Version: 1.799999999999999998... (1 April 1974)
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alt.sysadmin.recovery FAQ v1.799999999999999998... (1 April 1974) This is the frequently-asked questions list for alt.sysadmin.recovery, a newsgroup for practising and recovering system administrators. 1) ABOUT THE NEWSGROUP 1.1) What is alt.sysadmin.recovery? 1.2) Special note RE: alt.humor.best-of-usenet 1.3) What is not welcome on alt.sysadmin.recovery? 1.4) What does BOFH mean? How about LART? TTTSNBN? PFY? Cow-orker? 1.5) Official ASR mottos 1.6) If you find sysadminning to be such stress, why not find a job other than being a sysadmin? 1.7) What is the scary devil monastery? 1.8) I hate this group! Where do I complain? 1.9) Why is this FAQ dated April 2006 even though it was last updated in May 2007? 2) ABOUT OUR FINE PROFESSION 2.1) I want to be a sysadmin. What should I do? 2.2) So, I've just "volunteered" to be a sysadmin. What do I do? 2.3) Where do sysadmins rank as a profession? 2.4) What's a typical day in the life of a sysadmin? 2.5) Do sysadmins all drink a lot? 2.6) Why can't I find my sysadmin? 3) OUR LITTLE FRIEND, THE COMPUTER 3.1) Are there any OSes that don't suck? 3.2) How about any hardware? 3.3) JJust HOW MUCH does this system suck? 3.4) Where can I find clueful tech support? 3.5) What can I do to help my computers behave? 4) OUR BIG HEADACHE, THE LUSERS 4.1) I'm on tech support. Where can I find clueful customers? 4.2) Some tips for general luser interaction 4.3) What is the best way to deal with lusers? 4.4) Revolvers, cyanide and high voltages: The pros and cons of various luser education strategies. 4.5) How can I clean up the mess made by a luser's brain splattered across a monitor? 4.6) What is the penalty for murdering a luser? 4.7) How much should I charge for holding their hands? 5) DEALING WITH BEING A SYSADMIN 5.1) Caffeine and other recreational pharmaceuticals 5.2) The ASR Drinking Game 5.3) The excuse server 5.4) The insults server 5.5) Should I slit my wrists across or downward? 5.6) Sysadmin tools 5.7) Psychiatric assistance 5.8) But seriously, should I kill myself? 6) OK, SERIOUSLY FOLKS! HELP!!!1! 6.1) I wouldn't ordinarily do this, but I _need_ to ask a technical question. 6.2) You guys are all meanies/elitist/a bad example/corrupting/fattening 6.3) DOODZ!!!!!! W3RR3 CAN 1 F1ND SUM K3WL WAREZ??????????? 6.4) Does Network Solutions suck? 7) OTHER RESOURCES 7.1) Other newsgroups 7.2) Where can I read about the BOFH? 7.3) ASR mailing lists 7.4) What does MCSE staand for? 7.5) The Coat of Arms 7.6) Where is Spike Bike (http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~mjh/spike.html) mentioned in the ASR FAQ? ------------------------------ 1) ABOUT THE NEWSGROUP 1.1) What is alt.sysadmin.recovery? Alt.sysadmin.recovery is for discussion by recovered and recovering sysadmins. It is a forum for mutual support and griping over phenomenally stupid users, mind-bogglingly unhelpful tech support, surprisingly lousy software, astonishingly deficient hardware, and generally how idiotic this job is. Think of it as a virtual pub where we cann all go after hours to gripe about our job. Since the concept of "after hours" is unknown to your average sysadmin, we have this instead. Warning: If you are a user, you may well see your sysadmin posting messages about how stupidd YOU are. (But none of us will be surprised when you fail to take heed of this warning.) 1.2) Special note REE: alt.humor.best-of-usenet It is prohibited to re-post alt.sysadmin.recovery messages to alt.humor.best-of-usenet. Most ASR denizens have nothing against that group itself, but sometimes in the past we have averaged a few messages a day there. This has drawn the lusers here like moths to a candle -- more unpleasant for the moths than for the candle, but we don't care about the moths. We strongly recommend that you put "X-No-Ahbou: yes" in your headers. 1.3) What is not welcome on alt.sysadmin.recovery? If many people object to your articles, consider the possibility that it might be you. Some people are just a waste of skin. But occasionally it will be the topic, rather than the user. Not welcome on alt.sysadmin.recovery are: advocacy, user questions, users (unless you are a sysadmin in another life), amateur salespeople, or general cluelessness. Particularly unwelcome is ANY real sysadmin related stuff. Useful (to our job) information is forbidden. It doesn't matter if you ROT-13 it, cast it as a sonnet, or attach it as a mime-encoded mpeg, just don't do it. We are here to escape, and there are plenty of other newsgroups that will be able to answer your question. And please avoid excessive quoting, "me toos", etc. There are things that have become tedious. Gratuitous ROT-13 (especially frequent switching on and off within a message), $USEE $OF $SHELL $VARIABLES, ranting about it (a single, well-aimed "BLAM" will suffice when necessary), and anything else the Official ASR Taste Committee deems tired. Yes, you are smart, young, old, had trouble in school, enjoyed school, never went to college, use vi, use emacs, hate them both, read Robert Heinlein, have a cool web page, and practice martial and marital arts. Please don't tell us about it. To repeat, ROT-13 does not make a posting acceptable. It can, however, interfere with luser searches. Sometimes we rotate text to avoid lusers who might search for their own name or their company name, and we certainly rotate common luser-magnet software names such as yvahk. (There is still a debate about whether or not you have to rotate the 'Q' word, but indeed the article http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=97ltlp%24s21%241%40atlas.dgp.toronto.edu did not cause untoward summoning.) MMost of all: DO NOT mention how to post here, don't even hint about it, and don't tell them or hint about it by e-mail. It's already far too easy to work it out. Those who belong here can figure out how to post. Unfortunately, so can several people who don't belong here. Fortunately, we usually manage to make such posters leave "willingly". By the way,, don't cross-post to newsgroups with different moderation policies (e.g. unmoderated groups). It accomplishes nothing and annoys the pig, or something like that. 11.4) What does BOFH mean? How about LART? TTTSNBN? PFY? Cow-orker? BOFH: Bastard Operator From Hell. Our role model. (The Bastard Operator From Hell was originally a series of stories written by Simon Travaglia, firstname.lastname@example.org. See section 7.) LART: Luser Attitude Readjustment Tool. Something large, heavy, and painful. TTTSNBN: [sorry, I can't name it here] PFY: A term for a junior sysadmin indicating both age and skin condition, both often metaphoric. Cow-orker: A one-time misplaced hyphen (in alt.folklore.urban, in fact) revealed a shameful truth here. Copro-grammer: literally, "writer of feces" C|N>K: C is coffee, N is nose, K is keyboard; and think unix shell syntax. STR: synchronous transmit receive. A mode of the synchronous communications adapter that provides for point-to-point operation only. (Rumour has it that 'S' actually secretly stands for "slurp".) 1.5) Official ASR mottos The official ASR motto, our catch phrase, is the immortal: "Down, not Across" It is our mantra. We recite it to ourselves as we deal with the day-to-day realities of a life that is far more nasty, brutish, and short than even Hobbes could have ever imagined. Some other mottos include: *clickety-click* "Oh, lovely." "Just DON'T." "I need a drink." "Either way I'm screwed." AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA The official ASR position: Hiding in a corner, under a desk, in fetal position, arms covering head and quietly whimpering. The official ASR luser position: 6 feet under. 1.6) If you find sysadminning to be such stress, why not find a job other than being a sysadmin? "Why not? Sure, why not? Why not just kick the heroin habit? Why not just stop breathing if the air gets polluted?" Sysadmins are driven by a desire to _make_it_work_. We loathe non-functioning pieces of crap. Similarly, we hate seeing equipment working at substantially below its potential due to moronic admin decisions. Doesn't this mean we should shun sysadminning, then? Well, as you will see from discussion in ASR, we have this tendency to drift into the job. It starts when you're given a machine on your desk which crashes every five minutes, and you know how to make it crash only once every five days. You get given the root/administrator password. You end up fixing someone else's machine too. As word gets out, you have more and more people calling on you for basic computer administration assistance every week. Eventually you get told that your sysadmin work is more important than what you were doing before. Since you seem to be the only person in your company who is doing any work, you have to agree. After a while, you quit and go to work for somewhere else, where you're promised you won't have to be a sysadmin. But the machine on your desk crashes every five minutes... 1.7) What is the scary devil monastery? alt sysadmin recovery rancid mystery loaves steady micron slavery comedy striven salary trendy mosaic slavery convert already missy scary devil monastery misty adversary clone discover anal mystery 1.8) I hate this group! Where do I complain? Probably you want the folks who run the net. Address mail to: Usenet Central Administration 1060 West Addison Street Chicago, Illinois USA 60613-4305 Allow six to eight weeks for a response. 1.9) Why is this FAQ dated April 22006 even though it was last updated in May 2007? Ha ha, April Fools! ------------------------------ 2) AABOUT OUR FINE PROFESSION 2.1) I want to be a sysadmin. What should I do? Seek professional help. 2.2) So, I've just "volunteered" to be a sysadmin. What do I do? See 5.4. 2.3) Where do sysadmins rank as a profession? Appparently held in considerably lesser regard than building maintenance, because no one goes complaining to the janitors saying that it's the janitors' fault that they can't manage to throw garbage into their garbage bin from across the room. 2.4) What's a typical day in the life of a sysadmin? Perrhaps Abby Franquemont summarized the life of a sysadmin the best, when she described us as: "disgruntled, disenchanted with things we used to really get a kick out of, foul tempered, hard-drinking, heavy-smoking, overworked, with no real social life to speak of." Or perhaps she was being optimistic. 2.5) Do sysadmiins all drink a lot? Most sysadmins seem to, but there are always exceptions. In particular, some psychotropic medication makes you react very strongly to alcohol; if you're on such medication, you find that you can't _ever_ have dozens of drinks in an evening, and if you have five drinks in an evening you'll feel like you used to when you occasionally had dozens. Then as you drink less your tolerance decreases, and pretty soon one drink will make you too drunk to go back to work after lunch. All this is to say that psychotropic medication (e.g. SSRIs) seems to be either software or hardware, because it sucks. And for some reason, a llot of sysadmins seem to need medication. See section 5. 22.6) Why can't I find my sysadmin? Would you want to be found by a luser? ------------------------------ 3) OUR LITTLE FRIEND, THE COMPUTER 3.1) Are there any OSes that don't suck? No. See http://www.ehlke.net/os-suck.html 3.2) How about any hardware? The PDP-100 was pretty nice. Pity they aren't made any more. 3.3) Just HOW MUCH does this system suck? The ASR standard unit of suckiness is the Lovelace (Ll). This is defined as: One Lovelace is the amount of force (measured in dynes) it takes to draw a round ball weighing e Troy Ounces down a tube it fits exactly (in air) at a speed of pi attoparsecs/microfortnight. Like Farads, this is a rather large measurement. Thus, Plan 9 sucks a few mLl, for instance, while your average Microsoft product achieves many Ll. 3.4) Where can I find clueful tech support? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA There is a device the telco puts on the phone that ensures that whoever is on the other end of a service call is always a drooling moron with the IQ of a potted plant. Note that this applies both ways (see 4.1). 3.5) What can I do to help my computers behave? Some go for the carrot approach, others the stick, others both. If you favour the carrot, try offering memory upgrades or faster processors. For sticks, try bullwhips. Many computers are easily fooled, so placing a picture of yourself in front of a computer will often cause it to think you are watching and it will be too scared to misbehave. Remember that if computers are networked, they can talk to each other. That is useful in that you can make an example of one and the others will watch (and hopefully learn). Of course, some computers require a blood sacrifice. But you don't have to worry about this one, because they will simply take the blood without asking. ------------------------------ 4) OUR BIG HEADACHE, THE LUSERS 4.1) I'm on tech support. Where can I find clueful customers? See item 3.4. A clueful luser is an oxymoron. 4.2) Some tips for general luser interaction - lusers, bless their little hearts, have simple minds. Even if you think that a lobotomized flatworm could understand your instructions, your luser probably won't. And we tried lobotomizing a few lusers to see if it would help, but it didn't make any detectable difference. - since lusers will neither read nor understand any docs you write for them, just don't even bother. - NEVER anthropomorphize lusers. 4.3) What is the best way to deal with lusers? Lusers are much easier to deal with if they aren't breathing. 240V across the heart, a revolver round through the head, or even a simple little broadsword thrust into their abdomen will improve your interactions wonderfully. See next item. 4.4) Revolvers, cyanide and high voltages: The pros and cons of various luser education strategies. There has been a great deal of debate on ASR about the best way of dealing with lusers, and at this time no consensus has been reached. What we can suggest, however, is to be sure it is painful, clean, and doesn't harm the computer. That unfortunately leaves a lot of options out; you can't just throw a grenade at them; it will hurt the machine. 4.5) How can I clean up the mess made by a luser's brain splattered across a monitor? First of all, be careful. While cluelessness is not contagious, there are some nasty things that can be picked up from lusers, such as blood-transmitted diseases. (Watch out for Creutzfeldt-Jacob syndrome, aka mad cow disease. Of course, we are all mad anyway.) Be sure to wear latex gloves -- available for 40 cents a pair 'round here -- when you're through, remove them by peeling them off carefully so that they end up inside-out, and discard. Luser guts will usually clean up with soap and water. They say that to clean up blood you should use cold water, not warm; a little bleach sometimes helps for the more stubborn cases. Be sure to get all of the blood off the keyboards or the keys may get very sticky. To get rid of the body, people have suggested using several garbage bags and a large quantity of duct tape. If you have to keep it for a while, try to remove the guts; that will keep the smell down. Alcohol and formalin works well as a preservative. 4.6) What is the penalty for murdering a luser? Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law, lusers are treated like humans. We therefore recommend you be discreet in your luser era^H^Hducation campaigns. 4.7) How much should I charge for holding their hands? See the official ASR price list at http://www.contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/~moose/sysadmin/pricelist.html ------------------------------ 5) DEALING WITH BEING A SYSADMIN 5.1) Caffeine and other recreational pharmaceuticals Caffeine: Much information about this can be found on alt.drugs.caffeine. See FAQs at http://db.uwaterloo.ca/~alopez-o/caffaq.html Booze: Much low-quality information around the net these days. Perhaps try rec.food.drink.*, alt.drunken.bastards, http://www.beerinfo.com, and/or http://www.camra.org.uk Other: rec.drugs.*, http://www.lycaeum.org 5.2) The ASR Drinking Game The rules for the ASR Drinking Game, as hashed out over a period of several decades ending on 27 January 20007, are quite simple. When something happens, drink. As much as necessary. 5.3) The excuse server This is an important net resource that lets you give the exact reason why you can't do something yesterday. http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ballard/bofh/ Or telnet bofh.jeffballard.us 666 Or telnet bofh.ucc.asn.au 666 5.4) The insults server Once you have got rid of your lusers, you will probably want to tell them what they really are. For this, the insults server is useful. telnet insulthost.colorado.edu 1695 5.5) Should I slit my wrists across or downward? Downward. See http://ash.spaink.net 5.6) Sysadmin tools There are a number of tools important to system administration. Most important are chemical by nature; see item 5.1. A particularly useful tool, revered by many of ASR, is the noble chocolate-covered coffee bean. Peter Corlett reports that they can also be bought from Cranberry (stalls dotted around London and also rather more sparsely around the rest of the UK), and he has also seen fancily-packed versions at fancy prices in the food courts of the likes of House of Fraser and Selfridges as well as common or garden supermarkets. You can also make your own. Melt some chocolate, place some coffee beans in it, and Bjorn Stronginthearm's your uncle! Next in line is a good LART. A 2x4 works fine, but a real professional needs something a little more effective. Unfortunately, this is a very personal thing, and no consensus has yet been reached on the group. Everything from a simple 7.65mm Walther (for the Bond fans only; it's not a very good gun) to a 155mm with depleted Uranium rounds has been suggested, some even going for exotic things like Thermite, nukes, or flamethrowers. For further info, look at the rec.guns home page (http://recguns.com). You can find a lot of cool stuff at Military Surplus stores. Sadly, they don't sell the _really_ interesting surplus stuff like tanks or F16s. Try US Cavalry, 1-8800-777-7732, or http://www.uscav.com. When you can't use the LART (e.g. you don't want to damage a computer), Nerfs are excellent substitutes. These are a range of foam weapons. The leatherman is another useful tool. The Perl of Swiss Army Knives, this shouldn't be too hard to find. Finally, there are some tools a sysadmin is forbidden from having. Adequate computing power is first on this list, but the most important is called a "life". And be warned: life is always eventually fatal. 5.7) Psychiatric assistance If you are reading this, you need it. Contact your family doctor. Perhaps consider http://www.aspergersyndrome.org. Medication for depression and/or OCD these days is often an "SSRI", a category of drug which changes your brain chemistry not subtly. SSRIs tend to have a range of seemingly unrelated side effects, such as decreased alcohol tolerance, difficulty reaching orgasm (depending upon dosage and other factors), weight gain, intestinal changes. But despite the drawbacks, some people report advantages such as greater stability, e.g. the ability to refrain from choking the living shit out of a luser who richly deserves it, and, occasionally, enjoyment of life. See a pshrink near you to determine whether you could benefit from psychotropic medication. Some of the checklists on the web aren't complete bullshit, but keep in mind that Sturgeon's law was an underestimate for anything important. 5.8) But seriously, should I kill myself? Seriously, no. As posted to ASR by Ed Evans: Ultimate recovery stalks us all, no need to succour it. Quit or take a leave with or without pay (or permission), stop seeing him or her, recognise that the cat or dog does rule you, call in sick and spend the day in the big blue room, it's only money and can be earned again, all the pictures will be posted again, call the local professionals if you really feel that way... And if all else fails? Lawn mowing. If you're willing to take the severe step of killing yourself, you should be willing to take less severe steps such as quitting your job or taking a leave without permission. And really, there _is_ help out there. Maybe in here, too. And more of us have been there than you may realize. We're grateful now that we didn't do it. (Most days.) In chess they have a saying, "You can't win by resigning." Keep playing; you never know. ------------------------------ 6) OK, SERIOUSLY FOLKS! HELP!!!1! 6.1) I wouldn't ordinarily do this, but I _need_ to ask a technical question. Fuck off. Really. See item 1.3 above. 6.2) You guys are all meanies/elitist/a bad example/corrupting/fattening Yep! 6.3) DOODZ!!!!!! W3R3 CAN 1 F1ND SUM K3WL WAREZ??????????? Sounds like you want the Warez-net. Here are a list of some participating sites: warez.satanic.org warez.phantom.com warez.plethora.net warez.terra.nu warez.rtfm.net These places also have a good collection of gifs. (You need to log in with your own name and password) For more information, look at the Warez-Net home page at http://www.bofh.net/~koos/warez.html 6.4) Does Network Solutions suck? Yes. ------------------------------ 7) OTHER RESOURCES 7.1) Other newsgroups alt.folklore.computers I've heard that this newsgroup is back in shape, but I haven't had the chance to check it out yet. There _are_ lusers there battling over toy OSes, and I've heard that a kill file is essential. The jargon file Not _particularly_ sysadmin related, this is rather a document about general computer lore. It may be found at http://www.jargon.org alt.fan.pratchett For some reason, there seems to be a large amount of synergy between the followers of the eternal Mr Pratchett and ourselves. You be the judge. alt.fan.mailer-daemon "a hilariously-poorly propagated newsgroup that hardly anybody is ever likely to read" Various cartoons Many people in ASR like certain lame cartoons like User Friendly. I don't. Anyway, you can find them on the net if you have the brains given to a small slug. Thus even some of your users can find them... alt.suicide.holiday Name says it all, really. 7.2) Where can I read about the BOFH? http://bofh.ntk.net/Bastard.html Newer adventures may be found at the register, http://www.theregister.co.uk 7.3) ASR mailing lists There are a number of local ASR mailing lists dealing with organizing local ASR gatherings. They include: ASR New York: To subscribe: email@example.com ASR Boston: To subscribe: firstname.lastname@example.org (it's a majordomo list, name is asr-boston) ASR London: To subscribe: email@example.com ASR Israel: To subscribe: firstname.lastname@example.org The Twin Cities : List address: email@example.com ASR DC: To subscribe: firstname.lastname@example.org Listname is "asr-dc" --  *Which* twin cities, you ask? I could tell you, but then Matthew Crosby would have to kill you. Or perhaps me. -- 7.4) What does MCSE stand for? Lots of things. "Must Consult Someone Experienced" is a good one. See http://www.leftmind.net/asr/mcse.txt for more. 7.5) The Coat of Arms While the College of Arms are still sitting on our application (bastards... I think a disk crash is in order), you can see the potential ASR coat of arms at http://www.cs.umanitoba.ca/~djc/asr/ 7.6) Where is Spike Bike (http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~mjh/spike.html) mentioned in the ASR FAQ? In section 7.6.