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What Makes Us Go To Such Extremes?

Level 17

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 h....

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?


caffeine overclocking - I like it. !! a past life we had coffee machines that used a 1 liter bag of "gourmet coffee concentrate" that when added with the appropriate amount of water produced close to 800 cups of coffee.  Used to time it to where I got to change the concentrate bag before it was out.  1/2 teaspoon had you going all afternoon. Redbull had nothing on this...

Level 11

The future, where I came from, coffee was what the NETWORK ran on. The Network automatically fix/rerouted/optimized itself all day long. Never a blip on the network. The only common denominator was the cartel that controlled the coffee beans. They were the ones always in control. Depending on the brew, that is how your network ran. Some days you just knew you were running on better beans than others because the network and apps were superfast. Protocol used… IPvCB (Internet Protocol version Coffee Beans) 😉

Level 17

"The spice must flow..."

Level 17

"I just MacGuyver'ed that Sh !"  - Who doesn't love the opportunity to say that.

I refer back to an old article I read about a lively little convention of obscure and unwitting super heroes (at  least in some of our world's) about the culture of knowledge seekers and free information advocates in their pure form of entertainment, where all things revolve around the hack. Digital, Mental, Personal or Virtual - the rush of adrenaline unmatched in existence just by sheer exuberance of a force that 'bends the matrix'. The feeling experienced when you reach god-mode and nothing can stop you.

Level 12

So, as I am reading this, at 2:37 AM after having been awakened by the on-call engineer because of a massive storage failure, because remote access is not working and wishing I had caffeine, and then being able to fix the remote problem in less than 10 minutes (only slightly McGuyverishly, still without caffeine) is what only a geek would call a good start to the day.Maybe not god-mode, but pretty cool, especially when you find out the Senior VP for IT was one the conference bridge.

Level 12

i am reading this after completing an remote work. nice article  Leon i have not sys admin stories.


as adatole‌ said "this spice must flow"....whichh means that some days there is not enough caffeine..

Level 14

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!"

Level 15

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.

Level 9

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

Level 9

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

Level 14


Never got into the Red Bull et al drink thing!

Whatever works....

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

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.