Location: Oregon, United States

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Supplemental Questions

When I first started applying for positions in Eugene, Oregon, I found that everyone has this weird practice of including what they called "Supplemental Questions." This is supposed to be the usual scenario questions to get your response, or to see what direct experience you've had.

Personally, these things freaked me out. On one hand, I wanted to provide enough detail and information, good and bad, to show the experience I actually had. However, I was concerned that they would look at them with the view that you were skewing the truth as much as possible, so if something looked great, it was just OK, and if something looked normal, then it must have been way screwed up.

Lately, I was looking at the supplemental questions for a position and I couldn't even begin figuring out what to write down. Finally, while riding the bus one morning, I started thinking of humorous responses. So, here they are.

1. Describe your experiences with and approach to installing software on high-performance computing systems.

First, start with a clean backup media, so go ahead and erase the most recent backup for an almost-like-new media.

Now you need to download the software you want. Stay away from source code, that stuff will hurt you. If you are using Linux, then go with RPM, even if you are not using an RPM-based distro, most come with a program to let you install RPM packages. If you are using Windows, then you can easily find an EXE installer from a warez site.

Next is the install, for Windows it is pretty easy, just install and go. For Linux, you may have to do some updating and whatnot. The only thing to remember is rpm -i –force –nodeps will make life go so much faster.

Now, you rm -rf any previous versions of the application, start your backup routine, and call it an early lunch.

2. What protocol would you follow handle a hardware problem on a computer system?

There are no hardware problems, it is all just lies spread by the liberal media.

3. Describe your experiences ordering software and hardware products.

I have exhaustive experience ordering software and hardware products. I have screamed at them, negotiated, begged, threatened, and cajoled. I have found that bribery works well, especially if you are bribing with 120V AC power. However, this only gets the system started, and does not guarantee that it will do what you want after that.

4. This position provides support for users of the ICONIC Grid. Describe experience that demonstrates your ability to communicate project status and progress effectively with individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

If you think a project will take a week, tell everyone it will be ready tomorrow, this gives them a sense of hope. Tomorrow, just come up with some elaborate reason why it isn't working. The next day, blame someone else, then blame the end user for not conveying their needs properly or for not understanding what is going on. Finally, when it is ready, you can boastfully tell everyone that “I told you so.”

5. Which computer systems and operating systems have you administered and for how long? In particular, describe your experience with Unix based systems.

I have never worked with eunuchs, and I don't plan on it. Those guys freak me out!

6. Describe your experience with storage systems. What types of storage systems (NAS, SAN, ...) are you capable of administering?

I can make amazing use of a four drawer filing cabinet.

7. List the different systems administration tools you have experience in using? What other tools do you know that will be useful in the position?

I like hammers and baseball bats. Pretty much anything that can provide blunt trauma to equipment is very helpful.

8. Describe your network administration experience.

In my time as a Network Administrator, I have found three truths;
1) user are whiney. I'm talking worse than Luke Skywalker whiney. They complain when the network is down, when their application won't run, when the server loses their emails, or even when I relay 120V AC to their chair through the phone to provide electric shocks whenever they dial user support.
2) equipment is expensive. Really, nothing sucks the life out of a budget faster than hardware. Therefore, any hardware purchases should be chosen based on what it gets the administrator. This can include freebies like iPods or trips.
3) software is expensive, and really good software is really expensive. Face it, the more expensive software is, the better it is. Windows 95 sold for less than $100, Windows 98 for a little more then $100, XP sold up around $200 and Vista is going to cost the same as a small car. See, each version was way better than the last, and the cost went up with it. Some people may talk about open source or free beer software, but face it, if the software was worth anything, it would cost money. Simply put, the best software would cost thousands per license, and would require a separate license for every key on the keyboard.


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