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The Resourceful Network Administrator
by Douglas Chick

I’m surprised by how often I’m asked by end-users what flat panel monitors are made of. My standard answer is; "The screen itself is made from stem cells harvested from China, while the panel housing is made from a space age plastic invented by NASA during the “Cold War”. I give this response for two very good reasons; 1. I’m obviously unbalanced and 2. From the way all the blood seems to leave their faces and the way their eyes dilate when trying to explain a question that they actually do have a chance of understanding, everything else may as well be made of stem cells. What does any of this have to do with the resourcefulness of a network administrator? Nothing, but I have little else left to entertain myself with these days and this story always cracks me up.

When I speak of the resourcefulness of a network administrator, I refer to someone that knows how to quickly find what he or she needs to solve the crisis at hand. Crisis’s come in a multitude of flavors, each one with its own level of emergency that requires you stop whatever you are doing and immediately attend to it. And because there are so many so-called “critical emergencies” and there is only one of you, it’s important to assign a priority so you don’t become a bitter network administrator. The problem is, assigning priorities can sometimes be a political nightmare, as everyone in a company believes that they should have priority over everyone else. Typically, IT Directors and Network Managers receive little if any support from the company executives. Most aren’t concerned about office politics, who gets what and when. These days CEO, Presidents and VP’s are more concerned about stock prices, government audits and earning reports. So how do you tell Susan in accounting that you can’t help her until you finish Julie in marketing’s problem?

There is a simply formula that I created that leans itself to who receives the most priority and when. And it goes like this; (Note: The below rule doesn’t apply in a socialistic society.)

1.      Those that make the company money receive first priority.

2.      Those that collect the company money receive second priority.

3.      Those that spend the money, you’ll get to when you can.

 There are only two exceptions to this rule.

A.     Those who are directly responsible for firing you or granting you a raise.

B.     And Payroll. (If payroll can’t process the checks, no one gets paid.

A and B are like a battlefield decision that can be invoked at any given time without having to justify yourself. It also stops complainers in their tracks.

            “Sorry, payroll is down. If I don’t fix it no one gets paid!”

            The complainer backs away with her hands up in the air in complete agreement. If your boss tells you to do something, you say.

            “Sorry, payroll is down. If I don’t fix it no one gets paid!”

            i.e. you’ll get fired and won’t get paid.


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