Tales from the Machine Room


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Spam? What is it?

Looooong time ago, when "computers" were stuff for sci-fi movies, there were "users" and "operators" or "administrators". No, "sysop" wasn't a thing yet and "developers" were sort of wizards that made stuff work but nobody really knew how.

Then, this thing called 'PC' showed up and suddendly everybody was an "administrator" or an "IT expert", and the result was that problems that could be solved in 10 minutes were dragged around for days.

Then Internet arrived and things went directly down hill. Fast.

That's why "outsourcing" is so "in". In the head of the managers outsourcing means "let's find somebody else that can take care of this stuff and when it doesn't work we can yell at him and we're done". And in fact this is what everybody try to do all the time. The problem is that they forget 2 little details: 1. "he" doesn't give a shit and 2. they still need to pay him.

Moreover, when the managers asks questions and get technical answers, they have to pretend they understand the answer, that usually isn't the case.

And after this short introduction, let's talk about $chemicalwe, a company that managed chemical products.

These peoples had started as a simple retailer, then they got bigger, after a while they bought up in full a producer of chemicals and began producing and distributing their own products.

Keep track of production with plants distributed all around (meaning: wherever the laws allow you to do porkies without too much care for the consequences) and sell products that are subjected to control and regulation in many countries (this stuff shouldn't dissolve its own container right? not this quickly anyway) require to handle a ton of paperworks and a lot of communication. So they had acquired a nice mail system based on a couple of Exchange servers, one located in Europe and the other one in the US, where the producing company had the main offices.

Then, for some reasons, they decided to get an hosting provider in the US for the main website.

That didn't really concerned us, since the only activity we managed for them was some sort of "mail-washing" for antispam, courtesy of one of those companies we bought up during the year. In short, they were sending and receiving mail through our antispam system via a couple of VPNs.

Everything fine, until a ticket with the inspiring subject of "EMERGENCY!!!!11!!" landed in out support queue.

Given the clear and descriptive title, I start reading. And after the usual whining, I find out that the "problem" is that, apparently, their mail is in some blacklist. Obviously, the dude that sent the ticket (let's call him 'UL'), despite the the job title as "IT Manager Desktop Service" and a list of certifications that would be impressive if they had any connection with the real world, has zero clue about how the mail works. Non just their specific mail system, the mail in general. Not even paper mail probably. And he demands "immediate solution for the problem" that according to him is causing "delay and problems in the production"... I briefly ask myself what can have the production to do with this, since the internal e-mail goes from one exchange server to another without poking his little head out ever so slightly.

Anyhow, I check this thing and it turns out that their domain is in a blacklist... that I never heard of before, since it's limited to e-mail in the finnish language.

Being Finland a country of about 5 million peoples, I assume the emails that are interested by this are about none, so even less likely to cause production problems.

But, keep checking, I discover something odd. The IP address in the blacklist isn't any of our system. A check tells me that the IP belongs to a US hosting. And a reverse-dns tells me that is a generic one too. Maybe it is spam.

So I answer the ticket reporting my findings and ask if they have any clue about that hosting.

As usual, no answer whatsoever for a few days, until a phone call breaks the office's peace. I answer and is UL, that ask for explanation, like he could understand them.

Me - Has explained in the ticket, the IP that the blacklist reports is of an US hosting, that it's not us for sure, so why is that IP reported as source of mail for your domain? Do you know anything about it?
UL - But you're the ones that manage or mail, you should know!
Me - No, we don't "manage your mail", we only provide an antispam service, you manage your own mail. And the only mail that goes out from our system has nothing to do with that hosting.
UL - (thinking so hard)... so...?
Me - SO, I'd start by asking who is that hosting and why is it sending mail with your domain.
UL - ...and whom should I ask?
Me - To however is managing the hosting for your company, that isn't us. Or directly to the hosting.
UL - But you're the ones managing the mail, you should ask...

After another round of whining and bitching (no, we DO NOT manage your mail and we have no authority to ask another hosting about their business), UL finally acknowledge that he has to ... ugh... DO WORK! And he disappear. And another few quiet days pass by before he's back for more.

UL - Ok, we had an interdipartimental meeting and blah blah blah yada yada yada, and I discovered that that hosting is, in fact, used by a website for some stuff by another department.
Me - Good. And why are they sending e-mails?
UL - ... I don't know that... is it important?
Me - Well, there are 2 options. 1. They send mail because they have to. In this case it would be better they could send the mail using the right systems or, if they are sending bulk e-mails, use a dedicated system like mailchimp.
UL - ...and the other option?
Me - The OTHER option is that they DO NOT NEED to send mail. And in this case the site could've been hacked and is actually sending spam for real, and that's just the nice case. But somebody has to check.
UL - And can you check?
Me - No. You're the one that has the contract with the hosting and you should know what that hosting does, what should do and what it SHOULDN'T do.
UL - But... how can I know?
Me - Aren't you a "manager"?
UL - Yes but...
Me - Then start managing. Call whoever is managing the hosting.
UL - No but... I'm "desktop" that stuff isn't my business, I should ask the dipartimental manager and then...
Me - Look, whatever. How your organization is set up is not my business. You have a problem and you're the only one that can manage it.
UL - ....hummm... but...
Me - What?
UL - ...what if we just ignore it?

Yes, because everything is URGENT as long as it's somebody else problem.

Davide
24/04/2020 10:09

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Comments are added when and more important if I have the time to review them and after removing Spam, Crap, Phishing and the like. So don't hold your breath. And if your comment doesn't appear, is probably becuase it wasn't worth it.

7 messages post new
Messer Franz By Messer Franz - posted 22/06/2020 16:41 - reply

> ed e' UL, che domanda spiegazioni. Come se fosse in grado di capirle.

questa è bellissima

> Ma voi ci gestite la posta, dovreste essere voi a domandare...

beh, se sapete che mandano posta (o perlomeno lo supponete) già questo vi rende complici...a casa per caso hai, in tutta la tua vita, installato un server di posta? Ed allora vedi che ti occupi di posta! Perchè non vuoi aiutarli?

> UL finalmente si convince che deve ... URGH... LAVORARE!

Peggio, prima dovrebbe capire qual'è il suo lavoro, che lo stipendio glielo danno perchè dovrebbe lavorare, che cosa dovrebbe fare e perchè sta al mondo...e questo è moooolto più difficile...

> ...non lo so perche' inviano mail... e' importante?

In una faccenda che si apre con un problema di mail? No, direi che non c'entra niente...perchè ti sei messo a parlargli di posta, che gli fai perdere tempo? Youporn non si guarda mica da solo!

 

Coraggio BigD, la pensione è sempre più vicina...

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Messer Franz


SixaM By SixaM - posted 23/06/2020 08:54 - reply

"cerchiamo qualcuno esterno che si occupi di questa cosa cosi' poi possiamo semplicemente strillare a lui di sistemare la cosa e noi ce ne laviamo le mani"... la migliore definizione di "outsourcing" che abbia mai letto, semplicemente GENIALE! Posso citarti?

SixaM

 

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SixaM


Davide Bianchi@ SixaM By Davide Bianchi - posted 23/06/2020 08:58 - reply

"cerchiamo qualcuno esterno che si occupi di questa cosa cosi' poi possiamo semplicemente strillare a lui di sistemare la cosa e noi ce ne laviamo le mani"... la migliore definizione di "outsourcing" che abbia mai letto, semplicemente GENIALE! Posso citarti?

Ha, cerchi di scaricare le responsabilita' eh? Sicuro, tanto peggio di cosi'...

 

 

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Davide Bianchi


Anonymous coward@ Davide Bianchi By Anonymous coward - posted 29/06/2020 09:47 - reply

 

"cerchiamo qualcuno esterno che si occupi di questa cosa cosi' poi possiamo semplicemente strillare a lui di sistemare la cosa e noi ce ne laviamo le mani"... la migliore definizione di "outsourcing" che abbia mai letto, semplicemente GENIALE! Posso citarti?

Ha, cerchi di scaricare le responsabilita' eh? Sicuro, tanto peggio di cosi'...

 

insomma, la definizione di outsourcing data in outsourcing

 

 

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Anonymous coward


Anonymous coward By Anonymous coward - posted 25/06/2020 12:10 - reply

"UL - ...ma se noi lo ignorassimo e basta?"

Dopo quello di scaricare la patata bollente a terzi, qeullo di ignorare il problema resta uno dei modi migliori per "gestirrlo", sennonché: prima o poi, il problema incancrenirà, un qualcuno (SUSL)  piu in alto di UL se ne accorgerà, si arrabbiera. andrà da BD a chidere spiegazioni, e BD non farà altro che girargli tutto il ticket dove UL dice "ignorare il problema" e quindi SUSL si inculerà UL trapassandogli calzoni e mutande. O UL è vicino alla pensione e quindi il bubbone esploderà dopo che se ne è andato, per cui il ragionamento fila, oppure non è troppo lungimirante....

PS: è tutto sempre superurgentissimo, tranne qunado chi apre il icket scopre che: A e' colpa sua,  oppure B) deve impegnarsi per risolverlo sotto forma di proprio budget/sforzo/lavoro.

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Anonymous coward


Anonymous coward By Anonymous coward - posted 26/06/2020 15:39 - reply

Ora che mi torna in mente, taaaanto teeeempo fa avevi accennato la storia di $sanguisughe dopo quella di $formaggini. La vedremo mai? :D

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Anonymous coward


gabriel By gabriel - posted 27/06/2020 13:41 - reply

o mamma, questi ul sono sempre più deficenti.

ma poi perchè 2 sistemi di posta localizzati in due stati diversi e a 6 mila km di distanza?

che poi immagino che non erano neanche in load balancer, quindi se un sistema non funzionava l'altro non poteva entrare in azione.

poi usare exponge non mi sembra una buona soluzione, exponge e posta senza una negazione in una frase non ha molto senzo.

 

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gabriel


7 messages post new

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