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Hooray for learning

Late yesterday I got a pretty difficult request at work - the kind of thing that sounds easy to non-technical people but is, in fact, massively complicated. It looked like we were in luck, that something similar had been set up in the past and that would just work. But no, alas, no such good fortune.

So I spent today untangling a series of very complicated issues, all urgent, and all handed down from the highest levels - all for something that seems like it ought to be very easy. I finally figured it out, after messing around with firewall rules, entropy-gathering policy for the encryption, password policies and shell variables for users - plus a bunch of dead ends in the ftp protocol, network security, and system patch level. This was mindbending.

So I felt pretty happy that I fixed it, and just in the nick of time, too. If techie stuff were sexier, it would have been a very flashy save - as it is, I just have to revel in the intellectual satisfaction. And it also made me realize just how much I've learned at my last couple of jobs. My skills as a unix dude are quite a bit deeper; I've added a lot of networking kung-fu and other of the non-basic sysadmin skills. Sometimes I worry that I don't learn enough on the job, but it's moments like these that make me realize I really have been slowly growing more competent, and not just getting by with what I already know.

I don't think when I was a kid, I'd have envisioned this as my career. But then, being an astronaut turned out not to be practical, and I'm still working on being a writer. But if I went back in time and told 12 year old me what life would look like at 36, I'd probably be pleased. Working with computers in the movie industry, living on the freakiest beach in the world, writing, acting and singing for fun ... yep, 12 year old me would think that was pretty cool.

Except that I still don't have a dog.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 23rd, 2008 02:12 am (UTC)
If techie stuff were sexier??

Believe me, when the lab is calling because they don't have orders on the last 12 specimens sent down because PowerChart has crashed (again!)... Our tech support guy is the sexiest man alive.

May. 23rd, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah well - a fireman who has a moment of fire-fighting genius, or a painter in the throes of one of his great works, or any of the dozens of "cool" professions that it's acceptable for the male leads in romantic comedies to have, like furniture restorer, sports journalist, radio DJ, tv composer, what have you - those are all sexy professions. When I say I reconfigured PAM to use EGD and allow sftp connections with appropriate iptables permissions.. I sound more like Spock than Kirk.
May. 23rd, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
Point taken.

Also, after some reflection, I do see how we use poor Eric for his tech skills and then callously toss him aside. That wouldn't happen to a radio DJ, I'm sure.

May. 23rd, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC)
Nor do women ever call my desk, and coquettishly request that I open up an outside IP for our QA site.
May. 23rd, 2008 04:09 pm (UTC)
They don't?

Our tech support guy waits by the phone for me to call. It may be because that's his job. But I do use my "976 voice" just to make sure he gets up to our unit pronto.
May. 23rd, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
Well, no one actually calls me, I'm not a "tech support guy" anymore. No, I get emails and project plans and whatnot. It's all terribly glamorous.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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