In the late 90's, Gregg was hired to administer a small Novell network at EduLoans, a student loan processing company. What it amounted to though was a toxic waste cleanup at a Superfund site. To say his predecessor, Loretta, was underqualified was a blunt understatement. The company wanted a network on the cheap, which included elevating a receptionist with slight technical skills to the ranks of Novell administrator. They figured the only training she would ever need was a two week hands-on Novell CNA course. Novell Netware login screen circa 1997

Loretta returned from training with tons of free swag in tow. This included a CD-ROM beta version of Netware 3.12, with bold text printed across its face reading NOT FOR USE IN A PRODUCTION ENVIRONMENT. Ignoring that, she convinced the President of EduLoans that they could get by with this great free version so there would be more money to spend on hardware - and her raise.

Fast-forward a couple years and the EduLoans network was barely functional. Things were fouled up so bad that the Administrator account could do nothing except delete existing user accounts, manage - but not create or delete - print queues, and setup automatic backups which the system would not actually run. Administrator could not even change its own password, nor could any of the other user accounts.

Around the same time, Loretta was ready to start a family and decided to leave EduLoans just before having her first child. Thus, the need for Gregg arose. He was brought in to fix the mess, and do it in a very budget-conscious manner. So obviously having Novell technicians come in to help was out of the question.

Combined with the Netware disarray was the crappy loan processing software EduLoans ran its entire business through. It had originally been written in COBOL then ported to MS-DOS batch files thousands of lines long. These mammoth batch files had to be run from a workstation, which resulted in pulling the entire million-dollar database over a 10 megabit Ethernet connection. The workstation would then process the transactions, send them back to the server, and print the results on 15" greenbar.

Strapped for cash and not sure what else to do, Gregg unhatched a bold plan. He would personally take an upcoming three day weekend to wipe every hard drive at EduLoans to remove the scourge Loretta had setup. He would then use an existing Netware 4.11 license he personally owned the rights to from his last job and set up a fresh Novell network, re-install everything on the workstations, and connect it to the new clean network. From there he would take the backed-up application and database and set it up in a manner that it could run from a server. It might take him the entire 72 hours of the weekend, but it should work and he'd be hailed as a hero.

In order to execute this plan, he would need signoff from Bob, EduLoans' Vice President and the only rung of the ladder Gregg ever had to run his ideas up to. Bob wasn't the most technical person, so it didn't usually take Gregg much effort to convince him. "Seems like a solid enough plan," he said. "If you're willing to burn up this glorious long weekend doing it, that is. Me, I'll be out of state on a golf course somewhere, so I am not to be bothered!" Bob thrust his index finger in to the air to drive home the point. "I'll see you on Tuesday once this mess is sorted out!"

For Gregg, the 3 day weekend seemed like one long, never-ending day. He had all the workstations wiped and reloaded by Saturday night but the rest of the time was a total nightmare. The new network was more difficult to set up and configure than he originally anticipated. Once that was done, none of the workstations would talk to it until he found some obscure setting in the wee hours of Monday.

After a power nap, he got to work configuring the server to run EduLoans' application. He came to find the documentation he was planning to use to help set it up hadn't been updated since the time Zubaz were cool. That led to a lot of guesswork and missteps, which eventually led to the sun coming up on Tuesday morning and a non-functional environment that EduLoans depended on for business.

Bob strolled in an hour late, looking lobster-ish from too much sun on the golf course. "Gregg! Good morning. I forgot all about you being here this weekend. How'd it go?" Bob's tone suggested he expected everything went well and Gregg had worked a miracle. But the answer he got made him turn an even deeper shade of red. "We need to go explain this to the President, pronto!"

Gregg was prepared to fess up to what he did, but did not anticipate the proverbial bus Bob was about to toss him under. "He acted alone! I told him this was a bad idea that could damage our business! But did he listen? NO!" Bob blathered on as Gregg sat there stunned. "I even tried calling him several times to see if he had any other ideas! I will not be held responsible in any way for this disaster!"

If looks could kill, The Prez's icy stare would have struck Gregg down. Instead, he calmly spoke, "Gregg, I'm afraid your services are no longer needed here. Bob, please escort him out. After that, get on the phone to Loretta and tell her we will spare no expense to bring her back to get our network back to the way she had it!"

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