Sysadmin day? *SYSADMIN DAY*? Angry techie takes against Naked Security...

Filed Under: Featured, Uncategorized

Not everyone is pleased that we've been asked to recognise the efforts of our IT staffers today. No sooner had we launched our Worst things to ask a sysdmin poll than we received an anonymous email from a disgruntled sysadmin called Simon Oliver Meone. He questioned the sincerity of, well, the whole world, really. Having binned his mail to start with, we suddenly thought you might benefit from his jaundice. So we extracted his email from the virtual wastebasket, smoothed it flat and published it here.

A techie tells us what he a typewriter font, of course


Dear Naked Security,


Just saw your smug little piece about being nice to sysadmins today.


Did I read that correctly? I'll tell you what I think of that! Read my lips...on second thoughts, you never bothered to learn how to do that, did you? Did you never stop to wonder how it is I seem to know what you want before you reach my desk? Apart from reading your email and your instant messages, of course, which is actually the easiest way to do that trick, if I'm honest.

Because *I* learned to lip read, that's why, so I know what you're saying from a distance. You're probably wondering why I bothered, but then most things to do with technology probably make you wonder, so that was hardly worth saying.

The reason should be obvious - it's so I don't need audio while I'm watching all those old episodes of Star Trek that I stashed in the hidden P2P directory on your laptop. That means I am able to be attentive and get in a good couple of pertinent and toadying observations during those interminable monthly corporate conference calls, because I can *listen* to the call while *watching* Kirk and Spock do exciting intergalactic stuff.

You, on the other hand, have to *watch* the conference call while *listening* to Nigella Lawson do something culinary with a root vegetable that appears to fill you with wonder, so you never get to show appreciation to your office overlords at just the right time.

And why is that you lot are so star-struck by those celebrity chefs?

There's one of them that goes around pouring liquid nitrogen on things to make these amazing desserts, and you're like, "Wow! Check that chemical reaction!' Firstly, nitrogen is inert. Cooking with liquid nitrogen isn't CHEMISTRY, it's PHYSICS. Secondly, who do you think invented the use of cryogenics in the kitchen? OK, in our case, in the server room.

How do you think sysadmins make ice cream? We *pioneered* the use of industrial-grade processes to prepare individual meal portions!

Actually, I have to say that I met a Navy noncom once who was way, way ahead of our tribe in the sledgehammer-to-crack-nuts school of gastronomy. Did you know that if you lash one of those single-cup stove-top espresso makers to the breech of a 5"/54 Mark 45, the exothermic violence when the weapon fires gives you a perfect shot with every shot?

Anyway, you've got this poll going on where you are trying to teach people not to say things that you think sysadmins don't like to hear, such as "You don't look very busy" and "We're out of coffee."

And that is why I am writing to you to complain.

I LIKE to hear that you think I don't look very busy, because I AIM not to look very busy, and I do that by NOT being very busy.

Think about it.

I spent years - at school, at home, at college, in my first job, in my second job, in between home-made ice creams (try pouring chocolate milk into liguid N2 and tell me it's not superb), in my (m..n)th jobs for 2 < m <= n - learning how to program.

I can program in Bash, Python, C, D, Haskell, ocaml, Lua, Befunge, Erlang - any language at all except Java, in fact, which I refuse to learn on doctrinal grounds - so I don't NEED to be busy.

I've BEEN busy, writing code to do everything for me.

I've even written some Perl modules that watch those Star Trek episodes for me while I'm listening to conference calls, using advanced image processing to detect when the USS Enterprise reaches a new planet. Then it sends me an IM, so I can stop working on the other code I'm writing and watch only the good bits.

(The new code will respond automatically to the IMs about the new planets, and start watching for me to make sure it's not a new planet I already know about, and then I won't need to be distracted as much by Star Trek, leaving me free to catch up on Dr Who while I'm watching Star Trek while I'm on the conference calls.)

And the other thing I want to complain about is that bit about not saying, "We're out of coffee."

I LIKE it when you tell me *you're* out of coffee. Why would *I* be out of coffee just because *you* are?

The question you really need to ask is, "Why are *we* out of coffee, while *you* are not?"

See what I'm saying?

Yours sincerely,

S. O. Meone

System Administrator (Smartest Amidst Irony)

PS. Sysadmins do love their users really. Especially users bearing pizza. Even if it's made using conventional convection cooking techniques. So please enter, and get your colleagues to enter, the Sophos Win-A-Pizza-Party competition, and make some sysadmin's day! Click here to enter. (Only residents of the UK or the USA are eligible to win. Sorry about that.)

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30 Responses to Sysadmin day? *SYSADMIN DAY*? Angry techie takes against Naked Security...

  1. john smith · 762 days ago

    I don't think this is serious. Maybe the sarcasm tags are the wrong way around?

  2. Puddingsan · 762 days ago

    Could he be the Bastard Operator From Hell personified?

  3. John · 762 days ago

    This person needs to get laid.

  4. ScottK · 762 days ago

    This guy needs a hug from that gal in HR.

  5. Bob Dave · 762 days ago

    "we received an anonymous email from a disgruntled sysadmin called Simon Oliver Meone"

    Doesn't sound very anonymous...

    • Simon Oliver Meotherone · 761 days ago

      But then I'm not ether anonymous

      • Paul Ducklin · 760 days ago

        Meotherone...isn't that one of those banned substances they feed to sportspeople, or S.O. Mething?

    • Anne Nonymuss · 760 days ago

      Sounds just like someone, eh?

  6. Guest · 762 days ago

    This guy should hang out with the what's your name guy.

  7. Cliff · 762 days ago

    What a wonderful collection of utter non sequiturs amidst some pointless geek chest-pounding.

    Also, just a note to sys admins like Mr. Meone, but those of us who write programs for a living find it cute (mildy insulting, but mostly cute) when you say you "know how to program." I know a few people with Comp Sci degrees who jumped over to sys admin work for one reason or another, and who do (or did) know a few things about writing non-trivial programs. I know very few sys admins who could go the other direction. Most of the smart ones come to me when they need a software tool more advanced than a 10-line Bash script or a single for-loop.

    Then again, I know some professional software developers who would make terrible admins, and frankly aren't really very good at software development, either. You probably have them beat on both accounts, and in that regard, I'd welcome you to the team. Hell, we've got electrical/mechanical engineers writing code -- you can't be *worse*.

    All that said, I love my sys admins (and network admins, and all their ilk). They are fantastic people, smarter than most of the other people I work with, and always willing -- nay, HAPPY -- to do something for me that I don't have permissions for. Of course, I'm also nice to them, understand how busy they really are, and sure to voice my gratitude for their time, even if they were just doing their jobs. This letter reminds me of none of those wonderful folks.

  8. dubstepcat · 762 days ago

    this whole thing made my day

  9. DDT · 761 days ago

    He looks frustrated. Time to lay back and watch some episodes of the IT Crowd instead of Star Trek. Have a laugh!!!

  10. Guest · 761 days ago

    But can he code in BrainFuck?

    • Paul Ducklin · 761 days ago

      Since he clearly states he can "program in any language at all except Java," I think you have your answer.

      I guess that even includes INTERCAL.

  11. Rob · 760 days ago

    But I have to say... I'd much rather spend a couple of days writing code to automatically do something that usually takes a half hour or so of tedious manual repetition. Of course, once you add up all the half hours it can save over a year, it's a no-brainer, but it doesn't help ones concentration when the first job is two days late and people are nagging for the results..

  12. Mick A · 759 days ago

    Well, dear me - what is going on Naked Security? Getting flamed by someone who you wished a happy day to? The sysadmin in question is clearly an intelligent guy, but I fear his 'how to relate to people' skills are operating on a strict budget.

  13. **EJ** · 759 days ago

    I've found that those who claim to have the world figured out and like to make that claim to others usually don't have it figured out, and are in fact quite frustrated, like this commenter, while those that truly have figured the world out are never heard from, since they are too busy enjoying themselves. Score one for the trolls.

    • S.O. Meone Else · 748 days ago

      Hmmm...this implies that you count yourself among "those that truly have figured the world out". Otherwise, how would you know who has the world figured out?

      Oh, wait...but then you've just essentially let others know that you have the world figured out, which (by your own assertion) means that you probably don't have it figured out.

      Score another one for the trolls.

  14. lonervamp · 759 days ago

    Mr. Meone, just saw your smug little piece on Naked Security....

    Anyway, someone really has some issues.

  15. Larry · 759 days ago

    Somebody needs to tell Mr. SOMeone that Nitrogen is NOT an inert gas, Indeed, it is quite chemically active.

    • Paul Ducklin · 758 days ago

      I guess the fact that the stuff in the atmosphere is N2 says something about its uninertness :-)

  16. Steven · 759 days ago

    onfusion hard to touch bases with

  17. Darren · 759 days ago

    I smell some steganography... This thing is too obtuse for a standard complaint. Any takers?

  18. wrap2tyt · 758 days ago

    Can't be very busy if he took the time to write that...

  19. Funny guy, I will pass this article to my sysadmin room mate :)

  20. John Lord · 398 days ago

    I also know how to program and loved writing programs that did my work for me - seriously. My last job at (big phone company formed by merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE), I was the system software engineer tasked with testing all the installed MVS software products on new system packs. I added a step to the end of each of the vendor provided test jobs, that would write the test completion codes to a file which would get processed into a Test Results HTML web page any time someone requested the up-to-the-minute test results through the company network. Monthly system pack test sessions changed from 10pm to 6am Saturday-night, Sunday morning conference calls with 60 people in 5 states on the line (some of them obviously snoring), down to IPLing the system with the new pack and seeing the completed test results 30-40 minutes later. Of course the obvious thing happened, when after two years, I finally added the very last software to the testing process - I got laid off from the company with my position deemed as "no longer necessary". Of course I had other duties as well, but well, someone took over my test processes and then they had to distribute the rest of my work load to eight other people (or so I was told.) And that's how I got retired after 32 years. At least I had the nice pension. I knew my number was up that year anyway. I had worked 32 years, since I was 18 so at the time of my retirement, I was 50. 32 in hex = 50 in decimal, so my numbers were well aligned. !2 years later, no regrets. :) VERY glad I was putting money into the management savings plan to supplement the pension enough.

  21. BT · 178 days ago

    Sincere or not I personally I think it's hilarious. Mr. Meone personifies how most people perceive their IT people; real or imagined.

  22. Blar_IT · 16 days ago

    Long winded, self-serving with no ability to get his point across in a concise clear way. Every time we tried to bring some normalcy to our field,some anti-social geek who does not understand "the big picture" writes his manifesto and brings us all down with him. Thanks for nuturing the stereotype /sarcasm

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About the author

Paul Ducklin is a passionate security proselytiser. (That's like an evangelist, but more so!) He lives and breathes computer security, and would be happy for you to do so, too. Paul won the inaugural AusCERT Director's Award for Individual Excellence in Computer Security in 2009. Follow him on Twitter: @duckblog