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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So What's It Like Working At Stanford?

When I entered the meeting, Polya 155 smelled strongly of pickles. Very strongly. Opening the window led to a strong winter breeze blowing in and rain coming in as well. A few minutes would have to do. The smell of pickles haunted us. The stains of waffle batter from December still occupied a chair, so this was only a small addition to the normal level of weird. Heck, Polya Hall was built to be temporary 40 years ago, so weird and wacky is sort of standard operating procedure here.

But it's a rare meeting when I get to make both Doctor Who references and suggest destruction of equipment and get kudos for both.

Our old server, it's retiring. No one loves this server. I can't say more, but suffice to say, it's time for it to go. The inevitable question came up: "What happens when a Very Important Doctor wants his data off this machine." I said, "We tell him to get back into his Tardis and go back to 2010 when we could've done that for him."

They were warned, repeatedly, over the course of months, to take copies of anything remaining on this machine and put it elsewhere. They were given step-by-step instructions and offered one-on-one assistance. However, this doesn't preclude Dr. V.I.P. from making it IT Services fault when he can't get what he needs/wants.

My second suggestion was that we could put a box on the web page that said, "You are shit-out-of-luck because we pushed the server off the loading dock just to watch it fall."

While this met with wild approval from the team, what the box on the web page will actually say is polite, politic, apologetic, and appropriate. Somehow that does still make a difference when Dr. V.I.P. escalates to our CIO. A little bit of difference. Just enough.

And in the meantime, we thrive in the weird and wacky that is life at Stanford University because everyone on the team has a good sense of humor.


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