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Tales of IT Idiocy

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the was-that-wrong? dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 181

snydeq writes "IT fight club, dirty dev data, meatball sandwiches — InfoWorld offers nine more tales of brain fail beyond belief. 'You'd think we'd run out of them, but technology simply hasn't advanced enough to take boneheaded users out of the daily equation that is the IT admin's life. Whether it's clueless users, evil admins, or just completely bad luck, Mr. Murphy has the IT department pinned in his sights — and there's no escaping the heartache, headaches, hassles, and hilarity of cluelessness run amok.'"

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Sometimes it's the little things (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793065)

It's not really IT related, but in a similar vein to some of these stories, the worst workplace war I've ever seen erupted over a parking space. Here were two college-educated adults, both of whom made over $100,000 a year--at war with each other because one maintained that he had been assigned said space (even though it wasn't marked) and the other kept parking there. Combine that with weak leadership at the company, and bam!, you had an escalation that got fucking crazy. First it was potshots and pranks, then they started keying each others' cars. Then they were openly screaming at each other in the office. It only ended when the cops had to get involved (they were calling each other with death threats and one of them showed up to the other's house with a gun). They both ended up with restraining orders...and also pink slips (when management finally woke up and realized they were both nuts).

When you're in the city, people take their parking spaces VERY seriously. And little things can become very big (in your mind) if you obsess over them long enough.

But, hey, if the assassination of one dipshit Archduke could start a World War and one little fruit vendor setting himself on fire could start the Arab Spring, I guess any little thing can spark a fire.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793151)

I guess any little thing can spark a fire.

Only when you have enough fuel. Which in this case is probably a metaphor for workplace resentment.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38793309)

both of whom made over $100,000 a year

This means they're the sort of dominant, exploitative jackass who is likely to engage in this sort of fight. There's enough upper-middle-range talent in the world these days that no-one really needs to be paid that amount. Recall that a trivial consequence of an optimal marketplace is that a man is paid the least amount necessary to retain an employee of the required calibre for the job.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38794189)

So, in your mind, absolutely anyone who makes a six figure salary is by definition a "dominant, exploitative jackass". Is it just maybe a little bit possible that you're bitter about your own salary?

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (3, Funny)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794665)

So, in your mind, absolutely anyone who makes a six figure salary is by definition a "dominant, exploitative jackass". Is it just maybe a little bit possible that you're bitter about your own salary?

Apparently so. The existence of engineers who make that much and more by technical wits alone seems to be a myth in the poster's mind.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38795461)

They are a myth. In today's marketplace there is not one engineer whose wages are around $100,000 a year merely because there is no-one else as capable of doing the job and who would do it for less.

The alternative claim, which is that you're so valuable and such a unique snowflake that there's no other way of getting the job done than paying you $100,000 a year, is so laughable that it could only be said with a straight face by someone who knows just how untenable their position is.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38795769)

Huh. I'm making over $100,000 a year and am a lowly Sr Unix Admin.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38794765)

You fail at reading comprehension.

You fail at logic.

The context is people who earn on the order of $100k/year, not, say, in the millions. It is discussing "upper-middle-range talent", not one in a million technical or marketing geniuses. The people who earn around $100k/year are the bane of society: they are sufficiently numerous and have sufficient purchasing power to make their opinion known, but sufficiently stupid that they don't realise it's only chance which selected them from a thousand others and that it's only a dysfunctional job marketplace which pays so many people that sort of amount.

I'm not quite sure why there's always a knee-jerk response to criticism of someone gaining something of "UR JUST ENVIOUS". Is it clear that I condemn serial rapists who remain at large because I just don't get enough sex? No, of course not. Is it clear that I condemn the US military because my country's military doesn't have its might? I bet I'd hear more people arguing that. You know when the argument comes up? Precisely when the arguer is so self-centred as to be unable to perceive a moral question. Almost everyone agrees that serial rape is wrong so no-one talks about being envious of the rapist. But when a form of power imbalance is perceived as just by someone, then surely the problem must be that everyone who raises an objection is just envious - after all, that's the position of the former. Those who object to power are just envious of those with power. Yeah, that's it. Slaves just envy the slavedrivers.

Idiot.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (1, Insightful)

maple_shaft (1046302) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795121)

I could probably make the same argument for a salary of around $55k for a guy doing any kind of IT when there are 50 million college educated IT professionals in India who are quite literally starving on the streets. Even if they only do half as good a job, they are willing to work for a tenth of the first world guy, and a company will spring up over there that will exploit that person and turn around and sell his services for a quarter of what it costs to keep the American employed. Even at 50% efficiency they are still double ahead.

Face it, the only reason you have a first world lifestyle is because the idiot PHB type managers making 100k + are not intelligent enough to figure out how to replace you. The only reason any of you have a comfortable living salary is because the first world exploits the third world.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (4, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795611)

You forgot to add, "we are the 99%" and throw a bible at a cop.

No one works an Indian IT job where they are "literally starving in the streets", because they'll DIE. They'll do something else that has a better return: NOT DYING. I have an IT job and I don't worry about "exploiting" the third world because my job has nothing to do with what happens in the third world. I am not stealing bread out of the mouth of some Indian guy because I am able to buy sufficient food, clothing, and shelter for my household. Once people realize that life is not a zero-sum game, and that charity means selfless giving, we're just going to suffer from greed and class warfare.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (1)

maple_shaft (1046302) | more than 2 years ago | (#38796103)

No one works an Indian IT job where they are "literally starving in the streets", because they'll DIE.

You misunderstood me so I will try again. I am saying that there are millions of educated Indians who do not have work right now. Do you think they made a rational choice to become educated and just fucking DECIDE to be a slumdog? You know very little about India don't you?

I have an IT job and I don't worry about "exploiting" the third world because my job has nothing to do with what happens in the third world.

That may be true, but I bet you their jobs, expertise and ability to provide cheap IT services may have something to do with what happens in the first world. If your companies competitor figures out how to offshore and cuts their costs because of it, then yours is at a competitive disadvantage. I would hope you don't eventually lose your job. Even if you don't, many venture capitalists are springing up in these regions are starting to realize just how little these hollow international corps are really bringing to the table. Why not just sell them their IT services with one hand, and on the other cut them out for a lower cost and provide a cheaper alternative to the traditional customers of the hollow corp. You think this isn't happening across all industries, then you are saddly mistaken. They realize that increasingly more talent is springing up in their own backyard and even in booming urban areas the cost and quality of lving is just insanely low.

Bottom line is that it is remarkably shortsighted of you to think that this won't affect you.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38795241)

Don't cry. Someday someone somewhere might consider your talents marketable.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38796543)

This means they're the sort of dominant, exploitative jackass who is likely to engage in this sort of fight.

LOL. I've been in that range for a while now, and you'd have a hard time finding anyone who'd consider me "dominant" or "exploitative", unless your definition of "exploitative" is "willing to accept over $100K a year". I'll go along with "lucky", to the extent of "having had the opportunity and the persistence to earn an advanced degree" and "having chosen a field with plentiful demand and relatively limited supply for my skills". I know it could all fall down tomorrow, but I don't think it's "market inefficiencies" that are propping it up.

I know you're thinking of PHBs and commission-hungry salespests. I've worked with them, and I'm not fond of them, either. But you apparently don't have to become one of them to make the good money.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793479)

It would have been a funny ending if the whole thing had been encouraged by a 3rd party.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794121)

It probably was, on stuff like that, the whole workplace becomes a rumor mill and people take sides.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (5, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793709)

And little things can become very big (in your mind) if you obsess over them long enough.

Wait, what? I don't think it's gotten any longer.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (1)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793767)

Just let it be known that "we didn't start it".

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793833)

Any little thing is the spark. You need kindling like discontent in the general population for a fire. Or, when the atmosphere itself becomes toxic, you get an explosion.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (4, Insightful)

tilante (2547392) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794053)

"One dipshit Archduke"? You do realize that the Archduke in question was heir to the throne of one of the most powerful countries in Europe, and this was a time when royalty still had more than just ceremonial functions? It'd be the equivalent of someone assassinating the vice-president of the US today -- not just some random bozo getting killed.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794373)

It'd be the equivalent of someone assassinating the vice-president of the US today -- not just some random bozo getting killed.

If headlines read "Joe Biden" assassinated! about 90% of the US population would have shrugged their shoulders and said 'who'?

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (2)

tilante (2547392) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794641)

On the other hand, if headlines read "Prince Charles" assassinated, lots of US citizens would know who that is... which is kind of strange when you think about it. Of course, a hereditary monarchy has going for it in things like this the fact that the heir to the throne stays the same for decades at a time. If we only had a new vice-president every thirty or forty years, a lot more people would probably know who the current one was.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38796121)

On the other hand, if headlines read "Prince Charles" assassinated, lots of US citizens would know who that is... which is kind of strange when you think about it.

Charles Barkley, right?

If the headlines read "Kardashian", you might even approach 100%.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795537)

If headlines read "Joe Biden" assassinated! about 90% of the US population would have shrugged their shoulders and said 'who'?

Including Joe Biden.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38796325)

wha, I thought Hillary was the vice-president? What's she then? Just someone traveling around randomly?

IT idiocy? (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795145)

IT idiocy? Is there a more idiotic tech site than IT World itself, with its twenty ad-laden pages for ten paragraphs, after a goddamned splash screen? I refuse to visit those morons. No RTFA this time, folks. Link to a respectable site next time.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (4, Interesting)

rot26 (240034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795967)

Don't tell anybody, but it was ME who keyed BOTH of their cars.

Re:Sometimes it's the little things (3, Insightful)

mseeger (40923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38796047)

My pet theory is of the "norm problem":

Every person has a problem of which he thinks it is the most important one. He will scale all other problems according to his norm problem. He will devote the same energy on his norm problem as other people do for theirs.

The norm problem of a) may be that his family is starving and of b) that his neighbor occupies his parking space. Nevertheless they will approach their norm problem with max energy.

If you have two people competing for the same goal as norm problem, you will get a major turf war, no matter how trivial the object is.

Anyone have a Greasemonkey script (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38793183)

Anyone have a Greasemonkey script on-hand that automatically hides stories containing links to infoworld.com, or do I have to whip one up on my own?

Re:Anyone have a Greasemonkey script (0, Redundant)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793925)

This is on-topic and a valid question, don't mod down.

Re:Anyone have a Greasemonkey script (2)

MurukeshM (1901690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794927)

Well, better convert them to links to printable pages...

Way more than 9 elsewhere (5, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793185)

The Daily WTF [slashdot.org] has a lot of fantastic stories about what not to do. The stories include horrific interviews, code that makes you want to squirm at best, and plenty of IT mistakes.

Re:Way more than 9 elsewhere (5, Informative)

markkezner (1209776) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793361)

This [thedailywtf.com] is the link he meant to post.

Re:Way more than 9 elsewhere (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38796443)

The WTF part is where the article says "IT idiocy" but then proceeds to be just another "users are so dumb" story. Thedailywtf.com is much more about IT "professionals" themselves being idiots which is much more funny.

Re:Way more than 9 elsewhere (3, Informative)

antdude (79039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38796521)

http://faildesk.net/ [faildesk.net] is pretty good too.

Re:Way more than 9 elsewhere (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793595)

I was going to mention that site. I haven't read it for a while, but there were some truly atrocious things I've seen on there. My favourite was some VBScript that was embedded in a webpage, which would actually open a direct connection to the database, to retrieve data. Kind of like an AJAX call, but just running a query directly from the database.

Re:Way more than 9 elsewhere (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794579)

While it's certainly amusing, it's also something that I think is a valuable resource for all developers to read. Seeing WTF-worthy code (or design decisions) helps you recognize it when you encounter it in the wild (design reviews, code reviews, HR policies,etc), and call bullshit when necessary. Many of the WTFs are about SQL, which is far outside my area of expertise or responsibility, but I feel like the code-related ones have helped me be a better programmer by being a constant reminder to read things carefully, sanitize inputs, and ensure that it makes sense to someone not up to their ears in this section of code.

Re:Way more than 9 elsewhere (1)

maple_shaft (1046302) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795219)

I feel like the code-related ones have helped me be a better programmer by being a constant reminder to read things carefully, sanitize inputs, and ensure that it makes sense to someone not up to their ears in this section of code.

Obligatory XKCD [xkcd.com] sanitize inputs classic...

From an actual helpdesk ticket I have open... (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793195)

"Document keeps formatting. Tried to go on different machines but still not working"

Where is the document? What program is the document for? Filename? Purpose? Anything? Nothing.... as well as obviously not knowing what 'formatting' means, as neither the computer-sense nor the page-laying-sense fit there.

Re:From an actual helpdesk ticket I have open... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793281)

I've been told Microsoft Word likes to base some of its page layout decisions on attributes of the default printer of the computer on which it is running. Might "formatting" mean "recalculating page layout for currently selected printer"?

Re:From an actual helpdesk ticket I have open... (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793815)

That's a beautiful example of how nomenclature in IT can confuse a civilian. I don't blame the employee at all for coming to that conclusion. I just bought a printer that prints in "duplex" mode. Now, that's something so common that it should not be using a software engineer's term. Can you imagine a parent or grandparent trying to get double-sided copies and only seeing "duplex"?

Re:From an actual helpdesk ticket I have open... (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794501)

If we're doing user quotes: "I need you to transfer the license."

We asked for more info, and got: "My son-in-law plugged his computer into my computer and said you needed to transfer the license."

Guessing at what she meant, we told her that she couldn't just install software assigned to her on computers owned by family members. Then she got annoyed with us and said: "The computer won't turn on! My son-in-law used his laptop to figure out you need to transfer the license!"

Re:From an actual helpdesk ticket I have open... (1)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795557)

I routinely get emails that say things like "i get a box that says cannot connect".

I mean sure, I understand people can't be troubled to write down the contents of every error message they see, but would a little basic grammar hurt?

Ah yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38793207)

At my prior workplace, a world-famous medical facility, we managed to disconnect some-odd 80,000 machines from the 'net once, for 2 hours.

Culprit? Workstation guy saw a disconnected cable "just hanging" between the two internet-facing routers. Plugging them in together as such, when he popped it into an empty port, created a loop of such overwhelming traffic, even console struggled to respond. Guh.

Save your clicks! (4, Informative)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793351)

Just go to http://thedailywtf.com/ [thedailywtf.com]

They'll have more tales of idiocy, and you won't feel like you need to take a shower afterwards. Seriously, InfoWorld, SIX pages? That's a WTF in itself.

Re:Save your clicks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38793573)

print button anyone?

Re:Save your clicks! (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794409)

And to add to the Monday doldrum... a blast from the past

The bastard operator from hell [anarres.org] :)

Re:Save your clicks! (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795935)

Seriously, InfoWorld, SIX pages? That's a WTF in itself.

Nah; "WTF" generally refers to things that make no sense. In this case, what InfoWorld and zillions of other sites are doing makes perfect sense. You just need to understand that they want money, and their main way of getting it is by running ads past their viewers. This gives them a strong incentive to break articles up into small chunks, so you have to click from one to the next to read an article. That way, they can show that you clicked on N copies of an ad, rather than just one, and get N times the $0.002 that they're paid by the ad agency for each click.

It's just a variant of the long-running practice of newspapers, of putting pieces of a story on several different pages, each piece surrounded by ads that you try not to glance at. It's how news distribution has always worked, and moving to the internet didn't change much of anything.

The econ theory guys sometimes refer to a situation like this as a "perverse incentive".

Re:Save your clicks! (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 2 years ago | (#38796123)

It's just a variant of the long-running practice of newspapers, of putting pieces of a story on several different pages, each piece surrounded by ads that you try not to glance at. It's how news distribution has always worked, and moving to the internet didn't change much of anything.

Odd. The newspapers I read have never done this.

Tales of Dumb IT (5, Funny)

mwfischer (1919758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793369)

Reading InfoWorld is about number 6 or so.

What about clueless admins? (4, Interesting)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793379)

In my time I have seen some amazing examples of idiocy.

I once had to lecture some linux admins as to the nature of ntpd and how they don't have to be constantly logging in to set the time, but here's the brilliant part of that equation: someone had come up with a "login script" idea, that used ntpdate to set the time. So all they had to do was log in to the system and the time would be automatically set. I only got involved when they were trying to develop an automated login system so they wouldn't have to log in to 500+ linux servers, constantly, all to keep the time set. I actually had to argue with them, to show they what ntpd could do. It was unreal.

Then there was the time I found windows admins that thought you had to have a user account for every machine you joined to a domain. A unique user account. A unique administrative user account. And because they had several thousand machines, password maint was a nightmare...or at least would be, except they came to the conclusion that using an easy to remember password on all of these administrator accounts was an easier solution.

Re:What about clueless admins? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793447)

here's the brilliant part of that equation: someone had come up with a "login script" idea, that used ntpdate to set the time. So all they had to do was log in to the system and the time would be automatically set.

Now what would be funnier, that login name having to be "root" or having ntpdate SUID root...

Re:What about clueless admins? (3, Funny)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793655)

Given the obvious competence level of these admins, do you think they knew how to make ntpdate work as a non-root user?

Ya, neither do I. And yes, they were logging in as root....with a shared public/private key set. Note: BOTH private AND public keys were shared amongst all 500 servers.

Because ssh keys are more secure, don't you know.

Re:What about clueless admins? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794021)

Given the obvious competence level of these admins, do you think they knew how to make ntpdate work as a non-root user?

Ya, neither do I. And yes, they were logging in as root....with a shared public/private key set. Note: BOTH private AND public keys were shared amongst all 500 servers.

Because ssh keys are more secure, don't you know.

And none could figure out the "hard" ssh command line option to run a command ...? (ssh can run rsh-like).

Then again, I'd shudder to think what the shell script owuld look like. Probably 500 lines starting with "ssh".

I'm surprised they didn't have some hokey user account whose sole purpose was on login to run ntpdate and kick you off.

Re:What about clueless admins? (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793893)

but here's the brilliant part of that equation: someone had come up with a "login script" idea, that used ntpdate to set the time.

Holy crap. I can understand being ignorant of ntpd, but not even being aware of cron is criminal.

Re:What about clueless admins? (4, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794897)

I can understand being ignorant of ntpd, but not even being aware of cron is criminal.

Whoa, I just looked up cron.. My god you just saved my job man! I couldn't get my sleep script to run in the background right... Jesus I've spent 4 weeks on this job and now I can move on to the next. Getting every system to default saving files to root:root from smb shares!

Thanks for saving me...

140 million dollar contract (3, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793397)

Fortune 25 contractor promises another Fortune 25 client that they can migrate their entire operation without a single desktop engineer. This was a 140 million dollar contract. Client also promised that their network conversion from 10Mb hubs to 100Mb switches would be finished before we started and then postponed the network conversion.

When everything was said and done lawyers for both companies mutually decided that I was the best the person on the ground with the best insight into why things fell apart. I was told by lawyers on both sides I would be subpoenaed as the primary witness and that the trial was expected to take about four months. I wasn't being blamed by either side, I was just the one who knew what the hell was going on.

When you testify as a witness (vs expert witness) you are limited to a $50 court fee and can't be otherwise reimbursed. I would have been financially ruined for other peoples idiocy and figured out a perfectly honest way to get out of situation their idiocy created.

I told lawyers for both sides that I would appear and testify, and they would neither one like what I had to say. They settled two days later.

Re:140 million dollar contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38795789)

I'm sorry, was there a point or even an anecdote in there somewhere?

Re:140 million dollar contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38796481)

I'm sorry, was there a point to your response?

NAT Leases!!11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38793409)

"Dropped all kinds of nasty scripts on there, including one that kept the machine asking for new NAT leases, somehow kept [...]"

What? NAT LEASES!?

*Closes InfoWorld tab*

Re:NAT Leases!!11 (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794019)

I think a NAT lease is when your home router boots up.

Re:NAT Leases!!11 (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794517)

I think a NAT lease is when your home router boots up.

Are you kidding? That router is mine. I paid for it. Mine.

Re:NAT Leases!!11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38795375)

Unless I'm not understanding what you are saying (ie. it is a joke of some sort or obscure reference), then what my post implied is that there is no such thing as a "NAT lease".

It's completely idiotic to mix NAT and DHCP together, and InfoWorld's editors should know better than getting their stories from some wannabe system administrator.

Re:NAT Leases!!11 (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795483)

Yeah I think my joke wasn't obvious enough...

Reminds me of one of our clients. (4, Funny)

Chas (5144) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793423)

They were running an older CRM version that still used direct file access.

Because of this, their backup solution (for which they hadn't bought the live file backup module) would fail every night due to someone in the office leaving the program open.

So they "fixed" it.

6 months down the road they had a server crash and lost everything.

So we're like "Okay, let's roll to backups. There's still data loss, but minimal, a day or so."

Uh. What backups?

Their "fix" had consisted of simply deleting that CRM program's directory from the backups (see: NOT BACKING IT UP) so their backup reports were all nice and pretty.

The latest real backup this company had was over 6 months old.

The company that was in place to handle their IT was out on the curb with smoking ears and a boot-print on the ass shortly afterward.

IT Idiocy? I show you... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38793431)

Linux is now Windows [google.com]

Shark Tank. (5, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793481)

>only 10 submissions of fail in the TFA.

Someone already mentioned the Daily WTF, so I'll post its little brother.

Always an interesting read.

http://blogs.computerworld.com/sharky [computerworld.com]

--
BMO

Make it idiot-proof... (3, Funny)

The Moof (859402) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793483)

...and they'll just make a better idiot. Two gems I've gotten over the years are:

"I can't log in when I type in my password! It's broken!" - The problem? They weren't typing in their username, they were only typing in their password.

My all time favorite was a customer who was very unhappy with an application we had created for them to send out event invitations and what not. I get an angry e-mail passed to me. The claim: "Whenever I type in someone's e-mail address, instead of e-mailing that person, the system figures out who their spouses and children are, and sends them the notification instead!" I had to repeatedly confirm that what they're describing is not possible. Even then, the person still angrily refused to believe me. If I were to create software that somehow psychically figure out all of that information, I'd be very rich, and probably be working for the government.

Re:Make it idiot-proof... (4, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794181)

it kind of is possible, many people have email accounts that direct to several mailboxes, like @familyname.com. If your app was sending to an unknown name at the front of that (instead of 'dave@family' it was 'whoever@family') then its possible it got delivered to all accounts using that shared mailbox system.

Not that I'm saying this is what happened, but something along those lines due to some wacky configuration.

Moral: never disbelieve the user, although what they say is impossible, when you look at it, you find that not only is it possible, it's also happening. If only we could get the users to describe it in terms a tech would understand.

Re:Make it idiot-proof... (2)

tilante (2547392) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794759)

Yep. Although more fun is when users try to describe in "tech terms", but don't actually understand the terminology, so their 'explanation' just muddies the issue further.

Generally my talking-to-the-end user script goes like this:

- What program were you using?

- What were you (clicking on, typing, whatever)?

- What did you expect to happen?

- What happened instead?

If they're getting an error message, I'll get them to send me a screenshot or cut-and-paste it. I've had way too many times when someone's managed to paraphrase the actual error message they're getting into something completely different.

Generally the best, though, is to actually sit them down and get to do whatever produces the problem in front of you. It's the problems that can't be reproduced at will that are the fun ones to figure out....

Re:Make it idiot-proof... (1)

The Moof (859402) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795855)

Oh, I do assume that the impossible happens quite a bit (I've seen enough "that shouldn't be possible" problems). I had told the end user that might be what's happening, or that the recipient forwarded it to a home address shared among the family. They didn't believe me, swore it was the system doing all of this (and instructed me to fix it).

Re:Make it idiot-proof... (4, Interesting)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795933)

"Never disbelieve the user" is right. One of my early tech support calls (many moons ago) was from a guy who claimed his computer rebooted every time he flushed his toilet.

Yeah. I figured he was yanking my chain, but you can't just hang up on people, so after humoring him for a few minutes we actually set up a tech visit.

We fixed him up, at least temporarily, by installing a UPS for his system.

He lived way out in the boonies and used well water and a septic tank. Turns out when he flushed, not only did his computer reboot, but his lights flickered for a moment, too. Flushing the toilet activated some power-hungry pump in his water system, and the draw was browning out his computer.

Re:Make it idiot-proof... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38794337)

I've known people who believe that PowerPoint is an image editing program.

I just can't figure out who thought it was a good idea to take Paint off of these computers. Yeah, people goof off in it but that almost made me cry. I sucked it up and showed them GIMP instead.

Re:Make it idiot-proof... (1)

The Moof (859402) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795953)

Oh, don't get me started on file sent it from clients. I've received a chunk of data to import into a database... in a photoshop file (and it wasn't a text layer).

Needless to say, I sent that one back and asked for a different file format.

Re:Make it idiot-proof... (1)

tilante (2547392) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794549)

This reminds me of a couple of oddball cases I've had over the years...

First one, a girl who was taking the "Computer Literacy" class and came down to our office from the computer lab after using the automatic account creator there. She couldn't log in. I verified her user name and let her reset her password so she could get in.

Three minutes later, she's back. Still can't log in. I have her try to log in from my terminal, and she can't log in. So this time, I have her write down the password she wants to use, and I change the password on the account, so I can be sure that it's changed to the right thing. Then I sit her down again at my terminal and have her try to log in.

She still can't log in successfully. I try, and I can log in. So I then had her try typing her password at the username prompt, so she could see what she was typing. Turned out she couldn't consistently hold down the shift key, so she kept capitalizing a different letter each time. So I had to teach her to type in her password slowly, so she could do it correctly without having to see it as she typed.

Case #2: Guy comes in, says he can log in on the Solaris machines in the computer lab, but not the Linux ones (or it may have been the other way around -- it's been about fifteen years now). Now, they're all using the same NIS username/password database, so this shouldn't be possible. One of the other admins takes his case, asks the guy his username, does "su - username" on his workstation, asks the guy to type his password. He does, and successfully logs in. The other admin says, "See, you can log in, there's no problem."

Guy isn't happy with that -- says he's tried on several different Linux workstations in the lab, and couldn't log in to any of them. The two of them start arguing, so I decide to step in, saying "Let's go down to the lab and see". So we go down to the lab, and I ask the guy to pick a workstation and log in.

Now, we used last names as login names, adding characters from the first name to make them unique if needed. The guy sits down, then types in his last name, a space, and his first name as his user name. Of course the system doesn't let him in. The odd thing was that the Solaris machines would take it -- they'd just throw away the space and everything after it, so he could log into them like that.

Those cases, though, were partly user and partly the software -- in the first case, a combination of poor typing skills and the password not being echoed. In the second, the user not understanding what his login name was combined with Solaris' "feature" of throwing away a space and whatever came after it at the login prompt.

For your guy with the event invitations, I'd guess that there was some combination of a user problem and a system problem. Not necessarily with your system, but an email address that he had might have been set to forward to all of that person's family, or been a mailing list for their family. I would've asked him who exactly he was emailing that he got that behavior with, and investigated that possibility.

Re:Make it idiot-proof... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795447)

One thing I noticed right away on the iPad is that, when entering a password, it momentarily shows the letter typed before replacing it with a bullet mark. I've caught errors more than a few times that way. Actually, didn't Jakob Nielsen or some usability expert come out against password masking?

Infoworld (4, Interesting)

Spykk (823586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793569)

We get a lot of fluff pieces on the front page of slashdot via Infoworld and I've always wondered what mechanism they are using to get such high returns. Do they have their employees vote up stories in the firehose, or are their articles genuinely interesting enough that they earn their place on the front page? If they are "gaming the system" somehow is that something that slashdot's staff should be policing?

I'm not trying to cry foul or call anyone out. I'm just curious about what drives some of the patterns that emerge on slashdot. If someone from either Infoworld or slashdot could weigh in that would be great.

Re:Infoworld (1)

epine (68316) | more than 2 years ago | (#38796151)

Pretty bad. I didn't think it was anything new, and the writing style was a sloppier version of the Darwin awards, as I remember them from when I gave up on them six or eight years ago. (Some of the stories were less than properly verified.)

Retrieving unsaved data (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793857)

In college - this was some 20 years ago - I once had a classmate who in the Computer Center did an assignment, and then exited the application without saving, and then tortured the help desk over retrieving the work he had done, which, needless to say, they couldn't. When he complained about the unhelpfulness of the help desk, I & my other friends had such a laughing fit that he got offended & left. There ain't too many things I've found as funny as that incident.

Re:Retrieving unsaved data (2)

Creepy (93888) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795015)

I have a bunch of those from that era - here's a couple:

User is used to Word Perfect, but has to use WordStar. User wants to print, so presses Control-P. Wordstar erases (p = purge in WordStar, print in Word Perfect) the document and the user hadn't saved it first. There was no confirmation dialog back then, either. An hour of typing a news article gone in a second.

User on a mac using Microsoft Word chooses Revert, but didn't know Revert means go back to the last saved version of the document and loses 2 hours of work. Note: Microsoft changed this from something like "Revert the document?" to "Are you sure you want to revert to the previously saved version" in the next version of Word probably due to a lot of user error and tears.

Unrelated to those, but related to TFA - when I was in college I heard one of the labbies (technically computer lab teaching assistants) was fired and kicked out of school but not details. I was friends with his roommate, so I ask what happened and found out he had been running a million+ dollar a year porn site off of the University servers (and this is the relatively early days of the public internet). If I had any doubts to the truth of it, they were alleviated a few days later when we all had to sign a code of conduct waiver, which included running sites of pornographic nature...

Re:Retrieving unsaved data (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38795895)

That's not funny and I don't blame him for getting offended. You and your friends were insensitive wankers, and if you can't realize that now, in what must be your late 30s to early 40s, then there's no hope for you. Even if he was a jerk about it, it still doesn't call for getting into a "laughing fit". No wonder business people think IT people are jerks; they are.

Seriously, you still think that's hilarious after 20 years and having left college immaturity way behind you? Pathetic.

the first rule of I.T. fight club is ... (3, Insightful)

mbaGeek (1219224) | more than 2 years ago | (#38793935)

users who don't know anything aren't the problem - users who don't know anything but think they know everything are the problem ...

Another stupid IT, sorry, DP trick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38793955)

In the late eighties, I was working in a mainframe shop at the Scummy Mortgage Co, in Ausin, TX (actual co name available upon request). I was there about a year and a half (there are a *lot* of reasons I've referred to it ever since as the SMC). About nine months after I started, they fired the other CICS "expert" who'd been there about 10 years or so. A few months later, I was going through some code to do maintenance, and ran across his "algorithm" for calculating leap year: if it was '76 or '80 or '84 or '88 or '92, it was a leap year.

That's in, in toto. And the code was in a number of programs.

Gets better: remember, this is a mortgage co, 30 year mortgages... I went to my boss, the VP of DP, and showed him this, and he said, "it ain't broke, don't fix it". I replied it would break in a few years, and he told me we'd worry about it when it breaks.

                      mark

Re:Another stupid IT, sorry, DP trick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38794133)

... I went to my boss, the VP of DP...

The Vice President of Double Penetration? Were they screwing people on both ends of the mortgage?

Well, QA for the game industry, but close enough. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794145)

Tales from the trenches [trenchescomic.com] has some horror stories as well.

The Trenches [trenchescomic.com] comic is off to a slow start, I can't decide if I like it or not, but the QA tales below it are worth a read, IMO. I especially like this one [trenchescomic.com] , because it's so true; In many projects where "ship it" becomes as much a battle cry as a new form of profanity, and not just in Game development...

Re:Well, QA for the game industry, but close enoug (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795347)

I've been following it since launch day. The comic is cute, but I see it as a fun little distraction/bonus on top of the stories. The stories are definitely the best part.

PS: Law Star rules.

/. Got the Title Right, Original Article, Not (2)

BBF_BBF (812493) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794279)

I actually slogged through reading the whole Original Article and it seems like the editors at CIO don't know the difference between USER incompetence and incompetence in the IT department. Most of the "USER" issues were issues with the IT group, others were systematic failures... I particularly like the one where "IT" comes in and saves the day when "IT" diff's a developers' files and finds he's a bad developer, whereas the whole software Engineering department couldn't figure it out... yeah, right.

Re:/. Got the Title Right, Original Article, Not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38796195)

I actually slogged through reading the whole Original Article and it seems like the editors at CIO don't know the difference between USER incompetence and incompetence in the IT department. Most of the "USER" issues were issues with the IT group, others were systematic failures... I particularly like the one where "IT" comes in and saves the day when "IT" diff's a developers' files and finds he's a bad developer, whereas the whole software Engineering department couldn't figure it out... yeah, right.

I have seen it happen more than once and at not just at one company.

Did you plug it in (1)

executioner (113014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38794435)

I worked for a company that had the contract for all the state computers. I had one office call me one day with the our printer is not working. Asking the all important question "is it plugged in?" i got a rather quick response so I asked a couple other routine questions and asked again if someone got under the table and verified the printer was plugged in. I got a yes we did that. After the 90 minute drive out to the location I walked in crawled under the table plugged in the printer, wrote out the bill for my drive time and went back to the shop. At least it was a Nice summer day out :)

Re:Did you plug it in (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38796183)

Which is why you shouldn't ask questions that the user will find insulting. Instead, you give them something to do that might actually fix the problem (in their mind) - unplug the printer, wait 10 seconds, then plug it back in.

Too early for beer, but got popcorn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38794939)

Rady for the show!

Huh? (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795309)

Okay, serious question. Is it really a bad idea to make people's email addresses public? the article makes it seem like this is a bad practice. To me, if you are counting on email addresses to be private, that you have some crappy security going on.

""We took the roster of employees of our two largest offices and checked their corporate email addresses to see which were accessible off the Web. Out of 178 employees, 138 corporate email addresses were easily discovered -- like two or three clicks off Google. That alone surprised me."

Re:Huh? (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38796531)

Only in that it makes you a target, and if your spam/phishing/malware filter doesn't detect it, you're relying on users to fall for them -- and they demonstrated with their test that a large number of the users were gullible.

Coding facepalm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38795573)

If ( a == b );

{

doFunction();

}

I'm sure at some point, every coder has wasted far, far too much time with bugs caused by doing that. Still, doesn't help that lots of parsers and compilers won't even throw a warning for that, can't see any valid use for that other than shady obfuscation.

Re:Coding facepalm (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38796259)

you think that's boneheaded, what about:

if (a=b)
{
doFunction();
}

What a howler!

Email issue (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795645)

A few years back, my email stopped working and I couldn't fix it. So I called our IT, and was firmly rebuffed with a "Send us an email and we'll fix your problem.". Their stupidity astounded me. When I recovered from the shock I went over to their floor and pounded on their locked door until the someone answered it. At that point I said loudly enough so that the entire floor could hear, "I can't send you an email, because as I told you on the phone my email is broken! Are you stupid or something?!". It was fixed in 10 minutes.

No, I didn't get in trouble for the insult, but the ITs new policy of only dealing with issues submitted via email was history by the next day.

The Chronicles of George (1)

corerunner (971136) | more than 2 years ago | (#38795973)

I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned. Prepare to waste a few hours... http://chroniclesofgeorge.nanc.com/ [nanc.com]

Sad But True (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38796163)

I work in IT. I once received a help request from a person in a computer lab who told me that their screen would only display blackness, regardless of moving their mouse or tapping the keyboard. The monitor was on. So, I came to take a look, and sure enough, the screen was black.

Know why?

Because the fucking computer wasn't even there. It had been removed for service and the "Out of order" sign taped to the monitor somehow wasn't enough of an indicator.

ma8e (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38796429)

hand...do8't I won't bore you some 1ntelligent
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