Sysadmin of the Year Wrap Up Video

December 7, 2009

Whether you made it to Baltimore or not for the LISA’09 Conference, check this wrap-up video featuring the Sysadmin of the Year winners, the Sysadmin Cake from Charm City Cakes, a special appearance from soihadto, and lots of sysadmin goodness.


Sysadmin of the Year Winners Announced!

November 5, 2009

The awards gala last night at the LISA Conference was great, and a major highlight was the announcement of the Sysadmin of the Year Contest winners.

Without further ado, the following are the sysadmins who rocked the hardest, and some choice quotes from their nominators:

2009 Sysadmin of the Year

Nick Weber

“…One of my favorite things that he’s done that I still laugh about to this day was when we were about to leave on a Friday night…  We got a chat message from one of our colleagues in the UK stating that a critical reporting system that fed data to a sales system had stopped working.  Now at this point he was ready to go home and enjoy his weekend with his family but it was already 9:00pm in the UK so he was already worse off!  So [he] dives in to troubleshoot only to find out…drum roll please…it’s a French language Windows 95 machine. [He] is so knowledgeable that the language barrier didn’t matter to him since he knew just by the look of the error messages what they were.  After a half hour looking into it he was able to get the system working again. Keep in mind this it was also a software program he had never seen before either…”

2nd Place Sysadmin of the Year

Joe Dailey, Ohio University

“…Joe is always looking out for the customer. I can recall one weekend where he was called to investigate a possible server issue that was affecting service for the Ohio University Police Department.  After investigation the issue, Joe isolated the issue to the OUPD’s own application. Although the issue was not related to his area of responsibility, Joe drove into work and sat with the customer to help isolate the application problem and to understand the issue from the customer’s perspective.  Joe was then able to resolve the application issue and return the service to a functioning state quickly
“…He’s the only person I know who still drinks Tab! And not just one or two, cases of it! 🙂

2009 Public Sector Sysadmin of the Year

Richard D’Amours, Edmonton Public Schools

“…He reads and learns faster than Jimmy Page’s fingers on the fret-board.  He absorbs, understands and applies what he has learned faster than a John Paul Jones bass line.  We’ve all heard of the three minute song?  Well, Richard absorbs technical manuals in two-fifty nine!”
“…While Richard was ON VACATION in Palm Springs, California we were hit with a time-critical situation.  We needed to get a stack of emergency patches out to a subset of our machines (about 3,000 of our 20,000) and we needed to do it quickly … He responded, “no problem, I’ll do it for you, just give me about 15 minutes.”  Richard then went to a Starbucks, pulled his laptop out of his backpack … and pushed the emergency patches out to all 3,000 machines before his coffee had cooled. In less than 15 minutes we were DONE!”

TOP 3 RUNNER UPS (Commercial Division)

Jordan Wiseman, Valley Medical Center
“…Jordan is sought out by his peers for his troubleshooting skills and problem solving ability. His knowledge is wide and deep and has become a “go-to” guy when problems arise.

Noah Meyehans, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab
“…a major contributor to the design and implementation of CSAIL’s world-class IT infrastructure – eveything from IMAP, SMTP, DHCP, DNS, NFS, AFS, and NTP to NNTP, SNMP, and just about every other important IT acronym.

Barry Fridley, OhioHealth
“… He is our go-to person for … OhioHealth’s 5 hospitals, 8 affiliated hospitals, urgent care centers, 30+ ambulatory sites, 2,300 physicians, and 15,000 employees.

Robert Brown
, Terrell ISD
Joe Dailey, Ohio University
Fred Eaker, North Carolina State University Student Media Association
Barry Fridley, OhioHealth
Luke Gerhardt, Heartland Automotive
Mark A Gerl, The Galloway School
Eric Hildebrand
Ed Jones, SunTrust Banks, Inc.
Noah Meyerhans, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab
Rick Mitchell, Enervest
Sven Nielsen, Sony Computer Entertainment America
Stephen Perez, Lockheed Martin
Matt Simmons, Investor Analytics
Brett Simpson, Sykes Enterprises Inc.
Nick Weber
Michael Wilson, Henry M. Jackson Foundation
Jordan Wiseman, Valley Medical Center

Steve Barber
Ben Cohen,
Richard D’Amours,
Edmonton Public Schools
Dale Francisco,
NYC Dept of Education


And The Judges Are… II

November 4, 2009

Drum roll please… tonight the Sysadmin of the Year winners will be announced. Yesterday we profiled four of the eight judges. Here are the other four:

-Johnny Long (founder, Hackers for Charity, http://www.hackersforcharity.org/)
-Ryan Russell (author, Stealing the Network)
-Robert Scoble (blogger, http://scobleizer.com)
-Amrit Williams (BigFix CTO and blogger, http://techbuddha.wordpress.com)

Johny Long

Photo from the Baltimore Sun

Long might have the coolest bio in tech. In fact he might have the coolest bio of any person ever. Here it is, hacked from the pages of his hackersforcharity.org:

As a kid, I used to stalk the neighborhood after dark (well, after dusk anyway) like some half-height cyborg ninja version of James Bond. I would hop my fence, slip silently past my neighbor’s snoozing dog and hop onto the roof of their wooden shed, armed only with a pocket full of custom (Lego) spy gear and my electrical-tape-and-dowel-rod “sword”. I would wait on that roof for hours (minutes), pressed flat and listening, tuning my ears to the sound of the night, knowing that my equally silent and skilled enemy was out there somewhere doing the same thing. I imagined we were both competing for the same prize: access to a highly secured and super-secret computer system. Flashing forward fifteen years, very little had changed. I was lying in the dark listening to the night sounds, but I wasn’t on my neighbor’s shed. I was lying under an oil tanker inside an undisclosed military testing facility. The pack on my back held a dizzying array of high-tech gear, designed to slice through the toughest military computer security systems. Squinting against the rain, I could see the “enemy” patrolling in a white Jeep, but he was far from imaginary. His military training and weapons were very real and very deadly. As he passed by, a bright red dot illuminated the ground three inches in front of me. Chris and Jim, the other two members of my Strike Force team were ready. As they emerge from the shadows, I make my move as well. The facility would fall that night. We got in, got access to the network, pilfered their data, and got out undiscovered. The job of a professional hacker is simply amazing. I’ve spent the bulk of my career breaking into networks, bypassing firewalls, slipping past guards, and talking my way into places I didn’t belong ...

Ryan Russell

Ryan has worked in the IT field for over 13 years, focusing on information security for the last seven. He was the lead author of Hack Proofing Your Network, Second Edition, contributing author and technical editor of Stealing The Network: How to Own The Box, and is a frequent technical editor for the Hack Proofing series of books from Syngress. Ryan was also a technical advisor on Snort 2.0 Intrusion Detection. Ryan founded the vuln-dev mailing list, and moderated it for three years under the alias “Blue Boar.” Ryan blogs at http://ryanlrussell.blogspot.com/ and you can follow him on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/ryanlrussell

Robert Scoble

Robert is a blogger, author and a true evangalist for all things tech. Scoble is best known for his blog,Scobleizer, which came to prominence during his tenure as a technical evangelist at Microsoft. He currently works for Rackspace and is building a community for people fanatical about the Internet called Building 43. He previously worked for Fast Company as a video blogger. He is also the co-author of Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers with Shel Israel.

Amrit Williams

Amrit is Chief Technology Officer at BigFix. He has held a variety of engineering, management and consulting positions prior to joining BigFix. Most recently, Williams was a research director in the Information Security and Risk Research Practice at Gartner, Inc. Previously, Williams was a director of engineering for nCircle Network Security, and undertook leadership positions at Consilient Inc., Network Associates, and McAfee Associates. Amrit blogs at TechBuddha, tweets at @amrittsering and just posted his 6oth podcast to his series Beyond the Perimeter. ALL are very much worth checking out.


And The Judges Are… Part I

November 2, 2009

Tick tock tick tock… tomorrow the Sysadmin of the Year winners will be announced. Soon you will hear the sound “and the winners are…” In the meantime, we thought it would be good to let you know who the judges are.

They are eight  people:

-AEleen Frisch (author, Essential System Administration)
-Doug Hughes (serial presenter and guru at many USENIX LISA conferences)
-Ben Kus (founder, BigFix User Group)
-Thomas A. Limoncelli (sysadmin author,http://www.everythingsysadmin.com)
-Johnny Long (founder, Hackers for Charity, http://www.hackersforcharity.org/)
-Ryan Russell (author, Stealing the Network)
-Robert Scoble (blogger, http://scobleizer.com)
-Amrit Williams (BigFix CTO and blogger, http://techbuddha.wordpress.com)

We will profile four of them today. And the other four tomorrow. Here goes:

AEleen Frisch

AEleen is a renaissance woman. She has been a system administrator for over 20 years, tending a plethora of VMS, Unix, Linux and Windows systems over the years. Her current system administration responsibilities center on looking after a very heterogeneous network of Unix, Linux, Mac & Windows systems. She is also a writer, lecturer, teacher, marketing consultant and occasional database programmer. She has written eight books, including Essential System Administration (now in its third edition) and the Windows 2000 Desktop Reference (both from O’Reilly Media, Inc.) and Exploring Chemistry with Electronic Structure Methods (Gaussian, Inc.). Currently, she writes the “Guru Guidance” column for Linux Magazine. She also writes poetry and is currently working on her first novel. She’s also a quiller. Quilling, if you didn’t know is the art of making things like this:

Photo Courtesy AMD Crafts

Most most currently, according to AEleen’s  Twitter feed, she is “a bit addicted to Mafia Wars. :-(”

Doug Hughes

Doug is serial presenter and guru at many USENIX LISA conferences. In fact, at LISA 09 he will be speaking as part of “The Guru is In” series, on the subject of Data Centers. His day job is as technical lead for systems and operations at a privately held chemistry research company in Manhattan. His responsibilities include datacenter architecture and maintenance, storage, networking, and everything related to commodity computing and HPC. His team is also responsible for integrating an in-house–built, custom supercomputer for computational chemistry. Prior to his current employment Doug worked at Global Crossing as a system administrator supporting the global IP network, and prior to that as the senior system administrator for the College of Engineering at Auburn University. Doug has a B.E. in Computer Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

Ben Kus

Ben is founder of BFUG, the BigFix User Group.  As Senior Director of Technology at BigFix, Ben works both with the high-level company strategic vision and also with the product-level details that make BigFix one of the fastest growing and most award-winning security and configuration management products on the market. Ben joined BigFix as the company’s eighth employee and has served in a number of roles during his tenure, including product development, senior support technician, and product manager. Ben has played a hands-on role in the deployment successful implementation of over a million of BigFix agents at more than 100 customers worldwide. Ben received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Thomas A. Limoncelli

Thomas A. Limoncelli is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and system administrator. His books include The Practice of System and Network Administration (Addison-Wesley), Time Management for System Administrators (O’Reilly), and The Complete April Fools’ Day RFCs (Peer-To-Peer). He received the SAGE 2005 Outstanding AchievementAward. He works at Google in NYC and blogs at http://EverythingSysadmin.com/.



The Wire Prequels… Right Now We’re All Baltimore All The Time

October 31, 2009

With LISA 09 in like a couple of days, we’re all Baltimore all the time. And what’s more Baltimore than The Wire?
Here are are a couple prequels put out by HBO once the show really hit its stride.


Rough-Edged Foodie Anthony Bourdain on Baltimore

October 30, 2009

The man admits it’s not really fair to lump Baltimore, Detroit and Buffalo together into one TV episode. But he does it anyway. Adn the food looks good! Enjoy LISA 09.



End to the Rumors: Ace of Cakes Reveals Theme, Ingredients for Sysadmin Cake

October 29, 2009

Legendary rockers Van Halen famously said NO BROWN M&Ms while touring (see below, from Smoking Gun) and in keeping with the rockstar theme of the Sysadmin of the Year contest, there will be NO BROWN M&Ms at the rock ‘n roll awards gala Nov. 4. Well at least not in the Ace of Cakes cake that …soihadto rocker Duff Goldman is baking for 200 Sysadmins in Baltimore.

Cake details, it has been revealed, are as follows:

  • Flavors:  a symphony of almond, amaretto cream, Caribbean black rum flavor, carrot, and red velvet.
  • Design: to include the 2009 Sysadmin of the Year logo.
  • No: Brown M&Ms

Here’s the logo:

And here’s the Smoking Gun source of one the most impressive rock’n’roll memes ever.


Spooky Baltimore and LISA 09

October 29, 2009

Photo by Sidewalk Flying (via Flickr, Creative Commons)

It’s that time of year and we’re feeling Halloweeny and spooky … and we’re thinking about Baltimore. Some of us will be there next week for LISA 09. Perhaps Baltimore’s spookiest citizen was Edgar Allan Poe, not really a guy you’d want around a campfire — or the graveyeard helpdesk shift!

Spookiest of all is that Poe was just recently re-funeraled. Weird but true. Apparently just seven people showed to his original funeral, so on the bicentennial of his birth earlier this month, Baltimore held a public viewing of his body and a funeral procession. Check this really beautiful (in a freaky kind of way) Flickr set.

Here is some more info on Haunted Baltimore. It’s got more good stuff on Poe.



LISA 09 … The Fun Stuff (Like a Field Trip to the National Cryptologic Museum!!)

October 28, 2009

LISA 09, the Large Installation System Administration conference kicks off next week at the Baltimore Marriott. All you need to know is on their website. Wwe thought we’d highlight some of the funner things you can do at LISA. Tomorrow we’ll be writing about great stuff to do (eat, drink, see, etc.) in Baltimore.

Board Game Night: Sunday, November 1, 8:00 p.m.–11:00 p.m., Essex C

Exhibit Hall Happy Hour: Wednesday, November 4, 5:30 p.m.–7:00 p.m., Grand Ballroom Salons VI–X. And yes, this IS shameless Self-Promotion Moment.. BigFix is sponsoring this so it will definitely be fun

Post Halloween Dress-Up Conference Reception (officialy called Halloween II) Prizes will be awarded for best costumes—though they are optional.  Thursday, November 5, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m., Grand Ballroom Salons VI–X

BigFix: SysAdmin of the Year Award Party. (As in the thing we’ve been writing about on this blog for a few weeks!) Wednesday, November 4, 9:30 p.m.–11:30 p.m., Harborside Ballroom D & E

LISA ’09 Scavenger Hunt. Ripped from the pages of the LISA 09 website is this description: “We’re mixing things up and summoning your inner detectives this year with the new LISA Scavenger Hunt. Inside your registration packet you’ll find a LISA ’09 Scavenger Hunt Card with characteristics of folks who either helped to organize or are participating in LISA ’09. Use your finest sleuthing skills to locate people who fit the bill, take a moment to chat with them, and ask them politely for their signatures. All you need to win are 10 signatures. Once you’ve got your 10, drop by the USENIX Membership Booth to spin the Prize Wheel. Prizes range from T-shirts through key chains to free conference passes and more. Don’t miss out on the fun: Join in the LISA ’09 Scavenger Hunt and spin to win!”

Optional Field Trip to the National Cryptologic Museum (how cool!) Saturday, November 7, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.

This caption might be in code



Profiling “…soihadto” Sysadmin of the Year Gala Headliners… Plus Tweet to Win a Prize

October 27, 2009

The Sysadmin of the Year awards gala is coming up fast… Nov. 4 in the evening at the Large Installation System Administration (LISA) conference in Baltimore.  BigFix has signed indie rockers “…soihadto” to headline the event. In a minute, we’ll profile the band. But first, if you’re into music here’s a quick chance to win something for helping us promote …soihadto and this blogpost.

Tweet your favorite …soihadto song or fact. Append your tweet with the hashtags #soihadto and #sysadmin and you can be one of three lucky winners of TuneUp, the software that “automagically” cleans up your iTunes. A link to the music is below.

Alright… on to profiling the band.

...soihadto are Rahn, Yungwirth, Duff and Honus

…soihadto fuses indie, punk, hardcore and  soul-funk and they are ALL about live music. It is their core. This is what the band has to say about themselves on MySpace:

If any one thing brought the members of …soihadto… together, it’s the belief that music isn’t simply meant to be listened to, it’s to be experienced. Rahn, Duff, Honus and Yungwirth fuel their performances with a love for the pure, immersive sound of performing live.

You can check out three …soihadto songs (and download free MP3s) at ilike.com/artist/…soihadto And there are some great images from various photographers on Flickr.

Duff Goldman, on bass, is perhaps the most known of the four …soihadtoans. He gets his own Wikipedia entry. He is the star of Food TV’s Ace of Cakes, a reality TV show. They make cakes. In fact, as we wrote yesterday, Duff’ll be making a cake for 200 lucky Sysadmins to devour at the gala. Here’s Duff in a funny promo for the show:

The other  guys are equally awesome. You can tell by their music and their MySpace profiles.

Rahn on guitar. His MySpace profile has this to say: “there’s a big difference between talent and gimmick.” Those are some true and honorable words.

Yungwirth, also on guitar, says “Courage makes a King.”

Honus on the drum kit. He says “Who He?” Seems his profile pic answers the question quite well. He awesome!

If you’re at LISA make sure to check out …soihadto. And remember to Tweet to win your musical prize today.