July 31st 2099 - A Day in the Life of a Sysadmin

Science Fiction StoryJuly 31st 2099 -
A Day in the Life of a Sysadmin

zur deutschen Version Freddy Henze, very short hair in kiwigreen, 49 years old and still about 40 years till her retirement, starts their service in the Control Center Mitte with a curse.

Logo - 100th anniversary SysadmindayShe is sysadmin of the supplyhexagon KS-2578-submask 124 known as "Northern-Kassel" up to full digital renaming in 2051. 
In the digital system of the supplyhexagon it is her task to monitor the networkingpower of the individual residential units with the servicenode below the former mail-administrating center corner of Hollaendische - Wolfhager Street (now sub-unit 46d of the computer center Northern Hessia in the former central station), send inspection teams to critical areas and offer Technical Customer and Consumer Care inbetween.


From the whole unit-team exisiting of the four controlling sysadmins, she is the one which is in it today. It is a holiday, the most important familyholiday of the modern statesystem Euroasische Union. For quite a while the Systemadministrator Appreciation Day has taken the place of the  christcentered Christmas / Weihnachten / Noel. Yet this doesn't necessarily mean that Freddy really receives the special attention she deserves in that very special professional position she is in.

Not only that she
a) has to work instead of attending the commemorative event at the Hannover-Wolfsburg Expo-area with her daughter and "Caddog", the dog (an preferred mount of her daughter).  No,
b) today she also is the sole responsible person for submasks 100-199 (and it's general knowlegde that holidays are particularly predestinated to small and medium-sized disasters in the networks) and
c) it's always the same collegues who chicken out of work - and she is not one of them.

Anyway. Freddy takes over control from her collegue who is already heading home, considers his report, based on the keyboard-, phone- and contact-monitoring files that make a complete documentation of the last 12 hours. The she loads all relevant data on her digital memory implant on the inside of her left forearm to support her work.

She misses Caddog Innocent. Usually the big mongrel dog is with her whien she is on duty. Before  medicine developped medical eye-implants, Caddog probably would have become a guide dog. Today he has been trained as guard- and supportdog for a sysadmin. It is not always entirely safe for system administrators to be on duty at any time, day or night, having to crawl through supply wells. This made having a four-legged companion at your side very helpful, since - in addition - he could carry tools or spare parts. Today, Freddy's daughter wasn't willing to do without her playmate, and so Caddog remained in the flat.

During the last weeks reportages on the past one hundred years kept coming through the imagetransporter - after all  celebrating the first turn of the century  of a new  era was something special. The news remembered the occurrences of that mysterious year 2012, about whose background people were still speculating on, shook their heads over the excitement in the election of the first colored U.S. president, and admired the fact how incredilby difficult the negotiations on the forming of the Association Euroasischen Union countries in 2048 had been. It take almost 15 years until they finally signed the first contracts in the designated new administrative capital. Well, of these fifteen years alone, three had been spent on pounding a new city from the ground. During this time, the Arab partner states resigned from their plans to join in, along  with the entire east coast of Eurasia and the East Asian islandgroups.

The epoch-making invention of the gaining energy from small-cells had been on the news, as well as the breakthrough in solar research and the prevention of solar infarction a few years ago. Freddy can still vividly recall the crucial moments when the plasma-accelerator-container, only a few cubic meters tall, hit the solar surface and the fate of the world and the entire solar system changed.

And finally, in the year 2070, 70 years after the first SysAdminDay on the last Friday of the month of July in 2000, the decision of the Western Supreme Council to make SysAdminDay the main holiday. What a feeling! Freddy was just in her first year as sysadmin, having just begun her studies at the University of Prague-Dresden, with the desire of a career as certified admindgraduate with the desire to spend a few terms in the seminars of the famous Professor Ulata in Africa's capital, Kisangani. The mere fact of having the opportunity to choose a profession that responsible had become so immensely significant for the entire world, was an honor granted to only 10% of the best graduates of the pre-tests.

But then ... the first job as the one to pull the strings at the hanging-houses on the Zugspitze, the slow but safe climb up the careerladder up to her leadership position today. A picture book career for a young woman in her best years. With her 49 years she was envied by all older collegues.

No wonder she became sentimental on a day like this with all kinds of memories.

Freddy leans back casually, placing her legs to the single vacant place on her desk and focused on the details of the event-documentation of the previous shift. Luxurously she sips on her coffee, a treat she allowed herself every day commuting from her home in the Northern Hanovercluster to the logistic- and maintenance center. While the burden of this luxury on the purse of a single mum is not negligible, for Freddy it's worth the expense. Since the widespread dying of coffeetrees, during which the bulk of the global stocks of coffeetrees had died, only few people could regularly afford coffee.

The last shift's occurrences passed by with accelerated speed, everything had been quiet  without any serious incident reports, and Freddy hopes that the same will appiy to the next shift. With a few simple turns Freddy calibrated the flowspeed as she notices a message of the central signaling for REFD notice. It appears that Thomas, her colleague from the previous shift,  didn't notice it. These degressions, in fact, happened fast, barely noticeable that a sysadmin, if engaged in another process. Freddy watches the event a second and third time, then creates a short note in the historymanagement.

July 31st 2099 - REFD, period 0535 to 0535,4 - moderate oscillation, signalling flickering. Intensity too low for Intensität zu schwach für breakdown. Further monitoring recommened.

REFD - Rapid EnergyFlux Degression is a phenomena that had been unknown till about 30 years ago. Experts hadn't been able to find a real solution and remedy, not to mention any hints for its reasons.

At the first appearance of this fast running loss of energy in the year 2064 the phenomena had been believed to be a non-relevant, normal issue, something that simply happens now and then., thus no further measures had been taken apart from controlling the relevant segments and regions. Only when such a process reoccured, without regional or cluster system  relation in the vicinity of the previous phenomena, sysadmins became alert. Then these incidents began to multiply. Initially they suspected a virus, introduced into the system by networkboycotteurs, but had no concrete evidence had been found. The hurriedly convened investigative administrators no recognized no pattern in the occurrence either. Gradually the energy fluctuations encorached upon other networked areas, connected with each other only by singlelinebundles, evidently easily overcame the Atlantic, reached the Greenland Lakes, and even made it to the orbiterstation around the moon. The 13th August 2068 made it into the history of networking as the day that almost marked the end of the world. A device that calculated the fragile orbiter of the station had been damaged by REFD. The station came into a tailspin, coming too close to the lunar atmosphere,  men had erected for the mooninstallations, it fell from track and threatened to plunge to Earth. On this very day, this last minute, earth had been rescued by an ingenious systemadministrator that managed to enable a manual bridging, Freddy decided that the profession - the vocation - of a system administrator was her fate. Even now an autograph from Goro n'Ferkan adorns the wall above Freddy's desk at home, next to another picture: An antiquarian cover of a magazine that showed Ted - the very Ted that brought the idea of SysAdminDays to the public. And every August 13th Freddy raises a glass of sparkling non-alcoholic champagne - especially in honor and remembrance of these two men.

The day runs slowly ... There are two short messages on the voice transmitter that - due to lineoverload in the rear area of the small village of Vellmar-Ahnatal-Grebenstein - a negligible delay in the watersupply occurred. Perhaps, Freddy thinks and can not resist, to grin, perhaps  someone would just find himself totally soaped and gets a huge fright when the water temperature drops for a moment. But, as said before, all in all it's irrelevant. The fresh water from the large reservoir Edertal worked smoothly again only a few seconds later.
Somewhat trickier is a fault in the automatic regulation of flow control that is set in the early afternoon. It takes a while until Freddy can encircle the defect on the basis of various management schemes computerprocessing offers. It is an old relay, that had been forgotten during the last standardexchange in the last 6-months-rotation. Sending out the emergency unit in the Western Service Area, this relay can be replaced within only thirty minutes. Since informationcalibration of the production sites of various chemical companies in the North Western area are being processed by these lines, freedom from errors is a high issue.

Apart from that, there is widespread peace. Freddy takes the opportunity to adapt to some planning of the impending conversion of broadcastinglines. Such administrative activities are a necessary component of the job of a sysadmin, yet one of those to which they often had no time. The practical tasks of data recovery, test management, port clearances and so on usually come to the fore.

When dawn begins, Freddy takes a short break and walks up to the window of her workingarea. This office opens a view overlooking the old working-class district of Kassel, which had largely been demolished. The former University on the opposite road was gone before Freddy came here for the first time, just as the hill behind that area a major hospital had been a few decades ago. A real advantage of her workarea in the 165th floor of the first upper section was the terrific view to the west. Watching these sunsets was a significant advantage of this office. In the Hanover segment the exterior lighting would probably automatically be dimmed by now, to set the scene for the lighteffects on the System Administrator Appreciation Day. For a painful moment Freddy  faces the fact that she can't be with her daughter Mayes, which will probably stand on a clearway at the hands of her biological father with big eyes, watching the light show.

And then all of a sudden everything becomes irrelevant. The warning, which comes through the speakers, can't be ignored. Freddy rushes to her desk and controls the instrument panels. The red warnings leave no room for speculation: It is an REFD! With an only half-suppressed curse Freddy throws hermself on her chair and moves to the worktop with the input devices and displays.

From the occurrance of the Prediagnosis to the warningoutput only a few seconds pass by during a REFD. They had at least been able to identify enough similarities to use the timeframe between the initiation of an REFD and its occurrence for the warning to the systemadmin. With flying fingers Freddy initialized the various sidetestings she uses in addition to the standard procedure.

No signs of relaxation of the situation, degression waves spread out. Whether it would be possible ... Freddy tries to redirect the flows. At the moment, the movement of energy degression flows east, were the central computers in Greater Leipzig summarize. From there a large part of the German computers are being supplied. Freddy doesn't bear imagining what would happen if there was a hardware failure.

Whether it would be possible to redirect the wave? Freddy makes her decision and switches off the connection of the network to the central connection. From there it might be possible to deduce the wave and redirect it to a low populated area without supplyrelevant installations. She adds a new intersectionroutine, ensures the involvement of additional storage capacity and pursues the path of the wave. The wave doesn`t calm down, on the contrary. When it becomes clear to Freddy that there will be a reversalwave, it is too late. A lineresistance, transistors know where this originated, brings the wave to a halt, throws it back and makes it rush directly to the supplyhexagon KS-2578-Submaske 124 where Freddy is sitting.

Before Freddy can activate an emergency deactivation, the energywave arrives at the digital barrier, breaks through it, drills into the server, and ... after a deafening bang, shking the whole building, it is dark. The energy discharge throws raises Freddy backwards. Then everything is quiet. 

...  Here the story ends ... for now.
Our readers are cordially invited - and challenged -
to join in and continue the story
... and perhaps even bring it to an end.

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