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I Hate Dealing with IT

This is where I vent about the computer nerds at my hospital.

I have been having a problem with a piece of medical equipment at work. In order to perform a procedure, a Doctor’s order must be in the system. The problem is that whenever the device tries to download orders, I get an error message “The Server Returned an unrecognized response.”

If the medical device can’t find the order, it won’t proceed with the test. There is no way to get around it. There used to be, but they eliminated that ability about three months ago.

So I did what I am supposed to do- I put in a work order. I did so at 8 pm.

The next morning, I find an email reply with a very snarky response. It says “If you would read your emails, you will see that we were doing server maintenance at XXX hospital from 10 pm onwards, and the server was unavailable.” Your work order has been closed.

There are a couple issues with that:

  • I don’t work at XXX hospital. I work at YYY hospital.
  • The problem was happening well before 10 pm
  • I work in the Emergency Room, and this equipment is pretty important. Why would you shut it down with no way to operate it?

Then the very next email in my box is a request that I take a survey about the “service” I received from the IT department. I blasted them, but in a controlled, polite way.

I was called into my boss’ office because “If you have a problem with the work done by another employee, you come to us. There is no need to disparage other employees on interdepartment surveys.”

If you don’t want my opinion, don’t ask for it.

Also, why does the IT department in every place I have ever worked have to be staffed with condescending assholes who treat you like a moron because THEIR equipment doesn’t do what it is supposed to be doing? I get that you don’t want to be bothered with actually interacting with people, but that is kind of your own fault for making sure that no one can do anything without calling the helpdesk because even changing the font on your screen requires an admin password that only you possess.

OK. Rant over.

25 replies on “I Hate Dealing with IT”

I carved out a spot at my last job by being the only IT guy that cared. My business model: the hardware was my responsibility. It had to work such that you didn’t have to think about it. It was invisible to you. That way, you could focus on your work and your normal worries, without “my” hardware causing additional grief. My job was to streamline your job.

I made a lot of friends by doing that. I got hammered by pneumonia last year and have been on disability since. I still get calls from my customers. “‘He’ just left and it still doesn’t work. What can I do?”

IT appeals to people that are wired funny. It’s like a complex game to figure out how to make something work. And those types aren’t usually the most socially adept. I got the funny wiring, but I also care about people. I’m one of the very few that have both traits. It kept me out of the medical profession. I don’t like to hurt people, even if I’m helping them.

The next time you say “pain is the patient’s problem”, you are thinking just like a normal IT guy. They are doing their job however shabbily and keeping professional distance from the pain they inflict. Many don’t have the empathy to care about that pain anyway. Or even realize the pain they cause your patients.

I would understand that. In this case, he didn’t do his job and then sent me a snarky email explaining to me that I just didn’t read his memo that didn’t apply to me or to the problem I was having.
His equipment is still screwing up, only I will be damned if I am saying anything any more.

Consult fee at $300.00/hr plus travel and per diem.

Seriously, if they can hire an EEOC consultant or a management consultant, they can hire an IT consultant.

Had that happen to me. One company decided to cleanse themselves of about a quarter of the workforce all at once. So my happy arse is home perusing want ads and they call me for help. Sucker me, I helped them. Happened again and again. The fourth time I wised up and got some decent money out of them before they finally folded because they cleansed themselves of 1/4 of their workforce.

Consultant fees… Get them.

If you don’t want the feedback, don’t ask for it. Sheesh.

Currently, my team is building out a new BI/Analytics software suite to deliver real-time data to leadership across the organization.

One of the hardest ideas I’ve been hammering to my team is that our job is to build out the data structure and present the data in a collaborative environment so leaders can tell us how they want to consume the data, and our job is to build to what THEY want, not what we think is the best way to see it. Some leaders want visuals, others only want to see the numbers. Cool visualizations may get us all geeked up, but they may not be what the end user wants.

This is why I was tasked to lead the team. Not because I am the most technically savvy (I’m not), but because I’ve worked across the org over the past 10 years developing and delivering data to leadership. I have the trust relationship with leaders so I can get their input and then task my team to deliver.

When you lose sight of the end user and their use cases, you lose their trust and buy-in for the huge investment we are making in the software to deliver their information in a way that is actionable.

Keep in mind that our IT department was one of the ones that got pwned last year when our system was hacked for ransom. We lost a lot of data and had to revert to paper everything for two months because all of our EHR systems were down.

So, who got promoted for that one? The guy who saved the company $thousands by cutting back on 3rd party penetration testing?

I’ve been in the business 30 years. The problem is that many IT techs are socially dysfunctional gammas. I’d have snarked back “apparently you didn’t read your ticket, the problem is here, not there.”

Far as the survey goes, feedback is what they’re for. I had an employee have a breakdown and go on disability because I gave him a mediocre honest performance review. I inherited him during a merger. Apparently dysfunction was addressed verbally during a review.

Not how my company worked. It was a shock to his system.

I’ve been an independent computer consultant for over 30 years, and I have always tried to work for small companies, instead of large corporations. I find that I can get along better with the handful of IT people at a small company, than I can with the IT people of a large corporation. Corporate bureaucracy tends to attract those who won’t, or can’t, perform their job well because it’s harder for their incompetence to be discovered in a larger IT department.

I work in IT and I see this sort of thing all the time. Hardly any read the ticket and just assume. You know what they say about assume.

If you think that is bad, imagine being an IT professional who’s been through a handful of mergers and acquisitions, so that means he’s got multiple login credentials in various stages of expiration.

Now one has expired and changed, forgotten and locked out from trying too many attempts.

Resolution is only found by calling the helpdesk, which you know from your position privy to management’s great decision to lower costs, is a call center in Bengaluru or the Philippines. (In direct contrast to the decision made five years prior to lower costs by bringing support in-house!)

His first question is what hospital you work from. “Well, I’m actually at office W, but the system I need access to is in data center X over at health system Y.”

He has no idea what you just said. He puts your on hold while he waves over a lead who knows how to search the “knowledge base”.

Instead of fixing the one login credential that broke, one of your others that was working just fine before is now suddenly not working.

Repeat.

IT is Pajeet with an fake American sounding name? (wayciss)
The patient has flat lined, whoops work order cancelled.
Magic Soil diversity and IT magnificence will insure that the FUSA is the winningest winnarz in WWIII. (s/)

Yeah baby – awesome! Our IT people strut around like they are “hot snot” and in reality they are “cold boogers”

It’s annoying. Without going into too much detail, my company does IT in the healthcare space.

While I won’t make excuses for that guy’s horrible attitude, I will say that IT in healthcare is a huge challenge.

If you run an auto shop, and I made you an admin so you can install programs, and you get a virus that sends all your customer data to China…you probably wouldn’t notice. Neither would the government.

But if that happens in healthcare, lots of people would notice, and DHS will fine the holy bajesus out of you.

Since Windows is such a dumpster fire of insecure bullshit, there’s not much you can do. You’re either an admin and can do everything, or you’re not an admin and you can’t do much. No installing apps.

And while you’d probably like to change your font size or background, if it’s allowed, eventually some “mischievous” person will set your font to 64-point Wingdings and your background to a dick pic.

Guess what Windows totally doesn’t do? Log that sort of shit into a security log. And whatever Windows does log, it’s frequently useless and difficult to extract and/or search at scale.

All my healthcare clients run FreeBSD and Linux at their core. Excellent logging, fine-grained permissions, less chance of getting infected with cryptolocker and going out of business, stellar backups and disaster recovery, very infrequent downtime, etc…

You know how difficult it is to ditch Windows? Every goddamned medical device that has a computer is usually designed, built, and tested with the manufacturer thinking “everyone uses Windows”…

Because of this, every medical environment has to be locked down using all sorts of ridiculous tools because Windows is a cesspool of insecure crap. Hell–half the medical apps out there *require* you to be an administrator just to run them. Or take x-rays. But you can’t run as an administrator because that means you have “keys to the kingdom”. So IT has to work around this vendor bullshit to prevent you from completely infecting and fucking up the network.

While that IT guy was an absolute douche, healthcare IT in general sucks and will continue to suck because no one is willing to start by standing up to the vendors and saying “We won’t buy your shit unless it works outside of a Windows environment”. Every doctor and director drools over spending $150,000 on some new “toy” while also getting a free kickback fishing trip in the Bahamas…and they completely forget to ask basic questions like “is it secure?”. They just buy it and say “hey IT, make this surprise purchase work”. They don’t care if it requires rearchitecting half the network.

Well, D, I worked for one of those vendors for over 35 years. What you say is true but you’re leaving out the other half of the story.

“We won’t buy your shit unless it works outside of a Windows environment”.

I haven’t encountered that one yet, but about 25 years ago, the imaging systems we sold were all powered by Sun systems running Unix. Guess what happened in the late 90’s? Can you say:

“We won’t buy your shit unless it works **IN** a Windows environment”.

Otherwise I agree with you.

However, you also have to add in the fact that all of the routine security patches that Microsoft puts out must – are you ready for this? – be FDA approved! Approval came pretty quick, but still, as the vendor we wound up batch installing the patches about twice a year.

Rereading my own post, I realize I wasn’t very clear. Let me recast one sentence:

“However, you also have to add in the fact that all of the routine security patches that Microsoft puts out, BEFORE BEING INSTALLED ON A MEDICAL DEVICE, must – are you ready for this? – be FDA approved!

I totally understand that hell, Roy.
I had one vendor tell me their Windows 10 “acquisition PC”:
1. Had to be connected to the network
2. Could not have any antivirus installed
3. Could not be touched by IT staff because it was an FDA-approved medical device
4. The machine had to automatically sign in with administrator credentials.

I handed them a piece of paper that said something to the effect of “I acknowledge the acquisition PC we are connecting to your network is one of the worst security holes in existence and we will be liable for any damages to the network and/or loss of patient data due to our incompetence.”

They refused to sign it.

A few days later someone dropped off a USB stick with a patient’s images being transferred from another facility…and wouldn’t you know it….the entire network got infected with cryptolocker.

My client immediately halted the purchase of the remaining 37 units, demanded a refund, and went with another vendor. At ~$90k/unit heads were rolling.

It was one of the few battles I’ve won.

But yeah, I wish more medical devices were built cross-platform. i.e. an intra-oral USB x-ray device can totally have drivers built for Windows *and* Linux. It’s basically a webcam / camera with a different sensor.

Complaining that Microsoft should be better is like complaining that politicians should be better. Who keeps buying and electing those particular ones? You!

Having worked in corporate IT and small business IT I feel your pain. Big corporate IT is often more concerned with process than results and ticket closure over successful resolution. The chowder head you encountered probably has great closure numbers but poor CS surveys. I occasionally get the same lack of clue from vendor support. Surveys are a BS game, especially car dealers who get dinged for anything less than 10/10 scores. This,can give great leverage or in your case cause great management angst, because 0/0 surveys cost them at bonus time.
Small company IT is a different ball game because we know we can lose a client by screwing up, and we can occasionally regain a client when someone else screws up.
Also remember that the users,can be aggravating too, my best example is the guy who claimed a specific utility was essential for his work and when I said no because corporate security nixed it he submitted a high priority incident with an immediate escalation to management. I got to explain that chummy was abusing the system.

“I hate dealing with the medical nerds at my hospital.

I have continuous problems with my biological systems. They tell me I have something called ‘diabetes’. I tell them, fine, I just want my blood sugar to go down, so get it down. They start giving me this loop of endless autistic bullshit about ‘blood sugar’ and ‘cardio this’ and ‘insulin that’. I keep telling them that I don’t have time for this shit and I don’t pay them for excuses or lectures, I just want my blood sugar down.

So they tell me that I have to do a test and then shoot a certain amount of insulin using some kind of chart full of made-up nerd bullshit that came off the Space Shuttle or something. Well, I do the test, but the gizmo they saddled me with tells me ‘ERROR’, so I just fill a needle with the ‘insulin’ they insist I take and inject it. Well, I wake up in the hospital to a very snarky nurse who tells me that I made a mistake. HELL-O!!!!! DID YOU NOT HEAR ME WHEN I SAID I DIDN’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS CRAP?!?!? I told you I don’t pay you for this, I just want my blood sugar down!

Well, anyway, the nurse quit talking to me then, and-”

the moral of this story: things are complex and it’s rarely useful to whine about “nerds” in other fields; each and every one of them is operating under constraints you understand absolutely nothing about, it being well outside of your scope of practice (and of concern, generally, and you should thank God for small favors)

most of these constraints are infuriating, heartbreaking, insoluble, and encourage alcohol abuse as a coping strategy for life, because you are dealing daily with a Jenga tower of other people’s bad decisions and self-dealing that has slowly rotted, over time, to be a pile of rickety shit about which few are interested, fewer still are competent to fix, and nobody wants to pay for (but which everyone, paradoxically, insists is drop-everything critical)

if you think otherwise, I highly encourage anybody who feels ill-served by their IT folks to feel free to execute a career change to that field just so you have some idea of what you’re talking about, that being generally considered the minimum acceptable level of investment necessary to have an opinion on a topic that anybody else should not laugh at as they hang up the phone

Except your example is bullshit. I wasn’t complaining that he gave me bad advice. He gave me no advice. If your example were to be made accurate, it would have been:
“I hate dealing with the medical nerds at my hospital.

I have continuous problems with my biological systems. I tell them, fine, I just want my blood sugar to go down, so get it down.”
They replied that a guy named Sam had a heart attack in Chicago last week, so there is nothing wrong with me and told me to go home.

I am not complaining about HOW the nerds in IT do their jobs, I am complaining that the IT nerd didn’t do ANYTHING. I complained about a problem with his equipment that was occurring at 8 pm at the hospital in city X, and he replied that this problem was caused by a server shut down that began at 10 pm at the hospital in city Y, which is a half an hour away.
That isn’t me not understanding his job, that is him not even trying to do his job, but instead using a bullshit excuse to close the work ticket.

So stop being a whiney little bitch about your stressful job causing alcoholism.

as noted, you understand nothing about this topic, and it shows; you don’t even understand what his job actually is, much less whether or not he’s doing it

(side note: “his job” is not “kissing your ass”, contrary to your personal beliefs; medical personnel have a God-tier entitlement complex, which is absolutely hilarious given how many times they fuck things up with horrific consequences)

there are approximately “infinity” ways in which a server shutdown in place X can cause problems in place Y, about which Person Z can do absolutely nothing; that would be why you got the brushoff, along with the seventy other people that filed work orders for the same non-problem, making more unnecessary work

did you really want the full explanation? I doubt it, it would be filed in the bin marked “nerds complaining about their job”, and you returning to an insistence of “why doesn’t it just work”, which is as useful as someone standing behind you when you’re trying to do something wondering why the patient is flatlining (“do it like they do on , it’s real simple! what the hell is wrong with you?”)

so the answer you got was simple, short, and to the point: “read your emails, and when you see ‘server going down’, just assume it probably has something to do with any problems you’re having, about which I can do absolutely nothing” (along with the quiet implication, “quit being a pain in my ass, please God, just stop”)

OK smartass. Explain to me how a server shutdown at 10 o’clock causes problems at 8 fucking o’clock?
Here is the problem- IT in a fucking hospital is there to support the mission, which is treating people for medical problems. If the IT department is going to shut down equipment that is needed for the treatment of life threatening medical conditions is connected to the server that you are shutting down, then it is up to you to make sure that there are ways to use that equipment without it being connected to the server THAT YOU ARE SHUTTING DOWN.

and by the way- I took down your 2,000 word fictional story about an IT guy who was working on some project. That isn’t a comment, its a book. You want to write a book, get your own blog.

I never cease to be amazed at how individuals seem to be pathologically unable to put themselves in someone else’s position. Just doing that for 10 seconds would make the world a very different, and probably much better, place.

the above Part 1 is missing (not sure why; Divemedic, please kill duplicates), but the critical part is this: this is an everyday story, playing out over and over again, absolutely everywhere, and it is not even vaguely remarkable

the same people that will nod sagely when they are told by their craft workers “You can’t do X for $Y.YY amount of money with #Z headcount” and will shrug and go back and budget more money for it – or tell people ‘Sorry, you don’t get to have this’ – will insist that miracles can be performed digitally because “come on, it’s just a computer”

and then will be surprised when shit breaks in the most monumental and counterintuitive of ways, and will insist that their nephew or kid from Best Buy could have done a better job, and will further insist that the “nerd in IT” is just being an asshole when he gets tired of dealing with the constant bullshit, aggravation, and abuse from people who should know better because they deal with exactly the same things, just in a different domain

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