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Tales From the Tech Trenches

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the try-plugging-it-in dept.

Idle 99

GMGruman writes "Anyone in IT has a story or two involving stupid users, crazy co-workers, kludgy technology, and airhead managers. Lisa Blackwelder has collected top tales of the tech trenches, covering user antics, office politics, and unusual technical challenges that IT pros faced (usually) with aplomb, insight, and savvy."

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Print link (4, Informative)

zn0k (1082797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705070)

http://www.infoworld.com/print/146869 [infoworld.com]

Because there's really no reason to post that shit on two pages to cram in more ads.

Re:Print link (2)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705582)

I can't really see any actual content, just a page of adverts and lists and links.

Re:Print link (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705694)

I can't really see any actual content, just a page of adverts and lists and links.

Ah, good. My Ad Installer 3000 worked perfectly! Thanks, slashdot. Muahahaha!

Re:Print link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708306)

It's written horribly. I'm guessing one of the editors would be from Cooks Source Magazine. All the stories are "written" in the same voice even though theoretically they're written by different people.

I see zero ads there, everyone here knows why (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34706064)

I use the best global solution for more speed (try double), more security (by far vs. malicious scripts & malware), & even more anonymity/less trackability online (vs. say, DNSBL or DNS request logs & more), in 1 package: It's called the HOSTS file... & it works for added layered security, tons more speed, & even helping out w/ being more of a "Ghost-In-The-Machine" as well.

(That page you said was full of banners? Came in, here, using Chrome 10 BETA, as PURE graphic & text content, only... & wicked fast! Only makes sense - I saw, zero banners (nor script, that's more speed & less risk too)... banners that CANNOT do what's in the list below to me, ever, because of using HOSTS files)

HACKERS USE ADBANNERS ON MAJOR SITES TO HIJACK YOUR SYSTEM: -> http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2007/11/doubleclick [wired.com]

THE NEXT AD YOU CLICK MAY BE A VIRUS: -> http://it.slashdot.org/story/09/06/15/2056219/The-Next-Ad-You-Click-May-Be-a-Virus [slashdot.org]

NY TIMES INFECTED WITH MALWARE ADBANNER: -> http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/09/13/2346229 [slashdot.org]

MICROSOFT HIT BY MALWARES IN ADBANNERS: -> http://apcmag.com/microsoft_apologises_for_serving_malware.htm [apcmag.com]

2 MAJOR AD NETWORKS FOUND SERVING MALWARE: -> http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/12/13/0128249/Two-Major-Ad-Networks-Found-Serving-Malware


ADBANNERS SLOW DOWN THE WEB: -> http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/11/30/166218

So, keep your slowed down web, run those ads (get infected too, yay!) - I choose otherwise. It's my money is why... I paid for the speed, I want it all, & I do NOT want to get "hit" by some malware infestation because of my not doing anything about it, ahead of time.

So there you are.


P.S.=> Others here have also, for example, found the same:

"Ever since I've installed a host file (http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm) to redirect advertisers to my loopback, I haven't had any malware, spyware, or adware issues. I first started using the host file 5 years ago." - by TestedDoughnut (1324447) on Monday December 13, @12:18AM (#34532122)

FROM http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1907528&cid=34532122


A "down mod" w/ no tech justifications? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34710718)

See subject-line, & please: At least have the balls to say WHY you "down-modded" my post here... instead of being the TRULY "anonymous cowards" around this place, & down-modding me, hit & run style, & running away.

Yup, the post of mine that was modded down on HOSTS files? Another victim of the "/. DOWNMOD SQUAD" (lol):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd85Qim_Z6A [youtube.com]

I can see it now: The white guy @ the start (Michael Cole) is getting loaded with malware and tracking him online, & he's SICK OF IT. He runs into the black guy (Clarence Williams III), who also tells him he's feeling the same & sick of it. Then, Michael Cole says "She's feeling that way too" as Peggy Lipton comes rushing onto the scene. They tell one another about HOSTS files & other methods to protect against that... & who comes "popping outta the woodwork"? CAPT. TROLL! Complete w/ his "down moderation" (as TIGE ANDREWS comes into the scene, lol)... he needs a "thought balloon" that says:

"I can't let others know how to stop my bogus machinations in maliciously scripted websites &/or adbanners. I have to either TROLL THIS, or down mod it and run!"



P.S.=> Pitiful boys, truly pitiful... because I can see a downmod if I were flaming someone, or, if my information was incorrect, but otherwise? See above... apk

Keep burning up your mod points boys, lol! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34717686)

See subject line, because you're not fooling anyone with your

"DOWN MOD SQUAD" "tactics", LOL:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd85Qim_Z6A [youtube.com]

I can see it now: The white guy @ the start (Michael Cole) is getting loaded with malware and tracking him online, & he's SICK OF IT. He runs into the black guy (Clarence Williams III), who also tells him he's feeling the same & sick of it. Then, Michael Cole says "She's feeling that way too" as Peggy Lipton comes rushing onto the scene. They tell one another about HOSTS files & other methods to protect against that... & who comes "popping outta the woodwork"? CAPT. TROLL! Complete w/ his "down moderation" (as TIGE ANDREWS comes into the scene, lol)... he needs a "thought balloon" that says:

"I can't let others know how to stop my bogus machinations in maliciously scripted websites &/or adbanners. I have to either TROLL THIS, or down mod it and run!"




Hey - they're not very useful vs. facts!


P.S.=> So, see my subject line & keep burning up your mod points boys... it's YOUR loss! apk

Re:Print link (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705748)

To cram in more ads is exactly the reason to post on two pages. You been living under a rock or something? Besides, your link still doesn't get you to the stories. You still have to click on each individual story link to read the good stuff, like the attorney who refused to adjust the keyboard tray because that was the tech's job, or the nurse who thought the mouse was a microphone.

Re:Print link (1)

yk4ever (1110821) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708168)

Life without Adblock Pro is horrible, indeed.
I sometimes use browsers different from Firefox, just to remind me how it was. It takes hours to comb my risen hair afterwards.

Re:Print link (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708958)

Even put all together on one page, I want those two minutes of my life back. I second the recommendation to skip to the Daily WTF.

Re:Print link (1)

Geminii (954348) | more than 3 years ago | (#34735604)

If it's only two pages, it's not worth clicking anyway. Who here couldn't write two pages of user screwups (or more) every week?

Daily WTF (4, Informative)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705160)

You're better off reading The Daily WTF [thedailywtf.com] for these types of stories. It's better written than InfoWorld could ever hope to be.

The Daily WTF Isn't Paying Slashdot (2)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705620)

Obviously, the constant barrage of stories linking back to InfoWorld here, posted always by the same employees at InfoWorld, is the result of money changing hands between InfoWorld and Slashdot. This is a slow week for news, so the story is even more tedious than normal. Still, they've already pad for the linkage, so they gotta fill it with something...

Re:Daily WTF (1)

KingPin27 (1290730) | more than 3 years ago | (#34712204)

The DAILY WTF ought to be called the SOMETIMES DAILY WTF..... hasn't been regular in a while and they've been doing a crapload of reposting lately. Good times tho; some really interesting stories at that.

Still far above infoworlds' ad riddled pages.

Oh, what's cropped up this month.... (5, Funny)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705190)

This month's horror story concerns a user reporting a nasty security issue.

The user comes up to the helldesk and reports that they have a, quote, "mysterious cable" coming out the front of their computer. Given that at $company we pay a little more attention to security than, say, Gawker, one of my fellow Ops techs was dispatched to the user's desk to determine what this cable could be and why it was so mysterious.

A few minutes later, he returned, having successfully traced the mysterious cable out the front USB port all the way to the keyboard.

Upon reporting this finding, another tech asked who the user was--and then noted that she had given said keyboard to said user, who had plugged the keyboard into the USB port herself.

Re:Oh, what's cropped up this month.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34708166)

I don't know why it matters, but I don't believe you.

So the user is incapable of discerning what this cable is or how it got there, and yet she knew where to plug it in the first place?

I'm also curious... the tech gives the keyboard to the user, and then stands there and notes which port they plug it into before leaving? And does this with enough people that they have to ask the name just to make sure it's the same person?

If the tech gives out keyboards to multiple people, and notes the ports to which they are all attached, then the more likely situation is that this tech had confused two users, rather than one user actually being that dumb.

If the tech gave out one keyboard, then they would know the name and the more likely situation is that they are lying to fit in/feel superior than one user actually being that dumb.

Given that your $company pays more attention to security, I'm not sure why you consider this a horror story. At worst, a dumb person you work with noticed a potential security hazard, and did what they were supposed to do.

I'm getting tired of the "people who don't know much about computers are lesser beings" attitude.

By the way, my dad killed a yeti once.

Re:Oh, what's cropped up this month.... (3, Insightful)

cusco (717999) | more than 3 years ago | (#34711116)

"I don't believe you"

Then you've never worked Helpdesk for any appreciable period of time. People **ARE** this stupid. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this same lady were to call again about the same issue next week. If she's an executive or a security guard then I can pretty much guarantee it. I've had (l)users who suddenly one day forgot how to work the KVM switch that they had been using for two years. I've had lusers call because "someone stole my mouse", when in fact it was just covered by the pile of papers that had avalanched over the top of it. People who slopped half a cup of tea into their keyboard and call because "my computer is leaking". I suggest a visit to the Computer Stupidities page of Rinkworks to see how really, really dumb people can be when they have to work with a device that they think is smarter than them.

Re:Oh, what's cropped up this month.... (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34711600)

Yep, you've got it.

This particular user is one of the 'special people' who requires frequent and painstaking assistance whenever anything changes on the system.

I think that Mr. "I don't believe you" up there might be a little bit defensive on this matter, especially given the screed about how "non-technical" users are not lesser people ;-p

Just reply here (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705194)

This story isn't unique to any single one of us. Reply inanely here if you too have had a cleaning lady pop a core something (switch|router|something better) to plug in a vacuum cleaner. There's at least ten of you. Come on.

We need to give this cleaning lady (ok, or cleaning man -- no -- cleaning person) a name, like "Reboot Bertha", so that we can just call her this from now on. Alliteration counts.

Re:Just reply here (1)

marga (455344) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705344)

This happened more than once during DebConf6 (Debian Developer's Conference 2006).

The cleaning staff kept unplugging the router that provided PoE to the whole wireless, TO WATCH TV WHILE CLEANING!

Re:Just reply here (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705522)

No, but I did have a cleaning lady who used to move my keyboard to clean under it, and placed it upon the wireless keyboard/mouse dongle sitting under my monitor (It was plugged into this [alibaba.com] so it was sticking out at an angle). I didn't realise until i came in one day to find my keyboard didn't work and when I checked the dongle it was bent to about 30 degrees.

Not entirely sure if I should blame the cleaner for not just putting my keyboard back on the desk, or logitech for making such a stupidly shaped USB extension.

Re:Just reply here (3, Funny)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705632)

Copiers here. I put a note over the power point (covering the plugs) saying "Don't unplug this without our permission." They fllipped the note up and did it again. We then taped the thing down properly. Our next planned step was international picture language: disconnected cable and man with bat.

Re:Just reply here (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34705782)

The unfriendly solution is to tell the company that suppliers the cleaners that if it happens again you cahnge companies. If it's important equipment then it's the only realistic thing to do.

Re:Just reply here (2)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34707220)

Another soloution is to plug the important equipment in using something so obviously different from a normal plug and socket that the cleaner doesn't even think to unplug it. Something like an IEC 60309 connector or so.

Or just have power hardwired into the rack and a lock on the rack door.

Cleaning staff? How about electrician? (5, Interesting)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705804)

So a company I worked for had about 80 people in manufacturing and design engineering in one building. Some electrical contractors were doing upgrades to the manufacturing area -- pretty normal. But two guys on the crew wanted to make sure the line they were working on was dead, so they went to the main breaker panel and started systematically flipping breakers to identify their circuit. They had worked their way through all the circuits powering the engineering workstations, crashing Unix machines right and left, and had started on the circuits powering the PC board stuffing robots, etc., in the manufacturing area. The breaker panel was visible in that area, so one of the manufacturing managers figured out what was happening and put a stop to it. Still, it cost us in engineering most of a day to recover.

The manufacturing VP was a cool guy... he immediately walked the whole crew out the front door and called their boss to report their firing from the job... and said the tools they left behind would be sent to them. A lucky friend of mine got to pour all their tools randomly into a moderate-sized crate and wheel it to the loading dock.

Ohh... as to your naming contest... my contribution: Rita Reboot

Re:Cleaning staff? How about electrician? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706266)

We bought new alpha servers and the old VAXs went out the door. This created space in the computer room for a small office where we could build things and keep track of stuff. So corporate building services found a contractor to build our new office. One day I found him in the computer room cutting aluminium with a circular saw and spraying the resulting metal filings all over the new alphas and their associated VT320 terminals. I went mediaeval at him. Told him to stop. Got the boss. He went mediaeval at the guy, rang building services. They said well has anything broken yet? If we tell him to do it in the car park he might walk off the job.

Re:Just reply here (4, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705870)

Reply inanely here if you too have had a cleaning lady pop a core something (switch|router|something better) to plug in a vacuum cleaner.

/me raises hand.

Company servers in the middle of the nightly backup. It was an MS-DOS based system. The batch files would start the backup normally and were programmed to reboot the machine at the end of the cycle to clear everything. We couldn't figure out why a backup that should have taken about three hours was done in one. Eventually the boss spent the night in the server room so he could watch the screen to see what happened. The cleaners would come in about an hour after midnight, unplug the server, vacuum, re-plug it and it would come up as if the backup had run.

Re:Just reply here (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706598)

I never knew why when I started the philosophy was no cleaners in the computer room, we do our own vacuuming. I've since worked it out.

Re:Just reply here (2)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34707520)

Or have cleaners that are not beyond stupid?

The server rooms where I do system work have special outlets set aside for "unclean" use like vacuums or power-tools.

Then again the cleaning crew knows enough to not break shit ;)

Re:Just reply here (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34707624)

Or have cleaners that are not beyond stupid?

That would mean hiring cleaners smart enough to know what minimum wage is and to threaten to report an employer that tries to pay less!

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!

Re:Just reply here (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 3 years ago | (#34707966)

There's also the security aspect. Do you trust your (probably minimum wage) cleaning crew with physical access to your server room? If so, WHY?

Re:Just reply here (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708682)

Hell no. That's why I'm surprised when people talk about cleaners in the rooms. We'll vacuum ourselves, thanks.

Re:Just reply here (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 3 years ago | (#34711224)

I work in the physical security field (key cards, cameras, alarms, that stuff). It is truly amazing to me the access given to minimum wage cleaning crews, most of whom are made up of illegals. Pharmacies, money counting rooms, executive offices, server rooms, you name it. We're arguing with a customer now about why there is a 'Door Forced' alarm between 11:30 and 12:30 every week night in one of their offices (no cameras in that office, privacy and IP issues), and I'm pretty sure that I'm going to have to spend a night in the parking lot staring through the window to watch someone unlock that door with a key rather than a card.

Re:Just reply here (1)

stiller (451878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34712446)

Booting Bertha?

PS. Why do cleaning people need access to core infrastructure sockets? These things should be behind locks. On a separate feed.

Re:Just reply here (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 3 years ago | (#34712570)

We named our guy "Billy Reboot" he wasn't a member of the cleaning staff though. He worked in the PC troubleshooting group. He would show up some random number of days or hours after you submitted a request for something to be done on your workstation. So whenever he arrived without warning and you weren't around to unlock your account and log off he'd do it for you by rebooting. After we made a formalized complaint to his boss someone else decided to hire him on as a permanent employee, go figure.

Driftnet (5, Funny)

lyle101 (1863478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705288)

Several years ago, I was the Network Administrator at a medium sized manufacturing company. We had a problem with some of our employees viewing inappropriate content while at work and we didn't have a robust content filtering system at the time. So, I set up a sniffer port at our Internet ingress point and connected a laptop with Driftnet to get a real time picture, literally, of what was being accessed. One of my fellow IT workers saw what I was up to and decided to DoS me. He created an image of a Nazi Flag with my picture superimposed and the words "Network Nazi" underneath. He then uploaded the image to his personal web server with an auto-refresh script and for the next 20 minutes, the only thing I saw was the image he created / posted.

Re:Driftnet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34705326)

We did something similar when I worked for the schools, to show how much inappropriate material (not necessarily porn) was being viewed, some booby pics later in a school board meeting live demo it spawned an investigation into someone on the network trying to buy a wife from russia.... No joke.

Re:Driftnet (1)

tamarik (1163) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706352)

I remember putting the fist Win '95 desktops for a bunch of guys used to Concurrent DOS at a trucking company in about '95 or '96. 25 or so machines replaced, with innertubes! These folks played about for the 1st month or so and really pissed off management. But I warned 'em in advance. Told them then to let things ride for the 1st month or so and then see what happens. After a month of looking at game scores and porn and shopping sites the folks settled down and actually started doing their work. Worked out just fine and I got a good laugh out of it. I guess the users figgered out what sites to go to (there weren't many back then...) and once bookmarked, got back to business.

What kind of website is that? (2)

pieisgood (841871) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705352)

Seriously, my gripe here isn't about being spread over two pages, my gripe is that there is literally shit everywhere on that site. I have never seen such a "busy" lay out, with the facebook shit on the side and ads on the other, topped off with text ads in the middle of the article.. fuck that.

Re:What kind of website is that? (2)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705858)

OK, so it's not just me. I was thinking TLDR has a new meaning: Too LINKY Didn't Read.

In order to get to the stories, you had to parse all these busy paragraphs and click a link if you were interested.

The title implied it was something like a top-10 list; but it wasn't organized as a list at all.

They should re-do it as a list of links, with just a very brief summary... but really they should just trash the whole thing. It looks like they just found a bunch of tech horror stories, wrote some paragraphs and scattered links in them. Maybe they spent five minutes on this after dumping out the bong water.

Re:What kind of website is that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34706978)

Not just linky. There doesn't seem to be any content. Just text describing some content, with links to more text describing content, and still no actual fucking content! Where are these stories? Actually I don't care anymore. Fuck off and die Infoworld. Wait, your site is called Infoworld? Assholes.

Re:What kind of website is that? (2, Informative)

CapOblivious2010 (1731402) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706914)

You guys need "Readability"... clears away all the clutter from web pages

http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/ [arc90.com]

Re:What kind of website is that? (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34707618)

I think that navigating away from those pathetic pages is much more efficient than continuing my patronage and using plugins to make the site less appalling. Vote with your back button, or else such sites won't see a loss in hits -- i.e. you've just found a way to remain part of the problem.

Before testing or reconfiguring... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34705480)

Always mount a scratch monkey.


One Way Cable modems .... (2, Funny)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705604)

At one point I did tech support for a company that had inherited a block of 1 way cable modems from a company they bought. One way cable modems are the very definition of asynchronous - 56Kb upstream & 3MB downstream at the time (55:1 ratio) - as they bond a dialup connection upstream with a cable connection downstream. Not only does this compound the number of problems - all the problems of a dialup modem and the problems of a cable modem with the added joy of bonding issues - but customers were completely unable to grasp the asynchronous nature of the process.

One customer in particular was quite upset that it took so long to upload his files. I can only blame myself as I asked "What kind of files are you working with?" I then endured a 20 minute rant on how it didn't matter what kind of file it was because he had downloaded the files quickly from the newsgroups earlier and it shouldn't take hours to repost his new donkey porn videos to a different newsgroup.

Re:One Way Cable modems .... (2)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706184)

I think you may have meant asymmetric, not asynchronous.

Re:One Way Cable modems .... (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706550)

Yes, you are correct. I blame tech support in general for my brain rot.

what... (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705622)

I found that on the advice of his teenage son, he was deleting any extra files to make his laptop run faster and give him more storage space. After deleting anything he didn't recognize on the C: drive, he had moved on to the P: drive (his personal network storage location), the G: drive (general public storage of shared documents), and the F: drive (the accounting system, the label system, the menu system). Overall, he had deleted almost 300MB off of his 20MB hard drive.

Wait... what?

Infoworld really sucks at giving Information...

Re:what... (1, Flamebait)

aberkvam (109205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705684)

Overall, he had deleted almost 300MB off of his 20MB hard drive.

Wait... what?

Infoworld really sucks at giving Information...

Or maybe you suck at reading?

His laptop only had a 20MB hard drive. He actually did delete 300MB of files. That is the whole point of the story. The only way it would be possible for him to delete that much data is if he was deleting it from somewhere other than his laptop hard drive.

Re:what... (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705766)

I copy/pasted the entire story, and yes, it does state he's doing it from 4 hard disks, but nowhere does it state that the 20MB is anything other than the total space he has.

Re:what... (1)

aberkvam (109205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34717330)

The title of the article is "2010's best tales from the tech trenches". Each tale that's mentioned in the article has a link. If you click on the link, you get more information. For example, in the story that you mentioned, the full article is "User ignorance wreaks havoc on company's computer files [infoworld.com] ". If you read the full article it clearly explains what happened. I suppose you could say that Infoworld sucks at pull quotes but all the information was there, one click away.

Ah yes. (2)

Goaway (82658) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705722)

Indeed, everyone in IT has stories about how everyone except themselves are idiots.

Re:Ah yes. (4, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706334)

I once worked on the traffic signal system in my city. The linking for a block of 120 or so signals was handled by a computer attached to a modem rack by a bunch of ribbon cables. Each cable handed eight channels. On this day I had to pull all the cables out of the modem rack and the piled up at the bottom. When finished I hooked everything up again and powered the system up. Every signal site in the system went to flashing yellow. I actually stepped out of the building to see what I had done to the surrounding suburbs. Not pretty. So I slunk back into my workplace and tried to figure out what had gone wrong, quickly. It took about five minutes to find. I had missed the bottom modem enclosure because it was covered by spooled cables. The cables for that row were in the row above and so on. Having fixed that all was okay except I had come close to a heart attack.

There you go, my fuck-up. Want to hear more?

Re:Ah yes. (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34768858)

I'm appalled that the system didn't have a failsafe to prevent such an occurrence. Having all red flash is fine, or red flash on all intersecting streets except one with yellow... but yellow all ways? Really?

Re:Ah yes. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34769184)

Actually flashing yellow is considered a safe fallback mode. Hardware and software both have flashing yellow fallback modes.

Re:Ah yes. (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706390)

Well, good luck finding something else people have so little clue about yet still have to use or feel a need to use. I know there's lots of things I can't do and would probably make a horrible mess if I tried, so I don't do them. Or at least if I wanted to try I'd find something to teach me the basics. Computers are to many people still Magic, like people looking at a car wondering how the hell it can move without horses pulling it. Not that people are superstitious or anything like that but they've just decided this is so far beyond what they're going to comprehend that they're not going to try along with quantum physics, rocket science and brain surgery. And yet people expect them to use to for stuff like work and such, but since they've already decided they're not going to understand they're going to memorize. So they make their little lists of steps 1 through 8 which all depend on the menus, buttons, dialogs and everything else being the same. And if anything goes remotely wrong, they just seem to go into complete mind blank mode. Sometimes they even seem to have forgotten how to read, instead of reading that the printer is out of paper, they'll try redoing their steps to print one more time. Or five more times, in some cases. I'm sure we've all done some good screwups, but no I've never been that kind of idiot and never will be. The people that make up the best/worst stories are the kind of people who need "Don't hit yourself in the head with this hammer" warning labels, if computers were lethal we'd have a lot of Darwin Award winners.

Re:Ah yes. (1)

lgftsa (617184) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706802)

We had just installed some new racks, which came with vertically mounted power strips. About eight sockets on a long aluminium box with a 10A circuit breaker at the end. Everything was fine until I was putting in some more patch cables and one brushed against the breaker. That was enough to trip it's hair trigger and take out half a rack of servers.

All those breakers soon found themselves with paperclip-based trip preventers, and we've since transitioned to much better APC strips.

Re:Ah yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34707810)

Wait until someone gets the bright idea that, "Hey, the servers have 2 power plugs, lets plug them into 2 power strips in case one strip trips. Of course we will only load any strip to 45% capacity to handle both its own load and the potential load of its neighbor." Then some PHB comes along and says "WOW, this guy asked to buy more power strips when his are only half utilized". The next tripped breaker will certainly be extremely fun to watch. Bonus points if it can cascade between 2 parallel rows.

Re:Ah yes. (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34768908)

I'm not getting how you can trip a breaker by pressing it. They're in by default; you can only push them when they're tripped. Did you mean the power switch?

Re:Ah yes. (2)

tombeard (126886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34707702)

I was an SNA engineer working with LXE to set up wireless terminals in a warehouse, token ring over fiber. We were on the phone with the VTAM programmer for hours trying to bring up the link. I stepped into the office to call home yet again that I was still at work and no idea when I would be leaving. Setting at the desk looking out the window into the computer room where we were working, I noticed a cable hanging from the rack. Only one end was plugged in. 2 engineers and a system programmer, 10 hours to find we hadn't plugged in the other end of the cable.

Re:Ah yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34711240)

Back when I was a lowly PC repair tech, I was speaking with a customer about a PC that wouldn't boot at all. One of the things we had to do in those days was open the PC case and check all hardware for lose connections etc because of the hidden camera news reports and what not. So I left the PC in its bootless state running and decided to check the hardware. Once the case was opened the customer asked what various components did. I wasn't paying attention when I was pointing out various components, and as I pointed to the cpu with its lovely little heat sink and high end cooling unit I stuck my finger in the fan.

Despite being a plastic fan it took a chunk out of my finger and blood sprayed everywhere in the case, and stopped the fan dead. The customer was horrified, but we got it all sorted out in the end.

Another fail would be leaving a customer PC hooked up to a monitor while cleaning up some virus infection. Our workbench faced the general public and I got distracted doing one thing or another. I very distinctly recall turning around to see the screen saver had kicked on to reveal a variety of nude pictures of this guy's girlfriend. Only they were the kind of pics that one would take and post to yahoo answers with a question like "wtf is growing on my naughty bits!?" Big fail.

Re:Ah yes. (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 3 years ago | (#34711624)

A coworker told me how to replace a battery in an off brand of UPS. I went to this place, a teller line, and began to follow his instructions. Little did I realize that he was speaking of a slightly different model. In following his instructions, I took about twice as long as I needed to. And I only decided he was full of canal water when I arched the battery using a spring on the end of my screw driver. A flame shot out of my screw driver spring and scared two tellers half to death. I then completely disassembled the UPS, replaced the battery the correct way.

Or the time that I swapped out an external SCSI tape drive. "Just replace it" I was told. I knew that it was necessary to assign SCSI devices a number, but it slipped my mind as it was not included in the instructions. I brought that office to a close for 20 minutes while I worked out what I did wrong. Haven't made that mistake again.

As a printer tech, I was working on a 1 off network design (this was about 15 years ago). The place was using some sort of strange token ring connector to an NCR 5223 passbook printer. The up shot was every time a device was added to or removed from the network, the entire network went down. The problem was I was fixing a printer with a strange network connection that wasn't working and to test it, I had to put it on the network. I finally was kicked out. Found out the next day that the device didn't quite fit the printer properly and it had to be SLAMMED home to work.

Then there was the time I was absolutely confident my routing would work....

Yeah. I could keep going. Anyone who has been tech support for long enough has about a million of these. If they don't, they aren't computer dudes.

Other similiar stories websites I've enjoyed (1)

DreamMaster (175517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705764)

Two websites I've enjoyed for tech horror stories are:

Tech Tales [http://www.techtales.com/]
Clients From Hell [http://clientsfromhell.net/]

Just because you can do something.... (2)

insnprsn (1202137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34705846)

.... doesn't mean you should.

Best story I've got this year is attempting to help a customer repair a corrupted Exchange information store.
What we found while helping this customer run the repair tools was that they had put their Exchange databases on a software RAID1 between an internal SATA drive and an external USB drive...
All the while, the server in question already had an internal hardware RAID controller with a RAID5 with roughly 3 times available space as the size of their Exchange databases.
On top of that, their backup was a backup to disk folder, on the same software RAID1.
It appeared that the internal SATA drive, which was not properly mounted in the first place due to the fact that the server chassis was designed for hot-plug SAS on a backplane, had failed some time prior, and now the USB drive was starting to experience excessive bad blocks.

We were able to repair their database after moving it to the hardware RAID.

electronics in the fridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34706120)

putting hot electronics in the fridge or freezer for breif periods does sometimes help. its just colder... its not freakin raining in the fridge...

Re:electronics in the fridge (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 3 years ago | (#34707694)

putting hot electronics in the fridge or freezer for breif periods does sometimes help. its just colder... its not freakin raining in the fridge...

Yeah, (I've done it) but it really is a good idea to put them in sealed plastic bags first....

mine (1)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706208)

Someone asked me how many continents they can put in their recycle bin. I told them seven.

Re:mine (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 3 years ago | (#34711320)

In the course of 900+ desktop upgrades that I've done over the last decade and a half I have encountered 3 (L)users, all of them supervisors, who stored all of their important documents in the Recycle Bin. Two of them were lucky, I hadn't yet wiped the old machine when they noticed.

f.sharpe (1)

tamarik (1163) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706312)

Are there any old Mindspring folks here who have access to some of the f.sharpe's call logs? I worked in the NOC '98 thru '02 or so and heard about her a lot. After all these years I remember tales of her calls to the CSV guys. Remind and entertain me again, guys. TIA

Missing equipment (3, Funny)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706370)

I used to work at a shipping company. They used to provide higher volume customers with a PC that ran their shipping software. One of my responsibilities was to maintain this equipment at the customer sites (upgrade software, fix PCs, etc.). So the company assigned me to the Florida West Coast (Naples, Ft. Myers, etc.). I arrived at the facility with a list of about a dozen customers to see that week. My first task was to get the spare equipment to replace/install at customer sites. There was supposed to be a small room with all the equipment. I went to the room but it was empty. I called the home office... They said something to the effect that "It's a large room with a whole bunch of PCs, monitors, keyboards. You can't miss it." So I looked again. Even though it was a good sized warehouse, there were only four or so rooms. Nope, couldn't find all that equipment. Finally got in touch with the manager there.... Yup, my predecessor had loaded all the equipment into a truck and taken it away.

I called my office. And yeah, I figured that something suspicious had happened but I had to play it dumb (can't go around accusing someone of theft if I wasn't certain). Call went something like:
"Hey, the former admin took all the equipment away. Where did he take it?"

"What do you mean he took the equipment?"

"I understand that he loaded everything into a truck last week and drove off. Let me know where and I will see about moving it back."

"What do you mean he took the equipment?"

"The facility manager said he took the whole day loading everything up into a Ryder truck. Then he drove off."

"Where did he take them?"

"I don't know. I just got here today. "

The beauty of his move was that he maintained all the inventory... So when it came time to see how much equipment was supposed to be there, everything showed as empty or at customer sites or disposed off... A roomful of brand new equipment was marked as "Disposed" or "Sent back"...

Been there... (2)

zarmanto (884704) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706378)

I "graduated" from a desktop technician to a full fledged web developer quite some time back -- but yes, I do indeed have some interesting stories from back-in-the-day. One of my favorites is the exceptionally overweight guy who called me to fix a problem with his MacBook Pro after having sat on it. The odd part to me was that he somehow thought that the issue was related to software, and he didn't even admit to what he'd done until I turned over the Mac, and asked him point blank about the huge freaking dent in the bottom. Needless to say, the computer had a cracked motherboard and had to take a trip with me to the nearest Apple Retail Store.

Training the new boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34706604)

Just this week, I watched my new boss (the helpdesk manager) flail between the delete and backspace key for 30 seconds to delete a line from a text file.

She also has trouble differentiating between ProductName1 (website), ProductName2 (other website), and ProductNameAdministrator (helpdesk interface for both).

I probably don't have to post anonymously, she probably never heard of /.

Re:Training the new boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34706866)

My personal favorite, I spoke with a colleague about a major issue with outgoing administrator security. He was concerned, and we were starting to formulate ideas on how to mitigate it. It was of particular concern to me because I was leaving the job (amicably, I had given a month notice and been a nice guy doing brain dumps and the like.) I didn't want to have any potential, perceived, culpability after leaving for such a horrendous outgoing process. The boss walked in in the middle of the conversation (she had been listening behind the door all sneaky like) and informed me I was violating THE "IT CODE OF ETHICS!" by doing so.

I informed her as an ISC^2 associate I was following their code of ethics, and as a current employee who had reviewed the code of ethics for the company I was acting in the spirit of transparency it dictated. She proceeded to tell me I was likely to have my access revoked and be punted out of the building if I continued to discuss the issue. I informed her that would be a loss to the company, but I wouldn't mind the extra few days to move to my new job location, since they'd be paying me for it anyways.

So, I wrote an email to the Director of HR and the Directory of IT Security detailing her obvious violation of Company Ethics (Conflict of Interest) since by having me shut up about the issue, it saved her the task of assigning about 40 hours of cleanup work whenever a Network level Admin left the company. Oh Irony.

Holy shit sparky, what'd you do? (2)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 3 years ago | (#34706988)

Ok, well I have to take some blame because I was involved in this, but while working for a major retailer I was one of two engineers fixing the power going to a pair of 6509's. They had redundant power supplies, and both the backups were bad. I had sent them both back, and received the RMA units the same day. After scheduling the change, and getting all the paperwork filled out we were ready to begin. Because we anticipated issues with at least one of the units, anything in this Datacenter seemed to be cursed, we called in a proactive ticket with Cisco. As we lined up the 30 amp plug and had it seated in the plug housing (attached to a local UPS) the engineer I was working with began inserting the 20 pound power supply into the chassis.

Just as he was sliding it I noticed THE CABLE HOUSING WAS SLIDING OUT OF THE POWER SUPPLY!!! I was starting to shout for him to stop and the two exposed solder points contacted the outside of the power supply. Needless to say, milliseconds later, Sparky (who hadn't checked the screw that held the housing in place on the power supply) was cowering in the corner, the operator on duty ran in the DC and had to yell over our now popped ears what the fuck just happened. Occording to her it was a very large bang, to me it was like a lightning bolt in front of my eyes.

I was already reaching for the leather strap to yank him off it, when I saw he was on the ground and the UPS had locally blown it's fuse. Thankfully he wasn't hurt, and it only took me about 36 hours of explaining to TAC what happened to get the unit back up to 100%. Before that night I never thought I'd call and say, "The unit arc'ed out and I watched it ground through the chassis... we're gonna need some parts." From now on I write the instructions such that it's painfully fucking obvious "DON'T FLIP THE POWER TO THE ON POSITION ON THE FEED UNTIL THE UNIT IS SECURE!!!"

Sparky doesn't do IT anymore.

Re:Holy shit sparky, what'd you do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34707518)

That reminds me of the PDUs we used to have. When inserting a fuse, it would contact both the hot fuse holder and the bare metal grounded chassis. Thankfully there was a 30A breaker in the ceiling. This was on a PDU with 6 fuses, so ideally you could replace one set of fuses while the rest of the outlets continued to work. Of course nobody would want to power off a whole rack to safely replace 2 fuses.

Toner shower beats all (2)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 3 years ago | (#34707668)

I watched fascinated as a desktop tech attempted to get more mileage out of a laser toner by shaking it -= then when that failed, held it over his head, stood underneath and prised it open with a screwdriver. When I finished laughing (not that the inhalation of toner is healthy) I suggested using the hottest possible water to clean the toner out of his clothes. The following week the same person rolled out a number of new PCs, and connected them to the network with 5 metre cat5 cables - when I went up to fix the alleged routing problem I found he'd used his "nouse" (and muscles) to stretch the cables. The job sheet clearly said 10m cables, guess he was just lazy. Oh, another time he "discovered" that an entire batch of new replacement hdds was dodgy - by hooking them up one-by-one, with the the drives sitting on the metal case (shorting the circuitry) and booting the test machine. Finally, in response to all the complaints his father stepped in a moved him out of Desktop support - to Project Management. No surprise that company went into receivership the following year. (I'm looking at you Adam!).

Then there was the new starter in the server room - not 15 minutes after being read the rules on *not* touching the mainframes or the tape robots ("just stick to labeling blank tapes") he climbed into a tape robot "to see how it worked". It was only luck and a lot of micro-switches that prevented the robot from tearing his head off. (there's a special place in Hell for people who "look" with their fingers). I should have seen the signs when he first tried to install Outlook on his PC - I asked wtf he was doing - he replied that the "don't fuck with the equipment" rules were only for people who weren't computer experts (he held a MSCE), and that surely everyone knew Lotus was an "end-of-life" product.... One guess who the employer was (manufacturer of said mainframes and tape robots).

Both these people are still employed (elsewhere) in the industry, the latter is considered an IT industry authority in the local PC user's group.

This lawn supervisor ... (2)

Mr. Foogle (253554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34707890)

This lawn supervisor was out on a sprinkler maintenance job and he started working on a Findlay sprinkler head with a Langstrom 7 gangly wrench. Just then, this little apprentice leaned over and said, “You can’t work on a Findlay sprinkler head with a Langstrom 7 wrench.” Well this infuriated the supervisor, so he went and got Volume 14 of the Kinsley manual, and he reads to him and says, “The Langstrom 7 wrench can be used with the Findlay sprocket.” Just then, the little apprentice leaned over and said, “It says sprocket not socket!

My story... (1)

Wizard052 (1003511) | more than 3 years ago | (#34708796)

As an Intern, I was tasked with fixing the CEOs laptop....in so doing, I had to format it. Well, I backed up everything except for his Outlook email file (.pst)...and he never used to store anything on the server. It's a wonder I wasn't fired.

2 Stories for You (1)

klwood911 (731463) | more than 3 years ago | (#34709012)

The first story comes from an old admin I worked with. Apparently he worked for a hospital as a helpdesk person and received a call from one of the higher ups. The issue expressed over the phone was a request for a larger mouse pad as he kept running out of room. When he heard this, he shook his head and decided to take a walk up to the office to find out what was going on, When he got there and looked in the door, he had to turn around and walk away, because he was laughing so hard. The executive would use his mouse and hit the end of the mouse pad. Instead of picking the mouse up, pulling it back and then moving the mouse again, he would pick the mouse up, slide the mouse pad forward, set the mouse down and then move it. Anytime it hit the edge of the pad, he would do the same thing.

The next story comes from my old beowulf days. I was working for a company as an admin. They staff were programmers that designed DSL Modem Processors and the software that run on them. One day another admin and myself decided to play a prank on the staff. I remebered a tool that we used when creating beowulf clusters that would allow me to issue a command to multiple machines at once. We used it for configuration. Well, it is also good for ejecting cd-roms. We loaded up an inventory of machines and typed eject cdrom. Its amazing the sound of 35-40 cdroms drives opening at the same time. It's even more funny when you hear the expressions of 35-40 staffers saying "WTF?"

Good Times

Ticking PC scare (1)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#34709620)

One time, I got a call because a computer was ticking loudly, like someone stuck an alarm clock in it and had to go down and deal with that. It was quite tempting to say that was exactly what it sounded like, but it was just a defective CPU fan Dell gave us.

It was fixed easily enough, but luckily the user didn't panic at hearing the traditional "this will blow you away" noise the computer was making.

The exact thing in the summary pic! (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34711040)

I got a computer once where a CD was jammed between two CD drives, similar to what you see in the summary pic. A 3-year-old girl did it.

Re:The exact thing in the summary pic! (1)

pantheonwhaley (1933610) | more than 3 years ago | (#34713616)

I'm guessing that's a lot less frequent than the way I'm going to be getting free SD cards working here: We got a bunch of the new iMacs with the slot-loading DVD drive right above the SD card slot on the side of the machine (so you can't see either while looking at it straight on) and this week I was able to recover both the DVD and SD card in the DVD drive of one of them, using a zip tie to prevent it from trying to pull the disk back in while it was "ejecting" (it wasn't coming all the way out). I wasn't certain there was an SD card in the drive, but after sweeping with the zip tie I noticed the point of resistance moving with it so I figured it wasn't a part of the drive, and used the zip tie to lever it out.

College journalism students.

Animal Urine on a laptop is my worst (3, Funny)

Intrusive_Rogue (883543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34711278)

A client of a previous consultant job owned a wild life rescue. One day she brought in her laptop that a Raccoon had used as a litter box (It was a Gateway, so not far off.) Rubber gloves, masks and moving to the companies attached garage with a card table was required to get the data off the HD and into the new one she purchased. The garage reeked of Raccoon musk for quite a while.
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