Looking for IRIX or Solaris expertise? Visit my UNIX Consultancy website.
As a Sysadmin, there will be occasions when users – or management – may use some underhand tactics to push through some noxious change. If you’re not prepared, these tactics can leave you defenseless to counter their arguments, and thus your machines will be pillaged by those who don’t really know any better.
In order that you may more effectively defend yourself against such base tactics, I’ve compiled here a list of strategies to use – both offensive and defensive – to ensure you get to do what’s best for your machines.
Not only can you have fun using them yourself, but also you can play a "Buzzword Bingo" equivalent as you try and spot other people doing it, too!
We’ll examine the following in terms of a ‘challenger’ and a ‘victim’. Note I use these phrases because, in conventional warfare, the victim is just that – a victim who loses out to a challenger.
Overview: Reaching Out (not to be confused with the ‘Reach Around’) is what Catholic Priests do to small boys. It is where specially trained officers sit in a non-threatening playroom with a child and say “Show me where the Bad Man reached out to you, on this doll”.
Marketers – and, increasingly, insecure managers of the bed-wetting variety – have also started using this buzzword phrase when what they actually mean is “spoke to”.
Unless you really DID stick your thumb up your customer’s arse, you do not ‘reach out’ to them. You ask them a fucking question. OK?
Deployment: Banned by international convention
NO. Using this phrase is announcing to the world that you inappropriately touch small children. And possibly animals as well.
English law clearly states that, if you ever hear anyone using this reprehensible phrase, you are allowed to immediately bitch slap them. HARD. Just wind back, and deliver that bitch slap with all your might.
If you don’t live in England, it doesn’t matter – cry “God Save The Queen” as you bitchslap the smug smile off the face of that smarmy little ponce.
Overview: When the challenger wishes to push through an idea which will encounter resistance, they will overwhelm their victim with a constant stream of impossible to disprove statements. When the victim gives up hope and just starts agreeing with everything in an attempt to get the challenger to go away, the challenger slips in a small statement detailing what they actually want to get done. The victim will be so overwhelmed that they will blindly agree, and the challenger can then carry the day.
This works particularly well if the victim is busy or distracted.
<The Challenger wishes to get elevated privileges>
Challenger: Well, I know you’re busy, and that you’ve got a lot to do, but I don’t want to burden you with more stuff, and I know you’ve got a ton of stuff to clear anyway.
Victim: Yes ……
Challenger: So rather than bother you, and waste your time – and I’m sure you’ll agree that we don’t want your time wasted, I mean you’ve got so much more important stuff to get done anyway
Victim: Well, but ….
Challenger: Because I know it wouldn’t take you long to do, but then you’d have to postpone something else, and everything else is pretty urgent – but isn’t it always that way?
Challenger: So if you’d agree it would make sense to do that then?
Victim: Well, yes, but was it …
Challenger: Excellent – I’ll make sure your manager knows we’ll go ahead with that and not interrupt you any more
Victim: Umm, I guess …
Overview: A challenger may often start spouting technically true – but utterly irrelevant – facts to support their case. The victim can use this simple ploy to disarm such tactics, without appearing confrontational or rude, thus derailing the challenger with little deviation from the true discussion.
<The Challenger wishes to continue using rsh, despite a roll out of ssh>
Challenger: Well, you know, it’s not such a big deal, because many companies will use rsh internally anyway, and as we’ve got firewalls our internal machines are well protected, aren’t they?
Victim: Yes, and there are donkeys in Paraguay as well.
Victim: Sorry, I thought we were talking about things that were irrelevant to using rsh.
Challenger: But what does rsh have to do with donkeys?
Victim: Nothing. Which is why we are using ssh across the board. Thanks for your time though.
Overview: Tricky to say whilst keeping a straight face, but devastatingly effective if you can pull it off. To try and bolster their point, the challenger may start to mention technically impressive, but utterly unrelated, accomplishments, in an effort to make their idea seem less unpalatable. Works best in meetings as opposed to mano-et-mano confrontations.
<Again, the challenger wishes to continue using rsh instead of ssh>
Challenger: Well, I once wrote a script that deployed a load of code using rsh, and it was really use to use and debug, and it was a great hit with all the other developers. And we’ve got all these other scripts which use rsh in all these great ways.
Victim: Well, we’re just juggling frogs and weasels now.
Challenger (and everyone else in hearing): What?
Victim: Well, that’s technically impressive, but it has no real relevance to what we’re discussing.
<while the challenger is disarmed, get in there quick>
Victim: Just replace rsh with ssh in your code – if you could write such impressive scripts, I’m sure something as basic as that would be a very quick thing for you to do.
Overview: Gross exaggeration needs to be handled carefully – it needs to be so over the top that it’s obvious to even the most limited person that you’re being sarcastic, otherwise they may take your comment literally, and you’ll be so much more worse off. Works best in front of an audience.
Deployment: Both offensive and defensive
<Once again, the challenger clings to the nirvana that is rsh>
Challenger: But I don’t see why there is a security risk in using rsh. It’s not like we’ve been hacked or anything.
Victim: Of course. I’ve been very narrow minded. In fact, I agree totally with you. We’ve no need of firewalls, or packet filters. I don’t think that our activities securing our Internet servers have really added any value. Indeed, I think I’ll just pass out the root passwords and be done with it. I mean, it’s not like we’ve been hacked, is it?
Challenger: ….. <possibly a tad upset too, for bonus points>
Overview: Like many activities (like Extreme Ironing) Extreme Politeness is taking things to – well, the extreme. Note that the politer you are, the more rude you can be – see airport check-in desk staff for reference. The important thing here is not to lose your temper, while the challenger loses it big time. Again, an audience is required for greater effect.
<still banging on about rsh>
Challenger: Look, I know what I’m doing – just give me back rsh.
Victim: Yes, I’m sure you do think you know what you’re doing – but I know what you’re doing as well. And I don’t really think that it’s something that’s in our best interests.
Challenger: I don’t care. I need rsh to get my work done.
Victim: I’m sure you do believe that, which is odd, because everyone else is managing to get their work done with ssh. I’d be tempted to think that this inability of yours to move forward is more a comment on your competence, rather than a statement about ssh.
Challenger: What? Are you saying I’m incompetent?
Victim: Not at all. I’m just pointed out – politely – that everyone is working well with ssh, and that you’re the only person who seems to be having difficulty. So it’s obviously not ssh that is the issue. Maybe you need to have some basic UNIX training, so you can understand that systems better.
Challenger: FFS! *basic* UNIX training! I’ve been a developer for over 2 years! I’ve spent ages on Linux systems – I’ve got one at home! I know what I’m doing, dammit!
Victim: Yes, I think it’s apparent to everyone now that you’re just using ssh as an excuse to cover your lack of progress on the project. I can’t blame you – it must be a bit humiliating – but surely it would be better if you just owned up, admitted things were a bit tough, and then maybe we could get someone to help you.
Challenger: What? Fuck you!