they had quite a bit of money to spend.
What were your day to day responsibilities? To make sure that everything was up and running. As onsite support you are pretty much responsible for everything there is, even if its not actually what you are hired to do.
Common tasks could be to exchange equipment, install and set up program configurations, assisting conferences (sitting in a corner making sure everything works as intended, and to fix any possible issue within seconds).
Also being comforting and telling everyone that everything is going to be alright.
What was the most complex problem you had to fix? Alternatively, where there special engineers who worked on the especially complex equipment? To be honest, there weren't alot of real complicated IT issues for me as I was onsite. Port configurations, tunneling and security issues etc were handled by our IT department located in another city (I suppose your question was only regarding IT).
I guess some of the more complicated things for me would be setting up the projectors and various conference rooms, being live support in major meetings, also various networking issues.
How much porn have you found? Actually, none (not at that company atleast). There were so many restrictions on the computers and the net, also we weren't really allowed to troubleshoot properly. Also everything was automatically synced to the company servers.
If there were an issue that we pretty much could not solve on the spot, the computer would be reinstalled and given back to the same user. If that did not solve the problem, the computer would be sent to demolition and a new one would be given out to the user.
Why not just take out the hard disk and donate the old hardware? Because traces of data can be stored in other places than the drive. The company had a contract with some "green" disposal firm that recycled as much as they could, though.
Link to images2.wikia.nocookie.net
Because traces of data can be stored in other places than the drive. What the hell are you talking about? There's no data anywhere other than the drive. See answer above. You really are clueless.
What's the standard issue equipment to their employees? It really depends on their assignment. Laptops were usually HP Elitebook 8570 series, stationary computers were in the HP Z800 series (Google the speccs, a computer could cost around $50 000-$80 000).
I would be very surprised if you were issuing Z800's to the average user. the HP8200/8300 series is much more common. Z800's are used for low to mid range servers. Not the average user, no, I reckon it was mostly for the people working with heavy CAD applications and whatnot. It was our most high-end workstation, but in a building with almost 2000 workers I guess that we had about a hundred atleast.
Sure you don't have a few too many zeroes in that price range? I just Googled Z800's and HP lists them as starting at $2200. For $50-80k I could have a Cray CX1 supercomputer on my desk. Starting at $2200, yes. I'm not completely sure about the price as I did not actually order them, but they came with over 200GB of RAM etc.
May I ask why you do no longer? I was working at an IT consultant so I was only there for a few months. I actually do still work for one of the largest oil companies in the world, just not the same as before. I asked a mod nicely to change the description a bit.
Do they pay their IT folks well? I believe I was very underpaid but then again I was only a consultant.
The $30MM 3D projectors used for displaying reservoir models? I believe so, amongst other things.
But he said he "used" to work there ? I do still work for another major oil company that fits the description just as well :)
What help desk ticket system do you use (custom, out of the box, none, etc.)? What do you like about it? What do you hate about it? How would you want it improved? We mainly used (and I still do at my current workplace) HP OpenView Service Desk.
Lots and lots of functions, don't have much complaints on it (atleast not the newer versions).
Not sure how I'd improve it, perhaps by adding a neat export functions to get pretty .pdf docs of my cases.
Are you hiring? Also, did you get a degree or certs before landing this position? I do not believe they are, atleast not in the IT department.
I didn't have much prior education at all to be honest, lacking all of the certs that would usually be required. I was quite lucky to get this job and I learned alot during the time I was there.
Never had any issues getting a job since then though due to good recommendations from this place, like I previously wrote I work at a similar company right now.
Reynholm industries? Nope!
Do you have any conflicting moral feelings because of the industry you work in? Not really, it might have been worse if I worked for BP ;o)
Every time the company struck oil we got cake!
Did you do any support for their energy/forex desks?? Not quite sure. We had around 2000 users in various departments (including CAD, drilling, legal, CEO's etc).
What is your daily personal hygeine routine? Do you brush your teeth before or after breakfast? After breakfast, ofcourse!
Have you broken any expensive equipment? Well, not really. A colleague of mine managed to tip over about 10x Elitebook 8570p that was stacked on a 2 meter high shelf.
As for me, I was carring around 5-6 laptops, dropped one and out of pure reflex I kick it with my food straight into the wall. It survived with a few bruises though!
Is the 3D projector used to help see how shale formations actually look so that they can be fracked/drilled? I have heard that. Yep, this was also the main thing that the Z800 computers was used for.
30 million dollar 3D projectors eh? Yep. I can provide a few pictures later if people are interested.
How much did you make? About $50.000 a year as 1st/2nd line.
Why did you stop and what are you doing now? See answer above.
Any renewals coming up that I might bid for? Hehe, not that I know of.
Hey there. What was your starting pay like? Around $50.000 a year.
I don't know the details of what he emailed you, but an email address alone should not count as proof. Changing email headers is really easy. Link to en.wikipedia.org. Yes, I agree with this but I wasn't really sure how else to prove it.
Hey, I've lost the self-destruct code from that deep-sea rig. Send it! Well ofcourse. I'll PM you the new one!
Last updated: 2013-06-28 11:34 UTC
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