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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 queer bytes,
But the queerest 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 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.
The beer 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.