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  • Backup, backup, backup.

    Spice (54) flagReport
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  • Layer your security.

    (Sorry, I had to sneak this 2nd piece of advice in.)

    Spice (23) flagReport
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  • Assumptions can kill your day and suck up all of your time.

    Take it with a grain of salt when you ask if someone did a step and they say yes.  Many people (not all but enough to be a regular occurrence) can't be bothered and will just say that they did. That's not to say you second guess everything, but keep it in mind that they may not have done it. I can't tell you how many times I've asked "Did you reboot?" "Yes several times". Check uptime on the computer, 26 days.. Mmmm Hmmm.  If things are not working as expected, ask them to do it again because you need to verify something.  Then see if that resolves the issue.  

    At that point, "It's working now?  Great.  Anything else you need?  No?  Okay, have a nice day."

    Likewise never assume something was done because it's so obvious that of course it was done.  You can waste a lot of time because you mentally ruled something out that was still in play.

    Correlation does not imply causation.  Just because 2 things happen and appear to be connected doesn't mean they are.  Yes you can/should investigate that possibility, but if it's not making sense, look at them as separate issues that just happened to occur at the same time.  You can also waste a lot of time trying to figure out A could possible have caused B when it didn't cause it at all.  They just happened around the same time.

    Spice (62) flagReport
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  • PatrickFarrell wrote:

    Assumptions can kill your day and suck up all of your time.

    Take it with a grain of salt when you ask if someone did a step and they say yes.  [snip]I can't tell you how many times I've asked "Did you reboot?" "Yes several times". Check uptime on the computer, 26 days.. Mmmm Hmmm.  If things are not working as expected, ask them to do it again because you need to verify something.  Then see if that resolves the issue.  

    Don't assume the user will know how to reboot - we had a user that the helpdesk had asked to reboot - they said they had, but the same error message was on screen. Put through to us (2nd line), call through - yup, same error message, asked to reboot, the response was so quick that it was obvious they weren't rebooting. They were adamant they were rebooting, turned out they were turning the monitor off and on again and a reboot did fix the issue.

    Spice (42) flagReport
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  • find a decent boss and stick with them.

    Spice (49) flagReport
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    • make a copy of every config before you change anything
    • backup before you start something big
    • always check backups
    • slow down, don't press Enter before you rechecked whay you wrote

    Most importand: Don't wait for your school/employer/whoever to give you knowledge. If you wan't to be best, you need to live like the best and always look for new oppurtunities to widen your mind:

    • use your free time at work to learn about work related projects, ask your employer for time every week to invest, look arround what can be made better, ask for additional leraning materials and certificates. Employment must be a two way street, where you work for them and you give them your knowledge, but they pay you back and give you new knowledge back.
    • use your free time at home to work on personal project, don't be narrow minded and think that it's enough if you know what to click at your job and that this is enough, widen your knowledge not only with job related stuf, but try out different fields, like sysadmin, programming, electrical engineering, etc - you'll never know where you'll work in 10 or 20 years and there is never enough knowledge in your head. You must also undersand that more knowledge about different fields you have, easier it will be for you to understand anything.
    Spice (25) flagReport
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  • Google (other search providers available) is your friend.

    Learnt a lot via my ability to find solutions online early on.
    Spice (24) flagReport
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  • PatrickFarrell wrote:

    Assumptions can kill your day and suck up all of your time.

    ^This is what I wanted to say, but I was beaten to it.

    So, I'll just put the second thing that popped into my head:

    I don't want to say it was DNS, but it was DNS.

    Spice (21) flagReport
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  • To add onto the very good advice that's already written: Never be afraid to take a step back and just say, "I don't know." It doesn't help anyone when you're sprinting on a hamster wheel. Come back with some help or a course of action after research is completed.

    Spice (32) flagReport
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  • Prepare 3 envelopes

    Spice (24) flagReport
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  • Don't ask questions before you've tried to answer them yourself. You'll learn more if you go through the proper troubleshooting steps and figure it out for yourself.

    Spice (9) flagReport
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  • Try the most basic troubleshooting first.

    Is it plugged in?

    Did you reboot? (I always tell them to go to the start button -> power -> restart.)

    Are all the cables plugged in correctly?

    Is the password correct? 

    Read the error message.

    Spice (12) flagReport
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  • Be involved, listen, and contribute when you're confident you have something.

    Spice (7) flagReport
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  • You WILL screw up, something will not go as planned, be honest about it, explain what happened, and move on. Do not try to cover it up, and pretend it wasn't your fault.  Honesty will always make things better in the long run.

    Spice (23) flagReport
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  • When a user calls that is in a bad mood remember most likely they are mad at the situation and not you even if they take it out on you.  Letting it roll off your back and not engaging their anger is the best way to get through it.
    Spice (19) flagReport
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  • Assume nothing and always start at the beginning of your troubleshooting steps.  Don't be afraid to ask questions so you know what type of problem your dealing with.  You need background information on how the problem became a problem. 

    Spice (6) flagReport
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  • lamocon wrote:

    To add onto the very good advice that's already written: Never be afraid to take a step back and just say, "I don't know." It doesn't help anyone when you're sprinting on a hamster wheel. Come back with some help or a course of action after research is completed.

    That's really a key one and I'll say it when I need to.  There's nothing more dangerous than someone making changes to a critical piece of infrastructure when they have no idea what they are doing.  Same thing applies to home plumbing.  What could have been a $100 service call can turn into a $500 service call after you get done "trying to fix it".

    If I'm asked something that I don't have a clear answer to, I'll tell them, I can't really give you a good answer to that at the moment because I don't have enough information about it.  Let me dig into it a bit and I'll get back to you with an answer.  If I flat out don't know anything about it, I'll tell them.

    Back to point one, I've been in situations where quite honestly it's dangerous for me to be messing with something that I have zero knowledge of but I'm stuck with it anyway.   I'll lay that out plainly.  Look, I should not be touching this.  I'll do what I can, and it will be best effort, but this is something someone with experience in it should be dealing with because it can go sideways and could incur serious down time.  Sometimes the answer will be okay we can bring in a third party to assist.  Sometimes the answer is yes we know the risks, do what you can.  As long as I'm sure they fully understand the risk and agree to it, then I'll take it on. 

    Real life example is how I wound up getting into F5.  All of the F5 people at a company I worked on were gone and there was nobody else willing to look at it.  8 HA pairs of load balancers in 2 data centers and we had an urgent request.  All I had to go on was, "We need you to add this server to the load balancer ASAP".  What they actually meant was, they needed it added to a pool behind a virtual IP.  They had no idea which virtual IP or which pair of load balancers that resided on.  Talked to boss about it and said if someone can find the credentials, I'll have a go, but this is really something a person experienced with F5 should be doing.  The decision was made to go ahead and see what I could do.  I figured that out and a year later, I'm was the F5 guy. Later I had to replace EOL hardware and do major OS upgrades for all of the F5s.  I went back to management and said, I know quite a bit of F5 now, but this is not a google it, try it and see what happens thing.  I need help on this one.  We wound up engaging F5 professional services.  I did all of the work but they laid out the plan before hand we ran through a bunch of checks and took care of a few issues that might have caused problems prior to the upgrade.  Then they basically looked over my shoulder (remotely) while I did your upgrade, and finally we did several post checks before giving the all clear.  Sure enough we had one blow up and had to roll back.  It was bad enough that we had to freeze at that particular version because changes in how irules were processed in 14.x broke a ton of existing irules causing sites not to load.  No errors in the upgrade itself, and had we not had people do testing, we would have assumed it was fine.  All of those irules would have to be fixed first before upgrading.  That's not something that would have been found on google.

    Spice (16) flagReport
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  • Before escalating an issue, make sure you have done every bit of troubleshooting in your skill set and that your steps are annotated in the ticket for the escalation engineer.

    Spice (11) flagReport
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  • Don't try to tackle an issue under pressure.

    Take time to look at the problem, to get an idea of what's going on and step back, go for a walk, have a toilet break, whatever it takes.

    You'll be surprised that your subconscious has been working on the problem in the background, rather than it being at the front of your mind and you'll be able to think clearer and find solutions you wouldn't have done previously.

    I've had many 'Eureka' moments doing just this.

    Spice (24) flagReport
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  • When you don't know something:

    1. Think
    2. Research
    3. Ask for help

    You can't go wrong with wanting to learn and do things right. It is much better than dealing with mistakes afterward.

    Spice (17) flagReport
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  • Don't be afraid to break test. But don't break prod

    Spice (20) flagReport
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  • Test everything in production!

    Also, you will learn more on the job than any schooling can do for you. If you make a mistake, don't hide it. Everyone makes mistakes and how you handle them is how you learn.

    Spice (8) flagReport
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  • Keep your options open!

    Spice (2) flagReport
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  • Never delete user files.

    Spice (11) flagReport
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  • Document

    Backups

    Research the issue and don't panic

    Reboot

    Lots of times the simplest solution is all that's needed. Go with your gut feeling

    Never assume the user understands simple computer tasks (reboot vs shutdown, etc)

    Collect error messages from users (screenshots if necessary) this will save you time on going down a rabbit hole

    Ask questions to help you understand what's being asked of you (whether it's your boss, user, vendors, etc)

    Spice (9) flagReport
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  • Your education will apply to about 10% of your actual job.  Never stop learning.

    Spice (12) flagReport
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  • Don't panic and stick with it

    Spice (5) flagReport
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  • When troubleshooting, divide the problem in half. Keep doing this until you have a solution.

    Eg. Is the issue a service issue (O365 down)? Tenant issue? Site issue? PC issue? User issue? Outlook issue? Config issue? Operator error?

    The other piece of advice I have for troubleshooting is: What changed?

    Spice (6) flagReport
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  • Plan your work and work your plan.

    Spice (2) flagReport
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  • Never believe you know everything, you can always learn something new.

    Spice (7) flagReport
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  • Do what you say, Say what you do.

    Spice (8) flagReport
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    • You will experience imposter syndrome and there is nothing wrong with that everyone feels it at some point and it will pass
    • Accept that someday you may end up in management
    • Be humble admit to mistakes and admit when you are wrong and don't know something
    Spice (8) flagReport
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  • Document everything so it can be easily retrieved as needed.

    or

    Don't believe the user when they said it happened on its own

    or

    Don't believe the user saying they already restarted the computer

    or

    Question everything

    Spice (4) flagReport
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  • Something that was told to me by a mentor was when writing up instructions/responses to your users that you should write as if the user has no idea what a computer is, they've never heard of one before and they have never used one before either. This just means that when writing a bit of instruction it is always good to explain something in a way that feels like you're over-explaining it to your IT Peers. I use this all the time and it works well... when the users actually read my instructions. I go through the extra effort to include pictures, especially when it's something that is a bit tougher to explain with words.

    On the same topic, heed the advice of all your English and Literature teachers of the past. PROOFREAD. We all make mistakes, that is fine but for the love of the thing you love the most just proofread your work. I make this mistake all the time when sending texts, emails, and even when writing responses to posts like these. Proofreading lets you go back through what you wrote and see if it is correct both with your spelling and your grammar but also maybe one step in the instructions doesn't make that much sense.

    Spice (8) flagReport
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  • Trust your coworkers but remember they're human. No matter how intelligent or experienced one is...ANYONE can miss a step in troubleshooting. As I've read earlier in this post DON'T ASSUME.

    Spice (6) flagReport
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  • When all hell breaks loose do not let your users' panic affect you.  Just keep working the issue calmly.  Keep your head and keep any pressure or stress from the user community from infecting your thinking or work procedures.  You cannot solve a major issue (outage, no Internet, etc) if you are in a panic.

    Spice (8) flagReport
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  • Find a set of hobbies that are not IT related, and preferably don't involve a screen of any kind.

    Spice (11) flagReport
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  • Lots of technical advice, but little in ways of human interaction (sorry, nerds, it's still necessary in our business).

    My advice to newbies:

    Make friends with the people on the ground (secretaries, custodians, maintenance, drivers, warehouse, etc.), not managers and executives. 

    They're the ones who do the daily work and can also get things done for you.  In K-12, I've always introduced new techs to the building secretaries and custodial staff first.  Principals and teachers will come along in time, but the most important people in a school are the secretaries and custodians.

    Custodians may just look like low-skilled labor, pushing brooms and emptying trash all day, and little more. That is a condescending attitude to take.

    These are the folks who know the building inside and out (literally). They're also tasked with security, even if the school has official security staff. Custodians see and hear everything, because they blend into the background and students (especially) as well as some faculty don't take them as seriously. But they still know everything.

    Make friends with them, because they will be your eyes and ears on the ground when you can't be there. They'll also bend over backwards to help you in kind if you respect them and their duties.

    School secretaries are the gatekeepers for the entire school. They're the literal front line of a school and everything has to pass through them. They also have the ability to manipulate other people's behavior, including principals (or directors/executives in private sector) and academic department heads (team leaders or managers) who think themselves "above the rabble."  Make friends with the secretaries, and they'll make sure things get done the way you want, if you can't make any headway.

    I know these examples are very school-specific, but it can be extrapolated as analogs to other industries.  Make friends with the right people, prioritize their needs, and half of your burden will be lifted.

    Spice (19) flagReport
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  • Spice (14) flagReport
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  • Learn how to troubleshoot and problem solve. Many people today just keep trying different things until finally something works. That's a waste of time and potentially can slow down or even break working items.

    Knowing how to break down a function into it's individual processes can greatly assist in troubleshooting so variables are quickly eliminated and focus is on the actual problem area instead of shooting in the dark.

    Spice (6) flagReport
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  • Document things, especially what you do infrequently. You may have to do it once every six months or so but it's better to have a record of the steps so you are not always starting from scratch. I once had a boss tell me to record things, like the person picking up after me had no idea what I did, it helps to consider everything when writing it down.

    Spice (8) flagReport
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  • Always check to make sure what you just did actually does what you think it will do. Committed software changes? Let's restart to make sure the PC boots up fine. Installed new software? Let's run it to make sure it starts. Change GPO settings? Let's do it in a test environment first. (Is that not an option? do it on Friday afternoon as much as that sucks, but now you have an entire weekend to clean up any messes)
    Spice (4) flagReport
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  • 1. Make sure you can undo what you are about to do.

    2. Assumption's will make a fool of you and me and to Presume is the Mother of all f***ups.

    3. If your making small mistakes than you need to learn from those mistakes, if you going to make a Big Mistake see point 1.

    4. Treat Every Day like a school day and learn.

    5. Until you know the facts don't jump to Conjecture as to Speculate or theorize is a toss of a coin.

    6. Always make sure there is a back-up.

    7. never be afraid to ask for help as this will show the character of those around you if their willing help and pass on knowledge and skill there one's to learn from if they belittle you or say you should know are ones to stay away from.

    8. Always test in a test environment never in production.

    Spice (4) flagReport
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  • bucko wrote:

    • slow down, don't press Enter before you rechecked whay you wrote

    Was this ironic or genuine ????

    Spice (6) flagReport
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  • If you're looking through a menu that has "OK", "Apply", and/or "Cancel" as options, if you went in and had no intention of changing anything, hit "Cancel".

    Don't just copy paste code/commands from a website, understand what it's doing before running it in your environment.

    Spice (5) flagReport
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  • You don't need to know everything and have all the answers .  But you do have to be resourceful enough to find what you need, even if that's an expert/vendor/consultant.  

    Just because you are resourceful, hitting the end of your rope isn't a failure unless you can't recognize you are there.

    Spice (4) flagReport
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  • No one expects you to know everything.

    Spice (4) flagReport
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  • Denis Kelley wrote:

    Prepare 3 envelopes

    Is this similar to "Dig two holes" ??

    Spice (1) flagReport
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  • I would tell a newbie two things:

    1. You never stop learning when you work in IT. Always seek out opportunities to learn and expand your skillset.

    2. Always have a back up plan. Make sure your back up plan has a back up plan. 

    Spice (5) flagReport
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  • Keep an open mind, and be there to help others. People don't want to be around someone who is a know-it-all, and someone who isn't willing to help out.

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