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Scripting / SysAdmin Meme

by @ 10:29 pm on 6/19/2008. Filed under general

Well Darren has effectively said “Tag, you’re it” for this Scripting/Sysadmin Meme that is going around. I kind of liken this to the emails that say send this to 7 of your friends immediately but since I am not actually forwarding it, you have to come to me to read it, I will play.


How old were you when you started using computers?

I was 12 and I believe I was in 7th grade when I first started playing with computers.  


What was your first machine?

The first computer I used was a Commodore PET with cassette tape storage. It was in Manton Consolidated School’s Library. The first computer my parents owned that I played on was an Atari 800 which I believe I still have a book on programming the graphics for. Although we had that machine I believe I had begged and begged for a TI-99 before that. Also mixed up in there in my playing were an Apple II and the Tandy TRS-80 Model II and the first multi-user computer I used was a PDP-11/34 running RSTS/E 7.2.


What was the first real script you wrote?

I started with writing compiled and assembled languages. I had all of these languages down before writing my first script – BASIC, BASIC-PLUS, BASIC-PLUS-2, FORTRAN, COBOL, PL-1, Pascal, Assembler for like 3 or 4 different processor architectures, MACRO Assembler for PDP-11, and C back when I was still in High School.

I didn’t get too involved with scripting until I started playing a MUD in the mid-90’s called MajorMUD and then I used Qmodem Pro’s SLIQ Scripting language to write scripts that would run my characters around killing monsters and picking up cash and weapons. That was the first major script I wrote for anything and was thousands of lines (I wonder if I still have that around) and could handle nearly everything in the game and used text files for directions for easy updates. It was very cool as it allowed for two characters to work together (which I called tag teaming script) which was immensely better than just a single character running around scripting. I actually was able to sell copies of the compiled version to other players of the game. If anyone that used to play MajorMUD is reading this, my characters were Slayer Cricket which was a Ogre Witch Hunter and Hunter Cricket which was a Human Paladin (colloquially known as Hunter and Slayer). The scripts would talk to each other by passing text messages back and forth through a MUD private chat channel.

The first real scripting I did “professionally” was REXX and Perl back in the late-90’s (1996 or so).


What scripting languages have you used?

DOS batch, Fastlane FINAL (dabbled), REXX, Perl, VBScript, JScript, SLIQ, and I have dabbled with PowerShell because I have had too occasionally. 😉  Out of the bunch, I find Perl to be by far what I prefer.


What was your first professional sysadmin gig?

Well I ran the PDP-11 at my high school which was kind of a real job though I didn’t get paid. Didn’t matter, that system had to be up and running and if it wasn’t, it was my ass. After that when I was about 17 and still in high school I got a job working for a company called Automated Tracking Systems which processed insurance info for GMAC loans and issues MIC insurance for anyone who didn’t have any insurance. It was an interesting job as we would get Mag Tapes from EDS and you never knew what format those things would be coming in as, it was all over the map. The job was as weekend operator. I worked 24 hours over Sat/Sun making sure PDP-11’s and VAXes ran ok processing loan tapes and doing other batch jobs. Mostly I slept and wrote code (MACRO Assembler and Basic-Plus II) to do system chores. 


If you knew then what you know now, would have started in IT?

Yes I think so. I would have started earlier and not taken the time off that I did and I very likely would be retired right now just sitting back having fun writing code and enjoying life a little more. While I started early, I took large blocks of time (years) off from the tech field as it kept burning me out and went out and explored the world a little doing sales, etc. I certainly would have started something joeware “like” much sooner and would have pushed harder to make it commercial as it is tougher to do now with the little time I have. I also wouldn’t have wasted my time and money going to University/College.


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

Share information. Information hoarded is ridiculous. I laugh when I see people in IT who think they are important because they are the only ones who know how to do this that or the other thing. I am very quick to tell people how to do things or at least help them learn things so I can move on and do other things. Who wants to be stuck doing the same thing over and over again. Also… Never stop exploring. 🙂


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

Well for pure fun, it was the MUD scripts I wrote. It was a huge challenge trying to make the computer “think” for me when I was off working so that my characters would get money, weapons, experience points and stay alive. People constantly would attack the scripts and try to trick you, etc. My scripts would play a song anytime they “bugged out” when there was too much danger of dying or something unexpected and therefore unhandled occurred…. the song… Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper. 🙂  Just hearing the opening bars will make the hair on my arms stand upright and wake me up instantly because usually when I heard that it meant that someone was attacking my characters and I might be dead. I recall the Hunter and Slayer scripts running on my Packard Bell computer while I slept in the next room the song would pop on and I would be flying out of bed before it got 15 notes into the song.

As for “real” scripts I would say I had a blast writing scripts for Ford Credit when I worked there. We implemented SMS replacements in perl as well as all sorts of other things.


Who am I calling out?

Eric Fleischman

Brett Shirley

Brian Desmond

Joe Kaplan

Gil Kirkpatrick

Laura Hunter

Nathan Muggli

Rating 3.00 out of 5

3 Responses to “Scripting / SysAdmin Meme”

  1. “I kind of liken this to the emails that say send this to 7 of your friends immediately” – I agree and I was kind of hesitant to start this for that reason. The response has been great though.

    Thanks for sharing and for your great apps and content.

  2. Mike Kline says:

    Man you hit the nail on the head with your comment about information sharing. There are so many people that will horde information and that is within the same team. I’ll often point to your blog, Jorge, or Darren’s blog and tell the person that they get a lot of great info from MVP’s that share info so why don’t they do the same thing.

    It is hard to understand people in this industry sometimes. I understand it may seem like good job security to horde information but it makes things rough on everyone and ultimately the client.

  3. joe says:

    Mike: There is an old business saying, if there is someone you can’t do without in your business, unless it is the owner, fire that person immediately and figure out how to do without them, then you do it on your own terms.

    Other than that, I think people who horde info are being pretty stupid and it will end up biting them in the end in several different possible ways.

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