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So you wanna be an IT Grunt?

By MisterQueue in Technology
Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 06:39:52 PM EST
Tags: Humour (all tags)

Hey there little jimmy, you too can join the fast paced world that is Information Technology! Using this handy-dandy not quite randy pamphlet, you will be well on your way to super tech stardom! Pamphlet now includes fun poll!*

*Any promises made herein are not valid, nor are they guaranteeable by any sense of the imagination. This pamphlet is a service of Queue Industries and it's parent company MisterINC, any ideas garnered from said publication are properties of our brains, not yours, and you know it man!

Hello and welcome to your first step in a long and interesting journey! The IT Grunt is the versatile being in his/her environment. Not quite a programmer, not quite an network admin, not quite a chimp, but with the logic, easily annoyed nature, and poo flinging of all three!!

If you have any of these qualities you will make a great Grunt:

  • Do not mind being scoffed at by both users and more knowledgable guru's.

  • Enjoys the mind-numbing conversation of users.

  • Wants more skills in order to further your career, but wants a job that doesn't allow you enough time to do so?

  • Enjoys fixing the problems that others create.

  • Likes working with errors and issues that make no sense and the feeling you get when you want to skewer your eyes with salad tongs.
  • If you have any of these qualities you may be ready for something in this field, or perhaps, for indentured servitude!

    Here's the best way to get your foot in the door. Acquire a personal computer. This is best done at a young tender age when your brain is still malleable and can be shaped by the machine. Next you want to isolate yourself from peers and work on it obsessively. Start simple, 10 goto 20 and all that, then suddenly realize that yes, virginia, books are helpful. Your manual collection will grow and grow, until one day you're 24 and wondering why in the hell you still have a PC-DOS or Commodore 64 book. Once you've garnered all you can out of the metallic beast, take it apart, build your own, then mess it up and build it again. Repeat as often as necessary. Soon your interests will wane, and you'll have to step up to servers to feed your addiction.

    This is a very fragile stage, if you go too far you will be a developer, if you don't go far enough, you will be purely a helpdesk tech. (Not bad, just not the Grunt you're wanting to be.) Make sure to tiptoe a line between brilliance and stupidity at all times. Work the system so you stay relatively anonymous, but when name-dropped you seem necessary. Dance around budget cuts, failing dot-coms, and strange economies like the little troll you are. Watch as you see your hours waste away in what may be a futile attempt at bettering youself!

    So join today!*

    *Offer not valid in AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, or anywhere outside of the US.

    Copyright 2002 Queue Industries, where we make you smile...or else.


    Voxel dot net
    o Managed Hosting
    o VoxCAST Content Delivery
    o Raw Infrastructure


    I Found this Pamphlet...
    o Helpful 2%
    o Harmful 0%
    o Zesty 9%
    o Tangy with a Chemical Aftertaste 33%
    o On the ground 5%
    o I didn't find it...it found me. 9%
    o In the land of Mordor 27%
    o Wasabi! 10%

    Votes: 121
    Results | Other Polls

    Related Links
    o Also by MisterQueue

    Display: Sort:
    So you wanna be an IT Grunt? | 43 comments (30 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
    So true its almost not funny (3.57 / 7) (#1)
    by japhar81 on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 10:51:29 AM EST

    I guess I went to far, I'm a developer. The sad thing is, I've seen this happen again and again to more kids (now 'adults') than I can count. Its so true that its almost not funny.

    <H6>Rome is always burning, and the younger generation never respects its elders. The time of your second coming, japhar81, is no exception. -- Aphasia</H6&gt
    heh... (3.00 / 3) (#2)
    by MisterQueue on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 10:55:03 AM EST

    I'd be lying if I said that this isn't my own personal experience, but you have to laugh at yourself sometimes.


    Clean, lemony-fresh victory is mine!!
    [ Parent ]

    Oh My Head! (4.75 / 4) (#3)
    by Elkor on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 11:10:44 AM EST

    I am an IT Grunt!

    Other characteristics:

    You are the only person who can translate IT Geek into user language.

    You realize that, even though the user said "Windows NT is screwed up" they really meant "The program I am running on Windows NT is screwed up."


    "I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
    -Margo Eve
    Questions & Comments (5.00 / 5) (#24)
    by dasunt on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 06:44:14 PM EST

    First of all, I'd say, during your tender years, you have to be broke, and make no backups. This has the advantages of being unable to afford more then one machine or new hardware, and if you have no backups, you *WILL* find a way to restore the machine.

    Second of all, you have glossed over the urge to kill the other (obviously inferior) techs. It will strike you as a computer grunt rather frequently. It might be when your coworker decides that SCSI will heal the sick and raise the dead, as well as bringing peace to the world, since it is the NEXT BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD SINCE EVERY MACHINE YOU SELL DOESN'T NEED SCSI. This is the point where you print out thick manuals that document IDE and SCSI interfaces, the drive's specs, and many pages of benchmarks, and proceed to BEAT HIM OVER THE HEAD WITH IT. Or it might be when you find out that his self-proclaimed linux-guruness is just being able to install redhat on a regular, run of the mill PC as long as he doesn't get any errors on the install.

    You must learn to deal with techno-quackery. This is where someone seems to be an instant expert on anything technical because they sprout bullshit. This is commonly associated with mis-identifying parts, for example, calling a "continuity rimm" a "parity rimm". You can also hear misinformation on the history of computers (Mr Linux Torvalds founded Slackware, didn't you know?). Or, expert advice on multimedia ("..but, for the best quality, store it as a MIDI". I thought (but didn't say), "Yep, that will work really well for that spoken-poetry CD I have."). Then, to further annoy you, you get to listen to them contradict you, for example "Well, I didn't terminate the SCSI chain, and it still ran fine", or "100M max cable length? Hell, I ran it 300M, but it doesn't matter, since it was twisted pair. Also, I ran it parallel to the main power cables and over the florescent lights just like you told me not to, and it still works, so there."

    Ignorant coworkers will also try to hide their knowledge by either misleading you ("Well, its obviously window's powersharing feature that is preventing you from opening up word documents, we have to reformat" or making up excuses "This is samba 2.0.8, I'm used to version 2.0.10, that's why I'm having a hard time.")

    Sooner or later, this means you will quickly become a show-off or know-it-all to them when you demonstrate simple computer knowledge, such as being able to turn on an ATX powersupply when the case has a broken switch (yep, a basic understanding of electronics is a wonderful thing, especially when combined with computer specs). You will also become insanely jealous of them, which they will prove by your stunning disinterest in their 120 gigs of pirated warez. Because of your jealously, you will start to hinder their advancement by not allowing them to work on anything that is important, and instead give them simple tasks. You will also be an insanely paranoid worry-wort and suggest dumb things like backing up a customer's data before upgrading the OS, especially when its a business and there are no existing backups. Of course, since you are an irrational old coot, you will create nonsense rules like "don't use telnet, use ssh".

    So, therefore, this commentary needs some advice on what are the best drugs (legal and illegal) to take when the homicidal urges hit. Or the best place to hide the bodies.

    (Btw, about 40% of the examples used were from life, about 30% were small exaggerations, and 30% were out-and-out fabrications. Guess which are which.)

    [ Parent ]

    Guesses (none / 0) (#26)
    by Pyrrhonian on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 07:30:15 PM EST

    My guesses on the out and out fabrications are... hm... well I'm sure they could *all* be true.

    Well my guesses for the exagerations were:

    "Well, its obviously window's powersharing feature that is preventing you from opening up word documents, we have to reformat"

    Surely nobodies actually said this? And tried to act on it as well?

    your coworker decides that SCSI will heal the sick and raise the dead

    This was an easy one to spot, I can't believe anyone even vaguely said this, although some people act like it does.

    Well I tried my best but I couldn't see an out and out fabrication.

    [ Parent ]

    Not a literal meaning (3.00 / 1) (#36)
    by dasunt on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 10:41:35 AM EST

    Well, that was more of an exaggeration then anything else. The true advantages of SCSI is that (1) they always release the faster drives in SCSI first (10,000 rpm (SCSI) vs 7,200 rpm (IDE)), last time I checked, (2) more devices in a chain (7/15 vs 2), (3) bus mastering between drives on the same chain, which lowers CPU overhead and frees up the PCI bus, and (4) less CPU overhead in total.

    Now IDE is cheaper (for both the drives and the controllers), is limited to 2 devices per channel (4 devices total in a typical two-channel EIDE controller), it can only read/write to one device per channel at a time, and it has more CPU overhead. Oh, and SCSI is hot-swappable.

    So, SCSI is automagically much faster, right? WRONG! Right now, if you had an ATA 100 drive that could do a sustained maximum output, you'd be saturating the PCI bus (however, for sustained output, its limited by the drive read time - a figure that is a few orders of magnitude less then the ATA or SCSI specs, sustained input is a worse - writing takes longer then reading). Also, if you limit each channel to one device, performance will increase, since it can read and write to both drives. (This is why they recommend putting CD-RW drives on a different channel then the main hard drive).

    So, for a low-end fileserver with minimal use, there is no good reason to spend the extra money for SCSI. For a lot of systems, IDE RAID will probably give equal performance to a SCSI system comparetively priced. (Not to say that the SCSI system isn't faster, but we're talking real world performance for $X amount of money). SCSI comes into play in large hot-swappable servers, systems with many drives in an array, or systems where you are moving large amounts of data regularly to different devices on the same SCSI chain.

    SCSI simply isn't cost effective in most systems. In a world where the cheaper clone of the x86 processor is the preferred cpu for most people, and where there are so many other areas of a PC where the same amount of money would increase performance by more, why use SCSI?

    That's where the quote about SCSI "healing the sick and raising the dead" comes in, I apply such a saying to anyone who believes something is so superior that it blows away all alternatives. SCSI doesn't.

    [ Parent ]

    Na.. I have heard that... (none / 0) (#38)
    by Sawzall on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 04:52:00 PM EST

    Well my guesses for the exagerations were:

    "Well, its obviously window's powersharing feature that is preventing you from opening up word documents, we have to reformat"

    Not that exact problem(excuse), but close enough. Run regedit is not in thier decision tree, because no one is willing to take the risk of telling them that it exists, so re-install is the only choice.

    The proud owner of a MSCE, but hell, I abandoned that as soon as possible for a worse fate - Project Management

    [ Parent ]

    SCSI-fu (none / 0) (#33)
    by gordonjcp on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 08:49:14 AM EST

    Then, to further annoy you, you get to listen to them contradict you, for example "Well, I didn't terminate the SCSI chain, and it still ran fine"

    But SCSI is a mysterious beast... We've had a setup where nothing changes, although the setup was pretty unusual, (PC -> external CDR -> Akai Sampler -> Zip Drive -> CDROM -> HD recorder). Some days it worked if it was terminated at one end, some days both ends needed terminated, sometimes it only worked if nothing was terminated. We've even had to turn on the internal terminators on the Zip and the Akai before it would work.

    But *nothing else changed*...

    Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

    [ Parent ]
    ATX power (none / 0) (#40)
    by Sanityman on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 05:35:41 AM EST

    How do you turn on an ATX power supply when the switch is broke? If the answer is 'short the switch pins on the mobo with a screwdriver' Then may I award myself a gold star?


    Disclaimer: Whatever organisation you had in mind, I'm not representing it.
    If you don't see the fnords, they can't eat you.
    [ Parent ]
    More likely...... (4.00 / 1) (#29)
    by scanman on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 11:55:43 PM EST

    "Windows NT is screwed up" they really meant "The program I am running on Windows NT is screwed up."

    It's more likely that it means, "There's a power outage and I forgot that computers use electricity."

    "[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
    "scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
    "I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

    [ Parent ]

    Not funny. (1.91 / 12) (#4)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 11:47:33 AM EST

    Big yawn (I have enough oversimplifications and sterotypes of what an IT person is, I need not another one, specially an unfunny one).
    Those who sleep can't sin.
    Those who sin, sleep well.

    First of all (3.33 / 3) (#5)
    by MisterQueue on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 11:50:52 AM EST

    That comment should be an editorial...

    I can accept that you didn't find it funny..that's fine.. but oversimiplified and stereotypical? I am an IT person...so it was a humourous look at myself mostly (I thought others might see some parallels in my plights.) How can you stereotype yourself? It was literally a bio of me! What an uninsightful comment.


    Clean, lemony-fresh victory is mine!!
    [ Parent ]

    My comment was topical. (none / 0) (#35)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 10:40:04 AM EST

    You were trying to say a joke, I said no funny. How more topical can one get?

    How can I know by only reading your article that it was humour aimed at yourself?

    When one uses sentences like:

    "If you have any of these qualities you will make a great Grunt:"

    and then comes with a long list of tired cliches how else can one construe that if not as sterotyping?

    Those who sleep can't sin.
    Those who sin, sleep well.

    [ Parent ]
    If they're cliches (none / 0) (#37)
    by MisterQueue on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 02:18:11 PM EST

    then they are true ones, as each one was something I have literally experienced. So if it's true can it still be a cliche? And if you construed it as that and voted me -1 based on that..that's a bit too reactionary and over-sensitive if you ask me but everyone is entitled to their own wrong opinion.


    Clean, lemony-fresh victory is mine!!
    [ Parent ]

    Yah Whatever (4.25 / 4) (#7)
    by jgercken on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 12:11:25 PM EST

    Principally three things govern your success in the matter: Resources, Dedication, & the quality of your gray matter. Granted, those self-studied having trouble passing the A+, MCSE or CCNA exams will probably top out at $36K but it sure beats $6/hr at McTacoKing. Anyhow who else would clean the nasty skin/hair/lint stuff out of PCs and rewire the spaghetti-like patch panel? You?

    And if you're being condescending with the thought that only graduates of an accredited MIS program can get anywhere, well, you're wrong.

    1994 Purchased my first PC, a Compaq Presario
    1995 Built my 1st PC
    1997 Built my 2nd PC
    June 1998 Graduated from U of Cincy w/ a BS in Engineering
    Dec 1999 Left Engineering Design for IS job
    June 2000 MCSE+I, CCNA
    March 2001 CCNP
    Sep 2001 CCIE written
    March 2002 CCIE lab ?????
    Now: I'm a contracted Network Engineer/Babysitter for the Dept of Commerce.

    Amount of formal IT training: zilch
    (Yes, I realize that certs mean crap, but you'll just have to trust me when I say I'm reasonably competent.)

    On another note is anyone else sick of seeing the adds of companies pushing their thousand-dollar training materials? Where do they get their statistics? $74K for a green with an MCSE? On what planet are they referring? And how do they manage to pack all you need to know in 100 pages and still get it to read like Cat in the Hat? It's both amazing & disappointing to think that people actually fall for it.

    Anyhow, just my 2¢

    "Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by ignorance."

    no formal IT training (3.50 / 2) (#20)
    by Delirium on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 04:31:44 PM EST

    But you do have formal engineering training. Most companies are just looking for a degree, not any particular one. Perhaps they'd like it to be vaguely related, but Engineering is just as good as MIS for most companies (and possibly better).

    Now if you didn't have any degree at all, you'd probably have more problems with your lack of formal IT training.

    [ Parent ]

    No formal training *at all* (none / 0) (#28)
    by krait on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 10:07:09 PM EST

    Self trained IT people are possible. I know. I am one. No degree, no formal courses, no nothing. I got interested in computers at university where I was not completing an engineering degree. I deferred university after a year with the prime goal of obtaining some money (i.e., I was tired of being a starving student).

    I landed a job as a trainee programmer, and never looked back. I devoured the manual sets. Then I read them again. And again. Then I pulled the hardware apart (well, I watched Field Service personnel pull the hardware apart).

    I feel I was dead lucky and wouldn't recommend the path I took to anyone. But it is possible.

    What scares me is the people I see now wanting to be "Systems Managers" or "Systems Administrators". They appear to have no drive whatsoever to discover how the platform they manage runs. I am continually amazed at my peers who have no idea how the hardware hangs together, and have no inclination to learn.

    Problems with my lack of formal IT training? Not so far. I even managed to convince the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the USA to let me work here :-)

    [ Parent ]
    Working in the US (none / 0) (#32)
    by djotto on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 07:46:41 AM EST

    I even managed to convince the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the USA to let me work here :-)

    If you feel like it, could you expand on this, or even write an article about your experiences? I'd love to know exactly how hard it was, especially without the magic college-equivalent education.

    [ Parent ]
    OK (none / 0) (#42)
    by krait on Sat Feb 02, 2002 at 12:39:11 AM EST

    Article under construction...

    [ Parent ]
    geek translator (4.50 / 2) (#16)
    by westcourt monk on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 03:10:22 PM EST

    Is it just me or is geek transaltion becoming more critical in the work place?

    I have made a few bucks saving small companies tens of thousands because they didn't understand geek and the geeks new it.

    I thank my parents for my skills... that Mac SE at an impressionable age mixed in with my parents total ignorance of computers and refusal to even pretend to understand my early geek speek forced me to become bilingual.

    Don't know if I am a grunt now, but I know I was... maybe i am just in denial...

    Another requirement (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by holdfast on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 05:08:32 PM EST

    The ability to explain the same thing to the same person 3 times in 3 minutes without getting annoyed with them.

    Some years ago I worked in the accounts office of a car magazine. Sometimes, I used to sit in on some of the training given to the telephone sales staff. I remember one phrase:-
    Never call a customer an idiot - especially when he is!
    This proved very useful when I escaped into a more interesting line of work...

    "Holy war is an oxymoron."
    Lazarus Long
    What I love (3.83 / 6) (#23)
    by Stretch on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 05:44:36 PM EST

    The thing I love most about being in IT is the double standard. Users makes mistakes, some bigger than others, but are, for the most part, forgiven in a short period of time. However, if you, the IT guru, slip up and make one tiny mistake suddenly everyone goes into a state of shock and disbelief like the the laws of physics stopped applying. Meanwhile, as you rush to correct and explain the problem, everyone is awaiting the infopocalypse and wondering why they ever trusted these darn "computers" anyway.

    And then you got to re-convince everyone that you are still the guru and everything is going to be alright (meanwhile, your (pointy haired) bosses are in a secret meeting wondering what you are paid for).

    But I am not bitter. =)

    The reason why... (4.00 / 1) (#39)
    by melletog on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 08:40:17 PM EST

    I agree with you, but the double standard is not without it's explanations: if your work is only visible to a few people directly (accounting, whatever), your mistakes will accordingly only be seen and recognized by a few. IT, being a high visibility position in that everyone uses the services you provide, offers the chance of much more spectacular failures. If you hose the router, everyone is going to ask why the internet isn't working, or why they're not getting email from outside the company (you'd be surprised how many people fail to correlate these two things).

    [ Parent ]
    Why didn't you just say (3.00 / 1) (#25)
    by invdaic on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 06:53:36 PM EST

    That it's valid only in New Jersey, New Mexico and Pennsylvania?
    (man I must be bored to go through all those state abreviations)

    "I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation [and] is but a reflection of human frailty." --Albert Einstein

    Because... (none / 0) (#27)
    by eann on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 09:51:01 PM EST

    It's also available in Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and any other random U.S. posessions, colonies, and/or protectorates that I've forgotten. Potentially all foreign embassies maintained by the U.S. Department of State, as well, depending on one's interpretation of international law.

    Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

    $email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Because (none / 0) (#31)
    by invdaic on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 02:58:28 AM EST


    "I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation [and] is but a reflection of human frailty." --Albert Einstein
    [ Parent ]

    And DC (none / 0) (#41)
    by glothar on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 04:22:58 PM EST

    Dont forget the District of Columbia

    [ Parent ]

    speaking of dumb user events (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by labradore on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 01:31:42 AM EST

    I contracted with a small business to fix their file server and set up their office firewall at a new location. This entailed moving their buggy DOS-based accounting system from a Windows 95 "file server" on creaky hardware to a linux/samba machine.

    They were used to hard rebooting the old windows server when the accounting package went wrong. After the switch there were many fewer crashes but now and then the clients would crash, leaving lots of temp files on on the file server and they mindlessly decided that the server must need to be power-cycled. I had told them 100 times or more that the Linux server must NEVER be power cycled. All was not lost. Their procedure for power cycling was to turn off power strip into which a UPS was plugged into which the server was plugged. I don't have the heart to explain it to them.

    You were lucky (none / 0) (#34)
    by hardburn on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 09:49:35 AM EST

    The last small buissness (a newspaper) I worked for had a similar situation, except it took me a year to finally convince the boss we needed a real file server, not a Win95 box that doubled as a print server, photo editer, and scanning station, as well as laying out that week's paper.

    Finaly got a real server, 40 GB hard drive, PIII 733 (almost the best you could get at the time, though I realize it is overkill), and Debain 2.2. I made sure to put a sign next to it's power button that said "DO NOT TURN THIS OFF AT NIGHT!"

    Anyway, that place layed me off about a year ago and was replaced by moronic consultants. When I left, they had about 15-20 regular employees (not counting other "employees", such as paper delivery people). They now have 3 employees: The editor, the assitant editor, and the guy who sells advertising (where they get most of their revenue). The advertising guy is leaving for a new job this week, which is basically the last nail in the coffin for them. I wonder where I can get a file server really cheep . . .

    while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

    [ Parent ]
    Too geekish (4.00 / 1) (#43)
    by sisyphus on Fri Feb 08, 2002 at 06:25:19 PM EST

    I have been turned down for two jobs, for being too geekish, the first a part-time job at staples i told the person interviewing that warranties were fucking rip offs because the things were guaranteed anyway... no job. Secondly, in a pc support job I was turned down because I didn't run Microsoft Office at home, I told them look I have a computer degree and run linux at home because i wan't to be make sure i know as much as possible, but the bloke, (fat stripped suited guy, "so.... you don't have Microshaft Word at home....., uhm interesting,), no job, rejected straight away....

    The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.
    So you wanna be an IT Grunt? | 43 comments (30 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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