Startup: PSA – Your Sysadmin Hates You

Are you the person responsible for keeping computers and/or computing devices running at your workplace? No? Then that guy hates you.

He may smile, he may say hello, he may strike up conversation around the coffee machine, and even act interested in the things you have to say. But make no mistake, you are the enemy. He knows that computers are like an erection: they stay up as long as you don’t screw with them.

His malice and condescension will often be masked with seemingly innocuous and esoteric terminology. He’ll use terms like BIOS, CMOS, SATA, DHCP, PXE, SQL, HyperVisor. These are real things that make it hard to discern when he’s mocking you with things like ID Ten – T, BKS, and PEBKAC. That first one might be easier to spot: ID Ten – T, or ID10T, is you, the user. BKS, or Between Keyboard and Seat, is where the ID10T can be found. Those elements combine to form PEBKAC, Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair. 90% of issues with computers are BKS. The other 10% are the Sysadmin’s attitude. If this figure climbs above 20%, you may have a BOFH (Bastard Operator From Hell).

Also, please stop saying “Cloud”. Just because terms like “online” and “DotCom” are no longer trendy doesn’t mean calling it “Cloud” suddenly makes it more viable.


  • pj134

    Yeah, the term cloud came from every god damn image of how the internet works in every COMPTIA based book leaking into the general populace.

  • Number_Six

    My place of employment ramps up the animosity by making our tech-support system so byzantine that by the time one speaks with an actual live person, vicious homicidal thoughts have begun to dominate the mind.

    • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      Do you need to get a help desk ticket when your computer is broken? You know the online help desk system? The one that then uses email for every communication? When your computer does not work.

      • Number_Six

        Yes, nothing happens without a service order that someone in India and/or Mexico then scrambles to close as quickly as possible so they can bill on that one, then open another one. This system ensures they (the outsourced IS vendors) reach the quotas necessary for bonus payments.

  • One of my closest friends was the IT lead at a company we worked for 15 years ago. I was a problem (l)user and we became friends after I crushed the corporate network and the phone system in separate incidents – I was a marketing guy with no conception of resource constraints. I took pride in the fact that, at one time, my graphics files consumed about 50% of the corporation's hard drive. To this day, I am grateful that Dennis loves a challenge and saw the demands I threw at him as an opportunity to improve his systems. This outlook is probably the primary reason that he's now wildly successful.

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    Here's a good story. In VMS when you saved a file a new version with a number was saved. It was a rudimentary revision control system. So the admin was getting upset that people were not deleting the ancient versions and the VAXes were running low on disk space. No amount of him asking people to do so seemed to have any effect. One Monday morning he deleted the most recent verison of every file for every user to make a point. He held the backups ransom until you cleaned-out the old versions of your files. People were more careful about their disk usage after that.

    • FuzzyPlushroom

      This also sounds like a good way to enforce regular backups on more modern systems, provided the most recent versions are held hostage rather than deleted.

  • skitter

    My sysadmins hated me pretty immediately, because I have absolutely none of the computer equivalent of mechanical sympathy. However, I quickly earned their respect by repeatedly trying different things, so I could give them a good idea of what rain dance would be needed to fix it. Eventually, they were vetting changes through me. I'd take everything to its logical conclusion, as only an ignorant user can do, and together we could make things pretty much bombproof before rolling out to everybody.

  • Froggmann_

    And your point is?

    Edit: A little clarification, "they stay up as long as you don’t screw with them." Is not the case. It doesn't matter the hardware or the OS Eventually the system will find a way to fuck up all without PEBCAK support.

    • TechieInHell

      Oh sure, hardware will eventually fail. But I've got a webserver that's been running for a decade now with zero downtime except for when I get cute and decide to run updates or something.

  • GlassOnion9

    My boss continually talks about the "cloud" as if it is something new, real, and exciting, and as if it is somehow different than ANY OTHER DISTRIBUTED COMPUTING SYSTEM EVER. EVER. We're at a University for F's sake. We've had a large distributed network with remote file storage since, I don't know, forever?
    It seriously makes me want to throw something.

    • You should mess with him by introducing him to totally bogus tech terms as if they were cutting edge. Playing off the cloud theme, thin clients could become "silver linings", broadband connections "funnels" and VPN servers "wall clouds".

      • pj134

        A server going down is a mushroom cloud…

        He was probably the guy saying "synergy" until a couple of years ago.

        • The Professor

          It's a paradigm shift…

          • I don't have the bandwidth to process this right now.

          • Tiller188

            That's when you leverage the expertise of the other members of the high-performing team you work with.

  • <img src="; width="500">

    Today's USA Today (free at the hotel). It's raining 1's and 0's!

    • GlassOnion9



      • My industry (telecom) also has it's head in the clouds these days, despite the fact that we've used the term cloud to refer to our networks literally for decades.

    • pj134

      How exactly is Dropbox a start up? I've been under utilizing that for about three years now.

      Apparently The Cloud is all knowing and all watching. Let us serve The Cloud.
      <img src="×240.jpg"&gt;

      Also, this is clearly from the future!
      <img src="; width="500/">

      • GlassOnion9

        The text/design of the Webinar ad looks like the cover of a Dr. Seuss Book.

        One Cloud
        Two Cloud
        Red Cloud
        Blue Cloud

      • I don't know, the article talked about how much money they have, how much more than Box and how they have been around longer. Both apparently have turned down buyout offers from such companies as Google.

        Also, it wasn't until I actually read the article that I noticed that one company is called Box. 'Box'.

  • craigsu

    When I was doing corporate IT support one of the other sysadmins' favorite sayings to describe stupid user tricks was, "The problem clearly lies between the keyboard and the chair". This is the first time I've heard it reduced to the PEBKAC acronym.