much of Penn State, the ITS Help Desks are busiest during the first few
weeks of fall semester. Returning students, especially users new to the
Penn State system, flood the Help Desk phones with calls on subjects ranging
from software set-up to Internet usage.
When the Computer Building consultants can’t answer a question, the second level of consulting support is John Carnicella, manager of the Computer Building Help Desk. John enjoys both technology problem-solving and working with people. He says that the combination of the two is one of his favorite aspects of his job: “Whenever I can help someone with something - can help them get something they wanted, or make their jobs easier by helping them use the computer, that is the most rewarding,” he says.
Some of the ways that John and the Help Desk consultants regularly assist users:
• Troubleshooting Internet connections
• Fixing email problems, including configuration errors
• General help with email client use, especially Eudora and Webmail
• Aiding with the transition from using FTP to using SSH
• Accessing PASS space
• Virus detection and prevention with Norton Antivirus and Live Update
• Software installation and usage
• Support for Corporate Time
• Support for ANGEL
• Software lending (SAS and OSX)
• Distribution of PAC-ITS CDs (free Internet software)
The Computer Building Help Desk is available for walk-in (at 215 Computer Building), phone (863-2494), and e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) consulting Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm.
John says that the only downside to managing the Help Desk is when he or the consultants can’t solve people’s computing problems. “It’s hard when we see problems that there just doesn’t seem to be a solution for–often something is wrong with the computer or we can’t help them over the phone,” he says, “but we do our best to direct users to other resources who can help them.”
Penn State computing questions aren’t the only kind of questions that the ITS Help Desk receives. Some people think the Help Desk line is a general Penn State help line. The Help Desk line has received requests for football tickets, parents looking for children attending the University, and on one memorable occasion, an order for Beanie Babies, complete with credit card number and expiration date. John instructs consultants to help these callers as best they can by directing them to the appropriate information sources.
There is also another category of callers to the Help Desk line with whom John interacts. These callers aren’t satisfied with the answers provided them by the consultants and are looking to John to offer a different or a better solution to their computing problem. John’s authority as the manager at the Help Desk and his interpersonal skills help resolve situations with unhappy clients.
John’s job with Consulting and Support Services includes more than answering tough questions. As manager at the Computer Building Help Desk, he hires and orients the consultants.
Another side of his job is working on the PAC-ITS CD, Penn State’s collection of free Internet software that is distributed annually for faculty, staff, and students. The PAC-ITS CD includes both Mac and PC applications, and John handles much of the Windows side of the CD. He writes the Windows PAC-ITS Web pages, creates installers for the software, and tests the CD. He is also the manager of the committee that decides which software will be included on the CD each year.
Working with the Help Desk and on the PAC-ITS CD is fun, John says, because he both interacts with people and stays current on new technology. Technology has always been a primary interest of John’s.
Since the fifth grade, John knew that he wanted to work with computers. “I was visiting at a cousin’s house for a wedding, and his dad worked for AT&T and had a terminal in the house - that was completely unheard of back then,” John recalls. “We stayed up forever playing around with that computer, it was a paper terminal, the kind that didn’t have a screen.”
After that first experience, John was hooked. He aimed his education at working with computers, starting in high school and culminating in his Computer Science B.S. from Penn State in 1990. He started working at Penn State originally as a mainframe programmer and eventually switched to his current job in order to have more contact with people, a switch he is glad he made. “I never get bored with my job,” he says, “if I get bored, it’s my own fault. I’m always going after what I see out there, learning more about technology, working with new people.”