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Kinda neat one…  Not often you end up rendering a fractal that ends up being all straight lines.  At least, not with the software/methods I use.

So, it’s Saturday night, and here I sit locked down in front of the keyboard…  Again.  Like so many Saturday nightsw before me, and so many after.  I’m really just taking a brief sanity break, and then will be back at it until the wee hours.

I was hard at it until about 9am this morning…  Slept a bit, spent some time with the family, then it was time to work again.  This is an unusually busy weekend for me – a whole raft of problems conspired to make me very busy with problems that, because of the SLA (Service Level Agreement)
we have with our customers, need to get solved so I can hand off 150 imaged, live on the web, servers by noon on Sunday.

I could complain…  Actually, I do complain about it.  But really it’s an industry wide problem.  Once you pass a certain level, there’s a long stretch in your career where your hours are pretty much 24/7.  That doesn’t mean I work all day everyday.  It just means I’m on the hook should something go wrong.  The issue is that there’s a whole lot of systems that I can troubleshoot quicker and easier than most other people in my company.

That doesn’t mean I’m smarter, or even more knowledgeable than they are.  It just means there’s a big piece of our infrastructure that I’m more familiar with.  Other parts, there are other guys who are more familiar with it, and they’re on the hook for the same kind of hours as I am.

Ideally there should be “knowledge redundancy” across the board.  And to a certain extent there is.  If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, our company will survive just fine.  Someone else will shift priorities, start working on the same chunk of our infrastructure, and working from a good general base of familiarity with IT in general and how our company manages systems in specific, over time will gain the same level of intimate knowledge of the bit of infrastructure that’s currently “my problem”.

The problem is really twofold.

1.  Budgetary/traditional staffing standards.  Companies have gotten use to having a key “Unix guy” or “Windows server guy” or “Storage appliance guy” or whatever…  A key individual who gets to know a specific set of systems.  Having a lead tech for a given area makes sense, because we don’t come cheap.  Usually, this person will have 1 or more people working under them (right now I’m blessed to have two PFY‘s), but there is usually a steep knowledge gap between the two.  With the day to day pressures of business, the PFY’s usually end up doing the grunt/chore work that’s not time sensitive, and the BOFH will end up perpetually on call to deal with the bigger, more time sensitive problems.

Here’s the funny thing, there’s actually a deeper hierarchy to this.  While I may be the BOFH to two PFY’s, I’m also the PFY to a completely different BOFH.  Which is fairly standard in really large IT infrastructures.  At some point, you might pull out of that loop and move into management or architecture design, but a lot of people spend their entire IT careers in the PFY/BOFH hierarchy loop.  Probably most people.  And if that’s the case, then you’re almost never not on call, and the hours suck.

2. Personality.  It takes a certain type of obsessive compulsive person to become any good in virtually any part of IT, and when I’m being honest with myself, I take a bit of perverse pride in the ridiculous hours I’ll put in to solve niggling little problems that most people could care less about.  And that just adds to the hours.

Which brings us to the title of the post.  Sure, I make reasonably good money.  Heck, I’d cleared my mortgage when I was 35.  But there’s a price to be paid for that.  And that price is time.  I let myself dig too deeply into things, put in foolishly long hours, and it takes a toll.  Emotionally, physically, and on my family life.

And I find myself thinking about this more and more as my daughter grows.  Do we really want to raise her to be a nerdling techie?  I dunno.  I suspect she might be happier doing something else.

6 Responses to “Mama, don’t let your babies, grow up to be techies…”

    Be careful. Stress from all those hours can sneak up and kick your ass.

    http://bit.ly/gahz9Y

    Heh, no kidding Trev. But you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?

    There was a gig back around 1998 that I managed to rack up 6 weeks worth of overtime in about 6 months. That’s the hours I managed to track because (for the first time) I had to use a bleeping time tracker app and that’s the kind of hours I put in.

    I’m much better these days at tracking my hours and ensuring I take time-in-lieu asap. Still, it does tend to easily get away from you if it isn’t closely scrutinized.

    I’m getting a bit better about it, ornerier about it. Having toddler around the house is a big part of that. I like spending time with her, and that helps keep the work hours in line.

    Anyway, hope you’re doing well. We should do another group lunch one of these days.

    You might consider creating a “Days since Ops-on-call was not able to sleep through the night” safety metric, keep it up on a board like those x days since an injury accident signs you see on construction/plant sites.

    Mm food. Maybe. I do best in small groups in not-noisy places which have Guinness.

    That rules out Hudson’s then… Dunno whether they have Guinness, but the noise in there is brutal. R&C is usually pretty laid back.

Something to say?


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