What Makes Us Go To Such Extremes?

I’ve really enjoyed watching (and re-watching, a few times) this video SolarWinds made in honor of SysAdmin day (SysAdmin Day Extreme). What appeals to me – besides the goofy sound effects and scenarios (Seriously, guys? “Parkour Password Reset”?!?) is the underlying premise – that sysadmins are adrenaline junkies and our job is a constant series of RedBull-fueled obstacles we must overcome. Because even though that doesn’t match the reality in our cubicle, it is often the subtext we have running through our head.

In our heads, we’re Scotty (or Geordi) rerouting power. We’re Tony Stark upgrading that first kludged-together design into a work of art. We’re MacGuyver. And yeah, we’re also David Lightman in “War Games”, messing around with new tech and unwittingly getting ourselves completely over our head.

As IT Professionals, we know we’re a weird breed. We laugh at what Wes Borg said back in 2006, but we also know it is true: “…there is nothing that beats the adrenaline buzz of configuring some idiot’s ADSL modem even though he’s running Windows 3.1 on a 386 with 4 megs of RAM, man!”.

And then we go back to the mind-numbing drudgery of Windows patches and password resets.

I’ve often said that my job as a sysadmin is comprised of long stretches of soul-crushing frustration, punctuated by brief moments of heart-stopping panic, which are often followed by manic euphoria.

In those moments of euphoria we realize that we're a true superhero, that we have (as we were told on Saturday mornings) "powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man."

That euphoria is what makes us think that 24 hour datacenter cutovers are a good idea; that carrying the on-call pager for a week is perfectly rational; that giving the CEO our home number so he can call us with some home computer problems is anything resembling a wise choice.

So, while most of us won't empty an entire k-cup into our face and call it "Caffeine Overclocking", I appreciate the way it illustrates a sysadmin's desire to go to extremes.

I also like that we've set up a specific page for SysAdminDay and that along with the video, we've posted links to all of our free (free as in beer, not just 30 day demo or trial) software, and some Greeting Cards with that special sysadmin in your life in mind.

Oh, and I've totally crawled through a rat’s nest of cables like that to plug something in.

What are some of your "extreme SysAdmin" stories?

Anonymous
  • LOL    

    Never got into the Red Bull et al drink thing! emoticons_laugh.png

    Whatever works....

    My passion is coffee.... black and strong... the stronger the better.

  • Agreed!  But I have to show some love to my personal sidekick in these situations, energy drinks.  Sure they dont actually do anything but I always liked pretending they do

  • rfackrell r.fackrell forgot which one you're using now, but I'm sure you have some great stories from helping out your wife's family and just anyone in general lol


  • In my decades of IT experience, I find that I am never without my trusty can of Mt Dew as I delve into the belly of the beast to solve the issue.  Whether it be crawling through the carbon-crusted ceilings of a iron forging facility to figure out why a serial terminal connection no longer works to baby-sitting a 36-hour Novell Netware to Windows 2000 Server conversion.  To servicing the PLC contained in a CNC router to reprogramming a Plastic Injection molding machine.  To having to work in a room filled with Mercury switches or in a room where the cold-forge screws.  The days of the sysadmin are far from "normal" or routine and even though some days are just password resets.  It is the unknown that drives us to grow and learn.

  • Before K-Cups the office coffee pot was either empty or sitting spewing something akin to the La Brea Tarpits!!!

    Caffeine.... it's the only food group known to techs! (ok... maybe the occasional snickers bar and a bag of chips!)

    Being a technical McGuyver at 2 AM when the phone rings.... I'll take that any day..... ScottRich

    To adjust a quote from Apocalpyse Now....   " I love the smell of caffeine in the morning.... its smells like victory!"