Sunday, May 30, 2010

On-The-Job Training

My mantra these days, for as long as I have been employed as a 'Tech Guy,' is this: "I am a TECH GUY!" The response to that mantra is often this: "Other duties as assigned."


For much of the past year, I have been working with the architect, contractor, my Director and Assistant Director, the City Manager, AT&T, the Department of Information Systems, and anyone else that happened to be in the crossfire in regards to the new office building under construction.

One of my 'other duties' was to spec, order and generally figure out just how much, and what kind, of conduit we need in order for AT&T to provide connectivity to our new building. For the record, I installed the water pipe that runs from the well house to our home when we moved in. I helped repair the water pipe at Mom's place when her pipes burst this winter. That's the extent of my knowledge regarding conduit.

Turns out, we needed 3,000 feet of piping. We've got three 1,000-foot runs that go from the building to the highway where AT&T says we must stub out. I didn't know what that meant, but it means where our pipes must end. In addition, I had to find and order two "pullboxes." As it turns out, "pullboxes" is a term used by a handful of people in the world, and evidently not by those people who actually sell the things. Through trial and error (mostly the latter), I came to find that most folks call these "hand-pull boxes" or "transfer boxes." It also turns out that these are not always readily available. At one point, I was looking at having them shipped from South Carolina. The shipping charges precluded me from following up with that route.

In the process of getting the pipes ordered and delivered, the fire alarm/data guys called to let me know they would be punching down our connections and wanted me to come up with a naming scheme. Now, I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I figured a simple ROOM#:RUN# system would be easiest to follow. I also figured that since the call was made the week before last, I would enter the building and see all the wires joyfully punched down and labeled. Uh, no. The wires are coiled up above the ceiling grid. Lovely. And, even better, it's not my problem. I just told the lead contractor and he takes it from there.

The other thing I noticed was the absence of security camera wiring. The data guys were supposed to provide wiring so that I could "just come in and hook them up" (their words). I am hoping those wires show up about the time the punchdowns are completed.

I've heard many of my colleagues and peers complain that they aren't invited for input until after the project is already finished. I haven't decided yet if they are actually in a better position than walking through everything as it moves along. My hope is that when all is said and done, I can look on the project with pride, knowing that I had a hand in making sure the connectivity was taken care of. Either that or I'll be booted on my butt for screwing everything up. Either way, I hope I never have to do this again. :-)

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