Impromptu Technical Support

Today, Liz and I were out and about early, running errands downtown. One of the midway stops was at her office at DePaul, where Liz was going to pop in to check on a computer that a coworker was having trouble remoting in to.

The theory: it would be a quick computer restart, and maybe a few drivers/updates needed to get installed. And I’d wait in the car, while she stopped inside for about 20 minutes.

In practice? We both ended up inside, for about 2 hours in total.

After about 30 minutes waiting in the car, Liz texts me and says she’s stuck. She’s tried all she can, and didn’t know what else to attempt.

I end up parking the car, walking in, and doing what tech support I can on a computer setup completely unknown to me.

On walking in, it’s weird and eerie. For a few reasons.

First, it’s not my office. Second, it’s an empty office on a weekend, with no one around. Third, I’ve been housebound for damn near 2 years now as a result of Covid, so the idea of any kind of actual office is, by definition, totally weird.

Stopped off in the bathroom, before getting to work. Also weird, because the lights were low and the whole room was dark (much darker than this photo shows). Like, horror movie, the world is overrun with zombies kind of dark. Unsettling.

Everywhere we went, liminal spaces that were just a little creepy.

In the makeshift sever room, which was more or less a back storage area. There were three PCs stacked on top of one another, all connected to a single monitor. There were also three separate keyboards hooked into the machines, and a single mouse. Who doesn’t love a puzzle?

Liz was able to see one of the machines, but had trouble viewing the others. After some fancy wire work, we were able to view the other two machines.

Turns out, one of the machines was locked due to a recent IT policy. And more or less said that it would be inaccessible without contacting DePaul IT. So we hit a dead end.

The next thing we thought to do: grab a spare laptop, connect it to the DePaul network, and have it set up as a remote machine that Liz’s coworker could connect to from her home machine.

We found a laptop, but it was a newer/thinner one, with no Ethernet jack. So then it became a scramble to look around and find an adapter… somewhere.

I went back to the server/storage room, and rummaged around a bit. I found a lot of old stuff, but no adapters. But! I did come across this gem of a drawer – tons of old disks!

Floppy disks! CD’s! Zip disks! Jaz disks! I had totally forgotten about these guys!

Oh, what a time capsule to have encountered.

Also found: some odd office supplies.

I continued to troubleshoot.

Alternate caption: I put on my robe and wizard hat…

Eventually, we found an Ethernet to USB adapter, and were able to set up the laptop. Liz was successfully able to remote in to the machine, and it seemed like a good enough half measure to allow her coworker to continue working next week. Not a true replacement, but enough access to DePaul’s network that it seemed like a decent stopgap.

Walking back through the office (returning things, shutting off lights), we stopped at a conference room to take in the view. The office here really has an amazing view of downtown, and Liz was pointing towards the lake.

I got somewhat close to the window, but had to stop about 10 feet shy because my legs were getting shaky. Doesn’t matter if it’s a skyscraper or the Grand Canyon, I’m afraid of heights all over.

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