back to article Quick thinking and an explanation for everything – key CTO qualities

In these times of remote working, we're all a bit more cautious about what might be on our shared screen or lurking on the shelves behind us. Some things never change, as today's Who, Me? makes plain. "Larry", for that is what the Regomiser has dubbed him, was a technical lead at a communications startup in the early part of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CTO = Chief Titillation Officer?

    If so he definitely had the qualifications.

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: CTO = Chief Titillation Officer?

      You just put the image of Ken Dodd in my mind. Thanks.

  2. jake Silver badge

    I've been fired ...

    ... from consulting jobs several times after accidentally running across pR0n on C-level computers. Here's a re-write of a post I made here on ElReg about ten years ago:

    I know for an absolute fact that EVERY male college student's computer that I've worked on over the last 35 years or so has contained traces of porn. The coeds didn't start picking up on Internet porn in college until just over 20 years ago ... and now, they are nearly equal to the boys.

    In business, over the last two and a half decades or so, probably 80% (or thereabouts) of all male middle to upper management PCs contain traces of Internet porn (in my experience). Female management started surfing porn just over a decade and a half ago, and are now equal to the men.

    Not trying to justify it, nor vilify it, and likewise not drawing conclusions, just stating my observations. Do with them what you will.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: I've been fired ...

      Years ago, I used to get lots of links for questionable content\jokes in email from friends or colleagues, but strangely I can't remember when I received the last one. Maybe I'm getting old? or maybe I've not forwarded or contributed and am there for not on the list anymore?

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        Re: I've been fired ...

        Thinking about it a bit, I also cant remember the last time I got any questionable content/jokes from work colleagues. Maybe it's because my current colleagues are a pretty boring bunch, but even before I changed jobs 5-6 years ago, I think the whole sending jokes/etc. had died in the old office (with colleagues who were certainly not boring!). Such things if they were done, were done over personal emails and not the work accounts. Much safer on the career that way...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I've been fired ...

        in my first job ~ 2000 friends and colleagues used to send questionable emails. Despite me asking to send to my hotmail address i regularly got dodgy mails to my government work address until one of the senders got sacked from his job at a college.

        people nowadays just use Whats App.

        1. Calum Morrison

          Re: I've been fired ...

          In contrast to the late 90s, I doubt I have many of my friends' work email addresses these days; probably safer for everyone all round! Anything like that is shared over social media or messaging apps; back in the day, it was not unusual for people not to have a personal email but things are much different now. Corporate firewalls etc. would put the kybosh on all the good stuff anyway and now I think about it, there's a whole group of friends for whom I only have messaging app details rather than even a personal address.

          Still holding out for a Friday afternoon Excel sheet with minipops or world cup football strips to identify...

    2. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: I've been fired ...

      jake>>I know for an absolute fact that EVERY male college student's computer that I've worked on over the last 35 years or so has contained traces of porn.

      My Epson PX-8 had zero porn on it. (Circa 1985->1992)

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        Re: I've been fired ...

        "My Epson PX-8 had zero porn on it."

        Zero Porn? Is that what were calling ASCII porn these days? Nothing like a bit of the old Zeroes and Ones, eh?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: I've been fired ...

          ASCII pR0n doesn't always mean ASCII art ... there is plenty of written pornography.

          Does anybody under thirty even know what ASCII art is?

          1. logicalextreme Silver badge

            Re: I've been fired ...

            Hate it when you get to the crucial moment and it's ruined by the realisation that the author was using a different extended character set.

          2. Charlie van Becelaere

            Re: I've been fired ...

            "Does anybody under thirty even know what ASCII art is?"

            I was about to reply that I do. Then I realised that said reply would be more than two decades late.

            1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

              Re: I've been fired ...

              Do .nfo files count?

          3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: I've been fired ...

            "Does anybody under thirty even know what ASCII art is?"

            I pretty sure ive seen an ascii version of Doom!

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: I've been fired ...

        Your PX-8 barely had a program loader on it, so I'm not surprised. If you had a modem and a shell account through your Uni, you might have discovered Usenet, plenty of pR0n there. Ah, well. No use crying over spilt milk.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I've been fired ...

        > My Epson PX-8 had zero porn on it. (Circa 1985->1992)

        An Epson PX-8 alone is stimulation enough... ;-)

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: I've been fired ...

      It just shows poor judgment to EVER access porn on a work computer. ESPECIALLY a work desktop so one would have to have been accessing it while in the office! If I were in charge I'd consider that a fireable offense, not because of morality (I surf porn too, just never at work!) but for the lack of judgment it exposed. I'd be forced to wonder how poor someone's judgment would have to be in other areas important to the business.

      In the case of the interviewee, he should have said something like "I thought I'd cleaned up the malware but I guess I was wrong, sorry about that!"

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: I've been fired ...

        He should have started out, "This is on your network right now!" I won't name any names, if you hire me now I can make the problem go away!" Shifty gaze to the best dressed C and D levels... I'll just fill in this salary amount if you don't mind...

        1. Little Mouse Silver badge

          Re: I've been fired ...

          He should have said / He should have started out.

          And yet the actual answer showed the honest character of the man.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: I've been fired ...

            yep , the shouty bulshitting chancer technique wouldnt have washed with the techie guy relating the tale.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: I've been fired ...

        If you re-read mine, you'll notice that the people at work who I was referring to were middle to upper management. In other words, the people in charge.

        In the case of the interviewee, "Damn kids!" ... pretty much covers anything when it comes to a take-home computer, be it a personal machine (BYOD[0]) or company issued. Only works once per given company, though.

        [0] Break You Own Defenses

        1. Olivier2553

          Re: I've been fired ...

          Damn kids is still true. I have a smart phone that I used as a glorified MP3 player, I load my MP3 and listen at my stuff. But that phone may be borrowed by the damn kids or others, and then I may find it has the browser still on some page or other that I would never access myself.

      3. Why Not?

        Re: I've been fired ...

        get a £40 tablet for personal surfing - sorted.

    4. irrelevant

      Re: I've been fired ...

      Yups ... ~1998 or so,we had more than one customer complaining that the file server was full, again. Doing a search for >100MB files (big for the day) would regularly turn up dodgy video files in personal folders. All downloaded over their 64Kbps ISDN links, and usually in the folders for executive level accounts, as few underlings had internet access at the time. We'd just delete them on-sight and report the problem solved. Nobody ever complained ...

      1. DJV Silver badge

        "We'd just delete them on-sight"

        Shirley you mean: "We'd back them up onto CD or a Zip disk to take home and THEN delete them."

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've been fired ...

      The problem I have with that statement is "traces of". What does that entail? Slimy entrails? Badly wiped screens? Stuff that lights up under UV light?

      I'm not even sure I want to know. Forget I asked :).

  3. pavel.petrman

    Thsi story reminds me of ...

    ... that bloke fined (or was he actually sentenced) in Singapore or thereabouts for playing an adult video while stuck in a traffic jam on his way to the airport. The authorities had no problem with him watchting his favourite bag - they had a problem, though, with hundreds of other people watching it, as that hack was so bored he actually broke into a giant advertisement screen on the screen next to where his taxi was, erm, taking its stand, and played the PH stream there for everyone to see. The guy had, too, been staying in hotels, prior to said incident.

  4. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Thumb Up

    Tiny Elvis!

    That takes me back.

    1. wwwd

      Re: Tiny Elvis!

      takes you back like a honky tonk angel?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Tiny Elvis!

        Take me back to about a dozen years after SNL became unwatchable crap.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just me?

    I keep my porn off my work phone and laptop and haven't used a company network for that purpose this century.

  6. Barking House

    NASA, Mars and Sojourner ....

    We had an important client coming to our large conference suite, it was an initial kick off meeting, the team were well rehearsed, we knew what we were going to present and everything was ready to go.

    The sales guy was keen to show that we knew about the internet and kept asking if we could connect to the NASA Live Feed about the Sojourner Mars Rover (This was Circa 1997) - I said we could do that post the meeting but did not want to risk having a point in the presentation (We were using PowerPoint 97) that linked to an external internet page as PowerPoint 97 would sometimes bork itself.

    10 minutes before the client came into the conference suite the sales guy had asked to make a change to the PPT, foolishly we let him .....

    Que to client presentation, the massive BARCO projector was beaming in full VGA resolution and a new slide popped up with a link to (Not - Before we could stop the sales guy from clicking on it, up popped the National American Stripper Association (NASA) in all its glory !!

    Suffice to say the meeting did not conclude as we expected and the Sales guy was in very hot water with his manager with pleads of how was I to know that was not the same as

    Unfortunately the really rather marvellous 1997 NASA.COM has long since gone and has had some other websites since but none as inventive.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: NASA, Mars and Sojourner ....

      10 minutes before the client came into the conference suite the sales guy had asked to make a change to the PPT, foolishly we let him .....

      It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a marketing man in possession of a good idea, must be in want of a clue.

      With apologies to Jane Austen.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: NASA, Mars and Sojourner ....

        "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a marketing man in possession of a good idea must be taken out behind the barn and thrashed unmercifully until the thought leaves him, for the betterment of us all."


        1. irrelevant

          Re: NASA, Mars and Sojourner ....

          I was hanging about in the back of a meeting room, on hand for if any technical questions came up during a presentation of our accounts packages to a potential new client. They'd not yet started, but everybody was present, potential clients included, when the salesperson turned to me and said 'Hey, when I was checking this out earlier, I got an error message when I did this', did it again, and the program crashed...

          ..on the huge projection[0] splashed on the wall in front of the visitors ...

          ([0] dreadful resolution, monochrome LCD panel that was placed atop a school-memories-type overhead projector!)

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: NASA, Mars and Sojourner ....

            "dreadful resolution, monochrome LCD panel that was placed atop a school-memories-type overhead projector!"

            That gradually faded from view due to over heating within a couple minutes.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Projector test

    Some time in the late 90s our team was tasked with testing a brand new projector with VGA input, and after a few successful tests in our darkened office we became curious as to how far the projection could reach. With a whole web server full of pr0n available, we picked a movie at random and projected it onto the white outer wall of the church opposite - the picture was bright enough for details, so the test took less than a minute.

    Luckily that wall was on the backside of the church, so we were the only witnesses.

    Anon to protect the others involved.

    1. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

      Re: Projector test

      "... so we were the only witnesses ..."

      I half expected the next line to be:

      The next day the local paper reported that a group of passing nuns had seen demonic manifestations appear on the back of the church.

    2. herman Silver badge

      Re: Projector test

      Less than a minute? Damn kids these days are quick...

  8. JeffB
    Paris Hilton

    Dr Pr0n

    Many years ago I worked in the business machines section of a Staples Office Superstore. A doctor had purchased a PC from us, but about a month later it wouldn't boot up, so he brought it in for us to look at (with wife and children in tow). As I recall, a few simple BIOS tweaks resolved the issue and said machine burst into life. Just to be sure, we ran it for about 10 minutes, rummaging through the internet history and temp files for good measure. The amount of Pr0n was astonishing, I wonder if his wife knew....

  9. stungebag

    A frightened teacher..

    I was IT manager at a school and was visited by a visibly shaken newly-qualified art teacher. She'd prepared her lesson carefully and rehearsed it at home. At one point she wanted to introduce a modern artist to the class for his work to be discussed. For this she'd used a Google image search, which was giving her exactly what was wanted.

    But in the classroom, with a room full of students, it went somewhat Pete Tong. One of the images returned was a close-up of some keen playing of the pink oboe. She shut down as quickly as her shaking fingers allowed but not quickly enough. She really thought that her very short teaching career was at an end.

    Hence her visit to my office. Was her Internet use monitored? Did I already know that she'd just been showing her art class advanced oral technique? Well, yes, the connection is monitored by software but I was unaware until now. When we repeated the search in the seclusion of an office with a colleague tasked with stopping students from entering it became clear that the graphic knobchomp was actually a painting by the artist in question that hadn't appeared in her previous searches.

    I assured her that I, as IT manager, had no problem with her conduct and advised her to tell her department manager, who was known to be a nice chap, what had happened. She asked me to put in a word for her, which I was happy to do. It all ended well, and the students may have learned something.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: A frightened teacher..

      and the students may have learned something

      To be careful with their teeth?

  10. Lazlo Woodbine

    Terrifying video wall

    I was once at a trade show at the NEC.

    We'd finished setting up our stand, so I wandered around the stands with some colleagues.

    We stopped at the biggest stand at the show, marvelling at the just completed video wall, it must have been 30m by 10m, simply huge when you're stood right in front of it.

    The engineer had wandered off for his break, what he didn't realise was his laptop was still connected to the video wall, and the whole of Hall 1 of the NEC was soon treated to the finest wares Pron Hub has to offer, most of which is not something you want to see when you're standing so close to a 30 metre wide screen...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Terrifying video wall

      "something you want to see when you're standing so close to a 30 metre wide screen..."

      Wow! Talk about falling down the rabbit hole!

    2. Olivier2553

      Re: Terrifying video wall

      Talking about Porn Hub, pornography is illegal, here, in Thailand, so major sites like Porn Hub are blocked at ISP level. But Porn Hub is sponsoring one of the major football team. All the youngsters who have a shirt from their favorite team know well enough what the sponsor represent and they cannot be blamed for supporting their team, can they.

  11. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Did Larry

    have a Leisure Suit?

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Wow. What a set on this guy.

    With him handling IT Elizabeth Holmes might have gotten away with Tharanos.

    Just. Wow.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was a naughty boy...

    I was in a shopping mall computer store browsing their laptops. I noticed that they had a bank of tv's mirroring one of the After Dark 3D fly-over terrain screen savers. I found the connected computer, did the three-fingered-salute to bring up task manager, switched logged in users, & pointed the machine at a certain website. Then I set the screen saver to none, the timeout to zero seconds, & gave it a password. I walked away as the screens all started showing cartoon porn from various Japanese manga sources & tried not to whistle innocently as that would have been too obvious.

    Posting anon because I ended up working at the store in question specificly to prevent shite like mine. I'd rather they not know that I was the little bastage that did it in the first place.

  14. Rol Silver badge

    21st Century Peeping Tom.

    "Now. If you'll kindly sign this non-disclosure agreement. I'll leave my laptop with you for repair"

    "Err What?"

    "My personal laptop. With my personal details on it. And a history that I can't remember has been erased or not"

    "Sorry what seems to be the problem?"

    "Listen. You're a techie guy, who fiddles around with other people's equipment and even though it isn't part of your remit, you will look at every document, picture and video on the hard drive, and copy whatever juicy things you find. Well I can't stop you from doing that, but this non-disclosure document will stop you from sending what you find off to The Washington Post."

    "I would never do that"

    "Not even if I was the next President's son?"

    "Are you?"

    "There really is no point in lying to you, as you will know more about me than my psychiatrist, once you've sated your voyeuristic leanings. No I'm not, but that's not to say I'm not influential in other walks of life."

    "OK I'll sign it"

    "Whoa! Hold on. You haven't even read it. Your eagerness to get your hands on what could destroy me is a little too obvious."

    "Ok I'll read it..... Err castration with a rusty blunt knife, and then fed live to starving pigs. I can't agree to this"

    "So you admit it. You're an atypical techie guy, that even under pain of torturous death would not forgo the opportunity to drool over someone else's personal stuff"

    "Err. I suppose."

    "So it's looking like Apple's policy of never repairing anything and just replacing it is going to be the way I must go? You couldn't pass me that hammer of yours for a while. I need to recycle this properly"

  15. big col

    i spent the last 27 years before retirement working in student IT support in a university. In the days before laptops were common I would often be asked to upgrade or fix a student PC.

    One Thursday a stunningly beautiful Italian student brought her computer along, she was very upset because her dissatation was due in on Friday and her computer was not working. So I said i would take a look.

    The problem was nothing more than virus and tool bar infection. After a clean up, all was well so I printed the dissertation for her. And while looking for her files i found a huge porn stash.

    Next day she returned with her boyfriend, happy that everything was sorted she asked what was wrong, so I told her. Turning to her boyfriend "so I am not enough for you" as she hit him so hard he ended up flat out on the floor.

    Her work was submitted, later that day she returned with beer chocolate and a thank you hug.

    Only one of many student story's where porn was involved

    1. Negative Charlie

      > beer chocolate

      Thank you. Now I know what I want for Christmas.

      1. jake Silver badge

        I'm not normally fond of this kind of thing ...

        ... because I'm a beer/ale purest. However, Rogue Brewing's Chocolate Stout is actually a pretty good, well balanced brew (if a hair on the sweet side for my taste). Worth a try, if you can find it.

        Xmas is in 12 days! Enjoy.

  16. G.Y.

    Decameron, day 6, 10th story, has a story about recovering from an embarrassing AV error

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yanic imagery

    I was at Radio Shack in the mall during the early days of ray tracing. They were using a FOSS program that did terrain rendering to demo one of the computers. Having previously played with the program, I knew that it could generate a terrain map based on an image. I quickly realized where the interesting looking canyon on screen had come from. I wondered how many other people did.

  18. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Imitation Idiot

    and his imitation samurai sword

    In my experience this is a warning sign for any level of employee.

  19. Unicornpiss

    Many of these over the years..

    A few that stand out:

    Doing a remote session to help someone with a web-based app and midway through, noticing the several other Chrome tabs he had open were all going to gay porn sites. I discreetly helped him and did not utter a word. It was after hours and he was at home, so have at it was my philosophy. Just don't infect your machine with something.

    A colleague of mine trying to track down who was spending hours on the company LAN visiting porn sites. As fast as she would block sites, he would find more. This was back in the days before out of the box proxies and web filters, and coming from another tech field, her skills managing a corporate LAN may not have been as up to snuff as they could be, at first. She eventually tracked down the offending machine. Of course it was our CEO's. Not sure how she handled that awkward talk..

    Visiting an engineer's desk to assist him with something and finding his desktop wallpaper consisted of a woman spread-eagled in a fashion that would make a Penthouse editor or gynecologist blush. He was eventually fired, though not for that, and his laptop was turned over to police for investigation of child porn.

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