Tuesday, November 8, 2011

IT People I Have Known

I've been working in IT for about 20 years, starting out as "that guy" in my office to being a somewhat skilled SySad, depending on the phase of the moon.  Over the years, I've noticed that there are a few types of organisms that keep popping up in my little IT ecosystem.

  • The Gadget Guy - This strange animal is always carrying around the new hawtness from ThinkGeek, Apple, Google, or Microsoft.  Examples of this species have paid more for gaming rigs, laptops, cell phones, smart phones, and touch pads than I have on cars over the years.  Can be known by their ability to always find a way to be touching and playing with a new toy, which it will use for about six weeks before it pays out full price for the next big thing.  It is also good at bringing any conversation around to either its latest find or the next big thing that it plans to pre-order and then stand in line for at 4 AM.  This animal is also the person who refuses to support legacy hardware and software, instead using company money to chase the new hawtness in OS, hardware, and programming language.  While usually quite talented, it can be frustrating to take over  a project after they have moved onto the next shiny object, because you have to make heads or tails of their RubyC#PERLJavaJavascriptOnRails magnum opus and keep it up and running.
  • The Project Manager - Some specimens of this start out as actual technical people, gaining experience in what it takes to actually do the jobs they are now trying to schedule.  The ones that seem to pop up in my memory are former DreamWeaver jockeys who figured out how to make a gantt chart after the dotcom bust.  Can be known by their ability to use words like 'leverage', 'synergy', or 'enterprise'.  Extreme examples don't really care whether or not the project they're managing was successful, so long as it failed on time and on budget.
  • The Technology Manager - This funny animal is a remnant of past times.  They fondly remember setting up compute clusters on a Vax, serial hardware dongles that were used as software licenses, and networking using two inch wide copper wire.  They can be known by their inability to 'get' virtualization, security, or really anything that was developed after 1985.
  • The Tusker - This is an evolutionary cousin of the Technology Manager, but is actually quite useful. It also remembers VMS, SNA, COBOL, and all of the other things that were developed for the Apollo missions, and in some instances is still taking care of them.  However, it remembers all of the technical details and can sometimes relate the concepts to new technology.  It may not be interested in learning the guts of KVM, but at least it doesn't dismiss it as new-fangled nonsense.  Well, not much, anyway.  It is called the Tusker because it's like an old elephant, who is just hanging on long enough to die happy.  Extreme examples of this group are also known as the RBDP:  Retired But Drawing Paycheck.
  • The Haxor - An example of parallel evolution, in that this creature emulates the behavior and values of the Mall Ninja.  The Black Hat fancies itself as a security expert, and takes every opportunity to try to figure out everyone's passwords, get into their email, and generally be a nuisance to all who it touches.  Unless forced to by a dress code, it wears old, baggy cargo pants or shorts, and a seemingly endless array of Black Hat, SANS, ThinkGeek, and vendor give-away tee shirts.  Hired to help lock down and protect systems and networks, he visualizes his responsibilities as telling war stories from his latest LAN war and trying to penetrate the systems instead of protecting them.  Talk of configuring iptables and Snort bores this animal, as those are defensive in nature, and it only uses its skills in the offense. 
  • The Old Shaman - Normally, a Unix or Mainframe guy, but some older Microsoft people are gaining this title as well.  These creatures have been working on the same technology for many years, and have the scars to show for it.  Each of these scars is catalogued and the place, time, and event that brought it into being can be talked about at length, especially if multiple Old Shamen were involved and are there to talk about them. While their technology may be old, it is still a powerful force in the company, and these Shaman are the wise old men who will be there to bring along the Gadget Guy and the Haxor when they age out of their adolescence.  Extreme examples have scars from VMS, Windows, and Unix, and can knit beautiful solutions using technology from multiple platforms into works of geek art that will not survive their passing from the scene.
  • The Bushy Tailed NeoPhyte - This newcomer to the ecosystem can evolve into any of the above fauna.  It's kind of the stem cell of our little ecosystem.  If paid well, it can morph into the Gadget Guy.  If given too much time on their hands, they can become the Haxor.  Eventually, they will evolve into some of the older species.  The Neophyte can be known by the fact that their dominant hand is usually filled with a RedBull or some other sweet concoction, they still wear their college clothes to the office, and may still talk passionately about how they want to use their talents in technology to make the world a better place.  Eventually, their soul will be crushed and they can begin their evolution to the higher forms of life in the IT ecosystem.


Old NFO said...

What about us dinosaurs???

DaddyBear said...

I'd say Dinosaurs are in either the Shaman, Manager, or Tusker category.

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