+1 (248) 330-4446

Conversation w/ friend re: Groupwise

Excerpts from an IRC chat

A conversation I had with a friend of mine, "sanitized" to protect the gainfully employed. Note: drone[1-3] is not an insult; it's a reference to the movie "Silent Running." Had to call them something. ;-) I have met them; they're all very intelligent and hard-working people… and nice people, too. That makes this story all the more sad.

This is a log from an IRC chat. As I've mentioned elsewhere, chatting on IRC is inefficient. We both know this; however, it did serve to illustrate one of my main points in a most dramatic fashion, and allowed me to capture the logs, from which comes this "transcript." Also, it's been "de-IRCed;" proper punctuation, capitalization, etc. have been added, along with some editing for readability.

Hopefully, his employers don't see this, figure out who it was, and fire him for it. But we usually don't go on this long; he was critiquing this paper for me, and I was picking his brain for details. Perhaps I should send his employer a check for consulting services.

Friend (after reading my original paper):

I just don't want you to 'irk' a potential client if they read your paper and think "Huh? we use that, and it works, why the heck would he be opposed to it?"

I think you're probably right, if you're considering smaller organizations — like 20-100. And it also depends upon the mix of technical and political involvements, and the tendency of emergent items to arise.

For instance: you met drone1 and drone2, our Novell administrators. If I were to call them now and ask them to meet with me regarding their radius server NLM and getting it to communicate with my squid boxes, they'd laugh at me.

If they weren't swamped, odds are drone1 is in one meeting and drone2 is in another, or planning upgrades, or building a test server, or something. And that is just 2 people. drone3 and I share an office. He's so busy, we haven't planned server room space or switch connections for our incoming firewall boxes on the <day> and <next day> This should have been done yesterday.

We were both here. Every time I asked, other things came up, people needed things done, and we had meetings to go to. But, if I do what I'm about to do, and schedule a meeting from 11:30 to 1:30 here in the office (sounds ridiculous, I know) we can actually get something done, because nobody else can 'grab' that time — it's reserved through groupwise.

Like I said, a mix of technical stuff and policital BS — or it might be just <workplace>.

I should show you my manager's 'day' or 'week' schedule in Groupwise. Whenever I meet with him and he leaves it open, I'm amazed. You get a 'notes' section, 'tasks' section, and an hourly 'list' of the day. Shaded boxes with names, locations, and times indicate meetings.

I normally have 2–3 per day. My manager is so needed that often he has more than 25 per day, all an hour or more in length. Which is well over 8 hours, as I'm sure you'll notice.

And when you 'accept' an appointment when the time is already allocated, you get a warning message. When someone 'sends' an appointment (request) they usually do a 'busy search' to find a free time for all parties.

I guarantee if i sent an appointment to my manager, drone3, drone2, drone1, x, and y, that I'd not find time between now and next wednesday, and that would be lucky.

In a sense, you can 'see' normal (not hidden) appointments others make. Not specifics of course, just that their time is "busy" in blocks of time.


Does anyone else see a problem here, or is it just me?


What do you see?


I may be full of it. there may well be no better way to solve your problem than the way you are… but from your (most invaluable, I might add) discussion of the problem, it sounds like you have a lot of people so busy they can't see straight, and with so many irons in the fire, none of the irons have a chance to get hot, so to speak.


Bing! Yep. And management knows it. But this won't change for some time. We need to file change control, request meetings, get backups, and bunches of shit before we get more employees, then train them.


So, in other words, you need to get your act together before you can hire more people to get your act together.


It's obvious we need people. They ask us to prove it, but we have no time to prove it, so nothing changes. We just keep getting farther behind, and more people want more toys. We try and concentrate on necessity first, and get in trouble for not 'evolving' with technology, then get in trouble for taking a while to implement it, then get in trouble for causing problems doing a hurried job.

But there are days (like today) when there isnt a lot going on and I can catch up on documentation and fix my laptop, and reply to incoming email, and talk to z about disconnecting extra <equipment>.


How much time a day do you think you, your peers (drone3, drone2, et. al.) and your manager spend in Groupwise?


drone3 spends more than 7 hrs a day minimally in Groupwise. Me, maybe 3. My manager, around 6. It is often when drone3 is here for overtime and has done nothing but answer mail in groupwise all day, and it is a lot of work. project requests, user questions, replies, documentation requests, <ISP> nonsense.


OK… not just scheduling, but also E-mail. phew!


Right. Scheduling doesn't take all that long. I think if scheduling were not integrated with mail, it would be one more reason not to use it. Appointments arrive with email, but the email aspect of groupwise is crap. It's a poor email client, and that is being kind. Scheduling is not too bad. At least it is not <other vendor>.

Later, friend sent me a screen shot of his Groupwise window as an example.


The Gantt time chart is sick, friend. Are your reminder notes about people being out at certain times part of scheduling, or do you enter those manually? That actually appears somewhat useful.


It can go both ways. Notes are required [by workplace policy] for time off or on-call. Scheduling blocks of time for those is optional. I do, because I understand the options on scheduling… you can make your time appear as "busy," "free," or (and I forget the other levels offhand), somewhat contingent on the requesting party and other variables. Not everyone else does. Not everyone else can properly set up a vacation auto-reply. We have <close to 2000> Groupwise users.