Debian 10 (aka Buster) doing its thing

July 26th is Systems Administrator Appreciation Day! A day where office workers everywhere should be bringing in delicious treats for the IT department to ensure goodwill between techie and Luddite remains in full force.

I’m not quite sure why I wanted to be a systems administrator some 22-odd years ago, but here I am – still a systems administrator. I suppose it all started when I started visiting my dad at work and being fascinated by the telex machines and computer systems, including the multi-user DEC systems they had.

SysAdmin Man Begins – taken from my very first C.V.

After leaving university I started building PCs for a local company in Norwich, then set-up and managed Linux and Windows servers for the same company when they became an ISP. That job was a jack of all trades and also included writing software to configure the TCP/IP stack for dial-up for Windows machines, web design, and technical support.

After a few more years in the ISP industry, I went to work for The Moving Picture Company (MPC) in the film and television industry, sysadminning the infrastructure for high-end visual effects for major movies and TV shows. After that, my first taste of systems engineering in a software development firm that specialised in VFX software, before moving on back to the ISP/web hosting industry for 9 years.

Now I work in e-commerce and handle corporate infrastructure as well as that of client websites. All the years of experience from the above come into play. It’s been an interesting journey so far. Not sure what else fate has in store for me, but I’m sure I’ll be a sysadmin until the day I die.

Fellow sysadmins, I salute you.

Last week I spent the week staying with dad in North East London, commuting to work via the Central and District Lines to Wimbledon instead of enduring the torturous South Western Railway journey from Woking to Wimbledon via Surbiton.

It’s amazing that despite it being the 21st century with all this wonderful technology, we still have to suffer a horrible (and expensive) daily commute.

The experience wasn’t bad, though it does take a while to get to Wimbledon when changing at Mile End. I like the District Line trains because you can walk all the way through them, and they’re big beasts. Even when you’re packed in, it’s not entirely awful. The Central Line, on the other hand, is a nightmare when packed. And it was often packed. I remember heading back to my dad’s place where we were about to pull into Leytonstone but had stopped just outside the station. I didn’t know this, and neither did the people that wanted to get off. The carriage was jampacked, and as soon as we started off again to pull into the station, the force sent me flying into a woman. I hadn’t been holding on to anything because I thought we had stopped and the doors were about to open.

Wimbledon is the black hole of the London/suburbs train network.

I will never understand why Tube trains have to be so full, with people happily (or rather, unhappily) invading other people’s personal space so easily. Given how frequent trains run, it really shouldn’t be a problem to wait a couple more minutes or so for the next one. Or the one after that. If a train were to be involved in a major accident, with a train packed to the brim with passengers is going to potentially see a significant loss of life. It’s amazing that despite it being the 21st century with all this wonderful technology, we still have to suffer a horrible (and expensive) daily commute.

Despite all the crowding of the Tube network during rush hour, there were relatively few problems with the network itself. It was around 8 quid less than I’d be paying to commute from my home to Wimbledon each day, including the buses to and from the Underground station. I did manage to find seating for the majority of the time on the District Line, even if it meant having to wait until Embankment or Earl’s Court. I occasionally got an end carriage seat on the Central Line, but not always.

Over the past year and half in my current job, I’ve found Wimbledon to be the black hole of the London/suburbs train network. So many trains run late to or from Wimbledon, plus there are only a handful of direct routes to Wimbledon from Woking that are convenient for working hours. This is in stark contrast to Guildford which ran regularly, and had very few problems. And before that I cycled or took the bus. Or bussed/walked.