back to article BOFH: The admin gene

"Woah!" the PFY breathes, looking up quickly. "Woah what?" the Boss asks, looking around cautiously, as I re-enter the room from the passage to the server room. "Nope, it'll be OK," I say to the PFY, ignoring the Boss for a moment. "What'll be OK?" "Are you sure?" the PFY asks. "It was quite noticeable." "What was …

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  1. Steve

    The gene

    It's true, it must be. It's the same gene that means my wife can try something electronic or mechanical 3-4 times and it won't work, but when *I* reach over and push the same button - bingo first time.

    Ah, I can feel a warm smug weekend coming on...

  2. Andy Taylor
    Thumb Up

    I think I have it too

    I too have the ability to try something that anyone else has tried several times without success and instantly get it to work.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    WOAH!

    Great story, wish I could hook up the idiots here who think filling in eight timesheets a week is good for productivity! Now what's that diy cattleprod webpage address again.

    Mine's the one with the keys to the time machine!

  4. Bo Pedersen
    Happy

    its the same gene I have

    Yes the ... did the lights just flicker.

    sense.

    Fan speed changes....check

    its all true........

    sensing small changes in pressure to predict a thunderstorm, (also noticing cloud formations) actually I am pretty sad with that one :)

    but at least I disconnect the copper lighting conductor in the back of my router.

    another great BOFH blog entry :)

  5. Dave Walker
    Go

    Other side effects

    The admin gene has a few other surprise side effects

    1) You can see through M$ error messages and understand what is actually wrong

    2) 'Magic Fingers' mean that all sorts of problems disappear in your presence

    Downsides are that everyone asks you the questions that no-one else can answer

  6. Anonymous Bastard
    Stop

    I have a different gene

    Mine grants me the ability to make something new break in such an unpredictable and expensive way that the visiting technician visibly trembles and quietly mutters this exact line: "It's never done that before."

    Happens every time.

  7. David Ross Smith
    Alert

    Oi!

    “So what do I have instead?”

    “I dunno – what’s the one that causes Asperger's?” the PFY asks unkindly.

    Hey! I resent that remark!

    And also, they aren't mutually exclusive - I've got both.

  8. Luke Wells

    lol @ Steve

    haha know exactly what you mean, it happens every day in the office

    User > My e-mails not working, it just keeps coming up with an error

    Me> [click send and receive] looks like its working fine to me

    User > but ... but ..... I tried that 100 times already

  9. alphaxion

    tit-le demanded,

    aye, it's also known as "the knack".. though, I have started referring to it as "the shinning" as the inevitable dementia sets in after many years exposure to the IT industry.

  10. Simon
    Go

    thats what it is...

    I have always called it computer karma. The ability to have a fault spontaneously resolve itself after 10 secs of contact with the offending piece of equipment.

  11. Nic Brough
    Thumb Up

    Admin Gene

    I think the gene also gives you the ability to explain exactly why there is a primed bear trap just outside the server room door, in such a way that the boss signs off the purchase order for the next batch and then goes for a server inspection... <snap>

  12. Sir Runcible Spoon
    Happy

    @AB

    In our house, I have the admin gene (things fix themselves in my presence) and my wife has the 'other' gene (the one that breaks things in unpredictable ways).

    She gets extremely wound up after trying to get something to work for 1/2 hour before reluctantly calling for backup (she knows what's about to happen) I turn up, press the same two keys that she's been trying for 1/2 hour and it just works.

    I don't help by saying "there you go, what's wrong with that?"

    cue bun-fight :D

  13. Louis Cowan
    Happy

    Beeps

    Yea, I think I might have this gene too. My head turns at the sound of only 4 beeps rather than 5 and it takes me a couple of seconds before I even know why my head's pointing down that particular corridor.

    Some people seem to have an aura too - when all they need do is appear, before the naughty computer stops acting up - anyone else noticed this? Makes me feel a bit like NeoJesus

  14. Jeff
    Thumb Up

    Well it passes the time...

    GE-NI-US! :D Been a long time since I read such a great one-liner :-)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    @Dave Walker

    yea i have that happen to me quite alot i've put it down to a machine aura that just magically fixes problems without me having to touch anything

  16. Adam Foxton
    Happy

    @Anonymous Bastard

    Same here- I can break things just by thinking about them and solve apparently impossible problems.

    I put it more down to the incompetence of others than my brilliance.

    Though clearly we're all pretty brilliant...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Me too...

    It's almost uncanny. Problems disappear when I walk into a user's office and try the same thing they've just tried 15 times.

    For additional info, also see Dilbert "The Knack"

    Mine's the one with the paycheck stub showing approximately half the salary of most of the users I support...

  18. Dan
    Thumb Up

    @David Ross Smith

    Actually, I think there's a very fine line between the two, if there's any line at all (think about it - rather similar aren't they?). I know I've got both.

  19. Michael Jolly
    Happy

    he heee

    Anonymous Bastard are you my old supivisor she had that to?

    I can relate to this story

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ David Ross Smith

    I do too!

    i wonder many of us read the reg

  21. Paul Herring
    Thumb Up

    True

    Really. There's something in this. It's not training, you just know.

  22. pctechxp

    and me

    I can hear problems with fans, speakers, hard drives air con you name it and problems disappear in my presence too.

  23. Frumious Bandersnatch
    Boffin

    same here

    problems disappear like magic

  24. Steve

    drip, drip, click

    I too can sense when things feel .. different. Only the other day I was able to pick up the sound of the aircon starting to drip water across a noisy room..

    As for user problems magically fixing themselves just by walking into a room - I thought that was down to the user actually taking more care to read the message and click the right box when I'm watching them than when they're complaining over the phone... Once or twice I even carried a magic wand and just waved it to make problems go away :)

    Steve.

  25. Matthew Woolley
    IT Angle

    Not just me then?

    All of the above is true.I have met others with the gift. I think we are in tune with 50Hz mains and can resonate with the stuff.

  26. Gary
    Thumb Up

    It's not just computers

    We used to have an Amstrad VCR bought brand new back in 1991. It never worked properly from day one... I was the only person who was able to get a video tape to play on the bloody thing.

    I don't know what it was exactly, it was just knowing to push the right buttons at the EXACT right time (you had to listen to the sounds the VCR was making). I tried teaching other people but they ended up with bad tracking problems (if they got the tape to play at all!)

    Anyway, the thing finally went band a few years ago, by that time DVDs had already hit mainstream.

    Incidentaly, the Betamax VCR that was bought before I was born (I'm 23) is still working perfectly!

  27. Dunstan Vavasour

    Insight and Knowledge

    This is why the question "can you tell me what you just did" has to be answered in the negative. It's not about knowing stuff, it's about understanding stuff. Instincts are rarely pure instinct - they're the distillation of knowledge and experience over many years into finely tuned behaviour.

  28. Ryan
    Thumb Up

    BOFH: The admin gene

    Briliant and so very true!

    The ammount of times I've been in a room and heard the slight change in pitch of a fan and started ripping the box open to remedy it, or tuning my hearing into a room full of racks to find the one box with a failing hdd, baffling onlooking co-workers with my 'supernatural' powers must be reaching tripple figures now.

  29. Steve Bennett
    Happy

    Very Funny

    Another great BOFH.. and so true.

    Most readers here probably have the gene. I found out when I was 16 and supported and office of 50 recruitment consultants on my own. Just me being there stopped problems happening.. That and moving the mouse on the NT server to stop the 3d Pipes screensaver zapping all the server's CPU.. ;-)

    Mines the one with the 3d screensaver.

  30. MiG
    Coat

    @some of the above

    Whatever we call it - those that have it, are clearly gifted and just get on with it. Those that don't know what we're talking about, are either lusers or bosses.

    Case in point:

    User: My laptop won't open a web page.

    Me: Are you connected to the network/modem?

    User: Yes, I haven't unplugged anything since yesterday and it was working then.

    Me: [presses wireless 'on' button] There..... try it now.

    User: [click] It's working. What did you do?

    Me: I pressed that button [points at wireless on/off button] and turned the blue light back on. That's why it wasn't working.

    User: Oh, I turned that off last night, it was bright and annoying. Can't it work without a blue light?

    Me: [muttering x%^$%*£ under my breath, grinds teeth]

    And yes, he was a very successful, well-paid manager. I'm sure we've all been there.....

    [Mine's the one with the Sonic Screwdriver in the inside pocket....]

  31. Rosuav
    Happy

    The gene... of experience

    It's definitely true. I can detect, from some distance away and across many noises, the sound of hard drive activity ceasing (which means the three-hour procedure has finished, yay) even if it's on the quietest drive in the building. Or the sound of a fan changing its note. If my brother's with me, he'll usually detect the same thing at the same time, and we'll both KNOW that the other has sensed it... leading to conversations as bewildering to outsiders as the BOFH/PFY one here. And the more crucial the situation, the less likely that anyone will get any information out of either of us.

    And the boss.... fails the test. BAHAHAHAHAHA!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @ David Ross Smith

    Wow, just read up on Wikipedia and it looked like I might have it. Then I realised I was just an unsocial clumsy oaf.

    There is a fine line between madness and genius - I often step over the line.

  33. Gerrit Tijhof
    Coat

    Too true

    Sometimes, things just aren't in order. Just being able to pick out a machine that feels 'different', being able to pull an instant backup off its Data-partition only to hear it go >>KLENGKLENGKLENG<< less than 5 minutes afterwards, it just feels Jedi :)

    Mine's the one with the ieee1394 drive in the inside pocket.

  34. Trygve Henriksen

    Definitely exists...

    There's a few side effects that haven't been listed yet...

    1. The ability to annoy co-workers who doesn't have it.

    (Me walking up to one of my co-workers and glancing at the screen for 2 seconds, then rattle off a two-minute speech of what is wrong and how to fix it isn't always appreciated after they've been fighting the problem for the last hour... )

    2. Dowsing...

    I can find water and some power lines using two metal dowsing rods.

    Anyone else?

  35. Simon B
    Thumb Up

    Funny but true!

    PMSL. loved it, love how it looped back when another person entered the room, classic!!

    And it is also so very true and I smiled as I read the story. Many a time I've entered a room and noticed a different hum, knowing a fan on a PC needs a good clean and lube, or smelling a fried pc components smell and knowing sommething isn't right!

    11/10 excellent writing!

  36. tfewster

    @ Steve, Andy, Dave et al

    That's a different talent - An aura that machines sense, and they know you're not to be messed with. Demonstrating percussive maintenance on one box can cause a whole server room to behave.

    http://www.icw-net.com/howto/funstuff/maintnce.htm

  37. NHS IT guy
    Paris Hilton

    The gift

    I was beginning to think it was just me that could hear when a PSU was on it's way out, or the first tell tale signs of a failing drive, or the slight shimmer of text on a screen telling me the refresh rate or resolution is just off.

    Paris because she loves the hum of a NAS.

  38. Mark Barton
    Unhappy

    Magic touch

    Great BOFH

    I have it too with regards to computers, I just wish I had the magic to chat a girl up :(

  39. Trevor Pott Gold badge

    The admin gene

    Yeah, it seems a lot of sysadmins have the admin gene. My freinds and family dubbed it "the laying of hands" with me years ago. The ability to walk into a room, stare at a computer for 2 seconds, then just "know" what's wrong.

    They are getting some wierd error about the SATA controller, but every test they can run, and everything they do comes back that it should be working, yet it still crashes windows?

    *pulls the soundcard*

    Voila! It works!

    The completely flabbergasted looks on the faces of users and otehr admins alike is priceless. I do like many of the other names for "the laying of hands" however. Seems a common enough thing amongst reg readers!

  40. Miami Mike
    Go

    also works on non-IT stuff

    Yeah, this also works on cars/motorcycles/airplanes. It's "the touch" - all I have to do is look at it and it will run just fine, forever after.

    Except lawnmowers.

    (Almost) all your spark plugs are belong to us!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tape Drive

    Add to that instinctively knowing when to pop into the server room to change the backup tape when passing by. Love it when Iwalk in as the tape ejects...

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    When technology is threatened, it behaves.

    @ Dunstan Vavasour, tfewster, all.

    "This is why the question "can you tell me what you just did" has to be answered in the negative."

    I also have the gene, and I have an answer.

    When I get this question after I repair something, I always say to the user(s)

    "The amount of difficulty anyone has with a piece of technology is inversely proportional to the proximity of a technician who owns a very large hammer."

    Mine's the one hanging over the handle of the 10 lb sledgehammer, thanks.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Works for me...

    I worked in a place where our machines were constantly breaking through overuse. Often I'd go make a huge pile of copies, thousands of sheets, not realizing that the copier was "broken" and a call had been placed. I'd go in, it would happily grind out my copies, and obstinately refuse to work for others.

    No clue why that is, except I like machinery and talk nice to it, with the unspoken threat of violence hanging in the air. To paraphrase a saying attributed to Al Capone, "Kind words and a hammer will get you farther than kind words alone".

  44. Conor
    Paris Hilton

    The Gene

    I have the gene, unfortunately I'm lazy, let me explain:

    Me: I think that harddrive is getting old, I think it's going to start failing anytime now.

    [does nothing]

    [2 days later, drive fails]

    Apparently, shipping a drive off to a data recovery center is "easier" than doing a backup.

    Paris: because she KNOWS she's got it... well, something at least.

  45. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Reminds me of this AI Koan

    This uncanny ability (which I've also got..) to (to the untrained eye) do nothing, turn on a machine, and have it work, reminded me of something, which I finally found.. this is one of the "AI Koans" from the MIT AI lab from the 1980s sometime:

    A novice was trying to fix a broken Lisp machine by turning the power off and on. Knight, seeing what the student was doing spoke sternly: "You can not fix a machine by just power-cycling it with no understanding of what is going wrong." Knight turned the machine off and on. The machine worked.

  46. Dr. Mouse

    It works both for good and evil....

    The abilities to detect problems before they are a problem, fix things by merely being within 10 yards, and break things in ways that noone would ever consider possible, can be a curse.

    For example, when a luser calls you saying "Its not working". You walk all the way accross the building, click the same button they have (or they say they have) been pressing, and it all just works as it's supposed to. You put it down to idiocy on the part of the luser. Then they call an hour later, you do the same. Repeat untill the luser gets so pissed off he tells your boss, who insists there MUST be a problem, and you spend days looking for a fault you know is just a PEBCAK.

    Discovering problems early makes work for you, when you COULD just wait for the kit to blow up and have it fixed under warranty.

    And as for breaking things in unpredictable ways, well, it's fun but once again it creates more work for you.

    I wish I didnt have the gene. Things would be a whole lot simpler....

  47. Dex
    Flame

    Missed BOFH Episode Gene?

    Ok so who knew about there being no episode last week and didn't tell me? :@

  48. E_Nigma
    Boffin

    WHOA!

    Damn, the lights didn't just flicker this very moment, they went off for a split of second!

    Anyway, I passed the preliminary test as I sensed that electrified doorknob a mile away, but I'll see how I'll do on my computer networks test tomorrow morning...

  49. Herby

    For a long time....

    It seems that I have had some sort of thing like this. I am reminded of a time when I was having lunch with a couple of friends from work (it was around 1980 or so), and the music playing in the restaurant was interrupted by a brief spurt of the (USA) EBS tone. We both looked at each other with the look like "that shouldn't happen!". A bit later they did the standard "this is a test of the emergency broadcast system..." and we breathed a sigh of relief!

    The other time was a few years earlier when my (then) boss poked a grounded soldering iron into a live AC (mains) circuit. After it vaporised the terminal (think BOFH cattle prod) and as I was walking over to supply to get another tip he indicated "when did they ground soldering iron tips?"

    I got my BOFH training early (and admin gene).

  50. Rick Giles
    Coat

    Those that don't have it

    And they work in Desktop Support. I have it and guess who they come to after banging there heads on the keyboard for about an hour.

    Mines the one with the Clueon dispenser.

  51. Tim Shields
    Stop

    @David Ross Smith

    “So what do I have instead?”

    “I dunno – what’s the one that causes Asperger's?” the PFY asks unkindly.

    I too resent that remark, if it was not for people with Aspergers there would be no IT industry, there would be no computers, look round the office you work in, look at the people who actually make IT work as apposed to the "management". You show me a good IT person that is NOT on the autistic spectrum…..

    PFY and BOFH are both most defiantly on the spectrum.

    The admin gene IS totally linked to the autistic/aspergers gene you CAN NOT have one without the other

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    never mind changing the tape

    who here remembers how to roll out a tape?

  53. Jan Buys
    Paris Hilton

    So true

    All I have read here is so true...

    Paris, because she can make things work for me.

  54. Matty B

    You mean...

    ...I've had a freaky mutation this whole time? Here I was thinking being born in a data-center, fed nothing but Ethernet Spaghetti and Sillicon Chips plus the lifetime of training created my sixth sense...

  55. Jos
    Alien

    and I thought it was normal...

    To walk into a club in Rome while on assignment there and in the end of the night, instead of walking out with a girl, ending up fixing their phone system so they could call the taxi for me.

    Ah well, at least I'm a member of that club now.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have this

    Yep me too, my parents refuse to touch any new equipment (TVs, videos, dvd, cameras) until i have "layed hands" on it and made it work. Things that wouldn't work for anyone else suddenly spring into life when i give them a clout across the top.

    It's almost like bringing machinery to life, just call me Dr Frankenstein.

    I agree most of the top tech types i know are definitely semi-autistic.

  57. Jamie Kephalas
    Paris Hilton

    generator

    It's hearing the generators kicking in outside to backup the ups' before the users see the plume of diesel...

    It's seeing the lights dim one time and being called 'crazy' when you put on your tin foil hat.

    PH, she also knows what to do when the lights dim. ;)

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    re: Admin gene

    I guess one of the special powers bestowed upon one by the admin gene is machine empathy. I've been known to hold long-winded conversations with my computers.

    And yes, this has happened to me before too. Problems seem to go away on a few keypresses or mouse clicks, or just plain disappear when I come around. It's sorta funny actually.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Getting my priorities right?

    My wife always finds it remarkable that I will totally sleep through the night while our two children wake up screaming from bad dreams.

    Yet, I will wake up and be halfway down the stairs at 3am at the first "beep" from my UPS if there's a power outage in the middle of the night...

    Does anyone else hear the electric ""buzz" from CRT screens that are actually on stand-by when everyone else thinks they are turned off?

  60. tony trolle
    Happy

    the knack/ the gene

    It works for me only sometimes but I like the streetlights going off (or back on) as I walk pass. I happens a lot generally (not just to me) but few people notice it.

    I like to point it out when walking with someone, normally with sound effects :-)))

  61. Andy Worth

    The "magic" aura of fix stuff

    Of course, you don't actually need to touch the device yourself, merely being in the same vicinity and focussing on the device can often be enough. Such as somebody who cannot get their PC working, you discuss it with them and while your attention is focussed on the issue it suddenly starts working.

    It's a kind of magic (cue Queen music) but there can be more than one, evidently, as quite a few people seem to have the "technogift".

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fixing Aura?

    I have this aura too. So much so that I started to carry around a toy Sonic Screwdriver I picked up at Woolworths. I simply point the screwdriver into the corner of the monitor, press the button for a second or two and say "try it again". Most of the time it works, the rest of the time needs a second go.

  63. Jos Kampes
    Paris Hilton

    ASSer Admin

    I too possess both genes, Aspergers and Admin... Still a great post

  64. Andrew Moore

    What I love...

    is when you fix a problem by suposibly doing what the user has been doing for the last half an hour (which I rarely believe) and the user then asks me "so what was I doing that was different?"

    How the hell do I know that- I've got the admin gene not the telepathy gene.

    And I have LLI- the opposite of Aspergers.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...it's not always a good thing

    It's when you're at a casino having a good night when all their systems go down. You then just need a brief word in the ear of their "computer guy" as to why their server just went off and isn't coming back on.

    The smell of a fried PSU is a special one! :)

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Jaowon

    Like the Sonic Screwdriver idea. I wonder how many people could be fooled into believing it actually did something. Of course if it doesn't work, you could always claim the machine is deadlocked.

    I have the 'magic touch', an aura or just a way with machines. I have countless examples of fixing things just by being present, or simply being on the end of a phone line. It's a less extreme ability than that possessed by like the kid in Heroes.

    I think in essence it is an ability to not be phased by a machine. Where others crumble and submit to the machines greater intelligence, those with the 'admin gene' are at one with it, a bit like a horse whisperer.

  67. James
    Alien

    6th, 7th and 8th sense.

    I have 'The Knack'. As well as fixing things just by standing next to the user I have other abilities e.g. If I am outside I can sense rain 5-10 minutes before it starts. I can hear high pitched noises that no-one else can (and they bug me until I find the source).

    It's obviously something that most technical folk have, as when the lights flicker in my office all the techies look up as they notice it while the non-techies are completely oblivious.

    With a techie friend of mine I have known since we were both 7 we can have entire conversations by only speaking the first 2 or 3 words of a sentence and the other knowing what you are on about before you finish. For an outsider listening in it sounds like gibberish as the sentences go uncompleted. At our peak we know what the other is thinking so well we can establish facts with a series of 'yeahs'.

    I have a motto that I pass on to my new support staff -

    "Don't believe customers when they say they 'have tried that already'. They are either lying, or just don't understand what you are on about".

  68. david
    Pirate

    Apparently

    I am going to get mine tomorrow before 5pm

    Order Details

    ----------------------------------------------------

    consumer:CDO:NEXTDAYDELIVERY 2008-07-08 before 5pm Any Day delivery option £0.00

    consumer:Bundle iPhone 3G 16Gb Black Online 35 18 month £159.00

    VAT Included: £23.68

    Total: £159.00

    You can easily check on the progress of your order by visiting www.o2.co.uk/trackyourorder

  69. Chris Hart

    IT sense

    Has anyone else here had incandesant light dimmers throw off their IT sense? (It throws me out of tune with the background 60Hz, and just generally grates on my nerves. Sometimes old CRTs do it to me as well...) As a kid, I was diagnosed with ADD, which shares many traits with Aspergers. (I might actually have Aspergers, I was diagnosed before his work was published to the English-speaking world)

    (Yes, I'm in the states)

  70. Ed

    Common admin 'problems'

    Aspergers, as noted.

    Attention deficit disorder - when problems arise, one needs to be able to shift gears quickly. People with ADD generally do better at this than those without. Also, it appears to me that many people with ADD notice those little things a lot more - that's part of why they're so easily distracted.

    OCD - depending upon ones exact compulsions, this can either help or hurt. But if an admin has both a clean desk and an organized filesystem, chances are good she has OCD (well, possibly 'he', but the odds are against it.)

    The 'beta tester' syndrome, as noted above but not named. If you're an engineer and you want to ship a nigh flawless problem, you love having a few of these on your beta test team. Pretty much everyone else wants as little to do with them as feasible. (Unfortunately, that means that many managers actually *remove* them from beta test teams, to try and make their ship dates - and so the astounding problems happen more out in the field.)

    The 'admin field' effect. This is a problem in the traditional sense, despite it not appearing at first glance to be one, because when ones mere presence makes things work, it becomes incredibly difficult to diagnose why they don't. Note: in my experience, the effect is very temporal: the field goes away almost as soon as the admin goes away; the biggest reason that the user stops complaining is that they feel increasingly stupid for having the problem, the more times the admin comes and the problem goes away. At one of my earlier jobs, I was assigned to share a cube with the strongest "beta tester" at the company, in an effort to counteract her syndrome. (Did not work at all - my field is apparently specific to unix OSes; she ran Windows.)

    dyslexia - not sure how this helps, but it sure seems we collectively have a lot of it. (Note: has various forms: verbal, auditory, visual...)

    I'm certain I've missed at least one, possibly more.

  71. Ed

    @Chris Hart

    BTDT. Incidentally, it is entirely possible to have both ADD and Aspergers, as I understand it. (Fortunately for me, I'm a couple symptoms shy of Aspergers - plus many of the ones I have are mild enough I can compensate for them.)

    The one that really grates on my nerves is just starting to fail fluorescents - when the flicker is barely noticeable, to the point that it takes me a few minutes to figure out why I have a headache. What's the most annoying is this is apparently several months before they've failed enough for an ordinary person to notice.

    On the bright side, the company I'm working for has apparently showed some clues in this area: they've put all the people who complain early about the fluorescents failing in one area, and they replace our lights fairly promptly. Of course, that means I still get to dread going into luser land - but fortunately my social skills are lousy enough my management wants me to never go into luser land (and they say my social skills need work - HA!)

  72. Michael James
    Linux

    Living in logic space

    Like the BOFH I live aware of the logical relations between things. "No it's no good trying to load a web page, you haven't even got a link light on your network card." "Yes, the link's now on, but the page still won't load, because DHCP hasn't given you an IP number, you'll have to pirate one." And so on up through the layers of dependence. The hard thing is realizing that not everyone can look at a door-lock and know how it works. Poor things think that a key is enough to keep even an honest person honest.

    For most things I'm the fixer, but I can make Windows fail every time just with the force of my contempt and skepticism.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Gene indicator

    You can also spot those with the gene by reverse symtom language (RSL). Nine times out of ten a luser will respond YES without actually thinking about the question.

    User: My PC won't boot; it's saying something about NT loader

    Me: Have you tried leaving a floppy disk in the drive?

    User: YES!!!

    Me: Ahhh... there's your problem. It must be a duff floppy. Try taking it out.

    In our office, I always close the door behind me. I regularly refer to this as "The first test".

  74. Ady Durn
    Coat

    The "gift"

    This has always been known as the "gift" in our place of work, and luckily most of the helpdesk have it.

    I suffer (well I say suffer, I find it fascinating) from ADD, minor Aspergers and (my biggest downfall) severe tinnitus! Despite the tinnitus I can hear the smallest problems and feel the slightest change (this makes driving a joy) in anything mechanical, electronic and even the odd person too....

    After only seconds of talking to someone I can tell whether they know what the start button on their windows machine looks like.

    I am however expected to have the "WiFi-Telepathy" gene, the one that ensures you can understand exactly what the user means by the phrase "Not working" and the term "It's"

    Mine is the one with the 60 year old car keys in the left hand pocket.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @David Ross Smith et. al.

    I think the BOFH may have flubbed this one. I think the "admin gene" and Asperger Syndrome are pretty much the same thing or at least closely related related. According to Wikipedia, symptoms include being anti-social, unusual language usage, weakness in humor (or lusers just don't get it) and a few others.

    What caught my attention was "Individuals with AS often have excellent auditory and visual perception.[19] Children with ASD often demonstrate enhanced perception of small changes in patterns such as arrangements of objects or well-known images; typically this is domain-specific and involves processing of fine-grained features... Many accounts of individuals with AS and ASD report other unusual sensory and perceptual skills and experiences." and "Speech may convey a sense of incoherence [to others]...The speaker's conclusion or point may never be made."

    Well it passes the time...

  76. David Ross Smith
    Thumb Up

    @Tim Shields

    Agreed. Me and a friend of mine both have it, and between us, we probably know more than the school's IT department combined.

    And yes, I do agree that Simon got it wrong in his comments about AS. I am the person who does tech support for EVERYONE I know - thus, admin. When I look at a computer, I can usually hazard a guess as to what is wrong. If I don't know, I tend to Google it.

    Disclaimer: I have been professionally diagnosed with AS, and would advise against self-diagnosis for any condition, mental or physical. Psychologists, doctors, et al. are trained to recognise the actual symptoms of these conditions, and most people, if their extent of their knowledge of a condition is limited to the Wikipedia page on it, are not truly able to tell what the difference is between personality and mental conditions, for example.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bi-Symetrical talents

    I have the admin gene, and the Fecal gene....

    Some days, everything I touch is golden, you know, windows boots up cleanly, MS Patches do not kill the server, etc.

    Other days, its the fecal touch, and everything turns to sh**. It's just better to call in sick and stay in Bed. A definite net negative day...

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    the datacenter sense

    Simon hits this one right out of the park. I don't know so much about their being an 'admin gene' but there's been so many times where the 'datacenter sense' has tingled on a long shift in the datacenter operations center, and helped me catch a couple of pieces of bad hardware on more than one occasion.

    stop sign, because the datacenter sense tells me when to stop and brace myself.

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