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Subject: The Worst Job in the World From: Michael Tiemann <email@example.com>I have a friend who has to have the worst job in the world: he is a Unix system administrator. But it's worse than that, as I will soon tell.
Being a Unix system administrator is like being a tech in a biological warfare laboratory, except that none of the substances are labeled consistently, any of the compounds are just as likely to kill you by themselves as they are when mixed with one another, and it is never clear what distinction is made between a catastrophic failure in the lab and a successful test in the field.
But I don't want to tell you about biological warfare, I want to tell you about what makes my friend's job so terrible. First, some context.
The training for Unix system administration is a frightening process. When machines start dying, users start screaming, and everything grinds to a halt, the novice feels the cold fingers of terror clutching about his heart.
#!/bin/sh # this doesn't work, but no time to fix it -- hope nothing crashes progname=$0But if one stays the course, one might some day achieve the dubious satisfaction of being able to mutter "at least I know why it broke!".
#!/bin/sh # This works...I wonder if it will get me laid progname="`echo $0 | sed 's:^\./\./:\./:'`"But there are many who must dwell in this miasma both day and night. What makes my friend's job so ugly is that he doesn't only work with just any strain of Unix -- he works with Solaris. And he doesn't just deal with just any braindead users -- his users are the executives at Sun Microsystems.
Let me tell you about Sun Microsystems. At Sun, there's a long history of executives playing pranks on one another. For April Fools, these rowdies would play tricks like putting a golf course (complete with putting green) in Scott McNealy's office, or floating Bill Joy's Ferrari in one of the landscaped ponds. Things have come a long way since then. Now every day is April Fools, and my friend doesn't like it one bit.
VP: "Admin!! What the fuck is this thing running on my machine?"
Admin: "It's Solaris, sir."
VP: "Get it off of my machine at once!"
Admin: "But sir, Ed Zander told me that you should be running Solaris now."
VP: "Zander, huh? I'll fix him. Is he running Solaris?"
Admin: "No sir."
VP: "Why not?"
Admin: "If he ran Solaris, he wouldn't be able to get any work done."
VP: "Very well, restore my machine to SunOS, and put this Solaris crap on Zander's machine."
Admin: "But sir..."
VP: "That's an order! And tell him Scott gave you the directive himself!"
Admin: "Yes, sir."
Admin: "It's Solaris, sir."
Zander: "Get it off of my machine at once!"
Admin: "But sir, Scott McNealy told me that you should be running Solaris now."
Zander: "McNealy, huh? I'll fix him. Is he running Solaris?"
The only thing worse that being a Unix system administrator is doing the job for ungrateful users.
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