Monday, August 29, 2005

How to Bypass Most Firewall Restrictions and Access the Internet Privately

This is a great walkthrough on how to turn your home PC into a proxy server and how to SSH to it from a remote site.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


So last Monday I got a call from an Apple recruiter. I was having lunch with Ashley so she set up a time to call me back on Tuesday. Tuesday came, she called, I liked what she was offering so she set up a technical phone interview with a supervisor later that day. Supervisor called, I answered his questions with ease, and the recruiter called back to schedule an interview at Apple on Friday.

Apple is in Elk Grove, kind of a far drive for me.

Friday comes, I put on my best clothes and drive on down. The application and interview process took about an hour, I think I did really well. The position they are offering is a tier 2 position, so right off the bat I'd be getting as much as I did at Sutter. Benefits would start day one of working there, and I'd get discounts on Apple products. They even have a 3 week training class to ensure we are ready to take calls.

I should hear back by Monday or Tuesday this coming week. This could be a great job.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


In this day and age, the common employee is disposable. Take contractors. Being a contract employee basically means you get paid less to do the same job as a full time employee, you get no benefits, and you have no job rights. At any time an employer may terminate a contract employee without having to give any reason at all. They are filler, to get the job done when faced with budget constraints and/or an imminent need for help. The last three jobs I worked at started off as contract work. Earthlink through TAC staffing, HP through Volt Services, and Sutter through TekSystems. Earthlink was nice, I worked 3 months as a contract employee (basically a trial period) and after that I was hired on full time. At HP I was brought in to serve a need; they were outsourcing their call center to India and Canada and needed someone to stay until the transition was complete. Part of the reason I was brought in at Sutter was to help with the additional call volume of aquiring California Pacific Medical Centers in the Bay area, some thousands of additional customers to support. I have felt the good and bad of being a contractor, and today I felt the teeth.

At about 5:10 PM I got a call from my contact at TekSystems, the outstanding man who got me my job and has been nothing but nice to me. He called to inform that my contract at Sutter had been terminated today.

Initial reaction was denial.

I had just heard a few weeks ago from another employer at TekSystems, who happens to the the Sutter liason (and who also is an incredibly nice lady) that my contract had been extended to the end of the year. I was just about to tell him he should talk to her about that when he kept on going, intent on giving me the whole story up front.

The bottom dropped out of my stomach and has since not returned.

Apparently I am not a team player. I am not courteous with customers on the phone. I have a bad habit of surfing the internet or reading between calls or while I am on the phone.

The only truth to any of this is my internet browsing. I do not believe it is/was a problem, but the fact of the matter is this: if it was a problem, my supervisor or manager should have approached me and informed me that what I was doing was a problem. I didn't see my performance suffering as a result, I made just as many if not more tickets than most of the people there. Plain and simple, from day one I have been kept out of the loop. No one saw fit to tell me anything that was going on in my job, even things that directly impacted me. Two weeks ago they moved my desk. I was told the day of, a few minutes before the time for me to move to shut down and move my computer. Last week they changed our extensions around. I was on the phone with a customer when the telco technician yanked my phone line. My phone was down for an hour and a half, and the ticketing system was down as well so I literally couldn't work for over an hour. Again, no prior notice. A month or so after I started working, one of the guys there was installing updates on my machine while I was on the phone with a customer, the computer rebooted, and I lost any work or notes I had created for that customer. I basically had to ask them to call back because my computer just restarted. Again, not a word of what was going on to me. Last week we started using a template to record all of our notes in the ticketing system. I was told the day of that I was doing things wrong and needed to use this new way of recording notes.

I took EVERYTHING in stride. Fine, I thought, They can't tell me everything that goes on in my job. I never was unprofessional in any way at any of these times, despite the fact that I was basically given the shaft. The only time I was ever approached about anything was when my manager told me I couldn't wear sandals to work. Guess what? I stopped wearing sandals. I have consistantly been above average when it comes to call volume. We get a weekly summary of the help desk average and our own personal average, and nearly every day I am well above average in terms of numbers. As far as quality goes, I solve a good number of tickets and I route most tickets to the proper place. Its quite hard to be 100% when it comes to ticket routing, even people who have been there for years still send the occasional ticket the wrong way. I have never, not once been approached about my decorum with customers or my "lack" of being a team player. I have never, not ever lost my cool or professionalism with a customer on the phone. Not once. Sure, after the call I may vent, but I don't carry on about it.

This has been a complete shock. I guarentee I was better than most of the other contractors there, I've seen the numbers, I've read the tickets that come back to us. I was nothing but helpful to my fellow teammates, and in turn was told I wasn't a team player. I am respectful and professional with every person that called in to me, every email I responded to, every voicemail I transcribed. I never, not once disobeyed any order my superiors gave to me, I never got into arguements with my coworkers, I never got pissed at a customer and let it show to them while I was talking to them. As far as I knew I was an above average employee, and yet they shut the door on my back without even trying to explain anything to me. They childishly, cowardly ended my employment after I had already gone home for the day, in the middle of the week no less.

I will not let this get to me.

I will be the better man, I will explain myself and my actions to TekSystems, and hopefully they will have me employed again soon.

Addendum: I am a little disappointed. For once, I was using my skills and knowledge towards something worthwhile, supporting hostpitals and the infrastrucute behind them. My efforts were actually going toward saving lives. Maybe not directly, but indirectly. My last jobs were hardly this noble, I wouldn't say helping people connect to the internet or helping a corporate executive sort his email were earth shatteringly helpful, in the grand scheme of things.