Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Earning My Keep

There are some inherently frustrating things about what I do for a living, which is to say technical writing with a focus on storage and (these days) cluster management. For a huge percentage of what I write about, I must rely on other people for technical knowledge. So I am continually questioning the value of what I actually do, although I should point out that the technical people I work with never question the value of what I do at all. "I sure don't envy the position you are in," said one of our most kernel-dwelling developers the other day as I was trying to resolve wildly disparate opinions (his being one of them) on just how much information about trace points one should include in a filesystem manual for system administrators. (The answer is "none" because if a system administrator has to care about debugging the actual filesystem internals you've got a problem that no documentation can address, but then where do you put that information? And the theoretical answer that it belongs in the source code itself doesn't do anybody any good when it simply isn't there.)

My role varies tremendously depending on the project. For one of my current projects, a field engineer is putting together a configuration manual and my role is to take his writings and turn them into a book. I guess I'm sort of a technical editor here, except that I offer a little more than that, particularly regarding how to navigate our byzantine bookbuild process.

So yesterday I was looking at some updates that the writer sent me, and they included this paragraph:

> qdiskd is the first service to start and is responsible for parsing
> the cluster.conf file. Any errors will appear in the /var/log/messages
> and ccsd will exit. If qdiskd starts up, then cman should be started
> next.

I wrote him and noted that the "ccsd" should probably be "qdiskd" here -- this looks like a copy and paste and edit error. Not that I really know much about what the ccsd service does, but this seemed odd even on a cursory reading.

I got a lovely "thanks for catching that" note -- and this particular engineer does a lot of "you're great" kind of backpats as well, Which makes him -- oh, let's say unique.

But my point here is that for one moment I thought, yes, I really do add something. I didn't really save anybody from losing data here, or make the company any money, but somewhere down the line some poor soul will not be slightly confused for a second when reading that paragraph.

And that's my job.
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