Don’t Piss Off the IT Guy

Picture broke the story last week that a San Francisco network admin, Terry Childs, had been arrested and was charged with four counts of computer tampering for giving himself exclusive access to a city computer network that handles 60-percent of all city government data and for locking everyone else out. After the hearing Child’s defense lawyer said that the case against his client was completely overblown and that the 5-Million dollar bail is “crazy.” By the end of the week PC World ran a story calling into question the picture of a rogue admin that was being reported by local media.

PC World put their story together using information gathered from an anonymous source, who knew Childs and the atmosphere around the implementation of the FiberWAN network. The source said that Childs wasn’t so much the rogue as much he became convinced that he was surrounded by idiots and the only way to protect the network (and his work) was to lock all of the idiots out. The fact that Childs, who was not the “head architect,” was allowed to work with none of his superiors knowing what he was doing and the fact that the network has operated perfectly since his arrest lends some credence to the “locking the idiots out” version of the story.

I have worked with my fair share of administrators who were probably pretty good at the job they did before they were promoted. Even then I saw their incompetency as an opportunity to take advantage of the situation and take on a greater responsibility for my own job growth and experiment where a “better” boss would have restricted my access. Of course I knew that when my tenure was up and I’d moved beyond what my boss understood as “useful” that it was time for me to let go and move on. It would seem that Childs lost his perspective and chose a different strategy. jbb

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