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Monday, 27 August 2018

The Support Shift of Sam McGee


There are strange things done 'neath the midnight sun
     By the bods who moil with code;
An embedded trace gives an endless chase
     When you compile in debug mode.
The panel lights have shown odd bytes,
     But the oddest they displayed
Was that night I thought, in User Support,
     That I'd do a sys upgrade.

From Seattle ground on Puget Sound,
     Where the Duwamish meets the sea,
The system spread like a wound that bled,
     But should not've passed the quay.
I was always told, by coders old,
     That it drained you like a spell;
But I had no choice; the boss's voice:
     "Linux? Rot in Hell!"

As I sipped my brew the screen went blue,
     And then the helpline rang:
"My Word doc's gone! It's almost dawn.
     “You're the one that I'll harangue.
"Got a meet at ten. Must I use a pen?
     “You're supposed to make it work."
I could tell from his tone at the end of the phone
     That this one was a jerk.

But he had a point: in this hardware joint,
     The server's meant to serve,
With an uptime that, quite unlike FAT,
     Would every bit preserve.
I set down my cup, then took the backup,
     To mount it in the drive.
I thought to myself, "If the link were ELF,
     “I'd have it up in five."

The drive-LED flashed. The head then crashed.
     My tea soaked round the keys.
So I cursed an oath at the undergrowth
     Of the open-plan tubbed trees.
Then I recalled the machine installed
     To test a new release.
Maybe that would run better than none
     And finally give me peace.

I plugged in a mouse, and keys unsoused,
     And a postcard-sized green screen,
Then I reset it, with my brows knit,
     Hoping that release was clean.
My luck was in. Beta for the win.
     It booted to a prompt.
I ran the scripts and checked the MIPS;
     It wouldn't end up swamped.

The Post-it note that I wrote
     Had brief words of advice.
"Admins", it said, "The machine is dead.
     "The disk has failed us twice.
"But the spare server is a life preserver
     "That'll run till half-past three.
"When the next shift, if you catch my drift,
     "Takes over" - Sam McGee.