back to article Bored IT manager automates Millennium Eve checks to ditch snoozing for boozing

It's New Year's Eve and for many of you this will mean celebrating – but for some the prospect of manning the support lines or working overtime looms. Either way, why not ease yourselves into 2019 with this bumper issue of Who, Me? – El Reg's tech confessional column – in which we leap back 19 years to Millennium Eve. The …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Priceless

    Talk about luck of the devil. If I tried something like that it would all go hideously and catastrophically wrong.

    1. A.P. Veening

      Re: Priceless

      "Do or do not, there is no trying".

      Something like this can be done if you are competent enough and thoroughly aware of your limitations. I've done similar things (and there are still scheduled jobs running at places I left).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Priceless

        I believe, that if I attempted it, the following events would occur:

        1) The mail server disks would crash all at a time

        2) The modem would catch fire

        3) The telco would disable the SIM by mistake

        Sometimes, you are competent enough and even more - but chaos demands its price...

  2. tiggity Silver badge

    Automating stuff can be useful.

    Once worked at a place where we had to have social media presence, including dev team for some deranged reason.

    so on code commits I had (using special delimiting tags) nice user friendly PR style description describing the new feature (if a bug fix did not use the tags) and outside those tags all the proper commit comments (links to feature / bug requests, any gotcha comments)

    A bit of code that checked new commits, if any magic social media delimiter enclosed text was found, it posted to FB & Twatter describing the exciting new feature that was ready for testing and would soon be with customers in release "n" (release no the change was scheduled for was also tagged as one of our standard "fields" of a commit message)

    We also automated sending of messages on significant dates e.g. Xmas etc.

    Social media with no human involvement, best approach IMHO!

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Ah, Asocial Media. I like it!

  3. macjules Silver badge

    "..who had recently been promoted from BOFH to IT manager"

    Poacher turned Gamekeeper then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "..who had recently been promoted from BOFH to IT manager"

      More poacher turned landowner - BOFH in a suit!

  4. Mephistro Silver badge
    Pint

    Whenever I have to automate any admin task I just stay there until it's over, so I have no similar anecdotes to share, but I think this is a good opportunity to wish ElReg hacks and fellow commentards a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

    1. Kobus Botes
      Pint

      @Mephistro

      You do realise that the Reg hacks have automated posts since 21 Dec and are blissfully ignorant of whatever commentards post? (Apart from those containing pre-determined text that would be automatically forwarded to whoever need to know. Responses to those, however, are also run by scripts).

      Anyway, happy New Year to one and all!

      --------------------------------------------->

      Sadly, in the absence of a fizzy wine icon.

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      !!AAEEHNPPRWYY

      Well that's the happy new year message sorted...

      Oh dear...

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: !!AAEEHNPPRWYY

        Genius

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

    Which reminds me - 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the start of ARPANET. Opportunity for a nice article there, el Reg.

    Oh to see something as good and far-reaching come from 2019.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Oh to see something as good and far-reaching come from 2019.

      Never going to happen.

      Anything written in 2019 will be Agiled to death and completely unrecognizable by 2021.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Oh to see something as good and far-reaching come from 2019.

        Well that's not really a problem - the project will be abandoned long before then, without even being completed.

        1. DJV Silver badge

          "the project will be abandoned long before then, without even being completed."

          Ah, you mean Google's modus operandi... which can also be summed up as Alpha, Beta (immediate release to the public), Dead.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Re: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

      Something from 2019? Brexit?

      I'll get me coat.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

      "Which reminds me - 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the start of ARPANET."

      Although on a sad note, "Net's founding father Dr Larry Roberts dies aged 81"

      "American scientist Larry Roberts who helped design and build the forerunner of the internet has died aged 81.

      In the late 1960s, he ran the part of the US Advanced Research Projects Agency (Arpa) given the job of creating a computer network called Arpanet."

  6. TomPhan

    Needs the human touch

    Remember to add a random number of seconds to each process so it looks like it was manually generated, rather than always appearing on the hour.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Needs the human touch

      Remember the KISSME rule - In this case, Keeping It Simple Saves Major Embarrassment.

      When you try doing things like that to be clever is when you then have to start replacing a tried and tested schedule with little hacks; the effort to make it work outweighs the cost of actually doing the job; and the chance of a cock up increases exponentially!

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Needs the human touch

        I find the process of doing the automation:

        Keeps things consistent across the board on every job (removing missed steps & constant rechecking after yet another "user" interruption, leaving me in a "Now where the fuck was I?" state).

        Saves lots of repeated needless navigation steps & teaches me about more about scripting during the setup & experimentation stage with the bonus of making work fun.

        Icon for the above & to see in a hopefully new & better year.

        Here's to each & every one of us readers, commentards & El Reg's staff for a great New Year, may it bring us what we want.

    2. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Needs the human touch

      I have cron jobs that run at hour+delta, where delta is a small number of minutes. It's a habit I started when working on busy shared systems, and I thought it made sense to offset my jobs from the likeliest peaks of scheduled activity.

      In a one-off script, I might do something like

      $ run-job-1

      $ sleep 30

      $ run-job-2

      ... etc

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Needs the human touch

        As the last man standing in Alberta, while all facilities to the east & south of the border had closed down on a Friday afternoon (I already had set up a script that ran daily to backup my profile at 4.40pm & restart my laptop at 5.03), I would set up my time sheet, expenses & invoice e-mail to go out at 5.01 to my boss in the US to authorise over the weekend.

  7. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    The Sorcerer's Apprentice

    If you're thinking of going a bit OTT with automating things, just bear him in mind.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

      Worked, didn't it?

      The only problem would be that the USPTO won't let you patent a perpetual motion machine.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

        So .. he was bored by just doing the email, and did all the other communication methods unnecessarily to fill time. And then automated that because .. It was too much work ? Taking away the pointless job he'd created for himself ?

        Seems like he needs some training in timewasting. It should be more fun than that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

          The time spent with his girlfriend seems like time well spent.

          1. remainer_01
            WTF?

            Re: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

            > The time spent with his girlfriend seems like time well spent.

            Do you even work in IT? You sound like an imposter to me!

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

        "the USPTO won't let you patent a perpetual motion machine"

        I think they'd be OK if you provided a working example. It would be a useful condition to apply to all other patents.

        1. Nick Kew Silver badge

          Re: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

          I can cite working examples! How about the moon's orbit, for one?

          For values of perpetual in not just human but geological time ...

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

      Nothing wrong with automation.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Handy stuff this automation.

    One day much routine IT will automated*

    *About the time most offices go paperless for good.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Handy stuff this automation.

      One day indeed. In my case, starting in the 1980s.

      Trouble is, when you're in a busy office, automating jobs away just leaves you without a job. Going home would be noticed.

      1. A.P. Veening

        Re: Handy stuff this automation.

        "Trouble is, when you're in a busy office, automating jobs away just leaves you without a job."

        In that case you are automating away the wrong jobs ;)

        1. Nick Kew Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Handy stuff this automation.

          Damn, I set myself right up for that.

          Can I say "damn you" at the same time as upvoting?

  9. chivo243 Silver badge
    Pint

    Bygone days of Stupidity

    Getting promoted for faffing off? Those days are long gone.

    Best wishes to all the commentards here in the forums!

    1. A.P. Veening

      Re: Bygone days of Stupidity

      "Those days are long gone."

      Yup, nineteen years to be exact ;)

  10. Gene Cash Silver badge

    You're not a sysadmin...

    ... if you haven't automated ALL THE THINGS as much as possible. That's what a computer's for, after all.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "if you haven't automated ALL THE THINGS as much as possible. That's what a computer's for,.. ."

      I'd agree, but I'm not sure how many supposed SysAdmins (especially in SME's) are up to the job.

      They are either unfamiliar with what's available or think the stuff they have to process too variable in structure, so any automation would be too fragile to cope with variations.

      You're right though. Boring, repetitious s**t is exactly what computers were built for.

  11. swm Bronze badge

    I believe that Thomas Edison automated a telegraph key with a mechanical clock to prove that he was awake on long nights. Eventually he was caught when he didn't reply to messages and someone came to check.

  12. Vanir

    Computers are for

    automating stuff?

    Well I never!

    Agile thinking is that.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Computers are for

      There was a time when everything I did was agile...

      Then I got old.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: There was a time when everything I did was agile...

        Tablets can help you with that problem.

        If you're on a train, whip out your iPad and get coding.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There was a time when everything I did was agile...

          Viagra and ibuprofen?

  13. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Why tu, Kay?

    I'd done years of three years of Y2K testing for a Cisco kid, so nothing happened even though my moron mates thought the world was about to end or all IT folk were scammers.

    On the night itself I was stuck in a Norwich B&B contracting for the only employer in Norwich. Nothing to do in the middle of nowhere. So I get on the last train to London, thinking if I can't be in Edinburgh or Amsterdam then I can at least see what London is like. It was the last train to Liverpool.

    I now live in Edinburgh and I didn't venture out last night. It has become Disneyland. In the mid nineties it was the best Hogmanay anywhere. There were half a million people crushing the streets. Sex and drugs and imminent risk of death - fun! Now the streets are closed by police barricades, ticketed concerts for pap bands, a pastiche of its former glory.

    I used to love fireworks. Now they are just air pollution for poor people.

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