Dave Lundell tagged me for the Scripting/Sys Admin meme.

How old were you when you started using computers?

Oh my. Lessee, I started with flowcharting in 10th grade in 1971 (we had a class, no kidding). I first started using a computer when I was 17. It was an IBM 360/65 if I recall correctly. I had access to the school districts's mainframe through an ASR33 teletype and a very primitive Harvard Basic interpreter.

What was the first real script you wrote?

It was a JCL script to compile, load, and run a Fortran program I was working on. Punch cards, baby!

What scripting languages have you used?

Wow. That's a tough one.... my memory sucks. JCL,  SIMSCRIPT (not sure if that qualifies), RPG, whatever the job control language on the CDC Cyber 70 and the old Westinghouse mainframes was, a really cool scripting language at Lawrence Livermore Labs that I don't think had a name, PROC and ENGLISH (on a Microdata minicomputer running REALITY, the first commercial Pick OS), the scripting language under PRIMOS (Prime), FOCAL (DEC PDP-8), MUMPS, whatever ran on the VAX, whatever ran on the DG Nova 3/4 and DG MV8000, INFOS, TCL, BATCH, LISP, C-Brief (thanks for reminding me Dave!), a couple of scripting languages that I developed myself, sh, BASH, DOS batch, java script, VB Script, JScript, CScript, Powershell.

What was your first professional sysadmin gig?

I've never been a professional sysadmin; I've always been a developer. But I managed the IT operations for American Medical Laboratories for about 6 months. It was a 24x7 kind of setup, and most of the staff worked in drone-mode, so I routinely got calls at 2:30 in the morning: "The terminal in Hematology is frozen, what should I do?" "The same thing I told you to do when the terminal in Cytology was frozen. Turn it off, then turn it on. Those cable runs too long and aren't properly shielded, and when the techs run the purge cycle on their machines, the transients freak out the RS-232 circuitry." I swear, sometimes I had to get up at 2am, get dressed, and drive to the lab, just to discover the loose RS-232 connector on the terminal.

If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new sysadmins, what would it be?

Things fail for a reason, and they work for a reason. Don't try to fix it until you know why it failed, and don't accept "Well, it seems to work now". Voodoo programming (and voodoo system management) is EVIL.

What's the most fun you've ever had scripting?

I vaguely recall some sort of hack war with another dev at a company I was working at. We were both using a big Prime minicomputer. He wrote a phantom (daemon) that would send me gratuitous messages. Then I would kill his pahntom, and he would restart it. Then I wrote a script to kill his phantom whenever it appeared. Then he wrote a script to automatically start his phantom when it was killed. Finally I wrote a script that would kill his phantom, send him a message, log his terminal session off, and then automatically spawn itself, and so on.

I won.

Who am I calling out?

Ulf B. Simon-Weidner

Jorge de Almeida-Pinto

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