Grab the Throttle!
Taking control of your environment in 2004
I’m a newly minted private pilot. As is the case with most student pilots,
my most nerve-wracking moment came when my flight instructor exited the
cockpit one morning with the phrase, “She’s your plane to fly.” I was
ready to take my first solo: Takeoff, four right turns, landing. All without
my instructor to whisper in my ear, to take the controls should anything
horrible happen. I was alone, and it was time for me to take control.
As you’ve probably guessed, because I’m alive to write this, I did OK on my solo and subsequent training. But that first time taking control—and being solely responsible for my well-being in a machine that could easily kill me—was scary.
Think of this newly minted issue as your IT solo. For the year 2004, we’re emphasizing a theme in the magazine: The Year You Take Control.
In the cockpit, as in the server room, taking control means multitasking. On final approach to the runway, you have to have your airspeed nailed; flaps fully lowered; nose-down attitude—but not too nose-down; and a host of other activities. In the datacenter, it means making sure traffic jams don’t strangle your bandwidth; your perimeter is safe from attack; your users are aware that Microsoft doesn’t e-mail hotfixes and patches to customers; and a host of other activities.
Beginning with this first issue of the year, we’re going to be your partner in this effort to take control. In IT, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the constant demands of the job. You feel as if all your time is spent moving from one mini-crisis to the next. The only time the mini-crises don’t bother you is when there’s a maxi-crisis that must be handled in the interim. I hear from readers all the time who tell me that they have no time to be proactive; that they can’t get ahead of the curve enough to be anything but reactive.
If this cycle continues, it’ll keep spinning you downward, like a plane in a graveyard spiral. Even new pilots know that unless you take immediate action to break the spin—close the throttle, neutralize the ailerons, full rudder deflection opposite the direction of the spin—your chances of breaking the spin’s momentum decrease as the spin develops more momentum. Similarly, your network, your job—and eventually your career—will rocket to the ground, only stopped when you touch terrain. But with the proper training, you can break the spin and make a complete recovery.
Throughout this issue, and this year, we’ll provide tips and advice on how to stop being controlled by your circumstances and environment and start controlling them instead. Think of us as your flight instructor—we’ll be there with you every step of the way.
Let me know what steps you’re taking to take control.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.