20 Things I Learned From Troubleshooting

  • Do No Harm. You can and will make it worse if you're not careful.

  • Celebrate even small successes. This keeps you sane.

  • Searching the internet for a solution to your problem with a random Microsoft error message is akin to playing Russian roulette with yourself. Your odds pretty much suck.

  • Everything is fixable. Sometimes that means thinking outside the box or other times it means dropping that box in the ocean.

  • Between conspiracy and incompetency, bet on incompetency. More often than not, it's something stupid (or someone).

  • Whatever you do, don't temp fate. Fate will mop the floor with you.

  • If at any time you say, "Piece of Cake." You're doomed. You should just as well paint a target on your chest.

  • Ask the obvious questions, even if they sounds stupid. "Did you turn it off, then on again?"

  • Good troubleshooting is like good art, so don't be upset if people don't understand it.

  • It is possible to solve a problem and not realize if for an hour or more. This has happened, but mostly its the other way around.

  • Which means never take credit for coincidence. Just because a problem disappeared, doesn't mean you fixed it. Congratulations can turn to blame in a blink of an eye.

  • You might be surprised how many hours of downtime can be traced back to someone updating a Windows server.

  • Breadcrumbs. Remember what you've changed. If you tell an irate manger that you can't retrace your steps, don't be surprised when you wind up in the oven.

  • Never give an ETR. See #6

  • Caffeine, Caffeine, Caffeine. And then once more just in case.

  • Diagram, Diagram Diagram. Whether on paper, whiteboard or in a pool of your own bitter tears. Draw the problem out.

  • While troubleshooting my fingers look like a dry-erase-Mardi-Gras-celebration. Minus the music, nakedness, hangovers and general 'good time'.

  • The solution is rarely worth the effort. It's true. One mis-checked box after 5 hours of work can be a little less than gratifying.

  • Managers want explanations. Lie to them if you want. They wouldn't understand anyway.

  • Relax, you've earned your pay for the day. Go blog or something...

    Tina said...

    "Between conspiracy and incompetency, bet on incompetency."

    There's something profound in that statement.

    Mr. M said...

    Is this a re-post of an old blog? I swear I remember this...

    kludge said...


    I love that phrase! I use it constantly. It's amazing how often people assume virus rather than a less exciting, but more likely user mis-click.

    Mr. M.-

    Guilty. I was in training and decided to bump it. It was about 5 months old and I think it needed a bump...

    Mr. M said...

    Haha. I didn't realize I've been following you quite that long.