In Consultant We Trust


I had to travel to a client site last week.  I was not looking forward to it.  While I was there, I think everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.  However, I have to say the people there were easy to work with and really went out of their way to make sure I could do what I needed to do.

I was working on some applications and found I needed to install some additional modules.  No problem, I was told.  They set me up with an administrative account on the servers.  When it turned out to be a bit of a headache to manage accounts on multiple machines, they just promoted me to a domain level administrator.

We had some issues with their data.  SQL Server is pretty robust, but even it can be abused.  I kept running into corruption and other issues.  It didn’t help that their security was thwarting me at every turn.  No problem.  They gave me the sa user information (‘sa’ stands for ‘system administrator’; this is as high on the totem pole as you can get on a SQL Server).  The sa password was strong – contained all sorts of letters and numbers in a random pattern.  I couldn’t remember it, so they just jotted it down on a Post-It note and let me have it.

The machines were scattered through their building, but I ended up working primarily in their tech lab.  I was issued a guest card, one of those badges that you wave past a sensor to unlock doors.  Unfortunately, the tech lab was generally considered out of bounds for guests.  The low tech solution: prop the door open with a box of network cable.  No problem.

The entire building had alarms covering various zones.  While I was there, someone walked into the wrong place at the wrong time and set off what sounded like the phaser banks on the starship Enterprise.  I assume they were vaporized on the spot though I can’t confirm that.  In any case, the issues I was having slowed me down and I knew I would have to work late to catch up.  Not a problem.  They didn’t want me to feel pressured by having someone sit there and wait for me.  Instead, they showed me where the alarm panel was and gave me instructions for arming it.

So, I installed my applications, worked on their data, moved stuff from machine to machine as necessary and ended up working late into the evenings.  When I finished up, I turned off the lights, armed the security system and let myself out.  As I was walking to my rental car, the last one in the lot, I just had to laugh.  The people there were so accessible, open and trusting.  Who would have thought that of a company specializing in computer security?

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