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I am attending the Professional IT Community Conference – it is put on by the League of Professional System Administrators (LOPSA), and is a 2-day community conference. There are technical and “soft” topics — the audience is system administrators. While technical topics such as Essential IPv6 for Linux Administrators are not essential for my job, many of the “soft” topics are directly applicable and relevant to DBAs too. (I am speaking on How to Stop Hating MySQL tomorrow.)
So I am in Seeking Senior and Beyond: The Tech Skills That Get You Promoted. The first part talks about the definition of what it means to be senior, and it completely relates to DBA work:
works and plays well with other
leads by example
lives to share knowledge
thoughtful of the consequences of their actions
cool under pressure
[my own addition - no follow through, lack of attention to detail]
The Dice/Monster Factor – what do job sites see as important for a senior position?
They back up the SAGE 5-year experience requirement
Ability to code in newer languages (Ruby/Python) is more prevalent (perhaps cloud-induced?)
The cloud allows sysadmin tasks to be done by anyone…..so developers can do sysadmin work, and you end up seeing schizophrenic job descriptions such as
About the 5-year requirement:
- Senior after 5 years? What happens after 10 years?
- Most electricians, by comparison, haven’t even completed an *apprenticeship* in 5 years.
Senior Administrators Code
- not just 20-line shell scripts
- coding skills are part of a sysadmin skill
- ability to code competently *is* a factor that separates juniors from seniors
- hiring managers expect senior admins to be competent coders.
If you are not a coder
- pick a language, any language
- do not listen to fans, find one that fits how you think, they all work…..
- …that being said, some languages are more practical than others (ie, .NET probably is not the best language to learn if you are a Unix sysadmin).
Popular admin languages:
- Perl: classic admin scripting language. Learn at least the basics, because you will see it in any environment that has been around for more than 5 years.
- Ruby: object-oriented language for people who mostly like Perl (except for its OO implementation)
- Python: object-oriented language for people who mostly hate Perl, objects or no objects. For example, you don’t have to create a String object to send an output.
But what if you do not have time to learn how to program?
- senior admins are better at managing their time than junior admins, so perhaps managing time
- time management means you’ll have more time to do things, it doesn’t mean all work work work.
- Read Time Management for System Administrators – there is Google Video of a presentation by the author, Tom Limoncelli.
Consider “The Cloud”
- starting to use developer APIs to perform sysadmin tasks, so learning programming is good.
- still growing, could supplant large portions of datacenter real estate
- a coder with sysadmin knowledge: Good
- a sysadmin with coding knowledge: Good
- a coder without sysadmin knowledge: OK
- a sysadmin with no coding interest/experience: Tough place to be in
Senior Admins Have Problems Too
Many don’t document or share knowledge
Maany don’t do a good job keeping up with their craft
Cannot always be highlighted as an example of how to deal with clients
Often reinvent the wheel – also usually there is no repository
Often don’t progress beyond the “senior admin” role
….on the other hand…..
cynicism can be good…..
learn from the good traits
observe how others respond to their bad traits
think about how you might improve upon that
strive to work and play well with others, even if you don’t have a mentor for good/bad examples.
Now he’s going into talking about Patterns in System Administration….
I really enjoyed attending the conference, and not just because I learned how to play Beer Pong at the staff party. The organizers did a really good job of putting on a great event -- even if the line ups for food were a bit long, but it was free food for starving students, so what would you expect. I got to meet awesome people like Bram Moolenaar, the author of Vim, Alexis Ohanian, of reddit fame, and Ryan North, the guy behind Dinosaur Comics. I was also in awe of the facilities the CS people have at UIUC.
For ACM Reflections, I ended giving two talks: first one to introduce the topic of revision control, and second one to show people how to use Git. Although the second talk was called a "Workshop" it was basically a 2 hour lecture on Git, and I think it went really well. People kept asking questions for another hour after, and I received positive comments after the talk. However, I was not overly happy about the first part, and found it a bit weak. I think I'll stick to teaching people about Git, rather than teaching them about revision control in general.
The first talk was recorded and will be available on the reflections website soon, so you can tell me if you agree :)
... and in case you're wondering, I didn't win at Beer Pong.
I will be attending the Linux Symposium/2009 in Montreal in under a month. It's been for for 11 years now, and I am looking forward to the break from work.
I hear that the conference is not yet sold out... so you can still attend.
So, I went to YAPC::NA 2006 Sunday through Wednesday this week. As I get time to transcribe my notes I'll post more details here. There were several interesting talks, but I didn't learn anything groundbreaking. However, the Perl Email Project seems to be getting off the ground again, so I'm happy about that. I also met the author of Rubric, which has inspired me to clean up my pile of Rubric hacks (feed aggregator, IRC integration, etc) for submission to CPAN.
More to come.