Just think of it as good exercise

At this big apparel company, certain nightly jobs upload production data from each factory to headquarters, says a pilot fish who monitors the process.

"These jobs are automated and usually run pretty smoothly," says fish. "But one morning before work, I get a page from the company's computer room saying that multiple upload jobs are failing.

"I hurry in to find that not multiple jobs, but all upload jobs, are failing."

Fish logs into a remote server, checks the error log and sees that the account to which the uploads are being sent has an expired password. What the heck? That account has had the same password for years, and it's supposed to be nonexpiring.

Turns out the company's security group set up the account wrong during a hardware upgrade three months earlier. Ninety days later, the password has expired.

Fish calls the help desk, where a tech says he can reset the password and log a trouble ticket, but he can't set the account to be nonexpiring like it's supposed to be, and he can't reuse the old password. He says fish will have to call security to get that done.

"With the password reset, I resubmit the jobs and call someone in security to get the account set up like it's supposed to be, with the old password, and to make it nonexpiring," fish says.

"The guy in security tells me that they don't have the ability to do that and I'll have to call someone in our Unix support group."

Fish calls someone in the Unix group, and she tells fish that security gets mad when the Unix group messes with accounts, so they don't do it anymore. But she decides to try to help anyway.

Unfortunately, nothing she tries will work -- security has things set up so that her changes are ineffective. She tells fish he'll have to call someone in security to get the account changed.

Fish calls the security guy again and explains what the woman from the Unix group said. Security guy again tells fish that security can't fix it and fish should call a different person from the Unix group.

"At this point, I decide that it will be easier to tell the two other guys in my group that the password has changed than it would be to keep jumping through these hoops," says fish. "We can just maintain the password from now on.

"Toward the end of the day, I get an e-mail from someone in security. My trouble ticket from earlier has been closed, the account has been made nonexpiring, and the password has been changed to what it originally was.

"Good thing those hoops weren't on fire."

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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