As a middle manager in several start-ups I’ve had to deal with being short of resources of all kinds.  But, at the height of the first dot-com bubble, I had a great team.  No, not all of them were equals, but each pulled their weight and each could be relied on to perform well, in their area of expertise.

One guy, was a great troubleshooter.  He’d leave no stone unturned and you could tell if a problem was bothering him since he’d fixate on it until he understood it AND had solved the root cause.  It wasn’t good enough for him to fix the current problem. He wanted to make sure it couldn’t happen again.  However, what he wasn’t good at, was the rote, boring procedures. “Install this package in exactly this way, following these steps.” He’d tend to go off script and sometimes that caused problems.

On the other hand, I had another guy who was about 2 decades older and not from an IT background.  Troubleshooting wasn’t his forte and he honestly didn’t have the skill set to do a great job at it.

However, he excelled at the mundane, routine, rote tasks. Now this may sound like a slight, but far from it. The truth is in most cases in IT, you’re dealing with the routine, rote tasks. In an ideal world, you might ever have emergencies.

Now, this wasn’t to say he couldn’t solve most problems as they came up.  Simply if it was overly complex or rather obscure, it wasn’t his forte.

I learned when I wanted to get stuff done, that assigning the routine stuff to him worked far better than assigning it to the first guy.  And just the reverse.  If I had some weird problem I needed debugged that wasn’t easy to solve, the first guy was the guy to through at the problem.

Each excelled in their own way and the team did best when I remembered how to best utilize their talents.


Ok, perhaps this isn’t Buckland, but alerts can be important.

I’ve been wanting to write something on alerts for quite awhile, and this isn’t quite it. Rather I’ll reference another URL on alerting.  This sums up quite well much of what I’ve wanted to say for awhile.

To single out one important rule: if you’re going to get an alert, be prepared to act upon it!

Knowing that you pegged your server CPU at 100% every once in a while might be useful, but probably not something to wake people up about.  And if it is hitting 100% infrequently, there’s probably nothing worth doing. On the other hand, if it’s routinely hitting 100% CPU, perhaps your action plan is to spin up another web server, or move load to a different database. Or, perhaps your plan is even to do nothing. But, planning to do nothing and accepting that, is very different from not planning and simply do nothing because you have no idea of waht to do.

Note, alerting is very different from monitoring and logging.  If my CPU is hitting 100% once a week for 5 seconds, and then twice a week for 6 seconds, and then 4-5 times a day, for 10 seconds, I want to start making plans. But again, I probably don’t want to wake someone up.

Monitor, yes. Alert: maybe.

That’s it for tonight.