End of another era

I’ve been dutifully tending equipment in this bay for 15 years… little bit sad that I won’t ever drive here again. On the other hand, 10 years ago I nearly died in a car crash (not my fault) coming here in the middle of the night. There’s an invisible army of system admin who work around the world, every hour of every day. We make every aspect of your modern world function. I’m proud to be one of them, doing my little part.

The folly of the unwise

When I left, the search for my replacement took a long time. Much longer than I’d have preferred, and to an eventually unsatisfactory conclusion for everyone involved, I believe. I contented myself with the knowledge that my skill set was sufficiently wide in breadth and complex in nature that I was hard to replace. I used this to buoy my ego. ALthough I had sympathy for the people I was leaving, and the one I left in my stead, it felt good to be needed and wanted, and I was proud that I could fill that role like no one else we’d found.

Such is the folly of the unwise, I’m afraid.

~ Matt Simmons, from And When You Gaze Long Into an Infrastructure, the Infrastructure Will Gaze Back Into You1

Note to self: Hang out with Matt more and listen to what he has to say.

  1. http://www.standalone-sysadmin.com/blog/2013/02/and-when-you-gaze-long-into-an-infrastructure-the-infrastructure-will-gaze-back-into-you/ 

Less interrupting please

I have seen this happen more times than the number of yaks I’ve shaved. At nearly every job I’ve had, I’ve walked this fine line. I’ve had performance reviews where I’ve been called pushy, aggressive, assertive, abrasive, or bitchy simply for speaking up in a similar manner to that of my male colleagues, and on the other side of things, I’ve been interrupted and spoken over more times than I can count. I’ve worked at places where I was the only one being interrupted (backstory: I’ve been the only woman in a lot of engineering departments), which has bothered me. But I’ve also worked at places where everyone interrupts each other all the time. For a while, I thought that was better. “At least I’m not being spoken over because I’m the only woman; the guys get interrupted too,” I thought to myself. But everyone interrupting everyone else really isn’t that much better.

~ Katherine Daniels, from On Interrupting Interrupt Culture1

For, let’s say, the first half of my life, I was always the one doing the interrupting. As I’ve begun to listen, I now realize how much everyone interrupts everyone else. When I’m relaxed and on my game, I try to have a meta-listening happening so I can tell when to stop talking to keep the conversation working. As best I can manage, when I’m interrupted, I simply stop talking.

But sometimes, just for fun, I like to toss this in quietly while the interrupter is still speaking…

Oh! I’m sorry, did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?


  1. http://beero.ps/2015/01/13/on-interrupting-interrupt-culture/ 

Bespoke, Hand Crafted Engineer

There are ramifications to my job not being done correctly, and there are ramifications to your, as well. They’re probably not always (or even usually) dire, but how many times does it have to be?

~ Matt Simmons, from Bespoke, Hand Crafted Engineer 1

You can, and should, also follow Matt directly on Twitter @standalonesa 2 and on his blog. 3

  1. https://www.usenix.org/blog/bespoke-hand-crafted-engineer 

  2. https://twitter.com/standalonesa 

  3. http://www.standalone-sysadmin.com/blog/ 

The forsaken art of pedagogy

In other words, you actually belong to a wider group: you are one of the increasingly commonplace factions of society that takes pride in not bothering to make yourself understood. You feel entitled to let others worry about what you really mean, and even revel in the tribalism of `being in the know’ rather than letting others into your secret world, as if playing the role of an ignorant tourist in a foreign country.

~ Mark Burgess, from The Forsaken Art of Pedagogy

LOPSA social media 9 months in

7c00c01a512810a03f54e6b5d8973c8a_400x400In June 2014 I volunteered to work with the Communications Committee to help pump content into LOPSA’s social channels. Perhaps you’ve noticed a few things appearing? Unfortunately, it’s far more likely that you’ve not noticed much change in LOPSA’s visibility on social media.

LOPSA is @lopsa on Twitter, and is also on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Why no change?

The problem is simply a lack of material coming into the big end of the funnel. As such, there’s very little that goes out the “bullhorn” end of the funnel to LOPSA’s social channels.

So what have I been doing?

When I see…
– updates in the LOPSA RSS feeds (lopsa.org, Governance)
– the monthly LOPSA Gram
– or anything LOPSA-specific
…I pour that stuff into the social channels.

What have I NOT been doing? I have not been dumping in general “IT news”, security announcements, etc. Everyone can already get that material from their favorite channels.

How can YOU help?

If you’re a LOPSA Board, or Committee, member, you could be more visible: Please put up some blog posts, (even the smallest 3 sentence missives,) about the last bit of official business you completed. The Board Secretary could also draft a few-sentences summary of each Board meeting to be included in the official minutes; Or just put up a blog post with a summary extolling the virtues of what was accomplished.

If you’re a LOPSA member, please consider sharing some of the posts you see in the social channels. If you believe in LOPSA, you probably think your fellow IT professionals should know about LOPSA. Those few things you decide to share, might lead new members to LOPSA. So, sharing is caring!

Programming sucks

Every friend I have with a job that involves picking up something heavier than a laptop more than twice a week eventually finds a way to slip something like this into conversation: “Bro,1 you don’t work hard. I just worked a 4700-hour week digging a tunnel under Mordor with a screwdriver.”

System administration sucks too:

… And if these people stop, the world burns. Most people don’t even know what sysadmins do, but trust me, if they all took a lunch break at the same time they wouldn’t make it to the deli before you ran out of bullets protecting your canned goods from roving bands of mutants.

~ Peter Welch, from Programming Sucks



It’s been said by a number of smart people that DevOps is largely founded in an organization’s skillful collaboration and communication, and the culture that results. I agree with that idea, and I also think that it’s one of the reasons why the term DevOps is sometimes difficult to explain, because these are ‘soft’ skills we’re talking about. These aren’t things you can graph or alert on, they only manifest in the resulting product and environment.

~ John Allspaw from DevOps: These Soft Parts

If you build it and no one shows up, do something else

There was a discussion on the mailing list about communications, and I chimed in with a “LOPSA sucks at communications”, followed by a little naive rant about how LOPSA should be using social channels. At which point Matt Simmons sniped me with a, “Hey, sounds like you want to help out!”

I had spent the last year or two trying to breath life into a network/sysadmin group in the geographic area near me. I really tried. I was unable to find a single person (in my geo area) who was willing to passionately jump in and help pull the sled in the tractor-pull. I learned a lot while trying (and I mean that in a positive way.) Anyway, I’m ceasing my efforts on a local chapter; I wasn’t spending a lot of time, but I’m going to use the little bit of time I was spending to . . .

Volunteer to help LOPSA!

Turns out that LOPSA has a functioning social media setup based around HootSuite. All that was really needed was another pair of hands to pull the levers and spins the knobs.

Hey, this monkey can do that! ook ook OOK!

…and, maybe there’s something you too can do to help LOPSA? :)

Update Feb 2015: LOPSA social media 9 months in.