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Word-a-Day Challenge 2017: Week 2 Wrap-Up

Level 17

We're two weeks into the 2017 Word-a-Day challenge and I cannot begin to describe the incredible depth and meaning of what people are sharing. And boy are you all sharing. So far you have responded with 11,390+ views, 93 likes/bookmarks, and over 800 comments all of which are thought-provoking, heartfelt, and personal. This is the most incredible community and I speak for the entire SolarWinds team when I say that we all feel privileged that you choose to share your time, thoughts, and feelings with us in this way.

As I did last week, I wanted to share just a few of the hundreds of amazing comments from each days entry. As a reminder, you can find all the entries here: Word-A-Day  Challenge 2017 .

Binary (Posted by KMSigma Expert)

Peter Wilson Dec 12, 2017 4:49 AM

I remember a guy doing his PhD when I was at Uni (mid 1980s).  He was building a trinary computer.  He was struggling until I suggested using light instead of electricity.  I have to admit the maths he was doing suddenly made binary seem easy.

Michael Perkins Dec 11, 2017 12:22 PM

It would be nice for us to learn we are not computers, that shades of grey still exist, that one can actually agree with someone on some topics but not others, that you can disagree with another yer still respect or, perish the thought, even like them. As much as binary logic has enabled today's technology and conveniences, humans are not binary.

Kevin Small Expert Dec 11, 2017 8:25 AM

If there is one thing Binary has taught us, it is this...

Just as a series of 1's and 0's... on's and off's...can make a machine result in a certain pattern or path until it is rewritten...reprogrammed...or rebooted...

So a series of right's and wrong's...opportunities taken or missed... can set a person on a pattern or path until a conscious effort is made to reset the trajectory.

Footprint (Posted by Jeremy Mayfield Expert)

Mercy K Dec 10, 2017 11:54 AM

Our footprints are our legacies, we leave our footprints behind by making a difference. We get to determine what our footprints look like when we set our minds on changing things for the better.

Ethan Beach Dec 10, 2017 12:17 PM

This is deep. Made me think back to when I was young and my grandpa was a scout leader. When we go camping we would always leave it better then we found it. Leave only footprints behind. As you say he left a great fossil of himself on this world and is remembered as a great man. Thanks for this post, made me really start thinking about who I am and more things I could do.

Steven Carlson Expert Dec 11, 2017 7:49 AM

it could be the image you posted but it reminds me of the practice of taking imprints of a child's footprint when they are young. It's a little something to remind you of how much they've grown. As an adult, the relationships you forge with other people and the imprint you leave on them will be how you are remembered.

Loop (Posted by Patrick Hubbard Administrator)

Simeon Castle Dec 11, 2017 4:50 AM

Very succinct. Sometimes it feels like every day is a loop where I come into work and try to add a metaphorical line for the next day, get to the weekend. A few of those and the script for the year gets worked on and everything progresses nicely... Until I get to the festive season and suddenly I look up and realise there were bits I meant to implement! Next year, fresh script right? I'll put them in the next version. In this fashion, I've so very easily spent a lot of time wishing for the next line, the next thing, the next major Event. Where what I needed to do was to write myself some new material for the next lines, actually change things up and write what I want to write. In a funny way, that's exactly how I came to be writing this post.

Nick Caldwell Dec 11, 2017 6:17 PM (in response to Phillip Collins)

Some of my coworkers love to "loop" through the same things. They are totally happy doing their normal task 1 in the morning, going to meeting 2 later, task 3 after that, lunch, and so on. I sometimes envy them, but I need much more random tasks. I almost like interruption and being brought off-task, because I find when I get back to it I am actually better focused and have new ideas. Others like to simply loop through the work they have and not be broken out of it. The big thing I have been thinking about lately is how management and organizational structure can protect both their style of working and mine while keeping everyone happy and mostly productive...

Thomas Iannelli Expert Dec 11, 2017 1:33 PM

Life loops, obsessive compulsive disorder, addictions, all come to mind when thinking of loops outside of programming. Some loops are inside functions that are reentrant. For the bad ones in life try to set the semaphores so those loops aren't allowed to execute even if they are called. Contact a friend, use a physical object to remind you don't go there, this loop leads to ill affects.

On the other had for some who have other disorders, loops and repetitive actions are the comfort that lets them get thru their day and life. They are a good thing.

Now if only there were a real traffic loop around Austin?

Obfuscate (Posted by mandevil Employee)

Richard Phillips Dec 12, 2017 8:03 AM

For many years I was in an environment that valued the appearance of character above actual character. What I mean by that was that in a group everyone looked good on the outside, but didn't talk about their struggles, fears, weaknesses. So their home lives, work lives etc. were often in shambles, but you'd never know it to look at them., This kind of thing is not unique to any specific environment it's everywhere. We put on an air - obfuscate - of who we want people to believe that we are (I'm not talking about confidence, but that mask that we wear to prevent people from knowing the real us). Here's the thing, in most cases the people for whom you are putting on the mask are often also wearing a mask. We try to obfuscate as a way of protection, but it usually is just a signal that there is something else going on. I dare you to take off the mask, be open and honest and I bet you'll find that others begin to take off their masks - relationships will grow and everyone will feel better about themselves. (Keep in mind that it will be uncomfortable at first and of course there will be those that try to take advantage of your vulnerability - be wise)

George S Dec 12, 2017 8:22 AM

Obfuscatation is at the heart of some of our pitfalls in technology. It is a vendor that "looks" like the fix a problem, yet when pressed further do not.  It is that google post that does the same. It's source is varied and widespread. It is what keeps us up at night, and drives us nuts every day. It is why when we encounter clarity of any kind in technology we are appreciative.

Jeremy Mayfield Expert Dec 12, 2017 9:14 AM

I would say software licensing and cloud computing can be Obfuscate.   I find that the more i read about volume licensing and cloud computing etc. the less clear things get.   I know i need it, i know i use it, I am just not sure why its better, because it sure doesn't seem to save me any money and or ever seem to end.  I am always needing to get more, and i still haven't figured out why.

Bootstrap (Posted by karlap)

Olusegun Odejide Dec 13, 2017 8:09 AM

None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody - a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns - bent down and helped us pick up our boots. ............Thurgood Marshall

America always pivots between collective responsibility and the idea that the individual can pull himself up by his bootstraps. ..........Randi Weingarten

Richard Phillips Dec 13, 2017 9:05 AM

I never thought of this word in that way.

Overcoming challenges is often what defines a person. It's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get up. In IT our jobs demand that we find solutions to matters, sometimes simple sometimes overwhelmingly complex. But IT is binary and even though complex there is a specific answer, if not multiple answers.

In life things are different - the feelings, impressions, emotions, circumstances and a multitude of other things challenge us to not only find a solution, but find one that doesn't harm or ignore others. The idea of bootstrapping your life to overcome and succeed combined with the many challenges often defines not just our personal success, but the success and happiness of those around us.

Jennifer Hicks Dec 13, 2017 9:51 AM

There are few things better than “punching above your weight” at work, or solving a problem on your own.  I’ve always equated bootstrapping as a solitary activity and not a team sport, but I guess you can say a team can pull its self up by the boot straps.  The essay that started this discussion was not a solitary effort, rather it was two people working together and I think the lesson here is that sometimes it’s better to ask for help than to go it on your own.

Cookie (Posted by aguidry Employee)

Michael Probus Expert Dec 14, 2017 9:24 AM

I'm an Oreo person myself.  Sit me down with some Oreos and milk, and I'm good to go until the package is empty.  I did hear on the radio this morning suggesting dunking in peanut butter or cool whip.  Maybe I'll try one of those next. With relation to the theories, I thought Hansel and Gretel left breadcrumbs, not cookies. One must look at cookies (not the yummy kind) from their own point of view.  As a "normal" internet user, cookies are scary and dangerous.  From the perspective of the organization issuing the cookie, they are useful in tracking internet usage and trends.  When used for the right reason, cookies are useful (and delicious).

Jeremy Mayfield Expert Dec 14, 2017 9:44 AM

I like Chocolate chip, oatmeal and no bake cookies.   Internet cookies i do not like.   I usually set all browsers to remove cookies on exit.   I never save them.   This causes issues with certain sites but over all I'd rather not have the trail leading anyone back to where I have been.  And as bad as that sounds, its not in a bad way, more so for security and company privacy.  I log all traffic, mine included in the web filter and it is audited regularly.

George S Dec 14, 2017 5:35 PM (in response to Leon Adato)

My eldest daughter and her husband are seriously into barbeque competitions.... Their sons (my grandson's 8 and 9) have learned to by watch mom and dad. So much so that they now have their own smoker and they made meatloaf for a first dish; in addition they participate in the kids portion of the competitions that their parents attend. When the come to my house they ask my wife to teach them how to bake ("mom's not really good at that" - their quote not mine!) It's important for kids to feel comfortable and try things like cooking, it teaches the importance of math, reading and following directions and improvising when things don't go well. ps. am waiting for this next generation to come up with their own bacon recipies... ( will share them sqlrockstar and rschroeder )

Argument (Posted by designerfx Expert)

Vinay BY Expert Dec 15, 2017 7:02 AM

Arguments are as well healthy sometimes, I totally agree with you -> on what you have mentioned above, but then it can as well turn out to be positive. For example, a healthy argument leads to a conclusion or provides justification to what you have to prove in a right way (you are standing by what you believe in or what could be achieved).

I am assuming like minded people wouldn't mind having a healthy argument, this indeed would help both of them in understanding the subject (IT) in a better way.

Brian Turcotte Dec 15, 2017 9:58 AM

I never really understood why they call additions to a command line executable arguments.  I'm just trying to get along with my programs.  Sure I may talk loud to them when I leave Caps Lock on, but I'm not arguing.

Richard Schroeder Expert Dec 15, 2017 11:25 AM

I'm amazed so many technical people focused on the inter-personal-relationship-conversation path and avoided the technical script argument.  Perhaps scripting is more absolute, while people attempting to persuade is more personal. I just saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi for free last night (the Force was with me!), and I won't give away any spoilers.  But the arguments presented in the many wonderful sections of the movie were thought-provoking, wry, humorous, or tear-producing. I draw the line between "argument" and "discussion" or even "debate".  An argument between people, to me, indicates a large possibility of hurt feelings and frustrations.  A discussion, in my mind, does not.  Even a debate is something done with considerations and professionalism and kind empathy--again, in my world. An argument indicates a major disagreement, without true dual-winning sides.  Compromise may be a path to success and less hurt, or it can mean backed-up anger that may spill over with too much strength in the future when an unintended straw breaks a camel's back.

Compared to this, computer scripts with arguments in them are simple & boring, no matter the power they own.


Again, that's just a sample. Check out the Word-A-Day  Challenge 2017 forum to get the full story. Coming up in week 3 of the challenge, we'll hear what our community thinks about the words Backbone, Character, Fragment, Gateway, Inheritance, Noise, & Object!


There's so much good in all of this Word-A-Day-Challenge!


I am really enjoying reading these posts.  It is always interesting to get different points of view. 

Thanks Everyone

Level 14

rschroeder​ that is awesome,,, I am still chuckling!


way to go .................

Level 14

Leon this is a terrific idea.... The thoughtfulness and variety of the comments is tremendous.

Level 11

Getting to see how people view one thing in various ways is the most interesting part of this challenge. Thanks once again adatole

I concur, this year has had some great discussions and posts from folks already!


I missed most of last years word-a-day challenge so it's great to see everyone's thoughts this year.

I am appreciating the duality of many of these words.

I participated in a communications class about 3 years ago. We did an exercise on the word "Spring". The 24 attendees each had to write 10 words that Spring reminded them of. Of the 240 entries there were only 6 duplicates.

Words matter. But they have different meanings to people.


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.