Over the years of working with computers, I've learned quite a few things about them. One of the more interesting things is that even though they are computers that supposedly work on logic, things get quirky. Quirky to the point where two computers with the same hardware and set up will behave differently. It makes no sense, but as an admin, I either accept it or risk A) sanity or B) literal physical implosion due to stress which is messy at best.
Once you learn to accept the quirks and learn all of the good stuff that comes with server administration though, you receive a gift. It's elusive and you must earn the favor of certain small and petty technology gods as well. It's admintuition.
It's part experience, but it's more. I have diagnosed problems in under 30 seconds that people have been working on for days. I'm not tooting my own horn here. It just happens often enough (with my co-administrator too, not just me) that there is no other explanation. Granted, that perk alone is nice enough but there's another that's way more important.
As an admin, I commonly deal with stuff the affects roughly 5000 people at a time. That means I can screw stuff up royally, with panache if need be. Fortunately, I have admintuition on my side. I'll be futzing (sorry for the technical term there) with the fabric that our servers run on and there's almost always a warning if I have something wrong in my syntax or configuration.
It starts out simple. I'll go to click 'ok' to finish a change or hit 'enter.' I pause for a second and wonder where that faint screaming is coming from. It's not too uncommon in IT and there are a lot of students...they're unpredictable.
Oh wait...the screaming...it's IN MY HEAD. It's the old, "something is about to be FUBAR'd" scream. I'll double check at that point and if something is still amiss, I move to the second failsafe.
Obi-Wan Kenobi's voice rings through my head. "Use the force, you dumb bastard." That's when I really start to take things seriously. The first warning; that could just be me being overly cautious. The second one is serious. I pore over the changes I was about to implement. I usually get it right by the second time. I finish the changes and tell Obi-Wan to send Princess Leah next time -- preferably in the slave costume.
There is a third stage where my head is taken over by sadistic gremlins armed with tiny brain saws and I have to walk away from the server for a while to clear them out. Caffeine is their nemesis. Remember that. It could save your life someday.
Every once in a while something gets borked so badly that we just scream past all the roadblocks with all the abandon of Amy Winehouse with a brick of crack. Like when my co-admin nearly formatted every last computer on campus a little while back. You read that right. Every. Last. Computer. Had that happened it would have been a month before I got to update my blog again...because I would have taken vacation somewhere where there are no lines of communication and I have that much at least that much vacation saved up. Pull a boner like that and you're on your own...I'll be in Belize.
Fortunately, that's rare and the last time I came close to something like that was years ago when I almost lost 4 years of email for 5000 users. I still maintain that was Microsoft's fault, but they won't fess up to anything.
I've got another juicy upgrade coming up soon here. Let's hope I've paid those dues to the small and petty tech gods.