10 types of system administrators you’ll encounter in the field

  • Date: July 17th, 2010
  • Author: Justin James

The world of IT is filled with interesting characters. System administrators are human just like the rest of us, and some have such standout personalities that we remember them for a long time. Here is a humorous look at 10 types of sys admins you may encounter in the wild. You might even find yourself on the list.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Over-caffeinated Man

We all know that IT departments require caffeine as a critical resource. It’s right up there with electricity and paychecks in terms of getting things done. But a few system administrators take this a bit too far. They drink so much coffee they’re constantly changing from an unstoppable ball of energy to a morose sack of caffeine withdrawal. This type is easily spotted by the innumerable brown stains on their shirts (soda or coffee) and their wild, bloodshot eyes.

2: Rebel Without a Clue

Ever meet the administrator who acts as if the company is the enemy instead of the employer? I know I’ve met a few. These admins treat the spare parts shelf as a treasure trove to be raided whenever their personal PC breaks down. They constantly work around the rules when they don’t like them. And they badmouth management to anyone who will listen. Trying to get a project done with them makes you feel like being a character in a Hunter S. Thompson book: You keep expecting something to explode or to be deported. While it can be fun watching them at work for a few minutes, spending more than five minutes with these rebels can possibly get you fired.

3: Your Data Is My Gossip Mill

Yes, the system administrator has access to all of the data on the network. But one kind of sys admin delights in actually taking a look at data all over the network, looking for juicy tidbits to start rumors. You’ll know if there is one of these around pretty quickly. They will start using phrases from your reports and emails in conversations with you to let you know that they know what you have been doing with your PC. Your best defense is either to be fastidiously proper in your use of company resources or to embark on a ruthless campaign of disinformation aimed at exposing these admins to others for the snakes they are. Planting false evidence in a file named Super-Secret Merger Plans should do the trick.

4: The Otaku

“Otaku” is Japanese for someone who is obsessive about a particular item. It’s like a geek gone to the ultimate degree, but specialized on one particular topic. Many sys admins take the geek trait of curiosity too far and end up deep into Otaku-land. Otakus are increasingly difficult to spot. As IT becomes more and more assimilated into mainstream corporate culture, the Otakus have a harder time expressing themselves in the workplace.

5: Flower Power

An increasingly rare breed of system administrators still thinks it is 1967. And it shows. These men and women come to the office wearing bell-bottom jeans, tie-dyed shirts, and patchouli oil. Chances are, they became interested in computers sometime around the Moon Race. They can be a ton of fun to be around, with far-out stories and knowledge of the history of computers, as only someone who was there can tell it. Sadly, these hippies-turned-geeks are retiring now, and their wealth of knowledge will soon be lost for good.

For the rest of the list, visit TechRepublic.com

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