Episode 326: Training Up Junior Admins and Support Staff with Evan Walker
Some get good at being an admin. We’ll talk about some ways to share that information with junior members of teams and support staff in today’s episode.
- Tom Bridge, Director of Product Management, Devices, JumpCloud – @firstname.lastname@example.org
- Charles Edge, CTO, Bootstrappers.mn – @cedge318
- Evan Walker, Technical Support Specialist, Jamf – LinkedIn
Click here to read the transcript
Tom Bridge (00:01:18):
Hello and welcome to the Mackman podcast. I’m your hosts Tom Bridge and Charles, how are you this evening? How are, how are things in your world? We just saw each other this week.
Charles Edge (00:01:25):
We did. That’s why things are great in my world. I, I, I feel like I don’t ever spend that much time with you specifically when we’re at conferences, because we see, we see each other every week, you know,
Tom Bridge (00:01:36):
. That’s so true. It was funny ’cause I was thinking about that and I was like, yeah, I spend like hours a week with Charles and, you know, I was gonna say, it was great to see you in person at State College. We had a, a very nice time. Uh, and I, I will say I, my arms are a little sore ’cause I did a lot of hugging of people. Oh. This week I hug so many people.
Charles Edge (00:01:55):
I, I must have had 30 hugs within the first like, 15 minutes. I don’t think I’ve hugged that many people in that short a span since like the first day I was at Champ, you know, . Yeah.
Tom Bridge (00:02:09):
I mean, I was gonna say, it feels like a family reunion in a lot of ways. You know, it’s people you haven’t seen in a little while. This was the first Penn State conference in four years. Um, and my, uh, you know, big kudos to the Penn State IT team, um, and led by Ablely, by Gretchen and Rusty, who, uh, put on an incredible conference. Um, and, you know, I’m gonna, I’m just floating. I’m still floating on Cloud nine from, from all of the things that I saw and learned, uh, this past week. Not to mention the Tasty Creamy ice cream.
Charles Edge (00:02:37):
Oh, yeah. That ice cream. And you got a boatload of it to take home, right?
Tom Bridge (00:02:41):
I did. I I may have brought a 30 gallon Getty cooler with me to State College. Um, I discovered, however, that the cooler is airtight, which is fine, and in fact, desirable under normal circumstances. But maybe not when you have five pounds of dry ice offgassing inside the, and sublimating inside the inside the cooler. And, uh, yeah, I actually ended up having to jury rig an exhaust system for the cooler, otherwise it was going to explode .
Charles Edge (00:03:15):
So I, I feel like I, I had a solid 10 minutes with Rusty, which is about as long as I spent with anyone at Penn State. It felt like it was just 120 conversations in a row. , yes. And then I slept, and then I started over, and then I slept. And then I started over. And there were so many people, like I ran into Mike Solan on the way in, and we talked for like 10 minutes. And then I don’t think I talked to him the rest of the time. And I felt super guilty when I got home. Like, oh my God, I, you know, like so many people I want to talk to. Um, but I never got to talk to Gretchen while I was there. Um, and I do feel like it’s high on my list to tell them all. Like, thank you so much a, for just putting on an awesome event. And also, B, like they’ve got swag skills out there. Oh, yes. I mean, the theme of the event was, uh, sleepaway camp or, or camp. And Oh, Tom is holding up his blankie that we got.
Tom Bridge (00:04:19):
I’ve got my, I I’ve got my fancy, you know, Penn State blankie? Mm-hmm. , it, it has the lovely, uh, embroidered logo from the conference. Um, and I was gonna say, this is my, uh, my new favorite couch blanket, I think is the correct term. Um, ’cause that is like the perfect couch nap blanket.
Charles Edge (00:04:36):
Yeah. And I just cleansed ’cause our family’s addicted to couch blankets, so I just got rid of about 15 Oh. That we’re getting, you know, the dog likes to, uh, make them smell. I don’t know what he does on them exactly. But he jumps up and, you know, he is been outside, especially in the summer when he likes to just go outside and sit in the sun and get sweaty and stinky. Um, yes. Just like me, you know. No judgment. Hey, fair. Yeah. Yeah. But, uh, we’ve got an awesome guest today, right, Tom? We
Tom Bridge (00:05:08):
Do have an awesome guest. Evan Walker, uh, of Jamf. Welcome to the Maced Min’s podcast. We’re so glad you’re here with us this week.
Evan Walker (00:05:16):
It’s great to be here.
Tom Bridge (00:05:17):
And so, you know, one of the things that we love to do with any new guest to the podcast, ’cause this is your first time on, um, you know, we love that background story, that origin story. So how did you get into managing Apple devices and how did you end up at Jam?
Evan Walker (00:05:31):
So one of the most interesting things is, right outta high school, I was working just a dead end job at a movie theater. And one of the assistant managers there was like, Hey, you’re good with computers. One of my friends is looking for some staff to go work at her place. You want to go work there? So I said, sure. And it turned out to be the Flextronics repair facility in Memphis. And that’s where I’m, I got my first hand at Apple, and I worked there for a little while. I did some tech support for a little while, but I wanted to get back into the Apple stuff. So I, uh, I went to go work at Apple in AppleCare, uh, very quickly, became a senior advisor, um, kind of bounced around, did a bunch of cool stuff there, um, and then left and did, did some work at a cybersecurity training company. And then started working for, uh, managed service providers. And at my last position at a managed service provider, uh, I got a battlefield promotion to the Jamf administrator and ,
Uh, as, as, as as happens quite a bit, somebody won the lottery. And, uh, I had to do, I had a, a role to fill. So I did it. And after several months I was like, you know, I’m kind, I’m gonna start looking around. And as I was doing that, ’cause I was Googling a bunch of jam stuff, jam showed up in my, uh, my search for, you know, jobs that were open. And I just figured it’s always worth a shot. And it’s been, I don’t know, eight months now. And it’s just been the most exper interesting experience ever doing support for them.
Tom Bridge (00:07:01):
That’s amazing. So you’re working on the support teams at, at Jam?
Evan Walker (00:07:04):
Yes. Uh, very specifically, I’m a technical support specialist, so I’m, the easiest way to explain it is I’m kind of tier two. Uh, I don’t do do phones anytime anything gets escalated off or, um, or like when you submit a case on the website, it pretty much comes into what’s called the Escalations group. And that’s when we get it and really dig into it. Um, so we do with a lot of like parsing of logs, parsing of, uh, the Jamf Pro server summaries. Uh, I, I will routinely ask for logs for very different things, for various things that we touch. Um, but that’s, that’s part of what I do, is kind of like piece together the puzzle that’s there to try and make sense of whatever issue is happening.
Charles Edge (00:07:49):
Lovely. And you know, I gotta say that story of, um, battlefield promotion, as you put it, battlefield Commission as someone in England might put it, I, I love that story because in my experience, many of the best admins come out of English degrees. Or Wait, what’s your degree in there, Tom? Oh, political science, you know, or, or like, are sometimes co-host, um, Emily Music or mm-hmm. , you know, it, it, it’s not people that went to school for computer science. A lot of times it’s, there’s a love for it, and the love comes through. Like, for example, if you have a Sega Genesis behind your head right now, you know, um, and it, it comes through in a lot of different ways. Like, maybe you like to write Python scripts, maybe you like to game and, and you just like to be in that kind of technical space. It’s, um, and it’s wonderful to hear when people don’t get kind of stuck in a place like doing tech supported movie theaters, but then get to get that battlefield promotion and move into being an officer. Uh, which I think was a lot more common in like World War I and World War ii, but then, so were the deaths of their, uh, of the existing commissioned officers, you know?
Tom Bridge (00:09:15):
Yeah, I was gonna say. And generally speaking, when somebody is, uh, you know, brev it into a new role, uh, you know, as they say, um, you know, it’s not because their previous, uh, Jamf administrator had been, uh, you know, taken down by a spare database migration . So, um, you know, I, I think that least we have that going for us. Um, you know, and, but there are a lot of great ways to kind of, you know, stretch yourself and get an opportunity to kind of get something new going. And that’s one of the things that I think is really, really exciting about those kind of situations.
Evan Walker (00:09:46):
I think the most important thing is there’s no definitive way to get here. Yes, everybody’s gonna come in with their own unique path and their own unique skills they picked up and be able to contribute something. And that’s kind of the big thing, is we need to figure out what people can do and then fill in the gaps after that.
Charles Edge (00:10:06):
Love it. And, you know, for starters, I guess when we first spoke, you used the term upskilling. Do you mind unpacking that for a moment? Like, what is upskilling? Because that leads to Battlefield Promotions, right?
Tom Bridge (00:10:20):
Evan Walker (00:10:21):
So upskilling is the, the fancy corporate buzzword for training. That’s what it is. But if you take it a step further, the way I look at it is it’s a targeted training for a specific thing. It’s teaching somebody some very specific thing so that they can come in and do it later. So that, you know, for example, like, um, teaching somebody how to deploy a script in Jamf and like what the variables do when you go to deploy the policy, kind of teaching them that very specific thing so that when I need, so that when we as administrators need to have that deployed later, it’s one less thing that we have to do, and we can get that onto somebody else’s plate so they can learn from it as well.
Charles Edge (00:11:06):
Love that answer. Um, what are some of the, you know, there, there are a lot of different ways I think that people come across knowledge and no si, you know, no shoe, no single size of shoe kind of fits what everybody, how everybody learns. Um, and some people only can learn in the trenches and others can only really learn maybe for family reasons there, or there’s no time outside of work. But, um, for, with structured work training and others tend to learn like butting around at home, you know, writing scripts or, or whatever. But let’s start with structured. What are some of the structured ways that you’ve gone about sharing information or training?
Evan Walker (00:11:56):
Well, the first one, and the very obvious one is gonna be some instructor led course. You know, Jamf has a bunch of courses that you can go through and learn a lot about Jamf, and a lot of other vendors have courses on their specific, what product, be it a SaaS or hardware or whatever. Usually you can get some sort of instructor led training with that. In addition to that, there’s a, there’s a whole bunch of industry certifications that are available out there. You know, a lot of people like to, to kind of look down on some of the CompTIA certifications because they’re non-specific, but that’s an asset. They’re not spec, they’re not just for Cisco equipment, they’re, it’s networking in general. It’s not just how to use Calli Linux, it’s how to u like, how to think like a penetration tester and to do things like that.
You know, those, those sort of generic certifications that you can really purchase from instructor led courses anywhere are, you know, are invaluable. And then as we start kind of thinking more outside the box, like a good, uh, a good, uh, structured training course would be projects that we’re doing. We’re gonna be working together with three or four or five different people. What’s putting one more person from, uh, our service desk or a junior administrator and bringing them up and having them have some sort of hand in this project so they can see what that process looks like, and they can learn what, how that entire process is built, and then turn around and actually do it later. You know, we, we know for a fact that there are yearly things that happen with very simple tasks like EP and S cert, uh, renewal has to happen every time. Um, you know, apple has kind of filtered into this MAC OSS every year cycle. So we know we’re gonna be testing and validating a, a version of MAC OSS every year. So those type of events that we know are happening, that we know are gonna be things that we’re gonna have to do, that we’re gonna have pretty structured processes for already. We can start using those to bring other people in. That way we’re not just focusing on expensive instructor-led courses, we’re also getting our work done in addition to the training process.
Tom Bridge (00:14:19):
Well, one of the other things that, you know, I think is underrated is there are a lot of really great services out there that do either designed training or experiential training. And you know, here at JumpCloud we’ve got JumpCloud University, right? And it’s got a mix of different things. It’s got written word, it’s got videos, it’s got experiential sims, um, and things along those lines. Because one of the things that I learned at Penn State this year, thank you, Jen Unger, uh, with her amazing talk on, on, uh, you know, giving conference talks. Right? I was there, there, it was awesome. You were there. It was
Charles Edge (00:14:50):
Great. Thank you, Jen.
Tom Bridge (00:14:51):
Yeah. Uh, but she had, she pointed out that there are many different types of learning. There are seven or eight or nine different types of learning where you, you know, I, I always think about the original three, auditory learning, uh, visual learning and kinesthetic learner, uh, learning. I’m a kinesthetic learner. I have to do something and to learn how to engage with it. I have to be part of that process. I can do a bunch of research, but until I’ve actually done the thing, I don’t think I really understand it entirely. Um, but there are, you know, so many different ways that people learn and meeting people where they are. You know, I mean, courses, courseware is one of them. Instructor-led courses is another. Um, but I think of all of the great people who have learned out there by watching YouTube videos, by watching Udemy courses, um, and there are so many ways to learn how to learn. I, I think that’s probably the craziest thing out of all of it, is that there are so many different ways to learn how to learn.
Charles Edge (00:15:42):
And that, that’s one, like of the core values from my time at Champ, I don’t know if it still is, um, officially, but I’m sure it is unofficially, um, meeting people where they’re at, like mm-hmm. , you know, everybody learns differently as an example of that. Um, so provide assets in different places. So for example, like with Champ and Apple, you know, there’s online courseware that people can kind of go through. And it sounds like that’s what you were just explaining as well. And I, I see that with a lot of different vendors from, um, pay as You Go, or, or Knowledge behind Paywalls to learn as much as you can just pay for the exams to free exams as well, you know, um, and that you can, you can kind of tell when you search on like a LinkedIn or any job postings for a specific vendor, and you can see all the people with certifications.
It’s like, oh, now that person’s job or career path has, has somewhat been defined by this set of skills that I, I feel like when I first started in the Apple space, it was just Apple centric, like, you know mm-hmm. , there was the A C S A and people would go through that, but now it’s mostly vendor centric with maybe an Apple cert, you know, if you’re gonna be working at an A C N or an A C S P or something of that nature. So I, I, I love seeing that structured on your own time learning, but also I love seeing kind of structured in the classroom learning. Um, so as an example, the C C A at Jamf, I feel like was always designed with the type of learning that appeals to you, Tom, you know? Mm-hmm. , like, I need to do it. I need to hit the button. I need to see it working. And, um, that often required two different laptops per person, or three , you know, when you’re in class. But, uh, and I know that all these things change names over time. So I’m sorry for offending anyone’s brand guidelines, , you know, .
Speaker 1 (00:17:59):
Charles Edge (00:18:00):
Um, but it, but it is worth like saying when I feel like when I started the big Apple deployments were one thing, and then there were tools like Deploy Studio, and there was no like, classroom or structured methodology for learning these tools. And the first time I really encountered that was the C C A and the jump starts. And Evan, you mentioned, you know, there are certain tasks you do annually, like those early jump starts, pre M d M as an example. Like, we would teach someone how to do a thing. And at some of the smaller school districts, they might go two years without touching it. It would just be like, like one of those old antennas that you point to get, uh, Turner Broadcasting so that you can watch the Bob Newhart show or something, you know, mm-hmm. . Um, just don’t touch it. It’s fine. Leave it alone. Um, but then with M D M, I feel like all that changed for that very reason of annually, we have to replace that cert. So no matter what, you gotta know how to do this task every year. Um, and luckily there’s emails to remind you on all that jazz. But
Speaker 1 (00:19:15):
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Charles Edge (00:20:21):
You know, the structured learning is one piece, but how about unstructured? Like, I always felt like these little bits of information that get dropped on support teams, um, or like when we were doing Deploy studio, you know, back in the day, can be some of the most impactful, uh, reactive kind of things sometimes, uh, that they can learn. So is this trying to always have an eye on when something comes my way, let me teach you? Or is that something else? Would you say?
Evan Walker (00:20:54):
If you keep, um, a bounty board of issues that you wanna train people on, you’re gonna drive yourself out there, out out there, it’s gonna be a problem. Because the reality is there’s always things that, that are gonna come up that you just wanna train on. And the thing that, this, this right here, when we talk, start getting into unstructured trainings, I think it’s less about making sure the desk, like seeing what the desk does and making sure the desk is comfortable kind of punching upward and asking questions. Because they’re not gonna know what they don’t what they don’t know. They’re just gonna know that when this happens, you run this script, and then when the script fails, well, you can do this as a workaround and then just do whatever. Because one of the things that happens working a service desk is it’s less about getting the elegant solution and more about solving the immediate problem.
It’s, you’ve got a user that’s not working, you’ve got a student that’s not learning. You’ve got somebody that’s probably higher paid than us not making money for the business, and the problem now becomes getting them back up and running. And it’s, you know, it’s as important as it is to take that information and build a, you know, try and get some training out there if your staff doesn’t feel comfortable, or if your support staff doesn’t feel comfortable coming up and saying, Hey, we’ve been seeing this script fail consistently for the last two weeks, can we get somebody to look at it? Or, Hey, this script, it works. Sometimes not all the time. Can we get manual steps on what it does? Or, you know, we’re deploying this and this is our manual process. Can you, can you look at possibly automating it? You know, all of those things.
Yes, we can certainly do, but if we were to bring somebody in from the service desk and say, Hey, you know, we can certainly look at automating it, but you know, this, this tool will generate a PowerShell script for you, or whatever, you know, some kind of empower them to start looking at some of those and start thinking in that mindset so that when a PowerShell script does fail, then they can go in and look at it and say, oh, this is kind of what it is. It’s the unscripted options. The unscripted trainings are, are a measurable, you can’t, but the problem is you can’t plan for them, and you just kind of have to really look for, look, look for them, and allow people to come out and say, we’re seeing a lot of this. We wanna learn why, and we wanna learn how to prevent it.
Charles Edge (00:23:30):
Yeah. I, I can’t remember who it was, but there was a session at P S U where someone said, A lot of users don’t want to call the service desk, but then when you walk by, and they were talking about trying to be out there in the field, um, you know, walking by people’s desks and getting tapped. And I wish there was someone that I could, I wish my memory was such that I could attribute this to the, to the person that said it, but it definitely strikes a, a cord, because I remember in the early days of my career, before I went off to do consulting or whatever the heck I did for 15 years, um, , when I was in that kind of more corporate environment, and it was like, oh, you need to be closing tickets and everything that’s asked of you needs to be in a ticket, and we need metrics.
And I’m a data nerd, so I totally, totally get that. But also, I feel like in the decades since then, I’ve definitely become more aware that there’s often more valuable things happening then, then that, um, data can, can glean, you know, we can, we can lie with data all we want to, to justify budgets or, or whatever, but ultimately having an engineer who’s out there in the field, like with people, um, and it might’ve been Brad Chapman actually in his session, I, I can’t remember exactly, but, uh, it all blends together after, you know, three days of sessions. But, um, but, but I do feel like when, when we start talking about this kind of stuff, it’s like, so as an example, you are on a, in tech support for Jamf, and most of the people who call you probably aren’t actually on the front lines anymore.
They’re the people who get called by the people on the front lines. So those people in the front lines are just trying to bang out tickets and they’re calling their, their tier two who’s stuck, and then reaching out to Jamf tier one and then getting Jamf tier two. So you’re, you’re pretty, obfuscated maybe isn’t the right word, but, but it, it, it can become fairly meta. Yet you wanna teach the person who’s calling you, because another metric is just getting less calls. Hire sees that overall with customers means they call less mm-hmm. , right? And the person that’s reaching out to you also needs to do the exact same thing. Like, I’m trying to reduce tickets, but I’m also trying to close as many as possible to justify the math nerds, you know, and then the person that’s reaching out to them is doing the same thing, and the person that’s reaching out to them actually has a day job that doesn’t potentially involve technology.
So that, that’s kind of an interesting paradigm. I’d never considered how kind of meta it might, it, it might feel like sometimes to be like, well, why is that happening? Well, we want to dig in and we want to bang out the logs, and we wanna root cause analysis something, and potentially escalate a radar and add a, you know, numbers to the q i s score for it, if it’s actually a bug, or get it fixed and teach the person how not to, how to fish, you know? But, uh, but yeah, that’s, that’s kind of an awesome, uh, trigger of some meta thought that I had that I don’t feel like I probably explained very well. So I’ll just shut up . Um, I, I, you know, and I, I, I do feel like we want to empower, but there are some barriers to that empowerment as well. Not just the speed with which we close tickets. Um, one is that people in support might just have a boatload of tickets and might think that they’re either wasting their time passing the buck, or heaven forbid, being condescending by delivering training. And this can be a touchy one, I think. So any tips there?
Evan Walker (00:27:50):
So this, this is gonna be one that’s gonna be a little bit kind of organizationally and not just something we can do as individuals, but as an organization, you, you really need to foster that open communication across the board. Because if I come out and only show my face when a ticket was mismanaged or, or an issue wasn’t solved, you know, properly, anytime you see me walking down the halls, it’s gonna be your boss and you think they’re gonna, that you’re about to be fired. That’s always what it’s gonna be. If I, if I turn around and I, we have a weekly standup, like just as a department and we pick a ticket and kind of go through it and really talk about it, that gives the, that really enables communication across the board. It shows that we’re not just, you know, picking on people that are coming out and causing problems.
We’re really just kind of looking to, to solve, to, to solve things. And, you know, passing the buck is one, one thing that really, really is easy to do because it’s very simple to, to, to get it to, to get a request for something and go, oh, that’s something you’re empowered to do. Just go and do it. You know, whether, you know, the, but the reality is the person who, who’s putting it up there might not know that they’re empowered to do that. They might not realize that this is something that they can certainly do, that they have the permissions to do that is well within their level at whatever, whatever level they are. And if you turn around and say, you can do it, do it. That’s really condescending. But if you come out and say, this is something you should be able to do, are you comfortable doing it?
Would you like me to do it with you? That’s, that’s not really passing the buck. That’s just, that’s really just kind making sure that everybody’s comfortable with what they’re doing. ’cause I can tell you right now, the first time I ever pushed a configuration out to 1200 iPads, I was scared. And there was a reason for that . But, you know, it was something that I was empowered to do and I just kind of had to do it. And it, it, it, it kind of held me, held me back a couple of days. ’cause I didn’t really want to ch screwing up. But if I had, if, if I, if, if I was able to ask somebody, a, a senior person to say, Hey, just double check this, make sure, make sure what I’m doing is right. Make sure this is the process, and then is this good to go? That’s certainly a way to, a way to do that without appearing condescending, without just saying, do it. You can do it. So go do it. And it’s, it’s really just about how you deliver the message at that point.
Tom Bridge (00:30:39):
Yeah. I mean, I think a lot about, you know, early in my career, spending time with not being hugely knowledgeable. Right? Like, I mean, I, I think here very specifically about, uh, you know, our old first class server at, uh, nc there’s a name we haven’t all, none of us have heard for, for a long time and probably for good reason. And, you know, one of the things that I took away from my mentor, uh, mark Colleen, who is the director of it at, at N c e at the time and later my partner, a Techn missionary, was that, you know, at some point you have to be willing to take the chance on doing something knowing that. But you gotta think about the consequences, right? Like the, what is the worst thing that can happen if I push go on whatever I’m about to do? What’s the worst thing that could happen if I push 1200, you know, a profile out to 1200 iPads? Well, you know, we think about those kind of things. It’s okay, what if it knocks me off the wifi? Now those devices aren’t checking in anymore. And so you gotta think about, alright, I’m making sure that everything, that this isn’t a wifi profile and I’m measuring twice and I’m cutting once.
Evan Walker (00:31:44):
It’s funny you mentioned that it,
Tom Bridge (00:31:46):
Uh, uh, oh, I, that sounds like pain learned from, uh, experience,
Evan Walker (00:31:51):
Uh, during standardized testing in a private school.
Charles Edge (00:31:54):
Ooh. You gotta be careful with that. Yeah. Especially in public schools. ’cause you don’t, I, I mean, you can end up in like union meetings when you mess things up, rocks, .
Tom Bridge (00:32:08):
Well, you know, spoken the one that I, I was thinking experience , the, the one that I was thinking about recently was of course, um, I, we developed the encrypted d n s profile at, uh, at JumpCloud, and I put it on a machine and I was like, alright, sweet. I put this on the machine and I set it up, and then I realized, oh, oh, shoot, that’s the d n s server, and I put in a dummy value for that system. Guess what? It no longer does resolve domains. Um, and it was like, okay, I can’t, okay, there are some things you can’t take back. And so, you know, it was, it’s the, it’s the being able to empower yourself to test, empower yourself to engage with something. But I think that one of the really important things that is a difficult balance to have in a, in an organization is, you know, the difference between explaining how something works and getting folks to learn through experience. Because I feel like in a lot of cases, you’ve gotta put people on those hard support cases. You’ve gotta put people on those difficult problems in order to develop them as human beings. How do you do that effectively when you know somebody’s business might be on the line?
Charles Edge (00:33:19):
Yeah. I feel like Ed Marza did a really good slide one time, and a lot of things that I say about smart things that I’ve seen start with Ed Marza did
Tom Bridge (00:33:30):
Charles Edge (00:33:30):
Indeed. Yeah. Um, but hi Ed. But yeah, he did a, a concentric circles thing of like where something is inside someone’s skillset and something is outside someone’s skillset, and then the further it moves outside a fight or flight response kick in, oh, Uhhuh . And, and the further inside someone’s skillset, the more potential for boredom. And that’s when we might get snarky with people, you know, like, oh, I’ve, I’ve had this support case as an example 80 times, and I’m kind of sick of it. Um, but then when it’s too far outside, you like, get freaked out, especially if you’re on site or if a person’s standing behind you watching you try to fix their thing, you know? Um, but the sweet spot where learning is at its highest, and this is me regurgitating poorly Ed’s words by the way, not my own, I’m not the smart one. Ed is . But when, when the circles are concentric enough that something is pushing you, but not pushing you so far outside what you’re capable of. I mean, we’re all capable of anything but pushing you outside what you think you’re capable of, maybe. So that, that’s an interesting thing. I don’t know if Evan, you’ve got any, uh, further tips on that?
Evan Walker (00:34:51):
Well, I mean, that’s, that’s exactly what it is, is you’ve gotta, we’ve gotta be able to identify places that we are comfortable learning in, right? Mm-hmm. , um, you know, one of, one of the big, the big topics and, uh, at, at Jamf right now is like certificates, you know, P K P K I certificates and, you know, certificate authorities and things like that. It’s, it’s very touch and go. There’s not a lot of people that do it because it is so far out there and so many people don’t quite understand it. And, uh, everybody’s just really afraid of it. Um, you know, we, we’ve been taught, like most of us have gone through some sort of training course on it, um, a pretty significant training course on it, and just it, everybody was just kinda like, uh, this is, this is too much. Um, it’s really you, it really, you just have to know your own limits, you know? Mm-hmm. , if you can’t swim, why are you gonna go deep sea diving? Right? If, if you don’t know anything about boats, why are you gonna go to the Titanic? You know, if, if, if these are things that I don’t know the basics of, I’m not gonna know the advanced stuff on, and the only person who’s gonna be able to voice that I don’t have the, or that the the basics aren’t there is gonna be myself.
Charles Edge (00:36:13):
Yeah. Being your own advocate can be hard in support situations. Um, I mean, I guess as managers then, or managers need to provide that escalation path and make people feel comfortable pulling the ripcord. I mean, I remember I, in, in my consulting era, and Tom, you probably experienced this as well, um, I would have engineers try to fix things for like nine hours straight because they didn’t want to call, especially before we switched to the M S P model, that was a huge problem. ’cause, you know, it’s like there’s a customer’s paying by the minute, basically , you know, or by the hour mm-hmm. . Um, but even if they’re not paying by the hour in an M S P model, they need, they have a day job they need to do, you know, they, they can’t just sit there while you’re monkeying around on their machine. , no pun intended for the monkey users, but you know, they, they, they can’t just sit around waiting for you to hit the button that actually fixes their problem or find the actual fix. So,
Tom Bridge (00:37:25):
Evan Walker (00:37:26):
On the other side of that, we can’t just hand it off to somebody else and not follow the result. Yeah. You know?
Tom Bridge (00:37:35):
Well, and I think that, you know, really what you’re getting at though Charles is, is really an understanding of like, hey, uh, how, how, how much do people feel comfortable talking to support? Um, and I think that that’s one of the hardest things that a support organization has to do. You have to be, um, kind helpful. You have to be kind, you have to be correct. Um, you have to be knowledgeable, you have to be engaged. And it’s really hard. I, I just want to, you know, come out and say, the hardest job that I have ever done has been tier one, you know, help desk. Yeah. Same. You pick up the phone and you know that you don’t know what’s on the other end of that
Charles Edge (00:38:13):
Call or desk side support. I mean, both thing. That’s
Tom Bridge (00:38:15):
Charles Edge (00:38:15):
Side. Exactly. You know, but tier one tech support, whether it’s in person or on the phone, for sure. Yep. Yeah. And ’cause you just get with so much stuff.
Tom Bridge (00:38:24):
Oh, yeah. And it’s all, it’s all over the map.
Charles Edge (00:38:27):
And soft skills are almost more important than technical skills. Right. , like,
Evan Walker (00:38:33):
I mean, you can, you can teach somebody how to troubleshoot something. Yeah. You can teach somebody the process flow. You can’t teach somebody to be nice. You can’t, you can’t teach somebody how to effectively communicate a technical problem to a non-technical person.
Charles Edge (00:38:49):
Challenge accepted. I do feel like I I have taught people to be nice before , but it is a stretch and they’re never authentic anyway. , you know? Yeah,
Evan Walker (00:39:04):
Tom Bridge (00:39:05):
I mean, a really, what I want is not necessarily nice. I want absence of mean or absence of jaded or absence of, um, you know, confused.
Charles Edge (00:39:18):
Yeah. The jade.
Tom Bridge (00:39:18):
I think really what you want is somebody who can engage with
Charles Edge (00:39:21):
The jaded part can be hard. Um, yes. Yeah. As someone
Tom Bridge (00:39:25):
Who struggled with that early in my career,
Charles Edge (00:39:28):
Especially in economic downturns, which Oh yeah, we seem to semi be according to where you are in the globe. But, um, when the financial rewards are there, I find a lot of, a lot of people are a little more forgiving , and then when they start to dis dissipate, they can be a little less so mm-hmm. , but, you know,
Evan Walker (00:39:50):
Um, I put up with a lot more stuff every time I get a race.
Charles Edge (00:39:54):
. Right. Fair enough. I’m, I’m sure if your boss listens, you will get one tomorrow. I hope , because it sounds like you’re solid. You know, and I, I don’t say that lightly. As Tom knows,
Speaker 1 (00:40:08):
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Charles Edge (00:41:32):
So I, I do feel like soft skills can be a barrier. Another place where we see barriers are just getting permission. For example, we can’t just give anyone in a phone support gig access to change policies in our champ environment. Um, or I used to deal with this when I was doing exchange support back in the day. Um, or is it worth paying the tax to train and create barely complicated permission sets, or even build a Slack bot or other front end for common tasks to enable those frontline people to do more as they maybe unlock training objectives of some kind. But, you know, I, I think that takes a lot of time to design, like, pedagogy isn’t necessarily all of our strong suits. But I guess, I guess what I’m getting at is where do you see, or how do you see how people that you talk to might be able to delegate some of the permissions as they teach people how to do things?
Evan Walker (00:42:46):
Well, ultimately, you know, it, when we come, when we start looking at automation, automations fail pretty mm-hmm. pretty regularly. And, you know, sometimes we’re gonna get alerts for it. But I, you know, I can think of, uh, one support case that I recently had where, uh, a school district was using the content filter in, uh, in Jamf Pro. And, uh, apple had recently changed the verbiage on the keys to, to be more inclusive. And they did it on a whim. We did not have documentation on it, they just did it as Apple does. And at that point, just everything stopped, and ultimately we had to kind of break it down. So taking that, we need to, it’s, it’s a good idea to start, start from the bottom and figure out where your automations need to be, and then get a few people who can do those tasks to help fig, to help kind of like build up the automations on what, what it could, what it could be.
Do you need to add an option for this? Well, we don’t ever see, we don’t wanna ever see that. So we, we don’t need to have a class selection or, you know, we’re only ever gonna create students that are gonna be coming into kindergarten. So we don’t ever need to worry about, you know, the super advanced permission sets. We just need to do kindergarten stuff. Um, you know, as, as you start talking with your staff and talk, talking with the staff and building out what these automations should be, you’re gonna figure out very quickly what automations you actually do need. You know, a Slack bot is great. Um, you know, as you start building out, um, you know, other scripts, you know, Python scripts or PowerShell scripts, uh, you’ll, you’ll figure out very quickly just talking to, with the, with the service desk and figuring out what they need to do, do their jobs.
And when we start talking about permissions, uh, there’s ways in most tools to either get a development environment or create a development environment in your production environment. You know, in, in, in Jamf Pro, you can create a site that is just training and development, or training and a development, whatever sites a lot of people use the sites for, like, for different departments or different business groups. But if you can break it down even further and say, this site is gonna be for our testing, our testing devices, and all your test devices are there, and everybody has full admin because we don’t care. You know, these are gonna be MacBook errors from 2015. If they break them, they break them. It’s testing and training. It’s figuring out how that stuff works. Now, I’m not saying give full admin access to the true production environment, but there’s only one way to learn how to build Ninja
Charles Edge (00:45:43):
Ish. I mean, um, if Katie happens to be listening, huge feature request that goes back a decade probably would be, it would be great to have a, Hey, I would like to, um, upload a JSON or XML file and have it require a senior admin to hit a button to then promote that to live for my site, uh, whatever obfuscation of, of data that, that we’re talking about or table. Yep.
Tom Bridge (00:46:18):
Um, that’s called the four is policy. Yeah. You wanna make sure that there are four is on it at any, at any given point. Now, obviously that assumes a sighted person, and I apologize. Um, the, but the, the way that I’ve heard that phrased is, you know, a two, it’s the two, the, the alternative, I guess is the two missile key. Um, but I’d rather not talk about atomic bombs. I’m more of the Barbie rather than the
Charles Edge (00:46:39):
Oppenheimer. You didn’t see Oppenheimer. Okay. So everybody, apparently everybody saw one of them, by the way, this weekend, like the largest box office weekend in like forever with two movies. Yes. I think it, it, it hit like $190 million. Like Barbie hit 155.
Tom Bridge (00:46:57):
It was also Mission Impossible Weekend. And so a friend and I went out and saw a Mission Impossible dead Reckoning part one on, on Saturday. I did not, I’m saving a Barbie so that I can go with Tiff and I’m saving Oppenheimer to go with my dad. Um, if, you know, if we can figure out the three plus hours that, that’s gonna take later. Um, but, you know, I mean, we think about all the different possibilities out there. Yeah. I mean that, that concept of an, uh, an administrative control, I, I think here I the best example of this is our friends from, um, who have that available in their product because essentially it’s like, and are not
Charles Edge (00:47:34):
A sponsor. So we’re not saying not
Tom Bridge (00:47:35):
A sponsor, this is not a sponsor, but, but they have the, you know, the same concept here that we see in code requests, which is, Hey, you gotta get a couple of people to look at this before we’re gonna approve it, and they can’t be you.
Charles Edge (00:47:48):
Yeah. At least one person, if not two. Yes. I, I think that’s, I I mean, I’m increasingly convinced and I deal with this with my own software development team, that that’s the best way for me to increasingly give people, um, responsibilities. Mm-hmm. . Now, if I, in the Jamf paradigm, I would say I would definitely a hundred percent agree. Like, Hey, you have a site, install this profile on some devices, test it. And I would say that given that paradigm, the people who take you up on that offer are probably the best people to get a future battlefield promotion. Right. Um, and I, I love that concept, um, because ultimately it’s more about the mental place that people are at and what they’re interested in, and kind of early identifying that. Um, I do think, and, and like Jen Unger, going back to that session that we were both in on Thursday or whatever that was time Friday.
Um, Friday, yeah. It all seemed like the same to me, to be honest, day wise. But, uh, but you know, going back to that, like everybody learns differently. So some people are gonna need to go hit a C C A as opposed to getting a site as opposed to getting a, an ability to actually make a configuration change and then promote it to a live environment. But, um, but that, that is a long-term. Like I, I can remember seeing feature requests for that going back eight or nine years, um mm-hmm. , but I don’t know, maybe only 10 people actually care about that. So I’m glad I don’t have Katie’s job where I’m trying to figure out what people actually want. You know, people want everything. Yeah. Yeah. And, but yeah, I would say nearly everybody wants a battlefield promotion, which takes us to our bonus
Tom Bridge (00:49:48):
Question. It does. Here at the Mac Admins podcast. We wanna say a special thank you to all of our Patreon backers. The following people are to be recognized for their incredible generosity. Ste Bacca. Thank you. Adam Selby. Thank you. Nate Walk. Thank you. Michael s thank you, Rick Goody. Thank you. Mike Boylan. You know it. Thank you. Uh, Melvin Vive. Thank you. Bill Stites. Thank you. Anus Ville. Thank you. Jeffrey Compton, m Marsh, stew McDonald, Hamlin Cruin, Adam Berg. Thank you. AJ Reka. Thank you. James Traci, Tim Perfi of two Canoes. Thank you. Nate Sinal, will O’Neill, Seb Nash, the folks at Command Control Power, Stephen Weinstein, chat, Swarthout, Daniel McLaughlin, Justin Holt, bill Smith and Weldon. Do thank you all so much and remember that you can back us if you just saw head out, out to patreon.com/m ADM podcast. Thanks everybody here on the Macin podcast. We have a rich tradition of the bonus question. Uh, so Battlefield promotions require battles. Um, what’s your favorite battle in history?
Evan Walker (00:50:58):
Ooh. Um, I’m a history buff.
Charles Edge (00:51:02):
I’m, I figured when you said battlefield promotions only , only military history nerds say that. So I, I’m gonna guess where you’re at. It’s gonna be a civil war battle, but, uh, we’ll see,
Evan Walker (00:51:14):
It’s funny you mention that. ’cause my favorite, my favorite museum I’ve ever been to is actually a Civil War museum. Um, but, um, I almost became a history teacher. Just piece of knowledge there. Nice. Um, oh, this is tough. ’cause there’s just, I don’t wanna sit here and be like, oh, you know, Normandy was great. ’cause that’s, or
Charles Edge (00:51:35):
Waterloo or Yeah, there’s, there’s too popular. It’s, that’s like if I, if you ask me what the best song of all time is, I’d have to say Stairway to Heaven and Yeah. I, and I can’t because that’s what Yeah, I get it. Um, but you’re, you’re allowed to say either of those if you want because they were solid.
Evan Walker (00:51:55):
I’m gonna go out there, I’m gonna give you a, I’m gonna give you a weird one, and this is gonna be funny, funny, Chris Rock and Will Smith at the Oscars. .
Charles Edge (00:52:10):
No one got a battlefield promotion that day.
Evan Walker (00:52:13):
Tom Bridge (00:52:16):
Yeah. What a, yeah. Nobody covered themselves in glory that day. That is very true.
Charles Edge (00:52:20):
Wow. That was a solid response to a hard question. Respect Uhhuh . Respect.
Evan Walker (00:52:26):
I have to come up respect. I have to be the funny guy when I can.
Charles Edge (00:52:29):
Well played, sir. Well played . So
Tom Bridge (00:52:32):
Charles, how about you?
Charles Edge (00:52:34):
Oh, um, I don’t have a humorous response, regrettably. Okay, that’s fine. It would fine. It would be better if I did. I would probably say the Battle of New Orleans. Um, alright. Because Andrew Jackson just walked in there and figured out ways to lose like 62 men to, um, the Opposition 2000, which is a pretty mm-hmm. solid ratio. Like, they never came back after that. They were like, okay, yeah, you’re good. We’re out. You know, and he got to be president, which was an intriguing presidency. Um, , Toms making, can’t see the face making funny face. Yeah. . Um, that
Tom Bridge (00:53:20):
Is, that is one adjective I had not considered.
Charles Edge (00:53:23):
Yeah. Yeah. Now the results, the Battle of Normandy, which Evan mentioned, um, you know, the, the Domes Day book, like that’s fantastic. Like there’s some knock on effects to that that are, uh, truly global, but, um, but nothing like the knock on effects of that. Chris , Chris Smith, um, will Smith slap. Um, how about you, Mr. Bridge?
Tom Bridge (00:53:49):
You know, i, I, I think that you, you really have to start looking at, you know, some of the more interesting conflicts, uh, of the last, you know, few hundred years. Um, and you know, if we look at the, the big 20th century battles that are, that are quite interesting, I think that, you know, the, the start of the Vietnam War, um, you know, with the, with the sinking of the American ship off of the coast of, of, uh, north Vietnam, um, you know, is certainly one of the most interesting 20th century inflection points because that eventually leads to the loss of the, uh, you know, the Vietnam, I mean, it, we, it is agreed upon ending to the war, but there was no way to look at that war other than, you know, from the lens of, of American perspectives, uh, uh, other than a loss.
Um, and so there are a lot of interesting places where we can look at what happens, uh, you know, from those environments and, and, you know, uh, take on lessons, right? If we think about the lessons that we learn in success versus the lessons that we learn in failure, though those lessons are more painfully learned in failure. I think that they are a more lasting, uh, you know, situation. Uh, when, when you’re, when you’re on the wrong side of, of that particular moment. So, you know, I think that that would be probably where I would go.
Charles Edge (00:55:05):
And with all battles, I think, um, history is written by the victor to some
Tom Bridge (00:55:12):
Degree. A hundred percent.
Charles Edge (00:55:13):
So what ever were told to think by our history books mm-hmm. tends to paint it. Um,
Tom Bridge (00:55:25):
And Oh yeah. There’s no question that the, that that the people telling the story influence the story itself. And if they’re saying otherwise, they’re probably not correct.
Evan Walker (00:55:33):
I’m gonna gonna challenge that thought. Mm-hmm. History’s not written by the victors history’s written by the survivors.
Charles Edge (00:55:39):
Evan Walker (00:55:40):
The people who actually are, are still here, who
Charles Edge (00:55:42):
Are often victors here go usually.
Tom Bridge (00:55:46):
Um, I mean, I think that there’s a whole argument that this would be a fascinating place for us to talk in detail about cultural hegemony. Uh, and I for one, look forward to the maced men’s after dark podcast, , where we
Charles Edge (00:55:57):
Tom Bridge (00:55:58):
The cultural effects of, uh, knock on propaganda and other places along those lines. But I, I’m not sure that that’s the remit that we’ve got. ’cause it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s on, it’s on the later side here on the East Coast. Mm-hmm. . Um, and, uh, I am not in possession of a glass of wine, which I would need to have that conversation go any further. Charles is what came prepared. I, however, did not. So, you know, I will leave that there for, for us to take on later.
Charles Edge (00:56:24):
Yeah. I enjoy that conversation. Immense course. ,
Tom Bridge (00:56:29):
I was gonna say, that’s where my, what’s, that’s where I get to go, you know, lean back in on my, uh, my master’s in history mm-hmm. . So, uh, yeah, that’s a, that’s a fun conversation. ’cause I think that the other battles that we can always go talk about are, you know, uh, you know, some of the technological battles that we’ve seen in the 21st century and the 20th century ideological battles between tech, well, not even ideological, but like the, you know, beta Betamax versus V H Ss is a fascinating, fascinating conversation because Sony
Charles Edge (00:56:57):
Tech versus DV , I mean,
Tom Bridge (00:56:59):
Obviously, I mean, there are so many of these places where the, the, the technically superior technology loses out
Charles Edge (00:57:06):
A, a c versus MP three. Mm-hmm. .
Tom Bridge (00:57:09):
Evan Walker (00:57:09):
So Beta Max was still in use by like news stations up until recently. Oh,
Tom Bridge (00:57:15):
It’s still in use now. I mean, the Digi Beta and all of those, you know, follow on, knock on standards are still all over the place.
Charles Edge (00:57:22):
I won’t say what major networks that I did this for, but I used to do artbox a k, a final cut server, um, with fork integrations to remove some of those workflows because they were like, seeking the place in the tape you need is really time. Mm-hmm. , they never cared about the actual me physical mechanisms breaking because they always had like 50 of these devices in the corner. But it was like those 18 seconds when you’ve got content going to air, and you might see bars on an actual station where, yep. Killers, it’s,
Tom Bridge (00:58:01):
Oh man. Yeah, I was gonna say, that was the one thing I loved by the way. Speaking of, uh, and, you know, all the things I think about Sports Night , um, which is a really excellent Aaron Sorkin show from like 2000 mm-hmm. . Um, and one of the things that I really appreciate is that he gets the control room language down. Um, where, you know, it’s, it’s all of the things that you have to do in order to get the, you know, the playback of that clip going out over the router, out over to the satellite, out to the cable networks, all of that stuff that happens there is fascinating.
Charles Edge (00:58:31):
What does Aaron Sorkin not master?
Tom Bridge (00:58:34):
Um, sobriety, but that’s a different
Charles Edge (00:58:38):
Story. Yeah, that’s a different podcast.
Tom Bridge (00:58:41):
one could say he writes best Yeah. Under those circumstances.
Charles Edge (00:58:47):
Yeah. Evan, thank you so much for joining us.
Evan Walker (00:58:51):
Tom Bridge (00:58:51):
Great. Yeah, Evan, it’s been a huge delight. If folks wanna find you on the internet, where should they go looking?
Charles Edge (00:58:56):
Tom Bridge (00:58:57):
Evan Walker (00:58:57):
I’m gonna go ahead and .
Charles Edge (00:58:58):
It’s okay. If you hide ,
Tom Bridge (00:59:00):
You’re in support.
Evan Walker (00:59:02):
I, I, so that’s the weird thing is, uh, over the last, I don’t know, six months, I’ve kind of figured out that I can’t just be like the gremlin in the corner anymore. Uh, I’ve started to, to build a presence. Um, so I had to buy a domain and as part of the domain, I got like email and web hosting for a year for a dollar. Mm-hmm. So I’m still building it out, but, uh, Tristar Mac Admin Tech is my domain that I’m currently working with. So hopefully, hopefully it’ll be built relatively shortly and it’s gonna be very
Charles Edge (00:59:38):
No hyphen like in Tristar.
Evan Walker (00:59:40):
No, uh, I live, I’m, I’m from Tennessee, if you can’t tell from my accent. And our state flag has three stars on it, so everything indeed. So yeah, everything around here is just like Tristar Medical or Tristar, uh, like HVAC or something. Yeah. So,
Charles Edge (00:59:56):
You know, being from Georgia, um, I could say a lot of things about Tennessee, but I’m not gonna
Tom Bridge (01:00:03):
, I’m, I’m just kidding. A different podcast for a different day. . Um, you know, we, so Evan, it’s been a huge pleasure to have you on. We’d love to have you back in the future to talk more about this issue For sure. Yeah, none of this is going away, and then we can find the time to go talk about, you know, the, the, the how history gets written conversation, because I want to have that one . That’s a fun one. Um, but thank you so much for joining us. Thanks also to our wonderful sponsors this week. That is our friends at Kanji Collide and Simple m d m. Uh, and thanks everybody. We’ll see you next time.
Charles Edge (01:00:35):
See you next time. And since Marcus isn’t here, see you next time.
Tom Bridge (01:00:41):
The M Admins podcast is a production of M Admin’s podcast, L l c. Our producer is Tom Bridge. Our sound editor and mixing engineer is James Smith. Our theme music was produced by Adam Coga the first time he opened. GarageBand sponsorship for the Mac Admins podcast is provided by the Mac admins.org Slack, where you can join thousands of Mac admins in a free Slack instance. Visit mac admins.org and also by solutionary l c technically we can help. For more information about this podcast and other broadcasts like it, please visit podcast dot mac admins.org. Since we’ve converted this podcast to a P F S, the funny metadata joke is at the end.
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