October 2022 Fundraiser and Musings of a System Engineer

Hi all!

Throughout the month of October 2022, we ran a fundraiser to raise funds for the hosting of the web presence of Tamriel Rebuilt and Project Tamriel. I am extremely pleased to announce that we doubled our stated goal of $1,000.00 USD by bringing in $2,065.72 USD! I am absolutely floored by the outpouring of support for the continuance of the mission of PTR. The Morrowind community is full of superstars, and this is a fantastic example of that!

At Why's urging, I, an extreme introvert, wanted to expound just a little on what it is to be a Systems Engineer for these projects. Most folks who are not in this profession seem to want to project visions of Operators from The Matrix series onto what I do, sitting alone, code constantly scrolling past me as the world whizzes by.

The reality is a little closer to what they say about being a fighter pilot. It's a quiet job much of the time, as things keep humming along after doing the hard work of setting things up. There are moments of terror, however. The late nights when websites fall over for reasons that only the systems engineer really has the knowledge and access to try and suss out. The nail biting moments when you restore a backup to find out whether or not some files that folks have lost have been preserved.

There are also moments of emotion and heartbreak. That moment when trying to upgrade a 20 year old database, finding that an option that was passed to a script two hours earlier in the process has broken something after that long conversion process. There are long hours of testing, tweaking and retesting.

There are similarities and overlap with programming. Python has as much use in server and service management as it does in service and application construction. Though that said, Python is something of the new kid on the block for me, as opposed to my first love, Bash, and my true love, Perl.

I've spent many hours kicking around the kernel parameters and hardware parameters to get the best performance in the face of a flood of traffic. I've spent days pouring over CVE reports, and making certain all patches get applied and don't break anything. (And when they do, my heart pounds as I try and restore everything -- I am far from perfect!) I, like many of my system administrator peers am a computing polyglot, having picked up snippets of many languages over the years, to the point where I have realized that the individual language no longer matters, it's all syntactical difference, and a difference in application (using the best tool for the job in front of you).

I do all of this not for praise. I do this out of the pure joy of having a way to help projects that I believe in. I do this for the love of gaming, of Morrowind, and, frankly a love of the contributors, players and users of these products.

This all said, I just want to say that as quiet as I try and be publicly, I am always happy to advise those in similar situations. I enjoy mentoring others who want to learn the arcane arts of server administration and internet security. Do not hesitate to ask me questions, either publicly or privately.