04 December 2008

Admintuition

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.

 

 

55 comments:

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

BACK ON TOP BABY!

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

You're a computer admin god. You go on with your bad self!

And I have one of those Princess Lea costumes, just so you know. I could lend it to your wife.

Just a thought...;)

Kirten said...

I'd like to say something completely witty and cute but alas I'm not a very techy. :o(

Umm since you deleted one comment does that make me Third!!! Woo Hoo I'm gettin' better at this.

Diane said...

I'm just really glad to know that the freaky things computers do are just freaky things computers do and not (always) user (Diane) error.

Great imagery (sp?)... it looks wrong, but you know what I mean... the Amy Winehouse crack (about crack), made me laugh.

Jane! said...

I just discovered moments ago that my cordless keyboard has batteries... that need to be replaced! So I guess you could tell me about anything and I would worship your geekiness.
Wait... gremlins are a BAD thing?

Cameron said...

YOU must have seen the youtube video sales guy versus web dude. If not, you MUST look it up...friggin hilarious.

Cape Cod Gal said...

I'm not a techie, but that's one of my adopted titles around here. Thankfully, my guys are so clueless sometimes that I seem like a goddess when I show them how to do something trivial. For example, I just showed someone how to delete an icon off their desktop. DUH! Kindergarden stuff for me, impossible for him. I am amazing again. But, ask me to work with our server and I suddenly have a brain cramp!

Cape Cod Gal said...

I'm not a techie, but that's one of my adopted titles around here. Thankfully, my guys are so clueless sometimes that I seem like a goddess when I show them how to do something trivial. For example, I just showed someone how to delete an icon off their desktop. DUH! Kindergarden stuff for me, impossible for him. I am amazing again. But, ask me to work with our server and I suddenly have a brain cramp!

Sprite's Keeper said...

I have got to show John this post. This is right up his Geek alley! And the fact that I understood almost all you wrote is proof that I HAVE BEEN listening to him all this time!

Anndi said...

Borked?

Debbie said...

I'm intimidated just thinking you know how to fix all those problems. But, I do know how to create a lot of problems. So, I'm good.

Mrs.D said...

Well, I don't really follow computer stuff very well, so you are like a genius in my book. I can barely work the internet.

Here's a question for you, guru: When my screen becomes frosted over and nothing will function (can't close that window, can't bo "back", can't move to a new site) what is that all about??

Cat said...

You make it sound so exciting, like you're some kind of intergalactic planetary (wait, channeling Beastie Boys...) space cowboy, and the entire tiny galaxy of Schoooool depends on you to protect it from the Evil Wrong Syntax Overlords. Or exciting like porn.

Mel said...

Going to be fine you are.
Strong are you with the force.

creative kerfuffle said...

cool post but all i understood was blah blah blah computer blah blah fubar blah blah crack : ) it is good to know, like diane said, that it's not always the users fault.

Heinous said...

Petra: I'll ask her and let you know ;)

Kirten: I never delete comments. You're more like second. Petra took two slots...

Diane: Well, there is still a lot of PEBKAC that goes on but I'm sure that's not you...and yes, I'll make you look that up.

Jane!: Just the ones with the brain saws.

Cameron: That is a good one. It's an IT staple.

CCG: Well, as long as it's an icon issue on the server.

Jen: I thought the not paying attention usually went the other way.

Anndi: borked...urban dictionary definition 1 ;)

Debbie: See, we're even then.

Mrs.D: Alt + F4 gets you out of that sometimes. When in doubt, kill it.

Cat: If only it were.

CJ: I threw the crack in there just for you.

Comedy Goddess said...

I didn't understand one word. But I laughed anyway. Except I felt the fear of losing years of emails from 5000 users. Put the English on it to save it right?

Robin said...

Seamless useage of an Amy Winehouse analogy in a post about computer admin? Frickin' awesome.

Robin said...

Seamless useage of an Amy Winehouse analogy in a post about computer admin? Frickin' awesome.

Sarah's Blogtastic Adventures said...

I didn't understand anything you just wrote at all. I ususally just switch the computer off then turn it on again when I have a problem...works everytime ; )

Vodka Mom said...

If you're such a God, why can't you figure out how to link to another page? jesus, I may need to find another God....

Prefers Her Fantasy Life said...

All I know is that I'll be happy when we're all one big, happy Mac family. ;)

The Stiletto Mom said...

Seeing as you are so smart and all...can you get down to Texas and fix my computer and show me how to work my blog? Because I is sooper stewpit about the things you speak of.

beth said...

When you're done in Texas, hop the bus over to Arizona, as I'm being told I have cookies in my computer that are screwing things up. Hurry, because I'm hungry and could use those cookikes for my mid-afternoon snack.

Anndi said...

And here I was thinking it was all IT techie speak...

Captain Dumbass said...

How are you with Mac's? Ones that have been thrown outside to lay in the mud for a few hours?

Maternal Mirth said...

"FUBAR" ... haven't heard that one in a while. Truly and oldie but a goodie :)

Lorraine said...

My friend (a secretary) worked for the tech department in our district for a while. She was filing their reports one day and asked one of the guys who was this ID 10T who kept having all the problems.

Diane said...

You're a funny man. Very funny. I just fell off my chair laughing...so now there's nothing between my keyboard and my chair... so there. Pffft.

justsomethoughts... said...

i'm the guy that JUST figured out how to post with a link. geez....

but you can F*** up 5000 people's lives at a time. and with the touch of a button. i'd need a weapon of mass destruction to do that.

Last Place Finisher said...

My computer is plotting against me.

McMommy said...

I just had to forward this post onto McDaddy. He's going to LOVE IT!

steenky bee said...

Sorry, I came over because I heard a lot of tooting over here. Then I realized it was you and your own horn.

Also, I saw Return of the Jedi this weekend. I don't get the big deal about Lea in gold bikini. She just didn't do anything for me. Now, give me an Ewok and we're in business.

Braja said...

Actually you had me at the tag: "don't move or bad things will happen." That kinda sums up IT for me...

JaneyRuth said...

Cat is right. You are an intergalactic planetary space cowboy.
Ride on!

http://tinyurl.com/gf-s-first-day

Bee said...

I have no techsaviness in me. None. I futz here and there and just so happen to get what I want but I never remember how I did it. I'm having issues with my Live writer right now and I've decided to give it a vacation and maybe it'll be back to normal on Monday.

Good luck!

Lola said...

Computers are annoying!

Wayne John said...

Ha, and I want to start playing with our company's AD installation. I know what you mean with admintuition. As a programmer, I can relate to some degree since the apps I write have to run on your network.

When I started, I brought down a company's email server. Damn 5 mb (very large back then for email servers, just large now...)...5mb files were sent to one user, then they forwarded them to others, so on and so on, and so on. Ultimately, the corporate email said screw you, got up and walked out.

Big lesson that day...funny thing was, I was under the accounting department at the time, not IT. If I had been in IT, someone (hopefully) would have seen that flaw coming...

good times....good times.

Tony said...

my kompter is trieeing to mak me lok dum


I'm really bad with computers myself - I had trouble typing my password today, but I think it was just the keyboard...yeah that's it, it was the keyboards fault

Mrs.D said...

Thanks! I will try that next time.

Mama Dawg said...

Does this admintuition manifest itself into a tiny little man with a headphone screaming at you inside your head?

No? Only me?

Heinous said...

CG: It wasn't easy, but I got it back.

Robin: Winehouse goes with everything ;)

Sarah: Strangely, that's the first thing we tell everyone to do.

Debbie: thpppt! I already did.

Meg: it's a good OS (finally) but really quirky.

Mary Anne: Did you get that email?

beth: This is turning into quite the road trip.

Anndi: See, we can be hip too ;)

Cap'n: Wash it off and it should be fine. Oh, you're not talking apples off a tree, are you?

M&M: The classics always work.

Lorraine: LOL...we use that for our error codes here.

Diane: I would never suggest that in your case though.

jst: Yes, it's so fun when you can do it by accident.

lpf: we code them that way for fun ;) Thank you for stopping by.

McMommy: I hope he liked it.

Jen: lol...sorry, that's louder than I think sometimes.

Braja: Unfortunately, it generally means nothing will happen.

JaneyRuth: I've got the hat for it. Thank you for coming by.

Bee: I love Livewriter. I hope it works again for you.

Lola: They are, but it's so hard to blog without them.

Wayne: This is why we absorb anyone who touches code. We're sneaky.

Tony: I have trouble with our admin password, but that's only because it's over 20 characters long for security sake.

Mrs.D: Let me know if it works.

MD: Oh, he does that all right. You must be one of us.

Sass said...

Hey you.

Check me out today. ;)

Miss Grace said...

Computer Admin's always ruining my life. AND assuming that I don't know what I'm talking about when really, actually I do.

Like when they explain how to turn on the computer....

Anyhow, I somehow deleted you from my reader, but you're back, so I shall read forth. :)

Heinous said...

Sass: Thanks you're too kind :)

Miss Grace: I learned to wait until people give warning signs before I assume. Like when they have trouble grasping the definition of 'icon' of 'desktop.' Nice to be back :)

JaxPop said...

I am a computer moron - which is proving to be a huge obstacle for my book marketing effort. It's turning out to be my biggest nightmare. Writing & editing was a breeze compared to this. I'm almost ready to throw in the towel. Sorry to sound glum - I usually like to be upbeat but it's been pretty bad.

blissfully caffeinated said...

What is it with men and the Princess Leia slave fantasy? Every man I know fantasizes about Princess Leia when she's all tied up as Jabba's prisoner.

IB said...

I stopped by because I had read so many complimentary things about your blog on others' blogs. I am impressed. You have a nice easy-to-read style (good for me, because I'm not the sharpest tool) and you are funny. Thanks!

IB

http://idiotsstew.blogspot.com

Blarney said...

So like when I call IT because the the VPN refuses to work I'm supposed to think IT is actually not to blame ... it's the computer going all Terminator on them ...
Come on! You just blew my whole reason for bloggin while waiting for IT to get back to me ... kill joy. ;)

Heinous said...

Jaxpop: If you need help, let me know.

Jen: Dunno. It's one of those universals that can't be explained.

IB: Thank you and thank you for coming by. Coming over to your blog...

Blarney: Oh you know it, but you can still blog about it.

Casey said...

Your job sounds a lot like the one I left when I had Elliot. It's nice being a know it all, isn't it? It's also terrible being the only one who can fix everything. Wow, your dude almost formatted 5000 computers? That's scary. You guys use Altiris? If so, I can see how he could do it...
Happy Friday...

April said...

we could've used someone like you at my last job. largest insurance defense firm in florida. ten offices throughout the state and one in nyc. one underpaid, underschooled, twenty-something tech dude. with very very very outdated equipment. it was baaaad.

Dory said...

You crack me UP!

Dory

Heinous said...

Casey: Nope, we're so good we can screw everything up with native windows tools.

April: That sounds like way more pressure than I get at the university...

Dory: Thanks!