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I.T. War Stories Part 3 – The Emblem & Badge Years February 6, 2009

Posted by truthspew in Uncategorized.
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You obviously know about the reasons I left Ernst & Young, part of it had to do with the increasing micro management of the TSS staff in general.

So I went on with a local awards manufacturer called Emblem & Badge. The job entailed keeping a multi-location retail POS system up and running as well as consulting with outside clients for POS and General Ledger software.

When I got there they were running all MS-DOS 6 on their workstations and using a Novell 3.11 server for both their POS and GL functions, and a SCO box for email and web services. The first major challenge was upgrading the Novel 3.11 server to version 3.20, and that was fairly simple.

Setting up routing across NIC’s on that server was a bit of a job however since we had two different class-C IP ranges to route on the thing. Not to mention that one half of the network was thin-net coax, the other Cat-5.

I think the most interesting part was the client side. Dealt with companies like the Kayak Center in Wickford, KaBloom up in MA, etc. I do have to say though that KaBloom couldn’t wrap their minds around the fact that the POS software while very flexible had limitations and if they wanted they could pay to have features added to the source code of the software.

I recall one argument with their I.T. guy that ended with me telling him he really had no idea what the software was doing and what it would take to modify it for their needs and then I walked out, called my boss and explained it to him.

For four years I kept everything in that place humming, even figured out what broke on the email server. My boss fancied himself an IT guy too, except he really had no clue about Unix or Linux for that matter. So he bricked the mail server by fussing with the net card settings one day while I was out on the road.

I got the entire HQ onto a Cat-5 switched network, and had starting evaluating rolling out Windows 98 at the time to the desktops we were using. I didn’t roll it out to the stores because the software we used to do the dumps every night called Blast didn’t work with Windows.

We also bought a new file server because we knew the old one wasn’t going to last much longer. Myself and the controller lobbied to go with NT4 at the time because the software we were using was going in that direction anyhow. My boss who again fancied himself an I.T. pro, said we’d go Novell 4. I explained there would be a heavy learning curve and gave projections as to how long it would take to get it up and running, and that it required some fairly heavy planning regarding container objects, etc. Even gave him the info about if we went NT4 it would take considerably less time since both myself and the controller had more than a passing acquaintance with it and since most of our outside clients were using it that was the direction we should go.

That turned into a shouting match and was the beginning of the end for me.

It took me a month or so to wrap my head around it then I had to spend another 3 or 4 months wrapping the bosses head around it. But by that time I’d had quite enough.

The company was family owned and the son was the President of the company while the old man Sol was just there from day to day. Sol and I got to know each other pretty well. Everybody thought Sol was an asshole, I learned differently. Even he couldn’t stand the way his son was running the company.

We moved two stores, Norwood from it’s decrepit facility to a modern one. I wired in a new phone system, new networking etc. for that store. We also moved our Sommerville store into Medford.

My last year and a half there were bad. I needed to get the hell out and one day I saw a posting in the newspaper for an I.T. Director position at the Department of Attorney General. Had a rather grueling 3 interview process for that but finally got the word that I had the job so I gave my notice.

During my last two weeks my boss tried to work me like a dog. Finally on my last day I was in Medford trying to get Timbuktu to work with Windows 98 and our Blast install at the office. Failed miserably. I had begged to test this out in the Providence office before rolling it out but the boss wanted it trialed in the field.

I was on the phone with the controller when the boss gets on and says “Did you try this, did you try that.” Finally I said I’d see him soon. I left Medford, drove back to Providence walked in threw the boss my keys and said “Nice knowing you.” at which point he starts with “That’s not fair” at which point I turned around and said “What isnt’ fair is four years of the same shitty pay and all the bullshit I had to put up with. ” and proceeded to leave.

When I took the position at the AG’s office I warned them that my former boss was the type of person to start shit. Sure enough two months later I get a call from the Chief of the BCI unit. The first thing he asked me was “How the fuck did you work there for almost five years? I wanted to run out of there the minute I walked in since the atmosphere was so negative.” This from the former Cranston Police Chief himself.

He told me that yes a complaint had been registered, that it was unfounded.

But wait for Part 4, apparently my former boss did come back to bite me in the ass.

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