Stupid business mistakes #3 :: Assuming things will work forever (The value of monitoring)

Things work, and there is no mistake about that!

But, due to the universe constantly increasing in entropy, they do not work forever. They need to be supplied with your attention, knowledge and energy, so that they can continue to work.

You know how it is, our bodies are pretty amazing – but at some point they will stop. That’s life, a rise and a decay.

And there’s things you can do to delay the decay.

Servicing is necessary

Sometimes the power cord is gnawed through by your cat. Sometimes the local power station fails – the result is the same, your server goes down, taking critical applications along with it. Sometimes a cosmic ray is enough to flip a bit and create failure.

There is no 100 %, “perpetum mobile” solution. You need to constantly expend energy to continue running your operations – and actually your life!

This blog post is especially important for automated systems. Where a lot of things depend on your automation, and things can go seriously wrong if your automation goes wrong.

Improving is even better

Therefore, you need to monitor the things, services and people (relationships) which matter to you, and have a budget (by which I mean both time budget and monetary budget, which are in some ways interchangeable!) for servicing, and improving them.

Here’s the deal: if you “just” service them, you will have standstill.

But you can take the opportunity, instead of being frustrated that you have to attend to “yet another computer crash” to improve things.

For example:

  • To improve your backup situation.
  • To check that the backups actually work! (Once I had a backup fail on me – luckily I had an older backup I could go back to)
  • to implement additional feedback mechanisms, visualising to you which of your systems work or not

This is my new feedback mechanism in the custom software which I am writing to do miscellaneous tasks in my company, and which I use almost daily:


it is even “more primitive” than a dashboard – just a notification icon, showing whether a critical service (which imports data in the background) is still running or not.

But this is the start of more notifications and KPIs in my company, and my life in general. Giving feedback what to pay attention to, and where to act before you need to react.

This is an improvement which I did after maintenance of the other application became necessary!

The important thing is that it does not need to be “perfect”, just an improvement over what has been before. Adding these iterative improvements will lead to a massive improvement down the line.

apologies, getting technical here for those who are interested:

It is simply realized by the critical service writing a UNIX timestamp to the common database periodically. The timestamp is not even an Int64 (so it will fail in 2038 or so) – but it is better than not having anything, and did not require me to rewrite the two applications in greater depth to allow for an Int64 to be stored to MongoDB


I was listening to Jordan Peterson’s bible series, specifically to his story about Noah.

This inspired this blog post, and the idea of putting in a little bit more than just maintenance, to continuously improve your systems, your health, your relationships.

To get rid of old, unnecessary things, weighing you down and costing energy.

To update your thinking.

To make things easier in the future. Plus, progress is more enjoyable than standstill, and – to me at least – much more motivating!