30 March, 2016

Neither hoax, nor imaginary story.

We're being unsubtly pressured to spend the training budget, and today it was my turn to trade the office for a seminar room for a couple of days.

After an acrimonious exchange with the training agency's espresso machine (I'm a simple soul who drinks instant), I take my seat in the training room and OH MY GOD THE COW-ORKER IS IN THE SAME COURSE AND WHY IS THIS EVEN HAPPENING???

(On the bright side, though, it seems the Cow-orker/Stress Fiend/Invertebrate perpetual motion machine of pain is still paying dividends.

06 April, 2015

Here we go again: Enter The Cow-orker (Redux).

This will be a work in progress for a little while to come, but eventually the old website should be available again.

26 February, 2015


It's been far too long, and for various reasons I just haven't really had much material with which to update the site and don't know if I'm likely to have much in the foreseeable future. Certainly not material of the classic variety, at any rate.

And speaking of the classic variety, an anonymous commenter has asked about republishing the original Enter The Cow-Orker site, which seems like a good way of making myself feel less guilty over having done nothing here for so long (even if revisiting old entries in bulk is bad for my mental health).

I'll unearth the old website files and go back to where it all began so many years ago. The only thing I'm undecided about is whether to incorporate them into this blog, or start it as a completely separate one. I'm leaning towards the latter, but if anyone has any preferences I'm happy to hear them.

03 June, 2013

Silver Linings

Normally I'll neither bring work home, nor let it follow me home. Unfortunately there are times when too many deadlines and not enough warm bodies in the workplace mean it's just unavoidable, and I have to at least check my emails to see what's about to explode next.

Tonight, it appears I've discovered yet another can of worms in my ongoing struggle with the sysadmins. There's an upside, however: I broke one of their brains in the process and, more importantly, because I'm at home it's okay to respond to the latest development with a therapeutic application of alcohol.

20 May, 2013


Let's see if I remember how to do this. It's been a while, but that's a not-very-interesting tale for another time.

I've been trying to work out whether all our servers have the right software licences. This has not been without its challenges. Firstly - and I'm going to generalise here based on my experiences to date - sysadmins are a territorial, focussed breed who are about as fond of sharing information as they are of letting themselves be distracted by finicky things like software licensing, which is a menial task best left to lesser mortals like me.

I think you can see where problems might arise.

We have an arrangement with the server team at work where we ask them just to let us know when they're adding new servers so we can make sure we're licensed correctly, and they ignore us for as long as possible. We've now reached that time of year, and so I got in touch with Lurch, the elder statesman of the sysadmins, to see how far what we owned diverged from what we were using.

He sent me a spreadsheet. It was written in code. Everything was an abbreviation, with arcane references to servers that might be physical or might be virtual. I puzzled over it for a day or two, which was long enough for me to form the suspicion that the abbreviations described what the servers were used for without actually giving away what was installed on them. Then I admitted defeat and asked Lurch what the abbreviations meant, information he was only too happy to provide ... over the phone.

So I explained what I needed to be able to see, and what I couldn't see from his spreadsheet. So Lurch sent me a new one. At first glance it looked great. There was more detail, there were hints of connections between the physical and virtual servers ... and there was absolutely no resemblance to any of the server names listed in the first spreadsheet.

Back to first principles.

After a week or two, with deadlines drawing near and a hundred other things clamouring for attention, I'd finally deciphered the new spreadsheet by the simple expedient of assuming there was never meant to be any resemblance to the earlier version, and that server names were essentially devoid of any meaning whatsoever. During this, there was also a meeting with Lurch where he commented, without the slightest trace of irony, that what would be really useful would be a list of what was actually installed on each server.

At any rate, problem solved.


Lurch's manager, the Supreme Sysadmin, decided that what was required was A Definitive Spreadsheet (there's a corporate policy against creating unapproved databases, so an incalculable volume of critical corporate data resides in individually-maintained spreadsheets instead) listing all the servers, and so it came to be.

I looked at The Definitive List. Two things came as no surprise at all: none of the server names matched anything on the previous spreadsheets, and there was no record of what was installed anywhere. Back to translating the latest server names, working out their purpose, and what software they probably needed to do it.

Of course in one sense that translation is quite simple. The message "Screw you, outsiders" came through loud and clear.

10 February, 2013


One of my workmates conducted a quick audit of the First Aid kit for our floor and noted that some of its contents breached Workplace Health and Safety policy.

"Are you going to bring it up at the next WHS committee meeting?" asks his boss.

"That would mean I'd have to go along to it."

"Not telling them the First Aid kit breaches policy is a breach of policy."

"Only if they find out."

"It would be a breach of policy not to tell them about a breach of policy in telling them about a breach of policy."

It appears we're breaching more than a pod of terrified whales.

23 January, 2013

Breaking the drought

When it comes to getting through a difficult day, Schadenfreude is a perfectly valid alternative to a positive attitude.

On an unrelated note, I may have broken Rageboy's brain today when I showed him some more things he assumed worked but which are, in fact, deeply broken.