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December Writing Challenge Roundup, Week One

Level 17

This week we kicked off the December Writing Challenge, and the response has been incredible. Not just in volume of people who have read it (over 800 views) or commented (60 people and counting - all of whom will get 200 THWACK points for each of their contributions!), but also in the quality of the responses. And that's what I wanted to share today.

First, if you are having trouble finding your way, the links to each post are:

So here are some of the things that leapt out at me over the last 3 days:

Day 0: Prepare

First, I have to admit this one was a sneaky trick on my part, since it came out on Nov 30 and caught many people unprepared (#SeeWhatIDidThere?). Never the less, a few of you refused to be left out.

KMSigma​ pointed out:

"IT is (typically) an interrupt-driven job.  Sure, you have general job duties, but most are superseded by the high priority email from the director, the alert that there is a failing drive in a server, the person standing in your cube asking for the TPS report, the CIO stating that they just bought the newest wiz-bang that they saw at the trade show and you need to implement it immediately.  Regardless of what is causing the interruptions, your "normal" daily duties are typically defined by the those same interruptions.

So, how can you plan for interruptions?  Short answer is that you can't, but you can attempt to mitigate them."

Meanwhile, sparda963noticed the connection to the old Boy Scout motto, and said:

"Instead of keeping rope, emergency food, matches, water filter, and other endless supplies within reasonable reach I keep things like tools, utilities, scanners and the such around."

Finally (for this day) zero cool​​ noticed (not incorrectly), that

"Preparing for a days work in IT is like preparing for trench warfare.  You need to be a tech warrior and have a good plan of attack on how to communicate with EUs and prioritize their requests (demands). "

Moving to Day One (Learn), some highlights included:​ spoke for many when he said

"The ability to learn is in my opinion one of the greatest tools in the kit for today’s IT professional. It is the ability to adapt and change to a world that is nowhere near static.  It is the skill to not just master a task but understand the concept as well."

Many others pointed out that learning is an active process that we have to be engaged with, not passively consume. And also that, as rschroeder​ commented,

"The day I stop learning is the day I die."

There were so many other amazing insights into how, why, and what to learn that you really should check them out.

But that brings us to today's word: Act.

miseri​ captured the essence of what many others said in the quote

"I don't trust words, I trust actions."

tinmann0715​ was even able to honor the thoughts of his high school principal (even if he wasn't able to appreciate them at the time), who shared the motto:

"If it is to be it is up to me!"

And bleggett​ continued what is becoming a burgeoning Word Challenge trend to put thoughts into haiku with:

"Alerts that tell us

Charts that show us what we seek

Think before you act."

All in all there were some incredible ideas and personal stories shared. I appreciate everyone taking time out of their busy lives to share a piece of themselves in this way.

In the coming weeks, the "lead" article will come from other Head Geeks as well as folks from across the spectrum of the SolarWinds corporate community - members of the video team, editorial staff, product manageent, and more will share their stories, feelings, and reactions to each day's prompt.

Until next week...


I totally missed the Day0 listing. Yes, you got me. And hey! Thanks for the call out. I get that my entries so far haven't been technical. I promise my future ones will be. In my defense many of these words are defined the same in life as they are in IT.

Excellent Challenge, adatole​.

Yes, all these.  And more!

Level 20

What's the video team all about?  I suppose making those lab videos in the studio you have at the new place but how many of them are there?  Is there some post production studio or something where they edit the video with some system?

Level 12

Do we get the points at the end of the mission? I haven't gotten any yet.

Points are awarded after this mission is completed, not during the mission.

About the Author
In my sordid career, I have been an actor, bug exterminator and wild-animal remover (nothing crazy like pumas or wildebeasts. Just skunks and raccoons.), electrician, carpenter, stage-combat instructor, American Sign Language interpreter, and Sunday school teacher. Oh, and I work with computers. Since 1989 (when you got a free copy of Windows 286 on twelve 5¼” floppies when you bought a copy of Excel 1.0) I have worked as a classroom instructor, courseware designer, desktop support tech, server support engineer, and software distribution expert. Then about 14 years ago I got involved with systems monitoring. I've worked with a wide range of tools: Tivoli, Nagios, Patrol, ZenOss, OpenView, SiteScope, and of course SolarWinds. I've designed solutions for companies that were extremely modest (~10 systems) to those that were mind-bogglingly large (250,000 systems in 5,000 locations). During that time, I've had to chance to learn about monitoring all types of systems – routers, switches, load-balancers, and SAN fabric as well as windows, linux, and unix servers running on physical and virtual platforms.