Friday 28 December 2007

The most terrifying moment in 2007 ...

Our data mule system has a lot of software tools loaded on it for the various tasks we require of it.

Recently we swapped out the Intel DG945 based board for an Intel DQ965GF running an E6600 Core 2 Duo.

The Pentium D 945 just wasn't cutting it anymore for the multiple tasks that can be running on the system at the same time.

The hardware swap caused Windows XP Pro to hiccup an activation request which was expected.

However, Symantec's Norton Ghost also coughed up an activation request. When we entered the key on the back of the CD sleeve it refused the key. Nothing we did could fix it and we just did not have the time to mess with it.

So, we called Symantec Support. The last time we did that, the script jockey (front line support) had us repeatedly delete registry keys all the while warning us that any modifications we were making may kill our system! Needless to say, we did not follow their directions while managing to decipher which keys we really needed to kill from their instructions.

Well, this time around the support call took us to a Symantec micro support site:

Connect to Support

After punching in the given code, the support person was able to take control of the system.

While the data mule may not be the prettiest thing to look at - the MB, PSU, HDD and extra USB ports are all mounted to an old Compaq desktop case cover - the system is business critical.

MPECS' Data Mule System

We do all of our imaging, virus cleansing, data transfers, and DoD style hard drive wipes (up to 11 SATA drives simultaneously), and more on this system.

So, surrendering the wheel to an unknown was not an option. The support person was completely grilled before allowing them to go anywhere on the system. There was no way someone reading from a script was going to proceed.

Fortunately, the person on the other end of the keyboard and mouse had a pretty good grasp of the product and the methodology needed to fix the problem. After monitoring their progress for while, we were able to work on other bench related tasks so as to could keep an eye on the Data Mule screen.

They ended up using the Norton Removal Tool, rebooting, cleaning out the registry and the software's folders, rebooting and reinstalling Ghost. The activation process was able to work after that. They were on the system for about 60-90 minutes.

Their remote support tool automatically reconnected to the support session after we logged in.

Doesn't that experience, and the gut reaction, say a lot about how we perceive manufacturer's penchant to save pennies by off shoring?

It is truly sad that, from where we sit, some companies just do not seem to care about anything beyond the initial sale.

And for us smaller I.T. support folks, it better be a lesson: Never ever leave a client high and dry after the sale - no matter what happens ... Be there for them!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

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