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July 28, 2007

System Administrator Appreciation Day

July 27th, 2007 (Last Friday Of July)
th Annual
System Administrator Appreciation Day

If you can read this, thank your sysadmin

A sysadmin unpacked the server for this website from its box, installed an operating system, patched it for security, made sure the power and air conditioning was working in the server room, monitored it for stability, set up the software, and kept backups in case anything went wrong. All to serve this webpage.

A sysadmin installed the routers, laid the cables, configured the networks, set up the firewalls, and watched and guided the traffic for each hop of the network that runs over copper, fiber optic glass, and even the air itself to bring the Internet to your computer. All to make sure the webpage found its way from the server to your computer.

A sysadmin makes sure your network connection is safe, secure, open, and working. A sysadmin makes sure your computer is working in a healthy way on a healthy network. A sysadmin takes backups to guard against disaster both human and otherwise, holds the gates against security threats and crackers, and keeps the printers going no matter how many copies of the tax code someone from Accounting prints out.


A sysadmin worries about spam, viruses, spyware, but also power outages, fires and floods.

When the email server goes down at 2 AM on a Sunday, your sysadmin is paged, wakes up, and goes to work.

A sysadmin is a professional, who plans, worries, hacks, fixes, pushes, advocates, protects and creates good computer networks, to get you your data, to help you do work -- to bring the potential of computing ever closer to reality.

So if you can read this, thank your sysadmin -- and know he or she is only one of dozens or possibly hundreds whose work brings you the email from your aunt on the West Coast, the instant message from your son at college, the free phone call from the friend in Australia, and this webpage.

Show your appreciation

Friday, July 27th, 2007, is the 8th annual System Administrator Appreciation Day. On this special international day, give your System Administrator something that shows that you truly appreciate their hard work and dedication.

Let's face it, System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year. This is the day that all fellow System Administrators across the globe, will be showered with expensive sports cars and large piles of cash in appreciation of their diligent work. But seriously, we are asking for a nice token gift and some public acknowledgement. It's the least you could do.

Consider all the daunting tasks and long hours (weekends too.) Let's be honest, sometimes we don't know our System Administrators as well as they know us. Remember this is one day to recognize your System Administrator for their workplace contributions and to promote professional excellence. Thank them for all the things they do for you and your business.

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July 18, 2007

Laptop Security Basics

There are some rudimentary steps that you can take to prevent your laptop from being stolen.

Use the features of your operating system

If you have chosen an operating system that has in-built security features (Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP Professional are examples) then do not be afraid to use them. Features may include secure logon, file level security, and the ability to encrypt data.

Use the BIOS password

It would be unwise not to protect the BIOS. Find out whether the BIOS will also protect the hard disk drive to stop it from being used in another machine. Another tip is to find out what the procedure is for resetting the BIOS password. If it has to be sent back to the manufacturer, so much the better, as that will afford some protection, as a thief is unlikely to do that. Some will offer an in-the-field work around, which might make it attractive to a thief.

Your laptop's serial numbers

It is written down, right? And stored in a safe place? Good. That will help the police return it to you should it ever be recovered by them.

Use some form of permanent marking on the laptop

Engraving your company name on the case of the laptop with an address or contact number, or both, may increase the likelihood of getting the laptop returned to you if it is stolen and recovered (or, if by some accident, you forget it). Commercial asset tags are also a great aid to the police to return the laptop to you. It may also serve as a deterrent to the casual thief if the choice is between stealing a marked laptop or an unmarked laptop. Why? They cannot sell it using an online auction so easily. Also, travelling through airport security means that someone is also less likely to pick up your laptop accidentally. Information freely available on the Web suggests that 97% of stolen laptops are never recovered.

Use the manufacturer's registration scheme

Most people ignore registration because they think that it is likely to lead to spam. However, remembering that thieves are usually not smart, one might be unintelligent enough to send it in for service or to reset the BIOS, so having it registered with the manufacturer might prove valuable if you alert them to the fact that it is stolen.

Cable lock

Most laptops have a Universal Security Slot (USS), also known as a Kensington Security Slot (sometimes referred to as a K-slot or Kensington Slot). Will it stop bolt cutters? Unlikely. Will it stop a casual thief that just happened to be walking past your hotel room while room service had propped the door open, and then gone off to get more towels? Probably. And make sure to secure it around a strong, immovable, indestructible object. Also use it in the office. What percentage of laptop thefts occur in the office? (See below for answer).

Docking station

Use a docking station that is securely fastened to your desk. If it also allows you to lock the laptop in place, so much the better. This is especially important if you are leaving the laptop overnight, or longer. Better still, lock it in a strong cabinet if at all possible.

Personal firewall

Use a third-party firewall to prevent hackers from hacking into your laptop, and maybe into the company network. If you do disable it for any reason, do not forget to turn it back on.


If your laptop has this capability, then familiarize yourself with them and then use them. Your fingerprint can be your logon ID in place of a password.

Tracking software

There are companies that offer tracking software, allowing your laptop to regularly ping a tracking center with a signal that allows it to be traced. If the laptop is stolen the company will work with law enforcement to trace your laptop.

Laptop case

It might look chic to have the latest designer laptop case or manufacturers case, but nothing sends out a better signal to a thief than an ostentatious display, which may include your company logo, elite looking luggage tags, your business card embossed in plastic that gives a thief a clue as to the likely worth of the contents. There are nondescript backpacks that have padded sleeves to hold a laptop safely. A backpack is useful for going to the restroom without having to put your case down. For the ultra-security conscious, buy little padlocks to lock the zips so that no-one can get into the backpack quickly, steal the laptop, and then zip it back up again.


Make them a combination of numbers and letters so that they are harder to crack. Do not leave the password on a Post-It on the laptop (it does happen).


Always encrypt sensitive, personal, confidential data and leave the password with a trusted source if you need to. If you do not know how to encrypt files, then learn.

Back up your hard drive

At the very least, back up your hard disk drive before you travel.


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