Today is the 10th annual system administrator day, where you give thanks for the service and assistance provided by your IT Engineer’s, head geeks and tech guru’s. Celebrated every year on the last Friday in July, it is a day where we accept gifts, praise, cards and food in return for a years hard work.
From the official sysadminday.com website, here is a description of what a sysadmin does…
What is a system administrator? Well, look at the title. Administrator of systems. A system administrator takes care of systems.
Now, most people read "system" to mean an individual computer, and think that all a sysadmin does is clean viruses off your computer and replace your monitor. That’s not wrong — but it is only one page of the whole story.
A real computing system is larger. Very few computers work just on their own anymore; when you use the web, play a game online, share files with a friend, or send email, you’re using a complex and intricate collection of computers, networks and software that come together to do the job you’re asking.
A sysadmin manages these systems — they figure out how to bring storage from one server, processing from another, backups from a third and networking from a fourth computer all together, working seamlessly. For you.
It’s not an easy task. Your sysadmins need to understand in depth computing protocols. They often have to know something about programming, something about hardware, a lot about software — and even more about the people using their system.
A sysadmin is a professional, with complex skills, ethical challenges, and a daunting job. Many, if not most, people find computers difficult to use, and sometimes they’re unreliable. Being a sysadmin doesn’t absolve someone of dealing with unreliable computers. Oh, one can dream of such a day, but the opposite is true; no one sees more dead computers in a day than a sysadmin. No one sees them doing truly baffling things, and no one has more stories of computers failing, acting possessed, or even catching on fire.
The challenge of a sysadmin is making a computing system — a whole network of resources and servers and software — work together, work right, work even when parts of it fail — and work for you.
That’s the most important job of the sysadmin: to work for you. To take the staggering array of technologies, acronyms, protocols, networks, vendors, budgets, limited time, competing products, and threats to the computing network, assemble them all together in a working system. Their job is not only to be the geek in the corner who types all day. What they’re doing is bringing these diverse pieces of technology into order, and fitting them together to fill your needs at work and home; to translate the world of computing into human terms.
This is a daunting task and we’re still at the cutting edge; we’re not perfect, and the field is still figuring itself out. Being a sysadmin takes a certain boldness, to be one of the first people to take on the challenge of turning difficult computers into easy to use systems. But hundreds of thousands of people are working in that field now, from the entry level help desk tech to the corporate CIOs and everyone in between.
So when you think of a sysadmin, think of the people who run the servers that help you clean it off, the people who run your backups to make sure your data is safe, the people who bring you the network, the people who monitor it for security — and yes, the person who cleans the virus off your computer and replaces your monitor.
And here is a list of ways to utilise your sys admin (in this instance called Ted) to obtain the best value…
- Make sure to save all your MP3 files on your network drive. No sense in wasting valuable space on your local drive! Plus, Ted loves browsing through 100+ GB of music files while he backs up the servers.
- Play with all the wires you can find. If you can’t find enough, open something up to expose them. After you have finished, and nothing works anymore, put it all back together and call Ted. Deny that you touched anything and that it was working perfectly only five minutes ago. Ted just loves a good mystery. For added effect you can keep looking over his shoulder and ask what each wire is for.
- Never write down error messages. Just click OK, or restart your computer. Ted likes to guess what the error message was.
- When talking about your computer, use terms like "Thingy" and "Big Connector."
- If you get an EXE file in an email attachment, open it immediately. Ted likes to make sure the anti-virus software is working properly.
- When Ted says he coming right over, log out and go for coffee. It’s no problem for him to remember your password.
- When you call Ted to have your computer moved, be sure to leave it buried under a year-old pile of postcards, baby pictures, stuffed animals, dried flowers, unpaid bills, bowling trophies and Popsicle sticks. Ted doesn’t have a life, and he finds it deeply moving to catch a glimpse of yours.
- When Ted sends you an email marked as "Highly Important" or "Action Required", delete it at once. He’s probably just testing some new-fangled email software.
- When Ted’s eating lunch at his desk or in the lunchroom, walk right in, grab a few of his fries, then spill your guts and expect him to respond immediately. Ted lives to serve, and he’s always ready to think about fixing computers, especially yours.
- When Ted’s at the water cooler or outside taking a breath of fresh air, find him and ask him a computer question. The only reason he takes breaks at all is to ferret out all those employees who don’t have email or a telephone.
- Send urgent email ALL IN UPPERCASE. The mail server picks it up and flags it as a rush delivery.
- When the photocopier doesn’t work, call Ted. There’s electronics in it, so it should be right up his alley.
- When you’re getting a NO DIAL TONE message at your home computer, call Ted. He enjoys fixing telephone problems from remote locations. Especially on weekends.
- When something goes wrong with your home PC, dump it on Ted’s chair the next morning with no name, no phone number, and no description of the problem. Ted just loves a good mystery.
- When you have Ted on the phone walking you through changing a setting on your PC, read the newspaper. Ted doesn’t actually mean for you to DO anything. He just loves to hear himself talk.
- When your company offers training on an upcoming OS upgrade, don’t bother to sign up. Ted will be there to hold your hand when the time comes.
- When the printer won’t print, re-send the job 20 times in rapid succession. That should do the trick.
- When the printer still won’t print after 20 tries, send the job to all the printers in the office. One of them is bound to work.
- Don’t use online help. Online help is for wimps.
- Don’t read the operator’s manual. Manuals are for wussies.
- If you’re taking night classes in computer science, feel free to demonstrate your fledgling expertise by updating the network drivers for you and all your co-workers. Ted will be grateful for the overtime when he has to stay until 2:30am fixing all of them.
- When Ted’s fixing your computer at a quarter past one, eat your Whopper with cheese in his face. He functions better when he’s slightly dizzy from hunger.
- When Ted asks you whether you’ve installed any new software on your computer, LIE. It’s no one else’s business what you’ve got on your computer.
- If the mouse cable keeps knocking down the framed picture of your dog, lift the monitor and stuff the cable under it. Those skinny Mouse cables were designed to have 55 lbs. of computer monitor crushing them.
- If the space bar on your keyboard doesn’t work, blame Ted for not upgrading it sooner. Hell, it’s not your fault there’s a half pound of pizza crust crumbs, nail clippings, and big sticky drops of Mountain Dew under the keys.
- When you get the message saying "Are you sure?", click the "Yes" button as fast as you can. Hell, if you weren’t sure, you wouldn’t be doing it, would you?
- Feel perfectly free to say things like "I don’t know nothing about that boneheaded computer crap." It never bothers Ted to hear his area of professional expertise referred to as boneheaded crap.
- Don’t even think of breaking large print jobs down into smaller chunks. God forbid somebody else should sneak a one-page job in between your 500-page Word document.
- When you send that 500-page document to the printer, don’t bother to check if the printer has enough paper. That’s Ted’s job.
- When Ted calls you 30 minutes later and tells you that the printer printed 24 pages of your 500-page document before it ran out of paper, and there are now nine other jobs in the queue behind yours, ask him why he didn’t bother to add more paper.
- When you receive a 130 MB movie file, send it to everyone as a high-priority mail attachment. Ted’s provided plenty of disk space and processor capacity on the new mail server for just those kinds of important things.
- When you bump into Ted in the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon, ask him computer questions. He works 24/7, and is always thinking about computers, even when he’s at super-market buying toilet paper and doggie treats.
- If your son is a student in computer science, have him come in on the weekends and do his projects on your office computer. Ted will be there for you when your son’s illegal copy of Visual Basic 6.0 makes the Access database keel over and die.
- When you bring Ted your own "no-name" brand PC to repair for free at the office, tell him how urgently he needs to fix it so you can get back to playing EverQuest. He’ll get on it right away, because everyone knows he doesn’t do anything all day except surf the Internet.
- Don’t ever thank Ted. He loves fixing everything AND getting paid for it!
So, give thanks for all that IT has bestowed on you, and feel free to pass unto your engineer one of these many gift ideas…