Learning Something New

Every day, a system administrator may come across something new, or a way to apply some new knowledge. Don’t stop learning, and take whatever steps are necesary in order to learn whatever you can.

Don’t stop at knowing just enough to get by – what buttons to push, what commands to execute – aim to master something new. Dave Thomas (the writer of the Ruby “pick axe book”) suggests learning a new programming language every year.

Do you use Korn shell in your daily work. Master it! Learn the intricate details. Learn ways to be more efficient, to do things faster, to do things quicker. Learn the intimate details of awk scripting. Learn the many details of sed.

Are you bored with the everyday? Then stretch your mind and start in on something unusual – even unnecessary. Learn how to run the TECO text editor (EMACS was written in it!). Learn COBOL and use OpenCOBOL.

Learn something new and useful but unutilized – such as Lua or TCL.

Alternately – since we are all system administrators here – put a new server environment to work in your home network. Install Kerberos and the Andrew File System. Start working with the Berkeley amd automounter. Set up an IPv6 network.

What does all of this learning get us?

  • Opportunities for improving speed of current operations
  • Opportunities to improve implementation time (of scripts etc.)
  • Faster debugging
  • Knowledge ready for new business initiatives
  • Stretches your mind into new directions
  • Sharper mind throughout a lifetime

So what are you waiting for? Pick something to learn and stick to it – and do it just for you. Sooner or later, if you keep it up, your employer will notice.

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