We have a saying at my place of employ: Work smarter, not harder.

Now, I tend to assume that this is really corporate-speak to mean something along the lines of “We’d be able to save money on employees if we can make the employees we already have do more work in the same amount of time.”

But I kind of take it to heart. I’ve already mentioned on this blog how much I enjoy creating methods to make it so I don’t have to do repetitive tasks, but tonight I encountered something that made me really question how much those other people really enjoy the idea of reinventing the wheel:

Let’s say that you have a computer. If you’re reading this, you either do have one or you employ somebody to print out your favorite websites for you to read with the morning paper. Since nobody in his or her right mind would pay somebody to print out this blog, I’m going to go with the former. Anyway. You’ve got a computer. And let’s just say, you want to run a program and it doesn’t load. Instead, you get an error message. Doesn’t really matter what it says, because when I ask you what the error said, you’re not going to remember it anyway. But we’ll come back to that.

When I encounter this type of situation, there’s a very specific set of things I do to try and fix the problem. It goes like this:

  • Make note of the exact text of the error.
  • Go to Google.
  • Type in the exact text of the error.
  • Read the links that follow to see if anybody else has had the same error, and what they did to fix it.
  • Do what those other people did, which will almost always fix the error.

Now, that makes sense, right? I mean, it’s Google. As my friend Jonny says, “Google is the best sysadmin in the world. That Google dude knows everything.” It is incredibly rare that I get a computer problem that nobody in the world has EVER had before, and since it’s, well, Google, all those issues are generally available with a few simple keystrokes.

Thus, it’s very, very easy for me to do my job. I simply check to see if anybody else has done it before me, and I copy them. Now, utilizing these very same secret methods, you too can become a systems admin.

And now we’re back to the part that I said we were going to get back to: If you ever call me with computer problems, you can be sure that the one question I will absolutely, definitely ask you will be if there were any error messages, and what they said. It is in your best interest to be able to answer these questions. :)

But back to tonight. Without going into details, let’s just say that I encountered an issue with a computer that had been confusing people for days. During that time, the only time I actually got to look at the computer was while it was running a scan or something, so I didn’t have an actual chance to sit down and try to fix it myself until tonight. And when I did, what was the first thing I did? Looked for the error messages. (You starting to notice a recurring pattern? Good, I thought so.) Once I saw the error message, it took me all of five minutes to go to Google, find a solution, and implement it.


I don’t think I’m anything too special when it comes to what I do. Hell, I already said that you could do my job if you wanted to, just by using my tried and true methods. So what does it say that for almost a week, an entire team of people couldn’t fix an issue that was solved by fifteen seconds’ worth of googling? I mean, seriously, folks, it was the first link that was in the search results.

Like I said, for me, a lot of these issues are fixed in this manner. In reality, it’s a very simple thing.

I don’t really know if what I do is working smarter, but one thing it’s definitely not is working harder.