Fun_People Archive
19 Sep
Sysadmin Topics -- Userology.

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Sat, 19 Sep 98 09:23:17 -0700
To: Fun_People
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Subject: Sysadmin Topics -- Userology.

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649
Forwarded-by: Roland Grefer <>
Forwarded-by: "Matthew J. Probst " <>
From: Criminy


           On Different Kinds of Users and How to Spot Them

The Common Idiot
The basic user. Mostly just sits in front of its monitor and drools over
some pornsite.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "Machine no work."
      S: "What's wrong with it?"
      U: "Machine no work."
      S: "Ok. Which machine do you use?"
      U: "Machine no work."
      S: "Right, I heard you. Where is your machine?"
      U: "Machine no work!"
      S: "*sigh* I'll come with you back to your room."
      U: "Machine no work?"
      S: "Go back to room."
      U: "Go back. Room."

   Frequency of appearance:
      *Much* too often.

   Suggested treatment:

The Mumbler on the Treshold
Appears at the sysadmin's doorstep and speaks very, very softly.  Sometimes
it's possible to get it to speak up a little. Very often, it'll go away at
the slightest provocation.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "mumblemumblenetscapemumblemumblemumble"
      S: "Excuse me?"
      U: "mumblemumblemubleservicepackmumble"
      S: "Sorry, I can't hear you."
      U: "...can't start Netscape..."
      S: "Try clicking on the Netscape icon."
      U: "mumblemumblemumblemumblemumblemumble"

   Frequency of appearance:
      Much too often.

   Suggested treatment:

The Rabid Guesser
Barges into the sysadmin's room and starts spouting nonsense, usually
in a quite aggressive fashion. Has picked up a technical term or two
somehow, and blames everything on those terms.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "You have to do something about the collisions on the SCSI channel!"
      S: "What?"
      U: "It can't go on like this, you must fix it, now!"
      S: "What was the problem again?"
      U: "The SCSI doesn't work, that's what. And it's slow."
      S: "How can it be slow if it doesn't work?"
      U: "I don't know, you're the expert, not I."
      S: "What's the problem?"
      U: "It's slow. Didn't you listen when I told you?"
      S: "*What* is slow?"
      ...and so on until the sysadmin grows tired, follows the user to its
      workplace and discovers that it has pulled the network cable out of
      the workstation. Why it started talking about SCSI is never revealed.

   Frequency of appearance:
      Much too often.

   Suggested treatment:

The Economist
This is a *really* nasty one.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "So, what are the options for the new server?"
      S: "Well, first we have the Dungheap MT. It's larger than our computer
	  room, needs the Niagara Falls to power it, it's ugly, it laughs
	  evilly if you get too close to its console, it reeks of brimstone,
	  Greenpeace and Exxon have made a joint statement cursing the
	  moment it was created, it's illegal to import to most of the
	  civilised world, it has a habit of sending nasty email to CEOs,
	  its mother was a hamster and its father smelled of elderberries.
	  And it doesn't do what we need anyway. Secondly, we have the
	  Frotzpock 3000. It's small, elegant, doubles as a coatrack, draws
	  its power from the Earth's magnetic field, it sings cute little
	  songs, spreads happiness wherever it goes, cleans the floor,
	  washes the dishes, rubs your back, reminds you of your wife's
	  birthday, does everything we need perfectly and without error and
	  it only costs $5 more than the Dungheap."
      U: "Ah, the choice is clear, then. We go with the Dungheap MT."
      S: "WHAT?!"
      U: "Well, you *did* say it is cheaper, didn't you?"

   Frequency of appearance:
      A handful per company, usually.

   Suggested treatment:
      Take off and nuke the site from orbit (it's the only way to be sure).

The Firm Believer in Trade Magazines
May be difficult to tell apart from the Common Idiot, but the differences
will be apparent if it ever ends up in a discussion about what sort of
equipment to purchase.

   Typical dialogue:
      S: " you see that the Frotzpock is the natural choice for us."
      U: "I read a very bad review of the Frotzpock in a trade magazine.
	  The reviewers had great problems opening the box it came in."
      S: "Well, that won't be a problem for us. I *do* know how to open
          cardboard boxes."
      U: "They much preferred the Dungheap 89. That one didn't need any
          stupid box, it just oozed in under the door."
      S: "Er, the Dungheap doesn't even do what we need the new machine
      U: "...and DungUser Magazine said that the new version's father only
          smelled *slightly* of elderberries!"

   Frequency of appearance:
      Much too often.

   Suggested treatment:

The Incessant Talker
Appears at the sysadmin's door, starts describing some sort of problem and
just never stops.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "Hello I hope I'm not interrupting you I have this problem you see
	  I can't print pictures from Netscape anymore even though I could
	  do that yesterday and the day before and even the day before that
	  but not last Wednesday for some reason I think it may have had
	  something to do with the blackout that day don't you printers
	  don't usually work very well without electricity do they neither
	  do computers for that matter I couldn't log in at all until the
	  power came back I must have tried at least a million times I think
	  well maybe not quite that many but ten thousand at least my
	  keyboard was all worn down so I couldn't see what it said on the
	  keys any more so the day after I went down to Office Supplies to
	  get a new one and they said I couldn't just get one I had to fill
	  in a form first have you heard anything that stupid don't they
	  realise that I'm very important to the company and do a lot of
	  valuable work here without me nothing would get done I tell you
	  and of course I told them in no uncertain terms but they just
	  wouldn't listen to me and kept insisting that I needed that stupid
	  form so in the end I went to get a form but discovered that in
	  order to get the form you had to send a mail to someone and I
	  couldn't send mail since my keyboard didn't work can you believe
	  that eventually after two days I managed to type out the mail
	  using only my nose you can't believe how hard that was it took
	  almost a whole day and after I sent the mail I was told that I
	  didn't really have to send it anyway since our departement has a
	  stack of those forms lying in the tray between the printer and
	  the copying machine so I went over to Bob and asked him hey Bob
	  do you know where we keep the printer and the copying machine and
	  he told me that he thought they were being repaired at the moment
	  so I couldn't use them anyway but I told him that I weren't going
	  to use them I just wanted to know where they were so that I could
	  go here and get..."

   Frequency of appearance:
      Much too common.

   Suggested treatment:
      Let it be. It's fairly easy to ignore, and as long as it's there no
      other users can get in.

The Fixer
Suffers from the delusion that it is capable of fixing problems by itself,
thus turning mishaps into fullblown disasters. Often masquerades as a sysadmin.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "The mailserver was running slow, so I thought I'd have a look at
	  it. I saw that it was really busy relaying mail, so I thought I'd
	  remove some old processes that nobody used any more. But as soon as
	  I killed this really old process called 'init' the machine crashed!"

   Frequency of appearance:
      Much too common.

   Suggested treatment:

The Drone With The Write-Once Brain
A fact once got stuck in its brain. Since then it uses said fact for

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "My machine is slow. There is a large process running on my system.
          Kill it."
      S: "Um, that's your X server. Do you *really* want me to kill that?
          And it's not really that big, it's just fake memory."
      U: "Yes. Kill it."

      <Next day>

      U: "My machine has crashed. There must be a large process running.
          Kill it."
      S: "How would I do that if the machine has crashed?"
      U: "Yes. Kill it."

      <The day after that>

      U: "My machine is on fire. There must be a large process running. Kill
      S: "Don't you think it'd be better to call the fire brigade?"
      U: "Yes. Kill it."

   Frequency of appearance:
      Much too common.

   Suggested treatment:

The User
If you find one of these, consider yourself *very* lucky.

   Typical dialogue:
      U: "Excuse me?"
      S: "Yes?"
      U: "I have a slight problem. I hope I'm not interrupting you?"
      S: "Not at all. What's the problem?"
      U: "It's the BogoGraphics package. I'm trying to use one of the new
	  functions in version three, but I can't get it to work.  I've
	  checked that there is enough memory, the permissions on all the
	  files look correct and I installed it exactly according to the
	  instructions in the README file. I do get an error message. It's
	  not very informative, but I wrote it down for you anyway. I tried
	  looking it up in the manual, but it's not there. And the FAQ
	  doesn't say anything about version three yet. Do you think you
	  could have a look at it?"
      S: "Marry me!"

   Frequency of appearance:
      Believed to be mythical.

   Suggested treatment:
      Don't let him/her get away!

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