Life hacks have been an online sensation for years. From separating a yolk from egg whites with a plastic bottle to creating a simple iPhone speaker with just some tacks and an empty toilet paper roll, life hacks have become a way of life for many of us. It seems that every week we hear of a new life hack that gets us saying to ourselves, "Why didn't I think of that!?"
As IT professionals, we understand the stress that come with the job. You need a tough skin and the ability to keep your cool under the most dire of situations. When the network goes down and every executive is breathing down your neck, the last thing you want to do is break down into a panic attack. That being said, the life of an IT professional is not easy and we are always trying to find ways to simplify our overly complicated work lives.
We've collected a list of some the most notable life hacks for IT that any IT professional can use to, at the very least, alleviate some of the stress that we encounter on a day-to-day basis.
1. The Batch File
You can use batch files for almost everything. You can use it to close pesky services that you're not using with a click of the mouse. You can even use it to benchmark computer performance when deciding on new hardware for your users. The possibilities are limitless. The best part of these awesome little files is that all you need is Notepad and a little scripting know-how. What's even better is that your less technical colleagues will think you're taking over the world with code.
You can find plenty of examples of useful batch files just by Googling. However, run batch files at your won risk. There are plenty of trolls who will tell you that a script does one thing, but ends up wrecking havoc on your computer, maybe even permanently deleting all your files.
Of course, the beauty of scripts goes beyond the basic batch file, but if you aren't using scripts to automate tedious tasks then you are simply doing it wrong.
Here's an example of a random password generator found from instructables.com along with a few others.
2. Remote Desktop
When I started my first IT job, I thought I knew everything I needed to be a good help desk associate. Technically I did actually know all that I needed for the most part, but that didn't mean I knew how to do it efficiently. Efficiency is key to any good IT process, or else you could be needlessly wasting hours of your life on mundane tasks. Luckily, I didn't have to take that journey on my own.
Of course, I knew what remote desktop was, but in college I never had to use it, so I just didn't think of it as an avenue to make my life easier. Instead of going to your users' desks every time there is an issue, many of the times you can fix the problem simply by logging into their computers remotely.
3. Automated Email Messages
If there is one thing that will make your job easier, it's making your users more self-sufficient. Too many times are we being bogged down by the same issues over and over again, many of which can be fixed by a implementing a simple procedure. As an IT professional, it is not only important to maintain and secure the infrastructure, but also educate your users so that they might stop calling your phone 24/7.
Automated email messages are one of the fastest and easiest ways to inform your users of a procedure without having to write out the same email message over and over again. In many cases this is also a feature in popular ticketing systems. One of the most useful things I did as an IT pro was creating these automated messages. I would receive a ticket for an issue I've seen a thousand times, and with a click of a button communicate how to alleviate a particular issue. The one I used the most is, "We've made changes to your computer, please restart your machine."
4. Linux On A Thumb Drive
The majority of businesses use Windows, which is kind of scary considering the number of cyber threats there are for Windows PCs. But it's the industry standard, so in most cases we have to adapt and deal.
So, your user downloaded and installed a virus, hopefully by accident, and now you are stuck trying to find the root cause of the issue. Viruses have gotten a lot more sophisticated in this day and age, and simply deleting it is a no go. Instead of reformatting the machine, a cool trick if you seem to be out of options is to load Linux from a thumb drive onto that machine. Since you can run Linux off the thumb drive and most viruses don't affect Linux, you can track the issue better and remove it manually or do a deeper virus scan. There are also a bunch of other benefits of running Linux from your thumb drive. Some as scary as being able to change your Windows password from within Linux.
This PCWorld article goes into even more detail on what you can do with Ubuntu on a thumb drive.
Or if someone gives you a hard time about fixing their machine you can always pull the old, "Sorry, I use Linux."
5. Watch Star Wars IV: A New Hope in All Its Glory from a CMD Prompt
Ok! Ok! I wasn't the first one to discover this one and I'm sure many of you have found this, but I had to add it since the The Force Awakens comes out in a couple months. It's a cool little easter egg of a program that you can run by enabling Telnet Client from your Programs and Features section of Window's Control Panel. Once you enable that feature of Windows you just type telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl into a CMD prompt to watch it. It's quite the work of art.