Another Admin

posted by Jonathan Logan on 2011.08.06, under Blog, Maybe Art, Writings
06:

Just the usual again.

Usual- that sounds not very important.

But anyways, sometimes usual things are important as well. Though Derk couldn’t know. When you are an anonymous administrator for computer systems you never know how important your work

really is, or how usual. Though the job in itself was sometimes boring. Derk was the caretaker for roughly 200 computers he knew nothing about except that they needed to be checked, configured, monitored, repaired.

Today was one of those days were the job really turned into stress.

All systems needed to be updated, pronto!

Outsiders might imagine stupid clicking and hammering on the keyboard. But stupid he shouldn’t be. And he wasn’t. He had a name in this business. Reliable, smart, hard working, and a focus that could hurt.

Oh, and he kept hush-hush about his work. No poking around in client data, never.

So he did not actually know what this computer was that he just had logged in to. Nor where it was, physically. If that meant anything at all these days. Sometimes he caught himself imagining that the systems he managed were located in some ultra-secret bunkers. Or that he was responsible for the controls of a nuclear device.

Most times he could ban those thoughts from his mind. They were utterly useless. All he knew was that it could be a washing machine next door that needed a new kernel.

Without checking the clients secret code base he could not know. As already said: He had a name to loose.

No poking around, ever.

This little system needed some fixing, like the other 80 machines still waiting for today’s update. The problem with his job was not that it was very hard. But that you could not allow yourself to make

even one single minimal mistake. Since the machines were somewhere on the planet you couldn’t go and press the reset buttont like with your damn Windows box sitting under the desk.

Every key pressed should be the right one, at the right time. Not that he worried about it a lot. He was good and he could concentrate every one of his synapses on the task at hand.

It was almost a form of meditation for him. Like Zen where the master visualizes the target and hits it with the arrow blind folded. 100% concentration, everything done perfectly right.

Download new library and kernel – damn, kernel, that was risky.

Compiling library… editing the configuration files. Copying kernel to the boot directory.

Not that hard. The kernel would work, should work.

Telephone: “Hi… yes… hello mom… no, listen… mom I have to… come on… no I don’t recall Frederick Means..

Yes, mom… yes, mom… yes, mom… I do, mom… no, mom… you know that I don’t… yes, mom… please you can’t

call me at work… yes, I work from home… I don’t have… yes, mom… bye, mom.”

Oh he HATED it. Couldn’t she be sensitive about his work? He wasn’t retired like she was. He could not care less

if one of the old dudes from highschool had gotten his girlfriend all fixed up and was calling himself “daddy” now.

Angrily he hit the Enter key. Calls like that could ruin your concentration. If he weren’t as good as he was.

Oh no… “ENTER”. Without configuring the bootloader for the new kernel. And the old one was overwritten.

That was a bad mistake… very bad indeed.

Now all that was left was praying. He threw some commands at his keyboard to see if the remote system would reappear on the network. Survive his mistake, so to speak.

“Ping: Destination unreachable

Ping: Destination unreachable

Ping: Destination unreachable

3 of 3 packets lost. 100% packet loss. Is the remote system up?”

It wasn’t. He had killed the other machine. He hoped that it was only a washing machine next door and not the nuclear device in the ultra-secret bunker he had imagined.

Meanwhile on the other side of the planet a single street lamp of over 15,000 that kept the city alight at night went out. The only person noticing was the homeless guy that had just lost his lighter.

It probably fell into the gutter channel. “Lucky me,” he thought, “hundreds of fucking lamps and the one which I loose my Zippo under burns right at the same second.”

He bowed forward to search for it.

He never smoked again.

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