Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Fast is Slow

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:38 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

But, slow is fast.

I’m not sure where I heard that first, but boy is it true.
I’ve never served in the military, but I used to hang out with a lot of guys who did and, frankly, were pretty intense about it, when I was younger.  And, yes, I do love me some action movies with big guns blazing, so there’s no telling where I picked up that little bit of military wisdom.  I tend to associate it with BUD/S training, which is better known to the general public as the SEAL program.  In essence, the idea is this; the faster you try to rush something along, the more mistakes you make and the longer it takes to actually achieve your goal.  But, it also has some other connotations.  The one that I forgot to take to heart this past week was to not let circumstances rush me into doing a sloppy job.

This past week I was supposed to get a new server installed and configured for a sister company.  It’s a startup, really, so there’s not an existing network, which means I’m basically setting everything up from scratch.  Now, in some ways, this makes things easier.  I don’t have to worry about conflicts as much, for instance.  I mean, however I configure the first equipment will determine the entire network configuration.  Whatever naming conventions I set will be carried forward.  I’m working with a blank slate.
But, that blank slate has its disadvantages, too.  As an example, there is NO infrastructure in place at all.  So, not only do I have to setup the server, but also the switches, the firewall, and even the rack and UPS that will hold it all!  Luckily, I didn’t have to run the actual cable, but, pretty much everything else will be something I install myself.  Not that it’s all bad to do it myself, either, because I don’t have to worry about someone else doing it the wrong way or undoing something I’ve already done.  But, it does all take time.

Again, I’ve done this before.  Not only have I been a “department of one”, as it were, but I’ve setup networks from scratch for years.  I’ve been doing this since 1992, so, for the past 18 years, I’ve networked all kinds of crazy things together.  And, some of that was back in the old days before Windows clients and GUI interfaces made it all work together right out of the box!  Still, I forget things sometimes.
I forget that I should get help racking servers, for instance.  Getting the weight up into the rack isn’t so difficult, but doing that and getting those damn little pins into the recessed slots on the rails at the same time can prove challenging.  I should know that.  But, this week, giving into the pressures from end-users at a startup, I tried to rush things.  What ended up happening was me losing my grip on a server and twisting a rail all out of shape.  Luckily, I never throw out spares and I had another set of rails that I could use as a replacement.  And, the second time around, I was smart enough to get help to rack that server.  And the APC SMART-UPS 5000VA UPS that weighs in at about 130 pounds and has sharp edges.  With that help, nothing else got out of hand and I didn’t have to replace any more rails.
Of course, when I went to set everything up, it turned out to have the wrong power adapters to plug my servers into.  Why?  Because I was in a hurry and didn’t double-check the specs and trusted that someone else would do their job right.  So, now, @Dellcares on Twitter, who heard my rage at having the wrong UPS, is helping me get things straight.

Did I get the server installed?  Well, yes, I plugged directly into the wall long enough to setup and configure the server to meet my deadline for next week, but, I struggled with one of my most basic character defects first; sometimes, I just need to ask for help.
Of course, I also lost sight of one of the most basic principles of IT, which seems so counter-intuitive in such a fast-paced industry:
Fast is slow; Slow is fast!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious."

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