Tuesday, 29 January 2013

New User Error "Your roaming profile is not available"

New User Error "Your roaming profile is not available"

Created a new user in AD and yet when she logs on she gets this message.

Basically, she (or someone with the same username) existed at our company before and so a roaming profile directory with her username as the folder name was not created. The old one still exists.

Basically, rename or delete the old folder where your roaming profiles are stored and a new one will be created.

Seems a bit silly that there can be a username conflict with Windows in this way. You'd think that the whole use of SIDs would have picked this up. I guess not!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Your Microsoft Exchange Server Is Unavailable - Microsoft Outlook 2003 Error

Your Microsoft Exchange Server Is Unavailable - Microsoft Outlook 2003 Error

I have read that this can be due to an encryption setting but in this case it was simply a corrupted profile. I went into Mail applet in Control Panel, added a new profile and configured it and made sure to set it as the new default. Problem solved.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Psychopathic, Machiavellian, Narcissistic Users

This article is not just about bosses, it's about individuals. I have met so many of these in ther workplace, trying to dominate me when I'm simply trying to help them. Absolutely despicable people:

Why your boss could easily be a psychopath

Troublesome colleagues are likely to harbour a "dark triad" of psychopathic tendencies, Machiavellian cunning and narcissistic selfishness, according to a new study.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Making Use Of Free Time At Work

It's hard to make use of free time at work.

For one, I can't normally do a lot of writing. Because my speed writing will get attention and people will wonder what I am doing.

Also, I can't study books or anything meaty for the same reason but also because free time comes in drips and drabs and it's impossible to focus.

What I've recently found is that interactive tutorials are a good way to use the time for myself, towards my own development. I've started to follow the tutorials on sites like codecademy.com. They are pretty cool.

Right now I'm doing a tutorial on Python. It's been years since I did any coding and I'm really enjoying it.

If you have free time during your job then I can highly recommend doing such tutorials to make the best use of what free time you can get.

Especially when you hate the job as much as I do! I've got a dilemma coming up which is to either stay in this job if I'm offered an extension or to try something else. I already mentioned earlier that chasing for more money elsewhere is probably a fruitless quest.

However, you must also remember that moving on ensures a fresh, clean slate, wherever you go and that should not be underestimated. When you're tied in for a while, people (your manager, co-workers, other employees) start to take advantage of you. Moving around regularly avoids this.

I've got something to think about then...

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

When IT/Technical Support Makes You Lose Your Self-Respect

Yet another reason why I hate this job.

Today I installed a printer for a senior manager.

There I am, picking up a heavy machine and lugging it downstairs, getting on my knees then under the desk to install it.

People talk to you like you have a hole in your head and are lacking in intelligence. It's partly my fault that I ended up doing this but this type of relationship is much the same in all support roles as opposed to "producer" roles.

It would be one thing if I were paid a fortune. Heck, I'll carry boxes all day long if you pay me £100,000, I could not care less!

But when you're generally low paid and treated by others like a blue collar worker then it's pretty demeaning and you end up losing your own self respect too.

Little wonder then that so many people working in IT Support get fat, dress badly and don't exactly have an abundance of women. Others treat them as "low class" and the treatment makes one lose one's respect for one's self. This only reinforces the treatment.

It's a vicious circle and a reminder of why I must get out of this industry, long term. I am formulating a plan to get into development, for which I will need my Masters in Computer Science. Basically, I am saving up money.

Suddenly Can't RDP To Citrix Server - Remote Desktop Windows Server 2003

Suddenly Can't RDP To Citrix Server - Remote Desktop Windows Server 2003

One of our Citrix servers (they are load balanced) suddenly can't be remoted into. I have no idea why.

  • It can be pinged on name and IP
  • Terminal Server
  • Citrix sessions still exist

Then people started calling up with stuck sessions. Couldn't kill them.

Then the sessions suddenly all disappeared!

So we restarted the server. All is well now.

No idea why this happened. Who knows.

Citrix Error: Authentication Failed

Citrix Error: Authentication Failed

Don't be afriad if a user gets this error, check the url they typed in exactly. Chance are they just typed it wrong!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tossers/Idiots At Work

Oh let me tell you about idiots. I alluded to this earlier and today I had a showdown, the likes of which I have not had in a while and remind me why this job in IT can suck really badly.

In IT, you troubleshoot by asking questions. This elicits a response from the user and from these responses you can then narrow it down and find the root cause or at least a point from which you can start to investigate.

Some idiots in life hear your answers and think you are misunderstanding them when you are not. You are simply trying to get to the bottom of things. They assume you misunderstand them and get exasperated. They huff and puff and make it look like you are the one who is wrong and not them.

I had someone like this today. I ended up having to be quite defiant. A director in a nearby office (a leech who also thinks they are the most important person in the company, that's another story in itself) came out to complain.

In an ideal world, I would not have been defiant as I was, trying to reinforce my message with emphasis and volume. It's almost like the idiot with no social skills has dragged you into their crazy game. But these things happen instantaneously and you react naturally. Also, you have to do something to show that you are not misunderstanding them and are simply asking to get to the bottom of things. Mind you, even if you say that, they will still think you are misunderstanding them anyway.

So the only real thing you can do is to keep your volume low and be as calm as possible and try to explain that you are not misunderstanding anything and why you are asking these questions.

Sadly, you meet complete tossers like this in IT. This one came up later with a groveling apology when he was proved wrong by the outcome of our investigations. The way I see it, it's not about the investigations, it's about their poor people skills in the first place.

What a tosser! He really made my blood boil today.

SSL Error 70 Expired Security Certificate Citrix

SSL Error 70 Expired Security Certificate Citrix

Someone in the office got this error. Most of the time it is due to an incorrect system date, which itself may be a one-off or may be caused by the on-board CR2032 battery running out of juice.

Correct the date and all is well.

If the date repeatedly goes wrong then the battery needs replacing. CR2032 is a simple watch/calculator type battery that is cheap and lasts for years, you can get them and replace them with little effort.

Citrix Error: You Need More Memory Or System Resources - Outlook Error - Cause: Roaming Profiles Issue

Where I work, people use Citrix Metaframe/Gateway apps that are on our Citrix servers. Think of it as 4 huge desktops being shared simultaneously by hundreds.

Today someone got the error when opening Outlook of "You Need More Memory Or System Resources".

I did some googling and found out that it's a corruption issue of some sort. Not with the mail profile (if you try and get into Mail Config you will get an "out of memory" error). I was prepared to take out the registry hives for Outlook under the SID for this person in HKUsers but I read it could also be a corrupt profile issue.

In the end, I renamed his profile from our Citrix servers (running 2003 so located in "documents and settings") then renamed his roaming profile on the main server (location given in his AD entry).

It worked. He was like a brand new employee at the firm and could access his mail once again. He lost any customizations he had made though. A small price to pay.

Citrix Error:  - Outlook Error - Cause: Roaming Profiles Issue

Friday, 18 January 2013

How To Remove On Behalf Of In Outlook 2010/2007/2003

In Outlook you can give someone the ability to send from a mailbox or as another email address. You do this in Active Directory under Properties, Exchange General, Delivery Options, Send on Behalf.

But when you do that, be default it says "on behalf of" in the email header to those receiving such emails.

This is default behavior and is really a security measure, so it is always clear who sent the email.

To get rid of this and just appear to be the name of the user/mailbox only, you need to amend the security rights.

Go to Active Directory thenView, Advanced Features.

Then go back to Properties, click the Security tab (newly appeared), click Add, select the person you want to give the rights to, OK etc. Then in the box below with the permissions breakdown, click on "Send As" in the Allow column.

That's it.


IT Support is not just stressful but it can also be annoying. The work itself is rarely annoying, it is the people that you deal with. As I have said before, you really lose faith in the human race after doing this job!

There are some I like to call leeches. They grab on to you and never let go.

In most cases, it is because you have done some work for them. They start calling you direct instead of using the centralized point of contact they are supposed to.

All kinds of new problems start to come out of the woodwork and they expect you to solve them. Many of these are time consuming.

These people basically have a major defect in their interpersonal skills. Maybe they have no friends? Maybe they see you as a friend? Maybe they are too lazy to fix their own problems, or to even think about them, and look to you for help.

It is really difficult to shake off a leech. There is no guaranteed method in IT that is akin to holding a lighter to a real leech. Because you are the service provider, you cannot tell them to get lost.

The best thing is to avoid getting attacked in the first place. Do not give the best quality service that you can or the leech will attack. Give the bare minimum. Sometimes, it's even a good idea to give poor service. That way, they won't deal with you in future and will go latch onto someone else.

If you find that a leech has taken hold, they can be gotten rid of. It requires careful management. You need to start ignoring their requests. Tell them how busy you are when you finally get back to them and they will realize that you cannot deal with their problems quickly anymore. If you're lucky, they may also come to their senses and realize that their requests are spurious. It's unlikely, but it does happen.

Just remember to avoid the leeches getting a hold in the first place.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Disparity Between Effort And Your Daily/Hourly Contracting Rate

When you're a contractor, there's no hiding that you're in it for the money. I mean, we all work for the money anyway, but when you're a contractor there's no shame in admitting it. Actually, you might be wanting the experience too, but it's just a given that most contractors are trying to earn as much money as possible.

So it all come down to your rate.

Rates are usually quoted as an hourly or daily rate. £13/hour is roughly equivalent to £100/day.

Now the thing is, rates vary wildly.

For example, a Helpdesk (first line) role may pay around £8/hr. Any lower than that and you can't survive in London. But sometimes they pay as high as £12/hr. A second line or general IT Support role (e.g. mixed role in a small company) can pay as little as £9 or £10 per hour but it can go much higher.

Before the financial crisis, you used to be able to earn more than £200/day working IT Support in a bank. Those days are almost over because rates crashed and £150 is probably above average now.

Now here's the crazy thing. You can work your butt off at one company for £12/hr but get paid to twiddle your thumbs at another for £13/hr!

Right now, I'm working in a nice place for around £13/hr. From a workload point of view, I'm only doing slightly less than I would somewhere else but the pressures on me and the expectations are very low. I don't have to work crazy shifts, the people are nice and I can even wear casual clothes.

Sure, I could go get a job paying maybe £15 per hour but I would have to dress smart, put up with demanding people and get stressed out every day. It's just not worth it.

So the rate isn't everything for a contractor, much as people like to think. It's the bigger picture that counts.

My Views On Working In The Industry

IT Support is not a great job. Not by any means.

Most people work in first or second line.

The Three Lines

First line is Helpdesk. You pick up the phone and give remote support by telling the user what to do. Sometimes you connect remotely to their PC to fix the problem yourself. Anything you can't do, you escalate to second line. This might sound great but you will be judged on your stats and this job is much like working in a call centre. You are nothing but a resource, a body.

Second line is sometimes called "desk side". You get the more complex problems that are not easy fixes. You see people, face to face, although most companies still encourage remote support where possible or your rate of ticket closure will be slow. It's still all about the stats but less so.

Third line is sometimes called "infrastructure/network". You'll do the more advanced stuff and rarely interact with end users. In big companies, you'll monitor and make changes to the network and the rest of the infrastructure.

The first and second line are basically treated like crap by users. I called this blog "Guy from IT" because that is frequently the name you are referred to as, even if you have offered your name. You are looked down at like a second class citizen. Even garbage collectors and cleaners get left alone to do their job but 1st/2nd liners are paid badly, treated badly and yet expected to offer a professional service where "the customer is always right".

Big companies tend to pay better but career prospects are often worse because each level of support is so segregated (often in another country) that there is no way to move up.

In a small company, first and second line are often combined and you may even be involved in or find it easier to move to third line.


Getting certifications helps a lot. Microsoft certifications have long been popular. If you want to get into third line, it helps to have advanced certs such as Cisco and others. They are much tougher but the salary rewards are worth it.


If you contract, you can gain a lot of experience in a short space of time. Every company does things slightly differently, and by working at several in a row, you can gain a great grounding. If you work at a mix of small and large firms then you'll be able to show that you can handle third line work (albeit on a smaller scale) combined with big firm professionalism. This can help you get those high paying big firm third line roles.

Dream Of The Third Line, Management Or Get Out

Most people don't want to stay on the first/second line, permanent or contracting, for the rest of their lives. The pay is bad (though there are worse paying jobs), you are looked down on and its a tough job.

Don't sit still: the older you get, the more prejudiced people will be against you and they won't believe you have any ambition left. Keep studying and keep trying to progress. Sometimes you have to be patient and sometimes you have to leave to get more experience or the ability to move up. If you are permanent, make clear your ambitions and get them recorded on paper at appraisals. By doing this, they can't deny your career ambitions so long as they lie with the company or it will make your manager look possessive and not allowing the company to take advantage of you reaching your full potential.

Good And Bad

This job is really a mixture of blue and white collar in many ways with some of the best and worst parts combined.

But IT Support is not the worst career going. Some people enjoy doing second line for most of their lives including some "career contractors", for example. However, both first and second liners are dime a dozen and this keeps pay rates low. You can improve your rate by specialising in, for example, front office support in financial houses or Mac support or supporting law firms (they use a lot of document management systems). It is also easy to get into and is popular with those leaving the armed forces who need a career - getting a few certs and offering your services for free or for a low rate is enough to get you your first role and from there you can easily enjoy a long career.

Personally, my ambitions lie elsewhere. I am not going to do this forever. I need more respect from others as it feeds my own self-respect. I also want more money. At my age, this affects not just myself but also my relationships too. I hope this article gives you a better picture of working in the industry.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

What Is IT Contracting?

Seeing as I'm an IT contractor I thought I'd tell you a bit more about it.

Most people know that you can either be a permanent employee or a "temp". In IT, we call temps "contractors". Who knows why? They are effectively the same thing. Only difference maybe is that in IT you get mostly fixed term contracts of usually 3 months but sometimes longer, 6 months, a year etc.

IT contracting was famous in the late 90s during the dot com boom and since then. Contractors were creaming it. Here in the UK, they were setting up PSCs (personal service companies) which were basically one man companies, and then getting their own company to invoice the client.

Why? Because they only had to pay Corporation Tax which is lower than income tax. They've closed that loophole these days but nearly every court case that has been brought has failed. Still, most contractors have been scared away from doing it and most now use an "Umbrella Company".

No, this is not a factory that makes parasols and such! It is a company that still takes away the hassle of invoicing and dealing with payments and communications with the client. Effectively, the contractor is a permanent employee of the umbrella company. You cannot save as much tax as before but you can still claim expenses as a deduction. It's not worth all that much but all the pennies add up.

Anyway, why do companies use contractors? Simple, because even if you pay them the same salary, it works out cheaper for companies as they don't have all the administration costs and headaches and additional taxes to pay for. Plus, they can hire and fire quickly.

Why do people still like to be contractors? Well, for one, being a "permanent" employee is not really all that stable. Anyone can get laid off and you won't necessarily get a huge pay day. Secondly, there are always plenty of contract jobs going and the demand for them will never wane. Third, you can really boost your CV by doing several contracts and in one year amass similar experience that might otherwise take you the best part of a decade. Fourth, it can often pay higher than the equivalent permanent role, although unfortunately contractor rates have been hit bad since the financial crisis started. Finally, these jobs are easier to get and I have worked many contracts without even a single interview! Now compare that with permanent jobs where you will typically be seen by at least two or three people and have to sit several rounds.

Can't Do Smiley Face Or Insert Clipart Or Live Spell Check In Outlook 2003

A woman rang the other day and she was the only person out of all her team who could not have smiley faces automatically resolve, did not have a clipart library to use and did not have the live-running spell check ability. Even some of her menus looked totally different.

I couldn't work out why her's looked so different to everyone else's, even though they were all on the same version of Outlook (2003).

Then I figured it out. Everyone else was using the MS Word editor for emails and hers was configured to use the HTML editor.

A quick change and Outlook was totally transformed. Amazing what one little switch can do.

Help My PC Is Slow

When someone calls and says "my PC is slow", it really is music to my ears...NOT!

PCs get slower over time. The operating system gets bloated and buggy and software, plugins, patches etc. all get more demanding while your computer stands still in the quagmire of technology.

If your PC is slow, there ain't much you can do about it except to turn off the fancy bells and whistles. I strongly recommend going to System Properties (right click My Computer, Properties) and adjusting for "Best Performance".

Otherwise, make sure you have enough disk space and delete your internet cache, including the history.

There ain't much more you can do except get your PC totally rebuilt (fresh install of Windows).

Oh yeah, be more patient too. The biggest problem is likely to be you rather than the computer. Slow the hell down!

How to Remove Printer Drivers

Sometimes computers will give print problems and you must remove the drivers and reinstall them.

If you simply delete the printer, the drivers will still sit on your hard disk. You need to rip them out of the registry and also delete the folder containing the drivers.

Case in point, I came across this weird error for someone when printing in Internet Explorer:

An error has occurred in the script on this page. 
Line : 2053 
Char: 1 
Error : Invalid procedure call or argument. 
Code: 0 
URL: res/ieframe.dll/preview.js.

A very unhelpful error which googling showed means the printer drivers are corrupt.

In Windows 7 you can click the printer and "Server Properties" appears in the menu. You can then remove the printer driver. You may have to stop the print spooler (go to services.msc and stop it there). This doesn't always work though.

If in doubt, rip it out! (manually remove printer drivers):

Stop print spooler then,

Remove contents of folder:

Go to regedit and delete these keys:
“HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Environments\Windows NT x86\Drivers\Version-3”
“HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Environments\Windows x64\Drivers\Version-3”

This will wipe out all installed printers on your computer and you can start again.

Welcome To The Blog

Welcome to my blog.

I am an IT contractor. I prostitute my services to whichever company wants them.

IT Support as a career totally sucks. But I have learned a lot about the human race from my interactions with them. In this blog I will share my personal anecdotes as well as solutions to support problems as and when I come across them.

The Guy From IT

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