"Hello, everyone!"

Daniel's eyes slowly rose from his desk as his manager entered the room.

"As you know, we've been looking for a systems administrator for a while. It's a pleasure to announce we've finally found a great candidate. Please welcome Mark, who's joining Initrode starting today."

FIRE 01

A tall young man emerged from the shadows and glanced over the people in the room. His black suit and tie rested over a perfectly pressed white shirt. Mark's formality stood in stark contrast not only with the team of geeks, but also the rather casually dressed manager.

"Mark is an MIT graduate with plenty of experience in both Linux and Windows administration," the manager continued, putting emphasis on the MIT part. "I'm sure he'll be a great addition to our team."

"Thank you, and hello," Mark spoke up in a silky smooth voice. "I'd just like to add that I'm very happy to be here, and I hope to introduce all the necessary infrastructure changes that will ensure our success."

Faint alarm bells rang in Daniel's head. Changes? he thought. I wonder what kind of changes he has in mind?


"And finally, the analytics team." Mark and the manager slowly approached Daniel's desk for the traditional round of hand-shaking. "Daniel, Alice, and Robert are our resident SAS experts. Their work is a huge part of what makes Initrode successful."

"Welcome to the company," Daniel said, grabbing Mark's hand in a firm grip.

"So, what do you think of the new guy?" Robert asked once the door closed behind Mark and the manager. "A bit pretentious, isn't he?"

"At least he can give you some style lessons." Alice shot a dirty look at Robert's worn-out t-shirt. "What do you think, Daniel?"

"Yeah, they sure do dress 'em nice at MIT," Daniel replied.

"I mean about Mark," Alice said.

Daniel went for the diplomatic answer. "He's a sysadmin. He's there to fix things when they break. Fine with me. The less we see of him, the better."

But something told Daniel the MIT graduate wouldn't restrain himself to rebooting a server once in a while.


It didn't take long to confirm Daniel's suspicions. Just two weeks later, he entered the office only to find his team staring at their monitors with a hopeless gaze.

"What's up? Monday blues getting to you?" he asked, trying to lighten the mood.

"Just read the mail," Alice muttered, more to herself than Daniel.

He opened the mail client, curious as to what happened, and found an e-mail that'd been waiting for him since Friday evening.

From: mark.b@initrode.com
To: analytics@initrode.com
Topic: Important - Server Access Policy

To whom it may concern,

After careful analysis, the systems administration team has identified major performance problems with the analytics servers. To mitigate the issue, access to servers has been restricted to the following logins:

SAS04 - alice.f
SAS05 - daniel.c
SAS06 - robert.o

This policy will be effective starting Monday. Refusal to comply will be reported.

Mark B.

"What?" Daniel could hardly say a word.

"I need access to SAS05!" Robert was almost crying. "All my data's on it!"

"Have you tried talking to the guy?" Daniel asked.

"He won't budge," Alice replied with melancholic despair. "Performance this, performance that. I guess we'll have to share our login details if we want to get things done."

"Sounds like a plan." Daniel wrote his password on a Post-It and passed it to Robert. That put the team back on track, but they couldn't help but think about what other tricks the new sysadmin would pull.


The login restrictions were merely a prelude of horrors to come. Every few weeks, the team would enter the office on Monday only to find a fresh, non-negotiable Server Access Policy from Mark—and rarely would the change bring anything but pain and lost productivity.

He "mitigated" the issue of shared logins by restricting the number of simultaneous sessions to one per user, which meant half a day spent on the team fighting over access to the server. Then, he "mitigated" the high disk space usage by removing "unnecessary tooling"—which for Mark meant all compilers, half of the libraries, and even a bunch of GNU coreutils.

Luckily for Daniel, his resume was already polished by the time the next e-mail came:

From: mark.b@initrode.com
To: analytics@initrode.com
Topic: Important - Server Access Policy

To whom it may concern,

After careful analysis, the systems administration team has identified major performance problems with the analytics servers. To mitigate the issue, usage of the Emacs editor will be forbidden. The application will be removed from all SAS servers and the company's software repositories.

This policy will be effective starting Monday. Refusal to comply will be reported.

Mark B.

"What performance problems?" He could hardly believe the words he stared at. "The X server alone takes more resources than Emacs, let alone SAS!"

"Should've switched to vi when you had the chance," Robert couldn't help cracking.

"Oh, shut up." Daniel threw a pen at him. "I'll just compile it from source."

"No, you won't," Robert said. "We don't have GCC anymore, remember? So unless you can rewrite it in SAS..."

Daniel decided to pass on the project. Instead, he dedicated his time to something much more productive: drafting and printing his resignation letter.


A few months later, Daniel was happily employed at Initrode's major competitor. At first he wasn't sure about the job, but in the end, a slightly smaller paycheck was a low price to pay for not having to put up with crazy restrictions and policies.

One day, as he walked around town, he spotted a familiar face in the crowd.

"Hi, Alice!" he greeted his former coworker cheerfully.

"Hey, long time no see!" Alice replied. "How's the new job working out for you?"

"Pretty well, actually. And how's Initrode? Is Mark still around?"

"From what I've heard, still pestering everyone in the company." Alice's smile faded. "But I doubt anyone's gonna fire an MIT graduate."

"From what you've heard?" Daniel was surprised. "So, you don't work for them anymore?"

"Oh, no, I left after you did. It took just one more Server Access Policy for me to call it quits."

Alice pulled out her cellphone and showed it to Daniel, who leaned in to read the e-mail displayed:

From: mark.b@initrode.com
To: analytics@initrode.com
Topic: Important - Server Access Policy

To whom it may concern,

After careful analysis, the systems administration team has identified major performance problems with the analytics servers. To mitigate the issue, usage of the "top" command will be restricted to systems administrators only.

This policy will be effective starting Monday. Refusal to comply will be reported.

Mark B.

[Advertisement] Otter, ProGet, BuildMaster – robust, powerful, scalable, and reliable additions to your existing DevOps toolchain.