Leon Adato

Day 30: Celebrate

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 30, 2016

As a word-of-the-day writing prompt, "Celebrate" was both the obvious choice and the contrarian angle.

 

Contrarian because it's been a hard year for many of us. Your essays for previous days were sprinkled with hints of unwelcome challenges, unexpected hardships, and ongoing struggles. Many of us feel the loss of heroes, whether they were public figures or family friends. For some, the economy - national, personal, or both - continues to be a source of frustration. And regardless of your political leanings, everyone found something to be dissatisfied with in the past 12 months.

 

Taken in that light, it is deceptively easy to fall into the scrooge-like trap of believing there is little to celebrate here at the waning threshold of 2016.

 

But...

 

It's Friday. It's the Friday before New Year's Eve. And for many of us the Friday before a long weekend. In fact, many of you who are reading this may have already started your weekend. Or are even using up the last day or two of vacation for the year.

 

Some are observing the 6th day (and beginning at sundown, 7th) of Chanukah. And some are also welcoming 25 hours of rest and renewal in the form of the Shabbat hiatus. Some count today as the 5th day of Kwanzaa. Some even refuse to permit the spirit of Christmas get away so easy, keeping the tinsel and decorations up and the holiday music playing.

 

Some of us are lucky enough to be welcoming new friends or family into our lives - whether significant others we hadn't yet met, fiances who have foolishly committed to joining the insanity of our familial circle, or new arrivals either born, adopted, or simply integrated into our daily lives.

 

Anyone who knows me understands that I am an optimist (albeit sometimes a sarcastic one) and so it's no secret which side my celebratory coin will fall on.

 

So as I fully embrace the spirit of celebration that comes with the possibility of all good things around us, I want to acknowledge a few things I am personally celebrating today:

 

I'm celebrating, lauding, and thanking the incredible team that I get to be a part of. From the other Geeks to the THWACK ninjas, to the insanely talented engineers and product managers, to the folks working behind the scenes, I feel like I'm the luckiest guy on earth working in my dream job.

 

I'm also celebrating the fact that I was given permission in the form of time and resources to create and participate in this month-long challenge. I was given a chance to push myself as a writer as well as an organizer, and I learned a lot in the process.

 

But most of all, I'm celebrating YOU - the incredible THWACK community. Through these essays, I got to know everyone who was generous (and brave) enough to share of themselves. While I will run the numbers later on, there were hundreds of responses and each one gave us insight into how the THWACK community feels, thinks, and acts. You don't find this kind of conversation in most forums, and I am honored to be a part of this one.

 

Thank you all - not just for being part of this challenge, but also for all of the support, friendship, ideas, and participation here on THWACK in 2016. I am looking forward to celebrating many more milestones in the future.

Dez

DAY 29: Return

Posted by Dez Employee Dec 29, 2016

Return

 

          I couldn’t think of anything to write about the word return.  Then, I started thinking about the meaning of return, and how that would mean you once had to have something to use the word return.  Even on a keyboard, you use the return key to move to the next row to start a beginning or a continuation of a words or thoughts.  So I do, in fact, have some words for this word return.

 

         Personally, I have been looking for a pool table that my dad had in his house since I could ever remember.  Not just any pool table you’d find anywhere.  This was, in fact, a 1901 Brunswick Newport pool table my dad played on in a pool hall in Yale, OK when he was a child.  A focal point in our living room and a pride symbol for my father.

 

         My dad purchased this in 1975 when the building it was in became condemned.  Yes, he was able to buy his childhood memories and told stories of this all my life.  As a young girl, they were boring stories and repetitive.  He became sick with a blood cancer and before he passed away he had it recovered and played three games on this table, and they were the happiest we saw in almost a year.  To say the least, that memory is not replaceable.

 

         February 22nd, 2013 my father passed away.  In the mess of things being auctioned and my mother having to pay bills, she lost the pool table.  That bothered me for years.  I started calling every place I could think of to find this pool table.  I finally found this table a few days ago.  (They are literally setting it up right now)  So in a weird way, I, myself, bought back my memories just like my father.

 

         Return is what I accomplished today.  A way to continue my father’s, my children’s, and my memories with this table.  This pool tables return is completing a circle and a sense of respect to my dad that I now understand. 

 

         It’s funny when we are little how much we take in from our parents but never understand the magnitude until we are older.  I’ve fought and never gave up on that table, just like my dad.  Now it’s here with me again, and the memories of dancing on top of it as a child with him including my girls are flooding back in.  The memories of all the parties and of him being an entertainer extraordinaire will carry out as long as I live.  Then I hope it will return to my children to begin even more.

 

         I’m a little teary-eyed indeed with this word, return.  To me, this is the best darn word I could have been given, for today.

 

 

~Dez ~

KMSigma

Day 27: Bless

Posted by KMSigma Administrator Dec 27, 2016

CAPRA_1946_It-s_a_Wonderful_Life.jpga_christmas_story_13.png

 

Families are a key feature during this time of year, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Yule.  Each of these celebrations mark the coming together of families – both in religious and relational ways.  Your family is who you make it, those who celebrate together, those who commiserate together, those who build you up and make you a better person.

 

In more “Gregorian” terms, it’s also the end of the calendar year.  It’s a time when companies sum up their fiscal gains (or losses) for the year, a time when we all make New Year’s resolutions (which we frequently break), and when we celebrate (or commiserate) about another year completed.  It’s a time for reflection and for marking the closure of one season and the opening of a new one.

 

For me, this time of year is about family and marking the passage of time.

 

In my life, family means my wife, my father and mother, and the plethora of aunts, uncles, and cousins who inhabit my family tree.  However, as I got older, my family has grown to include close friends, my in-laws and their respective families, several coworkers, and the inevitable inclusion of new children.  But, my family has also shrunken over the years.

 

Several years ago, we lost my grandparents in what feels like rapid succession.  They were the cornerstone on which I built the idea of “family.”  This was very painful, but you console yourself with the knowledge that they left you with such a family that you can survive the pain.  Some part of you always knew that you’d outlive them and whether you were ready or not, that part of you was preparing to let go.

 

However, it was years before – in November of 2001 - when we suddenly lost my younger brother, Kenny.  Ken passed away two weeks before Thanksgiving.  This remains the single most painful thing in my life and it still influences me to this day.  When we finally got to Thanksgiving, we gathered, ate, and celebrated, because that’s what we were expected to do, but it was hollow.  All that I kept recalling was a line from A Christmas Carol: “I see an empty chair where Tiny Tim once sat.”

 

It was also this time of year where I remember first hearing (and hating) the phrase, “count your blessings.”  Needless to say, I wasn’t listening to anyone who said these things.  I would hold it together during the times with others, and privately rage when alone.  This went on and on for about a month.

Then the holidays came along and being the first year after we lost my brother, it was important to continue the farce that was celebrating the holidays.  We did what we always did as a family – watched our Christmas movies.  For us, this is A Christmas Story (1983) and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).  The former is my father’s favorite and we watch for the humor of the holidays.  The latter is my mom’s favorite and we watch to restore our faith in humanity.  As a family, we’ve seen both of these movies dozens of times and we know many (if not most) of the lines.

 

We ran through A Christmas Story and the laughs were half-hearted.  Not because the Bumpus hounds tearing apart the turkey wasn’t funny, or because “Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra” wasn’t politically incorrect comedy gold, but because there was a voice and a laugh missing.  And that silence echoed throughout the house and within me.

 

Then it was time for the next movie.  The title alone set my teeth on edge that year.  “It’s a Wonderful Life” – Really?  Are you sure?  How can it be with this “empty chair” that’s going to be here for the rest of our life?  (The movie is from 1946, but I’ll do my nerd diligence: Spoiler Alert.)

 

The movie opens with the fanfare for all movies of those years, celebrated in all its black & white glory.  George’s life is falling apart.  His house is in shambles, his kids are needy, his uncle may have just destroyed the family business his father built, and everyone is relying on him for something.  Everything that was going wrong in the world had one common denominator – George.  Needless to say, I felt like George Bailey that year – up to and including the part where I didn’t want to be born.  If I wasn’t born, then I’d never have to experience this loss, this pain, this emptiness.

 

Then George gets his intervention.  God sends down a (probationary) angel to help him out in the form of Clarence.  And George gets his wish.  He can see what the world would be like without him.

 

The ripples are astounding.  If he wasn’t there, the family business would have failed years before, his uncle would end up destitute, his mother would run a flop house, the town would be under the thumb of crotchety old Mr. Potter, and his family would never have existed.

 

But the one thing that hit me the most was that his brother, Harry, would have died in a river since George wasn’t there to save him.  I distinctly remember getting hit with so many emotions during this announcement that I was utterly silent.  His brother was gone, all the things that his brother did with his life (specifically in the war) never happened.  I reflected on my own situation, everything that my brother could have done in his life would never happen.

 

Finally, George gets clarity, he wants to live.  Regardless of what’s falling down around him, he wants to live.  The world was a better place with him, than without.  Suddenly, I was no longer George Bailey, Ken was George Bailey.  The loss of him was terrible and would have lasting ramifications, but the time that we did have was precious.  The closing of the movie always brings me to tears, but that year it was the worst that it’s ever been.  The entire town, every single person that tangentially had a relationship with George, came to help.  Every person who had been blessed by his touch was returning the blessing.

 

This is also when “count your blessings” stopped becoming a pain point for me and became a lifeline.  I looked around and saw my family.  Although Ken was no longer with us, the love and laughter that he brought to our lives would always be.  I looked into the eyes of my family and I saw him looking back.

 

Regardless of what’s happened in your life, at this time of year, take the time and count your blessings.  Even when the deck seems stacked against you, even when the rug has been pulled out from under you, even when everything seems spinning out of control, take a moment and truly look around.  There are great things in your life.  We are all blessed, even if we don’t always feel it.

Leon Adato

Day 26: Create

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 26, 2016

(Leon here: I have created this space, into which jennebarbour's post will appear later today. Feel free to create your own responses in the comments below.)

Leon Adato

Day 25: Intend

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 25, 2016

groucho.jpg

I've written essays on for this word on less than 4 times. In each case, I started by noting that there's a popular phrase about intentions and its relationship to a particular road.

 

More than just an easy quip, whenever I hear this word, I immediately begin to ponder the significance of intention vs action. Can one (intention) trump the other (action)? Always? Sometimes? How?

 

It would be facile to say that when intention leads to action, then intention mattered, but when it doesn't, it didn't. But I think that's intentionally letting the idea go without real introspection.

 

Let's say I intend to visit my friend in the hospital. Most people believe that if I drive there, park the car, walk the requisite 14 miles from lot to the front desk, figure out that their room changed, walk the requisite 14 miles from the front desk to the room, and... find out that my friend is out getting tests and won't be back for an hour - that my intentions "count" because my actions prove it.

 

But what if I never left my desk? I intended to do everything above, but got caught up in meetings. Could I have skipped those meetings? Maybe. But I didn't, and never made it to the hospital.

 

The end result is the same in both cases. Does my intention still "count" for something in the second example? Many of us would tend to say that yes, intention counts in both cases.

 

But let's take another example: I intend to kill my coworker.

 

To be clear: he's got it coming. He plays bagpipe music from his computer speakers all day, cooks broccoli and fish in the microwave, consistently mixes up Star Wars and Star Trek in conversation, and insists on using my desk as a staging area for epic battles between his "My Little Pony" figurines (he's a Brony) and his limited edition "Welcome Back Kotter" collectibles.

 

Despite my very sincere intentions to shove him off this mortal coil, I've never followed through. Should I be arraigned for justifiable homicide? Most people would say that no, my intention doesn't count.

 

So can we have it both ways?

 

I look forward to your thoughts, as well as your ideas about intentions - both good and bad - in the comments below.

Dez

DAY 24: Hope

Posted by Dez Employee Dec 24, 2016

Hope

 

             Hope, how can you summarize the emotions that are packed into this one little word?  I'm going to try and see if I can do this word justice, as it constantly comes back to myself as a spiritual feeling no matter how many times I've written and rewritten this blog.  However, that's just where I keep coming to in conclusion.  I'll keep this blog as best as I can away from spiritual enlightenment as possible.

 

 

          Lets look back through history and we can see where hope was all people needed to cross great oceans and terrain to find their place in this world.  It has led soldiers to battles they didn't even understand the full reasons for being in and allowing them to come home after the fight.  This word has helped fuel families praying for healing, food, shelter, clothing, and many essentials to get them through their days.  Some say without hope what do you have in this world that is crumbling at times around us.

 

 

          The origin of the word hope as a noun as confidence in the future and the verb represents hope for salvation and mercy.  So I realized why I relate this to spirituality, I obviously was raised by a "doing" type of family!    Then I noticed that I had confidence in my future because I had hope of salvation and mercy on my sins within this world.  Putting this knowledge altogether, no matter who you are or what religion you believe in, hope allows us to connect with everyone.  We all want to believe things are to be better in bad situations, and we do this on faith that pushes us to believe that hope will come through.

 

         

          Many of us, especially around the holidays, cling to the hope that a miracle can happen.  That during the holidays there is something in the air that helps us push through.  We hunker down and hope that we don't go too far into debt and make it out alive after the in-laws leave the house.  Hoping that the spirits we have these holidays are drank with moderation. 

    

         

              Well I hope that I have left you with something to think about at this point.  I tried to keep it low key as I was told previously my word got a little deep on the heaviness for a Saturday morning.  Have a great weekend to everyone and Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to all!

 

 

~Dez~

 

              

 

         

 

 

         

Leon Adato

Day 23: Begin

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 23, 2016

In my essay “I Wish Someone Had Told Me” I talk about getting started in IT, and how at the beginning, you are just all over the place. You are pulled into different projects, working with different teams.

And that’s the problem. Because if you keep letting yourself get pulled around, you will never settle into one area, and you will never get REALLY good at something.

What I didn’t say in the essay is that beginning – meaning starting to focus on the area that excites you most – means NOT focusing on other things. And that can be hard. It can be a challenge when you realize you no longer know every variation of every component in 3 vendor’s line of servers; or that you no longer think in code; or that all the old keyboard tricks you knew were for operating systems that are now defunct.

But that’s the price, and it’s one worth paying.

Patrick Hubbard

Day 22: End

Posted by Patrick Hubbard Employee Dec 22, 2016

\n   EOL   [0A.0D]   }   end;   </>

 

Everything comes to an end.  Sev 1 panics, workdays, power supplies, beer, the client-server epoch, continents, species and even our Sun surceases eventually.  Ultimately in heat death, terminus is the fundamental commonality this universe inescapably bestows on everything within it.  But rather than the penultimate bummer, the ascendancy of the cosmopolitan screaming void, I find the certainty of End reassuring.

 

Magnetic fields rot on disk, photons leak from fiber, fan bearings wear.  We forget sometimes working issues that this is just IT, not an emergency room.  We Will Fix It because we always do.  We will have closure of This Thing, then there will be That Thing, which will likewise ultimately be resolved.  And as I get older become increasingly experienced, I’ve watched entire systems reach their ends.

 

end-key-iStock-476473704.jpgEvery IT system, every indispensable application and every custom process appeasing that one influential VP will sooner or later be brought to conclusion and excised.  Sunsets are a matter of when not if and I look for every opportunity to hasten the demise of declining technologies.  Throughout my career I’ve been a systems assassin, terminating downslope applications, servers and even datacenters with extreme prejudice and on rare occasion, glee.

 

Tech for the sake of more tech, or headcount, or org span is stupid. When curves trend strongly down-right, whether declines in usage, benefit, effectiveness or maintainability my ears tingle.  If analysis reveals opportunity for consolidation or transition, I gather a team and begin circling above the wounded app, ready to pick its carcass clean of budget.  I can feed something else which better benefits the business.

 

And in shutdown there are so many delicious Ends: Engineers’ final terminal logins, the last green flicker of drive lights, a final ignored alert, server extraction or even rack removal.  Occasional sentimentality or even grief at the demise of once-beloved constructs is human, especially for craftsmen who tailor services to delight users.  It’s hard to let go.  But once born, all systems are thermodynamically coupled to time- admin time- and ineluctably degrade energy to perform work.  Only opportunistic razing, exorcizing IT detritus to recover resources, lets us do less, better.

 

Life is short, tech careers even shorter.  The animation of digital signals is artifice contriving to make IT appear real.  If you could suspend entropy to freeze time there would be nothing to see.  We cast spells on nothing but micro-fractions of anticipation- syncopated signal gaps devoid of particles, fields or rays.  Letting go of infrastructure that’s outlived its usefulness is about fast-forwarding to the End to look back in time, back in energy to now.  System ends in IT always precede the best beginnings.

 

\0  

jennebarbour

Day 21: Love

Posted by jennebarbour Employee Dec 21, 2016

My in-laws arrived today, which also kicked off many days of cooking. I express love through food preparation, and will be expressing my love for my family through an abundance of cooking and baking in the coming days.

 

Whether it’s the day-of turkey festivities, complete with recipes shared by family and friends – onion pie from my in-laws, my sister-in-law’s cranberries, my Dad’s whipped Irish mashed potatoes, and gravy that recalls memories of being in entirely another room when my father called my name in panicked response to a lid-less blender making quick work of the giblets – every recipe calls forth warm memories of holidays spent with loved ones.

Many believe cooking to be a form of spell-casting – a way of making manifest in delicious, physical form love for family, friends, and anyone else who happens by one’s home. I firmly ascribe to this theory, and can’t allow anyone into our home without a ridiculous amount of food to accompany their arrival. There are many family jokes about my family’s late hour of dining due to the volume and number of dishes which must be prepared, and we [I] typically prepare enough for an army, as is our way.

 

I wish you and your loved ones days of delicious eating. I hope you, too, cook or bake something – however simple – that delivers your love in edible form. And I send wishes of future bounties for all who may find this year one of trial and tribulation, whether due to rough years, or conflict, or any circumstance.

 

And if you should find yourself in my neighborhood someday, I’ll welcome you with open arms, a warm hearth and kitchen, and whatever happens to be in our pot or oven. May the holiday season greet you and yours warmly, and may all the love you desire be freely offered and received.

Leon Adato

Day 20 - Fulfill

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 20, 2016

(NOTE: Today's post comes to us from Anne Guidry, the editorial genius behind much of the content you see. She carefully edits and crafts pieces not just for grammar and spelling, but also for coherence (at least in my case) and consistency. Many of us would honestly sound like babbling idiots without her, and would thus fail to fulfill our mission at SolarWinds. - Leon)

 

Artist Agnes Martin said,

“Fulfill your potential. That’s the way to happiness.”

 

I was drawn to consider the word fulfill because it reminds me of another word that holds great meaning for me: effort. I believe in making an effort, showing up, doing the hard work that has to be done, because work that is hard is fulfilling. There is fulfillment in effort, even on the smallest scale. The word “fulfill” is usually tied to the word “dreams,” but I prefer less lofty aspirations, at least for now. Instead, my path to happiness – while my children are young – is guided by the hard work I do as a mother. There is magic in the mundane, I have learned, if you pay attention. And if you do the work. So step up, make an effort, and fulfill your potential, however you define that for yourself. Until you do, happiness will likely elude you.

Leon Adato

Day 19: Judge

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 19, 2016

For all that we know that being judgemental is not a positive trait, the truth is that as IT Pros we spend much of our day (if not our career) judging much of our environment.

 

We automatically assess and judge issues that we face. We judge the solutions we come up with - whether they are temporary fixes or full blown designs. We judge our skills relative to our environment, to the workplace, and to our colleagues to ensure we're keeping up.

 

So I deeply appreciated it when Rabbi Davidovich recently wrote

"There's way too much "Judge not..." going on.  That's the brain's version of the lungs' "Don't breathe"."

 

He was speaking to the population at large, but I think this has special relevance to us in IT.

 

Moreso, once we accept that judging is something that we naturally do, a condition heightened by our career choice, which is in many contexts something we SHOULD do - why then we can stop trying to avoid it or deny we do it and put some structure around it.

 

Because many of us sense intuitively that becoming judgemental is NOT a good thing. So how do we avoid crossing the line?

 

Like all good concepts in IT, we implement a framework.

  • Judge designs, but not until we you have collected all the data possible.
  • Judge based on AVAILABLE data, knowing that Hick's law will bite you if let it
  • Judge situations around you, but always with Occam's Razor in mind.
  • Judge execution based on the Pareto Principal

 

But that's dancing around the subject. When we think of "judging", the idea that most often comes to mind (IT Pro or not) is judging others.

 

In those cases, there are also guidelines, which were outlined in Rabbi Davidovich's original post: 

  • "Suspend Judgment until you get more facts."
  • "Judge slowly"
  • "When uncertain, judge favorably."
  • "Unless it's relevant to others, keep your judgments to yourself."

 

As with any habit, technology, or issue that has both positive applications and challenging aspects, the application of a useful framework allows us to judge our options and act correctly.

thegreateebzies

Day 18: Ask

Posted by thegreateebzies Dec 18, 2016

Have you ever wondered how many questions are asked of Google each day? Let’s take a quick moment on ‘ask’ day to honor our heroes of search, superlative-style.

 

Where are they now? Try not to get too nostalgic.

 

askjeeves.jpg

Name: Ask Jeeves

Founded: 1996

Superlative: Most likely to be used by your mother.

Where are they now? Jeeves has retired to go live with his like-dressed penguins in Antarctica. Ask has moved on without him and has struggled after the divorce. There’s a new superlative. “I was wondering what happened to Ask Jeeves, so I Googled it.” In 2005 they were bought by media conglomerate IAC – making Jeeves half-cousins with the USA and Sifi channels, Expedia, Trip Advisor, CollegeHumor, and the Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Reference com spaces.

 

du.jpg.png

Name: Baidu

Founded: 2000

Superlative: 我不知道什么我有一只狗爪子

Where are they now? Still in Beijing. Duh.

 

bing.jpg

Name: Bing

Founded: 2009

Superlative: Most likely to be used when you don’t update your browser’s default search.

Where are they now? Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha.

 

dogpile.png

Name: Dogpile

Founded: 1995

Superlative: Most likely to be confused with any other engine with a dog as the mascot.

Where are they now? People still use it. No, I swear. I saw it on the internet.

 

duckduckgo.png

Name: DuckDuckGo

Founded: 2008

Superlative: Most likely to not be Google.

Where are they now? DuckDuckGo is now the default search of the Chromium browser in Raspbian. We love anything related to Raspberry Pi.

 

excite.png

Name: Excite

Founded: 1994

Superlative: The early bird gets…to go to bed before the other birds.

Where are they now? Excite was actually bought out by Ask Jeeves in 2004. To this day, they’re an example that the concept of “First to Market” doesn’t necessarily apply to the internet.

 

google.png

Name: Google

Founded: 1998

Superlative: Most likely to keep it simple.

Where are they now? Let’s just say Google wasn’t the first to the market, but their elegant “nothing but a bar” design and constantly updated algorythms won out in the end. Obviously it’s name is now synonimous with the idea of an internet search. Google is also going through a tiny midlife crisis. They’ll still answer all of your questions, but may try to mix in something ‘cool’ or ‘edgy’ like a video (YouTube), phone (Pixel), personal assistant (Google Home), or VR device (Daydream). Get your Beyonce fixes here.

 

 

 

hotbot.png

Name: HotBot

Founded: 1996

Superlative: Most likely to be used only by Wired Magazine subscribers.

Where are they now? No, it’s true. HotBot was founded by Wired Magazine. Aquired by Lycos in 1998, the website went through a couple of identity crises, begoming an aggregator of search engines in 2002, an entirely different list of search engines in 2001, then became a front for a Lycos search in 2012.

 

lycos.png

Name: Lycos

Founded: 1994

Superlative: Most likely to fetch, but never bring the ball back.

Where are they now? Lycos actually set a record in 1996 as the fastest company to go from inception to IPO before they went on a buying spree of websites like Matchmaker. They have been playing ownership pingpong ever since. Don’t worry, they’re out of the dating game.

 

northernlight.png

Name: NorthernLight

Founded: 1996

Superlative: The fastest search engine on dialup.

Where are they now? NorthernLight was named after the famous clipper which held the voyage record from San Francisco to boston for almost 150 years. They functioned primarily as a search engine until 2002, when their search division was discontinued in favor of an enterprise intranet search product called SinglePoint.

 

webcrawler.png

Name: Webcrawler

Founded: 1994

Superlative: First company to make ‘indexing’ sexy.

Where are they now? Let’s be very clear. The founder is University of Washington alumni. Go dawgs! In a super fun search engine love triangle, WebCrawler was bought by Excite in 1997, which was owned by Ask Jeeves and all now partner with Dictionary, Thesauraus, and Reference com sites.

 

yahoo.jpg

Name: Yahoo!

Founded: 1995

Superlative: Last alphabetically, but third in our hearts.

Where are they now? There was a period of time where Yahoo! was considered a part of the Big 3 of search engines. Now they’re an aggregate site of content and borrows searches from Bing. It turns out the company is also a perpetual leaky faucet of private user data and CEOs. In the words of Adele, “Yahoo? Can you hear me?”

Dez

DAY 17: Awaken

Posted by Dez Employee Dec 17, 2016

Awaken

          I’ve been waiting to share this word.  You know for 17 days…  Ok, seriously this poem helps to make me realize that we need to grasp the moment. Seize the day and conquer our fears or we will merely be useless creatures on this earth with nothing to offer the world.  Maybe not that dramatic but literally while reading this poem I was empowered and felt like I needed to JUMP quickly.

 

I hope that by sharing this it sparks someone’s mind that is on the edge of doing greatness but needs that little push, like I did.

 

Here is the poem by Naima

 

AWAKEN

we are in the wake
of a great shifting

awaken

you better free your mind
before they illegalize thought

there’s a war going on

the first casualty was truth
and it’s inside you

the universe is counting on our belief
that faith is more powerful than fear
and in that the shifting moment
we’ll all remember why we’re here

in a world where you’re assassinated for having a dream
and the rich spend 9 billion a year to control our ideas
and visions are televised so things aren’t what they seem

we gotta believe
in a world where
there’s room enough for everyone
to breathe

cause reality is made up of
7 billion thoughts
who made up their minds
of what’s real and what’s not

so I stopped believing
in false idols of war
greed and hate
is not worth my faith

my mind’s dedicated
to justice
my soul is devoted
to love

and love is God
and God is truth
and truth is you
and you are me
and I am everything
and everything is nothing
and nothing is the birthplace of creation
and transformation is possible
and you are proof

we were born right now
for a reason
we can be whatever
we give ourselves the power to be

and right now we need
day dreamers
gate keepers
bridge builders
soul speakers
web weavers
light bearers
food growers
wound healers
trail blazers
truth sayers
life lovers
peace makers

give what you most deeply desire
to give
every moment you are choosing to live
or you are waiting

why would a flower hesitate to open?
now is the only moment
rain drop let go
become the ocean

possibility is as wide
as the space
we create
to hold it

 

by Naima

 

~Dez

Leon Adato

Day 16: Pray

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 16, 2016

Full disclosure, I wrote this essay last year. But it still resonated with me, so I'm re-posting it here. File it under "ICYMI"

 

 

They say there are no atheists in foxholes.

 

I’d argue there aren’t any atheists in the datacenter during a weekend 24-hour upgrade either.

 

Prayer is a powerful force – both for individuals and for communities (and believe me, an IT department is a community). But among the less religiously inclined Technorati, the place of and for prayer is often misunderstood.

 

Popular culture likes to portray “pray-ers” as people who throw up their hands and “give it to God”. “Sheeple” who are unable or unwilling to take ownership or responsibility for their choices and lives. And I’m sure there are some people who move through life with that mindset.

 

A story from Torah brings into sharp focus when, where, and how prayer can help:

 

Jacob was about to meet his estranged brother Esau for the first time in decades. This is the same brother from whom he had stolen the birthright – the inheritance due a firstborn son – as well as the blessing from his father, also meant for the firstborn. There was a lot of history going on here, and word came that Esau was on his way with 400 armed fighting men to meet Jacob and his 4 wives and 13 children.

 

Jacob first divided his family into 3 groups.

 

Then he assigned gifts to each of the groups and told them to approach Esau with a little time between groups and give the gifts along with the message that Jacob was coming shortly.

 

Then he prayed to God for help.

 

The plan worked – Esau met different members of Jacob’s family and received lavish gifts from each one. And then when Jacob approached, Esau met him with and embrace.

 

To summarize, Jacob planned, then he prepared, and finally – when all the rest was done, he prayed.

 

This resonates for me as both an IT professional and a “pray-er”. We make our best plans based on the information at our disposal. We prepare – both for the expected outcome and with mitigation strategies for predicted negative events.

 

But whether we understand the phrase “Der mensch tracht und Gott lacht” or not, we understand it’s gist.

 

And in the face of that stark reality, the only thing we can do is pray for the best.

homer-computer-doh1.jpg

We interrupt the daily December Writing Challenge posts to pause for station identification and clarify the process.

 

When I originally planned this event, I had some ideas in mind. Ideas that the THWACK platform could handle easily. Unfortunately, it could handle a lot of OTHER things easily too and I didn't take that into account.

 

"Discussions", for example. "Discussions" is a great little feature that is completely different from a blog post, a question, an idea, an... well, you get the idea.  So it's perfectly reasonable that people have been posting their daily entries as a discussion.

 

Unfortunately, it's been distracting from the "official" Word-a-day post, which are blog posts. It's not unfortunate because people are having discussions. It's unfortunate because discussion is now happening in two (or more) places. My goal was to have all the sharing and ideas for a given day happen in a single thread.

 

So today, the inimitable (and incredibly named) wabbott is making a few changes: discussions have been turned off, and only "approved" users will be able to create blog posts.

 

Each day, one member of the SolarWinds staff will write the lead post relating to the word of the day. And the community can add their entries below it, along with comments, counterpoints, discussions (the actual "me talking to you" kind, not the "click here to create a thread" kind), and more.

 

I continue to be overwhelmed by the enthusiasm, the depth of thought, the range of ideas, and the willingness to share that our community has shown during this challenge. I am humbled to be included among you.

 

Thank you, and keep those posts and comments coming!

- Leon

jamesd85

Day 15: Change

Posted by jamesd85 Dec 15, 2016

As people working in the IT industry, embracing change will likely be the best way for us to continue surviving and thriving in our environment.

 

How much change have we witnessed just in technology the last seventeen years? Do you remember when everyone was freaking out about Y2K on the eve of the year 2000? How far has the world of technology come since then? Though I was only 15 at the time, I can clearly remember so many massive technological breakthroughs there have been since… and they weren’t all coming from Steve Jobs, but various people.

 

The Internet of things today may be seen as a status quo now, but there is always a catalyst that brings us to a new mode of life, one that soon becomes an accepted standard. But how did we get here? You’ve got it… by accepting change (and most of the time, we don’t have a choice)!

 

If you were born in the 90s or before, you’ll likely remember when people simply communicated via a house phone, AIM chats, and what today would seem like rudimentary and antiquated forms of communication and information sharing. Nowadays, my 11-year old nephew in Spain knows how to do graphic design and has multiple accounts on various websites where he learns new things by the minute, and my other nephews and nieces have been using tablets since the age of 6 or earlier. And on the other end of the spectrum of age, my eighty year-old uncles and aunts in Spain and the U.S. (both sides of my family), are writing me messages on my Facebook wall to congratulate me on having recently established a wedding date and wedding location with my fiancée.

 

This specific process of change detailed above, and the technology revolution, which started way before the year 2000, is now becoming the standard. And at some point, we’ve all had to learn to accept this technology revolution, and grow with it.

 

You may be thinking to yourself, “Well it’s easy to accept this type of change if you’re one of those people who feels ‘naked’ when they accidentally leave their iPhone at home”. Well, on a personal note, I’m not one of those people that you find outside on a sunny day staring at their iPhone, smartphone, tablet or whatever. When I leave my home or the office, I enjoy being a silent observer that absorbs all that is going on around me, without a device. In fact, my Mom is driving me crazy on a monthly basis for the past year or two because I don’t want to download WhatsApp – I’m averse to this change! Trust me, I’m more for changing how people use technology then to continue the current state of obsession with technology. But no matter what, the constant here is that change benefits us all in the long-run in different ways, and we all adjust accordingly.

 

But what is it that brings about such revolutionary change? In a word: us. Because without change, we cease to evolve, we cease to progress. And yet, at times, change can be a way to retrogress, because as history has taught us, not all change is good. But even when change proves to be something that isn’t beneficial, it occurs only to be the catalyst for better change in the future.

 

Therefore, fellow IT pundits, aficionados, and business people alike, let’s embrace the changes in our industry that are yet to come in 2017, and let’s work together to make inevitable change positive.

 

I hope you all have a happy holiday season, and a Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing your interpretation of “change” below.

legoland

Day 14: Rest

Posted by legoland Dec 15, 2016

No rest for the wicked.

No rest for the weary.

I’ll rest when I’m dead.

 

Imagine a fatigue so completely overwhelming that even washing one dish at the sink is unimaginable.  I’ve been living with chronic illness now for over 13 years.  Before being diagnosed, I was always on the go, never stopping to rest.  I’d work 2 or 3 jobs at a time, exercise in the early morning and even had a semblance of a social life. Being forced to rest made me angry.  I felt as if people were perceiving me as lazy.  In my mind, if I wasn’t productive, I wasn’t successful.  It took many years to release my frustrations and forgive. I no longer punish myself for taking rest.  It does means I will decline social invitations as needed and even leave events early.  When my body and mind say rest, I must comply. If there is one thing that chronic illness has taught me, it is to listen to your body.  It will tell you what it needs if you really listen.

 

“What is without periods of rest will not endure.” —Ovid

 

So, ask yourself, do you really need to get everything done on your list today?  Can you take time to rest and truly let yourself recover?  Taking the time to rest, not only has physical benefits, it helps you mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

 

In this frenetic world of technology and IT, your to-do list will always be long and never-ending. Put down the phone, unplug the television, close the computer, snuggle up and rest.  Gather fresh strength to tackle what lies ahead.  Your body will thank you for it.

 

“Rest and be thankful.” -- Wadsworth

jennebarbour

DAY 13: REMEMBER

Posted by jennebarbour Employee Dec 13, 2016

Merriam-Webster says “remember” means to retain in the memory, or to have a recollection of something. As we enter the holiday season, nearly every day is filled with remembrances around my house – and probably yours, too.

 

In my house, it’s a Christmas tree filled with ornaments my children have created, or those we’ve picked up on travels, or those I convinced my parents to relinquish. My husband lugs tub after tub of decorations down from the attic, and I have hundreds of ornaments – enough to fill multiple trees. In a previous house, I had multiple trees, but now have to choose only enough to stuff a single tree, and the very act of festooning my tree requires the active competition of memories.

Maybe it’s the brass ornament from my elementary school days, when my name was still spelled with a “y,” versus a photo of my daughter packed into winter gear for her first holiday parade [easy, she wins]. Or it might be agonizing over whether to include a set of matching eggs that I received from my grandmother versus a blown-glass Darth Vader [I figured out a way to add a second, half-pint-sized tree to make sure both happened]. Or it might be finding that yet another house move proved too much for the ceramic ornament my son hand-painted in kindergarten, found in shards at the bottom of a box [tears ensued – mine].

 

So many of the memories I cherish come flooding back at the holidays, as I’m sure happens for many of us. Collecting ornaments to mark each one is one of my favorite things to do, and I suppose it explains the volume I have. These remembrances stay with me in the richness of recollection, but I love rediscovering them every year in physical form, too.

jamesd85

Day 9: Observe

Posted by jamesd85 Dec 12, 2016

The ability to observe is the power to absorb. Human beings, more so than the rest of the animal kingdom, are born with a unique capability to observe, imitate, learn and acquire new abilities, along with the octopus… seriously, those critters evolve and adjust to their environment at a freakish rate (I saw the documentary on National Geographic, but I’ve digressed from our topic of discussion). This learning process starts with the power to observe, the power to focus on something and see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, and feel it in great detail. 

 

You take a network, for instance. The tools we use to monitor a network offer us insights (senses, if you will) into what is going on with the bandwidth, what potential issues lie ahead, how we can avoid those issues, and even allows us to analyze dynamic network paths in order to avoid bottlenecks. Is it magic? Absolutely not, because the power to observe is the basic building block of the “superpowers” we have when monitoring a network. And even the people who are in possession of these monitoring superpowers, must constantly use their power to observe in order to make use of the awesome things they can do for a network’s performance with these aforementioned network monitoring superpowers.

 

In order to appreciate the power to observe on a deeper level, let’s try a quick exercise: What are you observing now? Take a moment to observe something in vivid detail right now (try not to pick a person, they might think you’re being creepy).

 

Did you do it?

 

Okay, what was something you immediately noticed about that object, animal, person or thing? Can you remember it in exact detail? Can you remember how it made you feel? Did you learn something by observing it? Could you think of ways in which you could use what you learned from observing it?

 

Imagine if you could say “yes” with all certainty to the above questions (and if you did, maybe pick something more complex, just for fun!). Can you imagine using this ability to its full potential with everyone and everything every minute of every day?

 

Our ability to observe is not just an ability to learn, but an ability to empathize, an ability to understand, an ability to interpret, an ability to improve, and so much more. Taking a moment every day to observe your environment is the same as acquiring a new understanding about something, no matter how big or small it is. And in the end, when we think about the world of IT, and especially network monitoring, the power to observe is key to all of our functions. 

 

During the holidays, what will you observe? How will it change your perception about something, and even more importantly, yourself?

 

It’s typical during this time of year for us to be thankful for the people and “things” we have in our lives. But are we sufficiently thankful or appreciative of our ability to observe them?

 

Absorb. Learn. Interpret. Innovate.

 

I look forward to seeing your interpretation of the word “Observe” below. Thanks for reading.

Dez

Day 12: Forgive

Posted by Dez Employee Dec 12, 2016

Day 12: Forgive

 

               Forgive, I feel like I’ve done a lot of this in my life time.  Ok, I’ll be honest, perhaps just in the last few years have I actually forgiven. I didn’t know how to forgive since we never really forget things.  Time heels and forgiveness is automatic, right?  I wish, but when we loop said memories time doesn’t get to separate us from the feeling of hurt, anger, or other emotions.  Instead we relive these moments almost with the same amount of emotion as before but with responses we wish we could do for them.  Alas, we are in the moment of unforgiveness.

 

                Forgiving is powerful.  That said, I figured I would be able to share how I have learned to forgive finally in my life.  When I was 33 years old I had a lot of life events happen to myself that, well, almost drowned me.  I had a choice to either be consumed by negative feelings or overcome these feelings. By the way, this is easy to write but not easily attainable…  Here are something things I have had to do to let things go and forgive.

 

  1. Notice negative thoughts and label them as such
    1. Recognizing a negative thought and saying “hey this is a ____ thought” helped me to stop them from looping in my mind.  Similar to filtering by adding custom properties to them and then excluding.  (You know I had to bring in the tech stuff, lol… )
  2. Ask for forgiveness
    1. Ask for forgiveness for my negative thoughts and the ones I’ve created in response.  This can be to yourself, God, meditation, or anything that you believe in.
      1. I know this sounds WEIRD but this is literally what helped me.
  3. Pray (once again or anything you believe in) for forgiveness to the person that created the need for forgiveness.  To wish them well and to have a rewarding life.
    1. Asking to forgive the ones that have hurt you is tough, but this is what helped me to balance the scales on wrong or right.  To allow me to let go of things and create an even field of emotions.
  4. Ask to be forgiven by people you may have hurt
    1. I was asking for forgiveness to anyone I may have hurt and to allow them to have peace from these feelings.

 

Forgive, this word has helped me grow as a person and I just wish that I would’ve figured this out at a younger age.  Though I wouldn’t be the person I am without having the life I’ve lived to date. Something about our “having” a past allows us to grow and learn to define our pathways in the future.  Allowing us to be better prepared for bumps and potholes and knowing how to navigate around them as we march forward in our life.

KMSigma

Day 11: Trust

Posted by KMSigma Administrator Dec 11, 2016

day11_trust.png

Доверяй, но проверяй” — Suzanne Massie, circa 1984-1987

 

When I think on “trust,” a few things come to mind immediately.  Creating trusts between AD domains, creating a local account with which I entrust admin rights, destroying trust between co-workers, and building trust between teams.  So, realistically, I think about half as much about trust with regards to technology as I do with the people around me.  (Says something about my social skills, doesn’t it?)

 

Technology

I trust computers to do what I ask in the way that I ask.  This is pretty much the definition of computer programming.  In a day when you can ask Cortana, Siri, Alexa, or Google for pretty much any information in the world, it’s sometimes hard to remember that there is software behind those queries.  This is where the technology trust begins – with the algorithms and the big data analytics that they use when crunching my data.  I trust the companies with which I share information to protect my information, secure my personal data, and return me valuable services.  Most of the time, this is the case and I’m a happy camper.  Most of the companies I trust use some type of encryption to protect my information.  If they don't offer something like that, then I'm not using them.  It's just that simple.

 

People

Working with people, and trusting in people is frequently the hardest thing to do in IT.  In the past, I’ve worked at companies where it was dog-eat-dog and if you could cut someone off at the knees, you did.  This was seen to be the most advantageous thing you could do for your career.  I’m hoping that this is now more of a rarity in the workplace, but I would not be surprised if it lingered on in some places.  In those places, “trust” is a four-letter word.

 

Other times people trust one another to carry out a task.  Normally, this is in regards to larger projects.  I remember a time or two when I was younger, that I was asked to handle some tasks and I didn’t come through.  This was the first time that I was working on a project that extended outside my immediate team.  Failing to complete this task delayed the project.  I realized that I was the wrench in the machine – I wasn’t being helpful, I was a hindrance and people couldn’t trust me.

 

Fast forward a few years, and I was the project manager.  Now I had to trust other people to complete the necessary tasks to keep the project moving forward.  Thankfully, I remembered my earlier lesson and it was when I was first introduced to the phrase “trust, but verify.”

It’s a Russian proverb that was introduced to President Reagan by Suzanne Massie when he was dealing with the Soviet Union in regards to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.  In those days, the thought was to trust the opposing side to do what is stipulated, but verify it for yourself.

 

Long story short – if you need something done by someone else, let them do it, but make sure that it’s done.  This is my mantra whenever I run projects.  We come up with the project plan, we assign out the duties (trust), then we check with everyone about how their tasks are progressing (verify).

 

Alternatives

There’s always the alternative to not trust anyone other than yourself.  In most cases, this should be avoided whenever possible.  IT is a community, like any other, which takes input and interaction to truly prosper.  However, I think that everyone in IT has taken on every aspect of a project themselves, but hopefully it is for a small project.  I know that I’ve only done it a handful of times and in retrospect, I’d never do it the same way.  If attempt to be the lone team-member for your entire career, you will be one of those guys in the basement bemoaning about setting the building on fire.

thegreateebzies

Day 10: Count

Posted by thegreateebzies Dec 10, 2016

Does anyone ever find the idea of counting to be somewhat ominous?

 

No, really. Think about it.

 

At no point in counting do you ever get where you’re going. You count up, you count down. Up is to the vagueness of infinity, down is to the false floor of zero.

 

I once watched someone count up the steps down a ladder.

 

A medic counts compressions of CPR.

 

On TV we pretend we can quantify life by a finite system of breaths and heartbeats. Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, breath…

 

Some people count calories; some people count steps. The real multi-taskers somehow do both at the same time. Ten thousand and one, ten thousand and two…

 

Physicists can count themselves into conundrums, then right back out. They may be better off counting the times they wipe the dust from the chalkboards to start back at that beautifully simple “zero” all over again.

 

Schrodinger counted cats. Or deaths. We’re still not entirely sure which. Let’s not open that bag today. One, zero, one, zero…

 

We spent a lot of time this year talking about counting votes. Counting votes is all fine and dandy, but I still like to believe votes count, themselves.

 

269, 270, 271…

 

This isn’t some dark retrospective, it’s an ode. I honor those who choose to count the stars - even knowing they’ll never finish their task.

 

That’s hope.

That’s fearless.

 

One, two, three…

Leon Adato

Day 8 - Hear

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 8, 2016

day8.jpg

Last year I explored the thought that in order to hear, you first have to stop talking. But it goes further.

 

Some studies now peg the average adult attention span at around 8 seconds. As much as it's temping to make an ADHD joke (Look! A Chicken!) or write this off as another sad result of the affect of screens in our lives, there's another item to consider: our desire to contribute short-circuits our ability to hear.

 

As my friend and mentor, Rabbi Davidovich wrote earlier this year:

"A and B are talking to each other.  "A" talks for ninety seconds.  But ten seconds in, B has heard something that triggers his desire to respond.  A's next eighty seconds are wasted.  Then B talks.  The scenario occurs in reverse.  The conversation becomes absurd."

 

That comment brought up a powerful memory for me from college. In one class, we "practiced" hearing each other. One person would say something, and the other person would take a breath, think about what was said, and then repeat it back exactly as it had been said. If we couldn't do that, we were clearly not listening closely (nothing that we said was particularly tricky or complicated). The speaker would indicate that they had been heard, and now the listener would speak a response.

 

It sounded goofy. It sounded cliched. There were giggles and eye-rolls. As we began, it felt tedious and repetitive and boring.

 

But within 10 minutes, over half the students in the room were in tears.

 

When the professor asked why, the response was consistent and overwhelming. This was the first time in years that the students had felt like they were heard.

 

Author David Augsburger summed this up when he said:

“Being heard

is so close to being loved

that for the average person,

they are almost indistinguishable.”

Dez

DAY 7: Choose

Posted by Dez Employee Dec 7, 2016

Choose

 

 

This word has such merit and weight.  Why?  Why is a six letter word so intriguing to me, you may ask?  Simple: I choose to live every day.  I choose to love and learn every day, all day, and (because I work in IT, after all) sometimes through the night.  When I make a choice it’s done never to mention again right?  That one choice was made and forgotten. However, when I choose it’s an ongoing effort to display my beliefs, courage, decisions, and rights every step of the way in everything I do.

 

I’ve chosen to try and live my life daily with the four L’s in mind: Live, laugh, love, and learn. These words not only helped me in any decisions or life event, they are now my core or center if you will.  There is a lot of power that comes with waking up and knowing that I have choices to make and I have to choose to obey and accept the consequences they create.

 

                Consequences, that’s a loaded word for sure, am I right? It’s really easy in today’s world for people to sit behind keyboards and troll or do harm without, seemingly, any consequences.  I choose to believe that I live by my written work like I do face to face.  However, that is a whole other word, article, and thought process.  (Rabbit whole, yikes)

 

I feel like we don’t live and die by the choices we make, you live or die by choosing to stick with your choices.  That, right there folks, sums up why this word means so much to me. It gives me a reason to be mindful in my work, to think deeply about what I do.

 

Well, that and George Jones – "Choices" were words to live by growing up

Leon Adato

Day 6: Believe

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 6, 2016

day6.jpg

My job includes the privilege of traveling to conventions and tech shows, sometimes to give a speech but much more often to listen to what others have to say and then react to what I've heard - either in an essay like this one or in a talk of my own.

 

Among those who speak often, "Imposter syndrome" is a frequent topic of discussion.

 

Of course, imposter syndrome is far from unique to tech speakers, or people who speak in front of large groups in any context, for that matter. Nor does it strike people who have achieved little. In fact, I am always struck when I hear about people who are clearly acknowledge as experts in their field, but who exhibit significant doubt about their abilities.

Recently, Dame Maggie Smith (Downt'n Abbey, Harry Potter, not to mention a career spanning over 60 years.) gave an interview where she expressed deep insecurity about her work. She spoke of an inability to know, in the moment, whether her performance was any good or not.

 

While the subject of imposter syndrome is well-trod (I recently had the privilege to hear Jody Wolfborn (@joderita on Twitter) speak about it at DevOpsDays Ohio), one thing that struck me was whether we who deal with a lack of belief in ourselves or our abilities somehow - whether consciously or not - attribute any of our success to the fact that our own fears spurred us to greater heights.

 

This thought crosses my mind often. It is, for me at least, inescapable. After a talk goes well or a essay is well-received, I find myself thinking, "All that freaking out and worry must have paid off". It's the worst kind of positive feedback loop for negative behavior.

 

How much better would it be if I, if WE all believed in our abilities? If we practiced positive self-talk ("Come on, Leon, you've got this!")? If we listened to those who complimented and praised us? I'm not talking about hubris, of course. I don't mean we should believe our fecal matter is odorless or that everything we produce should be showered with every  award the universe has to offer.

 

But we should believe - meaning to take as an article of faith that requires no proof, and which cannot be dis-proven by a single less-than stellar outcome - that we are capable of extraordinary things when we are willing to work for it.

 

My challenge to you on this day is to put some effort into believing in yourself. And then see what you're able to accomplish.

Leon Adato

Day 5: Accept

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 5, 2016

day5.jpg

or "Perfect is the enemy of good, part 1"

 

Last year I talked about the idea of "accepting" in IT and it is our unwillingness to accept status quo that drove us into this profession in the first place. This year, I want to suggest that sometimes, we DO need to learn to accept a solution or situation that is sub-optimal.

 

As the alternate title of this essay implies, if we are unwilling to accept an imperfect (but functional) solution, we may get caught up burning cycles in persuit of a perfection that doesn't actually exist.

 

Why? Because by NOT releasing the solution now, and exposing to real-world use, you overlook valuable road test data that could affect the functionality that stands between "good" and "perfect". You end up creating the perfect solution in a vacuum, potentially building functionality that won't serve the actual implementation when it gets out into the world.

 

(this is equally true when "out in the world" is user acceptance testing, or code review, or just pushing back to the repository. I've seen designers hold off even on those steps because they were concerned their piece "just isn't ready yet")

 

This is equally true for less hard-coded aspects of the IT Professional's experience. Such as team dynamics or even our current job.

 

Insisting on our vision of perfection - whether that's a team that operates like the engineering deck in Star Trek or a work environment that allows bring-your-iquana-to-work and no-pants-tuesdays - may blind us to the perfectly acceptable (albeit sub-optimal) situation we are in today. Yes, George in the next cube over talks too loud and eats microwaved pastrami for lunch. And sure, the company has never seriously considered the idea of telecommuting.

 

But those points may mask a team that hits 90% of it's targets on time; or a company that really promotes personal growth.

 

The quest for perfection may blind us to accepting a situation which is good enough that we're able to grow, to strive, and to achieve.

 

EDIT: Corrected "pursuit". HT to rschroeder for the eagle-eyed editorial job.

Leon Adato

Day 4: Understand

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 4, 2016

day4.jpg

Last year I discussed how some areas of technology were in (and others were out) of the range of our understanding - depending on what area of focus we have ourselves.

I still think those things are true. We need to be willing to understand, and simply prioritize based on the available time and importance.

 

However, a blog I read recently reminded me of an important aspect - we also need to know why.

 

In an essay titled, simply enough, "Why" (https://sivers.org/why), Derek Sivers points out that you need to understand WHY you are doing what you are doing. And the answer is not a panacea. By asking and answering "why", certain aspects of life will become more important, and others less so.

 

If your goal is to be famous, then you may have to make sacrifices to family life or even money. If your goal is job stability, then career growth may take a back seat.

This is the ultimate form of understanding. It is the meta-understanding. Once you nail down the fundamental reason for your choices, you can make them faster and with more confidence that they will ultimately get you where you want to go.

 

Derek summarizes by saying:

 

"That’s why you need know why you're doing what you're doing. Know it in advance. Use it as your compass and optimize your life around it. Let the other goals be secondary. So when those decision moments come, you can choose the value that you already know matters most to you."

Shakespeare famously wrote "To thine own self be true". But this is impossible unless you first take time, as Siver suggests, to really understand what you want.

Leon Adato

Day 3: Search

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 3, 2016

day3.jpg

As IT pro's, we find ourselves searching for many things. We search for solutions. We search for truth (both regular and capital-T truth). Most of those things we either have a good chance of locating, as long as we're persistent and intelligent about it.

 

But one of the searches that many (if not all) IT pro's undertake is the search for the right fit in their job.

 

Forums, job boards, and advice columns - not to mention innumerable after-work-over-beer discussions - are filled with tales of horrific bosses, harrowing workplaces, and hideous jobs.

 

If there were easy answers, they'd be out there already. After 30 years, the only wisdom I can give is this: it's the same as any other problem. You have to be persistent. You have to be smart. You have to be willing to abandon your preconceived notions and start over - again and again if necessary. You have to accept that the solution which worked for another person in another place may not be your solution.

 

And sometimes the search has to be given up for now, with the trust that you'll take it up again another day when you are fresh and ready to try again.

Leon Adato

Day 2: Act

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 2, 2016

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Maybe this is cheating, but an excerpt from an article I wrote for Data Center Journal titled "Data, Information, and Action" was especially relevant to today's post:

(NOTE: Of course it's not cheating!! Using something you've already wrote is just plain smart. Feel free to do it as part of this challenge!)

 

The saying, “you can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data,” may never have been so blindingly obvious or true as it is today. We are awash in seas of data, fed by thundering, swollen tributaries like the Internet of Things, mobile computing and social media. The goal of the so-called "big data" movement is to channel those raging rivers into meaningful insight.

 

For almost 20 years, my specialty within the field of IT has been systems monitoring and management. Those who share my passion for finding ever newer and more creative ways to determine when, how, and if a server went bump in the night understand that data versus information is not really a dichotomy. It’s a triad.

 

Of course good monitoring starts with data. Lots of it, collected regularly from a variety of devices, applications and sources across the data center. And of course transforming that data into meaningful information—charts, graphs, tables and even speedometers—that represent the current status and health of critical services is the work of the work.

But unless that information leads to action, it’s all for naught. And that, patient reader, is what this article is about—the importance of taking that extra step to turn data-driven insight into actionable behavior. What is surprising to me is how often this point is overlooked. Let me explain:

 

Let’s say you diligently set up your monitoring to collect hard drive data for all of your critical servers. You’re not only collecting disk size and space used, but you also pull statistics on IOPS, read errors and write errors.

 

That’s Data.

 

Now, let’s say your sophisticated and robust monitoring technology goes the extra mile, not only converting those metrics to pretty charts and graphs, but also analyzing historical data to establish baselines so that your alerts don’t just trigger when, for example, disk usage is over 90 percent, but rather, for example, when disk usage jumps 50 percent over normal for a certain time period.

 

That’s Information.

 

Now, let’s say you roll that monitoring out to all 5,000 of your critical servers and begin to “enjoy” about 375 “disk full” tickets per month.

 

That, sadly, is the normal state of affairs at most companies. It’s the point where, as a monitoring engineer (or, at the very least, the person in charge of the server monitoring), you begin to notice the dark looks and poorly hidden sneers from colleagues who have had “your” monitoring wake them one too many times at 2 a.m.

So, what’s missing? The answer is found in a simple question: Now what? As in, once you and the server team have hashed out the details of the disk full alert, the next thing you should do is ask, “What should we do now? What’s out next step?” In this case, it would likely involve clearing the temp directory to see if that resolves the issue.

And the next logical step from there is automation. Often, the same monitoring platform that kicks up a fuss about a server being down at 2 .m. can clear that nasty old temp directory for you. Right then and there, all while you’re still sound asleep. Then, if and only if, the problem persists, will a ticket be cut so a human can get involved. And said human will know that before their precious beauty sleep was so rudely interrupted, the temp directory had already been cleared, so it’s something just a bit more sophisticated than that.

 

This type of automated action is neither difficult to understand nor super complicated to establish. But in the environments where I’ve personally implemented it, the result was a whopping 70 percent reduction in disk full tickets.

Leon Adato

Day 1: Learn

Posted by Leon Adato Employee Dec 1, 2016

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Last year I posted a question on GeekSpeak, asking what it was about what they knew or did which defined them - in their own mind - as a particular kind of IT Pro.

 

The discussion which followed was exciting and enlightening and left a deep impression on me.

 

Once of the things that really struck me was how learning, rather than existing knowledge, was a common thread among most of the comments. So many people expressed an almost ravenous hunger for new information, for the chance to acquire new skills.

 

Maybe that's what sets IT Pros apart from other professions. Or maybe that shows the kind of personality who is drawn into a career in IT in the first place. Is it nature, or nurture?

 

There's another hidden nugget in all the comments: a preponderance of folks who indicated that teaching - whether formal or not - was part of what defined them as a "pro".

Why was that important? Because in some languages (Hebrew among them), the word "to learn" is identical to the word "to teach". The only thing that changes is the directionality of it (do you teach me, or to I teach you?) The importance of that concept can't be understated:

 

In order to learn, one must also be committed to teaching. And in order to teach, one must be prepared to learn.

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