Personal flaws

Published: Fri 02 November 2012
By Sirex

In Rants.

It's about time I fessed up to some things, and as this is a blog, and the only thing I know much about is me, I'll just launch right into it...

I work as a computer system administrator. This means I frequently deal with technologies that are fast moving and difficult to keep up with. In addition to this there's lots of competition. There are a few community figures that are generally regarded as "thought leaders" or experts in their field, and in the case of system administration many of these people have blogs which are aggregated to planet sysadmin.

Anyhow, like many sysadmin types I follow these blogs and presentations because I'm looking not just to do the job, but to do the job well. That's a noble endeavor in my opinion, but the rub from this is you become more aware of your own failings.

In the interest of honest, I'd like to air some of these here, partly so I can look back in the future and see if I've progressed, and partly so others in a similar situation know they aren't the only ones.

1) I can't touch type. I hunt-and-peck at 70WPM - it's not even really "hunting", but I just can't type heads up. That's pretty tragic I know. Jeff Atwood and others have commented previously how typing skills should be high on the list for anyone in IT, and I agree. I'm not even sure I have a decent defense. Like most I've blamed the keyboard or the layout, and really I just need to learn it. Hell, even my spelling is appalling, and my handwriting is illegible.

  • On the plus side, I'm making decent progress on this though, as I've bought myself an ergo keyboard (to make hunting less effective) and I'm trying hard to fix it. Annoying, I gave Dvorak (and colemak) a go, to avoid my bad qwerty habits but the OS support for those isn't really there (specifically, Linux non-GUI tty support - loadkeys on every login ?!). It's a shame because I really liked colemak in particular.

2) My communication skills suck. Yeah, that's right. That "soft skill" you're meant to have to work effectively in IT ? - That's not me. I'm the guy who spent most of his life in a room talking to people over email. Sure, I'll give you a mean game of battlefield, but face to face I'll struggle to remember your name, let alone what you said.

  • This one has been alot harder to fix. I'd like to think knowing I'm as asshole is half the battle, but it seems not caring about being an asshole is part of the territory of being one. This very blog post indicates progress, I hope.

3) My code sucks. I hang around with alot of developers who really know their shit. I struggle to write industry robust code in bash and python. It's getting better with time, but the amount of times I read a "python anti-pattern" posting and think they've based it solely on my code is alarming.

In summary, over time I've realized that I have a really good attitude to the job (attitude != ability), but still have a long way to go on improving as a sysadmin. These things are holding me back from progressing, and if the aren't now, they soon will be. Perhaps this is all part of the learning process.

I'd like to think there's others out there like me who see these community figures giving slick talks to hundreds of people at a time, and wonder how the hell they do it ? I guess like all great tradesmen they make it look easy, but still...

In the mean time, I have Dev's wanting me to deploy vagrant, so I guess I better learn wtf that is.

It feels a lot better to get that off my chest !

This post is a work in progress, and i'll add to it as I remember more things i'm rubbish at. :-)

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