back to article Justice served: There is no escape from the long server log of the law

Bid farewell to the weekend and a cheery hello to work with a tale of a near-cuffing in our regular Who, Me? column. Today's story, from a reader The Register's pseudoriser has called "Frank", is set back in the days of Windows 2000, Pentium processors and CD-ROM drives. "I used to work at an electronics factory in Canada," …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm perfect, never had anything like this happen to me. I have had many laughs thinking about how all of you, with your imperfect operations actually manage to run a business.

    1. Martin Summers

      Poor trolling effort, 1 out of 10 from me.

      1. Nick Kew Bronze badge

        Harsh. I read that as just an attempt at lighthearted tongue-in-cheek humour. Possibly motivated by "hey, first comment".

        1. Martin Summers

          It was nowhere near subtle enough

        2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Harsh. I read that as just an attempt at lighthearted tongue-in-cheek humour. Possibly motivated by "hey, first comment".

          Might have been except for it being posted by an Anonymous Coward. If you are so perfect, there is no need to hide your name.

    2. jake Silver badge

      ::sighs::

      Wouldn't it be easier to learn IT than attempt to troll us trolls?

      Bad try. No cookie.

    3. NATTtrash Silver badge

      Don't get out much, do you?

    4. Alien8n

      In my experience anyone who actually believes themselves to be perfect is either a liar or deluded, or both. No one can foresee every single possible outcome. There is always an element of the unknown. What sets the idiots apart from the true IT professionals is knowing that at some point you have to make that call, and be prepared to get your hands dirty fixing it. Sometimes that means fixing the shit left by "perfect" people.

      1. sed gawk Silver badge
        Trollface

        Speak for yourself

        I used to be vain but now I'm perfect ;)

        1. Nick Kew Bronze badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Speak for yourself

          I remember a student poster. Picture was a tiger. Caption It's hard to be humble when you're as good as I am.

        2. Doctor Huh?

          Re: Speak for yourself

          "I used to be vain but now I'm perfect ;)"

          You're so vain, you probably think this post is about you.

          1. sed gawk Silver badge

            Re: Speak for yourself

            Siri, "Why do people keep calling me Dick Tracy?"

            Siri, "Why does Carly Simon think I'm vain?"

      2. Daedalus Silver badge

        cf. "Dunning-Kruger Effect"

      3. boltar Silver badge

        Can't anyone on here spot a wind up?

        Do you REALLY think he's being serious? Perhaps drink some coffee before replying next time.

    5. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

      Incomplete comment without link to following:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxldrySd7IU

    6. Mark 85 Silver badge

      I'm perfect, never had anything like this happen to me.

      The last guy I heard about claimed to be perfect, lived about 2000 years . It didn't end well for him.

      1. Daedalus Silver badge

        "2000 year old man"? Last I checked Mel Brooks was still with us and doing fine.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Not Mel Brooks.

          Keith Richards, He Who Will Outlive the Tardigrades.

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Coat

        I thought he got nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change

        1. dak
          Thumb Up

          Upvote for the DNA reference.

      3. jmch Silver badge

        I suspect you mean "lived about 2000 years AGO"

        In any case I don't think the guy in question ever laid any claim to perfection although many have subsequently done so on his behalf!

    7. VikiAi
      Meh

      Unce i coudn evn spel purfekt. Now I are one.

    8. Flywheel Silver badge

      Is that you Jeremy Hunt?

  2. AndrewInIreland

    Similar (but no visit from the The Fuzz)

    I had something similar- was contacted by a company I used to work for (many years ago), saying that a client of theirs was screaming blue murder- their “IT Manager” had been on because one of their critical servers had stopped working and the explanation he came up with is that I had hacked them. So, mainly to clear my good name, I went onsite with a team, and found a load of suddenly misconfigured settings and config files. A quick check of the logs and I had a local IP address. Which lead right back to the “IT Managers” own computer...

    1. NATTtrash Silver badge

      Re: Similar (but no visit from the The Fuzz)

      Yep, recognise that. Must be part of the standard "training"...

      CONCISE, COMPREHENSIVE, INCOMPETENT MIDDLE MANAGEMENT CHALLENGE STREAMLINING DECISION TREE

      Situation description: You've fscked things up.

      Step #1 (tick if appropriate)

      [_] Blame some other sorry wanker

      [_] Face up to facts, report your error, solve situation

      Step #2

      [_] Wake up tosser. Get real, cover your arse and blame the other sorry wanker

      1. EnviableOne Silver badge

        Re: Similar (but no visit from the The Fuzz)

        Nah one rule:

        "All problems were caused by the last person who left, untill that person is you"

  3. jake Silver badge

    From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

    "Since things had all been working well, the powers that be had wondered why Frank was even needed."

    Typical bassackward management thinking, which sadly I see all the time. Hey, idiots, the systems worked well because Frank kept them running.

    "All he seemed to do was sit in the server "room" or his office."

    Well, yes, you dunderheads. That's where the computers are. Where would you expect him to sit? On the roof?

    (I'm reminded of the words of Willy Sutton, when asked why he robbed banks. He supposedly replied "Because that's where the money is!")

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

      Reminds me of an incident offshore (oil and gas) where a tech was “released” (aka made redundant) because the system he managed was running fine; so fine, in fact, he was regularly used to support other work as the system he ran only needed about half his time.

      I went there to conduct a fiscal audit and found that, following a platform trip (not that rare an occurrence), the system he had previously overseen hadn’t fully come online for about a day: the techs who had been given part-time responsibility for it, and should have spotted the situation, were otherwise occupied. The result was That a day’s worth of production was not correctly recorded - which amounted to a revenue loss of several million USD, once my report reached TPTB.

      Needless to say, the tech was soon offered his job back - and, I believe, he negotiated a favourable deal.

      (Anonymous for professional confidentiality - and to protect the guilty)...

    2. Symon Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

      "All he seemed to do was sit in the server "room" or his office."

      When we first opened our business out in the sticks we had an office cat. The business claimed for his cat food, but the accountant wasn't happy.

      "How can you justify paying for an office cat? All he seems to do is sit there."

      "We have the cat for vermin control."

      "But you don't have any mice to control!"

      ....

      "OK, fine."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

        Head and Shoulders? You don't have dandruff!

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

          I'm sure we've all heard this one many times:

          "All that fuss over Y2K and the money you lot all conned from us... And nothing bad happened"

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

            And nothing bad happened

            Not quite true, there was a Y2K problem in the news, it happened on the very last day of the year 2000. The Norwegian railways used a system, that used year and day number for dates. And they forgot 2000 was a leap year.

            1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

              Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

              Here's a list of reported issues reported in January, 2000.

              http:/www.welshgit.net/y2k/

          2. katrinab Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

            There was a lot of y2k snakeoil. All those people who were rounded up off the streets and given a one week training course to become y2k consultants, do you really think they did anything useful? They are the ones who are now looking for something to replace PPI ambulance chasing.

            1. Just Enough

              Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

              "do you really think they did anything useful?"

              Considering the other option was "do nothing", even someone with one week training is an improvement.

              1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

                Not necessarily, they could have made things a lot worse instead of doing nothing, which doesn't count as an improvement in my book. A little knowledge is dangerous.

            2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

              Sure, there were loads of chancers and scaremongers, but also a lot of bloody dodgy code!

              Lots of year rollovers to 19100 - not too serious if just presentational, but we (ICL) had a uk wide monitoring system that's pager system would have failed, and alot of other stuff. Not world war 3, or pacemaker reboots, but enough to keep us busy!

              FInally, not y2k related directly, but a y2k audit revealed such gems as the c program that contained:

              system ("sleep 3");

              .. the rest of the code wasn't much better!

            3. BuckeyeB

              Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

              They moved on to being Agile consultants.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

      In January 2000, the network ops team I left in September was told that management had questioned the money and overtime spent in the second half of 1999 preparing for the Y2K rollover. What was the point of that - nothing had gone wrong they said. And we came in at below 80% of the agreed budget.

      Anon because yeah it was long ago, but I'm kinda with the same company again now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

        "What was the point of that - nothing had gone wrong they said"

        The obvious reply should be "Thanks for the complement!"

        1. Norman Nescio

          Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

          Was that one's or two's complement?

          No doubt, had someone courteously praised and thanked you in such a way, your day would have been complete.

        2. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
          Pint

          Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

          Or "That's why you pay me the big bucks" although we all know the bucks aren't actually that big.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

      I once worked in a building where TPTB decided we no longer needed a doorman/security guard. We pointed out that we had regular deliveries of very expensive kit... they countered by pointing out that nothing had been pinched in the last couple of years!

      Erm... wonder why

      (the stores manager was mightily peeved a few months later when someone in the building 'kindly' signed for £500k of kit that was then just dumped in a corridor)

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

        Old story.

        A tourist is walking along a cliff edge path. There's a massive drop.

        Stopping at a cafe on the route he says to the owner, "That cliff edge is really dangerous. There ought to be a fence there."

        "Ah, there was," said the owner. "but no one ever fell over so we took it away again."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        We can trust our staff

        When managing our first large scale pc roll out we used the lessens learned from previous projects. We bought 1000 PC's from a single production run to avoid component changes, perfected our coporate build then had it installed on all the PC's at the factory. The contract stated that we had to receive the PC's in two batches, the supplier retained 500 in a warehouse but we had to receive the first 500 as a single batch to get the lowest price. My request for secure storage (£600) for the £1,500,000 worth of kit was rejected by the property department who suggested the far simpler solution of using office space as storage, but not dedicated lockable office space, literally if you were getting 10 PC's you stored them until just before you were about to be rolled out.

        When the guys were completing the install in a large open plan office they got to the bottom row of the pallet and found the 6 CPU boxes were empty.

        The same PHB refused my request for a courier service to deliver the PC's to site on the basis the techies were going there anyway and insisted they were transported un-boxed to maximise the use of space in the rented transit. That went well when the two clowns doing the install managed to roll the van.

    5. 's water music

      Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

      As a counterpoint to all these tales of redundant guardians of systems that 'never go wrong anyway', many years ago at the apprentice workshops of a UK based nuclear submarine builder (who will remain nameless), the tool storesman, Nelson, was renowned for always refusing to check out the last one of any tool category because that would leave him out of stock and unable to service any subsequent requests for that tool. I was too young and thoughtless to spend any time wondering if that was some piece of logic of his own devising or a side-effect of some weird KPI about stock levels

      1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
        Facepalm

        Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

        Our Workshop Foreman had several large racks of raw materials, such as steel bar stock, threaded rod, etc., at the back of his workshop area. We lesser mortals, who had to actually manufacture prototypes and similar research equipment, would often have to sneak in when he wasn't about to purloin said raw materials because if you asked him, he would always refuse to part with it. His reasoning was that, if he let us have the stock, there wouldn't be any left for him to give to us, would there?

      2. WageSlave

        Re: From the Seen That Department of Obvious Idiocy ...

        "What does it say on that sign on the door, young man?"

        - "Errr, Stores?"

        "Yup, that's what I do. Doesn't say I have to give them to anyone."

        ...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely...

    any PHB worth his salt should have had him over a barrel for not documenting the process and procedure for keeping the website up?

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Surely...

      Having taught a number of people to do complex and involved scientific procedures (including small animal surgery) it is not until you have to observe someone doing something that things they need to know but you did not until that moment think of come up.

      Writing manuals and instructions is a specialised job for a reason. Have you ever tutted or ranted at an instruction sheet which is ambiguous or leaves out a critical step?

      I was recently called on in a voluntary capacity to assemble a large scales for weighing large bags of stuff. It came with various bits and NO instructions. It was a good mental workout figuring the process out and what all the bits were for and where they went. Having the still assembled non working scales to compare with was useful but only partly helpful. Instructions would have streamlined the process.

      Also being a scientist I am used to dealing with ‘black box’ situations in Biology. All living creatures are Heath Robinsonesque contraptions full of historical contingencies leading to sometimes bizarre mechanisms and when investing a new one you can make NO assumptions about how it will be.

      No instructions? Engage brain and appropriate caution but proceed.

      1. Alien8n

        Re: Surely...

        Having written process documentation I quickly learned that however intelligent you believe the people using the equipment are, always assume that the document will be read by a complete and utter imbecile. Even for something as simple as weighing a box of electronic components.

        Partly this was down to the long hours they had to work, but also in part because every so often the company would hire someone who could best be described as making Homer Simpson seem like a well qualified Nuclear Physicist.

        1. Killfalcon

          Re: Surely...

          It's a good approach. Smart people will get the gist and get the job done. If there's a bit that isn't clear in the process itself, they'll be able to find the specific guidance in your document.

          The low on sleep, the daft and the drunk alike will be able to follow the process as well.

          1. Alien8n

            Re: Surely...

            When you're working with equipment that can potentially rip someone's arm off it's always better to be process heavy. Doesn't stop the completely idiotic who think they know better, but at least if it's documented you can point to the process and show why they're doing it wrong.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Surely...

              "When you're working with equipment that can potentially rip someone's arm off"...

              ...it might be a good idea to redesign to at least reduce the probability if not eliminate it.

              1. Alien8n

                Re: Surely...

                To be fair you had to press 2 buttons which then initiated the shut sequence on the front panel. Didn't stop one idiot managing to shove his arm in while the door was closing.

                Mostly injuries were along the lines of "oops, glove has ridden up slightly exposing skin while cleaning. I still have a small scar from that one (cleaning chrome plates heated to 200C)

                1. Marcelo Rodrigues
                  Facepalm

                  Re: Surely...

                  "To be fair you had to press 2 buttons which then initiated the shut sequence on the front panel. Didn't stop one idiot managing to shove his arm in while the door was closing."

                  Never, EVER, underestimate the ability of the stupid/lazy.

                  Case in point: huge machine, with huge hydraulic press. The operator must press (and keep pressed) both buttons, in order to operate the machine. The buttons are locate so your hands are well out of the dangerous area - and it isn't possible to press both buttons with a single hand.

                  Comes the lazy idiot. Get one toothpick, and jam it on one of the buttons - so he doesn't need both hands to operate the machine.

                  Yes, it is quite usual to people like this to loose hands or fingers. Darwin at work and all.

                  1. Electronics'R'Us
                    Alert

                    Re: Surely...

                    Many years ago I worked with some high power radios (10kW radiated power) which required a correspondingly high voltage supply (20kV) to drive the final beam power tetrode.

                    All equipment such as this have safety interlocks attached to the various enclosure panels to ensure the power is shut down quickly in the case of removal of said panels.

                    The rule is simple: Never defeat an interlock.

                    This being El Reg, you can guess what some bright spark (pun slightly intended) did; he taped the interlock microswitches (multiple!) closed so the system read the panel as being attached and the therefore safe.

                    He was lucky to only have minor head injuries and some burns after being ejected away from the cabinet and into another close cabinet by the live supply when he accidentally touched it.

                    Claimed he had done this before so it was perfectly safe. Not sure if he learned his lesson as he changed jobs shortly thereafter.

                    1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

                      Re: Surely...

                      The rule is simple: Never defeat an interlock.

                      Umm until you need to because..

                      1. You know what you are doing

                      2. You know what will happen

                      3. The manufacturer designed it so that an engineer can defeat it.

                      4. You are said engineer

                      5. You really need to watch something happening rather than look at a cover and listen to some strange noises.

                      Users need not apply unless they have more than the required number of extremities.

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: Surely...

                        > 5. You really need to watch something happening rather than look at a cover and listen to some strange noises.

                        Caution: Do Not Look Into Laser With Remaining Eye

                        1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

                          Re: Surely...

                          See 1 and 3.

                        2. Robert Sneddon

                          The Sign

                          On the laser cutter read "Do not interrupt laser beam with remaining fingers." It was etched (by the cutter) into a piece of 10mm-thick steel plate.

                          1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

                            Re: The Sign

                            Should have read "Do not interrupt remaining fingers with laser beam"

                      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                        Coat

                        Re: Surely...

                        Years ago on my Xerox "placement"......

                        I was advised that one of the industrial laser printer trainers was a former field tech, defeated interlocks & with a hand in the wrong place, that got pulled into the fuser, which then "reported a "jam".

                        He managed to grab a tool & wind the rollers back to remove his appendage & take up his new role in life as the reincarnation of Berek Halfhand.

                        1. Luiz Abdala Bronze badge

                          Re: Surely...

                          I believe these guys are excused from using actual ties around their necks.

                          The kind of tie that is made of cotton, and posesses enough tensile strength to tow a 7.000lb. trailer.

                          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                            Re: Surely...

                            On the rare occasion I wear a tie, I insist on it being silk (quite easy as I only own silk ties). There is no advantage to it besides the better quality. The higher tensile strength may be considered a minor disadvantage in this context.

                            1. jake Silver badge

                              Re: Surely...

                              The only real use for a tie is as a handle to shake sense into the wearer.

                      3. Richocet

                        Re: Surely...

                        1,2,4,5 and "Users need not apply" are all subject to the Dunning-Kruger effect.

                        So be careful giving rules like that.

                      4. Montreal Sean

                        Re: Surely...

                        I need to bypass interlocks on laser printers on a regular basis to be able to see what the motors and gears are doing when I troubleshoot problems.

                        Keep fingers clear of moving parts and sparky parts.

                      5. Slow Joe Crow

                        Re: Surely...

                        I had an example of #3. When I trained as a Compaq tech one of my tools was an ankh shaped piece of plastic used to defeat the open lid sensor on server chassis so we could power them on with side panel off.

                    2. Alien8n

                      Re: Surely...

                      Company I used to work for moved manufacturing to Mexico. Queried the £5000 per machine for the safety cut-offs and demanded the supplier remove them as they "weren't needed in Mexico". The supplier pointed out that that the cut-offs were the only thing standing between the operator and a 10,0000V shock. Company still refused to sign off till the supplier made it clear that without the cut-offs they wouldn't be selling them any equipment. Never underestimate the greed and lack of humanity where money is concerned.

                  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                    Re: Surely...

                    "Yes, it is quite usual to people like this to loose hands or fingers. Darwin at work and all."

                    For Darwin to have an effect it would take loss of more than hands or fingers.

                    1. pirxhh

                      Re: Surely...

                      Nah, only a significant reduction of reproductive success is needed.

                      Loss of attractiveness to prospective mates and/or ability to provide for offspring would qualify.

                  3. 2+2=5 Silver badge

                    Re: Surely...

                    > Never, EVER, underestimate the ability of the stupid/lazy.

                    There is stupid and there is a kind of blindness...

                    A Dutch colleague once recalled how, when he had been in the army, his tank training instructor had somehow ended-up single handed in a tank on an exercise. (Normally there are two in the turret sitting either side of the breech - one to aim; the other to load and fire.) So when it came to fire, he was able to lean over and load a shell into the breech then back to his own seat to aim. He then reached over with his arm to press the fire button.

                    Now there's not a lot of room in a tank turret and the gun recoils to within about 1 cm of the rear of the turret. And sure enough, what was left of his arm was about 1cm thick.

                    My colleague said he got the job of cleaning-up.

                    [There's another story about cleaning turrets with petrol instead of soap and water because it evaporates whereas the water is a devil to dry amongst all the nooks and crannies. You can guess what happened - no one hurt, fortunately - but I'll save that story for another day.]

                    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                      "his tank training instructor had somehow ended-up single handed in a tank on an exercise"

                      So to speak.

                      1. Luiz Abdala Bronze badge

                        "The rapidly transforming vehicle has been know to killing less agile operators".

                        The description of the Viking aircraft in Starcraft 2, which transforms from a bipedal mecha with gatling guns into a fighter.

                        Even in fiction, military gear is not know for being OSHA compliant.

                  4. John 104

                    Re: Surely...

                    I used to run a hydraulic paper cutter when I worked in a print shop. 4 foot blade and it would cut through several inches of paper at once. To operate it, you had to grab two lock outs at near full arms width apart, and then depress a foot pedal to activate. It was pretty locked out but still scared the shit out of me. I got so quick with it that I was moving my hands towards the blade as it finished its cut. It was at that point that I realized how close I was coming to loosing an arm. I slowed down after that. Can't imagine someone defeating the safety mechanism, but people do...

                  5. eldel

                    Re: Surely...

                    4 (ish) decades ago whilst doing my apprenticeship I was on placement to the factory fitters. Was called out to remove the remains of an arm from a very large (i.e. multi-ton force) press. There was a fold-down guard on the front which enabled the machine. Genius operator on piece work figured that a bit of wire and 2 croc clips would by-pass the cutout, so he could just keep the foot pedal depressed and time the ram. Worked until he got his sleeve caught.

                    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

                      Re: Surely...

                      There's a lesson I'll bet you never forget.

                  6. Aussie Doc Bronze badge

                    Re: Surely...

                    Isn't that a saying or something "Whenever you make something foolproof along comes a bigger fool" or something along those lines.

                    1. JassMan

                      Re: Surely...

                      The saying I was taught is:

                      Nothing can be made totally foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

                    2. WonkoTheSane
                      Headmaster

                      Re: Surely...

                      “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”

                      ― Albert Einstein

                    3. Grooke

                      Re: Surely...

                      “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”

                      ― Douglas Adams

                      1. jake Silver badge

                        Re: Surely...

                        Bumper sticker from the 1960s: "Nothing is foolproof because fools are so ingenious".

                        Or, as my Uncles used to put it "If you try to make something idiot proof, they will just make a better class of idiot". (US military, 1940s ...)

                  7. Elsmarc

                    Re: Surely...

                    A light curtain will prevent circumvention of the "two button" safeguard.

                    1. GlenP Silver badge

                      Re: Surely...

                      A light curtain will prevent circumvention of the "two button" safeguard

                      Provided the guard mute key isn't available to the operators (it nearly always is for maintenance purposes).

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: Surely...

                        Had an incident not too long ago where a technician remoted into an oil drilling rig to do software updates of a critical safety system. The rig was between wells, so the safety system was not needed at the time and safely stowed.

                        Unfortuately, he mistyped the IP address and did his work (that required a few reboots) on an actively drilling rig where said safety system was very much in need.

                        Since then, the remote connection is unplugged and the corresponding socket secured with two padlocks, so before any remote support can happen, the OIM (captain) and the maintenance supervisor must each remove their lock.

              2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: Surely...

                Quote :-"When you're working with equipment that can potentially rip someone's arm off"...

                ...it might be a good idea to redesign to at least reduce the probability if not eliminate it."

                Yupp except sometimes it can lead to the stupid situations when the 'safety' guy and the 'manglement' guy have a seen big machine that will happily squish anyone into a fine paste if used wrongly, then install guarding and cutouts and interlocks so that you cant actually get the parts into the machine that its supposed to machine....

                Then the operators come along, remove most of the new guarding, stick screws in the interlock switches and carry on working, until the 'manglement' guy comes along and reaches over the working parts to turn it off(you can easily walk around) leaving his tie dangling over the rotating bits.....

                Ps .. it did stop..... and he wrote me up for being rude and very abusive (canceled by HR on appeal)

            2. 's water music

              Re: Surely...

              working with equipment that can potentially rip someone's arm off...Doesn't stop the completely idiotic ...but at least ...you can point to the process and show why they're doing it wrong.

              That's easy for you to say

              1. Alien8n

                Re: Surely...

                It's required to prove that the user was fully aware that what they was doing was against process. Trainers are told they must ensure that the entire process document is read and the user has to sign off the training to confirm they read it. Then when something goes wrong the company is at least covered. Not every machine can be made completely idiot proof, all you can do is make sure the process is as safe as can be. It's the same with manual handling. You can't prevent someone picking up a box the wrong way, but as long as you've shown them the correct way to do it and they've signed to say they've been shown it becomes their problem when they injure their back doing it wrong.

          2. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
            Pint

            Re: Surely...

            I see you've worked in the same place as me.

        2. Imhotep Silver badge

          Re: Surely...

          "always assume the document will be read..."

          If only we could assume even that much.

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: "always assume the document will be read..."

            Mine never are.

            1. J. Cook Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: "always assume the document will be read..."

              One of the documents I wrote here at [RedactedCo] was the tape rotation process for one of the LOB servers that handles a gargantuan amount of financial transactions every day.

              The document was written so that a non-terchnical person could comprehend and follow it. it was approved, and handed out to the frontline staff to use.

              fast forward ~ 11 months, and we had a request to perform a restore from one of the tape backups. Only problem is that we couldn't find it anywhere.

              The short, public version is that the people running the backups for the past, oh, 10 months have not been following the procedure (one of them even proclaimed that he didn't bother reading it), so the application's archive tapes have missing and incomplete data sets. After I put my jaw and eyes back in my head, I explain to the BSA for that app that there might be a way to recover the data from the monthly system backups, even though we've never tried it in that manner. He says, 'if we can pull that off, that'd be great', so after he finishes his smoke and I have my cool down, we go back in side, and I start researching what tapes I need to have the Copper Hill people bring back in the morning. Then about 15 minutes later, I go up and start looking for our boss with visions of torture even such that the Marque De Sade would find cruel and unusual to see if I can get two people fired, and charged with a couple counts of general stupidity.

              THE [Redacted] [HOLY CRAP redacted] [Seriously, with a MONKEY?!] TECH DIDN'T DO A SINGLE WEEKLY OR MONTHLY BACKUP AT ALL FOR FOUR MONTHS.

              And that was my first ever data loss incident. We decided shortly afterwards to take back ALL the backup duties away from that group during the big upgrade of that application.

              1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: "always assume the document will be read..."

                I do hope those responsible were fired on the spot for gross dereliction of duty.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "always assume the document will be read..."

                I Have literally lost count of the number of times I have come across this.

                I've also come across the situation on many different environments where the DBA adds table spaces on new volumes without informing the sysadmin, then when a hardware fail occurs the disk restore fails because that volume isn't part of the backup cycle at the same time as the others.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "always assume the document will be read..."

              Worked near the programmers who made the software that loaded mainframe tapes with the software that other companies had purchased. The order processing group worked on the floor below.

              They would always call the programmers with questions instead of looking in the documentation. The programmers proved this by adding a line to the documents saying the first person to report this line gets a free beer.

              They never had to pay up.

            3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: "always assume the document will be read..."

              Mine never are.

              There is a reason I usually refer to the FAQ as NRA for Never Read Answers.

        3. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Surely...

          Having written process documentation I quickly learned that however intelligent you believe the people using the equipment are, always assume that the document will be read by a complete and utter imbecile.

          Back in the early 70'a I was a tech writer. For testing, we "borrowed" someone who was non-tech oriented for testing. Usually a janitor, typing pool person, etc. If they could get through the processes in the manual without causing things to emit smoke or otherwise fail, the procedure was called good.

          1. Diogenes

            Re: Surely...

            Know either as Grant's or Napoleon's Captain , also known as the Mother-in-Law test.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: Surely...

              Next job: Ensure the document is read by the target audience.

              Good luck!

          2. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Surely...

            An analogue of The Old Grey Whistle Test - a real thing from he days of Tin Pan Alley.

            You wrote a song you thought would be a winner, so you called up one of the janitorial staff (aka "The Old Greys") and played it to them.

            Their reaction would tell you all you needed to know about your new "hit". If they were whistling the tune during the rest of the day, you were good. If not, it was back to the ivories.

            1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

              Re: The Old Grey Whistle Test

              I learn something new every day.

              The best reactions I had with ring tones was with Augustus Pablo's "Too Late". Not whistling the tune, but dancing around the office. Must resurrect that sometime...

              The only time anyone has commented on my current one (Stellamara's "Prituri Se Planinata (NiT GriT Remix)") apart from telling me it is too loud, was when some Bulgarians recognised it whilst moving one of my clients office furniture.

        4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Surely...

          I was fighting with just such documentation a couple of days ago. The crucial missing information (amongst lots) was "this option will not be displayed unless you have the appropriate edit permissions, and there will be nothing displayed to tell you that you do not have the appropriate edit permissions".

          I mean! Are people *REALLY* still doing the "remove the option until certain condition fulfilled" thing instead of "grey the option until valid SO THAT YOU KNOW THE BLOODY OPTION ACTUALLY EXISTS".

          1. Neoc

            Re: Surely...

            Yep, especially for front-facing software where the users SHOULD NEVER KNOW THE OPTION EXISTS IF THEY DON'T HAVE SECURITY ACCESS TO IT.

            Most users/clients, for some god-forsaken reason, seem to want to have access to all the options they can see even if it's not part of their [redacted] job.

            1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

              Re: Surely...

              Isn't that just security by obscurity. If I'm not allowed to do something just tell me so. I wasted half an hour the other day trying to work out why a certain piece of equipment wasn't working only to finally realise I'd forgotten to sudo.

              1. Killfalcon

                Re: Surely...

                Not really.

                UIs have to do a few things: they have to make it possible to do the tasks, and ideally, they have to make it easy to do the task, and if you're really lucky they try to make it harder to do the task wrong.

                In, say, Finance, where you have clear role delineation to minimise risk, you often have the same application presenting 4-5 different screens to the different roles. Maybe one team puts customer accounts into the system, another team raises payments, a third team checks and authorises those payments, and someone else has view-only oversight, perhaps. No one person can pay themselves a bunch of money, and the money that does get paid is checked o make sure the customer's get the right amount.

                Not one of these teams needs a screen full of greyed out buttons. They need the buttons that do their job. Honestly, putting every unavailable option up just greyed out is hiding the ones they *should* use in a sea of grey buttons.

                If your job involves Sudo, though, this is probably a different issue - probably the interface was designed by the same person that did everything else, and had no objective sense of what error messages were needed (or what actions users would attempt that the designer assumed 'everyone knew' wouldn't work).

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          PHD Process operators

          I did some work for a large chemical manufacturer. the entire factory was a single production line with various products being extracted at different points in a continuous cycle. The one exception was a product variant which was used as a medical propellant and was subject to FDA good Manufacturing Practice legislation. there were two takers used to take the propellant off the production line and transport it to the cleaning plant for 'purification. The product testing and sampling throughout the plant was carried out by plant operatives but once it hi the medical products plant the testing had to be done by a PHD holder. Apart from the fact that the product was often purer before being purified than afterwards the plant operatives had lots of other task to occupy themselves add sample taking and measuring was a minor role, almost the only thing the two PHD holders had to do was sample taking, measuring and recording.It was a recognised issue for the company, the guys were depressed and demotivated they had studied 5-7 years to get to a PHD status and they were trapped in a portakabin in the middle of a chemical plant performing lab assistant duties, keeping them focused and ensuring no errors crept in was a huge concern the product generated huge profits selling for 100 times the price of the commercial product used for other applications and the FDA do no take kindly to any errors in logging or inaccuracies in sample testing. Their boss had to check sample logs weekly for quality and invent little side projects to keep the guys brains working or they started to lose the ability to complete the sample taking to the simple but rigorous process agreed with the FDA, no improvements or shortcuts were allowed.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: PHD Process operators

            Seems like the FDA is about as competent as the FAA, but I didn't really expect anything else from American Federal bureaucracies.

      2. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: Surely...

        Reminds me of a time I documented the installation and configuration of an Altiris solution (way before Symantec ruined bought them out.

        It had screen shots, and literally a "type this, click that" stream of instructions and nothing was left out.

        I passed it to a colleague to run through in a lab environment - a junior, ex-military, guy, with a real chip on his shoulder, whereby his belief in his own abilities far outweighed the actual abilities (and experience, of which he had almost none).

        It was a dismal affair with untold steps skipped or done wholesale incorrectly. Of course, initially, the PM wanted to know why my document was of such poor quality it couldn't be followed. Thankfully, new guy saved me from answering by piping up "Oh I didn't follow that...I knew what I was doing..."

        Cue the explanation that it was a test of the document and not his [clearly lacking] abilities - please start again, but this time follow the damn document, to the letter

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          picture pictures

          My ex was an academic librarian, a clever woman who could follow scripts meticulously she joined a new university and as they were stuck for work they were learnt tot he IT team to help build PC's. I got a call in the afternoon, they were several pages in to the script but there was no option d on the screen, she was too embarrassed to call the IT guy as she was sure she had done something wrong. At the point where she was supposed to be configuring display settings she was sat on an IP address config page.

          The clown who provided the instructions had literally provided a script that said press option be then enter etc. which ran into several pages with no details of what should be on the screen and no screen shots. When 5 people had got to the same screen before being stopped as there was no option d then something was missing from the instructions rather than them finding the error where it occurred because the screen being presented didn't match the documentation thy carried on for several pages. On the other hand some of the best documentation I have seen was building a Japanese language PC back in the days where you had to set the language before the build started. The engineers were English, the PC was used to control a chemical plant and the support process was literally to build 2 fly them out and fly out a replacement each time a machine failed with the failed machine being flown back. The document was so detailed anyone could manage the build.

      3. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Surely...

        "Having taught a number of people to do complex and involved scientific procedures (including small animal surgery) it is not until you have to observe someone doing something that things they need to know but you did not until that moment think of come up."

        As a quick example, I was recently at the University of Warwick, and was sent instructions for getting there. They said to follow the signs labelled reserved parking and see the person in that car park. There were indeed signs, but they forgot the last one sending you into the car park itself, so I went driving past it. Found a steward later on that road who huffily said that they didn't bother with the last sign because the car park has a massive 15 written on the side of it. Of course, you don't know that the reserved parking is in car park 15 when invited.

        1. VonDutch

          Re: Surely...

          But everyone knows car park 15 is the special one! Like the innate knowledge that the university is no-where near Warwick... (caught out a number of visiting friends over the years)

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Surely...

            But the sign saying that it's 15 and special is on the opposite side to the one facing you when you drive down the road they sent you down.

          2. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Surely...

            Or indeed anyone travelling in London. Brent Cross shopping centre has a big bus park, but you don't make the mistake of going to Brent cross Tube station to go shopping, 'cos though plenty of buses terminate there, it's miles from the shops and nearer Golders Green. Likewise if you want Stamford Hill overground, it's actually at the bottom of the hill in Stoke Newington and actual Stamford Hill shops and stuff are a mile or two up the hill.

            Assumptions can be risky. They rely on other people being sensible, for a start. Like only putting the name Brent Cross on a station that is actually in Brent Cross.

            1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

              Re: Brent Cross

              The station was originally called Brent.

              They changed the name to make people cross.

            2. Negative Charlie

              Re: Surely...

              Only putting the name Brent Cross on a station that is actually in Brent Cross would be like only putting the name London Airport on airports within two hours' drive of London.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Coat

                Re: Surely...

                Last Sunday I was having a snack in "Café Concerto - London",

                Except I was in the middle of Birmingham.

                I tried to ask the waiter if Birmingham had become a suburb of London since my last visit, but he gave me a confused look and said "que?"

                So your joke may already be reality.

                It would explain why my satnav couldnt plot a 100m, almost straight walking route to the Conference Centre, and instead gave us a tour on the central Birmingham shopping area.

                Wanders off to see if Birmingham International Airport now appears under "LON" on Kayak.

                1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

                  Re: Surely...

                  Be sure to search for BHX, not BHM.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Surely...

                    Yeah, not fallen for BHM yet.

                    I do have some fun with CAN; several times over the years it has not correctly identified Baiyun Airport, Guangzhou, China, and I have nearly ended up booking tickets to the wrong continent.

                    To be fair though, the "wrong" destination wouldnt smell as bad.

                  2. PM from Hell

                    Re: Surely...

                    My daughter is a cabin supervisor for Emirates, when she started the recruitment process she accidentaly booked an assessment centre in Rome. Luckily she didn't have the money for the air tickets as she was going to go ahead rather than call and change the location tot he UK. It hadn't occurred to her that the assessment centres would be performed in the local language

              2. OssianScotland Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: Surely...

                Only 2 hours drive? Far to close for RyanAir (who would consider London Calais a reasonable option)

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Surely...

        One of my duties when I was a callow yoof.

        I was given the first board for any new layout and would then build and test it my self, keeping a record of all the fuck-ups; design flaws, wrong part numbers, spacings, etc.

        Then I would write up detailed assembly instructions for the girls in the pcb assembly room (yes, they were all girls); as the instructions sent by the designers were pretty poor (see bottom).

        Usually you found a few minor flaws, parts mislabelled or the spacings were wrong, that could be worked around until the corrected 2nd batch boards arrived.

        Only once did a component glow brighter than the sun, and melt straight through the board; the boffin in the company Skylab* had his power requirements off by a factor of 10.

        I came across one of his original circuit schematics, it was actually written on the back of Rothmans fag packets, layout, parts spec, assembly drawings, everything; this is what was regularly sent to the board fab'ers.

        *Nickname for the R&D department.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Surely...

          Wasn't in East Devon perchance...on the coast?

      5. Luiz Abdala Bronze badge

        Re: Surely...

        I bet IBM Aptiva's assembly and disassembly instructions were written by someone in there that was tasked to perform that exact action, because those 18 pages of instructions, filled with detailed pictures on how to remove and replace a HDD hanging upside down on a CD-ROM tray, and a set of 5 boards on a Riser Card, held by 36 screws, was flawless.

        I managed to perform all the actions without pause from that technically perfect manual.

        IBM had real commitmentwith manuals at the time .

        1. swm Silver badge

          Re: Surely...

          If you want to see good technical writing look at the manuals for the IBM 704 or IBM 650. These manuals told you exactly what you needed to know to program the machines.

          1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

            Re: Surely...

            Older equipment manuals are things of beauty.

            They often include specifications, annotated schematics and even circuit descriptions.

            You could actually (shudder!) REPAIR the equipment using only the manual.

            // RIP

            1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
              Black Helicopters

              Re: Surely...

              I used to run the Technical Manuals Section of a large electrical manufacturing company in the Midlands. Every contract had its own specific manual, consisting of standard manuals for each of the component devices, tied together with an overview that summarised where each component went, and what its function was. These manuals were a labour of love, and we (myself and one other Technical Writer) spent a lot of time and effort liaising with the Design Engineers to ensure that we understood the form and function before we signed off on any Manual. Then the bean counters poked their noses in and declared that our complete department (two of us plus two typists) were to be made redundant, and that the manuals would, henceforth, be prepared by the Sales Engineers from the specifications of the contract as they negotiated it with the customer. They also decided that our archive of past manuals was surplus to requirements, and would be disposed of. Unfortunately, we were legally bound to keep the manuals for 10 years for normal contracts and 50 years for anything nuclear.

              I went to work for another Technical Writing company, later rising to the position of Deputy IT Manager. Five years down the line, I was head hunted back by my old firm to set up and run a new Technical Manuals department, as there had been several law suits regarding the non-production of manuals for the contracts that had been filled during the past five years. Funny, that! The company was also hammered by the Health and Safety Directorate for destroying the archive.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Surely...

                "Sales Engineers"

                I think I see where the problem was ...

          2. Diogenes

            Re: Surely...

            Pity they lost this ability. Was trying to work out how to send GDDM graphs to a 3800 laser printer in the mid 80s. as I was writing the new section for the workplace 'SOP' manual

            Had 6 manuals open 2 * GDDM, 2 * JCL, 1*printer and a PL1 , which referred me backwards , forwards and sideways, and I ended up in a loop, it took me a little while to work that out. I ended up photocopying the pages, cutting out the 2 or3 paras that were needed from each page , and arranged them on my desk in the sequence the manuals sent me around. Started at random, and followed the sequence ... nope ... started at the next step ... nope ... next step ...success.

        2. Killfalcon

          Re: Surely...

          Back in 2002 or so, I built my first desktop PC. The motherboard had an instruction manual with it that explained everything - what the jumpers did, which sockets were for which power/data leads, all that fun stuff. It was really helpful, especially since it was all indistinguishable plastic sockets with rotationally symmetrical plugs.

          The one I did a few years ago? No manual, but the sockets were all colour coded and the plugs are all shaped so they only go in the right sockets the right way around. Progress? Probably. I learnt more from the manual, obviously, but did I want to learn basic computer hardware back in 2002? No, I wanted to play Half Life.

    2. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Surely...

      It's a little ambiguous, but I got the impression that he did document as much as possible. The real problem I suspect was that as he was made "redundant" - i.e. his superiors considered his job was not vital to the company - he was not replaced, even by a part-timer. The best-documented procedure in the world is going to break if there's no-one there to implement that procedure.

      I had a related issue at my first "real" job at a radio station. My boss and I were the whole "engineering" department, responsible for everything from the studio equipment through the computer installations and basic maintenance on the air conditioning to unblocking the sinks. We not only worked 8-6 most days, but were required to share a pager at all other times, nominally on a 50/50 basis, but over the years it turned out that I carried the pager about 75% of the time.

      There came a time when I felt the need to move on from the company.

      They had recently been transferred from one large media group to another and the new group had much better IT capabilities, though mostly based in London and Birmingham, so not only was our IT role reduced but because of an imminent (turned out it was still two or three years down the line at this point) move to new studios it was felt that I needn't be replaced - the new equipment wouldn't need anywhere near so much "maintenance".

      So I wasn't replaced, and my boss became the whole of the engineering department, and within six months of my leaving he had found himself another job.

      They re-hired me (long story, but I happened to be free as a university course hadn't quite started) at an enhanced rate, and kept me on until they appointed a new engineer. I did four weeks of overlap with him and for the next year I covered his holidays too.

      Then he, too, had had enough and they limped on for a while until the relocation completed, whereupon they decided they could do without a local engineer at all, and were officially covered by the incumbent at a sister station two hours' drive away.

      But that worked out ok, I suppose. The writing was on the wall when we were taken over - the new owners had an inflexible centralisation policy, installed a new automation system and effectively closed down the local AM station over the course of a couple of years, instead rebroadcasting everything except adverts and jingles. The FM station stayed local for morning and evening shows for a little while longer but it really didn't matter if a local studio completely broke down; so long as the transmitter feed could be connected to the incoming centralised feed, very few people would notice the difference :-(

      M.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ... very few people would notice...

        I had a large part in looking after the UK Pop Chart data collection equipment in the days when it was run independently by Gallup and had 17,00 record shops sending in their sales data. The music industry decided to take the task 'in-house' using 3 shops initially.

        Like radio broadcasts, if you control the whole process then you can distribute whatever crap you like and the general public will not know the difference.

        1. Alien8n

          Re: ... very few people would notice...

          The chart data was well known to be completely made up years before then as well. I recall there were a handful of stores in London that a record label could go into and buy several copies in, resulting in the record hitting the charts. We're not even talking many records in the grand scheme of things, the system was setup in such a way that all they needed to do was send a few hundred singles to one store, send someone down to pick them up again and make a purchase for them and they got included in the sales figures. It would not surprise me if they never got taken out of the box and simply got shoved straight back into the warehouse to be shipped back a few days later.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ... very few people would notice...

            Without revealing too much...

            Gallup new how long it took on average to travel between stores and would notice if 3 copies of a record were bought in store A and then x minutes later another 3 copies were bought in store B.

            Buying more than x copies at a store was always flagged, more than y copies in conjunction with other purchases was flagged. (Your example would have been flagged and discarded.)

            With 17,000 stores, regional differences could be seen (they were allowed) but if a record was only ever bought in 3 stores in London (for instance) then that would be flagged.

            Given the mass of data, from the multitude of stores, hyping of records was general spotted and removed. (Gallup did their own hyping with obscure records to check the algorythms removed it, and manually removed it, if not.)

            Anybody who was determined enough could game the system, but it would take a lot of people and a lot of time. Reducing the sample size to 3 stores meant that no data could be removed, as it was all statistically important. Your example would definitely have been possible once the system was taken 'in-house'.

          2. baud Bronze badge

            Re: ... very few people would notice...

            I've heard it's the same for best-seller book lists too.

            1. d3vy Silver badge

              Re: ... very few people would notice...

              "I've heard it's the same for best-seller book lists too."

              And podcasts... at least on apple.

              There's a really good darknet diaries episode about it.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: ... very few people would notice...

          "you can distribute whatever crap you like"

          The story of the "music" industry for decades.

          1. el_oscuro

            Re: ... very few people would notice...

            Here on the other side of the pond, it is called "payola"

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Surely...

      "for not documenting the process"

      What makes you think he didn't document it? I've had people contact me begging for help, even after I've documented whatever process. Some people are just lazy/incompetent.

    4. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

      Re: Surely...

      The article does not mentioning whether such a procedure handover was done. Or whether the company he was working for did give him time to do such procedure. Or whether he did his job and did document the procedure, but his follower was unable to read.

      All in all you make baseless assumptions which lead me to believe that you were the one who fired him, and now try to put the blame onto others.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surely...

      If all processes could be accurately documented, all the jobs would be done by people whose only ability was being able to read.

    6. FuzzyWuzzys
      Facepalm

      Re: Surely...

      I am one of the utterly sad sods whom absolutely loves writing documentation. However, no matter how much you write, no matter good, no matter how specific it is...no one will read it! Every techie does one of two things, dives right in or simply hands it back to to management saying it's too complex.

      I write documentation for two reasons, the first is 'cos "my brain done only got so much space", dump out the info and your brain can breathe and get on with thinking about the more important stuff like what you'll be doing this weekend. The other reason is purely arse covering, if I write it down you haven't any excuses to go crying to anyone that you don't know how to deal with X 'cos Fred didn't share any info. I find people who try to secure their jobs by not sharing anything are the first to go 'cos management don't know what they do so see them as expendable. The mouthy sods who bang on about nothing all day and how busy they are, they keep their jobs, so be somewhere in between. Be valuable, make yourself known but keep your nut down out of the parapet.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Surely...

        There's a universal truth in there. No one gets promoted for quietly being good at what they do.

        Telling everyone how difficult a task was does get you promoted - even if it is the same task as the person just did, above, quite easily

    7. Oengus
      Facepalm

      Re: Surely...

      I remember a situation we had at a major bank where a process failed if the overnight processing was running late. We investigated the cause of the issue, documented the issue, came up with a fix for the issue, documented the fix and included it in the appropriate procedures.Every time there was an issue the operations depatment would call me and I would point our the fix process in their documentation and guide them through it (carefully ensuring I followed the steps in the documentation). 6 weeks after I was retrenched I was having a drink with some ex-colleagues and the subject came up of an outage. It happened that the issue occurred on the first day of the new financial year (two weeks after I was retrenched) and no one could fix it until one of the operations staff came in on night shift and pointed to the documentation we had spent ages working on.

      Never assume that documentation will be read but it is useful in protecting your ass if something goes wrong.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surely...

      Just as most of the downvoters have (I guess) assumed this was a serious comment and not a troll..... :)

    9. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Surely...

      "any PHB worth his salt should have had him over a barrel for not documenting the process and procedure for keeping the website up?"

      The other side of that is an aerospace firm I worked for where the COO gave me grief for spending too much time on documentation. I never managed to document one project that started before I began there that didn't have any documentation at all. After I left, there was nobody that could work on the hardware and there was no documentation. I heard from former co-workers they were forced to have my replacement spend a whole bunch of time reverse engineering from scratch. I could have done it all in a couple of weeks mostly from memory.

      Many PHB's have no clue about the concept of "institutional knowledge" contained in the employees and not written down. When you have one person that looks after a critical piece of infrastructure, you need to be very careful about making them redundant even if they don't seem like they're very busy most of the time. What's the cost every hour that system is offline? At the aerospace company, the very project where I was talked to about spending too much time documenting earned the company over $1mil primarily due to the completeness of the documentation. The previous PHB knew that, the current one had no clue.

  5. fozzy73

    been there...

    ah, been there, done that, got no tshirt.. but a cease and desist.

    Moved from one company to the direct competitor (nothing in the contract saying i couldn't), had three months notice, as some other colleagues who just by chance left at the same time. Everything good, even got a raise offered and better conditions on the last day. As soon as we started the new job some "tech" found the smoking gun, we had downloaded all company data from the cloud storage... yep, it was synced to the laptops, because why bother segregating information, in fact it wasn't donwloaded but the sync tool had to get the list of files... whatever, it took them 5 months and 2 other more or less identical letters to stop bothering us. In the end for whatever reason (like no proof at all) they stopped... Still cost me a good portion nerves and 800€.

    anonymous because people carry grudges for a long time and i don't want this to start again.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: been there...

      "...ah, been there, done that, got no tshirt.. but a cease and desist.

      Moved from one company to the direct competitor (nothing in the contract saying i couldn't), had three months notice, as some other colleagues who just by chance left at the same time. Everything good, even got a raise offered and better conditions on the last day. As soon as we started the new job some "tech" found the smoking gun, we had downloaded all company data from the cloud storage... yep, it was synced to the laptops, because why bother segregating information, in fact it wasn't donwloaded but the sync tool had to get the list of files... whatever, it took them 5 months and 2 other more or less identical letters to stop bothering us. In the end for whatever reason (like no proof at all) they stopped... Still cost me a good portion nerves and 800€.

      anonymous because people carry grudges for a long time and i don't want this to start again...."

      This is one reason I always use a VM for my working machine. Once I am done, it is put into archive. In the event I ever need anything from it, it's brought up off-net. Where I am given a company PC, I will perform a P2V on it.

      I love the look of confusion when they get handed back a pristine machine.

    2. fozzy73

      Re: been there...

      ah, in the end I missed the anoymous flag... oh well not many know that nickname.

  6. Valerion

    Years ago

    I spent hours waiting at a customer site for their contracted IT firm to remember the password to their firewall. Eventually a guy came onsite and managed to guess it.

    I took a backup of the config, made my change and left.

    Months later we get a letter demanding compensation because I'd changed the password and they'd had to rebuild the entire thing. I hadn't - obviously it was just that they'd forgotten it again - but they took the existance of the config backup with my name in the filename as proof.

    We told them to go forth, if I remember corrrectly, and sent them a bill for my wasted time from months before. No idea if they paid it or not, sadly.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

      Re: Years ago

      "Months later" is a classical fail. They would have to prove everything, which they couldn't. Config files from before and after contain the PW as salted hash, and if it does not change the hash in the config does not change too. And with "Months" time in between saying "no one touched the system in that time" yes yes, the judges love such things, and the lawyers tend to turn such things around for false accusations.

  7. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Documenting procedures

    My experience, through documenting how-tos for various teaching tools and tests that I'd been using, is that the key skill is to know what's in your own head.

    There are so many things we do that seem too obvious to mention, or that we don't even realise we're doing anymore. SO they stay in our heads and never make it into the instructions.

    It could be as simple as some version of not realising we've always held down x before we press y and telling the user to hold down x and y.

  8. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
    IT Angle

    I only came here because there was a headline picture of Benton Fraser.

    1. Neoc

      Loved "Due South". Well, the first two seasons.

  9. Imhotep Silver badge

    By the itching of my thumbs...

    I think this is going to be me when I retire in two weeks. The business decided that the people who can actually do what I do were too expensive. So - their plan was to hire someone cheap and then train them. But then they decided they didn't want to pay for training. Poor bastard.

    1. Bruce Ordway

      Re: By the itching of my thumbs...

      I wonder about a site I still support a remotely too. What will happen when/if I ever retire (which is sounding better all the time). In the past I've trained their people to act as backups but due to turnover those have all left and current management doesn't seem interested in retraining anyone. What I do for them is not rocket science but... those systems do run the business, their attitude seems a little reckless to me. Once a year I still try to bring up the subjects of training and upgrading, so far there has been no interest. There are definitely 3rd parties out there that they could find if needed but, since this site hasn't kept versions current, a lot of techs won't be familiar with the old stuff anymore.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        @Bruce Ordway -- Re: By the itching of my thumbs...

        Just sit back and watch the fun when you do announce your retirement. If it's like the last place I worked, you'll train someone (part-timer or even a temp) and then they'll leave. Chances are, you'll get a phone call inviting you back to train a new person (at a very nice rate also). Oh... you'll get that phone call every 6 months or so. I finally wearied and changed my phone number after the last time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: By the itching of my thumbs...

      But then they decided they didn't want to pay for training.

      Which is a classic case of the bean counters making a saving then forgetting how much they're saving and removing the limited expenditure they'd authorised to make that saving work.

      Over the years I've come across,

      * "We'll send the printing to a central unit and even with £xx for transport it will be £y cheaper". Then cutting the budget for transporting the stuff.

      * "We'll centralise all the outreach staff in one base, then get rid of the spare buildings and provide x number of new desks and phones in the central base" Then cutting the funds for the phone lines.

      * "We'll have a central purchasing unit that can get better discounts , bring in the purchasing admins from those units and stop departments buying their own stuff" then making the buyers redundant from the departments ( "You won't need those admins now, there's a central unit") instead of bringing them in to the central unit, so that it had hardly any buying staff doing the orders and having to allow the departments to start buying a lot of stuff in again - only this time without the staff who knew how to get the best prices etc..

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: By the itching of my thumbs...

        "* "We'll have a central purchasing unit that can get better discounts , bring in the purchasing admins from those units and stop departments buying their own stuff" then making the buyers redundant from the departments ( "You won't need those admins now, there's a central unit") instead of bringing them in to the central unit, so that it had hardly any buying staff doing the orders and having to allow the departments to start buying a lot of stuff in again - only this time without the staff who knew how to get the best prices etc.."

        Ho ho, we have just moved to an online system for purchasing where the purchaser does all of the leg work looking for the prices and filling out a complete requisition themselves, which is then ticked by a purchaser and sent off. Only problem: the purchasers are embedded in each department (part role), but the purchasing system is global. So they sent hundreds of requests a week.

        Result: all purchasers have turned off notifications of requests. Now you send in the request, then have to send an e-mail to your local purchaser to say you've handed in a request because it's the only way they will see it.

        1. Adelio

          Re: By the itching of my thumbs...

          My wifes experience with Central purchasing in the NHS and Local goverment is that whatever she "purchases" is generally MORE expensive that if just goinf to Office depot or the like.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: By the itching of my thumbs...

            This is because bean counters like a supply chain they can monitor for fraud, rather than an efficient or cheaper one.

            (Been there done that)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had a threatening call from a former employer once

    Back in the same timeframe as this guy. When I resigned there was an intern on the staff who was the only one who understood some of the stuff I'd set up (my actual co-workers were "too busy" to have time for me to show them what I set up before I left)

    I guess he kept things going well enough no one noticed until he graduated and moved on to greener pastures. Then stuff started falling through the cracks and no one knew how to deal with it, and my former employer called me and had the nerve to accuse me of setting up some sort of a "time bomb" for stuff to fail a full year after I'd left!

    I told them <insert name> the intern knew everything I did and could help. They said he'd recently left and moved to another state, and I told them it is too bad <insert names of former colleagues> had shown zero interest in learning about what I was doing when I offered before I left. Had they been nice about the contact I would have offered to help them out at a suitably inflated hourly rate, but the way they came in hot made me say nothing and I would've claimed I was too busy had they asked.

    A couple years later I heard my former colleagues really caught it hard because rather than admit they didn't know what I'd been up for the entire year I was working there (they were the 'senior' people after all) they accused me of setting things up for failure to get themselves off the hook. After more questioning I guess the jig was up. The most senior guy ended up getting fired (I think they'd been looking for a reason to get rid of him for a long time, other than keeping the legacy Netware server running he never did much of anything) and the other guy was put on a short leash and forced to work closely with my replacement from then on so they'd each know the other's work.

    This whole bad experience was one of the reasons I eventually decided I didn't want to work for anyone as a full time employee anymore and became a consultant a few years later. I've seen even worse work environments but when you aren't an employee you don't have to deal with 90% of the crap, and worst case you just have to wait out the end of your contract and refuse to renew it if offered (though I've never had to do so) The downside is that you often have multiple people who think they're your "manager" since there's rarely a clear chain of command, but nothing's perfect!

  11. Daedalus Silver badge

    Breaking news....

    There's actually a current situation not unlike those described here, recounted over at Reddit in Tales From Tech Support. An unfortunate IT neophyte in a dysfunctional, abusive company located in a "Rust Belt" city in the USA (emphasis on "rust") was suspended for insubordination and failure to carry out duties, when in fact most of the time he was wrenched from important activity to switch on monitors, plug in keyboards etc., as well as attending pointless meetings as "stand by" in case the technoramuses encountered something they couldn't handle, like a light switch.

    During said suspension the company experienced a major outage, and when ordered back he politely declined ever to darken their doors again, having left his company badge etc. on his desk. Also he could work in retail at only 20% below what he had been paid.

    So far there has been no accusation of sabotage, but it would fit the pattern of abusive employers....

  12. Faceless Man

    I just wanted to commend the subeditor on the choice of photo to illustrate Canadian law enforcement. I miss that show. Although I always preferred Real Ray over Fake Ray.

    I'm in the middle of trying to transfer my knowledge to the next lot of people to support my environments, largely to avoid this kind of thing happening. It's all about knowledge transfer, really. Of course, the new guys have to be motivated, the last person who had to fix something I'd left detailed instructions on couldn't be bothered reading them, apparently because they used big words, so he just rebooted everything. As it happens, that worked, but it did kind of illustrate the problems with getting some people to follow simple instructions.

  13. mr_souter_Working

    Documentation

    these days I often find myself trying to write documentation - but never given enough time to do a proper job on it.

    I like to write it, test it myself to see if i've missed anything obvious, then try and get someone else to follow it and make sure it makes sense to them - only then do I say it's ready for general consumption.

    often having to change the document a couple of dozen times due to design changes, after all, why would we want to finish the design before starting to do the work and documentation on how to install it.......

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Documentation

      And let me guess: you have to write it in Word, there has to be a version number, title and company logo in the header on the top of every page and the official template has a sign-off page that doesn't distinguish which version which person signed off. Oh, and because version numbering is always done wrongly, they sign off version 0.34 or something but then you have to do one last change to make it 'version 1.0'. And then some manager who couldn't be arsed to meet the previous deadline wants a small, usually pointless change. And you're not allowed to go back to a 0.35 because 1.0 was issued. Aaargh!

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Documentation

      Yes. This was somewhat covered already, but, writing your best documentation needs to be tested by having someone use the documentation to do the job, under supervision. Then you find out what was poorly explained, or not at all, just assumed. You can't tell, yourself, because you know what you meant.

  14. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Facepalm

    For most of my standard user IT issues, I have a script set up so that I can shoot out an e-mail for a specific known issue very quickly

    X vendor page prints blank. when using Chrome....

    Can I have my password reset for a HR related system

    I need to unlock my account for Y & don't know the username (it changed 6 months ago)

    On an almost daily basis I have to dumb down the text of one of the resolutions a bit more for the hard of thinking.

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