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Celebrate your power to administrate

Cloud-error Today is System Administrator Appreciation Day (tip of the hat to Connect user group president Nina Buik for the notice). You might have joined the 3000 community when your job was called System Manager, or even far enough back to have "DP Manager" on your business card. In today's world of IT, the title of System Administrator covers computer management from XP to Linux, from MPE/iX to HP-UX, and more.

The world needs skills to keep a business computer system like the 3000 stable. A little extra respect today is all that the sysadminday.com site asks. Gifts would be nice, of course.

HP has cloud computing on its mind this year, a concept that submerges the work of a system administrator under a wave of promises about simpler IT. As I noted in our Wednesday podcast, the backbone of cloud computing remains the same as any other kind of IT: a strong spine of sysadmin skills. These are the kind of duties that have protected the careers of 3000 pros and ensured smooth business operations for customers who use MPE/iX, but don't even know what those letters mean.

Today is the 10th Annual System Administrator's Appreciation Day, but this year's edition shows up while sysadmin identity seems to be fading. When you're working on an application over the Web -- writing a document on Google Docs, or posting photos to a blog -- you rely on a sysadmin. When things go awry, you might see a screen splash like the one above. As a 3000 administrator, you understand a little better what that admin up in the cloud must do to turn that splash into a harmless ripple.

If you shoulder help desk calls as well as maintain programs, backups and networks, you're about as deep in the trenches of sysadmin work as it gets. Slow printing, broken links to the network -- you're responsible for the first line of repair on all of it if you compute without a cloud. Most companies are still looking at clouds.

Despite the buzz, a near-absolute majority of business computing still requires someone inside the building to keep people connected and productive. You're the key link to keeping a 3000 productive and efficient, even if you're on a migration path for awhile. Modest upgrades to a 3000 can spark some head-scratching. As a humble offering in commemoration of your powers, here's a summary of questions to ask to troubleshoot slow printing.

Steve Davidek of the the City of Sparks, Nevada had a problem.

Since I’m still about two years from final migration on our 969K220, I was able to convince the powers that be that we should upgrade to a 100MB network card.  It helped that we have had two old hubs die and only have 1 left with a thin LAN connection.

Things have been going well since I installed it until this week. Since the upgrade, the jobs have been running quickly and printing right away. Now there seems to be a pause of sometimes two minutes before the report prints after it shows completed on the screen.

I checked the port on our switch and it is set to 100/full. NMMGR shows 100/full. All of our printers are Network printers. Is there some other setting in NMMGR I should be looking at, or maybe should have changed when I installed the card? The card is A3495A, HP 100Base-T NIC for MPE 9x9

Donna Hofmeister of Allegro, who has dispensed thousands of replies on sysadmin wizardry over the last 15 years of Internet traffic, answered.

May I suggest:

:# looking for errors or losses in general
:linkcontrol @;status=all

:# for finer problem resolution...
:linkcontrol <linkname>;status=reset
{Monitor/Duplicate problem}
:linkcontrol <linkname>;status
:# how did the numbers change?

:# for general information gathering
:nettool.net.sys;info="status;tcpstat;tcpg @;quit"

What are your timer values in nmmgr?

After Davidek reported his card was set to force 100/full in NMMGR, Jeff Kell of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga added these items to check.

What about the printer?  Is it an older half-duplex 10Mbps JetDirect? Does your network switch match its port in speed/duplex?

System administration is one of the gifts that Kell gives to the 3000 community every day, since he established and maintains the listserver that powers the 3000-L mailing list. Sysadmin skills often employ the power to ask a focused set of questions as Kell and Hofmeister did above. But sometimes IT gets overlooked. Tracy Johnson of Measurement Specialties reported the classic repair solution for a slow printing problem.

Just this morning we resolved a case of slow printing on a local segment that started last night. Turns out there was a duplicate IP address that someone manually configured on a device.  Apparently because the person didn’t want to bother with the IT department.