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The Oft Frustrating Job of a Sysadmin 588

I_Love_Pocky! writes "Sysadmin Co. is a hilarious site built by some sysadmins at an ISP to help them vent their frustrations with dealing with non-tech types. This site is gives a hilarious picture of the daily frustrations of dealing with the inept. I am interested to see if these stories strike a chord with other admins out there."
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The Oft Frustrating Job of a Sysadmin

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  • by Tangential ( 266113 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:33PM (#8481726) Homepage
    I'll never forget, he said "There was no way to know that the backups were failing without looking at the log file." This statement was made 17 months after the backups stopped working....
    • by sharkey ( 16670 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:47PM (#8481833)
      "There was no way to know that the backups were failing without looking at the log file."

      From my efforts to get FreeS/WAN talking to a Cicso VPN concentrator:

      Tech at other end: "Well, I'd have to copy and paste that section of log to send it to you."
      --Trying to explain why it was so hard to send me the bit of his log that would tell me what was fucked up on his end.--

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:48PM (#8481834)
      That reminds me of this comment [] from earlier today, which gives the top 10 reasons for committing seppuku (a Japanese form of ritual suicide by disembowelment)

      Here are the top 10 reasons:

      10) You've just been ordered to migrate from sendmail to Exchange server.

      9) Your boss, let's just call him Bill, insists upon being given root priviledges, in spite of the fact that he constantly breaks things even with mere user priviledges.

      8) Your boss won't let you filter out .vbs & .exe attachments at the mail server because he is an amature (read: terrible) coder. Moreover, his amature programs cause as much if not more trouble than the virus-laden attachments he keeps opening. He also has crazy ideas about putting "stamps" on email.

      7) You are told by your boss, who (mis)read a computer security advisory to put the company webserver (which handles online sales) on a non-standard port "so the hackers won't be able to mess with it."

      6) Your boss expects you to find a way to make your Solaris servers, with tons of ancient, crufty legacy code which is vital to the company, run ASP pages just so they can use (read: justify the rediculous expense of) some crappy B2B application they bought without consulting IT. Preferably sometime next week.

      5) Your boss thinks that some 'internet accelerator' software (read: spyware) should be made mandatory for all employees to improve productivity.

      4) Your "security policy" is more like a list of who to blame for what.

      3) Your boss is negotiating a SCO IP license, since "any publicity is good publicity."

      2) Your boss thinks you should be more thankful, because the management is so "IT-savvy" and always ready to help you out.

      1) You ignore all this bad advice, pretend you took it anyway (he'll never actually know...), and waste your time posting on Slashdot instead of working.
    • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:55PM (#8481879)
      My favorite conversation I had as a sysadmin highly frustrated years ago. We had some old SunOS systems and newer, but still old HP-UX systems that came in and was trying to get things to work at least relatively seamlessly, and for some reason or another something wasn't working right (was many years ago, have no idea, probably an nfs issue/nis configuration). Anyway, so one non-technical user was there as I was trying to get some basic, critical functionality restored. She was curious and asked:
      'What's wrong with it, what are you trying to fix?'
      My response: 'You see, our old network smokes crack, and these new systems.... well they smoke crack too, but it's different crack and they don't seem to be capatible crack'
      She gota tad angry and obviously felt insulted by my talking down (probably thought I was talking that way because she was a girl) and said 'I can handle a more technical explanation than that!'
      My honest response: "Well *I* can't"
      At which point she understood and laughed rather than be angry.

      Another one of my past stories, I was working with this contractor once and he was charged with the task of configuring a new HP-UX server that had been ordered. He hooks it up to the network alongside the main nfs/nis HP-UX server of the company, and strolls back to his desk and telnets into the IP he thought he was assigning. Suddenly he thinks 'hmmm.... the hostname of this new box happens to be the same as our main server... better change that.... wow, the IP it will enact in a minute too, that is *really* weird, well, better change, reboot and.....' Suddenly, across the company systems hung as the NIS/NFS server moved. The contractor had no idea what was happening until someone else took a look...
      • by Atario ( 673917 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:42PM (#8482099) Homepage
        At a government office where I worked once (best places to get this kind of story, near as I can tell), one of the techs (who I sat near) came in and told everyone to gather 'round. He said he just got back from a half-hour conversation which consisted of him explaining to a user why the print-screened copy of an application window she had put in Word wouldn't respond to its buttons being clicked. "It's like a calculator and a picture of a calculator. You can't press the buttons in the picture and expect it to work, can you?" A larf was had by all.

        Now, being a technically-inclined programmer, I rarely have reason to deal with techs. Most of my problems, I successfully deal with myself. Therefore, unfortunately, most of the interactions tend to be about disruptive hardware upgrades or else special handling for me because I need more access than is standard in the organization. At one place I worked, not only could you not install your own software by default, but in fact had no access at all (much less write access) to most of your own C: drive. They give me more permissions grudgingly and eye me with suspicion, and even then only after being so ordered by a mutual superior. So naturally I tend to see them as fascist policy-drones. Too bad, that; we'd probably be good geeky buddies otherwise.
        • by Xawen ( 514418 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:10AM (#8482233)
          At one place I worked, not only could you not install your own software by default, but in fact had no access at all (much less write access) to most of your own C: drive.

          So, just a matter of curiosity, you think that it would be better to run an environment where any user can install unlicenesed software and delete critical system files? How about get infected with a virus, and due to thier heightened access it's able to delete the OS. To be perfectly honest in today's IT world, you can't trust the people using the systems with any sort of access that can affect the system itself.

          Unfortunately that goes double for the "technically inclined" users. Sure, you may have have a top notch, dual processor, 5 gig ram desktop at home running 200 different operating systems on a souped up wireless network but you don't know THIS environement. Things are different in a large network environment, and if it's not your job to run it, you probably don't know all the rules. I have had to spend more hours than I care to count fixing something some developer broke because his manaager forced us to give him administrative access on his machine. It's rarely that the person isn't technically capable, but that they don't know how our systems are set up. It's easy for someone to make a mistake when they have access to things they don't understand.

          It is by no means an insult to your technical abilities to lock your machine down. It is simply the only way for the sysadmins that are responsible for your system to ensure that it's working properly.

          I'm sorry if I seem a little testy, but I just spent 2 weeks screwing with virus damage because certain users have access to things they don't need. This post just hit a well timed nerve...
          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:23AM (#8482731)
            You are making the incredibly naive assumption that if you successfully lock everything down and minimize your workload, that you are doing a good job. Guess what? Your job is not the only job in the organization.

            The pit crew of an auto racing team runs around fixing things. Abused things, damage that could be avoided if they took the keys away from the drivers. But, guess what? That's their job, fixing things, and its essential to the success of the team.

            • by djlowe ( 41723 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @11:14AM (#8484711)
              That's their job, fixing things, and its essential to the success of the team.

              Sure, but the analogy breaks down in a networked environment: Yours isn't the only car for which they are responsible, and they *all* have to work. In addition, the damage caused to a racing car is the natural result of its environment and use.

              In a workplace with an IT staff, you aren't responsible for fixing your computer, they are. I've rarely seen a situation where locking down a computer, when done properly and with attention to the task(s) which that computer is to perform, hampers the user. The few times that it has, rectifying the problem is easily accomplished.

              Most times, the people that resent not having full access to "their" computer are exactly the ones that shouldn't have it in the first place, either because they lack an understanding of how it fits into the rest of the network, are by nature inclined to play around with it and cause headaches for those that have to correct the resulting problems, or both.

              User failures happen just as often as hardware failures, I've found, and even the most intelligent user doesn't necessarily have the knowledge needed to ensure that changes made to the PC that has been assigned to their use won't adversely impact others.

              There's an inherent arrogance in your post, which is probably why you posted AC: You think that your job *requires* full access to "your" computer. That's doubtful, but possible - and if it were, a rational conversation with your IT staff should establish that.

              And here's the sentence that confirms your arrogance for me: "Abused things, damage that could be avoided if they took the keys away from the drivers"... normal use of a computer doesn't include abusing it in any manner.

              Sure, there are things that might involve "abusing" the computer - driver development and testing come to mind as one example. But if you're doing that, it's very unlikely that the PC that is assigned to you for that task is locked down.

              It's more likely that you're a user that discovered that he/she doesn't have full access to "their" computer, resent what you think impugns your technical knowledge, and worse, prevents you from using "your" computer for things other than those for which it was assigned to you. Here's a clue for you: They didn't target you specifically when they locked down "your" computer.

              Well, probably. It's possible that they *did* target you, because you proved that you couldn't be trusted not to abuse full access to it. If that's the case, good for them, I say.

              To paraphrase your opening sentence: You're making that incredibly naive assumption that you need full access to "your" computer, and that not having it somehow hampers you from using it to perform your job duties. Guess what? It's not likely.

              Just my opinion.

              • by cubicledrone ( 681598 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @05:13PM (#8486975)
                I've rarely seen a situation where locking down a computer, when done properly and with attention to the task(s) which that computer is to perform, hampers the user.

                Probably because you're not the user.

                The few times that it has, rectifying the problem is easily accomplished.

                Yes. Something along the lines of "Tough. That's the policy," with arms folded and $DIVISION_VP phone number on speed dial usually seems to work with little effort.

                Most times, the people that resent not having full access to "their" computer are exactly the ones that shouldn't have it in the first place, either because they lack an understanding of how it fits into the rest of the network, are by nature inclined to play around with it and cause headaches for those that have to correct the resulting problems, or both.

                Ah, yes. IT people know all and the developers are only there to make IT's job of keeping the cubicles the proper shade of gray more difficult.

                Nice and adversarial. Just the way corporate management likes it. That way, when you have a good, smart programmer, management will always be able to find someone who will say "they aren't a team player because they changed their start menu" as support to fire them and destroy their career.

                Just for reference, most programmers are far FAR more clueful than assumed by most IT people. Everything else is just a pissing contest.

                But if you're doing that, it's very unlikely that the PC that is assigned to you for that task is locked down.

                This presumes a level of management cluefulness that is unknown in normal space.

                It's more likely that you're a user that discovered that he/she doesn't have full access to "their" computer, resent what you think impugns your technical knowledge, and worse, prevents you from using "your" computer for things other than those for which it was assigned to you.

                And most IT people have discovered that some user is screwing up "their" computer, resents what they think impugns "their" policy and worse, prevents them from having total control over "their" computer for things other than those for which "they" think it should be used for.

                That's why there are no such policies in this company. When I discover such a policy, I overrule it and throw it in the trash. If the people who build things that we sell need something, they'll have it by lunch, period.
          • by Srin Tuar ( 147269 ) <> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:07AM (#8482985)

            I have had to spend more hours than I care to count fixing something some developer broke because his manaager forced us to give him administrative access on his machine.

            Riiight, its so easy to develop drivers when you dont have root...

            Anyway- I'm not saying your dev's not dumb- perhaps he is. If he was good enough he wouldnt have to ask you for root, he'd take it.( single user mode- or use one of the infinite windows local privilege escalation exploits )

            I just wanted to say though, that having run into stingy netadmins before, what good are they if they prevent work from getting done? Your job is supposed to be providing facilities- not denying access to them.

          • by forlornhope ( 688722 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @02:55AM (#8483236) Homepage
            I think your problem is much deeper than the users having too much access. Your assuming that you can keep your client machines secure. This is a losing battle. As another poster has already pointed out that there are plenty of ways to take root access on a local machine you have total access to.

            Where I work we assume the clients can be comprmised at any time and we protect the servers. We also have ways of reinstalling the clients at a moments notice in a very reproducable way. Its surprisingly easy and much more secure than locking down the clients and trusting them. It also doesnt hinder the users.
          • by haystor ( 102186 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:32AM (#8483377)
            I work somewhere that I get the same computer as everyone else.

            I have a 1.7GHz P4, with 256M of ram, and a 17" (non-flat screen) monitor.

            Obviously the ram is a sore spot since I have to run win2k. But it gets worse. I have to run Lotus Notes. I'm developing for Weblogic. If I let everything else page out I can get an IDE working.

            When I start up my computer and do nothing but open up Task Manager, there are 42 processes running. About 6 of them have something to do with virus scanning. The scanners have to run every day, during the day since the computers must be turned off when not in use. Today, McAfee's virus scanner logged 70 minutes of cpu time out of the mere 8 hours I was logged on. This was a good day though, and sometimes it uses up to 3 hours of cpu time.

            I have to put up with all of these things because everyone must be treated the same according to the IT rules. The way I see it, I get work done in spite of their services, not through the aid of their services.

            Just once I'd like to be at the company that expects and trusts its employees to do their jobs.
        • by djp928 ( 516044 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:42AM (#8482459) Homepage
          I empathize with those "fascist policy-drones", because they are as anal as they are for good reason. Who gets blamed if a system crashes? Not the programmer who wrote a bad application that systematically allocated every available byte of RAM. Not the dumb-ass manager who opened an email attachment and unleashed a virus on the company. The sysadmin gets blamed.

          Programmers as a general rule think they're the shit, even when they're not. Just like in my world of system administration there are five "paper" MCSEs and CCNAs for every one real system or network admin, there's five dumbshit programmers who only got into the field for the money for every true geek programmer. And these dumbshits think that since they spent three or four years in some school learning how to program, they're naturally qualified to do *my* job as well.

          The fact that you find it strange that you didn't have access to your own C: drive is a typical reaction, but there's a good reason for it. That's not your C: drive. That's my C: drive. Who has to rebuild it if you fuck it up? Who has to troubleshoot it when your shit stops working on you and you call for support? Who gets blamed for you not being able to meet your deadline because your computer mysteriously crashed? Me. The sysadmin. I do. I'll get blamed even if I can prove you intentionally deleted the kernel just to keep from having to work towards your own unreasonable deadline, because they'll blame me for giving you improper access against company policy, even though I did it to you as a favor because you claimed you needed that access in order to meet your important deadline.

          As a general rule, most sysadmins will give you only the bare minimum level of access you need to do your job. And if it's at all possible to get away with giving you less than that, we'll do it. We don't do it because we're facist rules nazis. We do it because too often it's our own ass if we don't. The last virus our company got was brought in by the development team, because we trusted them to know how to install virus detection software on their systems and know how to update the .dat files regularly, and it turned out that trust was severely misplaced. Who got blamed? We did. Not the ignorant programmers. We got the blame for not taking care of the systems we were told we could trust them to maintain.

          So, yeah, if you don't have access to your C: drive, it's because the sysadmin doesn't trust you. But don't take it personally. He/she doesn't trust anybody. There may yet be hope. If you can prove your geekdom sufficiently to your local SA, you can usually earn some trust that way. We may be a totally paranoid lot, but we know true brothers and sisters when we meet them. If you can earn our trust we can usually see our way clear to bending the rules for you a few times. But don't cross us. The first time you make your SA work all weekend to fix up a mess you made of a server due to your code running at some level of access you shouldn't have been able to run it at in the first place, you'll get shitlisted, and good luck getting back in his/her good graces after that.

          Then again, maybe your entire systems admin staff are a bunch of paper admins and aren't true geeks at all. If so, I'm sorry. There's not much you can do.

          -- Dave

          • by gcaseye6677 ( 694805 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:05AM (#8483281)
            I've seen this troll before on a related topic. What this 'admin' fails to realize is that the company computer network does not exist for the purpose of providing system administrators with power trips and an empire to control. It exists to provide value to the company. How much value does it provide when programmers need to ask the network monkey to come and change a setting so they can compile something? How much productivity is lost because people don't have the ability to install so much as a new font? If you can't run a network where you have a centrally monitored anti virus and firewall system along with a good data backup/recovery methodology, which does not require keeping the system completely locked down from everyone, then find a new job. Most admins for companies large and small have this figured out. Why don't you?
        • by dmaxwell ( 43234 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:22AM (#8482724)
          I understand your point of view, believe me. You just want to get something installed so you can get some work done. I'd probably let someone like you have more leeway...once I was truly convinced you knew your shit.

          Some of my most bitter work experiences have been caused by wannabe sysadmins creating a big mess for me to fix. When you manage to surmount cut budgets, prima donnas, politics, shoddy product and manage to get things working at least on a minimal level, you don't want anybody screwing around with the machines. It invariably generates hair tearing. I have to do things like explain to indignant teachers "No you can't install that software you brought from home.

          "But I paid..."

          "For a copy that is licensed only your home machine. Unlicensed software could get us sued......"

          "Well I don't see why..."

          A few of those and few more who insist on local administrator access to their machines (and you know they don't know jack shit) and you start wanting to rein in the worst of the chaos.

          I know Policy can go too far but some of the worst problems are caused by someone who took aim at their own feet with a shotgun and managed to blast a few innocent bystanders in the process.
    • I have no idea what the technical problem was, but I heard this snippet of conversation as I was leaving work today...

      "So the IT guy says he can't backup my work. But he can replace the filesystem with one that can be backed up in the future..."

      Sometimes I think sysadmins can be as stupid as users.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:28PM (#8482040)
      How about this one: The people that I was councelling regarding a new installation said that they could save a lot of money by installing each XP CD on two computers. When I asked why they thought they could do this, they stated that the CD said that it could be done. After much gentle prodding, they gave the reason for this, the package said, "for 1-2 CPUs". I explained that this meant motherboards that supported up to two CPUs. They looked at me like I was from mars.

      These strange discussions went on and on with various subjects. I mean, they really didn't have a clue and would not accept any other view. In the end they chose not to work with me and choose someone who shared their level of "understanding".
      (i.e their server has no firewall, backups aren't verified, no intrusion detection, no documentation, etc..)

      • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:07AM (#8482222)
        Story from my previous doomed job:

        After I had been working there a while and mentioned time and time again their infrastructure *needed* a more controlled storage strategy (as it was, critical data was spread across many non-redundant systems (whichever happened to have free space at the time), and added drives ad-hoc to whatever was there. When time was up on the current storage and they were just about to order an extra 40 GB disk to slap in an Ultra 10 to bolster things, one drive crashed hard and took out critically important data. So I'm finally asked to, on a shoestring budget, give them a decent file server with some redundancy. I price out a PC system to put linux on and 6 cheap IDE disks and three IDE controllers, all new, warrantied parts that would interoperate in a standard way such that any one component failure would leave an easily recoverable situation, even if not necessarily highly available (even if totally destroyed, a tape unit would at least finally be effective being attached to more than 1% of the companies date).

        After viewing this, the guy actually making the purchase says 'IDE is not enterprise quality! You can get SCSI storage on a shoestring budget!' and proceeds to acquire a rack-mountable, 14-or-so hotswap SCSI enclosure with 18 GB discs...from some random eBayer, no warranty, no service, no promises, and blows more than the entire budget I was told to go with on *just* a hardware RAID controller. After a week of them using it strongly against my warnings, the whole thing goes down unrecoverably bad... turns out the SCSI enclosure had a malfunctioning backplane and had been corrupting data all the while....

        It turned out that before I was around they had a Maxtor IDE-based NAS with two drives per chain and running Windows 2000. One drive went bad and the system went down hard as the other drive on the chain was unreachable. Though all data was recovered when Maxtor sent a drive 2 days later (they didn't want to run non-redundant or with unsupported IDE disks for fear of losing something without recourse.. understandable at least) and so the business guy had learned IDE==bad, lose data.
        I told him that in this case, it would be one drive per channel, and in the event of failure any ol drive from the local Best Buy would do and he wouldn't have to wait days for a replacement, but that whole job was an exercise of great accountibilty with zero authority to do anything about anything...

        Almost every job before and the job I have held since has been infinitely better.
        • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @06:51AM (#8483931)
          Ah yes, "policy through phantom problem". Someone experienced a problem in the past, more often than not through his own incompetence, and has now made it into a hard policy that said technology/solution is off limits for everyone for all eternity, usually without any understanding what caused the problem in the first place.

          In one case I had a program printing a rather large amount of data to a lineprinter. Since the buffer on such a printer is not that large it would hang while waiting for the printer to do its thing. Users complained (and rightly so), and I put in a thread to make the printing fully asynchronous. Next I was told by my boss that threads were unacceptable, since "they cause crashes".

          Well, I can imagine how a highly complex multithreaded application can run into problems, but a simple worker thread, with a simple interface to the rest of the application, well-protected by a mutex, is perfectly safe. But no; in some unspecified project in a long-forgotten past there had been a Problem (the details of which were of course, long lost) and as a result I was not to use threads since that ancient project, written by someone else in another part of the world, might somehow contaminate my program and cause the same problem here. Yeah, right.

          In the end I was saved by the bell - by the time my manager found out the project was already into acceptance testing (and doing just fine), and removing the thread would obviously be A Change, which would necessitate a new expensive acceptance test cycle. Since it never caused problems, the offending thread was allowed to live.

          Of course at this time (five years later or so) everybody remembers that there was a responsiveness problem in a _PRE-RELEASE_ version of the software. That problem was fixed BEFORE RELEASE, and has never resurfaced. But with each new release we are still diligenty checking for "recurrence of responsiveness problem", because, hey, you cannot really trust those programming types right?

          Don't misunderstand me here: actually I don't mind we are checking for a known old problem. What gets me is that nobody remembers what that problem actually was, or that we solved it about an hour after it was detected. What is the value of doing such a test if you do not know what you are testing for?

          And of course this is just the tip of the iceberg. I have, at times, been forbidden to use threads, exceptions, templates, multiple inheritance, sockets (!?), and various other C++ features on account of all of these "causing crashes". One boss made me promise never to reuse code because that way I would also "reuse all the bugs".

          It has became something of a hobby of mine to track policies to their initial event, and more often than not you find some minor problem (that could easily be solved, and more often than not _was_) has been blown out of all proportion, becoming a guiding principle for entire departments or even companies. And if nothing else, that's pretty sad...

    • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:12AM (#8482246) Journal
      This is the way the Internet was meant to by.

      So Pure. So Simple.

      It's Art

  • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:33PM (#8481729) Homepage Journal
    Then again, I have found that treating my userbase as people, and not as trained monkeys, tends to have better results than trying to be mister 31337 BOFH.
    • by zaxus ( 105404 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:35PM (#8481747)
      That's just crazy talk. You mean they're people?
    • Yes, it may help relations somewhat, but acting like the BOFH [] will often cure the problem of ignorance quickly and posthumously.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:49PM (#8482139)
        Spoken like a true 10 dollar an hour pile of steaming support shit.

        See, what dumb fucks like you don't realize is that you earn money by providing either a service or a product to other people.

        As an IT worker (I hesitate to call you a pro), you produce nothing valuable. Your function is back office - that means you support the front office, or revenue generating functions.

        Now, it appears that it is fashionable to bash marketing folks, accountants, lawyers, executives, line workers, or whatever else you consider "lusers". But what your dumb fuck self does not realize is that money does not grow on trees, nor does it magically appear in the ether that you "support". I quote the word support because you have no understanding of the network beyond the BOFH "excuse of the day" or the LART that you read and chuckle about.

        Let me explain something to you. IT is valuable not because of some intrinsic quality that makes it an automatic cash cow, but because it speeds and assists the duties of the functional teams that actually are the cash cows - that is the real engineers, the finance types that create price points, the marketing types that create demand, the accounting types that ensure your check clears, etc. Your company is not successful because of you - based on your attitude, it is successful in spite of you.

        Now, let us look at the situation. You are paid to perform a service to your organization. The money in your check comes from those who get others to pay for your company's product or service. You treat those other poorly (maybe because you were beat up in high school or something, but it has to be some deeply ingrained inferiority complex). Then you bitch because those cash flow generators decide to replace you.

        For all your vaunted intelligence, you think you might understand who is the true "luser".


        The same fortune 50 IT executive from "Yes, This is a joke" lower in the thread.
        • by immovable_object ( 569797 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:05AM (#8483283)
          Spoken like a Fortune 50 IT executive.

          Think of techies just like Doctors. They troubleshoot and tell you what is wrong with your system. If your system (or body) is sick, you *must* go to the Doctor, or you will not survive.

          You can talk about marketing, engineering, finance, etc. all you want. When you've *lost* your business data, your business teeters at the point of ruin.

          Lose a marketing person and see if your business folds.

          But, I don't expect you to understand. You're a Top 50 IT Executive ... idiot. It's people like you that think that outsourcing (key competencies) is a good thing.
        • Amen (Score:4, Insightful)

          by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @07:13AM (#8483992)
          While most reactions to your post are evidently from system administrators, I cannot agree more. There are too many sys admins around who think the company is their own private kingdom, and more often than not they have the means to enforce it (at least, in the short term). Couple that to being treated like shit by most people (they are, after all, always being associated with computers being broken!), and I see where some of them get their attitude.

          So could the system admins here please realize that us users just want to do our work, with as little hassle as possible? Try to make that possible, hard as it sometimes is. And remember, while you are important to the company, so are your colleagues. Yes, even that cute secretary who opens every single attachment and whose best two attributes are sticking forwards (you could think of here as the "morale officer").

          And could the users, in return, perhaps treat their sys admins as real people? Because, you know, they are. Next time you have a computer problem, call your system guy over, _honestly_ tell him what happened ("I opened the attachment"), and then offer to get him some coffee while you are waiting for him to fix your machine. A bit of appreciation goes a long way to establishing a good working relationship, and it will guarantee you get a top response time in future problems.

    • Many sys-admins don't realize that the people they work for often have technical skills in other areas and simply don't have time to deal with computers.

      It's sort of like being a mechanic. People do all sorts of stupid shit with their cars, but that doesn't make them stupid people. It just means they have little technical expertise dealing with cars.

      That said, I *do* tend to have little patience for people who won't read a manual. I tend to take a very DIY attitude towards things - that's the most frustrating part of trying to explain computers to others. If people would read the document that read 'README' or read the error message instead of panicking when one occured, 95% of all computer problems would be fixed instantly.
      • Another bad computer --> car analogy.

        People who don't know how to repair cars, usualy don't. Computer users ditto. Problem here is that people are just too lazy to learn few simple instructions and they will ring as many times as they repeat same, stupid mistake. That's why they are treated badly in most cases.

        I'll take trained monkeys over people any time.

        • by dmaxwell ( 43234 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:30AM (#8482771)
          There's any number of things that most people who aren't mechanics know better than to do their cars. Don't turn without looking both ways. Don't speed through residential streets. Don't drive with the pedal floored all the time. This is just common sense. I've seen any number of otherwise intelligent human beings lose all common sense the instant the hand touches the mouse. It boggles the mind.
        • Oh, I'd say there are lots of people who wouldn't dare mess with their cars, but will click things at random and screw everything up on their boxes because "they were trying to fix it themselves". I have lots of experience cleaning up their messes.
      • When you walk a user through a process for the third time and they take notes, and another tech is able to use their notes to reproduce the process, but the user cannot, they are stupid. I don't care what kind of technical skills they have.
      • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:59PM (#8482176)
        Many sys-admins don't realize that the people they work for often have technical skills in other areas and simply don't have time to deal with computers.

        I had a user mail me at 10pm on a Sunday night saying that she was going to fill up the shared harddisk for all users, and a few hours later she did.

        Sysadmins are concerned about _everybody's_ usage of a system, users are concerned about _their own_.

        It's sort of like being a mechanic. People do all sorts of stupid shit with their cars, but that doesn't make them stupid people. It just means they have little technical expertise dealing with cars.

        See above. A mechanic would think your pretty stupid to go on an across country trip with a 1/4 tank of gas, knowing the gas was at 1/4 tank, telling you it was at 1/4 tank, and wondering why the car does not go. the error message instead of panicking when one occured

        Do you know how many creative interpretations of "No such file or directory" I have heard? I have to curb myself from saying "What part of no such file or direcory do you not understand!?!?!?".

        Yes, I am a sysadmin, obviously you are not.
  • by -kertrats- ( 718219 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:34PM (#8481735) Journal
    They sure can keep a server running great, can't they...
  • Inept users (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RY ( 98479 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:35PM (#8481748) Homepage Journal
    I need to check to see how may pages of users trying to open up virus stories there are.
  • by mobiux ( 118006 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:36PM (#8481751)
    This site is gives a hilarious picture of the daily frustrations of dealing...with slashdotted sites.

    I know its daily for me.
  • My Favorite (Score:5, Funny)

    by Blair16 ( 683764 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:36PM (#8481752)
    was a lady running a Mandrake system asking me about saving files to a disk. She was having troubles and thought that maybe automount wasn't working. I went over there, put in a disk, and copied the file.
    Her problem - she hadn't put a disk in the drive.
    • Re:My Favorite (Score:5, Interesting)

      by OneIsNotPrime ( 609963 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:58PM (#8481900)
      True story.

      My coworker mentioned to his boss that he could tell every time she got email because her system beeped. She said she'd like to turn it off, but didn't know how. He proposed just muting the volume. She complained "But then I wouldn't be able to hear the clicky sound of the keys when I'm typing." He gave her a blank stare, trying to figure out if she was joking or not, then she put her ear up to the keys and started pressing them. "Yeah, I couldn't hear them" she affirmed, then started clicking the mouse "or the clicking sound of the mouse."

      This is one of our lead programmers by the way. *sigh*
      • Re:My Favorite (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Spoing ( 152917 )
        1. This is one of our lead programmers by the way. *sigh*

        While not as bad, I've taught one of our jr. maintenance programmers these tips this week;

        Tab / Shift-Tab

        Ctrl-C / Ctrl-V

        Ctrl-Z / Shift-Ctrl-Z

        Process not product.

        If using Access, how and why splitting the front end from the back can be useful.

        The registry and why it can be useful.

        How to write and answer a defect report.

        How Windows and Unix have the same general parts (with examples).

        Process not product. Process not product.

        Why ins

  • Site died already. (Score:5, Informative)

    by iridiumz0r ( 711388 ) * on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:36PM (#8481753) mirror.... Seems to still work, haven't tried loads.
  • by Kilka ( 694154 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:37PM (#8481757)
    I find it funny that a site designed by a bunch of sysadmins to vent their frustrations will likely be very frustrated when /. hammers it into the ground.

    This post have been here for less that 5 mins and i'm already getting mysql_connect errors!

  • hmmph (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SQLz ( 564901 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:37PM (#8481758) Homepage Journal
    I worked support for a long time. I don't think the users are inept...I think they just have other interests besides computers. I mean, if a brain surgeon or nobel prize winner calls for help on setting up dialup networking, are they a idiot user? I don't see doctors making websites about what idiots we are when we call them for medical advice.
    • Re:hmmph (Score:4, Interesting)

      by slycer9 ( 264565 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:39PM (#8481774) Journal
      There's a difference between being an idiot, and being an 'idiot user'.

      The two are mutually exclusive.

      You must not know many doctors, I hear plenty of them joking about how stupid the average person is when it comes to preventive medicine and home remedies.
    • Re:hmmph (Score:5, Funny)

      by ottffssent ( 18387 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:51PM (#8481852)
      The reason doctors don't make websites complaining that I'm an idiot surgeon is because they're idiot users.
    • by segment ( 695309 ) <sil@po[ ] ['lit' in gap]> on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:54PM (#8481873) Homepage Journal

      I have a PhD cust who spends like 400 a month for ISDN as opposed to DSL (it is available to him) and I always shamefully get his transferred calls:

      PhD: Look I know what I'm doing I have a PhD and I'm telling you your system is erratic

      Meanwhile the guy has his modem set to dial his own phone number AND HE USES CAPS ALL THE TIME so his username/password is almost always the issue. This after I've spoken to him like umpteen who knows how many times. He also has a T1 at his company and always calls:

      PhD: my router isn't working and I'm getting very tired of your company doing this to me.

      Meanwhile he disconnects his routers to put on wireless switches, faxes, jams phone cords in his ethernet ports, tries to jam his T1 cord into his phone, tries to make calls through his T1 you name it. I have no pity for people you have to explain things over to a trillion times. Users suck

      • by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:29PM (#8482041) Journal
        Maybe you picked the wrong line of work, if it stresses you out so much. Sometimes you need the patience of a monk when dealing with people. Case in point: Did you ever pull on a door when the sign says "push"? Ever done it more than once?
        • Lord knows I have.

          In fact, just this week, I pulled on the same push door... twice.

          I failed in my first attempt to get through, and then I pushed it open and held it for somebody to walk through. That person asked me a question about the building, so I let go of the door and pointed out the answer to her. I then turned around and immediately proceeded to pull on the push door again. =(

          Times like this remind me that, no matter how funny I may think these stupid user stories are, there's probably a office service workers' network (maintenance/janitorial) where they all laugh at us stupid people who can't figure out the doors. :-P
    • Re:hmmph (Score:4, Interesting)

      by strider_starslayer ( 730294 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:20PM (#8482015)
      I'm going to have to defend other professionals here; when I was working tech support for HP all in one printers on the mac (awful awful devices that crash constantly and we were not allowed to tell you how to fix them properly- (the proper solution almost allwase being 'use the cups drivers')) the people who had the greatest ability to understand complex instructions were the doctors and lawyers who called in.

      They might have been completely clueless at the beginning of the call- but they'd be able to write down (I hate people who refuse to write things down, and then call back with the same problem a half hour later), and follow complex sets of instructions without any problem. They would also readily accept critiques like 'If you continue to use that 9 meter USB cable your going to get more comunication errors then if you had bought a 2 meter one'; and except for there asking me what that was in feet all was well (being a canadian I refused to switch to imperial unless specifically asked; and never refered to the letter z as 'zee' instead using the most sensible 'zed' (because this way you don't get it confused with 'c' as 'see')

      This may have something to do with them being mac users, but we had a lot of very dumb mac uses call in too. Though not as dumb as the windows users who were convinced they were using 'macintosh windows XP'
    • Re:hmmph (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ekilfoil ( 755058 )
      You can be the most learned person in the world, but if you can't follow simple instructions, you're an idiot. I have no idea how many people I've talked to that probably have VERY specific high tech jobs in areas such as robotics, circuit engineering, etc. But when it comes to general knowledge about how to actually USE a computer, they know absolutely nothing. That is fine. I do not expect them to know about the insignifant details about why they have to enter a subnet mask or know what DNS is. It is
  • by Locky ( 608008 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:38PM (#8481769) Homepage
    Nope, just their site, it seems.
  • Site not hilarious (Score:5, Informative)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) * <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <yburxyno>> on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:38PM (#8481770)
    Site not hilarious, not well designed either. Have to scroll to read more than a half dozen lines of text in a story. It basicaly a small handful of stories about customers that don't understand DNS. As a sysadmin type, I was sorely dissapointed. Not only that, but the site melted almost right away. Yawn, next?
  • by bdigit ( 132070 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:39PM (#8481777)
    I am a student working at a helpdesk at a university, one day we came in to a voicemail from a user where they apparently thought they hung up the phone but they hit the 3 way button and well ill let you guys listen for yourselves.
    • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:06AM (#8482211)
      I am a student working at a helpdesk at a university, one day we came in to a voicemail from a user where they apparently thought they hung up the phone but they hit the 3 way button and well ill let you guys listen for yourselves.

      That's nothing. We had a vendor do the same thing- he was apparently on a conference call to his boss, and his boss made him call us for an update. The voicemail went as normal, and then there was a click-click.

      "Yeah, I got his voicemail, the guy wasn't around." They then proceeded to discuss how they'd handle selling us on something, so on so forth.

      It was so priceless I yelled for my boss to come over, hit the "start over" button and within minutes everyone in the department was giggling with glee that a vendor was not only stupid enough to not know how to work a phone, but to also talk about a customer behind their back. We never did tell him, or give him our business, for that matter :-)

      The three-way calling reminds me of a story from a book- I forget which- where the author was at a college which got three-way calling for free. The author's friend would, for fun, flip open the phonebook to a random page, plant his finger down, call the number wherever his finger landed. When the person answered, he'd say "Hang on a sec!", put them on hold, and then dial the other number and say the same thing, then connect them. The conversations were reportedly priceless once you got through the universal part, which was: "Hey, why did you call me?" "I didn't call you, you called me!" "No I didn't!"...

  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:41PM (#8481788) Homepage Journal

    good for a larf...

  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:45PM (#8481814) Homepage Journal
    Warning: mysql_pconnect():
    Too many connections in /home/garweb/inc/connection.php on line 15 Connection could not be established

    wow, these guys sure are some ub3r 31337 sys4dm1n5.
  • by willith ( 218835 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:46PM (#8481822) Homepage
    It's not just the lusers who are lusers. Sometimes, the internal support is pretty terrifyingly inept, too. I speak from experience. Hit my site. You'll see. Oh, you'll see.
  • hilarious? (Score:5, Funny)

    by unknown_host ( 757538 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @10:46PM (#8481827)
    Check out the Gnu Know your System Administrator [] field guide and Top 100 things you don't want the sysadmin to say [] ...
  • My first (and hopefully last) sysadmin job was of a fairly sophisticated solaris/irix/mac/linux/windows network of a university research labratory.

    After about a month on the job, my boss came to me one day and said, "What do you use to read your email?" I reply, "Well, in windows, I use eudora, and in unix, pine. Which system did you mean? (everyone had a solaris and windows machine)" "Unix", he says, "Show me this pine program, I've been using this program, I forget the name, and the problem is, whenever I get an attachment it screws up the screen and I have to scroll past it. " So I show him pine, and as im leaving I say, "Just out of curiosity do you recall the name of the program you were using?" To which he replies "Oh yea! Its called .... um ... TAIL!"

    Sure enough, the poor SOB had been running tail on his mail spool to read his mail. His spool was 150 megs and had every email he'd recieved since the lab opened in 1991 (this was in 2000).

  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:00PM (#8481914) Homepage Journal
    I interviewed for a web-admin job a few years ago. They asked me "How would you troubleshoot a blue screen of death?" With a smile on my face, I replied "I'd press F1 and ask Clippy!" Ah we all had a good chuckle at that. Heh. Didn't get the job, though.
  • by silvaran ( 214334 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:06PM (#8481944)
    I was once at my parents' place. They just bought a brand new CD burner and my dad was interested in backing up his files. Specifically, he had a lot of contacts and e-mails in Outlook. He asked me to check the state of his backup to see if he had done it properly. The result? One "Microsoft Outlook.lnk" on a single CD-R. He had dragged the outlook shortcut to the CD in an attempt to "back up" his outlook files.
    • by evilad ( 87480 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:57AM (#8482566)
      Whenever I hear something like this, I cringe. If you asked a UI designer for the probable intent of "dragging a program shortcut to a backup device," what do you think they would tell you?

      It can only reasonably mean one of two things:
      1. Back up this program, or
      2. Back up the user files associated with this program.

      The principles in UI design should be:

      1. What is a list of all the tasks a user might want to do?
      2. What is a list of all the ways a user might try to interact with the UI?
      3. Is there a complete and logical mapping?

      If there are undefined cases, then the UI is broken. If there are cases where an interaction has multiple intuitive meanings, the UI is broken. If the common functions are not accessible by intuitive interaction, then the UI is broken.

      Why is it perfectly acceptable for a set of software in common use by millions of people to have an utterly broken UI?
  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:08PM (#8481956) Homepage
    "We demand that you notify us of system crashes beforehand."

    Scary part, I was working at a High Energy Physics research lab. I said, "No problem, but I'll need a Higgs Boson to do it."
  • by suso ( 153703 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:11PM (#8481964) Homepage Journal
    I'm too frustrated with work to talk about it. Wait, why am I reading slashdot. Argh!!!
  • by Vrallis ( 33290 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:12PM (#8481971) Homepage
    Not your typical Sysadmin story...

    I work for a large auto parts retailer (nope, not Auto Zone!).

    Each of our stores has a Linux system in it, using Comtrol serial boards to run the serial terminal and printers in the store.

    One of our stores decided to do some rearranging, and wanted to move the main counter a few inches. The counter isn't bolted to the floor, but it does run the full width of the store, and is pretty much permanently wired for electricity and serial connections where it is--it's not meant to be moved.

    So, what did the store do? They moved the counter. With everything on it. With all the terminals and printers on said counter plugged in. And turned on.

    The employees heard a few 'pop's and looked up to see smoke coming from all the terminals.

    The best we can figure is the main power line running into the counter was punctured or otherwise shorted, shorting hot to either ground or neutral. Naturally, the terminals weren't on any sort of surge protectors. I doubt this would have helped, though, unless they had good Triplite or another good name-brand surge protector on it (which won't happen--too expensive--yep, the usual story).

    The incident didn't just destroy the terminals on the counter, though! It made it's way through the serial lines and destroyed every piece of serial-connected equipment in the entire store.

    The serial card looks like somebody took a blow-torch to it. I really wish I had a picture of it to post here, but I haven't taken one yet (it's hanging on our 'wall of shame' at the moment).

    Amazingly--somehow--the PC is fine. I've had it running stress-tests for 3 weeks now, with no problems. There are scorch marks around the PCI connector and in the bottom of the case. Most of the ICs on the serial board were reduced to nothing but ashes instantly--the rest blew into pieces.
  • by kajoob ( 62237 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:15PM (#8481989)
    I want a new mouse!!!!!!!!!!!!! [] I'm a human being!!! I have a college education!!!!!!!!
  • IMHO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bruthasj ( 175228 ) <> on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:17PM (#8482001) Homepage Journal
    The most dangerous sysadmin is the one who believes that he's dealing with inept people when the real ineptness is found within. Whole corporate IT policies are dictated by these people *all* the time.

  • Check it out: Adminspotting [].
  • by schon ( 31600 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:38PM (#8482077)
    This was several years ago - before DHCP. As sysadmin, I kept the list of IP addresses assigned to the computers.

    Newbie tech, right out of school (I'll call him 'D.') comes up to me, while I'm in the middle of something.. he says "I'm working on the machine in shipping, and I need its' IP address."

    I say "no problem", point to a piece of paper, and say "they're all on that piece of paper". He takes the piece of paper, copies down the number, and goes away.

    A few minutes later, he comes back, and says "that must be wrong - it tells me that it's in use."

    I tell him "that's weird - I'll come take a look at it in a few minutes."

    So I finish what I'm working on, and go to shipping.. I ask "D. said there was a problem with your machine." They shrug, and said "it's working OK right now." Just to be sure, I take a look at it, and the IP address is correct, and the machine is working fine, so I go back to my desk.

    Two hours later, D. comes back to my desk and asks if I'm done yet.. I tell him I went to the shipping computer, and it was working fine.

    He tells me "No, I'm at my bench, setting up a new system for them, and when I enter the IP address and connect to the network, it tells me that the IP address is in use."

    I guess he skipped the class where they talked about IP addresses having to be unique.
  • Argh, yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by T.Hobbes ( 101603 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:39PM (#8482080)
    I do tech support for a dialup service. Just spoke with a technophile today who compained that 'The internet made his computer slow'. I asked him if he saw a speed mentioned when he was connecting, and he replied that the speed of the connection wasn't the problem, it was that his computer was slow when he was on the internet. After several attempts at explaining the fine distinction between establishing a connection and the speed of a connection, I gave up.

    Another good one from this week was a user who called in to complain that she conneted to the internet fine, but didn't get any webpages after connecting. I asked what she clicked on to connect, and she said the shortcut to her connection. What did she click after that? Nothing. I advised her to open Internet Explorer and click on things.

    I don't really mind users who are ignorant, but competent. I do mind users for whom I have to repeat SMTP, not SMPT ad infinitum, or who phone in to basically have me read error messages back to them. Willful ignorance is what is bad, be it in regards to computers or anything else one deals with. At least attempt to understand what's going on with the device you paid $2000 for. Don't assume that just because you pay your $20 monthly fee that you'll have your hand held everytime you are too lazy to read the message that pops up in bold text a foot in front of your eyes.

  • Now this is OK to say Luser b/c it was a vendor.

    After meeting vendor wants to see my "intrastructure"... so I take him to the server room which due to some repairs has a HUGE A/C unit with a big silver pipe going into the ceiling. Geek that I am I have affixed a sticker on it that says "UNIX".

    We go over server sever and their functions and he points to the A/C and says, "Oh you guys run Linux?"

    "No just regular old Unix."

    "So what's the bad boy do?"

    "What's it do? Look at it! Look at the pipe on that thing!"

    "Oh yeah..." he says knowingly, "What's the specs?"

    "This sucker is pushing 250,000 BTUs."

    "Wow! Man on a Windows box that'd be BSOD City."

    "Yes. Yes it would."

    We didn't buy his product.
  • User Friendly comics (Score:3, Informative)

    by glinden ( 56181 ) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:12AM (#8482252) Homepage Journal
    The comic strip User Friendly [] often visits the topic of frustrated sysadmins. Good for a laugh. I have and recommend all of the books [].
  • by keith_nt4 ( 612247 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:13AM (#8482259) Homepage Journal
    Well there's always this link: Bastard operator from hell []

    That guy's my personal hero (kept me sane during those long 3 hour blocks of no tech support calls).

  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:17AM (#8482289) Homepage Journal
    I love to read the horror stories in Computerworld's Shark Tank column []. My favorite story is about the boss who heard the saying, "a computer is secure only as long as there's no network connection". And he took it literally. Which wouldn't have been so bad, except he was in charge of a data center...

    But there's a difference between healthy venting and obsessive, pointless bitching. Not sure which kind this site represents.

  • by BeBoxer ( 14448 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:23AM (#8482327)
    You know you are a sysadmin when you hear the phrase "users are losers" and don't think of drugs.
  • by rdr2 ( 725461 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:30AM (#8482379)
    Sat in a meeting with a Senior VP who was trying to convince everyone that you could replace a 8 way 400 MHz Sun E4500 with 1 PC.

    His reason? Because 8x400MHz = 3200MHz, so all you would need is one to two 3 GHz processor intel system.

    It was hard not to laugh...
  • by litewoheat ( 179018 ) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:47AM (#8482492)
    If one was truely smart, one would understand when a non-technical user was explaining a problem or making a request. Otherwise one would just make jokes with the others who also cannot in order make one's self feel superior when in reality one's not...

    ...especially if it's one's job!
  • by felonious ( 636719 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:56AM (#8482553) Journal
    Our big boss is totally computer/technology illiterate. Let me show you the depths of his abyssmal knowledge of the most simple of tasks...

    These are things he says to me...

    My son just sent me this digital clock can you set it up for me?

    This fucking printer never works! My response-Do you see the toner light flashing? That means it's out.

    The reason he gets so pissed is because he prints every email everyday and then goes in the woman's bathroom to drop a stinky load while reading through them. No joke!

    He keeps a minimum of 5000 emails in his inbox and around 5000 in sent and another 10000 in deleted. Yes it's a lovely thing along with his constant crashing of outlook (it doesn't need much help)!

    Our top MCSE (oxymoron) will take down the network mid-day while warning no one and usually has problems getting it back up yet our big boss refers to him as the "GENIUS".

    I never understood how pop-ups tricked people until I saw our big box click on one that said "YOU HAVE WON!". I was enlightened to say the least.

    The rest of the users I support, around 80, are unbelievably computer the point of myself just letting them talk about what they think they know so they will just stfu!

    For example one guy was trying to convince me how DVDXcopy rips dvd in mp3 format and he finds the quality superior to DVD.


    As usual I just listened till he left since it's pointless to respond because these fucking idiots know they are right.

    One of the funniest things that happened was when our top MCSE (Oxy Moron x 2) opened an infected attachment and set in motion a massive virus outbreak. File servers, mail servers, beepersystem, phone systems, etc. all dead in a matter of minutes as we run M$ shiite and it was unpatched.

    Yet another fucking no brainer!

    Does anyone here just throw out big tech terms just to see the user you're talking to implode from their lack of trying to comprehend something well beyond their comprehension?

    Here are my favorite questions to ask even before getting started on solving an issue.

    Is it plugged in?

    Are you logged in as yourself?

    Do you know your name?

    Do you know what printer you printed to?

    Did your parents have any kids that lived?

    How can you be so fucking stoopid?

    One last thing....

    Our big boss is an unbelievable, accidental bug finder no matter what he uses. He can break any and all software/hardware you throw at him and have no idea how it happened but the funniest thing ever involving him wasn't really him but to me personified his luck with pc's, etc.

    This is short and sweet...
    I was going through my email and received and email from him. I clicked on the email and in that instant the power blinked in the building and went out for hours. I know this has nothing to do with him but can anyone actually prove it?
  • by fname ( 199759 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:01AM (#8482601) Journal
    I think the sysadmins are largely responsible for these clueless users making silly requests. Not on the admin-level necessarily, but on the executive tech type level. Let me give you one example.

    With Win2000, when you print a document, a printer icon appears on the system tray. Double-click this icon, and the network printer you're using shows up and lists the currently queued jobs. So if a document doesn't print out, take a look at the printer, figure out what user is holding up the line, and ask him to cancel. Or if you accidently print 10 copies of your overheads for a talk, you can easily cancel your own print job. Took about 10 seconds start to finish. It always seemed to work, and was never a problem. My guess is that is occasionally took a sysadmin 15 minutes to solve a problem caused by someone canceling the wrong job. Time is money! So naturally, the admins "improved" it.

    How? Well, they removed the ability to view the current queue of jobs. So now we can't cancel our own print jobs, or figure out who the bastard is who's holding up the line. What do we do now? Call our support desk. Enter our employee number, choose the correct option from a choice of 5, wait on hold for one of our sysadmins, tell him or her the problem. Tell them the name of the printer. Verify our employee number. Job is cancelled. The last two times I've done this, it's taken about 10 minutes of my time, and about 2 minutes for the admins. And my time costs the company a lot more money than the sys admins time. But the costs for running the support center went down, so it must be good!

    Honestly, this is more descriptive of the level of Dilbertism present than a general indictment of admins. To tie in with the original post, this is what causes user frustration. Thinks work fine, someone who "knows better" changes things to make them supposedly better (but actually just more complicated), and the user gets frustrated. Waiting on hold for 10 minutes to cancel a print job (when I should be doing other work) is really frustrating. Add in instances where the admins re-start computers which are in the middle of hours-longs computations without bothering to check in with the users, and it creates generally feelings of hostility towards the tech support staff.

    So you want smarter or nicer users? Spend a little time understanding how the admin actions affect the end-user before implementing brain-dead improvements. I suggest doing this by asking them.
  • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:22AM (#8482721)
    For me, the worst, most frustrating part is having to wear too many hats.

    I find it really difficult to simultaneously do development and administration work.

    For me, development work requires focus. I don't think I am too whacky there.

    As an administrator, working on a collection of networks that have evolved over quite some time since well before I started working here, I have to be constantly vigilant and constantly available to deal with issues as they arise. I like to be proactive, finding and fixing things before they become an issue.

    These (development and administration) are, I feel, incompatible.

    If I am to do good development work, I need a clear head and focus; I can't keep being interrupted to deal with disasters ('Help! I deleted a critical database file! You have to restore it *RIGHT*NOW*!!!!!').

    Doing proactive maintenance work takes time; if I am busy doing development work, I don't have time to do enough proactive maintenance.
    And believe me, we *need* proactive disaster avoidance work.

    I think that more division of labor is required; I mean for heavens sake, its one of the first principles that programmers learn!
  • by unixdad ( 704399 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:47AM (#8482871)
    One of my own favorite sysadmin stories comes from when I was doing support in a General's staff office. The user had been having problems with her computer so I had the computer unplugged while I had it opened and was replacing the modem.

    In the middle of the procedure, a device on the desk next to us starting this warbling noise-- user jumps a little bit and says "What does that mean?".

    "Well, seeing as that device is your phone, I think it means that someone is calling you."
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @08:59AM (#8484202)
    The major problems I have had are purely social. At a very disfunctional workplace of a company that had just lost half it's staff, including the former IT people, there were a few people at the bottom of the organisation who found to their surprise that they now had someone at their beck and call. Angry demands to move printers to save a few seconds of walking and demands for longer phone cords resulted. It turned out location of the printers was some form of departmental status indicator, and it had to be done by an outsider for territorial claims to be valid.

    One memorable incident was when one staff member sent another woman (who was theoretically at a position of the same level, but was younger) with a broken leg in a cast down the stairs to repeat the demand for a longer phone cord at a time when I and several others were furiously trying to get ALL the companies comms servers going again so customers could connect (which is something every employee in the building knew - and most could visualise a meter showing lost $ ticking over fast). In that situation a very nasty woman was proving her place in the pecking order by making unreasonable urgent demands on two people over a trivial issue. Various unprofessional threats were made to my chest hair (I'm serious folks) by several middle aged women that I had never met before and a nasty little guy who had the attitude that the whole world hated him because he was gay - so he has the right to take it out on anyone.

    My contract was terminated after I took an unused printer away from the proximity of the nasty guy - he said it was "HIS", and couldn't understand that it belonged to the company, was paid for out of an IT budget, and that the boss of the person that had been using the printer previously would have a say but not him. The correct way to do things would have been to stroke his feelings, make him feel like the big alpha male he saw himself as in that corner of the office, talk to him in person and possibly swap the unused printer gathering dust with a bigger, more impressive one that was not as functional. The brief, polite but firm email to him on a busy day led to him yelling complaints at the top level of management - probably about attitude.

    Putting pizza coupons in letterboxes for a few weeks after that was great fun in comparison, and got me out in the sunshine. Spam, but only on paper.

    Currently the only social problems I have are guys bringing in their childrens computers for me to fix, but letting me think that they belong to the company. I probably would have done it anyway, but it really looks bad after you've postponed important work to try to recover a school assignment from a dead hard drive, and you really should be getting back to another site - the time for that is after hours for bonus karma, and working around my own schedule.

    I did get "are we there yet" every few minutes on Friday, but it was a workstation used for transferring pay into bank accounts, so the user would get the same from others if I didn't fix it quickly. Working with people that have actually been to a university or have worked outside an office environment make being a sysadmin a lot easier. A guy who drives a truck knows that a computer is not a typewriter, that all kinds of things can go wrong, some can be fixed in seconds and others take serious time.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.