### Geek Speak

December 29, 2017

# Word-a-Day Challenge 2017: Week 4 Wrap-Up

Posted by Leon Adato Dec 29, 2017

We're very nearly at the end of our Word-a-Day challenge, and - while I'll have a more formal wrap up next week - I couldn't imagine a more successful run than the one we've seen this year. At the time of this writing, the challenge has garnered over 26,600 views and nearly 1,500 comments, so many of which were thoughtful, heartfelt, insightful, moving, and inspirational.

My goal was to give the THWACK community an opportunity to pause and engage in a bit of self-reflection, but put it into a context we find familiar and comforting - technology.

While there are still 2 days left, here are the comments from the past week that caught my eye:

Parity (Posted by Zack Mutchler )

My mind also went instantly to parity bits. I'm still amazed at how we can maintain data operations in a RAID array with a failed drive (or drives depending on RAID configuration). https://techgage.com/article/sysadmin_corner_demystifying_raid/2/

Former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle said that he wanted every team to go 8-8 in a season and for the league to have parity. Instead, what he had was the dynasties of the 1960's Green Bay Packers, 1970's Pittsburgh Steelers, and so on. Pete felt parity was good for the league. Every team was competitive, had a shot for the playoffs, made all games meaningful. Parity would equate to enormous revenue growth. The reality is that the league experienced exponential growth and prosperity during Rozelle's reign without parity being achieved.

All too often the word equal or equality is thrown about without complete thought. Do we really want equality or parity? Take a look at this definition. "the property of an integer with respect to being odd or even. 3 and 7 have the same parity." A true balance is found when the value, purpose, use, etc. of any person or thing is truly understood. I like to use this example. Do you want a cake made with equality or with parity?

Peripheral (Posted by rainyscherm)

I like your interpretation of events that keep getting put off as being in your peripheral vision. I'm guilty of myself a lot this year; catching up with people, watching that lab video, watching that Netflix series everyone keeps telling me about, installing X beta, starting that exercise routine, and so on. I think I will try your idea sometime, wait, what I meant was "I will start that Netflix series on Wednesday".

Just like we experience with our vision things on the the peripheral are not in focus so to the people at the peripheral of your life don't get as much focus. The brain resources used to process the visual input of what is in focus is emblematic of the time spent with those we focus on. It doesn't make those on the edges less important in the world, just less so to you. Things at your peripheral vision are really grey scale, it is just the physics of our vision, and it is our brain that fills in the color. This can happen too with those we don't focus on. We make up the rest of their stories and motives in our minds so it makes sense to us. If we really want to see or know someone we must focus our time and attention on them.

Years ago I read a book called "The Tyranny of the Urgent." This makes me think of periphery - we so often get caught out taking care of the urgent things that the really important ones get neglected. Keeping focused on what is truly important is critical in all of life. It's said that the person that fails to plan, plans to fail and so it is with our day to day vision. Do we come in with a clear focus and plan or do we let our eyes wander and chase things that may or may not be important.

Platform (Posted by srcrossland)

My mind went straight to platform shooters. One of the first computer games I played was Commander Keen and I was immediately hooked. Playing more and more games over the years and learning about computers and their different components, led me to an interest in networking. That then led to network monitoring and SolarWinds. All from that initial spark while playing platform games.

Back in 1963 my father built a wooden platform that measured four feet by six feet.  He placed it about four feet up in some trees for me, not too far from our new home.  Complete with ladder and railings, it was my tree house / fort / rocket ship / jet / imaginarium.  Some times it was the Flying Sub from Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea, or even the Seaview itself.  Other times it was Fireball XL-5, or Stingray, or some command tower from which I could control my destiny and the world around me. Reviewing the earlier submissions, I easily see a parallel between that old wooden platform, upon which ideas and imagination were built and subsequently sprang forth, and the solid state virtual "platform" upon which applications are installed to perform their tasks. Where programmers and teams collaborate to build upon the ideas of a single person, so too did my tree house platform promote new ideas in my imagination.  It enabled me to create and share ideas with others in a tree-borne microcosm that was our local "social media" environment.  What started out as a place for sharing ideas with friends and receiving ideas of improvements or praise from them, has grown to be the Thwack environment and the world beyond, where we share ideas and receive input and ideas around the world for improvements. Those childhood habits of creating new ideas and elaborating upon them are how dreams and programs and businesses and organizations are born and grow.  The imagination of an entrepreneur, coupled with guidance and assistance from someone as simple a father willing to "bootstrap" the platform's ideas physically, financially, with thoughts and encouragement, are the ingredients that help make children greater than they were.  This support and these ideas are the building blocks of the Internet and business and society and countries.

Platform - what a word just within IT. We used to have Mac and Windows platforms, Linux and UNIX ones. Lots of OSes were termed platforms. More recently, I hear platform used to describe more categories in the field. There are hardware platforms upon which all sorts of software (say, hypervisors) can stand. VMWare and Azure are platforms upon which can stand plenty of different VMs hosting servers with an array of OSes, virtual routers, switches, and firewalls, and applications running on top of those VMs. We even have Platform as a Service (PaaS) now.

Utility (Posted by silverbacksays )

Utility, the ability to do multiple things well.   Like a utility man in baseball.   Many team have these utility men, they are often not hall of fame quality but to the team they are all the difference.  when you can play multiple positions, and help your team win where ever you are, you are valuable.  being that utility player is something that is important in Tech as well.  We will often be asked to do things we may not be trained for.  We will need to be sure to understand that where ever we are needed we will be expected to perform.   Its our jobs to perform well.   Having good skills and or tools will assist us.   But we can be the utility person, using our best Utility SolarWinds.  We are utility, its a utility.  Honorable mention, Utility Belt from Batman...

The first thing that comes to my mind when seeing the work utility is, well, a utility: a water, power, or gas company. My mind moves on to things that have utility. They are functional: a good belt, a utility knife, a warm coat. Cargo pants might also fit here. A friend of mine would probably add a UtiliKilt. Then there are things that have several functions: a good laptop, smartphone, or PC does quite a bit: shopping, entertainment, home finance. Leatherman and Swiss Army tools. Being an amateur cook, I might add a good chef's knife. I use one for everything from peeling to slicing, chopping, even some fine work. The software world is loaded with utilities. Disk Utilities. Diagnostic software (Wireshark, anyone?) and some little suite called SolarWinds seem pretty useful too. I have to agree with silverbacksays about Custom Properties. They allow a creative admin to extend SolarWinds' abilities in more ways than I can detail here. I do have to say that the most utilitarian thing in learning how to better use SolarWinds is right here: Thwack! Thanks to all my fellow Thwacksters for your time and help.

This reminded me of one of our old Apple][ utilities we used to use in the old 300 baud Hayes days... Dalton's Disk Disintegrator which would break up large apps/games into compressed packs to more easily send over the modem. The good ol' days.  My modem must have ran close to 20 hours a day in the old ASCII Express Pro BBS days.

Initial (Posted by mprobus )

This word could not be more timely for me. I am in the midst of chewing on a blog post that has taken me weeks to write as my initial attempt fell well short of the mark. So now I am scrapping huge chunks and doing re-writes. And that leaves me struggling with the reality that the effort won't be worth the final product. That is frustrating. What I have learned from my wife, the artist, is that there is value in a worthy initial attempt. You'll be farther along in the creative process even if you end up scrapping it and starting over. Or if you completely change it so that the final result looks nothing like the initial attempt. The initial attempt is such an important step in the journey...

I like the statement, "Don’t let your first attempt be your last."  An initial attempt can result in an initial failure, but that doesn't have to define a person, unless you quit trying.

I don't know why but this prompt made me think of initiative in D&D. Sometimes when facing a tough tech challenge, I think about rolling initiative to get that initial start on the project. Depending on how much sleep I've had and what mood I'm in I fail that initiative roll something fierce, but I always fight my way back and get rolling one way or another.

Recovery (Posted by jennebarbour )

To recover takes much effort especially when the norm is comfortable or one sees no hope of a better future ahead. It takes much faith and courage to recover from something one is used to. Before recovery, the lessons learned are tools to aid you in understanding why there was a reason for that experience in the first place.

I am a Certified Business Continuity Professional, aka Disaster Recovery. My professional life is preparing for the worst and figuring out how my company would recover. As in life the easiest and quickest path to recovery is preparedness and minimizing the impact of the disaster. The business world has the advantage of usually not having emotions entangled in with it. So it is usually easier to follow the mantra of "...preparedness and minimizing..." So I shall end it with my favorite quote from the Business Continuity Planners world:

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."  - Mike Tyson

I think we are always in some form of Recovery as it's part of growth.  To make something stronger you tear it apart and let it recover, when it does it recovers stronger than it was before.  This is a continuous process throughout our lives.

How many steps are there in this recovery program? Are there reboots involved and what downtime can we expect?

Segment (Posted by jennebarbour )

Dec 29, 2017 1:31 AM

One thing that kept occurring to me throughout: what about a fundamental shift in how companies see their employees? In the past 4ish years, i’ve had the opportunity to interact with about 500 unique clients/companies. there were 2 lasting impressions from these experiences.

1) the best hotel coffee is at residence inn

2) companies that treat their engineers as worker bees will receive neither

I think it is a standard that companies segment their workforce via org charts. but allowing silos to restrict engineering (and other) skill sets is one of the main complaints i heard over casual lunches with the engineering core. the companies who refused to mold to an evolving workforce were almost always the ones with the least happy employees, in my highly (un)scientific research. This speaks loudly to the shift from being specialists back towards being jack-of-all-trades engineers. we can’t keep putting ourselves into comfy little boxes. to thrive, we need to keep pushing. and our companies need to encourage that growth at a molecular level.

Interesting article. I particularly like:  “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” As IT professionals we are called upon to make technology transparent and easy to use. Sometimes we get caught out or upset that the end users don't see how difficult this is at times, but those that get it see that we are doing "magic."

People segment things to make it easier to comprehend, remember and categorize. This applies to everything from phone numbers, to data stores on hard drives, and even your closets. If you just mashed everything together without a segmented order to it, finding things and remember them would be next to impossible. Sit back once and take a look at everything you deal with on a daily basis and see how it is laid out and organized. I bet you will start to see a lot more segmentation to it then you realize was happening. Just looking at my desk here at work I can see layers of segmentation going on just with my little area here.

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As I mentioned at the start of this post, there are still two days left to go. Check in over the weekend to see what ideas are conjured by the words "Density" and "PostScript", and look for my final wrap-up on the first day of 2018.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed!

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