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Un-Acceptable

Level 18

Larry Wall (creator of the Perl programming language) famously said,

“Most of you are familiar with the virtues of a programmer.

There are three, of course: laziness, impatience, and hubris.”

In one brilliantly succinct phrase, Mr. Wall took three traits commonly understood to be character flaws and re-framed them as virtues.

As I sat and thought about how acceptance is generally seen as a positive trait in life, I realized that in I.T. it could be just the opposite.

Accepting the status quo, that the system “is what it is”, that things are (or aren’t) changing (or staying the same) and there is nothing that we can do to affect that… all of these are anti-patterns which do us no good.

As I sat and pondered it in the wee hours of the morning, I heard the voice of Master Yoda whisper in my ear:

  • NOT accepting leads to curiosity
  • Curiosity leads to hacking
  • Hacking leads to discovery
  • Discovery leads to innovation
  • Innovation leads to growth

When we refuse to accept, we grow.

Bringing this back around to personal growth, I think there is a time and place when refusing to accept – our perceived limitations, our place (whether that’s in the org chart, or in society at large), our past failures, etc. When we refuse to permit those external forces to define or limit us – that is when we find the path toward personal growth.

33 Comments
MVP
MVP

Well said as usual adatole​ !

Of course I tend to be partial to perl myself...

Master Yoda speaks wisely in my opinion.

MVP
MVP

That's how I met my girlfriend! (The not accepting status quo, curious about her part - NOT the hacking part!)

On a serious note, I have to agree. it's curiosity into how/why a system does what it is doing that leads to investigations of how it could be done better.

Level 17

adatole​ I'll follow you down this rabbit hole!!  If IT's to the dark side, I hear they have cookies

I can concur with the aforementioned details. Most of the Dashboards I keep handy or on rotate were built and polled for because I got tired of logging and obtaining manually.

I think such wonderful traits can only translate into success when dealing with our type of folk. I think I may have a few new resume points to update here.

laziness - forced/evolutionary innovation abilities - Translates into not wanting to do the same trivial tasks over and over, wanting to enjoy more free time forces automation. Each problem solved is another night of on call saved!

impatience - lack of waiting abilities - forced to push the threshold, overclocker's and those of us who eat RAM for breakfast. Ever look up and notice you have more tabs open than pages in your grandma's recipe book?

                                                                                  The reason CTRL + ALT + Minus(-) was ever a conceived, even if it was mostly a visual tactic.

hubris - an allergic reaction to failure - We can't go home until IT's done, when it works I may sleep, no negative connotation to drive us to Super Villain posture but knowing I made this, I did this, IT works because of ME matters to me!

                                                                         *Who doesn't want to have that in their back pocket? Even if you are the only one who knows, and everyone else on that forum*

Level 14

This is how most inventions came into being.

MVP
MVP

Agreed!

At my current job many things are done simply because they've always been done that way.   Drives me nuts, if there is a better way of doing things, you should start doing it for new things and go back and retro-fit older installations if possible.   Trying to steer a ship that is driven by momentum is driven by status-quo is frustrating!  I definitely prefer to innovate where possible myself.

We got lucky a little while back, the board decided to have a comprehensive audit / penetration test done on our network.  Had I not been driving standards and working hard to get everything running SSH and having standard ACLs that was internet facing, we would have been rated much lower than we were.

Level 17

Most or All ?

Level 14

I would say most, like 99 percent.  Some inventions were just dumb luck.

Level 17

lol... in some cases dumb luck that the inventor did not die; like that guy flying a kite in a storm.

Level 10

We humans are a curious bunch. Keep discovering, and "Stay thirsty hungry my friend."

Level 16

Excellent....  I was in a lazy Friday mode and this has motivated me to do some hacking...

Level 17

I don't always Hack, but when I do...

It's more than just Facebook!

I am too stubborn to accept others opinion of me. 

Back in 1993 while working as a Sales Assistant at a small South Texas VAR, I was told by an arrogant/ignorant Novell Engineer that "You will never be able to do what I do!"

I scrimped and saved to buy enough parts to build a Novell Netware 3.11 Server with software mirrored drives, a ten Mb hub and used my home PC as a Novell client.  In 1993 this was a full Netware Lab!

I would go to the book store every week to see what new books came out that I would need.  Being single I would study all of the time.  In May of 1994, I was pushed to start taking tests by the sales guy I worked for and my father.

Three months later I was a Novell CNE!  In the next six months I passed the tests to become a Compaq ASE and a ECNE(MasterCNE).

That arrogant/ignorant guy had moved on and I took his place.  I never heard from that guy again.

RT

Very true! Here are my thoughts...

We seasoned professionals understand the delicate balance of feeding our curiosity, adhering to our responsibilities, and meeting the expectations of our bosses. Hollywood loves to play up the rogue, the wild card, the lone wolf, and the loose cannon... but in the real world we all know that approach can be a CLM.

Finding that "...better way" has to be thorough and deliberate in thought and planning. The old saying, "The road to Heii is paved with good intentions" comes to mind, and I have seen it far too often in my time. My template of questions now are to every bright idea:

1. How do we patch it?

2. How do we monitor it?

3. How do we document it?

4. How do we back it up?

5. How do we archive the data?

6. How do we update it?

7. What do we do if you get hit by a bus?

8. How many hours a month will it take to properly administer?

9. And some others depending on the bright idea...

Once that bright idea runs through the gauntlet we can make a decision.

And No! I am not in the dream-squelching business. 🙂 I am trying to teach my staff to be thorough so we don't have gigantic messes on our hands down the road.

One of the disappointing things about my adventure in proactive monitoring is the fact that too often the Acceptance is the enemy of Innovation.

Too many times when a threshold is passed or an availability number is not hit, the Line of Business would rather move the number than improve their application / infrastructure.

Boo Acceptance...in IT.

Level 14

I've always adhered to the Dirty Harry mantra... "A mans GOT to know his limitations!" as a starting point!

That said... I always work hard to get past the limitations, because the first step in any problem is recognizing it.

Radioteacher​ you and I are alike, don't tell me I can't ; I will just to prove you wrong. (love carrying that chip on my shoulder!!)

Most importantly, I am NEVER afraid to ask WHY or How do we make this better?

Level 14

Well said.  Sometimes it takes a little work to be lazy.  And there can almost always be something good that comes out of a negative.  Always look on the bright side!

Level 11

I agree.  Don't accept information at face value.  It is often given with little thought in hopes no one will question it or look for facts to back it up.

The vendor DEV team has a service application memory leak.  Left to its own, the service would consume enough memory to kill the system in two weeks.

DEV said "Lets setup a task to restart the service every night".  OPS said "Fix your code!".  The manager said  "Add the restart service until DEV fixes the code."

Six years later the leak has never been fixed.  Dev says its not an issue but the Solarwinds chart looks like a sawtooth wave.

Oh well.  There are other fights out there.

RT

Level 14

Smiling and shaking my head.

Excellent observations and thought process, as always.

But for those of us in the public light, may I gently suggest combining two steps:

  • Curiosity leads to hacking
  • Hacking leads to discovery

We could easily bypass "hacking" and say "Curiosity leads to discovery."

Exactly how we discover can be a matter of process and research, and not necessarily stray into the realm of hacking--which can have a negative connotation.

I realize this is, perhaps, too politically correct for some.  But it's honest, and may avoid guiding some naive future script kiddies from justifying their actions by pointing to Thwack's process that guided them to hack.

Even as Thwack's "P.C. Filter" blocks some of our statements for potentially containing offensive words or phrases, so must we choose our words carefully in professional and personal communications, lest we lose our jobs or give inappropriate advice.

Level 7

This never happens where I work.  (I wish)

MVP
MVP

Great post! I'm not one for hacking but I always like to find ways to simplify things.

Level 14

Hacking frees the mind

Level 17

the rest will follow

Level 14

Oh yeah...

Level 11

In my country we have a saying.

La vagancia es la madre de todos los inventos.

Lazyness is the mother of all inventions

Level 14

I like that.  Mind if I borrow it?

Level 11

No problem

MVP
MVP

Very true

MVP
MVP

Guess I have a life to do that

MVP
MVP

Very cool.

Level 20

I don't like accepting either Leon... good points.

Level 13

Well put.  As a fan of Larry, Perl and Yoda, you hit the nail on the head.

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.