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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Let's hear it for system administrators
Tim Varley
Tim Varley shows us round his charming workstation
This is international system administrators day, and who better to lead the tributes than BBC News Online's own system administrator, Tim Varley.

I don't usually get this close to actual words.

That's not to say I have nothing to do with them, though. For whenever a story leaves the BBC News Online offices - something that happens hundreds and hundreds of times a day - the words and pictures are my responsibility until they appear on your screen.

Tim Varley
Tim has the largest collection of wires in west London
And if anyone ever shouts the phrase that seems to be blamed for all of modern life's ills - "The server's gone down!" - then that's my responsibility too.

Fortunately, even if a server had "gone down", we here would be able to cope without anyone noticing. I might be a bit fraught, but that's about it.

But what if - heaven forbid - a member of the Royal Family should die? The scariest time of my life was having a trial run for how we would cope with this. If those pages had shown up on any computer other than our test machines, it would have been P45 time for me.

Don't forget the phones

So it's right and proper that everyone should spare a thought for system administrators. Not just people like me, but everyone in technical support, and even the folk who run the switchboard.

A special day to acknowledge the worthiness and appreciation of the person occupying the role, especially as it is often this person who really keeps the wheels of your company turning
I know many of you might have a low opinion of "techies". (Let me just point out here that the image you might have of system administrators staying up all night, surrounded by pizza boxes, old Coke cans, playing Quake is NOT right. That's developers you're thinking of.)

But remember who it is who sorts out problems for you when you've done something unbelievably stupid and blamed it on "the server going down".

Remember who it is who picks up the pieces when you've tried to install some dodgy software you've downloaded.

Remember who helped you on your first day by showing you that you didn't actually have to touch the monitor screen with your mouse to get the cursor to move. (You know who you are, BBC employee, and I'm taking your name to the grave.)

Above all, remember who helps you when you've forgotten your password. On second thoughts, just try remembering your password.

So buy your system administrator a drink today.

Because if you don't...well, just remember who's nearest the power switch.

Your comments:

A systems administrator a day keeps a virus away!
Chris, UK

Interesting that acronym for International system administrators day is "I sad"
Michael Meredith, UK

Thank You! At last we are being recognised! From an overworked and underpaid IS assistant
Henk Penning, UK

I was going to tell you that you're an unsung hero but...the server's gone down. Incidentally, I had someone who said "I hit F1 for help 3 hours ago and no-one has turned up yet"
David Redfearn, UK

That was a great item! He should go into writing!
Chris Hawkins, USA

You say: "Let me just point out here that the image you might have of system administrators staying up all night, surrounded by pizza boxes, old Coke cans, playing Quake is NOT right. That's developers you're thinking of."

Actually, we are playing against the sys admins, who often lose:)
A Software Engineer, UK

As a developer I am outraged. I sit up all night drinking Redbull, eating burgers and playing Halflife. Please get your facts right!
Tim Ensor, UK

Can we have a big shout out for Lee Griffiths. He's the best !
Pete Newall, England

What next? National "People Who Think Up Ridiculous National Days" Day?
Danny J, UK

Just my luck to be the one going on-call today... No drink for me :(
Gary Barnes, UK

Guess who will be having problems with their passwords on Monday Mr Meredith?
Meredith's Systems admin, UK

A big hello to Chet, Dave, Ant and Lols our hard working System Admistrators who are now trying to persuade us to buy them presents to mark the occasion!
Nicky Cunnington, UK

Have you got time to be writing this article - there are backups that need doing!!
A Project Manager, UK

I think I have fallen in love with you all
Matt, UK

10001110100110011001010101001010001 01010101001010010100100101010101010010 1001010001001010100010100101010 001010010010101
System Administrator, UK

Happy SysAdminDay to all our fellow System Administrators throughout the world.
Sincerely, Ted (founder, SysAdminDay)

Make mine a pina colada, with Sprite chaser...oh dear...what have I said...
Kai, USA

Any non-system people reading this... PLEASE, if you "knew we were gonna tell you to reboot" why didn't you do it before you called???
A support chappie, UK

Please spare a special thought for System Administrators in Charities, who chose the very frusting option of maintaining seriously obsolete systems for very low wages in order to ensure that as much of our funding as possible is spent on the causes we support.
William, UK

Please put a request with the help desk if you want me to comment....
Norman, Normandy

Hey buddy, could you spare a meg.
Roger, US

On this proud day, we the system administrators of the world, proudly proclaim that we don't know what laptop you should buy. Maybe you should go to a store and ask someone there.
Chris Donnell, USA

Ok, it's 17:45 and some. All SysAdmins round to the BBC for a drink! (That ok with you, Mr. Varley?)
Bazz, UK

I might be mistaken but does Tim in the picture have a window seat? Was that his gift on Sysadmin day? I'm still stuck in a cupboard.
Mike Spinks, UK

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