Friday, November 07, 2008

TGIF in the worst way!

Oh man. Oh man oh man oh man. This week has been the crazy computer snafu from Gehenna! My boss has a standing order for the new version of Quickbooks when its released. Usually we receive the disks about September and install them sometime in January but this year we decided to start early and installed them October 30th. After I installed them, my boss went ahead and converted several of our client's files to the new version . . . . and it didn't work. Wouldn't work. Something about the way the program converted the tag-along files (one as a kind of "holding bin" for new data before its written to the program and another that is part of the database that allows several people to work in the file at the same time) was wreaking havoc on them and all the program would do was throw out error messages every time you tried to open one. I called Tech Support on Thursday and Robert gave me a few ideas to try but then the computer locked up and I had to hang up and try them later. He also suggests that it is a problem with our permissions so we call our Computer tech and have him come by that afternoon and check all of our permissions to make sure they are set correctly. That didn't work. I called Tech support again on Friday. Barbara was being grumpy or something. I got a couple of ideas to try and happily let her go back to her mood. They didn't work either. Her last suggestion was to uninstall all the new software, turn every one of the computers off and leave them off long enough to get rid of any circling vultures of software, then turn each computer back on and reinstall the software in turn, starting with the server and then moving to each workstation, being extra careful to check all the instructions and all options in the installation wizard. This I did Friday afternoon.

It worked! Monday morning everything was moving along and all the work that stacked up Thursday and Friday was entered and everything was humming along. 2:30 in the afternoon the server spontaneously decided to reboot!! None of the files we worked on that morning would open after that.

Call Tech support again. This time the "gentleman" who answers the phone tells me that he can't talk to me because my name isn't on the subscription, he will only talk to the boss. I told him "if my boss asks me to call I'm going to call" I got just a little pissed at him. So I put him through to the boss. It's now about 3:oo p.m. We get him on remote access to he can poke around in our system himself. Four hours later he tells her he can't figure out what's wrong and is going to "bump us up" to a more senior programmer who will call the next day. My boss arranges to have them speak with me because she will not be in the office then.

Tuesday! I arrive at work to find my boss' note telling me all this and that Tech support should call back around 9:30 that morning. I set up at the main workstation and ready when he called, a little after 9:30 as promised. I was on the phone with Tech support until 6:00 p.m. Alex tried everything. Dowloading this, checking that, rebooting this, uninstalling that, turning off this looking at that. Mostly via remote access but our system kept throwing him out so he had me working on a lot of it as well. He literally ran out of ideas to try around 5:30 and we had to admit defeat and reassemble the system (turn on the Firewall, virus scan, backup system etc. that we had turned off that morning)

Wednesday I arrived at work a little early. I had a page full of written notes detailing everything that was tried the day before, a downloaded copy of the software in case the disk was bad, 5 complete copies of the files for the software in various drives and computers, a stick drive containing a few files a co-worker needed to use that day (the ones that would open). Like the cleaning staff in a hospital, I spent most of Wednesday cleaning up the bloody bits of cotton and surgical instruments left everywhere. I deleted duplicates of the files and cleaned up crazy things left on the desktop and tried a few little ideas of my own to see if I could get some of the "problem children" files to open. Some of them worked too! With a little help from Mozypro and a lot of finger and toe crossing I managed to whittle our 6 "problem children" down to three by the end of the day Wednesday. Unfortunately for me, the three remaining problems were our own file, one of our largest clients and the exact one my co-worker needed to use. Sooooo.

Thursday. I ended up calling Tech support again. This time I had our computer tech stop in and talk to them directly and go over the last little bit of things that hadn't been tried. Michael was Tech support person # 5, and we were on the phone with him around 3 hours. He had a few ideas that Alex hadn't tried (or at least hadn't noted) and us try those. In the end we had the following conclusion, arrived at by me, Urs (our computer tech) and Michael: The software is working as it should be, the problems with the database manager server only show up when our three problem children are involved. The rest of the time it appears to be working. The three files that absolutely will not open were damaged somehow. There is no good explanation as to how this damage occured. There were errors in the 2008 files that showed up when we used the data verification feature. These small errors may have become vast errors when the files were converted. Or the computer rebooting Monday afternoon may have been due to some kind of power surge and files were damaged then.

Neither explanation is complete though. If there was a surge, why did the server station go down and not any of the work stations? and why didn't the battery backup and the surge protectors work? If it was the conversion process exacerbating existing errors, how did I manage to open three of them but not all six? I don't know what I did to get them to open I just tried every crazy idea that came to mind until something worked and then saved a fresh copy. Our last three problem children have been uploaded to the Intuit data recovery center to be fixed. It's going to take at least a week.

Now is the aftermath. I'm tired and I have a huge stack of work to catch up on. I'm very very tired of being asked the same questions over and over and over when I don't have an answer! If the people who wrote the software and the person who built our computers can't explain what happened how am I supposed to know? I am a secretary. I am not an IT professional! I especially loved my co-worker telling the boss that my decisions were faulty. She did not offer much in the way of constructive ideas this week. All she did was gripe and demand that Icall tech support to fix it. Fix it, fix it now! But not that way! Plooooshshshshtt. I need a Margarita!