back to article Remember the Dutch kid who stuck his finger in a dam to save the village? Here's the IT equivalent

Welcome back to Who, Me?, The Register's weekly dip into the bottomless pool of cunning and calamity supplied by readers who have, in a real sense, been there and most definitely done that. Today's tale, from "Mark", takes us back two decades to the closing years of the 1990s. Mark was working for a financial services …

  1. GlenP Silver badge

    From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

    Cutting a hinged piece of plastic from a tape box and sticking it on provides an effective cover over such switches. In our case it was the main power switch for a server that was adjacent to the tape eject, and no I wasn't the person who pressed the wrong one by accident.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

      Officially known as Mollyguards, apparently. Named after someone's daughter Molly for obvious reasons.

      1. Mark #255

        Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

        molly-guard
        is also available on various *nixes to make sure you're remotely shutting down the machine you think you are.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          When I was consulting on an SAP installation in the late 90s they had one central SAP host that all the others trusted for passwordless SSH root login (it was the 90s, and it was pre-production, and I didn't set this up)

          Naturally, as the various QA and production hosts were being set up, tested, etc. there were a lot of reboots required. The problem was, the 'central host' was very important to developers, and these were old school Unix servers that took like a half hour to fully boot due to all the connected storage. So a few times someone (not me!) rebooted the central host by mistake.

          To fix that I aliased the 'reboot' command in the root shell profile to "echo 'use reboot-`hostname`'" and a reboot-`hostname` command to actually run reboot. No more accidental reboots of the central host after that, and SAP devs quit complaining about the Basis guys screwing up their work.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          Or, if you prefer, molly-guard.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

        I called mine "percyguards" - percy was a cat who had a knack of knocking reset buttons.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          I called mine "percyguards" - percy was a cat

          We have a BrackenGuard over the gas controls on our gas hob - Bracken being one of the first generation[1] of cats we had that, on several occasions, managed to turn on one of the hob gas taps..

          It didn't help that the hob doesn't have an auto-igniter. Said BrackenGuard is an old rectangular lidless tin that sits, upside-down, over the gas taps.

          [1] Died at least 13 years ago and none of our current generation of cats ever walk over that area. However, my wife (being a professional paranoiac about home accidents) still requires that we use the guard. Next gas[2] hob will probably also require one.

          [2] Don't like ceramic or induction hobs because they don't apply heat to the sides of a wok like a proper gas flame does.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

            [2] Don't like ceramic or induction hobs because they don't apply heat to the sides of a wok like a proper gas flame does.

            Not long ago I was with a friend who was looking for a decent wok. Asked someone at a shop about their offerings. She mentioned they have some 'electric woks'. I laughed, he shook his head and laughed. She joined us and commented "Yeah, we only ever sell them to people who don't know how to cook with a wok".

        2. Kiwi Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          I called mine "percyguards" - percy was a cat who had a knack of knocking reset buttons.

          Back when they were a thing, I had a cat who had a knack for 'accidentally' hitting the hang-up button on phones when you were giving the phone the attention she desired. I had to take to turning the thing upside-down so she couldn't get to the buttons (the phone, not the cat - if I'd tried turning her upside down my case would be one of the most violent unsolved-murder cases in history!). When I did turn it upside down I watched her actually try to look for the button before giving up again. She used to lie on the CRT which had the phone next to it, and she'd 'accidentally' drop her leg over the side and 'accidentally hit the button on the phone, even when the phone was moved away.

          You probably already know this, but I'm pretty sure Percy knew exactly what he was doing.

          Icon coz El Reg almost doesn't have a cat icon - I saw 'almost' because "spawn of satan" often perfectly covers these mongrels (or is that 'purrfectly'?) - and in some respects the icon almost looks cat-like

      3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

        Officially known as Mollyguards, apparently. Named after someone's daughter Molly for obvious reasons.

        The amusing thing would be if young Molly were now working in IT.

        1. Psmo Silver badge

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          Hey, I've put enough safeguards in against my own fat fingers/ muscle-memory/ lack of coffee over the years to recognise the need.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

      It works when UPS buttons are at knee height too.

      1. Amentheist
        Mushroom

        Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

        DC were doing generator testing a few years ago, while the DC was running on them some engineer leaned on the unprotected emergency shutdown button I shit you not. I was afraid we'd have some seized up hard drives as no one wanted to buy new kit for some years. Afraid/Hoping, could've had some investment if there was catastrophic failure tbh.

        1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
          WTF?

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          When I was working for a very large electrical engineering company, building motor control gear for a well known maritime organisation, I also caused mayhem with part of my anatomy. One of the units was in Test, and the testers were doing a heat run, running the equipment at full chat whilst the observers from the customer looked on. I had gone into Test to take some photographs for the Instruction Manual that I was preparing (I was in Technical Manuals Department at the time) and I had to scrunch myself up into one corner of the roped-off area in order to get all of the cabinets in shot. Suddenly everything went dark, and the high pitched whine of the invertors wound down the scale to inaudibility. Cue furious shouts from the Test Engineers, I had inadvertently backed onto one of the emergency shutdown buttons that were located at various points around the department, and that had shut off all power to the Test area and surrounding parts of the building. A complete morning's heat run ruined, and the customer's observers were distinctly unimpressed. The heat run had to be rescheduled for the next morning as it had to start from cold. Needless to say, I was NOT allowed into Test whist a heat run was being performed on that or any further equipments.

          1. keith_w Bronze badge

            Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

            Whilest working on a communications box badly placed beside the big red power off button, I leaned against the button, shtting down the entire computer room . twice. I suggested covering it. My boss suggested firing me if I did it again. The third time it happened, I was at my desk and immediately popped up shouting "I'm here! It wasn't me!" . the switch was covered a couple of days later. Of more concern was the Halon Release disable button. It was on a wall 20 or more feet from everything else, including the phone you would have to use to contact the person who would be able to permanently disable the halon release, so if you were holding the button down, you would be stuck there until someone else came to discover what was happening to you.

            1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

              Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

              'shtting down the entire computer room .'

              Awesome typo there! Just imaging trying to explain that on your next job interview ;)

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          "could've had some investment if there was catastrophic failure tbh."

          It never happens like that. Inverse sod's law.

      2. NorthIowan

        Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

        I also had a cat shut down a consumer grade small UPS at home it was under the computer desk. My Rev 1 button cover was plastic pill bottle bottom taped down solid but with a finger access slot on one side.

        Another time I had a mouse shut off the power strip that was connected after the UPS. No not a 4 legged mouse. A USB mouse fell off the back of the keyboard/mouse drawer on the desk and hit the power strip power button dead center bellow it. I tie-wrapped the power cords together to form an "umbrella" over the switch.

        1. Elfoad Regfoad

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          My cat has repeatedly walked across my USB and stepped on the power button. I've covered the button with large metal washer taped in place that protects the button from the cat, but allows me press the button with a pinky or a pen.

        2. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          My two-year old is now regularly pointing at the power button on my desktop PC, saying "blue circle", and every couple of minutes trying to press it.

        3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          I also had a cat shut down a consumer grade small UPS

          And I've had one shut down a consumer grade 24-port gigabit switch - turns out that cat vomit really, really doesn't help electronic devices maintain full functionality..

          Which is why my home computer room has a pet-gate across the door - it's high enough that only the young, agile cats (ie the non-vomiting ones) can get in. Which greatly annoys the senior female cat since she requires access to all parts of her domain. Since it was she who supplied the vomit, I'm not about to relent.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

      I have a number of doors in my house, with handles, not unexpectedly, at roughly waist height. Except they're also somehow exactly positioned to occasionally snag my trouser pockets as I walk past, ... or, rather try to walk, past before coming to an abrupt and unexpected halt.

      Unfortunately I can't tape a coaster over them, like I have to for the badly positioned power button on my pc.

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

        I ripped a pocket that way...

      2. TSM

        Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

        For me it's belt loops that seem to be the target. Always rather jarring when you're walking past a door at speed, and then suddenly you're not.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          "For me it's belt loops that seem to be the target. Always rather jarring when you're walking past a door at speed, and then suddenly you're not."

          I thought it was just me, and never mentioned it to anyone because I was clearly a clumsy idiot. This jolting sensation like someone has just grabbed you and yanked you backwards, it's really annoying.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Pirate

            Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

            I thought it was just me, and never mentioned it to anyone because I was clearly a clumsy idiot. This jolting sensation like someone has just grabbed you and yanked you backwards, it's really annoying.

            It's not just you. I've had pockets, belt-loops and even T-shirt sleevelets (what else do you call them?) snag doorhandles or cupboard knobs.

            But I have to ask one question.

            How is it that, from around the age of 2 or 3 onwards you can sprint through a door that's mere millimetres wider than you are and yet not come close to hitting it, but 40 years later get a banged up and very sore elbow, and you cannot even get through a doorway big enough to pass a planet sideways without smashing into it, hurting so much you run well beyond your expletive vocabulary expressing your discomfort!

            For > 40 years I managed to not touch a door frame unless I intended to, even running through 2-abreast with a close friend. But get a very sore elbow....

            1. Myvekk

              Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

              Shoulders...

              When you hit one side with one shoulder, then ricochet off & slam the other one into the other side before, finally, pinballing your way through.

              1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
                Facepalm

                Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

                I once had to worm my way into my car when some w**ker had parked his car so close to mine that I could only just open the door a few inches. As I lowered myself into the driving seat, I banged my right ear on the top of the window frame, ricocheted off and hit my left ear on the gutter, ricocheted off back onto the window frame, etc. etc. several times. Had two sore ears for about a week after that.

          2. Martin-73 Silver badge

            Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

            Ripping them off helps.

            Whether it's the belt loop or the doorhandle depends how annoying the incident was.

            From 'previous convictions'

    4. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

      That kind of hindsight would have saved lots of ARGGHH F%$#*!!'s

      (Remember those old AT towers with the Reset and Turbo buttons side by side? AARGH F#%&$!!)

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

        Yeah, but every AT power button I used, you could release it and re-press it immediately (think Ludicrous Speed) and catch it before the power actually drained from the system.

        Saved me once or twice in the past, that one...

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          "Yeah, but every AT power button I used, you could release it and re-press it immediately (think Ludicrous Speed) and catch it before the power actually drained from the system."

          I had one where that *almost* worked, so each time you thought it could work this time, and it sounded like it worked, and then drrrn.

    5. DJV Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

      One of my previous PCs was an HP with a slightly recessed power button right on one of the top corners. No problem as I wasn't likely to hit it accidentally. However, HP had never reckoned on one of my cats one day deciding the top of the PC looked like a good place for a kip and, with a carefully placed back foot when jumping up, powering off the entire machine while I was working. A thick computer manual resided on top of that PC which was enough to thereafter put the cat off thinking of it as a suitable bed.

      1. Chris King Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

        "A thick computer manual resided on top of that PC which was enough to thereafter put the cat off thinking of it as a suitable bed".

        Why ? Are you threatening to make them read it or something ?

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          "Why ? Are you threatening to make them read it or something ?"

          I guess it acts as a heat shield.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

        I seem to vaguely remember some brand or other of pizza box desktop which had an easily pressed power button on the front at just the right height for the keyboard to activate when pushed back. Not sure if the switch was proud of the fascia or if it was just in the "right" place to meet the cable coming out the back of the keyboard.

        1. Mine's a Large One

          Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

          Can't remember if they were Compaq, IBM or Toshiba laptops we rolled out years ago where the sliding power switch was in just the right spot on the side so that anyone moving the laptop closer to them or going to pick it up from the desk slid the switch and shut it down.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

            the sliding power switch was in just the right spot on the side so that anyone moving the laptop closer to them or going to pick it up from the desk slid the switch and shut it down.

            Toshiba's physical volume controls, and many brands physical WiFi power switches, were also like that.

            First time I came across a Tosh I was pulling the mobo out to investigate replacing the clearly faulty headphone socket when I first saw one of those volume controls. In my defence Tosh must've been a good quality build as I'd not had to repair one despite years of fixing borken boxen. Never even briefly occurred to me that they might have an antiquated physical volume control, and the Windows volume indicator showed everything should be going at full noise...

            (Never admitted to the customer that was what it was, told them it turned out to be something really easy to fix and only charged them for some other work that they wanted doing anyway - think it might've been a new keyboard or broken power/usb/something socket as well as the volume issue)

            1. Martin-73 Silver badge

              Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

              One of the worst pieces of design i've come across in this regard is the Hilti branded site radio we use at work (it contains a trickle charger for hilti power tool batteries to get past the 'no unnecessary stuff allowed' rules on some sites).

              The volume knob is installed on a panel at 45 degrees between the front and top surfaces, and is sufficiently large to JUST poke out past the projection of the guarding 'actual 90 degree corners'.

              It's also a rotary encoder type, not an olde worlde potentiometer. One has merely to breathe at it in the wrong direction, and it will turn the volume to '11'

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: From Experience (and In Hindsight)...

                It's also a rotary encoder type, not an olde worlde potentiometer. One has merely to breathe at it in the wrong direction, and it will turn the volume to '11'

                I hate those myself. Never seen a use for them where volume controls are concerned (use them happily in other applications though). An annoying one on my car radio, sometimes when I've been out on the motorway or other noisier environments I've got it turned up when I stop. Next time I get in the car and remember that, and would be real nice to be able to turn it down before I turn the key on but no, some twat had to take an otherwise-decent JVC and stick one of those things in a stupid place.

                Still, could be worse. Could be one of these imbecilic touch-screen-only models (actually my car radio would never be one of those because I'd take great pains (preferably on the person who designed it) to NOT have one in there, even if it means going without a car.

  2. OssianScotland Silver badge
    FAIL

    Wrong Buttons...

    Back in the days of Server 2003 (or maybe even 2000) I had to remotely manage a remote server via a 512Kbit ADSL line (super fast for the time). Needless to say, it was more than a trifle laggy and the mouse cursor tended to follow the physical mouse movement by an appreciable fraction of a second.

    For some reason, I wanted to see the properties of the single NiC, so (as one did in those days) I right clicked the network icon on the task bar and selected "Properties". Of course, right beside that was another option - "disable" - and I was just too quick with the button. Disabled network card, no way back into the server, and the prospect of a 150 mile round trip to deal with it...

    ... that was one of the few times I have lied through my teeth and I told the local manager "it must have been a power glitch" then talked him through the process of logging on locally and re-enabling the card.

    1. elaar

      Re: Wrong Buttons...

      I once had a 350mile round trip because someone in our support department clicked "shutdown" instead of "reboot" on a windows server on a customer site. They of course lied to me and told me there was a power issue, assuming I wouldn't check the logs and see a shutdown was requested, because they knew I'd insist that person make the (much longer for them) trip themselves.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Wrong Buttons...

        I most certainly feel your pain. In the past I have had to undertake overnight flights at a half-hour's notice simply because someone could not be bothered to read 10 lines of type that I had sellotaped on the lid of their new laptop with the first line as "You will not be able to operate this computer unless you read this message".

        Horse .. meet water .. now drink.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Wrong Buttons...

        "I once had a 350mile round trip because someone in our support department clicked "shutdown" instead of "reboot" on a windows server on a customer site. "

        All these tales of servers without IPMIs or IP-connected KVMs......

        *sigh*

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Wrong Buttons...

          "All these tales of servers without IPMIs or IP-connected KVMs......"

          ..... are stories of sysadmins who's bosses won't give them the budget for a local KVM, let alone one of those fancy IP ones.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Wrong Buttons...

        I once had a 350mile round trip because someone in our support department clicked "shutdown"

        When I was last herding Slowlaris boxes I managed to get my employer to spring for a remotely-controlled power/serial switch[1] box (you used telnet to get in - that tells you how long ago it was..). They were spiffy - especially when one of my colleagues regularly would forget the -r parameter on the shutdown command..

        [1] Each box had their power and serial console lines router via the box. Was especially useful when the box froze as the power box had a reasonable buffer for the serial console and you could often tell what had caused the box to freeze. And then power-cycle it remotely.

        1. atheist

          Re: Wrong Buttons...

          I've seen fights break out between field techs as to who could get to install one at a remote site (in their respective areas) where lots of maintenance needed to be done, so they could instead do it remotely out of hours.

    2. chris 143

      Re: Wrong Buttons...

      I've done very similar over vnc on back up 3G connection.

      Right clicked on the nic, nothing happened, right clicked again at which point the screen refreshed confirming that I'd just right clicked an the disable option....

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Wrong Buttons...

      There is something in the GUI that adds gravity to icons that shouldn't be clicked so even if you've done this before and approach the button you want in a direction that will not bring you over the said button you find that you will hover over the button you want press click and it the cursor will move over to the icon and do the button press.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Wrong Buttons...

        "There is something in the GUI that adds gravity to icons that shouldn't be clicked"

        One of the trendy new jobs is "UI designer"

        Which - when you think about it - means that someone DELIBERATELY chose to put those clicky buttons next to each other....

        May the fleas of 1000 camels infest their crotches.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wrong Buttons...

          Obligatory Dilbert

          //www.dilbert.com/strip/2019-12-09

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Wrong Buttons...

        something in the GUI that adds gravity to icons that shouldn't be clicked

        I'm still convinced that a GUI is just a device to force proper console sysadmins out of a job - only to be raised by someone from the point 'n drool generation.

        But then, I'm old and proper computers in my day *had* to be controlled via the CLI. Even improper machines like the old BT on-premise PABX. (can't remember the name - they had an insanely complex set of command line commands that even a hardened unix sysadmin (let alone me) would have a job remembering..)

        1. Nitromoors

          Re: Wrong Buttons...

          That would be a BT Meridian (a Nortel OEM) then. You had to load an overlay to list a port feature, and then another to change it and then re load the first to check it was as desired.

          However the Mitel which replaced it has a ' point 'n drool' interface which simplifies things a bit, but it still requires a Masters in TELCO Speak.

    4. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Re: Wrong Buttons...

      When I was a manager I had to do a 150 mile round trip to re-enable a NIC that had been disabled remotely by one of my tech support drones. He told me it was a power glitch, but I knew he was full of shit. I was banging his missus at the time so I said fuck all.

      1. Anomalous Cowturd
        Holmes

        Re: Wrong Buttons...

        He knew you were banging his wife, so he sent you on a 150 drive to dampen your ardour.

  3. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

    Worst I did personally

    was delete a backup file before dumping it to take for the core systems. I had only been in the job a short while... I think my boss gave me credit for 'fessing up...

    On the other hand, I have worked with people described as operators, that would seemingly arbitrarily cancel and retry tasks in ever increasing complexity... I am sure they did it just to see if I could work out what they had done.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once upon a time in Brighton...

    A young engineer, no idea who, apparently decided it'd be a good idea to edit /etc/passwd on a Solaris install of a live production system at Amex - nothing trivial, only a card authorisation service!

    Trouble was, said edit to said /etc/passwd buggered up the entry for uid 0 - then said young engineer, having exited emacs, apparently (recall, I've no idea who this really was) didn't think to check their work, and immediately hit ctrl-d to exist from the root shell. They can, so I hear, still feel their stomach on that chilly comms room floor a quarter of a century later. Having pulled themselves together, I understand that a reboot and single-user mode was called upon to save the day!

    Apparently.

    1. bpfh Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Once upon a time in Brighton...

      Done that with a mass box hoster. Did :q! while vim'ing /etc/passwd before going to command mode. Nothing happened, so esc - :x! (as I had not made any changes - nothing to save anyway innit.......) and vim quit. Then I did some other changes, logged out, forgot to restart apache, logged back in and..... could not log back in as root.

      Luckily, with these mass hosters, a rescue distribution could be netbooted, mount the FS, check the logs, complaints about /etc/password / root account not being readable. Cat the file, and there at the top line 1, root's entry and at column 1 was a lovely ":q!"

      Now, rule is always set up a backup admin account in group 0 so I can login and su into so I can correct "someone's" fat fingering....

      Icon -> Always press it before entering commands in vim :p

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Once upon a time in Brighton...

      Over telnet (them were t'days) it was reasonably common for the various characters in vt100 escape sequences to get separated and in vi the tilde would flip case. And in those days it was normal to edit passwd directly. So root became Root.

      No problem, just log in as Root. Except also back then Unix had a built-in assumption that you might well be working on a teletype which only had upper case so if the first character entered on login was upper case it would obligingly switch to doing everything in upper case. Root, root and ROOT were all one and the same so the user name wasn't a problem. But when you're in upper case only you can't enter the lower case characters of a password and get them hashed to the correct value.

      Fortunately there was an already logged in root session on the console.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Once upon a time in Brighton...

        I had an upper-case only terminal at one time. Wasn't it possible to enter lower-case by escaping with a backslash ?

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Once upon a time in Brighton...

          \Y\E\S

      2. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: Once upon a time in Brighton...

        > But when you're in upper case only you can't enter the lower case characters of a password and get them hashed to the correct value.

        If I recall correctly, the uppercase mode caused Unix to immediately convert all typed letters to lowercase, otherwise using Unix commands, which all have lowercase names, would be impossible. So lowercase characters in passwords should not be a problem, but uppercase ones are.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Once upon a time in Brighton...

          It's so long ago that that I had to think about it. When I started to write it up that was my recollection but it seemed so unlikely that back then we'd have bothered with mixed case passwords...

        2. hmv Silver badge

          Re: Once upon a time in Brighton...

          I'm not sure of that.

          The smashing UPPERCASE to lowercase was done by the tty driver in 'cooked' mode whereas no special processing was done in 'raw' mode (which passwd used to accept input invisibly). Seems to be reflected in the UNIX v6 manual pages.

    3. Richard Crossley
      Mushroom

      Re: Once upon a time in Brighton...

      That's why when modifying users, groups etc I've learned to have another session open so the change can be tested. Boring, yes but hopefully our collective experience saves a PFY from that gut-wrenching feeling.

    4. imdatsolak

      Re: Once upon a time in Brighton...

      Yep, happened to a new (and actually experienced) Solaris-admin I had hired (1999?) - on her first day!

      She came to my office, face white as a piece of paper. The problem was, we couldn’t just reboot the machine in single-user mode because she had deleted the root-account and this being our central server for everything a company with 40 employees relying on this machine working all the time.

      So, I spent the next four hours using every remotely exploitable security issue on this Solaris box to fix the passwd-file.

      After that, she (the new admin) came to be with her resignation. My reaction: “Are you kidding me? I just spent four hours of MY time and YOUR time teaching you what mistake not to make and you are quitting? Am I to lose all this investment?”

      The only thing I told her: “Making mistakes is ok, it’s human, just own it, don’t lie and... don’t ever make the exactly same mistake twice - because that would show me that you are not learning - and that’s the worst thing.”

      She became a really good friend of mine later on and every time I meet her, she keeps telling me: “nope, still haven’t made that mistake again” - 20 years later...

      1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

        Re: Once upon a time in Brighton...

        You sound pretty cool.

    5. vulture65537

      Re: Once upon a time in Brighton...

      I found a situation where a password could not be changed; even by root using 'passwd -r files luser'.

      The line in /etc/passwd was there but the passwd program was not reading it. Enter truss .. /bin/passwd was quitting before reading the whole file which meant a problem in the file. pwck pointed out wrong number of fields.

      And somebody's edit had left a blank line mid-file resulting in later lines not being used.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know a guy who was a Unix admin in a trading bank back in the 90's. He was doing an audit of the server room and casually moved a trolley to one side, only for the top of the trolley to be at the perfect height to flick the key in one of their main systems to the off position. The trades went into Meltdown, but miraculously he kept his job.

    1. gskr

      You'd hope he did! Losing a good admin to something thats a pure accident that was very difficult to foresee would be a very poor outcome.

      I imagine a change of procedures (eg all critical switches within trolley-height covered in caps) should follow, but that's it

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
        FAIL

        I guess it is too late to stop calling ourselves "admin" or "administrators", a pity as it makes it sound like we're doing minimum wage work to anyone not in the know - which is all the high ups.

        Also it makes it hard to search for jobs, especially when the industry as a whole is called it, and revolves a lot around servers and windows - ie waitresses and glaziers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RE:waitresses and glaziers

          An up vote for knowing what a glazier is. I only know because that's what my dad did.

          1. Elfoad Regfoad

            Re: RE:waitresses and glaziers

            "glazier"? Someone who works with Windows and other Microsoft programs?

          2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: RE:waitresses and glaziers

            "Twas on the Thursday morning the Glazier came along,

            With his blowtorch and his putty and his merry glazier song"

            ...although that's from 1964...

            ...we still use PuTTY, perhaps we shouldn't...

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          I guess it is too late to stop calling ourselves "admin" or "administrators", a pity as it makes it sound like we're doing minimum wage work

          The trouble is that if your title is system manager they want to know where are all the people you manage. The manglement mind is unable to grasp that there are major responsibilities that don't involve budget or head-count.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Better keep the "manager" part of the title - managers always get paid more than workers, after all.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      I think that someone actually posted that story on here as a WhoMe?

  6. bpfh Silver badge
    Boffin

    El Reg weights and measures soviet

    Looks like we need a defintion standard for the "ohnosecond"...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: El Reg weights and measures soviet

      What about it's cousins, the 'ohshitnosecond' and 'ohfucknosecond'?

      1. bpfh Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: El Reg weights and measures soviet

        Ohnosecond: the time taken by a finger to depress a standard debounced switch activating an unforeseen action.

        Ohshitnosecond: on the larger buttons of heavier iron and taking into account the understanding of what happens as your Z system winds down or all the lights go off on your core switch. About 10 ohnoseconds. Possibly 20 If preceded by an exclamation of a confused “whaaaaaaaaa?”

        Ohfucknosecond: on the big red mushroom on the wall, same action taking into account the sphincter wrenching horror sinking in as the whole room winds down. About 10 ohshitnoseconds, or the time taken for a 15k rpm storage rack to naturally decelerate to 0.

      2. Grinning Bandicoot

        Magic moments (!)moment signals

        Don't forget "Shiit" [sic]

      3. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
        Mushroom

        Re: El Reg weights and measures soviet

        I have it on good authority that both of them are valid measures and they are both very, very short.

        Didn't quite happen, but close, career-wise ---->

        1. Criggie

          Re: El Reg weights and measures soviet

          ...so why does time slow down at that instant?

          I swear its like a road accident - perceived time slows down as the adrenaline kicks in perhaps?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: El Reg weights and measures soviet

      Looks like we need a defintion standard for the "ohnosecond"...

      ..which due to sphincter induced inverse time dilation feels like it lasts for a standard lifetime.

      This happens when time has decided to do the exact opposite of what your arsehole is doing, which is now contracted so tightly that it's on the verge of forming a singularity...

    3. caffeine addict

      Re: El Reg weights and measures soviet

      The ohnominute is about 42 ohnoseconds, and an ohnohour is about 23 ohnominutes, based on perceived time?

    4. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: El Reg weights and measures soviet

      There is the 'ignisecond' - when slamming the car door she, it is the time it takes between letting go of the car door handle and realising that the key is still in the lock.

  7. NightFox

    Oh come on, when did the dutch kid story change from sticking his finger in a dyke to sticking it in a dam? Was it about the same time "Ur-anus" changed to "Ura-nus"?

    1. jake Silver badge

      About the same time that ...

      ... schools stopped teaching kids how to spell "dike".

      "Don't crush that person of short stature, hand me the side-cutters" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

      1. NightFox

        Re: About the same time that ...

        ... schools stopped teaching kids how to spell "dike".

        I guess that was before Offa's schooldays then.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: About the same time that ...

          Offa died in the 6th Century. Dike was the common spelling (in English) starting some 800 years later. These days they no longer bother to teach spleling, near as I can tell. R U OK W dat?

          1. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: About the same time that ...

            Can be spelled both ways https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/52707?isAdvanced=false&result=1&rskey=cFvudT& and has been since about 1300AD.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: About the same time that ...

              My big Dic[0] also says it has been spelled variously "dic", "dik" and "diyke". Perhaps we can infer that the British can't actually spell at all. Doth the lady protest too much?

              Ah, well. This kind of esoterica all Greek to most people. As long as the meaning is obvious, does it really matter in a forum like this one?

              [0] OED, second dead tree edition.

              1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                Re: About the same time that ...

                My mother was Aberdonian and a dike in Scotland is the ditch the dike is dug from in England. Or is it the other way round?

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: About the same time that ...

                  It can also be a stream. But hereabouts a stream can also be a sike or syke, giving rise to the surname.

          2. osakajin Bronze badge

            Re: About the same time that ...

            About time for spelling reform?

            1. ibmalone Silver badge

              Re: About the same time that ...

              How do you think we got into this mess?

            2. Kiwi Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: About the same time that ...

              About time for spelling reform?

              Oblig ckxd

          3. Arthur the cat Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: About the same time that ...

            Offa died in the 6th Century.

            8th century. 796 CE to be precise.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: About the same time that ...

            "These days they no longer bother to teach spleling, near as I can tell. "

            Maybe in less civilised parts of the world.

            In this neck of the woods children still get a weekly spelling test.

            In English.

            Yes the proper one, not some poor colonial imitation.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: About the same time that ...

              Would have upvoted you, until that final line. We haven't been your colonies for over 200 years, and language evolves differently in different places.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: About the same time that ...

                Would have upvoted you, until that final line. We haven't been your colonies for over 200 years, and language evolves differently in different places.

                A pint of the best British beer available! Your comment must've made many a Brit happy, or at least smile..

                I mean, if my kids behaved like you yanks do, I'd be quite happy if they were to disown me! It'd be one o' me proudest moments that would!

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: About the same time that ...

                  My point is that we aren't "colonies", and haven't been in anyone's lifetime. We certainly don't refer to the UK as overseas tyrants, or anything similar. It was a long time ago. We got over it. Your turn...

                  1. Kiwi Silver badge
                    Trollface

                    Re: About the same time that ...

                    We got over it. Your turn...

                    As my name (and reference to "many a Brit") would suggest, it ain't mine to get over with..

                    Bloody typical yankee lack of geographical knowledge... :)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          Re: About the same time that ...

          Never seen "dike".

          Guess it must be another malign foreign influence on what was once our language.

          1. SVV Silver badge

            Re: About the same time that ...

            Devil's Dike can be found on the moors of Derbyshire. But it's more of a ditch. And ditch has the same etymology as dike, which has the same origins in low Netherlandish languages as the Dutch word dijk.... Amazing how 30 seconds research can help in a web debate. And prevent ranty stuff about malign foreign influences ruining what's "ours", however ironic.

            Also just discovered that the 19th century American kids book that the story comes from has a happy ending where the boy's father has a hole drilled in his head. (search for Hans Brinker if you don't believe me).

            1. not.known@this.address Silver badge

              Re: About the same time that ...

              "And prevent ranty stuff about malign foreign influences ruining what's "ours", however ironic."

              Was it irony, or sarcasm? Given that the "English" language is built from words we have begged, borrowed, stolen, mangled, extracted, and any other ways acquired from practically every other language that has ever existed, I don't think it was ranty at all.

              And no, I wasn't the person who posted it (in which case I'm wrong and it *is* ranty, the OP is a ritual self-abuser of low intellect and questionable behaviour).

              1. hmv Silver badge

                Re: About the same time that ...

                Whilst English is notorious for chasing other languages down dark alleys, beating them senseless, and stripping them naked, in this case dyke/dike/dic is Old English. The variation on spelling is partially down to early writers being a bit fuzzy on spelling and/or dialectic variations.

            2. Mr Humbug

              But Devil's Dyke is in the South Downs, just north of Brighton. It is, according to local legend, the beginnings of ditch the Devil was digging in order to flood the Weald

              1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

                And in the Fens.

                Devils must have been common in watery places.

            3. david 12 Silver badge

              Re: About the same time that ...

              "The Little Hero of Haarlem" is a story within a story, but like "Eric, or Little by Little" in "Stalky and Co", the original story, of the little boy and the dike, existed prior to and outside of "Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates".

      2. coconuthead

        Re: About the same time that ...

        The preferred UK and Australian spelling for both meanings is "dyke", with "dike" marked as "also" in all 3 of my dictionaries (Macquarie Australian, Oxford Australian and Concise Oxford UK) for those dialects. My Webster's 3rd ed. lists "dike" as the preferred spelling for the "levee" meaning, with "dyke" as alternate, and "dyke" as the only spelling for the slang for "lesbian". This makes sense if the slang version made its way into US English from the Commonwealth dialects.

        A dam is not a dyke, which holds back the sea and not a river.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Headmaster

          Re: About the same time that ...

          ... the sea and not a river.

          The boy in the story is Dutch. From a country where it's not always easy to tell the two apart.

          The language of waterways can get confusing: think Venice and Canals! Talking of which, next time you face the pub quiz question about "the Venice of the North", consider pointing out there are at least three right answers - major cities that are sometimes called that (Amsterdam, Stockholm, St Petersburg).

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: About the same time that ...

            And here I thought Venice was in Los Angeles ...

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: About the same time that ...

              And Little Venice is in London.

          2. Frank Zuiderduin

            Re: About the same time that ...

            The story was made up by an American writer and wasn't based on anything other than her imagination. So dam / dike.. Who cares?

            1. david 12 Silver badge

              Re: About the same time that ...

              The story was made up by a French author, Eugenie Foa. It is quoted in an American book by an American author. In the book where it is quoted, it is quoted as a separate story by a different author. ( Back in the day, American ideas about attribution and copyright were different)

              I'd suggest that people stick to posting where they have some idea what they are talking about, but hey, this the talk pages of The Register. Nobody here knows what they are talking about.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: About the same time that ...

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Brinker,_or_The_Silver_Skates#Origin_of_the_story_of_the_boy_and_the_dike

                "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." —Samuel Langhorne Clemens

          3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: About the same time that ...

            Amsterdam, Stockholm, St Petersburg

            I was going to add Birmingham, which claims to have more miles of canal than Venice, until I googled it & found that Wikipedia lists 37 towns that make that claim (some with very thin justification, I think).

          4. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: About the same time that ...

            The language of waterways can get confusing: think Venice and Canals! Talking of which, next time you face the pub quiz question about "the Venice of the North", consider pointing out there are at least three right answers - major cities that are sometimes called that (Amsterdam, Stockholm, St Petersburg).

            And a fourth advertising with it (Giethoorn, also in the Netherlands).

        2. Roger Kynaston Bronze badge
          Coat

          Dikes, dykes & levees

          How would that song sound if:

          ' drove my Chevy to the dyke...'

          I've got it and am off.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Dikes, dykes & levees

            ' drove my Chevy to the dyke...'

            'rode my bike to the dyke...'? Needs a new tune to fit though...

            1. dfsmith

              Re: Dikes, dykes & levees

              'Flew my Hawker Harrier to the water ingress barrier...'

            2. HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

              Re: Dikes, dykes & levees

              "... I rode my bikey to the dykey ..." perhaps?

              I did think of " ... cycle to the dykele ..." but my head hurts when I try to type that one.

        3. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: About the same time that ...

          "The preferred UK and Australian spelling for both meanings is "dyke", with "dike" marked as "also" in all 3 of my dictionaries"

          The preferred UK spelling is 'dike', or at least is in my copy of 'The British Empire Universities Modern English Illustrated Dictionary: Latest Edition'. (Latest edition: how helpful.) It does not include entries for today and tomorrow, because such neologisms hadn't gained popularity by 1925. If dyke is now the correct spelling, then it is the work of a tomfool (n. a great fool ; silly trifler).

          Bonus fact: its definition of colostrum is n. the first milk secreted after parturition ; biestings.

          Double bonus fact: it defines beer-money as an allowance of money made instead of beer. I like the idea of an employer saying "obviously we'll pay you in beer, but if we cannot get hold of any, we will have to resort to cash.

        4. Manolo
          Headmaster

          Re: About the same time that ...

          "A dam is not a dyke, which holds back the sea and not a river."

          Errrrr, no, actually.

          A levee (/ˈlɛvi/), dike, dyke, embankment, floodbank or stopbank is an elongated naturally occurring ridge or artificially constructed fill or wall, which regulates water levels. It is usually earthen and often parallel to the course of a river in its floodplain or along low-lying coastlines.

      3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: About the same time that ...

        Pliers, not dikes.

      4. FBee

        Re: About the same time that ...

        Thumbs-up for Firesign Theatre reference!

        Wikipedia notation - Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers is the Firesign Theatre's third comedy album, released by Columbia Records in July 1970. In 1983, The New Rolling Stone Record Guide called it "the greatest comedy album ever made"

      5. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: About the same time that ...

        "schools stopped teaching kids how to spell "dike"."

        My dictionary also says dike or dyke, although it prefers dike. It is a little old though. It's from 1925.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      you said it before I had a chance (heh). But my comment would've been something like "Didn't the Dutch boy stick his finger into something else?"

      And I heard a rumor about changing the planet's name to "U-rectum" (obligatory reference to Futurama)

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        And I heard a rumor about changing the planet's name to "U-rectum" (obligatory reference to Futurama)

        To shreds, you say?

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      "Ur-anus" changed to "Ura-nus"

      If they thought something that sounds like "your bumhole" was dodgy, couldn't they have come up with an alternative that doesn't sound like "resembles piss"?

      1. HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

        We could always rename it "Chronos".

        Maybe with the preferred, authorised spelling of "Q'Ronos"?

        Oh, and Pluto is a planet.

  8. Oengus Silver badge

    Junior Customer Engineer

    Back in the day (1970's) our regular IBM Customer Engineer (CE) was on leave and we had an issue. IBM sent out a Junior CE because it was a "simple' issue. As he walked past the console of the system that was running as production that day he said "What is that button doing pressed in?". Before anyone could stop him he reached up and pulled the big red button labelled "Emergency Pull".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Junior Customer Engineer

      I've seen this done only once. It was during system installation and testing prior to signing it over to the customer. After getting the go-ahead from the system administrator, he did it. Pulling the red button did indeed power off the entire system and its peripherals. The computer room got considerably quieter. The next sound was of the CSE flipping through the manual to the 'How to reset the Emergency Power Off button. There was a short period of silence followed by the unmistakable sound of a another page being turned... It turned out the stand-alone system console had to be mostly disassembled in order to reset the switch... This took about 90 minutes, followed by a single 'click' to reset the switch, and an additional hour to reassemble the system.

      On the plus side, we knew that the EPO functioned as designed...but the engineer never suggested doing that again.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Junior Customer Engineer

        90 minutes seems a little long, As the tech support manager for an IBM DC I did used to have an IBM Cabinet key on my key ring for a decade, all the power off/ Reset switches on IBM Mainframes needed access to the inside of the cabinet to reset them. If our CE was at another site we might have had to wait over an hour for him to reach us, having fought over the right to have the key it turned out it was just a beautifully architect 3 mm allen key. I'm sure its floating around the house somewhere to this day.

        1. Grumpy Scouse Git
          Happy

          Re: Junior Customer Engineer

          Still got one on my keyring 17 months after redundancy/early retirement, and 19+ years since I was a CE.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Junior Customer Engineer

          "it was just a beautifully architect 3 mm allen key"

          I remember the HP engineers turning up to remove a transit bar from a tape drive. It had been fixed with the then supposedly rare-as-hen's-teeth Torx headed bolt. Except I had a set of Torx bits in my really quite cheap screwdriver set and the tape drive was already in use.

          1. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
            FAIL

            Re: Junior Customer Engineer

            My nephew and his partner moved into a newly refurbished flat. He asked me to have a look at the washing machine, because when it does a spin cycle, it walks about all over the kitchen, and the two of them have to physically restrain it. I arrived, saw the action taking place, and left. Returned a bit later armed with a socket set, turned the machine around, and removed the transit bar, which had a big red notice attached "Remove this bar before using the appliance". The Landlords had obviously just bunged it into the undercounter space without reading the instructions.

        3. Criggie
          Coat

          Re: Junior Customer Engineer

          I still have a small wrench on my keyring, perhaps 5mm or 3/16th of an inch.

          Its got an apple logo on it and a double offset, and was used for holding those lug nuts on the back of IO cards. Dates from 1989 when I was at high school and we were fitting apple //e with mouse cards. I would have been about 13 and learned a lot mostly watching other people do the upgrade.

          So El-Regonauts and Commentards alike, what weird and wonderful things are on your keyring?

          I do wish we could add photos in-line here.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Kiwi Silver badge

            Re: Junior Customer Engineer

            So El-Regonauts and Commentards alike, what weird and wonderful things are on your keyring?

            My painful, enlarged ringpiece : remnants of a bearing that caused me a considerable amount of trouble and pain. It was originally put on there as a convenient place to keep it till I took it down to show someone how bad it was, and stayed since.

            Oh, and a bunch of keys that'd give a prison warden/officious school caretaker anxiety-based performance issues and maybe doubts about their manhood.

            On a related note, can anyone tell me why my car and bike ignition key modules keep failing??? :)

            I do wish we could add photos in-line here.

            NNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

            OOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. aks Bronze badge

      Re: Junior Customer Engineer

      Back when I started using IBM 360/30 and 360/50 machines, I was told that the big red "Emergency Stop" was not a graceful shutdown but a "pull out the plug, someone's being electrocuted!" procedure.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. jake Silver badge

      Oddly enough ...

      ... you just did.

      1. jake Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Oddly enough ...

        A homebrew to everybody who can guess the absolutely brilliant comment, now sadly deleted by the OP.

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: Oddly enough ...

          "Oddly enough...

          ...I'm sitting here with my finger on the power switch of my internet router hoping somebody will rescue me before my hand gets tir##%$ <no carrier>"

        2. Alister Silver badge

          Re: Oddly enough ...

          Umm, "Don't mention the war!"?

  10. JamesTQuirk

    Ummm, I am using a Commodore 1084s Monitor, here, still, the Push Button, Power switch on back of unit died years ago, if I need to turn it on, I jam a split matchstick in side of switch mechanism, to hold button in, it's been running like that for a least 15 years ...

    1. elaar

      It's a common issue apparently, I replaced mine with a rocker switch just a few months ago. Great monitors.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        I just ditched a 22" old Hitachi CRT monitor that was still providing good service after over 20 years. I used to shimmer on startup but settled by the time my tea was made. I only got rid of it because it took up so much of the desk and a few hundred unnecessary watts. I can fit the drumkit in there now!

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          I used to shimmer on startup

          I'm guessing your last name is Jeeves?

        2. Kiwi Silver badge
          Pint

          I just ditched a 22" old Hitachi CRT monitor that was still providing good service after over 20 years.

          I feel your pain. Not long back ditched a 40+kg 22" or 25" CRT that I used to use for some of my more complex graphics work (by my standards, which is all that counts :) ). Resolution above 2,500x2,500 (cannot recall what, and don't think I actually had a GPU that reached its limits).

          Broke my heart when it died. But when I ditched it I hadn't used it for a while. LCD/LED screens seemed so crap by comparison, and today I think they're just starting to match what you could do with a decent CRT.

  11. elaar

    Working in Datacentres at a fairly young age, where the on-call rota often mean't I'd be rudely called in the early hours of the morning whilst slightly intoxicated in Fabric/Turnmills, it meant that strangely I made a number of mistakes.

    Those that spring to mind involve accidently pressing the "Argon Release" button instead of the "Door Release", (why were they next to each other and the same god damn shape?). And once putting an SFP into a switch upside down, on a particular Cisco model that didn't prevent you from doing so, which shorted something and took down ~ 50 customers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      (why were they next to each other and the same god damn shape?).

      And, both were described as a "release", to boot.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DIKE

    It was a DIKE (according to the story) not a dam, which is a totally different beast.

    "dike noun, [C] (WALL) a long wall that prevents water, esp. from the sea, from flooding a place".

    Did the nasty looking word scare you?

    1. Bronk's Funeral

      Re: DIKE

      'Did the nasty looking word scare you?'

      Apparently not as much as not using the nasty-looking word scares you.

    2. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: DIKE

      Oh do fuck off. Such a predictable comment.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: DIKE

        Sarah? Is that you?

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: DIKE

          I do still miss Mistress Bee

      2. Omgwtfbbqtime

        ODFO

        Sending shivers of memory down my spine.

        All hail the moderatrix!

        If it's not Sarah's return, well channelled.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ODFO

          And 5 downvotes so far. That /is/ brave.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: DIKE

        "Such a predictable comment."

        And yet, STILL funny, EVERY! SINGLE! TIME! <-- best said in the same voice as 'Beetlejuice'

    3. Frank Zuiderduin

      Re: DIKE

      Whatever. It's a fairytale, made up by an American and not based on any facts, so who cares?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: DIKE

        "It's a fairytale, made up by an American and not based on any facts, so who cares?"

        You just pissed off a whole bunch of Star Trek and Star Wars fans ...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paper White...

    ...or bright red (FFFFFF or FF0000 in RGB) are the offically approved colours an engineer is allowed to go after ejecting the wrong disk from a degraded server RAID 5 array with no hot spare.

    So colleagues tell me...

    <coughs>

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Paper White...

      Oh, I dunno. I've seen a close approximation to 99FF33 ...

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Paper White...

        That's a pretty bright green :O

    2. David 132 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Paper White...

      Unless you’re an alpha male, in which case it’s AAFFFFFF or AAFF0000.

  14. ColinPa

    This is one comman you never, ever type in - whoops.

    I heard from one junior operator, that one of the senior operators was doing education to the newbie operators on the production system. The teacher said "this is the command to clear the spool, that you never, ever type in, or you will get sacked. CP PURGE RDR ALL SYSTEM".

    and of course,he automatically pressed enter.

    The class then had a master class on how to recover from a self induced disaster, as his phone rang about 1 minutes later, and he could not lie and get out of it.

    The junior operator said it was a very good lesson on how to be careful, and manage a critical situation.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: This is one comman you never, ever type in - whoops.

      It also seems to be a masterclass is why you never, ever type that command in.

    2. scarper

      Re: This is one comman you never, ever type in - whoops.

      And that's why smart sysadmins, when they're in wingman-looking-over-the shoulder tense mode, do NOT type a dangerous command into a live window. The smart thing is to type it into an editor, and when you both agree that it's perfect, cut-and-paste (without newline).

      Just don't ask why I started being so careful.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: This is one comman you never, ever type in - whoops.

        "The smart thing is to type it into an editor, and when you both agree that it's perfect, cut-and-paste (without newline)."

        Copy & paste can be fat-fingered, too. Turn it into a script. I have many one-line scripts, each named with a longish descriptive name that is often longer than the actual complex, dangerous command.

  15. chivo243 Silver badge
    Pint

    No response, wrong button!

    Back in the junior days, I was sent to a rack to power cycle a non-responsive server. Kept pushing the button, but nothing changed. Finally my boss steams into the server room and tells me his Monitoring server has been going on and off! After finding the error in labeling, I was tasked with correcting the problem...

    Oh, to be a Junior again?

  16. Sam not the Viking

    Synchronise

    "These 1 MW diesel generators are very important.

    They provide the emergency back-up power to the batteries which are essential to shut down the power station in the event of external supply failure.

    Let me show you how to manually synchronise them with the National Grid.

    Oops.

    Good job we have a standby and a spare.

    Oops.

    Oops.

    Bugger."

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Synchronise

      boom?

  17. JarradJ

    I've clearly been here too long...

    I'm sure I've read this story here before! :-)

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I've clearly been here too long...

      I too, was in a moment of vuja de... It was something similar for sure. Not letting the circuit being completed. Didn't this guy have to use his nose or his knee?

    2. baud Bronze badge

      Re: I've clearly been here too long...

      I remember a similar one, but the guy had to keep pressing the button so that his colleagues could do a proper shutdown to limit the damage

  18. Robert D Bank

    In memory of

    had one of those moments back in the 80's...days when there was issues with some of the old SLED disks started to lose their rust. Had one reporting errors so was asked to copy it to a spare just in case. Proceeded to do this using a very familiar utility I used daily, but not normally for disk to disk copy, usually disk to tape. Unbeknown to me, the copy function targeted DD statements in the reverse of a disk to tape backup, which meant I copied an empty spare disk over top of the live one! This wasn't immediately apparent as it was the mastercatalog volume which is largely static data and is mostly held on memory once first read, so the system carried on quite happily until something tried to update something on the volume but found it couldn't, because the volume was now effectively empty with no VTOC directory. Then came the realisation moment and having to fess up to the boss. Given the nature of the volume we realised that just restoring it from a backup would be OK, just wait until later in the day when we could afford to restart the system after a stand alone restore. So, next was to find a record of the last backup of this volume. Looking through the inventory I couldn't actually find one. Oh shit! The next step was having to find and wade through piles of line-flow paper to find any record of a backup. Please, any 'kin record! Eventually found it as one line on one single page at the bottom of one of the piles, which took about 2hrs. The backup was a bit old, but it was the only option available, and it was used to do a successful recovery and no actual harm done.

    After that unpleasant experience I then audited the backup inventory and found many holes in it. This lead me to do a complete rewrite and revamp of the whole disaster backup and recovery strategy, which included both backup and recovery information generated at primary and secondary sites.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: In memory of

      Every cloud has a silver lining

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: In memory of

      "the copy function targeted DD statements in the reverse of a disk to tape backup"

      Ah, the sanity of Unix where everything's a file and treated equally, real files, disks, tapes... It makes for consistency.

  19. Killfalcon Silver badge

    You sometimes see similar designs in software UIs

    So often you hardly think about it, but a lot of interfaces have buttons or menu items only do things on mouse release, not on-click. Thankfully you can just move the mouse off the element so no-one gets stuck holding LMB for an hour, but lord knows I've narrowly dodged a hundred minor catastrophes because of it.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: You sometimes see similar designs in software UIs

      And some systems have some very dangerous buttons. I'm looking at you, Citrix, with one button to boot every ICA user off a Netscaler...

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. TeeCee Gold badge

    Poorly located switches.

    My award goes to the IBM System 38. When using the console on the machine itself, any pause for thought inevitably results in the operator leaning on the thing with hands on the raised sections either side of the keyboard. Look at any '38 and you'll see two patches worn down to the metal in the appropriate places.

    In this position, the fingers of your right hand inevitably find their way into a perfectly placed recess on the side of the machine. This in turn prompts you to idly investigate said recess while you're busy thinking about something else. This action inevitably results in a click and the machine running its shutdown cycle.

    1. IT's getting kinda boring

      Re: Poorly located switches.

      Or the ICL Operator stations with the reset switch (simple toggle switch with a long enough toggle) conveniently placed in the middle of the front panel where anyone can catch it (saw that a couple of times - one hard reset took out an ICL2974 for a few days).

      Or on the 3930 when that came out, and it had small toggle switches to place the disks in read-only mode. Saw someone brush past loaded down with stuff and seen the toggle switch flick over. ICL eventually came out with a plastic cover to guard the switches.

      <wipes nostalgic tear from eye>

  22. asbestospiping
    FAIL

    Butt Switches

    I was helping rack a new server in a room that was too small, and had plug sockets installed at bum height (Dont ask!). i stepped back, and powered down our core switches, shutting down comms to over 400 people. Worse still, we found that the UPC had not been plumbed in at all, and the config on the switches was runtime only, so had to be rebuilt from scratch.

    Fun day!

  23. Giles C Bronze badge

    I did that

    Novell server which was an old compaq proliant server (tower) moved it and pressed the power button had to wait 20 minutes with the spring pushing back on my finger until we could let it shut down. That spring gets rather strong the longer you press it....

    Also managed to catch a ups bypass switch which was 1mm above the case and trip it off.

    Oops

  24. headrush

    Once when I was acting as an ad-hoc goto computer guy at a company, a secretary complained about all the suspicious spam we got from Russia. She asked what would happen if she clicked on an attachment. I somewhat foolishly said, do it and find out.

    The Internet immediately began acting strangely and our antivirus protection didn't clear it. After around 5 hours I eventually tracked the culprit down to a modified notepad.exe that kept reinfecting the system. Manually copied over a clean version and things went back to normal.

    She never let on what I had suggested, bless her.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      That's why we don't let users write to any location they can execute applications from, and the only exceptions are based on certificate rules. It's just too easy for a user to destroy a lot of stuff by accident otherwise, and Windows has trained us all to click on OK like a pigeon hitting a button for food.

  25. mr-slappy
    Facepalm

    Immediate Windows Update

    I'm a bit sketchy on the details for this one, as I was on of the many victims rather than the perpetrator, but it turns out that the option to test a Windows Update on one test computer is right next to the option to immediately deploy the Update to every desktop in the whole organisation.

    Which is why my PC suddenly started shutting down without warning one morning, and when I looked around, everyone else's PC was shutting down as well.

    It was like something out of The Matrix (or would have been if the shutdowns had been accompanied by pictures of descending digits and some spooky music).

    Anyway an intensive "retraining programme" was apparently arranged for the unfortunate perpetrator (in the sense of "would you like to get some training with another employer"). Bit harsh as AFAIK it was caused by a spectacularly poor UI.

  26. Ikoth

    Back in the mists of time, I worked for a very large IT services & hardware company. One of the grey beard sysops I was friendly with relayed the following tale to me. I have no idea if its true, but it sounds feasible.

    The company worked very closely with the "Computer Department" of the local Uni and a couple of times a year, it held guided tours around their Ops Centre for groups of students

    During one of these tours, the group of fresh faced little darlings were being herded out of the machine room, when one of them pointed to the big red emergency stop button by the door and shouted over the noise of fans, printers and whirring disk packs, "what's this for?" Unfortunately, he misjudged his arm length and / or the distance to the button, and depressed it. As in the original story, the button was of the "release to break" type. As coincidence would have it, the tour guide was standing right next to the phantom finger flinger and immediately smashed his hand down over the student's screaming "Don't move!!!"

    According to the legend, the lad had to stand in place, holding the button closed for well over an hour while the Ops Team frantically arranged for workloads to be shifted and large beige boxes to by gracefully shutdown. Unsurprisingly, the button was fitted with a perspex cover shortly afterwards.

    1. Rufus McDufus

      I worked for Imperial College a long time ago and they had guided tours of the server rooms. The emergency stop buttons were located quite high up, but not quite high enough to avoid being hit by some tall spotty prospective's head as they leant back on the wall. Happened at least twice IIRC.

  27. Scott Pedigo
    Mushroom

    De-Nuking It From Not In Orbit

    Many decades ago, in my first job after getting an engineering degree, I worked on the staff of a nuclear power station. There I heard the apocryphal tale of a mishap due to the Big Red Buttons (yes, plural) being inadvertently pressed. In the control room, there were two big red emergency shutdown buttons for the reactor (presumably mirrored on the other side of the control room for the second reactor). Both had to pressed at the same time to initiate an emergency reactor shutdown.

    In addition to not being something you'd want to do accidentally, due to dropping the power production off the grid, that would have the additional consequence that due to some basic nuclear physics, it would require many hours to restart the reactor. Why: at steady state, the number of neutrons being released by fission is equal to the number consumed by (a) causing more fission, i.e. the chain reaction, and (b) absorption by nuclei of other elements, e.g. atoms of water molecules, atoms of iron from the reactor vessel, and... radioactive decay products of previous fission components, some of which had a high affinity for neutrons, and are referred to as neutron poison. As the fission daughter products with a relatively short half-life decay, the amount of neutron poison increases. If these aren't being fed by a steady stream of extra neutrons from an ongoing reaction, which upon neutron absorption converts them to different isotopes, they'll hang around for awhile before further decaying. When the amount spikes after reactor shutdown, it reaches a level where a chain reaction becomes impossible, because too many neutrons will be non-productively absorbed. At that point, there is nothing to do but wait a few hours for those decay products to decay further. With the concomitant loss of revenue from not generating and selling the power. At the time it was probably about $1 million worth of lost sales.

    The Big Red Buttons didn't have any covers, but they were spaced far enough apart that it would be impossible for a human to press both with one hand.

    Unfortunately, when an operator, who was wearing a hardhat, leaned back in his swivel chair, facing away from the console, he fell over backwards, and the hardhat was just wide enough to hit both buttons.

  28. Robert D Bank

    One of those moments, just relax, picolax

    A lot more protected now, but the IDCAMS DELETE USERCATALOG FORCE command was a pretty effective way to ruin yours and anyone nearby's life, at the very least for many hours, more if no effective backups in place.That's about as much as I want to remember of that horror show, getting to old to deal with it now, so do nothing at all where possible.

  29. TesseractToby
    Coat

    We've all done it...

    I used to work for a global IT services company which owns and maintains it's own data centres for customer kit.

    I was in one, doing some work for a couple of customer appliances, HA01 and HA02. The aim was (naturally) to avoid downtime, so, I since I needed to be on both sides of the appliance, I used the ID light to show for HA01 where all traffic was passing. Did my work on HA02, failed over all traffic to HA02, did my work on HA01, then rolled it all back without a hitch.

    Locked up, left the site, was 30 minutes away when I get a phone call "Everything is down". I advise everything was fine when I left and ask if they want me to turn around and check up on it regardless, they said no, they'd get the DC guy to look at it.

    Guess who missed the ID light on HA01 and instead shut it down...

    Fortunately, the failover did work, so it was just the expected 15 minute blip, and the customer took their time in telling the account it was sorted...

    Now those appliances have been placed in separate cabinets in different halls for redundancy to be better effective...

    Live and learn!

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Opps

    Fresh out of uni and in my first IT job. The main DB server was having storage capacity issues. Investigated and reported back to my manager that it looks like a log file is taking up multiple GB. Was asked to delete it. Unfortunately it happened to be the SQL transaction log. Eventually we managed to get the system back online but not without a fair few hours of data loss.

  31. ricardian

    Not quite so disastrous as some of the things described on here but back in the 90s I was in an R&D environment and the test network had a PC with several hard disks. After a while it became apparent that drive F was very slow so the hard drive was replaced. This had no effect so further investigation began. Eventually someone discovered a Microsoft document which described how every drive F had lots of extra back doors, etc which could be used in development work, these extras caused the drive to run far slower than a "normal" drive. Presumably drive F is now just another drive letter

  32. Rufus McDufus

    Laughing at me

    Same happened to me, probably more than once, but the one I remember is in the early days of a certain large e-commerce retailer using, then Dec Alpha servers Went to reboot an app server, pressed button on NFS server. Spotted mistake while finger was still pressing button. Stuck there while colleagues came in and laughed at me.

  33. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Been there

    done that.

    Got a job as a night shift supervisor , 10 guys working for me.... 1000's of pounds of industrial hardware..... and as the first job, I have to reset one of the machines, so lets put the super expensive all singing all dancing probe in the machine... close the door and jog it over to where it needs to measure OH <EXPLETIVE DELETED>!!!!!!

    What idiots put the spindle controls next to the jog button.... said probe does not like doing 6000 rpm and came apart rapidly, spent the rest of the night sitting in the office chair writing a resignation letter and looking up new jobs....

    Boss called me in next evening and said "You destroyed that probe..... you know how much they cost?" etc etc etc

    He then opens his bottom drawer, points to 3 previous probes and says "you're not the first and you wont be the last, now get out there and do your job"

    Actually the worst oh no second is the one where you see the thing happen, know instantly what you've done wrong and yet are completely powerless to stop the oncoming disaster....

  34. Steve Medway

    Mine was an 'rm -rf'

    rm -rf in the wrong dir, during an application upgrade... It dawned on me when the delete took longer than expected.

    Thank the lord I had multiple backups made after safely shutting down the app before the upgrade. So in actuality the customer got two upgrades for the price of one, they never knew but I fessed up to my boss immediately who's reply was got a backup? I replied yep and got a 'no problem then' in return :)

  35. HammerOn1024

    It's called masking tape... :-)

  36. StephenH

    HP desktop PCs still have the power switch just above the dvd drive with the drive eject button at the corresponding spot below the drive

  37. Not previously required
    FAIL

    Stupid lights

    Just built a new home PC - last one died after 10 years. I find everything now has stupid RGB lights if you are not careful. The beautiful case from Darkbase has a beautiful 2cm well lit power button that I am not likely to hit in error. At least not when looking what I am doing and it does need a 4s press as a delaying mechanism. Next to it are two diddly little buttons, one for reset, with no delay, and one for changing the colour of the stupid lights.

    I can't decide if Darkbase's engineers are idiots, or just really hate people who put stupid lights everywhere in their beautiful case.

  38. scarper

    I should have bought one

    Years ago, a lovely little box was for sale. It had a great big button, lit up with the words "Press to test". And when you pressed it, the words changed to "Release to detonate".

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: I should have bought one

      So make one. I did.

      Mine read "Press to live!" and then "Release to die!" in very red LED wonderfulness. My highschool headmaster was not amused, but my Sixth Form headmaster thought it was hysterical ... however he advised me to "re-program" the lettering :-)

  39. DiViDeD Silver badge

    Only a little one really

    Once, as the last remaining technical resource in BP Downstream Operations, I was asked if I could create a dual boot drive for one of the old Dell luggable laptops (you remember - the ones with the PCMCIA slots and the removable hard drives).

    "No Problem" says I, "just bring it down". "Oh, I'll just bring down a spare hard drive so I can carry on using the laptop" says she.

    "OK, leave it on my desk"

    I get to my desk to find a Dell removable drive with a postit marked <myname> HDD, so I remove the HDD from my machine, slap in the new one, and start the install. Once done, I despatched the hdd to muh colleage and put mine back in the machine.

    How was I to know that she'd removed my HDD (the one with all my dev work, install scripts, pics of my holiday in Australia - in those days we didn't put stuff on the fileserver unless we never wanted to see it again), thoughtfully labelled it with my name and the letters "HDD", and shoved her blank HDD into the laptop.

    Many tears were shed and bottles drunk that night, I can tell you.

  40. Kiwi Silver badge

    Thanks HP/Compaq/whoever..

    Nothing nearly as bad as the article..

    We had standing desks in the shop I worked in, and also many other places the computer was on the desk. Tower cases provide a comfortable arm-rest when you're standing next to a co-worker's desk talk to them. Also if you came in to click on a couple of things or just move the mouse to stop the screen saver when checking a running job on a customer's machine, it was convenient to rest your arm on the machines.

    Some HP and Compaq models, and I think some others, had a proud[1] power button on the top front corner of the case, right about where your arm would lie, and of course holding down the power button would stop the machine.

    In the end I came with a solution using some old sellotape reels and an angled bit of plastic with a hole in it. The reel was stuck over the hole and the assembly sat on top of the offending machines, the reel allowing easy access to the button while also blocking it from accidental use.

    Undone once by a mate I've referred to here as a 'house-wirer' (who I refuse to call an electrician) who visited me at work one day. Took a look at the funny contraption, decided it wasn't anything relevant, and put it down on the desk and rested his arm on the machine that was all-but complete on a day-plus recovery

    from a dying disk. I don't think I've ever heard such language as I used at the time to try and educate him about NOT picking up or touching stuff that doesn't belong to him. He still hasn't learned, but others are learning why I have so little time for him these days...

    [1] vs flush or recessed, ie the button stuck out.

  41. oldfartuk

    Back in the 90's i was Project Manager and dogsbody fora £2m project rollign out LANS, servers and workstations to schools This meant ofc building a prototype, testing it, then cloning it. No one had really done this before, so i was presented with a copy of Norton Ghost 6.5 and told to work out how to do it with that, and thus became the unofficial 'expert' on it. One day a colleague had built a Mail server for another project by the Server team and he wanted the hard drive cloning as a backup. We shoved his drive and a blank one in a chassis, and ran Norton. Now here where i came unstuck. All the time i had been doing this, id renamed the master drive, so you could tell it from the blank, just in case, so when we ran Norton, we were presented with a list with two identically named drives, with no way to tell them apart. Now, common sense told me to stop, rename one of the drives and start again, but friend was i n a hurry, so i took punt and set the top drive as the master and the bottom drive as the destination, said 'ok ready' and press go,...and one millsecond later realised the drives were listed in reverse order for a change. It took Norton 6.5 eight mins to wipe a drive my colleague had taken three months to build and test.

    I dont recall getting a christmaas card from the Server Team that year.

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