If you’ve ever watched a professional plumber at work, or a plasterer, or a bricklayer, or the people who deftly use those improbably long sticks to craft paper-thin pancakes the size of a bicycle wheel…
…you’ve probably had the same thoughts that we have.
I could do that. I really could. But there would be an AWFUL lot of cleaning up afterwards, and the final result would nevertheless still leak for evermore / be horribly uneven / wobble disconcertingly / taste terrible.” (Delete as inapplicable.)
Well, it’s much the same with computers, mobile phones and all the other digital devices that we rely on so much, and that we blithely assume will work perfectly tomorrow, on the grounds that they’re fine today.
Except that digital devices don’t break down tomorrow, do they?
They inevitably let you down RIGHT NOW, just when you need them most.
That’s how you know they’ve let you down, after all – when your presentation file goes blank live on air, or you get kicked out of a meeting and can’t get back in to explain why you’re no longer there.
What do you do?
Do you try to replace your own drainage pipe / re-render your own ceiling / rebuild the garden wall on your own / cook yourself a crepe / fix your own computer? (Delete as inapplicable.)
You simply Summon A SysAdmin, and hand the problem over to them, carefully avoiding any first-person pronouns and using only the passive voice.
Don’t say: I couldn’t remember how to save the file so I clicked on a few of the icons randomly until a blue screen appeared, and then I panicked and yanked out the power plug.
Do say: While the computer was in use, it became subject to an error condition and got shut down.
Don’t say: In the middle of a Zoom meeting, I decided to wipe off the cake crumbs from the birthday celebration you weren’t invited to. With hindsight, I used far too much cleaning spray, because there was a loud BANG from under the keyboard, followed by the smell of magic smoke escaping.
Do say: What can be done? So much care has been lavished on this laptop! You can see how scrupulously neat and tidy it’s been kept!
Don’t say: To be honest, I lost my padded carry-case during lockdown so I’ve just been shoving the laptop carelessly into my backpack ever since we returned to the office, along with my bike chain, two padlocks, and a bunch of metalworking tools I keep meaning to return to my brother-in-law.
Do say: They’re not made like they used to be!
Folks, it’s the last Friday of July, and that means it’s SAAD, or SysAdmin Appreciation Day!
So why not pop round with a smile and something to help your sysadmins celebrate the fact that you do appreciate them after all?
Why not openly acknowledge all the hard and hidden work they put into keeping your computers, servers, cloud systems, laptops, phones and networking gear in working order, online and secure…
..even in the face of random icon clicking / cord yanking / fluid spilling / equipment bashing that gets inflicted on them? (Delete as inapplicable.)
If your mouse is out of batteries Or your webcam light won't glow If you can't recall your password Or your email just won't show If you've lost your USB drive Or your meeting will not start If you can't produce a histogram Or draw a nice round chart If you hit [Delete] by accident Or formatted your disk If you meant to make a backup But instead just took a risk If you know the culprit's obvious And the blame points back to you Don't give up hope or be downcast There's one thing left to do! Take chocolates, wine, some cheer, a smile And mean it when you say: "I've just popped in to wish you all The best SysAdmin Day!"
6 comments on “How to celebrate SysAdmin Day!”
For SysAdmins & repair techs / computer hobbyists, the worst is not actually saying that you clicked everywhere and a bluescreen appeared.
The most irritating one is when the customer / user deliberately lies-by-ommission, or straight-up lies regarding what he/she did to provoke the error.
We are supposed to help, not judge their fault, but somehow some customers / friends / etc feel the need to lie to us on what they did to get a bluescreen / etc.
They will not mention till you find out yourself that they actually deleted some registry keys, and so on.
Do they even know that if they’re not honest with what happened on their PC then we cannot help them?
Or it takes 3x more diagnosis time & money to find out anyway what they deliberately omitted to tell us that provoked the error.
One message for those people?
Stop lying to the people trying to repair your PC!
If you have a computer problem, just tell the truth.
Do tell us that you deleted that DLL file in system32 / that you deleted that driver etc.
“I didn’t do anything particular, I just used Word then my PC got shutdown.”
DO be honest and directly say:
“I was using Word but my dog walked on the wall plug extender off switch and my PC turned off.”
Whatever, but just don’t lie on what happened if you want to be helped!
– Would you even lie to a medic if he/she asks you how you had an accident, if any?
The only reason to lie to repair techs is if you want to make the manufacturer warranty work to get a new device / to replace it anyway.
But if you want THAT particular computer / phone with all your data repaired, then be honest.
I don’t quite get the morality that says it’s acceptable to lie outright in order to cheat the hardware vendor into redeeming a fraudulent warranty claim, but unacceptable not to give full and frank info to support staff about everything you might have done that might possibly have had a bearing on the issue you think you are facing. I’d have thought that if the latter behaviour is outside your ethical expectations then the former should be, too.
Ironically, a lot of support calls fall into what the jargon calls “the XY Problem”, which is where the user asks you to solve Problem X (or Y; the variables are interchangeable) but actually the *underlying* issue is Problem Y (or X, if you’ve swapped the meaning of the letters).
Thus you first have to guide them onto a different path of thought so that they will permit the problem to be restated in terms of Y, which will solve X as well, but in a permanent, correct and useful way.
I consider it OK to cheat the manufacturer warranty if your phone or computer is bricked due to having its ‘security’ system silently updated without your knowlege and you bricking it due to flashing something that was correct for the firmware version you thought you were still running on, since you had auto-updates ‘disabled’ and you didn’t update it yourself.
Last time my device got bricked, it wasn’t bricked enough to prevent detecting the problem.
So, bricked anyway, I bricked it more.
Then I acted like I had no clue why the phone suddenly died.
The text about manufacturer warranty was a reference about this, it was obvious for me, but actually it wasn’t mentioned.
Of course, if you are the sole responsible of the problem, without the manufacturer putting some trap to deliberately make it brick (when it otherwise would very well run your code fine), then cheating the warranty is not OK.
Also, people who fall into the ‘ask X-to-do-Y instead of asking Y’ (X-Y problem) actually ask this way because they aren’t interested in how to do Y.
They are interested in experimenting whether doing something X way ends up working to do Y.
It’s more whether that method would work that they ask about rather than how to do the outcome.
Example, if I ask you this:
Would it work, would Word open it fine, if I extract a DOCX file, trim XML files overhead, then minify everything & compress fonts, pictures etc, and afterwards recompress that to a max-compression ZIP to make a smaller DOCX file?
You would then tell me to simply use a Word file compressor since I want to make DOCX files smaller.
But I don’t want to make DOCX files smaller.
If I ask this for example, then I actually want to know whether manually minifying XML, trimming metadata & compressing TTF/OTF as well as pictures, then repacking the ZIP & renaming to DOCX actually works.
(Hint: it does. I already did it.)
So, people having the X-Y problem actually don’t simply want to do Y.
They also want to know whether if they do it X way, then would it finally end up doing Y.
Very often, X-Y problems revolve around tricking some programs or hardwares into doing something they didn’t support natively.
So they are of course unsatisfied if you tell them to just use a better software or device that does it.
Because they actually wanted to see if they could trick theirs into supporting it.
With the X-Y problem it’s the method that matters, not the result.
So if you have some ‘X-Y customer’, asking how to do X, you can first answer whether their particular method would end up working to do Y (while also mentioning that it would be needlessly complicated), then finally how to directly do Y.
I don’t think you have quite understood what is meant by “the XY problem”.
In your rather peculiar example, there was no “X problem”. You wanted to achieve X. You achieved X. You had no reason to call for support at all, except perhaps to show off that you had figured out something they didn’t need to know or even to advise you about because you didn’t actually have a problem to solve…
[This thread is now closed for further comments.]
Thank you Paul. I hope you and your colleagues had a great day as well!