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Shining Star of the Week (1)

tags: life

I used to work in a large, international company, stock market and all. It so happened that I had the interesting experience to be mentioned in the "Shining Star of the Week" list three times. And since the events were somewhat interesting, I decided to write them down. For the wonder and enjoyment of others and possibly myself as well.


At the time I was working as a support engineer for the Unix operating system widely used at this company.

Singapore calling

Some late afternoon my colleage was calling from Singapore. Lets call him L. He said, he had installed patches on some machine and now it threw funny error messages and refused to start the only important application on this system. Now I wasn't really a wizard in such things, however, it was like 18h local time at my desk, so it must have been midnight at his. I could imagine him with a heavy head and hurting eyes staring at his screen in disbelief. All he wanted to do was go home to sleep. Oh well.

I shared a terminal frame with him via SharedX. Yes, this sort of stuff did work before Teamviewer and the like were known. He triggered the error and of course, I couldn't make anything of it. But a little voice in my head suggested to consult the knowledge base --- a monstrous thing I happened to have access to. And so I voiced the idea and copied the error message there.

Luckily an match showed up. It said "known problem" and "fixed in patch such-and-such". I asked, whether we should try to add said patches and risk to ruin the system completely. Somewhat unexpected by me L. said "Yes, please!" Because the system was broken anyway, he would risk breaking it a little more. So I set out to install the patches. In the 1990ies things were a little slower than today, so we had a nice talk while watching the show. The patches installed cleanly.

Ok, then "smoke test" this is called, right? L. rebooted the system and after another while it was up and running. And the broken application started without a hitch! Yay! So we both were happy and headed home.


Some time later, maybe two weeks or so, my name appeared in the Shining Star of the Week list. I didn't realize this at first. I just noticed that I received funny emails and phone calls. Someone pointed out why. I thought "So, what? I just did my job, right?"

Comment of the peer of my former manager:

> I can second that, though of course, as you know, in this part of the world no complaint is praise enough! :)

And this, I can second.


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