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EDITIONS
Friday, 26 July, 2002, 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK
Celebrate the computer helpers
Ted Kekatos
Ted Kekatos in the thick of the action
BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward

It is often said that you cannot truly value something until it is taken away from you.

And that is certainly true of the computer you use during your working day.

If it crashes or the network it is sitting on becomes a "notwork" then you quickly find out just how much you appreciate it.

And you learn to value even more the men and women who fix the problem and let you get back to work.

Back office brilliance

The last Friday in July is the day that you are supposed to give something back to those system administrators and find a way to show your thanks.

Click here to tell us how you are marking sysadmin day

Ted Kekatos is the man who came up with the idea for System Administrator Appreciation Day and since it started three years ago, the day has gone from strength to strength.


We are unappreciated and no-one knows what we do for 364 days of the year

Flash Wilson, sysadmin
Now, sites like Blue Mountain and 123Greetings are producing electronic cards that can be used to express your thanks.

The site dedicated to the day is getting increasing numbers of hits.

This is a mixed blessing for Mr Kekatos, who never meant to become the leader of an international movement.

"My ego is telling me how exciting this is," he said, "but another part of me is saying I should not have done it."

The idea grew out of Mr Kekatos' reaction to an advert for Hewlett Packard printers.

The advert depicted a system administrator being heaped with presents and praise by his co-workers for buying the printers.

At the time, Mr Kekatos had just bought the exact same printers for his own company.

He showed the advert to his boss and, jokingly, asked where his presents were. Despite the hint, no gifts were forthcoming.

Later while talking with colleagues the idea of a day to celebrate system administrators took shape.

The gift of giving

"People only notice system administrators when something goes wrong," said Flash Wilson, president of the System Administrators Guild for Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England.

Ribbon cable, BBC
Where to attach this? Your sysadmin will know
"We are unappreciated and no-one knows what we do for 364 days of the year," she said, "but if we stopped work then everyone would notice."

Ms Wilson said everyone was an administrator to their home computer because they had to ensure it had enough memory and that key files were backed-up.

System administrators do the same sort of jobs but on a larger scale for tens of networks, hundreds of machines and thousands of users.

The growing use of the internet was starting to change the nature of the job and making the smooth running of networks much more important, she said.

"Now we have realtime transactions and e-commerce systems to oversee," she said, "it has got much more of a profile."

Drink, drink

Despite this new found respect for system administrators in the computer world, Ms Wilson still struggles to get her mother to understand just what she does for a living.

She said she did not know of any plans by people to celebrate the day but hoped that it would spur people to think fondly of the people who help them get on with their job.

Even Mr Kekatos has never received a gift from colleagues thanking him for his dedication.

There is a list of suggested presents on the Sysadmin day site and Mr Kekatos is receiving lots of suggestions.

"There's a trend and it seems to be alcohol-related," he said.


Are you going to reward your sysadmin? Could you manage without them? Send us your thoughts.

Click here to return

They are good people and do lot of work to keep network and computers on all the time. Thanks to all sysadmins and good wishes
Aamer Rashid, Pakistan


I am a sys admin, oh what a fruitless job!

David Bloor, UK
As a system administrator, we are constantly harassed if the network is too slow, someone is denied access or the printer queue is too long. But when the system is running well, we drift back into obscurity. A little appreciation occasionally would be welcome.
George Cook, Australia

I am a sys admin, oh what a fruitless job! I finished at 5.30am fixing and e-mail server and I'm back in today at 9.00am Do people know what we go through so everyone can e-mail their mates about plans for the weekend. Sys admins unite!
David Bloor, UK

To celebrate the sys admin people in my office, I will be turning them off, waiting a few seconds, then turning them on again. That's if they ever get back from the pub.
Alastair, London, UK

Its just an internal support job and no different or important to that of finance, human resources, etc. Or the post man for that matter. In my experience (and I have been one) they tend to be full of self importance and generally reluctant to help "idiot" users.
Mike, UK


How to mark sys admin day? Perhaps by finding one who knows what he's doing.

Flo, UK
All the PCs in the office have recently been upgraded, and our system administrators have worked their socks off to get all machines functioning. They've kept it all going!
Lindsay, UK

I'm a sys admin and alerted my colleagues to this special day. We've put a subtle note on our board outside the office, and we're waiting for the gifts to roll in. Or not!
Alastair Stevens, Cambridge UK

As a developer, I give almost every day! When do we poor souls that write the tools that the sys admins use and the applications that run the business get our own special day? When the sys admin has popped out for a two-hour lunch, where do people go? The developers, for we have not only the skills to write the code, but do their job as well.
Jester, UK

How to mark sys admin day? Perhaps by finding one who knows what he's doing.
Flo, UK

I think the acronym for the System Administrator Appreciation Day says it all - SAAD!
Festa, UK


Let's here it for incomprehensible use of three and four letter acronyms. They are the cornerstone of all sys admins work

Adam, Luxembourg
I am marking it by downloading very large files from the internet which the admins might appreciate and then bulk e-mailing them around the company. Then I shall demand that the e-mail is fixed immediately. Isn't that how most people thank their sys admins?
Phil, UK

I'm a sys admin and the level that we are taken for granted is surprising. Most sys admins work very hard, and often very late supporting the company and users, yet some see fit to question or skills and abilities. A little thank you when we have got your PC, e-mail, server etc, working wouldn't go amiss.
Paul, UK

To celebrate the day lets send all the sys admins "ILOVEYOU" e-mails!!
Anon, UK

In order to show my appreciation of our excellent sys admin chaps I am going to the pub in order to reduce stress on our computer systems. God bless their little cotton socks!
Andy M, UK

Being a sys admin is a rewarding job, but unfortunately all users expect us to be experts in every kind of software/hardware field. The attitude of 'we should be able to fix everything' with little or no information just stinks. They have no or very little consideration that we work long hours and work hard! Just to finish, yes, re-booting your machine does often rectify the problem!
Kelly , UK

Please don't forget those of us who work for companies supporting the sys admins. I work for a disaster recovery software firm, so it's us who keep the sys admins in a job when the proverbial hits the fan.
Chris, UK

Let's here it for incomprehensible use of three and four letter acronyms. They are the cornerstone of all sys admins work.
Adam , Luxembourg

It's just a job. It pays the bills. Administrators are no more important nor less important than anyone else in the average organisation.
Cyrill, UK

Most sys admins I've come across are lazy and incompetent. I normally end up fixing the problem myself.
John, Scotland

Developers make tools admins use, but admins are the ones who get poorly written apps working together!
jim, UK

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See also:

09 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
22 Jan 01 | dot life
20 Mar 01 | Science/Nature
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