There are few people we encounter in our lives that are made of pure goodness. Being a programmer, still, we will sometimes cross paths with a type of individual absolutely incredible and mysterious... The kind that will forever write a log trace on a fresh hacker's soul.
I call them the invisible heroes.
They are here like cyber-explorators, wisemens of the matrix, magicians of the Apache and Nginx servers, Unix kernels and vim powerusers. Sleeping geniuses of the hidden networks.
They mostly code at night, wandering in the universities and business's admin desks or in the darkness of their own super cool techno rooms where the chaos of the wires perfectly contradict with the strongness of their overstimulated minds.
I had just finished decrypting some cryptology theories about the Vigenère's secret code with a good friend of mine, tinkering between Computer sciences and Probability laws when I made a brief lookup on my emails and saw a new one.
"Hello Math , hope you're doing well , I would need to talk to you. " .
This was a message from the new cool-kid entering in the Web API PHP server kind of system on which I had worked for a year now as a part time fun project that had grown up from cool hackathons and the social research project of a friend of mine... Anyway.
He had done well, putting some version control logic on the web server as a better deployment method than what was previously used : BS and painfully slow scp of the modified files (procrastination is sometimes a terrible enemy)
But still he made one mistake...
No backup of the project folder had been done before modifying the structure. This structure which was containing some cryptic undocumented configurations made by some other guy that had disappeared in the vast wonderland of the doctorate's land.
And so, when the new VCS logic stuff overwrote the entire project folder with the new stuff... well... All the mysterious configurations and enigmatic files this other guy had made got lost. No traces, No logs, no backups. Only loneliness and panic.
I called the new guy over Microsoft Teams as we could not meetup anyway with the new pandemic laws restraining our movements (I'm sure we would have met on Microsoft Teams anyway but felt the need to plug the pandemic in this story to fix it in time ;) ) and tinkered around with him on the line , trying to recover the files , reconfiguring the stuff and all.... At some point I figured out that what had been lost was deeper than that. Permissions had to be reconfigured and I had no sudo access to the required commands. Missing dependencies were requiring a new node installation and other tempering that I had no permission to do on this FreeBSD monster server.
That is when we decided to call Mr. Raouf...
Now I have to tell you about him.
This guy is my absolute description of the invisible heroes.
5 minutes after Emailing him about the situation, I heard a beep from my mail box. Raouf had responded.
"Join me here, we'll check it out 'link to some cool DIY Open-Source private video conference server address' "
I click on the link and join the new guy and Mr. Raouf on the call.
Thursday night, 23:00pm... Think about it.
For the next 4 Hours , he explained us about Nginx and Apache configurations, PHP, Unix permissions assignations, symbolic-links, crontabs for future backups of the server, and then, at 3 Am, 2 beers and 1inch more of dark coloring under my eyes, everything was back on track and even better than before. He then told us that we could meet again in some days to finish some configuration details and went away like the perfect grand master he was.
The entire sequence, Mr. Raouf had no camera video from his side other than his shared screen showing good old Bash command line, his voice and hours of free willingly helping some young programmers discover the cryptic world of the sysadmin's overpowered biosphere.
This is absolutely, in my eyes, the definition of a hero. One of these that cross your road and mark it up forever.
The API and the server are up and running now, and my hope for humanity got a little stronger.
Thank you Mr. Raouf.
from a programmer that appreciated the time you gave him.
Hey ! BTW, feel free to add your own IT hero story in the comment section down there ! :D I would LOVE to hear it from you!