back to article Dumpster diving to revive a crashing NetWare server? It was acceptable in the '90s

Today is Monday the 58th of March 2020. As a service to stop the days blurring into one, take a moment to enjoy a tale of NetWare, Blu Tack and a broken pencil in today's Who, Me? reader confession. This time we return to the 1990s, and to a region of Australia that our protagonist, a person we'll call "Howard", described as " …

  1. Willy Ekerslike

    Not a Who Me?

    That hardly qualifies as a Who Me? No blame or shame to hide there. It's a story worthy of On Call (and a medal for novelty) - Heath Robinson would have been proud!

    PS I'm not up this early normally during lockdown - it's just that I drove a friend to hospital for a deferred op early this morning. Now trying to keep awake. Strange, getting up early didn't use to be any problem: 4am to catch the 6am flight to Schiphol was a regular occurrence. Nowadays, lockdown and retired, my coffee m/c (bean to cup espresso) doesn't always have time to rest between breakfast and elevenses!!

    Beer icon - not every pub across the globe will be shut...

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Not a Who Me?

      Agreed. That's an On Call candidate! :-)

    2. O RLY

      Re: Not a Who Me?

      As the intro said, they're not sure days have meaning anymore. It could be Friday in the El Reg Event Horizon and somehow Who Me? got stuck on the article dispatched from within and the editors mislabeled it after our time dilation.

    3. slimshady76

      Re: Not a Who Me?

      Cut the guy some slack. It's the 58th of March after all...

  2. Blofeld's Cat

    Genius ...

    Excellent improvised engineering "solution".

    They say there is a fine line between genius and insanity. I seem to spend most days either repositioning or trying to erase that line ...

    1. Willy Ekerslike

      Re: Genius ...

      My trick to avoid losing the plot is not to start reading the book!

    2. Shadow Systems

      Re: Genius ...

      I spend my days RiverDancing on the bloody thing while naked, twerking, & playing the bagpipes! =-D

      *Inflates the bag, squeazes the blob betwixt my knees, & dances off twerking to a bagpipe rendition of "Waltzing Matilda"*

      1. Blofeld's Cat

        Re: Genius ...

        Had you thought of starting a YouTube channel?

        1. Shadow Systems

          Re: Genius ...

          It's already on My Skippy's List of Things I'm Not Allowed To Do.

          *Comical pout*

          *Wanders off dancing & twerking to "Tie me kangaroo down"*

          1. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: Genius ...

            Upvoted just for the reference to that treasure of the early Internet, Skippy’s List!

      2. Zarno

        Re: Genius ...

        Again, halftime show material.

        Take the blooming upvote!

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Genius ...

      Excellent improvised engineering "solution".

      Improvised, yes. However it should have been replaced by a proper engineering solution. Something like the reset switch being connected in parallel to relay contacts with the solenoid powered in parallel with the CD-ROM drive's eject motor.

      And thanks to Howard for the reminder of Mitsumi.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Genius ...

        I have heard this story before, but not in such much detail.

        I work in an office with a door intercom. Despite me being on the other side of the office, every other git in the office is "too busy" to get off their arses to press the button. I wanted to do a similar setup - PC CD tray positioned/wired to the door button and everyone has a powershell thing on their computers to eject the tray remotely.

        My manager didn't let me build it....

        1. lglethal Silver badge

          Re: Genius ...

          Simply reroute it so that the intercom goes through to your manager EVERY time.

          A solution will be demanded in short order...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Genius ...

            It's just a basic buzzer/intercom system. And aforementioned manager is in a different office

  3. TonyJ

    Dear Reg...

    ...I think you will find that it is actually the 118th of January today.

    1. OGShakes

      Re: Dear Reg...

      I am sure its April now, I think it may be 94th of April. I think its something like year 7 of the lock down, although it feel longer as my exwife was meant to move out 2 weeks after the lockdown, started and we are still rattling around the same flat.

      1. Nunyabiznes

        Re: Dear Reg...

        Well that has to suck.

        Have a virtual on me. ------------>

    2. Precordial thump Silver badge

      Re: Dear Reg...

      My Discordian Calendar tells me it's the 44th of Discord. Interestingly, China publically announced its first COVID-19 case on the 2nd of Chaos...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dear Reg...

      Reminds me of an old digital watch I used to have. When the battery was starting to die, it would display times like 26:72

  4. OGShakes

    A long time ago

    I learned that if you bodge something with a bit of tape and string (or these days a Powershell script and task scheduler) you can expect it to still be there years later! These days I always put a plan together to 'tidy up' bodge work into something more long lasting once the crisis has past.

    1. IHateWearingATie

      Re: A long time ago

      Too true - if a bodge job seems to work, the attention of management moves on and a temporary hack held together with (literally in this case) blu tack soon becomes the new normal.

      I'd never have been guilty of that .......

      1. Steve 114

        Re: A long time ago

        On the night shift, we'd correct sequence errors of 80-column cards with COBOL source code by putting the rectangular chads back in and pasting them over with polystyrene cement from a little Airfix bottle. Quick dry, rerun the pack, and see if it will compile now. Those programs did quality control on some very strategic equipment - but you could never find the card you'd changed to repunch it properly.

    2. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

      Re: A long time ago

      The short version: There's nothing more permanent than a temporary fix.

      1. BenM 29 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: A long time ago

        which is why I have taken to documenting even the most trivial of 'bodges' cos I know some poor sod, who isn't me, will have to sort it out in eleventy years time when things have gone all FUBAR as various unforseen "1 in a million" events congregate around said bodge..

        no wait... that poor sod will probably be me... .

        1. Keith Langmead

          Re: A long time ago

          Or worse... when that poor sod is you and other than recognising the bodge as your own handywork, you've no idea of why you did it and how it works! :)

          That's the main reason I always document my work. Finding undocumented things done by others is annoying, but when it's something you did yourself and you now can't remember what/why it was done... that's just downright embarrasing.

          1. Intractable Potsherd

            Re: A long time ago

            @Keith: Welcome to my house! Their are a number of "temporary" fixes that I know I was very proud of sue to their (cough) elegance and simplicity, but I have no idea what I did or how. Indeed, some of them seem to be impossible in the universe I currently inhabit - the laws of physics just don't work properly, so I can't actually do anything about them.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: A long time ago

        A 'temporary' radio hut I worked in was finally replaced with a more permanent building after an earthquake dropped chunks of concrete from the edwardian water tower it was parked under - through the roof. It had only been there 44 years...

        It wasn't so much demolished as simply disintegrated when the racking support ironwork inside was dismantled

        1. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

          Re: A long time ago

          Hah! 44 years for a government 'temporary' building is hardly trying.

          The last 'war-time temporary' building in Ottawa Canada, was torn down in early 2012. It was constructed in the 1942-1944 period.

          So 68 to 70 years. That last building was just to the east of the Supreme Court Building on Wellington Street and behind the Department of Justice Building. The site is now a parking lot. Of course.

          1. ricardian

            Re: A long time ago

            St Olaf's Episcopalian church in Kirkwall, Orkney has a wooden hut that is used as a meeting room. The hut was erected during World War 1 (1914-18) and has been in use ever since

    3. Lazlo Woodbine

      Re: A long time ago

      Many years ago my cousin's exhaust broke, she was having to drive back to her husband in Germany the next day, so my brother took the bottom of a baked bean can, slipped the two broken bits of exhaust inside, packed the ends with fibreglass and sealed each end with jubilee clips.

      Get it fixed as soon as you get to Osnabrück he told her.

      5 years and almost 100,000 miles later, when they came back to the UK the bean can was still in place.

      She said it sounded better with the can, but there was a strong smell of burnt tomato sauce for the drive over the M62 to the ferry...

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: A long time ago

        I had the pipe break off where it joined the exhaust baffle so that got wedged together with 'a funnel' type affair made from a baked bean can tube held in place by a reformed coat hanger. It got through a fair few MoTs until they decided it shouldn't.

        My best DIY repair was probably when someone carelessly knocked a valve off a water pipe leaving a nice hole and an eight foot arc of water. I don't think anyone believed packing that hole with knocked-in matches would work.

        I guess it's either in your DNA or it isn't.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: A long time ago

          When I first started working on this place (was a "Victorian" farmhouse before I bastardized it), I discovered to my horror that no fewer than 12 unused 3/4" copper water pipes were still connected to the pressure tank, but were sealed off with nothing more than a wine cork and a couple well placed dents (peens). Seems the elderly gent who owned it before me was a bit of a DIY guy and decided to move two full baths and the kitchen sink. Seems he didn't need the old copper, because he was an early adopter of PEX ...

          Not a one of them dripped even once, judging by the dust underneath them.

          Thankfully his wiring skills were a trifle better ...

          You either have it, or you don't.

        2. Allan George Dyer

          Re: A long time ago

          @Jason Bloomberg - "held in place by a reformed coat hanger"

          Is that a coat hanger with a criminal record for hold-ups?

          Did you help it to go straight?

    4. Ozan

      Re: A long time ago

      I had one as well. Long time ago when floppy disks were a thing (think late 90s and early 00s). I had a floppy drive and its power connection was broken. Basically socket for the power connection was dislocated very cleanly. No proken parts at all expect the solder to hold connect the metal parts. At that time, I hrdly used floppy but one day I had to use it to install OS on the machine. I simply put pins from mom's sewing kit into the holes on the floppy's board and taped them there. IT worked fine and I never put anything permamant at all. Of course later, we all forgot about floppy drives.

      I still have the floppy drive. I don't know it would work or not.

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A long time ago

      "a bit of tape and string"

      Ah, but this one required a push and the basic Heath Robinson engineering principle is that you can't push with string.

      Actually, I don't think that principle is true. I've just been tieing up some fruit bushes. The garden twine comes in tightly wound cylinders which are quite firm. You can push with string.

      1. Willy Ekerslike

        Re: A long time ago

        As MacGyver proved, you can recover from almost any disaster with duct tape. I say "almost" as some fixes work better if you also have some cable ties...

        OK, a hot-melt glue gun is also useful (especially my battery powered Bosch one, that charges over a micro USB). I used to add Araldite to the list, but hot-melt has replaced that for most repairs. Even cyanoacrylate glue goes to the back of the cupboard.

        And a Leatherman (replacing my previous Swiss Army knife) - Gibbs' rule 9.

        After all, what have the Romans ever done for us?

        1. KarMann Silver badge

          Re: A long time ago

          *raises hand* The aqueduct tape?

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: A long time ago....even longer back......

        This is your fault (& I can't find the clip of Raymond Baxter on Tomorrows World extolling the uses of string) .

        Icon looks like Graeme.

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: A long time ago

        Save money on garden twine. Buy bailing twine instead. It's around 25 bucks for 20,000 feet (just over 6 kilometers). Should last you a summer or three.

        1. Intractable Potsherd

          Re: A long time ago

          *Baling* twine, Shirley (unless you want it to get you out of gaol, of course...)

          [I can't see the obligatory spelling mistake in my post - I'll let someone else have the fun!)

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: A long time ago

            Sorry, brain fart, and one I make constantly, but at least I'm consistent with it. I've got a twisted neuron, no doubt. Mea culpa. Beer?

            While I've got your attention, more technically it's "Baler Twine" ...

            Your spleling misteak is bloody obvious ... Even the venerated OED states that "gaol" is archaic and goes on to state unequivocally that "this is obsolete in the spoken language, where the surviving word is jail."

            1. Intractable Potsherd

              Re: A long time ago

              Ah, but I wasn't speaking!

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A long time ago

      > These days I always put a plan together to 'tidy up' bodge work into something more long lasting once the crisis has past.

      The corollary to that, a truism which always serves well, is that here is no such thing as a pilot project, only an implementation.

    7. Soruk

      Re: A long time ago

      My bodge was a hacked straight Ethernet cable modified to work as a cross-over E1. It looked ugly as hell and was complained about by our data centre manager every time he visited the place. We did try to replace it with a properly crimped E1 cross-over cable, which was met by our call centre going offline. The bodge was reinstated and the call centre came back.

      It was finally retired when we changed call centre operators to one which received calls via SIP.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We have a dev server here which sometimes locks up on boot (locks while detecting drives), it seems to be a fault on the motherboard itself as the drives are fine.

    We noted that when it failed the font panel was distinctive in that the hdd light was lit, network 1 lit and network 2 not lit.

    so we added an arduino monitoring the lights so that if net1 & hdd were lit continuously for 30 seconds and net2 wasn't the arduino would hit the reset on the server.

    It's been like that for 5 years so far.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      why dont you just ping it?

      The wacky hardware bodge ala the story is for the pressing reset , surely the monitoring csan be done more conventrionally

      1. big_D Silver badge

        You still need to physically hit the reset switch.

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          There are many times where pinging isnt enough, a device might ping when in fact applications it host have stopped responding.

          1. Aitor 1


            That is why you have proper servers with LOM, on a different network.. they are essentially the advanced pencil...

        2. Cynic_999


          You still need to physically hit the reset switch.


          No need to *physically* hit the switch - you can do the same with a relay or transistor.

          Or just power-cycle the PC - most BIOS can be set to automatically boot when powered up. It is probably easier to use an off-the-shelf software controlled mains switch connected to an arduino or similar than to connect a wire to the reset line of a PC. Also has the advantage of being hardware independent.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            But.... where's the fun in that?

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Servers have IPMIs.

          IPMIs have remote command (and watchdog hardware timers)

          If you need to bodge something to monitor lights and/or press a reset switch then you're WAY out of your depth.

          20+ years ago it was a different story of course, but these days if it doesnt have this level of functionality, it's not a server, it's someone's cheaped out solution waiting circa service call

          And for watchdogs on old PCs, whatever happened to the PC speaker ticking on network packets duverted to driving the input of a 555 to hold off a relay connected to the reset switch?

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You still need to physically hit the reset switch

          I can see you read part of that post before blurting this nonsensical reply out.

          That second sentence was just too much for ya huh?

      2. iancom

        In the case of the dev box, the failure happens while booting up so before any network stack is loaded. You might assume that a prolonged boot time required a reset, but that could be dangerous particularly on a dev box as it might be checking disks / some other low level operation that could result in corruption if interrupted.

        For the original story, NetWare 3.x didn't use TCP/IP, it used some dedicated protocol that I've happily forgotten all about. TCP/IP didn't come along until around 5.x I think.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          > NetWare 3.x didn't use TCP/IP, it used some dedicated protocol that I've happily forgotten all about

          Which works quite similar to UDP/TCP, can route as well.

          I am happy to remind you of all those good things you forgot. Including setting the Ethernet Frame to 802.3 or 802.2 i.e. "always the other".

  6. chivo243 Silver badge

    Famous last words

    as long as nobody complains, I don't mind...

  7. gordonmcoats

    hot-wiring with office supplies

    We had an critical email server running on a Dell box, unfortunately this model's power button was so poorly designed it wasn't up to the muscular fingers of the support team, or - eventually - the biro you needed to depress the damn thing.

    After it completely gave up the ghost the only way to power down. the server was pull the power out, and the only way to power the thing back up again was to short out the connections to the power button using a specially shaped paper-clip.

    1. John Riddoch

      Re: hot-wiring with office supplies

      Then there was the Sun E150 (which was basically an Ultra-1 desktop in a tower case with 12 disks). If you powered it off, you either had to have a Sun keyboard to power it on, or open up the case to hit the power switch which was internal only. Not one of Sun's finest designs...

      1. Old Monk

        Re: hot-wiring with office supplies

        And refused to power-up when it was "too cold".. Cue hairdryer in the slightly glacial remote "server room" until it'd fire up..

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: hot-wiring with office supplies

      The self-threading HP tape drive would sometimes, in the words of the HP field engineer, forget how to thread. The solution was a bent paper clip reset. Two pads on the circuit board were exposed for this purpose.

  8. jake Silver badge

    I'm pretty certain I've heard this solution before ...

    ... right here on ElReg, in fact. Probably several years ago.

    A quick poke around in the forums turns up nothing.


    1. David Robinson 1

      Re: I'm pretty certain I've heard this solution before ...

      Not an El Reg story, but from the Daily WTF. Even mentions using phone books to get the height right. I'm thinking this story may be in Urban Legend territory.

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

        Re: I'm pretty certain I've heard this solution before ...

        Bingo. It is from TDWTF.

      2. baud

        Re: I'm pretty certain I've heard this solution before ...

        I was also thinking of this story, but I had forgotten on which website it was from.

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: I'm pretty certain I've heard this solution before ...

        Thanks for that, but I don't read TDWTF ... I'm sure it was here, as does someone below. And no, it wasn't the "eject the drive to ID the server" story, either, but thank you.

        Pints all around :-)

    2. Lazlo Woodbine

      Re: I'm pretty certain I've heard this solution before ...

      There was a story involving CD trays a while back.

      This one is where someone accidentally powered down the wrong server, so his solution was to remotely eject the CD tray of the server he was about to power down so he knew which one it was when he walked up to the rack

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm pretty certain I've heard this solution before ...

        I'm pretty sure that I, too, recall reading this tale here before, somewhere in the comments section. As soon as the CD drive was mentioned, I recalled the rig - monitor box pokes server's reset button when server stops responding.

      2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: I'm pretty certain I've heard this solution before ...

        Ejecting the tray to know which of those ten servers you power down or plug in the USB key is a well known method. Nowadays we have to use the "blue light" tool since most servers are without CDROM.

  9. GlenP Silver badge

    Very Minor...

    Had a very minor bodge on an HP 486 SCO Unix server where the power switch was perilously close to the tape eject button. Fortunately we discovered this whilst still in the test phase and not when the server was live.

    The fix was simple, cut up a DAT tape box to provide two pieces of plastic with a workable hinge between them and attach to the server with double-sided tape forming a cover over the power switch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very Minor...

      Heh. I've got reset & power buttons on the top front of my system's case handily placed between the headphone jack and a row of usb ports.

      There is a coaster taped at an angle cunningly calculated to cover the buttons, but leave the rest available...

      ... and in many years of operation, I have so far managed to resist the temptation to use said coaster as a resting place for beverages.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Very Minor...

      One of my cats had a knack for finding hardware reset buttons in the days of AT PC cases with thumb sized ones

      This was back in the days of Dos based OSes which needed hardware resets with a monotonous regularity. The fact that the boxes in question were invariably running Linux or BSD was...... annoying

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Very Minor...

        Seems I've always had at least one cat about the place who enjoyed pushing buttons ... I took to unplugging the factory reset buttons (and sometimes the on/off switch) and installing a switch that I could hit with a pencil through a hole I drilled in the case.

  10. Little Mouse

    "GENIUS!" he told us, modestly.

    There's no need for modesty. Some instances of genius should be applauded & celebrated.

    And this is one of them.

  11. big_D Silver badge

    Overtime <CR>

    This wasn't me, I remember reading it when I was a young whipper-snapper. I think it was in either Practical Computing or PCW in the UK.

    The journo had a friend (apocryphal?) who had worked on a large system in the 70s. It was fairly advanced and used an early teletype terminal. He would have to wait for the users to finish for the day, then he could start the reconciliation jobs. He would have to let them run, before powering down the computer and going home...

    Only the jobs took hours to complete, which meant missing Corrie or valuable drinking time.

    Being a primitive teletype with a roller and moving carriage, the BOFH candidate became creative. A line feed would execute a command, while CR/LF would execute the command and return the carriage to the start of the line... Being sneaky, he batched up all of the commands in the input buffer, then attached one end of a piece of string to the carriage and the other to the power switch of the computer (a throw switch, not a push button).

    Thus the jobs would all run sequentially, the carriage would gradually move to its full extent and once the final job had run, it did a shutdown and when that sent the session termination string, the teletype would throw a carriage return, yanking the power switch of the computer to the off position in the process. Obviously, there were a few flaws with this, a spelling mistake in the type-ahead buffer would leave jobs un-run and failed jobs would be ignored...

    But, hey, extra beer time whilst being paid overtime for running the jobs - the log showed when "he " shut down the machine, so they "knew" when he had left the building...

    1. PerlyKing

      Re: Overtime <CR>

      This reminds me of a proto-BOFH I knew at university. Faced with a choice between working all night on a project which was due the next day, or going drinking, he spent all afternoon reading up on and experimenting with the "at" command so that he could send an email in the middle of the night begging for an extension %-}

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Overtime <CR>

        Took him all afternoon to come up with THAT? Not much of a BOFH, then. But then, neither is the supposed BOFH, so I guess that's alright.

        (Hint: Decent MUAs allow you to set a "send" time for your email.)

  12. Hull

    Closed a knowledge gap

    When studying compsci, I could never really answer: What would be a practical and achievable use case of "cyber-physical systems"?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Closed a knowledge gap

      Easy answer: Anyone who uses such a phrase in a non-satirical sense can be summarily ignored with a complete lack of signal loss.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bodge repair

    Nothing like this level of genius bodgery, but I once fixed a PC with a rawl plug.

    I was onsite for server related stuff, when one of the users complained they couldn't switch their PC on. Despite not being there for desktop support I agreed to have a look. The PC had a plastic front panel with a spring loaded button. This had a peg on the back which pressed the actual power button on the chassis. For some reason this was no longer making a decent enough contact to press the power button in far enough to switch the thing on.

    After a quick look through the crap at the bottom of my toolbox, I found a packet of old plugs that came with a router for wall mounting it that had never been required. I chopped one of these in half and jammed it onto the plastic peg on the button on the front panel. A quick test and it would now reach the power button and switch on.

    One very happy user.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bodge repair

      My desktop's power button (the plastic pushable part) broke - when pushed, it wouldn't spring back forward again. I happened to have some upholstery foam, so put a small piece between the plastic button and the actual electrical switch. (I may have cut it out around the electrical switch, I can't remember now.) The foam gently pushes the button back out once pushed. It's been like that for several years now.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Bodge repair

      Yep, done similar many times over the years. Sometimes a tiny bit of cardboard or washer or anything that would fit glued onto the actuator plunger or, in one case, the plunger on the actuator had a hole so screwed a small screw into it so the head extended the plunger a few mills. In another case (pun intended), the PC would switch off under varied and odd circumstances. It turned out to be temperature related but hard to diagnose as both room temp and PC temp either independently or in tandem would cause the power off. It turned out someone had kicked the box in frustration at some point in time and although the outer case had been somewhat straitened up, the motherboard was on a tray that was still a bit bent and almost but not quite touching the solder side of the board. A sheet of cardboard fixed that one since yet again this was a "while you are here" job.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bodge repair

      "For some reason this was no longer making a decent enough contact to press the power button in far enough to switch the thing on."

      Reminded me of a minivan we had once. Wife and kids came home and said it was possessed. The dome light and the door open warning were going on and off while driving down the road. And the door was shut properly.

      A few days later the dealer fixed it properly by adjusting the door hinges to fix the sagging door. But my quick fix when I figured out what was wrong was to tape a US nickel to where the door closed switch touched the door. It was just a tiny bit short of pushing it in.

    4. jake Silver badge

      Re: Bodge repair

      That, Sir or Madam, should not have been posted anonymously.

      Have a pint on me :-)

  14. Sanguma

    Nowhere near the sheer X factor in this

    but I was asked once by a friend at this non-profit I was working for, to fix her home PC, which had stoped working.

    I got there and discovered that the power switch had broken off. Supergluing it back together got it back up and running. I didn't really think I did anything ...

  15. Dale 3


    The saddest part of this story is that it happened before the ubiquity of camera phones.

    1. Caver_Dave Silver badge

      Re: Photo

      If you try hard enough, you may still be able to find it working somewhere.

  16. Giles C Silver badge

    Well, I had just started at a company 22 years ago, and there was a big ups in the corner. It had an emergency bypass button on the front. For some reason best known to the manufacturer the button sat 1mm proud of the surrounding panel, and was built with a hair trigger.

    I had been there for a week and was doing some work in the server room and my knee caught this button powering down the computer room.

    The solution was to stick a backup tape box over the switch with sellotape so it could be removed if needed buy not if kneeded....

    I was still working there until 18 months ago....

    1. Boothy

      Did something similar about 30 years ago with a bench drill, for some reason the power-on button was really easy to push, and could be set of by someone just leaning against the thing (waste high controls). Which could be quite dangerous!

      We took some heavy cardboard tubing (think toilet roll but about 4mm thick), cut about a 2 inch length, and then gaffer taped it over the on button. Worked like a charm.

      1. Tom 7

        I've got a tower in the house which has a slightly recessed power button in the top. So leaning over the side of the desk to pop in a USB often results in the hair shifting and the requirement to lean on the box and then a powerdown followed by much swearing as the logged in user then doesnt have the ability to dismount the USB which was mounted by the system and I cant be arsed to spend two minutes setting things up properly.

  17. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Software bodges are good, too

    I remember reading about an old system (80's, maybe?) which would occasionally throw a wobbly. Debugging revealed that one particular byte in a program structure was being corrupted, but despite much digging they couldn't find out what was doing it.

    As a temporary workaround a piece of dummy data was added at that address, moving the real data one byte down in memory, so that corruption didn't zap the important stuff. Everything worked fine from then on, and I don't think it was ever actually fixed.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Software bodges are good, too

      We used to do that occasionally to get past bad bits of memory. Late 60s through the early 80s. Burning a word or two of memory was a hell of a lot easier and faster than convincing MoneyBags to loosen the purse strings.

      Don't to forget the mandatory follow-up memo, CCing friendly big-wigs who were in the "needs to know" loop, documenting the failing memory so you could say "I told you so!" when the inevitable happened.

  18. Luiz Abdala

    If it is stupid, but it works... is not stupid.

    Better than driving in the wee hours of the morning to slap a RESET button in a server somewhere.

  19. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Doffs Hat

    I've pulled a few tricks in my time, but nothing that approaches this for sheer Class!

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Doffs Hat

      It's an excellent example of what you do when you are kid starting out in IT, when you get to be an old fart you just order a new system.

  20. TheSkunkyMonk

    Not as classy as this guys solution but I have on more that one occasion used a humble cardboard wedge to fix memory not sitting correctly on warped motherboards in the 90's, saved our customers fortunes at the time boss was not happy though he wanted the extra sales.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Greetings, the time is now...

    Most recent Bodge I'm associated with.

    Atrium greeting screen is commodity telly with an RPi shoved in the wall cavity, running something or other scripted shenanigans.

    So the RPi decides to be defiant, and freeze at random. Cue said screen proudly showing 01:47 till someone climbs up and power cycles or kicks the mains on and off.

    Our IT guy set it to auto-reboot at 03:00 daily, and that fixed it for a while.

    Cue quarantine insanity, the IT department is on home work, and the bloody thing needs a reset every other day.

    Ended up installing a smart plug to reboot the thing hard-style at 03:50, and remotely whenever it drops ping.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Question - one detail

    Did "Howard" use an H or a 4B pencil?

    In other words, did his genius produce a hard or a soft reset?

    (I'll get my coat)

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Question - one detail


  23. Somone Unimportant

    NLM's weren't THAT bad

    Well, unless you were running ARCServe - those NLMs were as buggy as hell.

    Having spent two years before NetWare 3.0 was launched working with NetWare 2.11 and VAPs (Value Added Processes) that had to be bound into the kernel during the NetWare 2.x NETGEN process, the ability to LOAD and UNLOAD an NLM from the command line was amazing.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: NLM's weren't THAT bad

      I really liked NW 3 and 4

      We used to use it with a database server.

      An excellent product.

  24. Anne Hunny Mouse
    IT Angle

    Bad button location

    Cisco released a field notice on 36xx/38xx switches not to use cables with those protective plastic bits over the retention clip near the status button as it might cause the switch to factory reset ..


    Rubber bands & bobby pins

    The 60's DPD operator used rubber bands & bobby pins to keep the machines running.

  26. tony trolle

    not the first time seen this.....

    circ 1997 NT4 was new to the company I worked for ; and a new order transaction software was being tested. The old embedded system used mirrored hard drives this new improved system used two NT4 systems; one Master and one slave running backup software

    Some of these sites where this improved system was being trialed did not have the best power; and now and again one of the towers would "lock up". So yes cd/dvd drive and pencil pressing the reset key; both towers laid on side facing each other and a script that ran every 10 mins pinging the other system.

    From what I was told using a UPS did not help on just two related sites what so ever; and this tower on its side hack was in use until a upgrade to Server 2000 (and new machines) in 2003 and the problem went away.

    Prior to the use of a UPS and the script / CD idea; every morning someone dialed in to the systems at 50 different sites to see which one answered and call the site and try and get a cleaner/staff/guard to press the red or blue reset button (oh yes we had special colored buttons ordered) if required. Great fun and games when a lot of sites also used the same line for the fax.

    Only took the company four weeks to get UPS's installed.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: not the first time seen this.....

      both towers laid on side facing each other

      Windows NT69?

  27. elitejedimaster


  28. tip pc Silver badge

    MacGyvery Lashup

    As lashups go thats a propper MacGyvery that.

    that fact it kept running for 5 years is truly bonkers, still nothing changes, just the MacGyveries get more automated or done in code.

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