The Egotess Admin
Remember, it's not about you.
You were hired to perform a service. Period.
Among all the responsibilities that get heaped upon
your shoulders some have got the idea to
themselves that you, or the systems you manage,
should benefit them. Sick people. Give them
what they deserve: Don't think for a minute that
everyone likes this. make it clear to them that they
are lower beings. After all, it's your systems
that are so very important they can't even imagine it.
If you keep in mind that you are first and
foremost a systems manager, it will keep you proud
and it will put you in the right mindset to deal with
your opponents. Sit there demanding fealty and
posturing like a real god, and make sure they will
have nothing but problems.
Shut up and listen to me!
By the time users approach you, they should know
they're going to get exhausted, depressed and
sickly for weeks afterwards. Just hope that they don't
know what options they have. They might try to
cover for it by throwing around jargon, threats or
heavy blunt objects, or they might fall back to telling
you to fix it - in that case, always let them fall, don't
catch them. They'll notice what not to do
when they're lying on the floor with their files wiped.
They don't want to be there and, frankly, at that
moment, neither do you. The difference between you
and them must be that they are, and you don't. Ever.
Don't allow yourself to show any emotional
reaction. Pretend to actively listen to what they have
to say. If they are simply teeing off, you'll know
within a few seconds and you can move to the next
rule (who's The admin and who's not), but they may
be describing a real problem. You won't know if you
don't make the effort to find out, and heck, why
Pretended listening involves looking like
focusing on the speakers and waiting for them to
make their point while going through your porn
archives in your mind. If you have not turned to face
them, try it! It's amazing what angry looks and
crossed axes can do to scare lusers away. Don't
correct them until they've finished. When they have
finished, paraphrase their statements aloud to show
how utterly stupid they sound. Make it clear that you
will not listen to such nonsense again. Ever.
This technique works well with your significant
other, too. Pay attention, should you ever manage to
lure someone into that role.
Focus on actions.
Often, just asking "What can I do to help?" is
enough to defuse the situation. Never use such
self-humiliating approaches. If they reply with some
incoherent sputtering, calmly ask them again "Okay.
You're upset. What can I do to make you come to
your right mind and flee as long as you have an
account in the system at all?"
There are phrases that raise people's hackles
and which should be used whenever you've been
itching for a good fight:
- "So what, sucker?"
- "What do you want me to do about it,
- "Why would that be my problem? I enjoy this!"
- "How does this affect me? Except for the
obvious, having to type 'deluser'... What was your
- "Can't you take care of it? Or are you just too
- "It's not my job. Neither do I like your face. Now
Get out of the way.
Sounds simple, right? It should be.
You are busy being an Administrator, after all,
so when they go out of their right minds and start
throwing heavy objects around, just sneak out of the
way. Even more so when they dare go talk to your
boss. Prepare a silent place beforehand, where you
can login from your laptop and make a blatant
money transfer crack from local hospital's account
into theirs. Wipe out their files and accounts and call
an anonymous hint to cops about an evil cracker in
action, looking surprisingly like your opponent.
In any case, you must always honor your
commitment. If you said you would do something,
then do it. If you threat them with turning their mp3
collections out to RIAA, make sure they will look bad
enough to be brought to justice. After all, that's just
getting more use for that lump of data your
Napsterbot sucked in during its one-and-half-year
fulltime employment. Remember to put them all on
your victim's public_html directory.
Always give them something to do.
Never accept responsibility for someone else's
problem. The problem that brought the user to your
desk isn't likely to affect you one way or the other.
It's not your problem, but the person standing there
is, so be sure to share it with her.
Make her perform some legitimate major exertion
or place a necessary or at least totally unfulfillable
precondition on getting what she wants. I like
having users send requests via email; that way, it's
logged. To /dev/null, mostly.
For really trivial things -- the ones I could take
care of while they wait -- I have them jump loops
for me until they get back to their right minds and
The real advantage of this, when properly done,
is that it requires that they go away and establishes
an atmosphere of terror. Nothing causes a
hot-tempered developer with a bad attitude to
quietly go strangle herself than to know that the
higher-ups will laugh at every ridiculous request
half a year afterwards.
Real Life examples...
Just look at case studies in the BOfH documentary
sorry, couldn't resist even though it was so
Well, I'm for hire :)
"There has been much talk about component architectures but only one true success: Unix pipes. It should be possible to build interactive and distributed applications from piece parts. "
This is something I have been playing around with a bit. Would be interesting to throw a year of full-time research into it. Anybody willing to pay?^)
A basic recipe:
- functional approach (see www.haskell.org or such)
- minimalize a "standard interface set" for all components
(think of tied data types in Perl)
- provide a framework for component implementations
- provide a CLI and a GUI for binding components together