"We're one TWA tick away from an H&S refresher course with a free lunch.
Huh. There's no such thing as a free lunch.
"Simon, Steven – a word?" the Boss burbles warmly. "What's up?" the PFY answers warily. "Nothing - just having an interesting conversation with a bloke from an outfit that deals with infrastructure obsolescence, code debt and I.T. asset leveraging." "Ah yes, I thought I felt a disturbance in the force," the PFY nods. "Come …
For a colour monitor, don't forget the shadow mask.
For early generation monochrome monitors, there used to be an offset bias on the beam deflector so that the beam did not strike the phosphor at right angles, but at an angle that would aim the beam away from someone sitting directly in front of the monitor.
Electrons from an electron gun in a CRT are relatively low energy, and can easily be stopped by the metalised inside coating of the glass, and the glass itself. And the energy was not high enough to generate X or gamma rays.
"there used to be an offset bias on the beam deflector so that the beam did not strike the phosphor at right angles, but at an angle that would aim the beam away from someone sitting directly in front of the monitor.
"Electrons from an electron gun in a CRT are relatively low energy, and can easily be stopped by the metalised inside coating of the glass, and the glass itself. And the energy was not high enough to generate X or gamma rays."
IKR? They really made it quite the hassle, modifying those things so that they were actually dangerous! Took bloody forever.
I worked in a research lab in the early 80's. In the lab round the corner they were developing a high definition projection TV. It was quite powerful and apparently gave off sufficient Xrays for them to wear a lead apron whilst working on it with the covers off. They told me that was the least of their worries. If the raster scan collapsed and the cutout didn't work the electron beam focused on one point of the 3 six inch projection tubes would melt the glass and cause it to implode. And that was one of the safer labs: there were a bunch on the ground floor that played with some really scary stuff that would have been great for the BOFH.
Back in the 1970s I was an apprentice TV engineer for Rediffusion. Once, I forget to connect up the wires to the vertical scan coils after fitting a new B/W CRT. So, upon turning the set on it took less than a couple of seconds to burn a permanent horizontal line across the brand new phosphor! Somewhat chastened, I had to remove the newly buggered CRT and fit yet another one. At least I only did it once!
Health & Safety people please look away now! One of the other engineers there told me a story of when he was an apprentice (probably back in the 60s). One day, not long after he'd started, someone announced that it was time to break up some old CRTs. Everyone grabbed a CRT and he did likewise, following them outside where they lined up facing a brick wall. All the others started swinging the tubes to chuck at the wall and, on a count of three, they all let go. Of course, they'd deliberately omitted to tell him to run like the clappers in the opposite direction as soon as he let go! When those buggers implode they do tend to shower glass everywhere! Obviously, he survived to tell the tale!
It was in the early 80's I was on a team working on a ship simulator that used three sets of CRT projectors for the display.
At one stage during testing all the displays were showing a black sea and white sky. One of the CRT display tubes cracked. From that point on water cooling was added....
"Does anyone still have a halon system?"
That is the beauty of it, the sales droids only have to believe that they do, letting off a CO2 extinguisher through the air vent would probably do the trick and be much cheaper. BOFH/PFY sell the idea of what the cloud of gas will be and then deliver a sub-standard product.
Let me walk down to our server room and see if the warning signs on the doors are still there (doors that exit to a 3-story atrium as long as a railway platform). Of course, I know nothing of the actual systems inside, but the warning is enough. If a BOFH lurks inside, I wish not to disturb it.
(At least I know it's on the ground floor, with no windows except to the atrium, and those don't open. No risk of tragic falls here. There are other hazards far worse, though, and if I mention them the BOFH will know, so I'll be a good luser and be quiet now.)
Uhm, sprinklers and Halon/Inergen/etc systems don't fill the same purpose.
Gas extinguishing systems are typically triggered by sniffing the outgoing air for tiny amounts of combustion byproducts. This catches really tiny fires really early, but if you have a fire that's big enough or recurring (or fuelled by an oxidiser in case of oxygen-depleting systems) they are useless as they will go empty.
Sprinklers are triggered by the sprinkler head physically heating up to the point of a wax plug melting or a glass bar breaking due to expanding liquid inside it (in addition to the system being pressurised by a fire alarm going off in higher-end systems). This catches big fires before they turn into huge fires.
Sprinklers are there to stop the entire building from burning down with people inside it - most of your servers will probably be toast before they even go off, and when they do they will obviously break the rest. They protect the building itself and the people in it.
Gas discharge systems are there to stop a small fire in some gear from taking out anything else - they won't save you from a fire that actually threatens the rest of the building. They protect the equipment but not the building or people.
You'll even see both fitted in quite a few installations.
Also, where does this pathological fear of Halon discharges come from? Halon by itself is fairly non-toxic. I wouldn't recommend picking up a habit huffing it - or doing the classic Halon sales demo of standing in a both as it's discharged inside it - but a single exposure isn't gonna hurt you.
At most being around when a large system is discharged might cause damage to your hearing, or being hit by a flying object.
The reason it's no longer used much is because it's a potent ozone depletor, not that it's a hazard to people.
CO2 systems - still widely used, though not in computer settings - are much more dangerous to people.
The warnings for these basically say "when the klaxon sounds, get out or you WILL die".
I talk to people who have the Halon Fear all the time. Its more likely to make a brown spot on your pants when the crushing noise of the gas comes out the discharge ports/heads. It's always great to see the new guys heart rate go up when working in a room protection by one of these systems.
The C02 systems work by displacing the O2 in the room your comment on the much more dangerous could not be any more correct, i hope people understand that aspect.
Depends on the Halon gas in question. The normal one BCF is only mildly toxic. Our military however liked to use Methyl Bromide because it was a more effective flame suppressor. Whilst it was almost exclusively used in aircraft this didn't stop some nut job for specifying it in a computer installation. If you got a lung full your chances of surviving for more than a day are slim, and if you do you will probably never be well again.
I was so shocked by the mention of MeBr as an actual fire suppressant - I have only encountered it as a pesticide and reagent - that I had to look it up. Apparently, the user-friendly Halons were developed specifically to replace MeBr because of its' toxicity.
Maybe the military finds it handy that their fire suppression system can also be used for chemical warfare? MeBr is a damn alkylating agent. Right up there with mustard gas, although in addition to being a non-specific alkylator sulfur mustard also attacks some specific protein targets in the skin.
And yeah, a lot of modern fire suppression systems simply lower the O2 to the level above killing people but below sustaining fire. Others (like Novec) work like Halon - by breaking the reaction cycle of the fire - but without the ozone depletion. There's also HiFog which is basically a very fine water mist. It's fine enough to be safe for equipment, but UPS batteries tend to get really pissed off at the sudden drop in temperature.
Some other fun trivia is that both the noise from the gas discharge and the actual fire alarm sirens can be really, really bad for mechanical disks. To the point of killing enough disks to take out entire RAID arrays in atleast one case I know of.
Most of the Halon scares are about accidental (or not-so-accidental...) discharges, not actual fires.
And if things really are burning, you are unlikely to be worse off from the Halon byproducts than what the combustion would have resulted in otherwise.
Hydrogen halide production isn't something that only occurs in a fire in the presence of Halon, you know*. Not to mention the others - I'm no expert on the toxicology of combustion gases, but carbon monoxide certainly comes to mind.
* Halon produces HF while many burning plastics would be mostly HCl. HF is more toxic (spill the liquid on you and the acid burns aren't your big problem - it gets absorbed into the bloodstream and poisons you... really does a job on bones as well unlike most acids), but HCl is the stronger acid. I'd think direct lung/airway damage would be relevant long before systemic toxicity when inhaling the thing?
Did a site risk assessment a couple of decades back in SA. The old mainframe machine room was being used for the ops/dev cube farm with an intact and active Halon system still in place; service inspection tickets three years out of date!
The "new" server room had no fire protection except for extinguishers (same for rest of building) but they had placed the servers underneath the air-con cassettes which had no drip trays.
To cap it all the whole lot was on the floor above the unsecured car park with no sprinkler system. Did I mention they had placed the power supply substation in the car park as it was shaded?
There's also the off-the-shelf, supposedly easy for ordinary users to implement, comprehensive systems for " business continuity" and similar data managing activities, sold as affordable, that turn out to take an expert (theirs or someone trained by them at exorbitant cost) to collate and enter the information because it's so complicated to navigate, then someone else to train users to use the, supposedly accessible, data when it's in there, after they haven't been able to make head nor tail of it.because it's so f***ing incomprehensible, with multiple overlapping levels of apparently identical data, idiosyncratic and non-standard icons that look pretty and bold, but give no indication of what they do - or a misleading one like a big silvery spanner to mean "save", and meaningless labels. Presumably designed purely to impress suits who think it looks simple because they have no idea how it actually should work or how it would fit in a real workplace. (Been there, suffered that).
There used to be one fitted where I am but it was taken out a fair few years ago.
The worrying this is when they removed it they found there was no delay timer set. If it had triggered it would have dropped immediately with no warning. To top it off it wasn't empty, two people had their office in the server room too back when I first started.
@ J 27
I was once appointed Fire Representative for the large office where I worked. Maybe my boss wanted me to be last out of the building if there had been a fire.
So we were sent on a Friday afternoon course on the Dangers of Fire and Safety, which included demonstrations of various type of fire extinguisher. Water, foam, CO2, yes; but not halon, we were told it was too expensive for a demo.
"Water, foam, CO2, yes; but not halon, we were told it was too expensive for a demo."
We had a halon system discharge at a place I worked, but by then its effect on the ozone layer was well understood, and it was illegal to refill the system with more halon.
So in addition to the cost of replacing the shorted out kit that triggered the halon dump in the first place, there was the cost of a brand new non-halon fire prevention system.
You guys are me curious about this, and it turns out it is illegal to "make, use, transfer, display, transport, store or dispose of" almost all CFCs, including Halon (all 3 kinds) in the part of Canada I live and has been since 2011 after manufacturing was made illegal in 1994. So that probably explains my I've not seen one.
They phased out halon in the early nineties. Used it only once on a fire drill in the mid eighties, a small one like they use in cars. Impressive stuff Halon, it really worked. Heard a story about a server-room with modern CO2 extinguishers. The noise of the CO2 release shattered the hard disk platters.
These sales drones really lacked imagination. They should have known it was going to be down to how and not if they were going to go, so why not go in the most spectacular fashion possible? Cannonball into the Mercedes! Actually, just throw something heavy into the car and stick your head out the window as high up as possible for a chance at going on to round two.
This is the world we live in these days - the carpetbaggers turn up exactly like this, selling the same old snake oil with a shiny new mobile app in the cloud guaranteeing 99.999999999% availability 75% of the time with exceptions for third-party incidents - e.g. when the office cleaner plugs his e-cig charger into the server USB port and fries the entire system (hello B.A..)
Very, very rarely are janitors ever stupid enough to plug anything into a customer's computers, and even more rarely are they allowed access to the server room at all! If your server room needs cleaning, then your filtration system is in dire need of attention. Also, techs should be smart enough and capable enough to do a quick sweep (preferably not with a static-based cleaning tool like a dust-mop or swiffer).
That having been said, I once received a call informing me that I was being re-assigned. The gentleman I was to replace was somewhere between 60 and 70 years old, and completely tech-illiterate. He had received a complaint about his dusting, and had attempted to fix the deficiency in his work - the problem is that he disconnected and moved each and every computer in the office (a government office at that) in order to complete the task properly. I didn't ever find out if any of the systems had been damaged by his meddling.
I met the man, he truly didn't understand what he had done wrong. He literally had no idea why he was being fired for doing an extra good job.
I have had cold sales calls to a domestic line, on the TPS list, from salesmen like this. They get abusive if you say no. They ring back if you hang up. The calling number is always withheld.
I suppose their calls are what keeps the Openreach engineers in employment. Honesty is becoming worthless.
I have had cold sales calls to a domestic line, on the TPS list, from salesmen like this. They get abusive if you say no.
What the hell are the sales droids on these days.... ???? The only thing I can figure out is that either they sleep through Sales101. Get abusive with me and many IT types that I know, and the word will get spread to every department that might get called.
I saw this and laughed , good story. I thought it would be hilarious to see if some actually vape the Halon. I wonder if the CRTS can be used to a chairs to and desks to achieve the 100k savings.
I buy Halon Gas back from data centers, so if your afraid of the discharge let me know i send you some Cash or BC.I have herd the horror stories like that over the years, i actually recharge those tanks as well here in the US, were still allowed to service them.
I saw a few questions regarding alternatives to Halons, Look up HFC 125 or HFC 227 or NOVEC 1230
or just reach out to me via A-Gas America Fire Protection team/ A-Gas UK Fire Protection
* do not vape Halon it breaks down into an acid at tempatures above 800 Fahrenheit
"I buy Halon Gas back from data centers, so if your afraid of the discharge let me know i send you some Cash or BC.I have herd the horror stories like that over the years, i actually recharge those tanks as well here in the US, were still allowed to service them."
This reads like some Nigerian Prince just died and someone wants me to help them move some money out of the country!
That's probably because the final purpose is not far off. I suspect the Halon gets bought cheap ("how else are you going to get rid of it? You'd have to pay a company to remove it from the premises. Instead we pay you!") and then sold for an arm, 2 legs and a large part from the remaining limb to a client needing Halon on an existing system they don't want/can't replace. Probably good business.
First you get hooked with "tremendous" cost savings. Then, if all your precious data has gone to shiny new system, they will bend you over and screw you with upgrades, maintanance or additonally needed features (unfortunatly) not included in the initial purchase. We need far more BOFH...
I was hired on to a museum that had a Unix catalog system that was on it's last legs (and was far too complex for the small organization that was trying to use it). My first task was to sort the problem and recommend either getting a version upgrade of the existing system (at substantial cost) or replacing it. When I called for a quote to upgrade, I found out that the price did not include migrating our data from the labyrinthine database to the new poorly documented version, which would cost as far as I could tell about $5 per record. We replaced it with a different system, and one of their programmers (who knew he was on his way out) helped us work with the new vendor to map and export the data.
This seems like one of those British acronyms not used much on my side of the pond. Googling it only brought up stuff about Trans-World Airlines (and no, that didn't mean what most people would think nowadays).
Wild guesses: Time Without Accident? Total Workplace Accidents? Tally (of) Workplace Accidents?
In the U.S., most shops discontinued using Halon because it was expensive, you could never test the system (because it was too expensive), and too many bosses actually read the warnings. CO2 is the best we have, though it won't stop a really big fire. However, most BOFHs, like myself, never got around to removing the warning stickers (way too much work). As for CRTs, the phosphorus coating on the screen is what was dangerous, not so the electron beam. Granted the number of millirads of exposure in one day wasn't that bad, but overtime, given that you were sitting about 3 feet from the screen, millirads began to build up. Then you'd go home an sit in front of another CRT for hours. They do make great targets and generate a unique noise when they implode. However, I'm not an alarmist, given the radon gas coming up from under the house, the constant bombardment of cosmic rays, various kinds of radiation from our local star, and U.S. physicians love of X-raying you for everything possible, if you haven't developed a cancer of any sort by age 40, you're usually good to go. As for the sales swamp creatures mentioned in the article, a 2 story drop isn't good enough, 4 stories is more fun. During my 40 years in IT (before it was called IT even) the H&S toads were never allowed in the server room as they were a danger to the servers as they could never be trusted not to press a power button or reset. They could look into the server room, if they could find an open space between the Halon warning stickers covering the glass door.
"As for CRTs, the phosphorus coating on the screen is what was dangerous, not so the electron beam. "
The phosphorus coating was only dangerous if it got out as it contained cadmium, which is very nasty indeed. Indeed CRTs in general seem to have been a convenient dumping ground for several major metallic toxins - lead, cadmium and barium.
CRTs produce some X-rays as a result, mainly, of the electrons hitting the shadow masks (with some produced by hitting the phosphors). But large color CRTs have thick front glass with a lot of barium to absorb the X-rays. I don't think the radiation was anything like as high as you suggest (but I'm not sure, because the rad is a non-SI unit and I never had to work with it). A dental X-ray is apparently about a millirad which suggests your figure is rather high.
For the sales droid and the denim guy it probably wasn't a difficult choice. You see the Mercedes was probably the sales droid's own and of course he didn't want to scratch it.
As for the sales tactic, it is all to familiar. Really "cheap" up front, but the implementation and recurring costs are the ones that really kill you (hopefully the sales droid).
A former workplace of mine migrated from a Sanderson (?) minicomputer-based stock control system that worked beautifully, to a nasty proprietary Windows-based system that was so utterly incompatible that not only would they have to alter production workflows slightly to accommodate it, but they also had to employ temporary staff just to transcribe the product details from printouts into the new system.
It still wasn't working properly when I got out of that place. I could have done a better job myself; using pure Open Source software, piping the data directly out of the old system into the new and making it all work as closely as possible to the original system they already knew. Just using a web browser instead of a terminal emulator.
"I could have done a better job myself; using pure Open Source software, piping the data directly out of the old system into the new and making it all work as closely as possible to the original system they already knew."
Not really BOFH content, but a significant amount of my job is rescuing people who thought they could do this. Data migration is hard and it's almost impossible to coerce one data model into another without business process changes.
Agreed in spades, but in the (admittedly unlikely) event you have sufficient contingency in the project plan you can iterate time time and again until its finally reasonable. But the intial estimate will probably be out by an enormous margin, and if sufficient time *is* built in to the project plan then your in house price is going to look extremely expensive against the external quotes that have all the drawbacks and inaccuracies listed above.
"the geeky one will be... in some fashionable denim, pointy shoes and retro paisley shirt. And a beard - with a... 60% probability of a hair bun - because he's the edgy authentic woodsman type."
Swap the paisley for a checked lumberjack pattern (which goes with "authentic woodsman") and you have just described our Chief Windows Wallah.
Yes, he does have the hair bun.
I can just imagine him in the role described.
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