back to article A pub denied: One man's tale of festive frolics postponed by the curse of the On Call phone

On the first day of Christmas, the bork gods sent to me: a server they said had ceased to be. Welcome to the Twelve Borks of Christmas (12BoC): a collection of Register reader stories of amusing and frustrating tech sightings over the festive period. Today's is a seasonally appropriate tale courtesy of a reader Regomised as " …

  1. Shadow Systems

    Merry Whatever!

    I want eggnogg with something strong in it...

    Is Anjolina Jolie available? Wink wink nudge nudge. =-)P

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Merry Whatever!

      No, but her ugly younger sister Angelina Voight is

  2. beep54

    Boxing Day

    I never understood just why the British would want to put on trunks and gloves and box on what should be a holiday. Well, they're foreigners and don't know better, I guess.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Boxing Day

      That's all well and good, but why do Americans have punch at parties. ;-)

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Boxing Day

        punch at parties. ;-) ~ as opposed to the street corner after the pubs have all closed?

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Boxing Day

        Punch at parties? How quaint.

        It's a habit we picked up from the Brits back in the late 1600s, but as far as I know, with the exception of kid's parties, that custom went away with the repeal of prohibition. No need to disguise booze anymore.

        Note for the prudes in the audience: The kiddie version usually contains no booze.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Boxing Day

          Jake mate go back to bleating on about IR35. (Not that you need much encouragement).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Boxing Day

            I think you've got the wrong commentard - Jake is a left pondian, and I don't recall him ever commenting on UK tax stuff.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Boxing Day

              There are 16 total posts (17 now) that mention both me and IR35. Of those, half of them are our confused AC (and at least one that seems to have been removed), the other half are people, self included, wondering what he's rabbiting on about.

              Methinks his butter's done slipped off his biscuit. Ignore him.

      3. yakacm

        Re: Boxing Day

        What I don't get is why Americans take the alcohol out of everything? Like eggnog is non-alcoholic in the States, as is cider?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Boxing Day

          Excuse me? Eggnog is most definitely a booze-drink in the US, and apple juice is fermented for preservation here just as it is in every other civilized country where apples grow.

          Yes, alcohol free co-called "eggnog" exists here, as does plain old apple juice. But then both exist pretty much everywhere ... not everyone likes alcohol.

          Make mine applejack/calvados ... and the dryer the better.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Boxing Day

      Well, they're foreigners and don't know better, I guess.

      No, no, we're not the foreigners, you are.

      Merry Christmas.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Boxing Day

        We're all foreigners somewhere. Fortunately, the Sun is always past the yardarm in that very same somewhere, so cheers!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Boxing Day

          Go use an American website

          1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

            Re: Boxing Day

            Unfortunately, this is an American website now.

            1. First Light

              Re: Boxing Day

              I disagree. Why do you think that?

              1. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: Boxing Day

                Their own pages:

                "Our core audience is in America, Asia-Pacific, and the UK..."

                "We have journalists in America, Australia, and Britain..."

                Situation publishing put their US address, but their UK phone number, first...

                It's an international publication, and whether you get a US or UK based article will depend on the journalist (though I suspect editorial standards will also play a significant role).

        2. jason_derp

          Re: Boxing Day

          "We're all foreigners somewhere."

          I couldn't agree more. I have a huge problem with foreigners, so it puts me in an awkward position...

  3. Annihilator

    "Today's is a seasonally appropriate tale courtesy of a reader Regomised as "Roy"."

    Always assume this is missing an ", for that was his name" at the end of these.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Either you or they are meant to say "for that was not his name" in these cases.

      On one project that the Fates may have disliked from the start, I had a need to substitute human names with different human names, consistently. So I made a lookup table, and I made it (1) preservative of binary gender, (2) limited to common names, and (3) changing any name in the first half of the alphabet to the second half, and vice versa. So no one got their own name back.

      The Fates, or management, objected that my system could give people with different original names, the same new name. At least I think that's what they didn't like... I don't remember if I tried to argue that some people have the same names anyway, or that confusing the data was the actual point of my activity. At length, the project quietly died; I was doing other things anyway.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    Nice work

    When you can get it. I remember a few 16 hour days, when our vendor at time couldn't figure out our networking issue, and sent a team to investigate\correct the issue, as their remote support was drawing blanks. I followed their guys around and opened switch cabinets for double time pay...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Stoneshop

      Re: Nice work

      I followed their guys around and opened switch cabinets for double time pay...

      A little more work was involved when a client I was assigned to as a contractor had its exchange server get its knickers sufficiently twisted that there was severe pinching of the server's private parts, requiring a full reinstall. With the old server still hobbling along during office hours, when it was most needed, the decision was made to cut over to the freshly installed one, still utterly devoid of accounts and data, during the night, restoring an export of the exchange database.

      The next morning it was revealed that this first attempt had just transferred the knickertwisting to the new server. Some frantic support calls were made, and a untwisting tool was provided. Which, it was suggested by MS support, should be run on the original server, as it would provide both an unblemished export as well as logging on the extent of the twisting and pinching. Afterwards the export would have to be loaded on the new server. Both steps would take 6 or 7 hours, going by the previous attempt, and as the Windows/Exchange admin was still knackered from the night before I offered to monitor it (the buttons to click were clearly shown in the instructions, so that part was easy). So a full night, easily.

      Another time something had gone wrong with a software upgrade on the VMS cluster, and two of us had been busy from four in the afternoon until around three in the morning to untangle the mess, after which the end--of-day job and the nightly backup still had to be run; I left at six in the morning.

      Both times the penpushers at the contracting co[0] refused to accept my overtime claim even though they had been signed off by the head of IT at the client; I had to have left at the end of the workday. Which is not how I'd act in such a case whether or not that's okayed by some gormless office twonk, and I had to threaten them with Extreme LARTing if my next payslip didn't show those hours.

      [0] yes, the ones I ranted about not a week ago.

    3. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      Re: Nice work

      One place I worked for had a thing called a "black 'un" where if you worked late (past 9pm IIRC) you got paid right through to 8am the next morning even if you went home shortly after 9.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bar room debugging

    In a previous life, I got a page from the fellow who ran the nightly back office batch processing for a bank's treasury group... about two hours into drinking with an old friend on a Friday night at a raucous bar with live Dixieland jazz blaring in the background. I found the payphone in the back of the bar, called him back, and found that he'd run a job out of order. The fix to the problem wasn't complex... but having been drinking for a couple of hours didn't help. Somehow we were able to discuss what needed to be done over the phone despite the alcohol and bar room noise and got the batch jobs sorted out and the rest of the nightly jobs on their way.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Which paid for a new garden shed."

    The spouse wanted a garden shed?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      She shed.

  7. aregross

    In a Server Room not too far away....

    Redundant Power Supplies revived by "a Jiggle"? He'll be back!

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: In a Server Room not too far away....

      I managed the opposite. I accidentally jiggled the power cable going into one of the PSUs in an HP blade enclosure, only to have all the PSUs trip, taking down every blade.

      It turned out that one of the other 'redundant' power supplies was kaput, and failed when it experienced more load.

  8. macjules

    “Which paid for a new garden shed."

    As any fule kno: in reality this went to Zara, Hobbs or anything one’s wife selected. Rarely as sensible a selection as a new shed, full car service or next year’s holiday fund.

  9. Danny 2

    Ȝule yogh

    I had my first Christmas dinner in 15 years thanks to the lockdown. It was also the first Christmas in my lifetime that my dad never got his tinsel on the ceiling, cards on the wall and Christmas tree in the corner. I always volunteered to be on call on Christmas as there was next to no users and no support so basically 'turn it off and on again'.

    Lockdown Hogmanay will be harder as it was always the bigger celebration. Christmas Day only became a public holiday here in 1958, Boxing Day in 1974. Christmas in Scotland

    One point of interest to the typographically minded here is the defunct letter Ȝ Yogh. It's replacement by a Z due to early print sets explains why so many Scottish place names are pronounced differently from how they are spelled. Indeed that goes for peoples names too. John Menzies - John Minghess! Never trust a zed in Scotland, or an MH or BH combination.

    1. Danny 2

      Re: Ȝule yogh

      Oh, I just remembered Christmas 1994 at Sky TV, but that was a pre-planned job, swapping out mirrored drives in a server. Backup, replace, restore. Easy, right? And it was really easy, just made extra scary.

      It wasn't our server, we were sub-contractors or Sky were our clients, whatever. None of the Sky techs would touch it because it was 'mission critical'. None of our staff were 'on call' to offer me support because whoever screwed it up would be sack~rificed. We'd have lost our biggest contract, jobs would have been lost, but I had the jingle balls to pull it off. I'm an old cowhand!

      Yippee ki yay!

    2. lybad

      Re: Ȝule yogh

      That depends. I always called it Menzees, as did everyone I knew until I went to Dundee. My wife says the same. I grew up in the west of Scotland and my wife was in the proper north east.

    3. MrBanana

      Re: Ȝule yogh

      I was on call one Christmas, pretty much guaranteed good money for zero work. Except... pager went off, and I had to sober up (a bit) and make the call to the customer - probably an urgent, system down issue. But no, a question on SQL syntax use - really? They hadn't called in the last 10 months they had the support contract with us but now, on the birthday of the Baby Jesus, they had an obscure problem with SQL syntax? I guess it was a test. I wonder if the person making the call got the same kind of out of hours fee as I did.

    4. HorseflySteve

      Re: Ȝule yogh

      My favourite Scottish place nane is Kilncadzow, pronounce Kul-kay-gee, second is Milngavie, pronounce Mul-guy.

      1. Outski

        Re: Ȝule yogh

        Not just Scotland - here in the Republic of Kent (hope you've got your Kermits for Jan 1st), we have Goodenstone, pronounced Gunston.

  10. Sparkus

    Once had a client....

    who was known for being unable to change the line printer paper and would call for 'service'.

    After a multi-call weekend, I froze the customer-supplied Motorola pager into a large-ish block of ice and sent it back to the manager along with an accounting of the out-of-scope service calls and what it cost them to have me change their printer paper for them.

    The pager, once unfrozen, worked fine and I was never again called for paper loading work.

  11. Aussie Doc

    Optional nifty title.

    Xmas day call out for <some stupid thing>. I looked like him ---->

    Not even on call but money is money.

    I did try and explain that I was rather drunk at the time and simply got told they preferred me that way anyhoo.

  12. Giles C Silver badge

    Open all hours

    I’m surprised nobody on here has mentioned Ronnie Barker as Arkwright, one of his catchphrases was “just j-j-jiggle it a bit”

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Here’s a trick if you are ever on call, and accidentally answer...

    If your system is (a) written in Java and (b) running under any sort of framework or in a container, then explain to the person calling you that for you to get the proper “context” (a great word that literally has no meaning at all) they must recite to you the entire Java stack trace so you can, as the specialist, determine the best course of action for someone else to take.

    Given modern cadences and even allowing for a clear line, a Java exception stack trace that has needed to pass through the entire set of proxies, shims, annotations, custom classes woven in “because”, the container and the container’s container will take around 9 days and 16 hours to receipt - and that includes pro-tricks like saying “dot” instead of “period”. Treble that time if you are using Teams.

    Leave the phone somewhere with the call running and just get on with your life. By the time the poor support person has finished the exception - which is always, without fail, a Null Pointer Error - your agile team will have released at least six total refactors which makes the entire stack trace invalid anyway.

    Everyone wins!

  14. Arty Effem

    "It's surprising just how many things can be fixed with a bit of a jiggle."

    Jiggle [verb]. to toggle an intermittent fault.

  15. Miss Config

    Stating The Obvious

    Obviously not expecting payment for stating the obvious but this turned out to be yet another case of

    'Have you actually tried turning it ON/OFF ?'

  16. PhilipN Silver badge


    The Blade Runner Roy or the Die Hard Roy?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like