A Day in the Life ...

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Someone wrote a book called “A Day in the Life of So and So”. The book was one day in this guy’s life and it turned out to be this huge, monstrous work. I can’t think of a better title for this post… except maybe “3 Hours in the a Day in the Life …” It’s long but should be entertaining enough to keep your interest -- especially for the Windows tech heads.

I just started a machine for our Carolinas office:

6:00 open box
6:05 change boot order Floppy -> CDROM -> HD
6:10 fdisk (primary DOS w/ 650MB unpartitioned for recovery image)
6:15 load generic ghost image for this PC (win2k + NTFS replaces DOS partition)
6:30 win2k boots and does NTFS chkdsk
6:35 log in & chang the time ahead an hour (gotta love texas / DELL time)
6:40 restart for PnP changes
6:45 join PC to the domain & change hostname (restart required)
6:50 logged in as domain admin
6:51 added domain user groups Carolinas Office and Carolinas Admin to the local Administrator's group (dumb 3rd party software needs user to be admin :( )
6:54 delete dumb "fax" printer
6:55 connect to the server CAROLINAS and install network printers (xfer larger printer drivers over 56K)...
7:00 twiddle thumbs
7:05 twiddle thumbs

I have to install the printers now so I can get the printer registry entries into the ntuser.dat file which I will use for the default user (C:\Documents and Settings\Default User\ntuser.dat). This way when a new user logs in, he sees the network printers I setup. Instead of scratching his head, sticking his finger up his ass, smelling it, then calling me... In winnt infrastructure, network printers change from user to user. The print driver is still there on the hard drive, but the reg entries in the new user's ntuser.dat are gone. Hence installing the printers and copying ntuser.dat from the template profile to Default User solves the disappearing printer issue as well as several other user settings. (Even power management options are stored in ntuser.dat. NOW THATS DUMB!)

7:10 twiddle thumbs again
7:15 HP Laserjet 2100TN Installed!
7:16 install Laserjet 4550N...
7:17 twiddle thumbs
7:20 still twiddling

There is a weird Server / Workstation relationship when it comes to NT printing. NT will want to use the same driver that’s on the server to print on the workstation. The default behavior when installing a network printer is to suck the driver directly from the NT server instead of asking for the driver locally. I suppose if you had the driver installed already, it wouldn’t take long at all. That, however, would require keeping and organizing every printer driver in the company and keeping a local copy here. You can’t load a driver that is close, you have to load the exact driver for it to work right. Also, my servers are still Windows NT 4.0 and driver they share is a weird hybrid thing. Therefore installing the printer remotely is about the only way to do it.

7:25 4550N is done
7:26 Add a shortcut to \\CAROLINAS server to the All User’s desktop & organize icons
7:27 Do a complete shutdown (not log off) this will set “Shutdown” as the default behavior in this template ntuser.dat
7:30 log in as someone else with Admin rights to the local machine (you can’t copy your own NTUSER.DAT file as it would be currently in use. You, therefore have to log in as someone else and copy NTUSER.DAT from the template profile to the Default User profile. To dig in other people’s profiles, you must have local admin rights…)
7:31 copy template NTUSER.DAT to Default User
7:32 erase all the other profiles
7:33 log in as a new user and test that you have printers and all the user settings are right
Looks good to me:


7:35 shutdown and boot up to dos
7:36 finally partition that 650MB into a FAT volume and format it (Partition magic does it faster than fdisk/format)
7:37 reboot to win2k SP4 install CD
7:39 fire up the recovery console
7:40 Remove hiberfil.sys so the image fits on a CD. Remove pagefile.sys for shits and giggles too. (ghost will not copy pagefile.sys into the image. It's smart enough to know its a swap file and hence not important. With hiberfil.sys, however, ghost is clueless and it will bloat your image. When win2k boots back up it will recreate both of these files with 0 problems.)

cd \
copy boot.ini hiberfil.sys
delete hiberfil.sys
copy boot.ini pagefile.sys
delete pagefile.sys
(You gotta love hidden files and the watered down DOS-wanna-be recovery console. Sometimes, I feel like a circus bear jumping through the big, shinny hoops.)

7:42 reboot DOS
7:43 fire up ghost.exe
Yes, I know I need compression, use HIGH.
Yes, I know you think there won’t be enough space, but there will be. So NO, no spanning.
Yes, I know you think there won’t be enough space, but I insist, So YES, proceed anyway.
(I should make a ghost command line for that crap)

7:45 commence thumb twiddling…
7:46 whistle the tune to Anne.. the sun will come out… tomorrow…
7:46 the early-bird co-workers look at you like you’re a nutcase
7:46 stop whistling
7:48 79% woohoo!
7:49 Dump complete 524MB.. I told you beeeoch ghost.exe!
7:50 boot back to win2k
7:51 copy GHOSTIMG.GHO to my computer over the network.
7:52 meanwhile modify info.txt to reflect this computer’s info (this goes on the Recovery CD and the user sees it before a recovery)

Make: Dell Dimension 2350
Model: 20030710 Dell win2k pro

Computer Name: 18-DELL0710A
Office: CAROLINAS (18)

The words “Make” and “Model” I user liberally. I make up the “Model Number” based on the date. If I do two types of computers the same day, I make A… B… C on the end. I stick the make and model numbers on the back of the PC so users know which recovery CD to use with which PC.

8:00 Burn first copy of recover CD (2/3 my top speed is 16x. Thanks for the tip eddy)

It’s 8am and I just got off the first of the morning phone calls. People trying to slow me down now!!

I have to make a custom recovery cd for each of the computers I send out because when the computer is sitting in an outer office, the users have full admin rights. This means if they take company laptop home and try to join it to their home network (take it out of the domain), the computer will let them because they have admin rights (see above 3rd party software issue). After they do that, the SAM gets wacked because now the fiddlesticks nut is no longer associated with the domain and therefore his local (and only) user account is now invalid. Because of that stroke of hillbilly genius, they can no longer log in and user the computer… WAAAAAHHH!!! MOMMMY!!! HELP!!! The simple solution is to just rejoin it to the domain. That however can’t be done in a remote office because the machine has to sit on the same network segment as the PDC to be welcomed back into the domain. That isn’t going to happen over the Internet. Therefore, the only way to fix it is for them to pack it up and send it here, where I can rejoin it to the domain! HOWEVER, if they have a handy dandy Recovery CD, they can pop it in and restore the computer to the exact state it was when I shipped it (the SAM is fixed and the PC will let people log in again).

8:07 Recovery CD is done
8:08 boot up Partition Magic and toast that 650MB DOS partition. Then expand the NTFS partition to occupy the entire drive.
8:09 reboot to bootable Recovery CD and test the automatic process works
8:15 75% done
8:16 done. Reboot and test win2k works still
8:17 win2k chkdsk.. reboot
8:18 login… pnp changes… reboot
8:19 login makes sure everything is copasetic (copasetic isn’t in Word’s spell checker. Odd)
8:20 taken away for accounting computer issue…
8:29 Since the CD worked, I can make another copy of the Recovery CD to keep here.
8:30 make up CD lables to make it look all professional:
8:37 got back from color printer. Slap that make and model number on the back of the PC
8:39 Second Copy of Recovery CD is done. Time to bust out the NEATO® CD Label Applicator.
8:43 make sure both CDs still work w/ the labels attached
8:44 unplug the Dell from my KVM switch and pack it up with a copy of the Recovery CD
8:50 Print out UPS Lables and finish the package off with the “IF SEAL IS BROKEN, CHECK CONTENTS BEFORE OPENING” seal.
8:55 Pack it down stairs. Done. Phew.

9:00 Come back up stairs and bring that laptop top from the Ohio office with me….

This one only took me three hours, but I started at 6:00am before the phone calls started. “Yeah, Hi. I need to talk to the computer guy again. My finger smells like ass again.” Also 3 hours is very very fast. If I didn't have that Generic Ghost image to start with, I would have had to start with an empty drive, install win2k, install drivers, install software, etc, etc. I had setup the 2350 just two days before. I loaded all the updates into that image too. Therefore, I didn't have to do Windows Update today. If a generic image is old, I'll have to do Windows Update and or install new service packs. That takes time too.

What was the point of this post?
1.) It was something to entertain me at 6:00am. Hopefully, it entertained you too.
2.) Someone said he could do this in 10 minutes…

I really want to meet that guy in person. I mean, wouldn’t it be great to shake hands with the Wizard of fiddlesticking Space and Time ?

Also, I’m sick of wading in this bullshit up to my nut-sack day after day for 33K / year. I do everything an IS or IT department would do. I wear all the hats -- from the IT Manager right down to the grunt that crimps on the RJ45 ends. I do this for all of the 13 offices in the company. As you can imagine, I have loads of work that you might call “putting out the fires”. Then pile on tons of long-term projects and goals, which never get done but instead pile up. Add insult to injury with my laughable salary, and you have one disgruntled employee.

Does anyone have a position for me? Network Admin / System Tech is only a small portion of my six plus years of professional experience working with computers, coding, networks and the Internet. I also work very well over the phone (lots of practice). Telecommuting, therefore, is not totally out of the question. PM me for a resume. I’ll commute to Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Philly and Allentown and the areas in between. (The chances of getting a job from this post are slim to none, but why not try?)

Also, I’ve used some harsh language here and there, but I use it intentionally for emphasis. If you are really offended, please read the post again, inserting and replacing those offending areas with any combination of euphemisms you like.

Last edited:
Sounds like a pretty uneventful day. I prefer working outdoors in the 90 degree heat with 97% humidity. Sweat soaked panks, nothing better!!!
Rob, I just had flashbacks dude, thanks. I screwed with a 2k install today. Normally it's fairly easy, but this fuk'r was just plain evil. I'm off the clock, and now on vacation and I'm not gonna relive that, but I feel your pain. I did have to go out and change the view in Wordperfect for a lady at a funeral home, cause she was freaking over a project and somehow the view got changed from page to draft and she thought all her work was shot. poop, that was the first time I had screwed with WP. I really hate learning stuff onsite and on the fly.

Also, from your quote of the typical IO (Idiot Operator) call for help I can really relate. And how the hell do you monitor vibrators? The gif was a bit fuzzy on my end.
If I had to sit at a desk and play with computers all day, I'd shoot myself..... I need to be out & about.... Great concept for a post though...lol
Originally posted by error401
I really hate learning stuff onsite and on the fly.

that will always happen eventually because you can never know everything in this field. you gotta be quick on your feet and dig into that intuition.

Originally posted by error401

And how the hell do you monitor vibrators? The gif was a bit fuzzy on my end.

The fuzzyness you saw was just the jpeg in the background. That image is taken the website I made for the company. I didn't bother to go back into PhotoShop and make a really really crisp bitmap for the wallpaper.

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