back to article Oh, no one knows what goes on behind locked doors... so don't leave your UPS in there

The weekend is almost within touching distance, so break out the beverages and enjoy another tale of On Call shenanigans from The Register's put-upon readership. Today's story, from a reader Regomised as "Paul", is a reminder that it isn't only network cables that have two ends... and two plugs. Paul's yarn takes us back to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It took a little while longer to track down a key in order to unlock the door ..." Presumably there were only a very few keys?

    "The phantom plug puller was never identified." Publically...?

    I wonder if they noticed the metal shavings around the safe from the electric drill... The sound of which would have been covered up by cabinet fans, printers, etc. outside the room. And no one would have ever known except the thieves forgot to re-plugin the UPS. Another security failure covered up by the board of a company.

    1. Symon

      Who needs a key when you've got a Hilti DD350 diamond coring drill?

      1. Symon

        p.s. Hatton Garden re-enactment :-

    2. Dinanziame Silver badge

      £10 says the cleaning crew needed the plug to vacuum

  2. pavel.petrman

    re "management declined to take the risk"

    Oh, what a soul-soothing thing to read. Especially so when the root cause of so many of these Monday and Friday stories is penny pinching and inept bean counters at the helm.

  3. macjules

    MicroVAX II Mayflower

    Was amazed when I saw one of those installed in my "datacenter" (basement office with a lock on the door in a dingy part of Westminster). I thought that they were intended for industrial use and kept being told, "statistics, now shut up". This one was a beast with 16Mb RAM added on, plus a backup module in case that failed. Never had to go near it apart from to replace the UPS several times.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower

      I'm not sure about Industrial use as such, there was a lot of scientific use as well. I can well believe the Statistics claim as there were several stats packages that ran on VAX architecture back then.

      I cut my teeth on the larger machines (11/780 and 11/750 in first role for scientific work then an 11/785 in education) but installed two smaller machines.

      First one was a K9* MicroVax II at the local college for the engineering department, dedicated to the PAFEC finite element analysis suite (which at the time included such wonderfully named packages as SWANS - Surfaces With A Nice Shape!)

      Later I installed a MicroVax 2000 to run a 20 user MRP system so sort-of industrial.

      *K9 'cause they resembled the robot dog from Doctor Who.

      1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

        Ahh Pafec

        A UK software house that punched above its weight.

        Other products of theirs had similar fun names:

        DOGS - Drawing Office Graphics System - a 2D CAD system that was an AutoCAD challenger up to the late 80s.

        BOXER - their 3D solid modeller.

        DOGS was eventually offered for free (pay for the floppies) as a cut-down PC port. Required more than 5meg of HD space which put it out of reach of most engineering students :(

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Ahh Pafec

          DOGS as a CAD system seems to vaguely ring a bell. Did it turn up running under MSDOS at some stage?

          1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

            Re: Ahh Pafec

            It was and a quick DDG revealed this:


          2. Fogcat

            Re: Ahh Pafec

            Written in FORTAN and overlayed to heck and beyond to get it to fit. I was there when they announced internally they were going to port to PC and most of us did a mechanic style sucking in of breath over our teeth.

            1. markv

              Re: Ahh Pafec

              Me too. We also had HORSES (can't remember what that stood for).

            2. markv

              Re: Ahh Pafec

              I was the person who did the port from minis/workstations onto the PC, working with my boss (one of the directors), mostly in our spare time! Because we used a tightly controlled subset of Fortran IV the code compiled and ported pretty easily, with only a small library of routines which needed implementing specifically for the PC. The overlaying was a ***huge*** challenge, but we got there in the end. I still have my copies of Free PC-DOGS which was available on 5 1/4" and 3.5" floppies. The idea was to undercut AutoCAD (or low-end rival) and to provide an upgrade path to workstations and minicomputers. Pafes was a fantastic company to work for. I made friends for life there, who I am still in touch with.

      2. Fogcat

        Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower

        I used to work for PAFEC, coming up with new names for packages was always fun. SWANS was a a bit of a effort.

        We had PIGS (Pafec Interactive Graphics System), DOGS (Drawing Office Graphics System) MOGGIES (Mapping Orientated Graphics ...something something)

        I seem to remember that the lubrication module for the finite element software was SLUGS

        1. RockBurner

          Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower









          1. Fogcat

            Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower

            Mapping Orientated Graphics Giving an Improved Edgeless System (I think). I had a layered approach with greater detail as you zoomed in to avoid overflowing integer co-ordinates as everything before had been based on paper sheets for engineering drawings.

            Was actually marketed as DOGS Mapping though.

            1. markv

              Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower

              Yes, I was heavily involved in the design of that layered approach, which also helped with response times as you zoomed in, and allowed us to write lock the minimum areas necessary, so that multi-user access for read and write was possible

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower

          There was a US company company that produced (DOS days) frame buffer graphics cards along with SDK's.

          STAGE - Standard Truevision Adapter Graphic Environment (I think)

          STAGE Coach - Tutorial for above

          On Stage }

          Back STAGE } - can't remember! May be more....

        3. julians1966

          Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower

          I worked at PAFEC on SWANS

          I attended a user group meeting at Strelley Hall last summer and had a BBQ outside, brought back loads of great memories

      3. Alfie Noakes

        PAFEC memories

        I remember PAFEC - lovely old building(s) out in the sticks.

        IIRC, their "computer room" was in the attic (with oak beams) where they had one of the first VAXstations.

        The stables had been converted into an office, but keeping the original stalls for desk units.

        Beside every door was an umbrella stand full of umbrellas, so you could keep dry when walking between buildings.

        Ah, the eighties - the good old days of computing!

        1. markv

          Re: PAFEC memories

          When we moved into Strelley Hall in the 80s, the Prime Minicomputers were installed on the ground floor, in the Library, an elegant wood-panelled room. It was very cold when we moved in, and I remember toasting bread on the open fires in our office! As we outgrew the main building, we moved into the stables block. Most of us were upstairs, but the stalls were used for "digitising" large A0 CAD drawings and maps for customers.

          Although Pafec is long gone, the MD and owner is still there. The main building is used for serviced offices, and the Stables block is now a coffee shop, with small craft type shops around the courtyard. The Library is now used for regular afternoon teas. Recommended!

      4. mikecoppicegreen

        Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower

        Ah - PAFEC. referred to when I was in college as "Pissed as F**k Electronic Computer", by some students who enjoyed their finite element analysis coursework!

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower

      My previous employer finally turned of their last VAX in 2015.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower

        Barclays Bank? They were still using them at their place near Southampton about ten years ago.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower

          No a software company writing software for the food production industry.

    3. Vometia Munro Silver badge

      Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower

      I heard a somewhat apocryphal story about a financial institution that had a very reliable MicroVax that after several years needed to be relocated or some such, and they couldn't find it. Turned out to be still living in a long since bricked-up part of the building, quite happily left to its own devices and unmolested.

      I'm slightly sceptical as I would expect facilities management or whatever they're called to pay at least some attention to turning off the power in disused areas but I also know better than to not just assume, so it could well be true. Depends how many years as VMS had some obscure bug that would cause a hiccough after a long enough period of uninterrupted uptime.

      I still have a couple of VaxStations in the garage. I would've been happy to run them if not for their somewhat enthusiastic power consumption. Well, that and my VMS licences expired about 20 years ago.

      1. Stevie

        Re: MicroVAX II Mayflower 4 Vometia Munro

        "I'm slightly sceptical as I would expect facilities management or whatever they're called to pay at least some attention to turning off the power in disused areas"

        You might think so.

        Story from my father, set around 10 years after WWII when rationing was a recent memory. The national power network was no longer being regionally blacked out on short notice due to infrastructure damage, but pennies were still being pinched at BTH in Coventry where dad was apprenticed.

        Came the day when the old Anderson air-raid shelter was to be decommissioned. No-one had been in it in 10 years and space was at a premium.

        Someone was dispatched with the key. The door was opened, and a blast of hot air hit that worthy in the face.

        Glowing dimly in the deep, dark of the unlit shelter was a single-bar, one kilowatt electric fire.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    It was the cleaners!

    Was the bane of my existence... Now we do our own house cleaning in secured areas.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: It was the cleaners!

      Or the builders.

      We needed a new AC in the server room as it was being expanded.

      Queue the builders turning up and unplugging a VAX to plug in an electric saw!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: It was the cleaners!

        "Queue the builders turning up and unplugging a VAX to plug in an electric saw!"

        <Imagines line of blokes in scruffy work clothes and hard hats lining up to take their turn at unplugging the VAX>

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: It was the cleaners!

          Sorry, too long living abroad! I mix up words every now and then.

          1. PerlyKing

            Re: It was the cleaners!

            At least it wasn't a builder's cul ;-)

      2. Coastal cutie

        Re: It was the cleaners!

        A builder at our offices took the whole tower block off line by bending over and in so doing, hitting the big red emergency power off button with his bum. It was at this point the UPS was discovered to be faulty. There is now a flip cover over said button (but alas, attempts to stop the workforce being exposed to builders bum have proved less successful).

        1. Symon

          Re: It was the cleaners!

          "flip cover", although its technical name is a molly-guard.

        2. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: It was the cleaners!

          I'm 6'5 and I vaguely remember being forced to wear a hard hat to enter a machine room which of course resulted in my helmet smashing into a beam, flying off and causing serious havoc to machinery while I ended up prostrate as my body carried on as my head was bounced backwards. I never did ascertain why helmets had to be warn but have met many overzealous* safety officers.

          *I dont blame them - without proper training your bound to overreact.

          1. Muscleguy

            Re: It was the cleaners!

            Bio lab, the institute instituted a set of self important jumped up technicians to act as ‘safety officers’ and check everyone was wearing lab coats and gloves.

            Except we were all PhD’s perfectly capable of deciding what was and was not safer both for us and for our samples from us. In one procedure you deliberately remove your gloves to do the saline washes (safe, just buffered saline) because enzymes which chew up RNA literally drip from our fingers (sort of defence against RNA viruses, like um Covid) so taking off the gloves acted the same as adding the enzyme.

            Cue the safety officers failing to understand this. We showed them the protocol, esplained the reasoning and why it was perfectly safe. But you have wear gloves. We just kept a good lookout from then on.

            At that time I had something like 7 possible waste streams I could use. I was expect to on the fly decide if the chemical contamination on my pipette tip trumped the biological contamination or vice versa (different waste streams). So to have some jumped up technician tell me how to operate was really rich.

            1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

              Re: It was the cleaners!

              @ Muscleguy "Except we were all PhD’s "

              Too often Ph.D. = Pin-headed Dope

              (I know, I've got one)

              though I'm sure you are sensible and calm at all times in the lab.

      3. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: It was the cleaners!

        Yes, The Builders... The same ones that turned up at Fawlty Towers!! The Builders!! That's how the server ended up sealed in the room!

        1. Aussie Doc

          Re: It was the cleaners!

          They were O'Reilly men!


          1. Stevie

            Re: It was the cleaners!

            That's "orelly men".

  5. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Why is that thumbnail with the lady trying to open the door so familiar?

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Dunno. Do you happen to know my ex?

    2. General Purpose

      Because you've been reading El Reg for a while?

  6. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    We've encountered servers bricked up into secret rooms many times

    we have?

    1. nichomach

      Well, at least once...

      Lost server

  7. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    If the general public start reading this column, they're going to think all you have to do in "I.T." is "turn it off and on again" and in extreme cases "plug it back in" !

    1. TonyJ

      "...If the general public start reading this column, they're going to think all you have to do in "I.T." is "turn it off and on again" and in extreme cases "plug it back in" !..."

      What? You mean you don't??

      1. shedied

        General public? READ?

        Don't forget to include last week's gem "For the network to work, the cable must be plugged at both ends"

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      And a good thing too. It would solve a lot of problems at source even if it dried up "on Call" fodder. I've even be called out by a niece to fix her "internet" - all it needed was power-cycling the router.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        It does solve a lot of problems.

        Thursday, my daughter (who is living at home these days because of COVID) signaled that her laptop could no longer connect to WiFi.

        I was giving a 2-day training course in Excel, so I couldn't do much at the time. I told her to sit tight and I'd take care of the issue in the evening.

        That evening, my wife complained that her WhatsApp message hadn't gone out since 17h00 (5 P.M.).

        After adding 2 + 2, I rebooted the Box (the Internet router), and everyone was fine again.

        Question : how is it that a non-Windows platform still needs a reboot from time to time to work properly ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Question : how is it that a non-Windows platform still needs a reboot from time to time to work properly ?"

          Because they all rely on code & hardware to work, and both are built to the lowest possible cost with little understanding of either.

        2. tcmonkey

          A solution...

          ...for any family members who are constantly asking you to come around only to find that rebooting the router solves the issue.

          Go to your local hardware store and find a cheap 24 hour timer. The analogue ones with the pins or 'segments' will be fine. Shouldn't cost more than a fiver. Set it to the correct time, and then set it so the the output is on all the time, excluding 15 minutes at some dizzying time of the morning (3am perhaps). Plug the sucker in, and plug the router into it. Hey presto, an easy daily reboot without the user being expected to do anything, except maybe reset the time on the timer if the power goes out.

    3. Steve K


      Shh! Don't give the game away or they'll peek behind the curtain....

    4. Terry 6 Silver badge


  8. TonyJ

    Staff reduction...

    ...can cause interesting issues as well.

    I looked after a bank's back office in the North East of England.

    It was staffed by lovely people with a small in-house IT team that knew their systems (and their stuff generally) so I only tended to get involved in project delivery or when things couldn't be fixed by themselves.

    Alas the bank saw no need to have a support team so far away from their head office and made them all redundant. After all, it could all be done remotely, right?

    Some months later I got a call asking me to head up there somewhat urgently as they had a server that wouldn't boot - it was giving a "Non system disk or disk error" type of message.

    Of course, Compaq iLO (because it pre-dated HP buying them) wasn't much use for what was believed to be a disk / controller error.

    So I drove to the office. Picked up a replacement RAID controller, cables and disk and then drove up to site.

    Of course, it took the better part of an hour to find a security guard with access to a key to the room with the server in it.

    And about .5 seconds to eject the floppy disk that had somehow been inserted, so the server could reboot.

    All in all, a good 5 hours of faffing around to fix something their on site support would have done in seconds had they not got rid of them.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Staff reduction...

      As soon as I read "Non system disk or disk error" I thought, "Oh, bet it's a floppy left in the drive." Been there, done that...

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Staff reduction...

        Just about all of us did, it is one of the classics.

    2. Jay 2

      Re: Staff reduction...

      Vaguely similar. Many years ago in my last job on my very last night on call I had to go and sort out a Windows server (and I'm a UNIX sys admin). Fortunately this was a known problem in that the computer would somehow lock itself up and the fix was, of course... press the power button on the front to reboot.

      I recall having an argument with my boss of why should I have to go into the office a 11pm to sort out a very well-known problem (with that server), especially when the fix was the press of a single button. I lost and had to go in. Oh for the sort of remote access we have now!

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Staff reduction...

        The correct response is an overtime form, including the time wasted on the discussion.

      2. Davegoody

        Re: Staff reduction...

        Can go one better than that, know of an occasion where a server, that was not connected to the outside world due to its sensitivity, would, every 30days or so, just hang-up. Only a press of the power button would fix the issue. Not being internet connected meant a 150 mile round trip to power cycle the box. Found an old PC, glued a ballpoint pen to the CD-ROM tray and mounted it directly in front of the server. The PC was accessible remotely (unlike the server) so remoted-on when required, ejected the CD tray, pushing the ballpoint pen against the power button on the server. Waited 10 seconds and repeated ...... saved hours of driving and though Heath-Robinson, worked every time. Eventually twigged that a reboot script may be a better option !

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Staff reduction...

      "All in all, a good 5 hours of faffing around to fix something their on site support would have done in seconds had they not got rid of them."

      On the other hand, though you may not have enjoyed the trip and the "wasted time", I bet it cost less than the annual salary of the now-redundant on-site support team :-)

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Staff reduction...

        Dunno, 5hrs of a large production facility lost often comes to a lot more than a measly IT salary given it always happens on an urgent order with a penalty clause.

    4. ColinPa

      Re: Staff reduction...

      We used to have a person who came round and could fix the printer problems ( eg ripped sheet of paper in the innards). You would ring him up, he would come and fix it. He was not paid a lot - but did a good job.

      His job was outsourced to India. The amount of time it took to get someone to send an "engineer" would have paid for our local guy many times over.

      Conversations went a bit like

      India: Please tell me your desk number.

      Me: It does not matter the printer is GBXYZ1234

      India: I need your desk number

      Me: I dont have a fixed desk. Today Im at desk 24

      India: Where is the printer..

      me: Its over there.

      India: We need to know where the printer is

      Me: Ok let me look on line in "where is my printer" web page. It is GB Building ZYX Floor 12 area 34

      India - thank you what building is it in.

      Me: Building ZYX

      India: Are there any lights flashing

      Me: I dont know Im 100 yards from the printer. Anyway the problem is a paper jam - I can see the paper stuck in the toner - but cannot get it out.

      India: I need to know if there are any flashing lights

      Me: No - its been turned off because it is broken

      1. Zarno

        Re: Staff reduction...

        "Yes good sir, there is a 'lp0 on fire' message, and there are flashing lights all over."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Staff reduction...

          I worked on phone tech support for a well-known high street retailer.

          We were supposed to go through the same malarkey by default. I had to argue with my manager that sometimes it simply wasn't necessary. This happened more than once:

          Customer: When I turned it on there was a bang (sometimes a flash) and smoke came out of it.

          Yet we were supposed - on pain of being hauled over the coals by the QC department (that's QC for the phone support people, you understand) - to go through turning it on again, asking about lights, beeps, and God knows what else.

          Fortunately, my manager was a decent bloke and he let you deal with it how you saw fit. But if QC were monitoring your line, you'd still get a rollocking for not 'following procedure'.

    5. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Staff reduction...

      And about .5 seconds to eject the floppy disk that had somehow been inserted,

      I've had the exact same situation, and i was pretty pissed off I'd had to walk a few hundred yards down the road to another site, never mind the length of the country.

      It was however , reported to me as "I cant get my email" ,

      Not bragging but had it been reported as "non system disk error" i'd have immediately recognised it as "floppy-in-the-drive" and rung him up to remove it.

      Also , if we desktop grunts had been *allowed* to use the remote control software i'd have probably sussed it out pretty quick to when it didnt connect, but thats another rant for anther day , dont get me started on why the fuck we apparently couldnt be trusted with such an amazingly usefull tool.

      #still vaguely furious about that.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Staff reduction...

        Hey, there are some people on this site who probably don't know what a floppy disk is, and certainly some who have never used them.

        I found some the other day, the good old 5.25" versions. No idea what is on them.

        1. NorthIowan

          Re: don't know what a floppy disk is

          I can do better than 5.25" floppies. I still have my 8" floppies. Some let me boot MS basic on my OSI 8DF(?) computer. That is pre IBM PC that used a 6502 chip running 2 MHz.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: don't know what a floppy disk is

            I once tried to learn to program in Cobol using an ICL mini which used 9" floppy disks, but they belonged to the company, so I never actually owned them.

            So, el Reg readers, any advance on 9 inches?

            (Size does matter after all.)

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: don't know what a floppy disk is

              well , in about '95 I remember lugging a long obsolete hard drive from the junk cupboard to the even-longer-term junk cupboard at work.

              It was the size of a '70s music centre , but weighed about 5 times as much and apparently held 10mb

          2. OssianScotland

            Re: I still have my 8" floppies

            There is medication available, you know....

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not quite a power lead...

    But I did work in a place where they had to get an axe to chop through a server room security door when the machine controlling the swipe card access failed.

    1. JeffB

      Re: Not quite a power lead...

      Which, presumably, was behind said security door...

    2. ColinPa

      Re: Not quite a power lead...

      We lifted the raised floor and send someone small under the door. Where my wife worked, they sent someone over the wall into the ceiling void and down.

      1. roger 8

        Re: Not quite a power lead...

        I remember in a large open office space. running a new cat5 cable under from false flooring to a new desk. I had to drop down in the the floor space in the server room. Go 5 tiles to the right and 40 tiles down. So I would be under the new desk. Well we got our mapping wrong. I'm on my back pushing up the tile i believe is the right one. But is not Im under someone else's desk. panel is stiff so i give is a good push and it starts to move. looking through the small gap. I see a member of staff sat in her chair looking at me. Then the biggest scream you have ever heard and the words. "There is a man under my desk"

        She was getting every one in the office to check under her desk

        I quickly dropped the panel back down and scooted back to server room.

        we left server room and entered office space. she looked at me and shouted " its you"

        No one would believe her as i had just walked in to the room.

        we decided in future to run cables after office hours.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Not quite a power lead...

          My grandfather had a solution to your problem, Roger 8, he used their cat, Tibbles.*

          Take up the floor tile where the cable starts running, and the floor tile where you want the cable to end up.

          Tie a piece of string to the cat.

          Place cat in hole, and cover the entrance.

          Call cat from other location.

          When cat emerges, vacuum it (probably covered in dust, cobwebs etc.) and provide a treat.

          Use the string now running in a reasonably straight line to pull the cable through.**

          *Note this is almost certainly illegal now as it involves possible cruelty to a live animal. However, strongly recommend lifting up the floor tile at the destination first, so you have the correct point to aim at.

          **If there are security requirements on cable runs such as wire cables only crossing at right angles to prevent cross-talk, this method may be inappropriate.

          1. Rob Daglish

            Re: Not quite a power lead...

            A sparky and his mate who used to pull cables for me did this with a small terrier. Worked very well, provided the dog hadn't eaten recently, or it tended to go to sleep rather than run from one to the other!

      2. David Hicklin Bronze badge

        Re: Not quite a power lead...

        mezzanine floor , lots of offices and a false ceiling (like there is). Server cupboard room on a with Halon fire suppression, if it had gone off the ceiling tiles would have been blown into the false ceiling void!

    3. Rob Daglish

      Re: Not quite a power lead...

      Not IT related, but at my last employer, we were a tiny outpost hidden away in a shared office building in the middle of nowhere. It wasn't a particularly busy job, so I did some odd jobs for the building management company, who had a mad-as-a-box-of-frogs building manager who ran the place. One day, He managed to snap the keys to the boiler room in the door, so he asked if we could break the door down for him. You know that bit you see on TV where the hero gives the door a swift kick and it slams open? Yeah, well, it turns out real life isn't like that - what happens is that you end up pulling a muscle in your leg because the lock is too high for you to reach easily, and do no more than leave a foot print on the door...

      After that, the 12lb hammer came out, and a couple of blows later the door was open again...

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Not quite a power lead...

        Sounds like an episode for a 'c-class' sitcom (as do so many articles in the noble Register).

        Alternatively hire yourself an expert rock climber; Alex Honnold, 'Free Solo'* the 'Boulder Problem' move required a 'karate kick' out to the left. (But don't call me, I could not do that move 6" off the ground let alone half way up a vertical mile of rock face.)

        *Even though you know he got to the top unharmed this is one of the scariest films I have ever seen.

  10. This is not a drill
    Thumb Up

    This is when Dymo tape shows its worth..

    One of the best I saw was "Do not unplug this on pain of death, yes this mean you! I don't care who you think you are. Unplug this and you're toast"

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: This is when Dymo tape shows its worth..

      Could you combine the Dymo tape with a fake laser gun on the ceiling, pointing to where the person doing the unplugging would stand? And change it to "Unplug this and you're toast. Literally. Look at the ceiling. "

      1. ibmalone

        Re: This is when Dymo tape shows its worth..

        Why fake?

        1. the hatter
          Black Helicopters

          Re: This is when Dymo tape shows its worth..

          Plausible deniability, after the invisible beam from stage left leaves two neatly sliced halves of the culprit next to the socket.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Why not simply eliminate the plug?

      Call up the electrician and ask him to hardwire the UPS into a dedicated circuit, and mark that breaker with the Dymo tape instead. If something must "never have the plug pulled", then the question you need to ask is why it has a plug at all?

      1. Daedalus

        Re: Why not simply eliminate the plug?

        USAnians do occasionally avail themselves of a round plug in bayonet style, as in "stick it in and twist it" (but don't pull it out) that has its own style of dedicated socket quite incompatible with vacuum cleaners, air compressors (a favourite of US builders) and electric kettles. But these are most often associated with server rooms that even the sysadmins find it hard to get into. Casual office layouts have to make do with the standard plug.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Why not simply eliminate the plug?

          Sure, the "30 amp twist lock" 208Y/220 flavors may be used in data centers for stuff like big UPSes, mainframes and arrays, but there's a fair amount of equipment that construction people might use from heaters to concrete floor grinders to welders and so forth that also use those plugs.

          If a piece of equipment is designed to be plugged in and never unplugged until decommissioned, and you are big enough to have an electrician on staff, why in the world wouldn't you want to hard wire it?

  11. Ordinary Donkey

    I've worked in a ton of places where only one person has access to the building's fuse box.

    I can see the point, but one dodgy kettle and you're offline for hours.

    1. TonyJ

      " dodgy kettle and you're offline for hours..."

      Talking dodgy and kettles, I worked at one Atos site that had a sign in the kitchen area that said "Please do not user the kettle to boil milk. Use the microwave!"

      Who the hell needed telling that? Clearly it must have happened to justify a sign!

      1. Oh Matron!

        I dated an american back in the late 2000's and we stayed at the Hilton in Croydon (don't ask).

        She thought she'd be sweet one day and proceeded to make me a milky coffee.... But pouring the water, coffee and milk into the kettle.... Which then proceeded to trip the floor's electric.... Whilst I was in the shower.

        Fun times....

        1. OssianScotland

          Croydon Hilton.... Paris' less well-known brother (one of twins, the other being Gatwick)

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          I know Americans can't make tea, but surely they can manage to make covfefe.

          1. ICPurvis47

            Americans and tea

            When I was living in Louisville KY, my then GF was from Sutter Illinois. She offered to make me (an englishman) a cup of tea, but was very apologetic because the only tea she had in the house was "Instant Tea", very similar to instant coffee, but without the taste (or any taste at all, for that matter).

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: Americans and tea

              without the taste (or any taste at all, for that matter)

              Better than most American tea, then?

              (cue jake in 3.2.....)

            2. Daedalus

              Re: Americans and tea

              ... almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

              I suspect that the "instant tea" had more to do with making iced tea, and yes, Lipton's is the brand in the USA.

              Even today, some Americans cannot identify an electric kettle as simply a water 'otter. Our venerable Morphy Richards, bought in a slightly upscale store, (i.e. not in W**M****) died recently and was replaced by a space age glassy thing which, to its credit, boils hard and fast, even if it does emit eldritch blue light in the process.

              1. Old Used Programmer

                Re: Americans and tea

                I'm afraid you're correct about the "instant tea". (But, then, as an American and a tea drinker--as is my wife--there isn't any in the house.) As I sit here with my second cup as part of breakfast...

                1. Daedalus

                  Re: Americans and tea

                  My Vermonter wife keeps expressing amazement at my tea making skills and is oblivious to repetition of the magic formula of "boiling water, brewing time, minimal milk".

                  1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

                    Re: Americans and tea

                    When the American recipe is:

                    Throw it down in the harbor and start a revolution?

              2. Tom 7 Silver badge

                Re: Americans and tea

                Liptons is weird. Anywhere in the world (probably even in India or China) a hotel or even cafe will offer you Lipton's tea bags and that milk in tin containers and no matter how you brew it or where you are the first sip will induce home sickness that would scare even Ford Prefect. And then the little cardboard tag will fall off the string and you daren't drink anymore in case you choke on the bag.

                1. Daedalus

                  Re: Americans and tea

                  Whereas Liptons in the USA is most associated with former NFL player and broadcaster, the late "Dandy" Don Meredith and his endorsements of ice tea made with tea bags, cold water and sunlight.

                2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

                  Re: Americans and tea

                  Lipton's is piss-weak though, no matter how long you let it brew.

                  1. l8gravely

                    Re: Americans and tea

                    As an american with a british mum, I have found that "Tetleys British Blend" is the perfect one for me. Sssh... don't tell my Yorkshire cousins that I don't like Yorkshire Gold... :-)

                  2. onemark03

                    Lipton's is piss-weak

                    I could recommend some strong northern German (Frisian) tea you could stand your teaspoon up in.

                    Now that stuff really puts hair on your chest!

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Americans and tea

              Fascinating...Sutter is about an hour's drive from where I sit right now, and about 15 minutes from where I used to work.

      2. DJV Silver badge

        Ah, never underestimate the depths of stupidity that can be exhibited by members of the human race.

        1. Giles C Silver badge

          This is from a letter published in the times this week. ( uk edition)

          “You haven’t lived until you have cooked bacon stapled round a light bulb with a piece of bread underneath to catch the drips”

          No I have never tried this, and doubt it work these days with the led bulbs as I don’t think they will get hot enough.......

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        I worked at one Atos site...Clearly it must have happened to justify a sign!

        I think the first might be the reason for the second!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Please do not user the kettle to boil milk

        Well, of course not. It would ruin the taste of the soup.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Please do not user the kettle to boil milk

          Its when you get egg shell in your tea you know you know some poor bastard did an unscheduled all nighter.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: Please do not user the kettle to boil milk

            You are fortunate they got all the Brussels sprouts out before they did the eggs.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        WTF? An Atos office had a kettle? And a fridge?

        1. TonyJ

          "...WTF? An Atos office had a kettle? And a fridge?..."

          It was some years ago now

      6. mechgru2


        My other half used to work in the returns department for a large retailer. Once someone tried to obtain a refund on a kettle that had stopped working. Upon opening the lid, it became apparent why it had stopped working - it was half full of mouldy soup!

      7. Rob Daglish

        I've known this happen to someone. When I was younger, a friend of a friend was left home alone for the first time around age 16. She was a nice girl, but a bit isolated from the realities of housework by her Mam. First night Mam and Dad go away, she fancied a nice hot chocolate, and of course you heat water in the kettle, so why not milk? I'm told it makes a real mess...

    2. Solviva

      In my student halls in Manchester I think our rooms had a breaker set for something measly like 10A, so wasn't impossible to trip it with the right equpiment :)

      The fix was to trundle off to the Hall's reception to report it and then somebody would come maybe within a day to flip the breaker. Happened two or three times to me, and obviously very annoying having no electric for the evening. At some point however, I noticed/figured out the cupboard in the corridor could be opened with some key-like device aka screwdriver to reveal a few breakers - happy days!

      1. Bogbody

        Ah University Halls of Residence.....

        Early 1970's in a very Welsh university town.

        All the power sockets were 2A round pin items.

        So I made up a 2A to 13A socket adapter.

        Some Bodger had allready fixed the fuse box, allthough a stock of 15A fuse wire was required.

        The main thing we used to power up were the universal 1970's "Hi-Fi" amplifiers.

        Electric kettles were rare fortunatly :-)

        1. Daedalus

          All the power sockets were 2A round pin items.

          Very common at the time, I think, and certainly at York. The idea, I'm sure, was to stop students from using space heaters with all the attendant risks. Since 90% of said student body were technically clueless in one way or another, it was effective. The 10% who had gone for science had no trouble wiring up suitable plugs, not to mention bodging the timers on the room's actual heating device - an oil radiator with a blower - to stay on all the time and react only to the thermostat. I'm sure I left quite a trail of bodging behind me.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        We had a similar problem when I worked for a Pharmaceutical company. The big Diosna granulating machines would often trip if the load inside got too high. The only solution was to open the front panel with a '69' key (the name for the key for some reason).

        The problem was the engineers were the only ones 'allowed' to have them - something to do with going on strike and having a hissy fit if anyone else did their job.

        The next issue was that what was inside needed wetting and processing quickly before it got to the point where it would have to be chiselled out. And engineers seemed to spend about 80% of their working day on cigarette breaks (aka hiding somewhere outside, round back).

        Once opened, there was a standard circuit breaker that needed flipping. That was all they ever did.

        No one could ever explain to me why WE had specced such a low trip threshold. But the best bit was when I got hold of a '69'.

  12. Sequin

    We had a Prime minicomputer, running a stock control system at a warehouse in the Cotswolds. When it was installed, a UPS was also fitted.

    One day contractors digging up the road outside hit the electrical supply and the power to the building went out. After finding a torch, I headed to the computer room to gracefully shut down the machine, as the power was likely to be out for several hours and the UPS was rated for about 20 minutes. When I got there, the machine was dead. Later investigation showed that between the UPS and the computer was an RCD circuit breaker wired in such a way that a loss of the mains power would trip the breaker, cutting all power to the machine.

    Should I mention that the warehouse was part of a department full of electrical engineers, who installed and wired up the supply themselves? No - that would be embarrasing!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That sounds VERY familiar, dont suppose there was a bit of a hole in the wall to the adjoining unit...

      If its the place i think it is, the hole was caused by myself and some co-conspirators who were slacking off setting up the racking and networking in our new warehouse, noticed there was a bit of a puddle in the middle of the floor from the roof, so of course we decide if we could use it to drift the rollop (ride on low level order picker, think forklift but you go up with the forks, rather than stay at ground level), yes we could, however we also found that regaining control was problematic and went fork first into/through the party wall.

      If it isn't the place Im thinking of how many warehouses filled with EE's having a UPS SNAFU in the Cotswolds are there?????

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Electricity supply

        Are you sitting comfortably?

        Then I'll begin.

        Once upon a time there was a person who wanted to save electricity. So he decided that as the computers did not need mains voltage electricity to run, he would install voltage reduction devices between the mains and the site, thereby saving people a lot of money.

        He had, however neglected to find out that the servers, while not needing mains voltage electricity, did have sensors to detect voltage fluctuations, and to ensure graceful shut down in case the mains dropped below a particular level.

        So of course, when the bypass was used and the voltage reduction was operational, NOTHING HAPPENED. But it happened gracefully. Including on the servers that were contractually 5 Nines availability.


    2. Giles C Silver badge

      We had a problem at a site where the comms room lost all power the rest of the site still functioning. In we went with a torch found the did board inside the room with all the breaker operational (none had tripped). Strange

      Then went hunting for the feed to the dis board.

      We found that with a tripped breaker it was rated at 40A and one on the board in the room was rated at 100A. That weekend we had a planned power down for a new breaker and supply cable to be installed....

      Nobody bothered to check the feed before putting the new board in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Did this happen very recently?

        (Or is it maybe just quite common...)

        1. Giles C Silver badge

          No it was about 5 years ago - I left the company 2 years ago

    3. adam 40 Silver badge

      Talking of Prime and UPS's

      My lodger used to work for Prime/Computervision at Harston Mill.

      For some reason they installed an f-off big UPS to power most of the computers on site.

      Trouble is, the UPS was less reliable than the mains power feeding it, the number of man-days lost because the UPS failed..... total waste of money.

      Some time later Prime moved out, and I moved in with Scientific Generics, the UPS was still there, but it didn't last long as I recall.

    4. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Re “

      Should I mention that the warehouse was part of a department full of electrical engineers, who installed and wired up the supply themselves? No - that would be embarrasing’”

      This is actually an example of an attitude almost of “ahh, they’ll know what they are doing, we won’t try as hard” that I’ve seen in some software packages developed for developers. Some of the software aimed at that particular market doesn’t even seem designed for hunans

  13. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    A few years ago we had a small customer whose office server went down one morning: "help! we can't get to our files. No, nothing's changed. Nothing". My colleague went to the site, which luckily was only 10 minutes away. When he got there, he admired their large Christmas tree festooned with twinkly lights. In the corner where the server was. Within about one minute he also admired how they'd been so creative with the mains plugs. He reported his findings to the office staff immediately: "Well the good news is that your Christmas tree lights will carry on working for hours, or even days, in the event of a power cut. The bad news is that you unplugged the server so you could power the Christmas tree lights. From the UPS".

    They were up and running within minutes, and no harm done.

    Till the next year, when EXACTLY the same thing happened.

    1. Geoff May (no relation)

      This happened to me. I sarcastically suggested gluing the plug to the socket excepting the manager thought I was being serious so he did.

      Several years later, the electrician was asking which dimwit glued the plug to the socket ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not such a daft idea, as long as the socket has accessible screws to remove it when eventually necessary. Stops the cleaners unplugging it!

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        I think there's a plug cover that you can screw in place with the socket fixing screw, so it requires a tool to remove the plug.

        Or at least there should be. Maybe I've been dreaming seeing them. If not, PROFIT!

        1. chuBb.

          many security sockets available, problem with locking sockets (much like security usb) is that it stops casual removal, but the mechinisms are easily overcome with brute strength/stupidity or a biro lid, and its MUCH cheaper to just buy outside double sockets as they nearly all have a padlock loop on them, which is enough of a speedbump to stop supposititious people who think electrics are sorcery from disturbing them, especially if u use a hefty looking lock to secure it with (looks official/more than your jobs worth if you mess with it), but trivial to bypass in an emergency with a hammer or pair of snips (or possibly in extreme circumstances the key if it can be found ;))....

          Although for permanent installation nothing wrong with cutting the plug off and just using a fused flex outlet instead of a 13A socket faceplate, can still be turned off by muppets though unless you get one with a key switch BUT it cant be unplugged/overloaded, so solves the majority fuckwittery that happens with plug sockets.

        2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          @ J.G.Harston "I think there's a plug cover that you can screw in place with the socket fixing screw, so it requires a tool to remove the plug."

          Wasn't it a tool who removed the plug in the first place?

    2. Commswonk

      The bad news is that you unplugged the server so you could power the Christmas tree lights. From the UPS".

      To the above and other similar events I find myself wondering why nobody thought of fitting RED BS1363 plugs. They don't all have "Hospital Property" on the covers.

      Because "accountants" I suppose...

      1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        To the average user, red will mean "special plug that isn't a real plug so we can unplug it"

  14. MarkET

    1.3KW UPS

    Going to need a bigger battery...

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: 1.3KW UPS

      Also, is that 1.3 kilowatts or kibiwatts?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 1.3KW UPS

        Most likely kVA

  15. Len


    Ah VAX/VMS. I am far too young to have ever dabbled with those but in the late eighties I read a Chaos Computer Club book which was full of their hacking and phreaking antics, usually involving VAX/VMS.

    Not their own machines, obviously, they typically ‘borrowed’ access to machines running in big companies.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: VAX/VMS!

      they typically ‘borrowed’ access to machines running in big companies.

      Those were the days when systems like VAXen shipped with default passwords on the administrative accounts. VMS had three, and although admins would often change SYSTEM only the most diligent changed FIELD, and hardly anybody remembered about UETP. JANET was a fun network to wander about in the 80s/90s. Simper times...

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: VAX/VMS!

        Hmmmmm... Which JANET would that be?

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: VAX/VMS!

          These day's it's this one: Ah, the days when 8 Mbit/s made it the fastest X.25 network in the world!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That reminds me <nostalgia mode>

    Many years ago, I inherited the role of IT support for a small office (~10 staff); part-time as I was there to support their main service. They had a single PC in a locked side room acting as file and mail server. It was powered via a small UPS (with a pair of 12V sealed lead-acid batteries). The server fell over one day and it was soon apparent that the UPS had failed. Got some replacement batteries from an alarm supplier along the road but no use as it was the UPS itself that was toast. Replaced it.

    A year or so later, the new UPS tripped (dud battery that time). In all my time at that office (~5 years) we'd never known a power cut. The boss questioned whether we should just forget about using a UPS. However, we were due to get a second server (to share the increasing workload) so I got a second UPS box - the new server box (which would become the primary unit) had two power supplies and I plugged each supply into a different UPS; one UPS was shared with the old server but, with the new arrangement, it wasn't an immediate problem if that server went down. I left a few years later, never having a server drop out again.

    </nostalgia mode>

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: That reminds me <nostalgia mode>

      A UPS is not only there to take over in the event of a power cut - it also smooths the voltage and ensures that the equipment is not subject to power spikes.

      Well, if you buy a good one, that is.

      I live in northern France, not far from a nuclear power station. When i started getting heavily equipped in computers and peripherals, some twenty years ago, I quickly noticed that, despite my being less than 30km away from the source of all power in the region, I was getting micro-drops in power that would freeze my computer regularly. I'm talking about several times a week.

      I pride myself in always buying the best I can afford, so I was a bit miffed that my power supply was likely to damage my equipment.

      I bought an 800VA UPS in 2001 and never experienced any problems again. When that one died of old age in 2009, I bought a new 1000VA UPS, and when that one died in 2019, I got a 1400VA model.

      It's not just the power cuts that count.

  17. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Printers don't come with data leads nowadays. Does it occur to Management to order leads when they order printers? Ekkers like. Too many times a site visit needed a quick trip to Maplin. Not possible now, what do we do in these days of online-only suppliers?

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      B&Q* sometimes have suitable cables in an emergency (I know 'cause they have a shop just down the road from one of our factories!)

      *Bodgit and Quit as they're often known here.

      1. chuBb.

        tool station and screwfix have a good range of patch and usb leads at reasonable prices too, ur rarely more than 30mins away from either of them, and both offer click and collect.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        As, oddly enough, do many larger supermarkets, albeit usually at an eye-watering markup.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh yes. My favourite was the generator in a locked room on the other side of another locked room. So we had to break down 2 doors just to get to the generator (which had failed to start, draining the UPS batteries in a matter of minutes due to the amount of kit on there). In the dark with just a small flashlight.

    Oh, and the generator had a broken switch, so we had to start it with a screwdriver!

    That was... fun.

    1. chuBb.

      Once had to demolish a wall to fix a generator on a farm, the farmer was fed up of his gennies disapearing on the back of low loaders in the middle of the night, so built a 8foot block wall arround his new one, even included a door, neglected to consider servicing and maintenance access, and left a 6inch gap between the walls and the generator....

  19. Symon
    Big Brother

    Stop this happening to you!

    Use your NUT!

    It will tell your Zabbix server or email you or whatever that something's awry!

    1. DryBones

      Re: Stop this happening to you!

      Be careful how you describe what you're doing to your boss or coworker, though...

  20. spold Silver badge

    ...and unlocked doors

    I have occasion to do security reviews for companies from time to time. As well as confidentiality and integrity of data, availability is the third component. Reviewing a company just outside Toronto I delved into the power side of things.... oh we have a new UPS they said. This UPS turned out to have been housed in what was intended as a small underground car-park in the building. Ummm... what happens when it rains? (Thunderstorms and huge amounts of rain from them are not uncommon in the summer).... well they had thought of that... the UPS sat on a couple of 2x4s (2 inch by 4 inch planks translating into English, and I won't go into why they are not actually 2 inches by 4 inches here). This was just in the corner of the said garage with an open ramp to ground level. I asked some questions about it and they obviously clued in as to where this was going. When I came back a week later, there were 2x6s, and there was a security guard in full uniform sitting outside at a small table and chair that had been positioned at the top of the ramp (I'm sure hired for the day since they knew I was coming back). I didn't ask if he had an umbrella and a bucket....

    1. Daedalus

      Re: ...and unlocked doors

      RE: 2x4's

      They're actually 2in by 4 in (50.8 mm by 101.6mm) when cut from the seasoned wood. But they get planed down losing half an inch (12.7 mm) in each dimension. There are actually wood merchants other than the big box outlets that will sell you unplaned wood, plane it yourself to your dimensions of choice. Of course the real aficionados buy the raw planks, bark and all.

      1. BenM 29 Silver badge

        Re: ...and unlocked doors

        >>Of course the real aficionados buy the raw planks, bark and all.

        Planks? don't the real afficionados (man bun sporting hipster crafts people) just buy the trunk and have a sawmill in their workshop?

        1. Daedalus

          Re: ...and unlocked doors

          You can't get the trunks anymore. Bloody chainsaw sculptors.....

          1. Stevie

            Re: ...and unlocked doors

            Real aficionados grow the trees from saplings, log them by hand when they mature and mill them with a portable band sawmill.

            *REAL* real aficionados build a rotary sawmill and power it with a restored traction engine of course, but that is going a bit far for a few planks IMO.

      2. Old Used Programmer

        Re: ...and unlocked doors

        The difference between "rough cut" and S4S (surfaced, that is planed/milled, 4 sides). Hard to find rough cut softwoods--e.g. fir or pine, or even douglas fir. Common in hardwoods, where you also find the wood not only surfaced on two sides, but "5/4ths", which gives you 2" stock milled to 1.75".

        Softwoods are sold in standard sizes. Hardwood is usually "random width and length". If you go to a yard that sells hardwoods, take a tape measure with you. They'll happily (for a fee) cut to your desired width and length, but you have to go through the rack to find pieces big enough to cut down to what you want...and you have to buy the whole piece, unless what is left over is big enough to sell on it's own.

        There are limits, of course. When one of the historic ships in San Francisco need a new hull plank, the lumber companies all told them that they literally could not supply a 70' 4x16 in Douglas fir. Even if they had a big enough log to cut one from, they had no way to deliver it. To do the replacement, they had to settle for 2 35' 4x16s.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ...and unlocked doors

      I won't go into why they are not actually 2 inches by 4 inches here

      They aren't 2" by 4" in the UK either, that is the "sawn" size and most wood is planed clean before it is sold, which takes ⅛" or so off it.

      1. -tim

        Re: ...and unlocked doors

        They haven't been cut from 2"x4" in a very long time as they don't want to waste that much timber. Modern large scale sawmills now can cut then so smooth that the finishing step cuts nearly nothing off the boards.

  21. Daedalus

    Bug storms

    I'm impressed that there was no fallout from the MicroVax II experiencing a power outage. I was unfortunate enough to be on a project where the bug testers would "push the white button" when a bug was encountered. Said button rebooted the machine without preliminaries, and usually left files in a locked state. Which would produce a secondary bug, leading to another report, another pressing of the Magic Button, more system chaos, rinse and repeat ad nauseam.

    And as if that wasn't bad enough, when I did resolve a bug, I would find the original report extended just because they'd seen something else that "might be related". In those pre-internet days, syncing bug lists between two locations was a sneakernet thing.

  22. theloop

    I discovered recently one of our sites has a 17 year old UPS locked in the plant room in the basement connected in line with the 2nd floor datacenter circuit. I don't think it had ever been serviced or had the batteries replaced as it completely failed when the power died and had to be bypassed to get the site back online.

    Should really get round to ordering a replacement.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Old UPS

      Just before I retired (purely coincidence, you understand, I had no access and was not in ANY WAY responsible for this), one fo the UPS's in our building decided to join the choir invisible. It self-immolated, and we had to evacuate the entire building, and three fire tenders turned up. There was lots of smoke too. Most exciting thing that happened at work all year, frankly.

      Of course the UPS was in a separate room to the important kit, so no real damage done.

  23. CFtheNonPartisan

    Circa 1980 I took a systems job at a computer facility that was in the top 5 most powerful non-government installations globally. Getting the tour I was led to the systems room adjacent to the main computer room, full of tapes and manuals. My first observation was there was a big red unshielded 'panic button' just above the light switch; I commented it should have had a plexiglass or other protective device so it did not get pushed unintentionally. My concern was dismissed since only we systems types, some management, and cleaners had access to the room. A few weeks later a new cleaner went into the room and expecting to turn on the lights, pushed The Button. The fallout took months before it was over and all the kit returned to its normal stability - in those days stability was a failure every week or two, that became every few hours for a few days. The day after, a plexiglass box materialised to protect the button.

  24. Colin Miller

    Methinks they need to put a sign on the socket reading 'do not switch off, on pain of termination'. Or use a switched outlet.

    However that won't stop the kind of people Terry Pratchett has referred to.

    The BOFH can, however, terminate an etherkiller...

  25. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Not power, but ...

    ... when I worked for the Boeing company, supporting automated test equipment (ATE) on the shop floor I got a call. One of the ATE carts (big, rack mounted pile of instruments and computers on wheels) could not connect to the company network via its customary Ethernet jack on the shop floor. I went over with my laptop and confirmed my suspicion: the network jack was inoperative.

    SOP in the IT department when they needed to connect a new PC to the network was to go into the closet, look for a port on the network switch not in use (no blinking lights), pull that drop and plug their new one in. As our ATE equipment was frequently powered down, we lost a lot of drops that way.

    I called IT support, described the problem right down to knowing which locked network closet I could not get into and asked them to send a tech. If for no other purpose than letting me in to find the pulled plug. "Sorry. That will be a 24 hour turn around on this ticket."

    A production line manager was standing next to me, waiting for the ATE so as to resume production of airplanes. Nice guy. Pretty easy going. When he heard my side of the problem, he asked me for the phone. "No problem," he told the IT desk, "My guy appears to be quite capable of fixing this once he can get into the closet. The Boeing fire department is just downstairs and I'll have someone bring up an axe."

    They had a tech out in 15 minutes.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Not power, but ...

      "The Boeing fire department is just downstairs and I'll have someone bring up an axe."

      Aha! The Zaphod Beeblebrox solution to intransigence.

      "Computer, if you don't open the doors right now, I will go to your major data storage banks with a very large axe and give you a re-programming you will never forget."

  26. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Ahh the UPS.

    Back in the 90s, the company I worked for didn’t have a server room as such. We had a bench holding a few netware servers hanging off a ups. Each server had a DLT drive, and part of my job was to ensure the backups were done on time. One day, the boss was off and to celebrate, I took in the power supply for my cd Walkman and plugged it in to the only spare socket in the office, near that bench.

    Unfortunately, our power requirements we close enough to the maximum limit for the circuit, that the extra amp or two required by the CD player was just too much and the circuit breaker tripped. Thankfully I was able to reset it; but not before the alarm on the ups went off. Something I had to get my boss’s help to reset.

    He wasn’t happy with me phoning him at 9;30 on his day off.

  27. TheSkunkyMonk

    No secret doors but once went to a job with a server hidden underneath the floor in a old house, Archimedes would of been amazed, tiny little hatch under the stairs giving access with only about 3 foot of head room and a good 5-10m of crawling to get to its home. Needless to say the customer was not very happy nor my boss when they were both told to do one until access was better. Reasons I didn't want to be a sparky or a plumber and crawling under the floors was one of em. Do wonder who they got to sort it out in the end.

  28. JeffUK

    At least they could get into the mystery cupboard

    Reminds me of the time I went to a warehouse to re-patch a few network points; The factory had just been renovated, which included lining the old asbestos-and-corrugated-mouse-poo walls with uPVC panelling.

    When I got to the door to the cupboard that housed our comms equipment, it wasn't there, I searched for a bit in case I was looking in the wrong place, checked my site map etc, but instead of a door, there was just an expanse of shiny white plastic.

    I must have looked quite a sight, stood in front of a perfectly empty expanse of wall laughing my tits off at the absurdity of the situation.

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