You Ever Had One Of Those Days?

You ever had one of those days? When you wake up expecting a meteor to hit, an earthquake to strike, a Republican to get elected, errrr…. ok. Whatever. This is one of those days for me. It’s graduation day here at East Tennessee State University. I’m excited about that. I love sharing tha ‘Big Day’ with my students. I’ll never understand why more faculty don’t show up for ‘tha big day.’ We spend four (or more) years with these kids, coaching, guiding, mentoring, and sometimes consoling them. It’s a big day for them. And it’s a treat to have a chance to share that day with them. We, tha faculty, invest a lot of time in their future, I think. That deserves, at the least, sharing their victory with them, a little. I guess that’s just me. Maybe in 10 or 20 years, I’ll have a different outlook on things. But I hope not. After a decade and a half of interacting with people who didn’t like me, experiencing an opportunity to share in the lives of folk who (maybe) do is a privilege, as far as I’m concerned.

On the home front, things are going. I’ve met, and fallen in love with, a wonderful woman. Yay, me! School’s hard, but who didn’t see that coming? I’m looking forward to the Spring (Nova calls it ‘Winter’) semester. I’ll be taking a class on HCI. I’ve got the textbooks already, and am trying to get a leg up now. It’s cool, because HCI is a big part of the web experience. And I teach Web Design. So it’s easy to engage in the material. At least so far. I have mixed feeling about the whole ‘doctor’ thing. Am I PhD material? I don’t know. I do know I have, and have always had, an inquisitive mind. Is that enough? IDK. But, for the time being, I’ll keep plugging away at it, and see where things go.

Had an interesting convo with a Red Hat Linux rep the other day. I’d signed up for a webinar that I ultimately didn’t attend. He wondered why. The upshot was that we had a great conversation about open source code and its place in modern industry. Of course, RHL is all about promoting FOSS, but he didn’t experience a hard sell with me. And, to beat it all, he promised an invite with RHL’s local sales rep, who might come and present to my sysadmin class (or, at least, video-conference). I like bringing folks who are in the field into the classroom — I think it lends legitimacy to what I’m trying to teach them. So maybe this’ll be a great new vector in their education.

So I attended SESA (the Symposium for Educators who teach System Administration) this week. It was awesome! A part of the LISA (Large Information Systems Association), SESA turned out to be a gathering of educators and professionals interested in the field of sysadmin — and, more important, interested in professionalizing the practice. All too often, IT Ops is equated with janitorialism in the minds of the higher-ups. While there’s no shame in being a custodian, non at all, IT Ops is a different kettle of fish entirely. Read The Phoenix Project,  if you doubt me. An excellent book, and one which I require my students to read. IT is not a consumer of resources, contrary to popular C4 thought. It is an integral part of the success story of any enterprise. Any enterprise that refuses to accept this basic fact is doomed to fail. Period.

So we’re trying to find ways to more effectively teach the principles of System Administration to our students. I’m totally down with that. I learned a couple of new concepts (new to me, anyway) — ‘green field’ and ‘brown field.’ They codified something I’ve been struggling with since I started teaching this class: I teach the students how to spool up and configure servers (instances), pretty much in a vacuum (green field), while those who go on to be sysadmins after graduation will find themselves in an environment where that’s already been done (brown field). How can I prepare them for that environment? I don’t know, yet, but I’m working on it.

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