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Northwestern University

Staff Spotlight- Carlos Hurtado, Systems Administrator

Carlos Hurtado is a Systems Administrator for Weinberg College IT.

How long have you been working at Northwestern?

12 and a half years

What is your role at Weinberg College IT?

 Systems Administrator and Unmotivated, De-motivational Speaker

What made you get into IT?

When I was 21, my sister sold me her old IBM 8080 computer so I could do my college homework. It was a monochrome computer with one of those 5 ½ inch floppy drives. It actually needed those disks to boot into DOS, otherwise it was deader than a door nail. I was instantly fascinated by it. Just as with poetry stanzas (I was studying poetry at the time), I was mystified by the layers that could be peeled to arrive at some universal awe-inspiring truth. In the case of the IBM there were not only several software layers, but also several transistors, chips, and circuits all working together in perfect unison bringing together some green characters in front of me on a “huge” (at the time the monitor was a real mammoth) screen, all so I could finally put those high school typewriting classes to work. Within a week I had taken it apart and put it back together several times. As when I started reading Octavio Paz’s "Eagle or Sun," I was hooked. I needed more.

What project are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

Recently I received a call on a Sunday morning at 4:18am. I struggled to peel my eyelids open to see a strange number. “AH! (I thought) someone else has died in my family”. I slid my finger across the screen and brought the phone to my ear and inquisitively said hello, expecting to hear the bad news. An almost pleasant, but automated voice on the other end proceeded to tell me, “you are receiving this call because the alarm you have set for the AWS systems has reached a level of OK.” “OK?!! OK?!!! I got a call at 4am to tell me everything was OK?!!!” Monday morning all the systems administrators quickly convened a meeting to confer on a suitable response to this rude awakening. Out of those discussions we realized there is a need to revisit our systems and services alerting system. It is extremely important that all of our services are running tip-top and that, if anything goes astray, we hear about it immediately.  We derived to a new level of alerts, which still need to be finessed.

If you weren’t in IT, what do you think you’d be doing?

Flying people around the friendly skies, teaching poetry

What’s something you like to do outside of work?

Attend opera performances, scuba dive, pump iron grrrrrr, read about politics

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