So who starts a building refurb without consulting with the faculty dept?
If it's Friday it must be time for another episode of On Call, The Register's weekly column celebrating readers' escapes from nasty scrapes. This week, meet "Danny," who in 2016 started a new job with an automotive company and was immediately given the task of renovating the organization's datacenter. "The project included …
So who starts a building refurb without consulting with the
Exactly. Had no issue with water but when an existing room had been newly appointed as data centre, we found that its concrete ceiling did not meet the required specs. So we had to reinforce the ceiling with glueing carbon fibre ribbons underneath (whatever the technical term for this is, idk).
My Facilities team were the bane of my life and seemed to actively sabotage everything I did at my expense.
They replaced the spec of UPS I provided after 12 months research on current and future loading as ;'we know better and this will save electrical costs of operation'. I ended up with a UPS which couldn't support the start up load of the data center. Their proposed solution was to start up services 1 at a time, meaning return to service after an outage would take 7 hours. I ended up having to fund a larger replacement UPS from my budget, we got almost scrap value from the manufacturer for the undersized one. To make matter worse the larger one was a different range so all the tray work and cabling also needed replacing to fit it.
I was managing a PC roll out when they suddenly announced that they were taking away the storage for the roll out. Again their 'work around' was to leave pallets of PC's in offices as they were delivered awaiting roll out, we only lost one layer of a pallet where someone had emptied the bottom layer and removed the PC' but hey, that was only £10,000 of my money.
The most annoying was when I came to replace the air con units for the DC and change the airflow to botom to top, the old chillers had been fighting the cabinet cooling. By this time I had the support of my CIO so when they proposed installing 3 units rather than 3 this was knocked back and I had my way with 50% over capacity in normal operation, we managed this by cycling units with 2 out of 3 on at any one time and the 3rd as an active standby, suddenly the number of maintenance visits to replace fans and failing disc drives reduced considerably. Part of this may have been because during the work we discovered one of their team had drilled a hole through the data center floor from below but never admitted it so we had been cycling concrete dust through the DC for 18 months. They managed their final bit of sabotage though. The agreement had been that the old chiller on the roof of the building would be removed by crane and the new chiller installed on the existing steel work with new piping. This work was to take place when I was on holiday for 2 weeks. When I returned I found the chillers installed at ground level on a new concrete pad at the side of the car park, literally at the end of 2 parking spaces, but it was OK as they had "put cones out" I was incandescent and insisted on proper crash barriers rated to prevent a large van driving through them were installed and an enclosure built. They actually put acceptable barriers in all the way around but built a cage around the chillers with a wire roof, this provided a warm place to sleep for a couple of homeless people for a few days that winter, they obviously had a good time as we would find empty vodka bottled beside the cage most mornings. The combination of their lack of interest in providing a decent service, incompetence and sheer arrogance made me hate working with them, they also insisted in retaining a legacy door access system with its own wiring which would occasionally fail to allow doors to open at the far end of the building, Claiming it couldn't use our network wiring as it was 'special' and that our maintainers could not support the equipment as 'all the internals were 'proprietary tech' they would bitch about the cost of replacing a hard drive in the machine every few months but when the supplier suddenly couldn't source a 'proprietary disk' they finally let us open the box and we found a standard Western Digital 20 GB drive installed with a proprietary interface card connecting that to the motherboard. Sure enough we delved into our legacy spares cupboard and found a compatible, used, disk drive and fitted it and all was well. Up until that pint they had paid £1000 per time to have the drives swapped out, these disks had never cost us more than £200 even when they had been leading edge technology.
Or even without an inspection of the area to be worked on first? This line rang alarm bells for me:
"revealed a lattice of cinder blocks above the datacenter, rather than the expected pleasingly solid slab of concrete"
How much effort would it have taken to lift a ceiling tile and take a look at the state of the actual ceiling before deciding what work needed doing?
Cinderblock roof??? That's...interesting. I have never seen cinderblocks used horizontally, always as a vertical wall. Not even sure that using them as a ceiling is to code. Hopefully, there were supports run through the void spaces in the blocks
Sounds like it might be dangerous in the event of an earthquake, as the joints fail and random cinderblocks fall out of the matrix.
I've seen it done with steel I beams and the cinderblocks in between, nestled between the flanges of the I, then packed with polyurethane foam, and skimmed with concrete on top. it's earthquake proof as the blocks can't can drop out due to the steel, but yeah, probably would still need a lot of tidying afterwards. You'd probably see desk legs sticking down through the holes.
If I remember right. It seems like an old school building near me in the US had a prestressed cinder block ceiling over the gym. Worked for many years but they had to close it down because it wasn't going to last much longer.
Now days they can use prestressed concrete beams and panels.
Worked for many years but they had to close it down because it wasn't going to last much longer.
For some reason this rang a recent bell; see
The description of the material in question sounds very like "cinder block".
What epic stupidity to build a hospital (at enormous cost whichever way you look at it) when critical parts of it only have a 30 year life before failure is likely? This goes well beyond negligence and is more like wilful stupidity both from the point of patient and staff safety and from the point of long - term costs to the taxpayer; save pennies in the short term so that there is a mega - cost in the future because the whole building has to be demolished, hopefully after a replacement has been built.
Having said that the fact that Grenfell Tower happened is a deeply painful demonstration that the problem is deep - seated.
What other horrors await us?
Concrete is made from a mixture of cement, sand, and gravel. Cinder blocks are made from a mixture of cement, sand, and cinders. Cinder blocks are lighter and weaker than concrete blocks made with gravel.
Breeze blocks are normally made from lighter, weaker concrete, and may be made with cinders rather than with gravel. For this reason, some people sometimes use the term 'cinder block' as equivalent to 'breeze block'. On the other hand, light, weak concrete doesn't necessarily use 'cinders', and cinders may be used in any block form, and light, weak concrete may be used in any block form., and different people use different words for different things, so ----
"Cinder blocks are made from a mixture of cement, sand, and cinders."
With the closure of coal fired power stations and the gradual conversion of steel plants to electric, will cinder blocks go away? Are we importing them? Or importing other peoples cinders to make them? Or is someone out there researching what other kinds of waste can be used to make even cheaper, lighter (and probably weaker0 "cinder" blocks 2.0? Or will heritage railways be the only source?
Cinder blocks are the concrete building blocks sometimes called "concrete masonry units". They are so named because they used to use cinders from defunct cinder cone volcanoes as the aggregate in the concrete mix. You can still see cinder operations in the volcano fields in the southern California desert.
Note that they are only strong in one axis. Somewhat counter-intuitively, only the two "open" ends can take any pressure. The four "flat" sides are quite weak. Thus my questioning their use as flooring.
 As any number of shade-tree mechanics have discovered after attempting to support a vehicle on them.
I believe the OP called the view a latticework - that may indicate they were indeed used in the correct orientation, with each brick upright as it would be in a wall. The only way I can see that working though, due to their negligible tensile (vs compression) strength is if each row was nestled between I-beams. Such an arrangement would indeed be "leaky" to a flood from above.
They are known as cinder blocks because they were originally made from the waste cinders from the coal fired power stations. Quite common in the UK. Breeze blocks are a more modern equivalent usually made of concrete. Much stronger.
Dealing with Cinder blocks in houses is a pain in the butt because you can't drill holes in it without having to deal with huge holes afterwards.
> I have never seen cinderblocks used horizontally
School I worked, our 1928 building was concrete beams. Most infill was terracotta tiles; not all terracotta is pretty-work like Wiki shows; a major center for terracotta was a dozen miles downriver. Walls were easy, hollow terracotta block tiles. (With charcoal powder under the plaster for soundproofing!) But floors could be (were) built with arced hollow terracotta tiles to make arches between the concrete beams, then topped with concrete. This scheme seems to have been popular for just a few decades and just within a few hundred miles of the terrcotta plant. An unforseen benefit was that 90% of the floor was red clay, a masonry bit only had to chew an inch of normal concrete to run wires between floors. That's how I brought the internet up from the boiler room.
There was some cinderblock in the building. (I think it had budget problems, and the favored vendor may have changed with infighting.) Cinders in this context are processed coal ash, which was ABUNDANT when all heating, manufacturing, and most transportation burned coal. Get it hot enough, the ash can "popcorn", make hollow loose-packed particles and make a block far lighter than sand/gravel mix.
And yes, when (not if) that cheap building roof leaks, and the deferred-maintenance management does that they do best (nothing), a lot of that structure is going to soften. Eventually they will call a crisis and-- I admit, they do have experience with really old rotten buildings. Low-bid was a thing even in the 1700s.
"How much effort would it have taken to lift a ceiling tile and take a look at the state of the actual ceiling before deciding what work needed doing?"
It could have been that other parts of the building had solid concrete floors which is the norm and has been for some time. Who builds a floor out of cinder blocks? Likely somebody with a yard full of surplus blocks, I expect.
The workers were given a task sheet and just got on with it as directed. At that point it's not up to them.
It was a facilities project. There was a dedicated facilities person on the team. Their boss is the one who said that the ceiling tiles were the only thing that would slow down the water in the case of a leak.
Yes, brillance exists in all walks of life.
"And even worse - assumed it would slow it down."
Oh, it does slow the water down....... up until the point where the suspended ceiling all some crashing down in a soggy mess.
Why would a known issue like water leaking from the ceiling be allowed to remain in a data center/server room?
I have pictures of a datacenter with blue buckets on top of racks.
The design of the purpose built datacenter had the bathroom.facilities on top of the corners of the datacenter.
Ffs. If it is a three floor building, ensure no water goes over servers.
The people who commission, design and build these projects don't have a clue what actually goes on in the various parts of these buildings, but, more to the point, aren't even aware that they don't know because they think they do know, based on a kind of stereotyped fantasy- probably derived from watching TV series. So they see no reason to consult users, and perhaps more pointedly, don't trust users because they assume that we're all after getting luxurious and unnecessary accommodation and equipment. (And of course some will be; that's life.). So when we say "We'll need 6 electric sockets along the front wall" if that even gets to anyone who can make decisions it'll be knocked back by someone who thinks that all you need to do is plug in a PC, and a double socket in the corner will do. Until you need a charging cabinet for a set of laptops, a projector, screen, amplifier and a fan all on at the same time.
Was on a training course at a newly-opened college building. We were sat in a computer room when the ceiling turned into a waterfall. Nobody moved until I shouted something like "electricity... water... GET OUT"
Turns out the boiler room was directly above the computer rooms. Rather stupid (and expensive) mistake.
One small datacentre I was involved with has contractual wording forbidding water piping in the server room or data store
Every piece of plumbing in the building was routed through the ceiling space of the data store and the builders refused to remove it "because you aren't the customer" (facilities was)
water pipes for the radiators on the floor above were also routed through the server room. I proposed hacksawing them out and was threatened with GBH by the site foreman
So who starts a building refurb and insists (and gets their way) that each relevant service group (IT, Telecom, Security, Facilities, and the departments moving into the refurbished building) interact only with the "person in charge"?
My part in this particular Romeo-Charlie-Foxtrot was installing the PCs once the remodeling was done. PIC marked out on the blueprints where he wanted the 24 or so network jacks, which he had placed around the perimeter of the room. Telecom did their thing mounting and connecting flush-mount network jacks as indicated on the plans. Everyone else did their parts, and my team and I came to do ours.
We walked into a remodelled room filled with Herman-Miller cubicles ... built flush against the walls, covering every jack which Telecom had installed.
"So who starts a building refurb and insists (and gets their way) that each relevant service group (IT, Telecom, Security, Facilities, and the departments moving into the refurbished building) interact only with the "person in charge"?"
A: Several highly siloed companies I've worked for. None still exist, btw...
At my university, a couple of departments were located outside the campus for roughly 15 years, from the founding of these departments til the campus expansion that created room for these departments.
Due to the geographic separation (couple of kilometers), these departments ran their own infrastructure (mail-, file, licence-, simulationservers any much more).
The new building of the campus expansion that was allotted to these departments was an architect-designed marvel. However, no one from those departments was actually involved in the planning of the building. So it came down to: take what the architect designed, there's no option to leave it.
A lot of the infrastructure was relocated to the new location. Technically, that was not necessary anymore because they were now on the campus and could have handed everything over to central campus IT. However, first the professors didn't like to change their ways, and secondly relocating everything was a big enough task, so migrating stuff to central campus IT was defered for later.
In many related departments, a small room without air conditioning was chosen as the "server room", since server racks are easy to cram into a small room, and room itself wasn't overly plentiful.
As it happens in a hot summer, servers would occasionally power down due to excessive heat within the "server room".
A friend of mine even had a stash of old PCs, just to keep parts of the non-migrated servers alive. The email server, which was solely used by the prof was among those things. The plebs had to migrate their email to the servers of central campus IT.
Hence, he troubleshot a problem of a mis-jumpered HDD in an era, when setting HDD jumpers for master/slave was long a thing of the past.
This friend is a wizard in terms of keeping this stuff running, I call him an IT-archeologist rather than an IT admin. Cheers.
-> Where's the bloody jumper.
Whenever I hear tales of campus IT I'm reminded of KCL* where the outage of the central IT lost - permanently IIRC - large amounts of user data. Users who had made their own arrangements for data storage would, I assume, have been OK. After everything had been restored i was reported that in future users should store data centrally. I assume the message would have been received as "We didn't lose your data last time. You have to give us a better chance now."
* My initial IT experience was as a user in a University so I always view campus IT from a user's PoV and that goes double for KCL as that had been my original college some years earlier.
When I arrived at university, one of my tutors was working on a PhD involving a GIS. The software was on tape at the computer center. It was backed up in the vault on a tape bought by his grant. And in the corner of his office, on the other side of campus, were boxes of computer cards representing 3 years of his life, in case there was a fire, or a flood, or a student, or some other act of God over at the computer centre.
During my PhD in the early ‘90s I had three boxes of 3.5” 1.5MB floppies with my thesis and data on. One was the working one, one lived in my bag and was backed up from working end of every day. The third lived at home. it came in for updating weekly.
This was in NZ AKA the Shaky Isles. I had no access to the server for file storage, just for email. Files were Mac anyway, I wrote in WriteNow smaller and faster than Word. It worked with Pro Cite my references database. I hate Endnote which replaced it. Pro Cite was a proper database End Note is nothing of the sort.
The new building of the campus expansion that was allotted to these departments was an architect-designed marvel. However, no one from those departments was actually involved in the planning of the building. So it came down to: take what the architect designed, there's no option to leave it.
It's not just universities that do that. One company I worked for had a spiffy new custom office building made for it, courtesy of our US owners. A big enough place that it was built in three phases. The elevators were installed in phase 2, so until that was finished the only way of moving new workstations to the upper floor was carrying them up an open plan spiral staircase.
"the only way of moving new workstations to the upper floor was carrying them up an open plan spiral staircase."
I'd have rented one of the belt lifts that roofers use to move shingles/tiles from the truck to the roof. If somebody had a friend at an airport, maybe a luggage loader could have been appropriated for a night of moving hardware. I'm far too lazy to schlep gear up stairs.
a small room without air conditioning was chosen as the "server room"
That reminds me of the time a department bought in some wonderful new "space saving" student work stations. Hexagonal, with the PCs in a cupboard by the footwell. The cupboard doors were very well made. So well made that there was no inwards airflow. The hot exhaust from the PCs went into the central column. Which was capped at the top with a big hexagonal plinth for the screens to stand on with no slots in it.. The fault calls for PCs "crashing" started coming in almost from day one.
I have no idea if these were custom made or "off the shelf" units, but they were clearly not fit for purpose. They were, on the other hand, quite expensive so were not going to be replaced, The fix was to cut slots in the top of the plinth and cut the bottom 10cm off the doors.
This is actually the origin of my handle on El Reg. I was widely known as the guy who would "shoot down" idiotic management ideas before they were implemented.
Nowadays, those same types of plans are thought up several management layers (and often several states) away from where us lowly plebs have to implement them.
Reminds me of the time building renovation was being done above a machine room. Concrete floor - but no-one had thought to seal the gaps between the slabs. I come into a machine room with rather neat square outlines in dust of the slabs in the ceiling. Above disks and tape drives. The management response was to send in people with hoovers and that was it. Work continued, as did the problem.
Not long after the tape drives started to have issues. Due to the suddenly high volume of failures, the manufacturer was brought in. You can pretty much guess the rest (the report contained a sample from the tape cabinet - basically a piece of tape that was used to pick up what was lying in the cabinet. It was so filthy they couldn't stick it to anything)!
I've been involved in a few new build projects, IT are never allowed on site until first fix is completed so we al;ways have the same issue how am I going to get cables between floors, where can I put my network trunking in that 2 inch false sealing and the current favorite why are their no power outlets in that hot desking / cafe area and why is there nowhere for me to put a wifi access point there when its will be the busiest place in the whole building as people vising HQ will obviously work there before and after meetings.
My most recent though were a deign which meant 'for aesthetic reasons' we had to mount the wi fi access points on top of cable trays in the false ceiling as they had not allowed space for them to hang below, this resulted in holes being cut into the tiles later so they could be mounted blow the trays and actually provide coverage, and the clown who specified a sealed 'clock tower'. The Clock Tower was a nice feature on top of the air vent from the DC cooling, the system ran fine for 48 hours until the backwash of super heated air closed down the air con units. apparently the spec on the vents at the top of the tower had been changed to stop pigeons nesting in there. Almost all these issues lead to significant cost increases for the IT solution, whether it was unexpectedly providing fibre interlinks between floors (not a bad design decision bit there was no budget for it), more wifi repeaters to provide coverage because signals were inhibited by decorative features, or expensive retro fitting and redecoration because the requirement to provide wires to desks had never been considered in the first place.
I've been involved in a few new build projects, IT are never allowed on site until first fix is completed
It's been that way for many years. Around 35 years ago a customer was having a new building. They tried to do everything right but...
It was an ACT Apricot network which was end-to-end wiring in effect. I asked for a meeting on site with the electricians doing the install, "Oh, that's not necessary, they know what they're doing!" In the end I did get a meeting, but only with their contracts manager so I specified exactly what was needed. Of course none of that info was passed on to the sparkies themselves. Fortunately it wasn't too much of a disaster. They'd wired it as a ring so I just needed to cut a couple of connections and insert the relevant resistors (yes, it was that primitive).
The customer had specified a clean line* on a separate phase for the IT, complete with turned-earth-pin plugs. When we arrived we found they'd installed the sockets but on the same phase as everything else (regulations prohibited sockets on two separate phases being close together) and no plugs to go in them. A very expensive motorcycle courier at least got the plugs delivered and they were up and running but it had cost them several £1,000 for no gain.
*The networking was sensitive to power fluctuations, to the extent the engineers used to carry line monitoring kit.
"A very expensive motorcycle courier at least got the plugs delivered and they were up and running but it had cost them several £1,000 for no gain."
When you have an expensive problem to solve, don't be too stingy. A car factory that could lose $125,000/hour for an assembly line going down doesn't hesitate to hire a small jet to bring in the parts they are set to run out of. The same thing goes when you are working on a project that hits a dead end. Don't spend a whole bunch of time on workarounds/meetings and useless pointing of fingers, back out right away and find another way to solve the problem. I've run into that many times. As a sole proprietor, I am always trying to save money and it took a long time before I took to heart that sometimes spending money saves more in the long run.
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This holds equally for all future planning. A barely adequate design this year will be an expensive retrofit in 3,5,.... however many years into the still near future.
And add in to that the "well within budget" fixture that will need a shed load of unbudgetted for maintenance within a few years.
My favourite has to be a school with big south facing windows and cunning external blinds for when the sun was shining. By cunning I of course mean bloody stupid. Because the blinds were operated with cords. And said cords would wear and stiffen up, or just plain snap. And costed an arm and a leg to get replaced, two floors up, from the outside!
But of course the people who signed these things off will be long gone and since no one ever holds the designers to account when this stuff is being planned because it looks so beautiful on the artists' impression no one questions the practicality. Which of course is why front-line staff are kept away from this planning stage. They might ask the awkward questions. e.g. "You've planned this so that there needs to be a computer and a camera controlling the entrance, where is the budget to buy the computer and the camera?"
I doubt whether there will be any El Reg readers expressing surprise to hear of a secure educational establishment opening without the secured entrance because there was no budget for the security hardware, so skilled staff had to be diverted to watch the door*
And imho the chief skill of an architect is to BS the client.
*Might not have been those particular items- it's a few years ago now and since they didn't have them I can't remember exactly what they were meant to be
"And add in to that the "well within budget" fixture that will need a shed load of unbudgetted for maintenance within a few years"
Maintenance for which there will be minimal, if any, budget. Alway lots of cash splashed for "prestige" projects, but nothing to keep them working/looking good into the future.
"If only managers would learn that lesson about outsourcing."
For me, the only reason to outsource is to do something that I don't do very often and would take a large capital investment to do it in-house. The modification is, if that thing is crucial to the business or is at the core of my unique advantage, it comes in house. How can an outside company do as good or a better job for less money? If they can, I need to have a closer look to see what I'm doing wrong.
Anything that gets done on a regular basis should be part of the business and not relegated to some outside supplier. I see people that gush over using a cloud accounting service. They enumerate all of the advanced features they get that would cost thousands otherwise. That they never use those features and a very basic application would serve their needs doesn't occur to them. All it takes is one time when you can't access your accounting to cost loads of money. You can't even throw money at the problem to get it fixed. I have off-site backups and can abuse some credit cards to buy a new computer, reload the accounting software and restore from backups in an afternoon so I can be cutting invoices and filing taxes without delay. Since accounting is pretty sensitive information, I don't want it online and I have never come across a time when I needed to access the software when out of the office. Nobody has balked if they had to wait until I was back in the office to send them an invoice/receipt.
Yes, false economies are daft. It always amazes me when people want me to e.g. spend £s of time to avoid 'wasting' pennies of zip ties, or some such. It is not worth a minimum wage labourer's time to open and re-use zip ties, let alone mine. Cut them off and install new ones.
I've seen stupidities of this kind at every level from saving pennies to trying to save a few thousand £s and losing a multi-million contract. Usually there's someone burying their head in the sand, or doubling-down on a stupid insta-decision. But sometimes they're just plain stupid. I worked on a project where the pilot phase involved training up the core of a team ready for the start of the proper work - that's the only bit my employer was contracted to do - and the idiots upstairs decided that there wasn't enough work for the number of people, so fired every one of them over the two or three weeks of allocated training time in order to 'save' paying half a dozen people for a couple of weeks. I pointed out repeatedly that we were failing to do what we were being paid for. Amazingly enough, when the client asked where the trained team was, the idiots lost a contract that was worth at least a dozen people's pay (in profit/fees, above the costs) for a couple of years.
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Omninet was particularly sensitive to voltage problems. We (ACT dealer support) got the whole ground floor offices wired and working,
Often, kit working fine in the evening would be dead the following morning.
We wired a recorder across the twisted pair. Dead kit in the morning, but the recorder said +5V, -5V, +5V, -5V, all night.
The following evening we wired the recorder between the pair and earth, and stayed late, The cleaner arrived and switched on the vacuum cleaner.
+99.9, +99.9, +99.9, +99.9, ....
Rush over and turn off the vacuum. Examine mains plug wiring, Double-insulated, so, correctly, no earth connection. Weird.
Turned out that the building had been wired with two separate earths, and the potential between them was huge. I'm no sparky, so don't understand how.
We chopped the connection to the management end of the building and service resumed.
The handbuilt network cards in the machines on my desk always survived. They incorporated opto-isolators which had been omitted from production ones.
I feel your pain. Some years ago we built an extension onto our building. Nice false floors with cable trays beneath them - really quite tidy, until the architect decided that floorboxes were aesthetically unpleasing and banned them. Cables were terminated in plastic surface mount boxes *under* the floor with grommets fitted to allow cables through the floor tiles. IT were told, basically, "You can have whatever you want as long as it's what we say". So every time we need to trace a cable, we get cut to shreds fishing around under the floor. Oh, and needless to say, it looks crap as well. Architects? Shoot on sight.
When we had our microbiology lab refurbished I suggested (wearing my IT support hat) that we have plenty of network sockets installed, ideally a double every 18 inches. I knew that Computer Services didn't have node capacity for all those, but at least we'd have easily accessible structured cabling*.
As each socket added a couple of £ to the cost, the suggestion was ignored.
Three weeks after the lab re-opened, the suppliers of one of our analysers (that we had three of in two labs) insisted that we'd need another PC attached to the analyser for further interconnections. There were no node points. Three had to be run from the node cabinets at £300 per point. (by the time I retired, each of these analysers had a further PC added to facilitate it's connection to the MALDI-TOF -- yes, they need new points)
A year later we went paperless** each bench needed two additional PCs -- and node points.
*Diagnostic Micro labs have to work round specimen flow. Equipment has to be put where it's needed, not where it's conveniently adjacent to a node point.
**Diagnostic Bacteriology labs generate a lot of interim data before a result is arrived at. Paper is by far the most efficient way to achieve this, "but it's so 20th Century"
A relative was an architect who did school buildings. He related the story of them telling him exactly what they wanted for a new campus, and how much the budget was - a good 30% less than what it would really cost. He came up with half a dozen designs, but each one was rejected for either going over budget or missing some of their needs. He finally went to a big meeting with the school system, unrolled a map of the new campus on the table, handed the head person a red pen, and told them to pick a building to cross out. There was no possible way to get what they wanted for that budget!
Don't rush to blame the architect...
I will certainly blame the architect who insisted a corner office's windows should meet right in the corner so that it would appear that the wall above was magically floating without support (I think they award each other bunny points for this). It would have been OK if the walls were magically supported but in fact they were supported by a concrete pillar set a foot or so back from the corner. This blocked a good deal of the light from the windows but probably did little for the heat loss.
Just as well that was my boss's office. Mine next door was on a plain wall and had a reasonably sized, unobstructed window but it made his a miserable dark hole to visit.
"It would have been OK if the walls were magically supported but in fact they were supported by a concrete pillar set a foot or so back from the corner."
Never heard of cantilevering, apparently. Even works well here in earthquake country. I can show you tract homes built in the 50s that use this detail (look up "eichler" if you are interested).
"Never heard of cantilevering, apparently. Even works well here in earthquake country. I can show you tract homes built in the 50s that use this detail (look up "eichler" if you are interested)."
Gravity is a hard habit to break. It can be done, but it's something that has to be part of the design from the very beginning since much of the structural design will have to be bent in that direction, so to speak.
"This is a bit like educational building plans. Specifications are always pegged down to what we used to need last year, but never to what we might need in five years' time."
Or even *this* year. I once went into a new build school, had only opened a few months earlier, and they were teaching classes on the mezzanine floors because they didn't have enough classrooms! Still, it was better than the inter-war period building they had left, asbestos and all, plus portacabins for the overflow :-)
From my time in a large pharmaceutical in Kent, I had a good relationship with the Labs IT team & would occasionally happily patch two pieces of equipment via unused network ports for them in a lab, they never touched our networking infrastructure or systems & they usually brought up their old PC's\monitors to the cage for disposal rather than me having to do it.
Here's a pint(s) for Doctor Derek & his team.
"A year later we went paperless*"
For at least 45 years every time I hear of someone suggesting that going "paperless" is a good idea, I buy more stock in Boise Cascade, Crown Zellerbach, Georgia-Pacific, Weyerhaeuser, Plum Creek Timber and Crane&Co (etc) ... I haven't lost a dime yet, quite the opposite in fact.
This is not investment advice. I am offering a testimonial. Consult an expert before investing. Etc.
"As each socket added a couple of £ to the cost, the suggestion was ignored."
The same thing happens with homes. A bedroom could be configured a couple of different ways so it's handy to have power outlets and an ethernet port that's located within easy reach for either. If everything is home run and marked well, which ever ethernet port is being used is the one that get plugged into the router. Change the room, change what outlet is plugged in. This is assuming that there will be any low-voltage wiring done at all. I've seen plenty of new builds that don't include any data or phone lines. They don't even install an in-wall channel for TV wiring when they might have put in a power point to plug said TV into the mains.
We designed our own home as a newbuild. Specified plug sockets everywhere, at least on every unbroken wall. Phone sockets in several rooms, and TV aerials in 3. It didn't add much to the build cost, relative to the overall price. Sadly adding CAT5 cabling was too much of a cost, something I now regret.
Everyone I talk to who is building I recommend to install lots of sockets, as doing so afterwards is a huge PITA
Architects should never have a say on the interior of a building beyond a functional/structural point. Any architect that insists he needs "creative control" over how the interior should be designed needs to get tarred, feathered and run out of town with pitchforks and torches.
I remember the Beeb having a real fireman examine Zaha Hadid's famous award winning fire station. It didn't emerge well from that, there were comments such as the ends of handrails being dangerous to any one running through the building - which tends to happen in fire stations. In fact I think the building was repurposed not that long after it was opened but her reputation was unblemished.
A relative lives in a rural county and helps out how he can. They needed a new EMS station. The architect drew up plans that would be 50% over budget. My relative, who is NOT an architect, redesigned the floor layout so that it made much more sense, was on budget, and still had everything they wanted.
Put the cleanup rooms right next to the vehicle bays, not halfway through the building. You do NOT want the firefighters walking halfway through the building in sooty gear.
Replace the 2 two-stall bathrooms (one men's, one women's, each with required sight-blocking jog) with 5 one-person unisex bathrooms (which, being one-person, don't need the jog.) Put them right outside the largest room, which will be used for meetings and conferences.
(I strongly suspect the architect was paid by percentage of estimated cost, so going over budget was, for him, an excellent thing. Even if the county couldn't afford to actually build it.)
"Replace the 2 two-stall bathrooms (one men's, one women's, each with required sight-blocking jog) with 5 one-person unisex bathrooms (which, being one-person, don't need the jog.) Put them right outside the largest room, which will be used for meetings and conferences."
This is a place where the regs get to be a problem. There are far more men in fire brigades than women. There might only be one woman at a station so an extra stall is a waste. If there are no women, both stalls are wasted and blokes might be standing outside with their legs crossed. Having a rank of single person toilets is a great solution since it will meet the regulations and give the most flexibility. I might move a couple around depending on the size of the building. It could be good to have one that's configured for more abuse near to where the trucks are kept and maintained since users might be greasy, grimly or in desperate need when coming back from a call.
We recently built a new national headquarters in a European capital city - as in, the house was built from scratch, and "our" floors were supposedly custom built according to our specs and needs. Except that, again, the building architects and interior designers decided that no-one needs ugly and clunky cabled networks when there's WiFi. This has turned out especially problematic for techies who HAVE to have direct connections to certain closed networks that CAN'T (for technical and legal reasons) be transported wirelessly. You wanted to get rid of cabling and an open-plan, free-seating office? Well, you got annoyed engineers who spend their morning lugging firewalls and switches to place under their desks.
Add to that the fact the WiFi gets completely overloaded of more than 30% of the workforce is in the building at the same time...
(Anon because we're a company whose biggest selling point is, you guessed it, our networks.)
"We recently built a new national headquarters in a European capital city - as in, the house was built from scratch, and "our" floors were supposedly custom built according to our specs and needs."
I worked at an aerospace company and when I arrived, nearly everybody was working via WiFi. It was slow and they had just started to come to understand ITAR (International Trade in Arms Regulations) rules when it come to securing data. I spent a weekend stapling ethernet cables to the walls (Surplus WWII building) and getting hardwired points to every work area. Low and behold, when everybody came in on Monday, they were blown away at how fast the network was running. Since we were a bunch of nerds, we didn't care about all of the ugly wiring even though I tried to make it neat. The WiFi got deleted completely and when we had a couple of customer site visits, they did ask if we had WiFi and it would have been a serious down check if we did.
I did some networking for a friend who had an office in a half timbered 15th C building. You couldn't lift the floorboards and drill holes in the beams to get cables through as 600 year old oak is basically as hard as steel and will see off a drill let alone one of those corer things. Cabling went up and over the lovely expose beams and along bits of the floor where necessary. However over the centuries the floor was not very level and over time desks and associated PCs would drift downhill and pull out leads and ties so we ended up setting the desks parallel to the floorboards with little metal wedges jammed into the gap in the floorboards to stop the desks roaming. Wheeled chairs required continuous leg work but no-one minded as it was probably the nicest office you could work in - especially as it still had the hoist on the front of the building to get things in to the top floor which is nice as you couldn't get most things up the stairs.- they knew about that shit 600 years ago while the best architects today dont have a fucking clue.
"600 year old oak is basically as hard as steel and will see off a drill"
Er... You need to lube the drill. It isn't hard at all, it's tough, and generates a lot of heat. Best thing is a big auger bit and a drill-driver set to high-torque/low-speed, take it slow and keep backing out and relubing the bit.
"Add to that the fact the WiFi gets completely overloaded of more than 30% of the workforce is in the building at the same time..."
Tell me about it! A shared services building and *everyone" has decided they will use WiFi. No, the building facilities people don't provide it. Each of the buildings users provide their own. My problem was to find out why our customers newly installed kit wasn't working. A quick check with a WiFi phone app found 40 wireless routers in range of the reception desk comprising about 15 different networks, all channels congested. There's yer problem!! Fortunately, reception had some old network points properly labelled. It took a while to gain access to the comms room, but a couple of patch cables soon sorted the issue.
Too many people see hard-wired networking as expensive and WiFi as "cheap magic" that Just Workstm
Well, another of my favourites was the beautiful staffroom, built in the loft of a still fairly new school. It was beautiful, with lots of light from the window in the south facing roof. So much so, in fact that for large parts of the year it was too hot to go into, and too bright to see if you did go into it. But then decades earlier, the first purpose built comprehensive school, Kidbrooke in South London, was built with big, glass south facing walls. From April to October you couldn't even touch the tables some days. The architects of that one also managed to get away with having a main central stairway that opened into relatively narrow corridors. So hundreds of kids all trying to go down the same stairs into the same narrow corridor at the same time......
But the artist's impression from before it was built was on proud display. And it had looked glorious
It was a huge surprise to me, but when buildings are designed they typically do little to take into account building systems like electrical, cable TV, plumbing, etc. They may not even take into account plenums for air handling, which is why those so often look like afterthoughts.
This is why you see things stuffed into the most inaccessible places when with a little thought things could have been done much easier. I was a minor investor in an apartment building (15 stories) in Chicago a while back. A couple friends of mine who had been investors with the principal on a few other projects got me in, after they'd done well on those previous projects. When talking to them about the risks of the investment, they noted the issues there always were with trades scheduling since plumbers and electricians were always screwing up each other's work, causing rework.
I saw this as potentially a similar type of process issue I had often encountered in my IT consulting, where different 'towers' were stepping on each other's toes. So after my friends talked to the principal and got my foot in his door, I was hired as a "consultant" to the architect (really more of an engineering firm since this building was not some Frank Gehry type masterpiece) doing the plans for the building. It took some digging, but I managed to find some people from the prime contractors doing building systems who understood what the heck I was trying to do, and got together with a junior guy assigned from the architect's firm to actually plan things in advance for this building.
So stuff like locations where the building entrances of electrical, network, sewer, water, and gas would be and the amount of space they'd need on the inside wall were figured out so they didn't get in each other's way. We decided to do the sprinkler system and associated signaling wiring first because that's typically the biggest problem and architects have zero clue about code requirements.
Next water and sewer, then HVAC, then electrical. Finally, space was planned for satellite and antenna trunk lines coming down from the roof where the dish and antenna would be located, and wall space designated in closets where networking and satellite TV amps/taps/switches would be located, rather than having to be crammed in wherever later since even though architects knew you needed electrical closets, they didn't really know anything else went in there other than electrical panels!
The trade work ended up beating schedule by 6 weeks, the only phase that did so. The principal ended up hiring a full time guy doing what I did on all his future projects.
A rich friend of mine moved into a rather swish new tower block penthouse and discovered if he had a bath when he emptied it the water flow was such it sucked the air out of the sewer pipe and all the u-bends in the building so everywhere smelt of shit. They had to break walls to get into where the pipes went to solve the problem but the poor buggers lower down could hear every bog flush from above as it rocketed past them.
I remember that a brand new building had to be modified once. The architect had put the generator exhaust at a height that was just about right to pump diesel exhaust into the windows of the business next door. No-one seemed to realise until we had a power failure on a hot day when their windows were open - about 20 minutes after the generator started there was chaos - alarms going off and people coming out of their office.
The exhaust stack had to be re-designed.
I worked in a lab, built c 1970, where the first floor structure was a tubular steel framework supporting some sort of floor blocks above and a false ceiling below. I've no idea what the floor blocks were made of as they were hidden below vinyl covering.
It resulted in a sprung floor for our lab. Haematology had a rather sensitive top-pan balance for weighing out microgram quantities of reagent. Leaning forward to read it more clearly caused the reading to change.
I once had to calibrate an extremely sensitive balance in the cal lab, used to calibrate the weights used to calibrate other balances in the facility. (Turtles all the way down.) The balance was on a marble table in a tiny room with no HVAC, but even that wasn't enough - you had to close the door to the hallway and make sure no one opened the exterior doors of the hallway because the air pressure changes were more than the balance tolerances!
I've only seen block & beam for single story buildings, never multiple floors. And I've never seen cinder blocks used as the infill blocks.
I'm not saying it doesn't exist, mind, just that I've never seen it. And that I wouldn't be caught dead working/living on one of the the lower floors. Too much room for error.
I think I can top that.
Flat roof, and it tended to leak. One bad stormy night it started to leak pretty badly - on top of a row of magnetic tape drives (yes, this was quite some time ago).
We had bins with plastic bags inside sat on top of the tape drives to catch the water and just carried on as normal.
Same building had a heavy engineering firm on the ground floor. We'd occasionally feel the machine room floor jolt - followed by a few disk errors.
Location, location, location!
You lose! The computer room at one place I worked had no cooling/ventilation apart from one huge vent in the roof with a big fan underneath it. In winter, the servers directly below that vent got covered in snow. I still don't know how nothing shorted when that snow melted and the resulting water trickled down the insides of the cabinets.
My brother's eldest kid watched as the entire admin wing of her high school was lifted up and moved over a mile, before being unceremoniously dropped en masse about 100 feet to the ground. There is cell phone video of this (not hers, she was running for a shelter) ... As is usually the case, it is rather bad & shaky video, but still amazing to watch.
They live in Oklahoma. Tornadoes can be a bitch. Nobody from the school was hurt. Amazingly, they managed to recover all the data on the well-traveled computers.
 And portrait instead of landscape. Of course. WTF, people‽‽‽ After all these years, you'd think the collective "you" would learn how to use the tool!
Re portrait rather than landscape. That's the way you normally hold the phone, and it's kind of awkward to hold it sideways (with my phone, I have to be careful not to curl a finger over the cam lens). If a building is blowing past your window, you're probably too distracted to stop and think about the best video format.
" And portrait instead of landscape. Of course. WTF, people‽‽‽ After all these years, you'd think the collective "you" would learn how to use the tool!"
You'd think by now people would realise that filming orientation is not the problem, it's the ridiculously poor way displays handle such things.
Whichever way you turn the camera makes very little difference to the eventual picture quality, especially when not optically zoomed - there's loads of useless space on the edges either way. What's needed is simple crop-and-zoom for display.
"What's needed is simple crop-and-zoom for display."
Worse, when 16:9 TV was gaing ground, everything quickly switched to being filmed in widescreen format. Now almost everyone has widescreen TVs, "arty" directors are making *TV shows* in wider, Cinemascope format we so still get fscking black bars top and bottom!!!! As I type this, I'm watching one right now on Netflix. It feels like I'm missing parts of the picture from the top and bottom. Understandable when it's cinema film being broadcast, but there's no excuse on a made for TV episodic series!
Had a remote office that I supported move into a fancy new building. Local LAN admin was quite proud of the site and the fact that all the IT and phone equipment was now on the second floor away from any possible flooding. He sent pictures. I noticed the large, LARGE windows. Facing out to the ocean view.
Office was located right along the coast in a city known for their yearly hurricanes!
Worked at a server room, that was an add-on to the side of a building. It was actually pretty good - dry, cool and spacious.
The only problem is the fan noise was not quite loud enough to hide the sound from the main toilet downpipe, and especially from solids hitting the bend in the pipe near the floor. This was also the rodding point, so I image there was an interesting time it they had to clear a blockage.
Somewhere in the bowels & annals* of El Reg there's a couple of tales:
Where a server room with new equipment got written off after it got flooded with raw effluent from a broken sewer pipe running parallel to or through it.
The building designer\plumbing contractor had routed all the black water into a straight pipe for the entire building (not sure if a office or tower block) with a 90 degree bend at the very bottom.
The inertial mass of free-falling turds with gallons of falling water from the top floors, had over time weakened the joint\pipe & the thing finally gave way. So the pipes contents instead of carrying on the journey to the sewers, the rarely visited cellar comms room had taken on a new role as a septic tank without anyone noticing.
*Sorry - Not Sorry
A co-worker had previously worked for a college which located the IT offices (fortunately, not the server room) in a basement with sewer pipes running through the area above the false ceiling. A small earthquake over the weekend cracked one of those pipes and resulted in a very messy Monday.
A subgroup of our IT techs had offices in the first floor of a 12-story building. A five-inch diameter cold-water pipe running from the side of a hill into the sixth floor broke, and muddy water rushed down the stairwell. Techs frantically moved their PCs, PCs-to-be-repaired, and stacks of brand-new computers up as high as they could. All was saved, but the "brown-water mark" was about six inches high.
I remember a comms cabinet we had installed which was under the toilet on the floor above. I don’t need to say any more do I……
Also in another building the company took over a floor above the one we were on, when I first walked in there was a large 20x10m comms rooms and we had a tiny overloaded room below it, so I said can’t we move the kit up here. After the designers had finished we had a cupboard with the drainpipe for the sink going through the comms room.
The worst bit was that the facilities did the floor wiring on the cheap and just moved the floorboxes to where they needed the desks. So when looking for a spare patch you found in the same row of desks 50,65,122,4 etc. I am sure it would have been quicker and cheaper to just rip it out and install new cables…
Almost fifty years ago, I spent a Christmas break working for a department store as a stock boy (one of the guys who hauls goods from the stockroom to the shelves). At some point before this, staff had noticed leaks in the stockroom ceiling, and a contractor had applied a coating of tar to the roof. It had not occurred to anyone that where water could penetrate hot tar might, but this was so. Most of the goods in the stockroom were in boxes, and a speck of tar here and there made no difference. On the other hand some beanbag chairs had been stored on top shelves unboxed, and their vinyl covers were speckled. The approved solution was to hand a stock
boy a rag and a spray can of some nasty solvent, and let him try to scrub off the tar spots. A number of us tried it, and achieved nothing but chemical headaches. The chairs were set aside to be sold at a large markdown.
Whether anyone at the store learned anything about preparation, I don't know.
Toasted Naugah! Yummy!
I have a few back problems and live in bean bags. Lately I've discovered they seem to be made of extremely shit substances - leather splits, the seams and zips fail etc.
Mind you all zips seem to fail these days - I dont know how anyone dares go mountaineering - I spent £300 on a jacket to climb Kilimanjaro and got my money back a month or so later. If it had gone near the top (-30C when we set off) I'd be dead!
Mind you all zips seem to fail these days
If it is not a riri zip, they are not serious.
I can cope with a zip failing after a while. It seriously pisses me off when they are a nightmare to zip up almost as soon as you get them. The ones where the solid bit won't go into the track until you've jiggled it enough.. Or the zipper just doesn't want to move up. Is it so difficult to make them so that they just work?
A company I have worked closely with for the last 10 years or so used to have their offices where the original owner had installed a small 10mx5m) swimming pool, on the TOP floor.
As years went by, the original occupants left and new firms moved in on various levels. One firm operated a data centre, with servers for a number of major clients. All was fine, until late one night the swimming pool sprang a leak, and around 75 cu m of chlorinated water ran down, through the joints in the concrete structure into the data centre directly below the pool.
Turned out that when they rented the space, no mention was ever made of facilities above, or they would have thought twice about locating a server cluster there.
While the data centre relocated, the pool was repaired and refilled, although to the best of my knowledge, despite it being filled, heated and the filters running, it never gets used as a pool, probably as the part of the floor that was the changin rooms had been converted to open plan office space, with glass walls out towards the hallway by the lifts.
I've seen numerous top floor offices formerly inhabited by pre dot-bomb SillyConValley C*s that had the then trendy lap pools installed. To the best of my knowledge, not a one of them has ever been used by anyone but the original occupant (and sometimes not even them) ... yet all of the pools are properly maintained for chemistry, water heated, room air dehumidified, etc. Many of them have an attendant hot-tub and/or sauna, also fully functional and unused.
At a past job they immediately put me in charge of competing an office expansion to a room upstairs in the same office building they had rented. They knew this move was coming for weeks before they even started interviewing me, and continued to do absolutely nothing about it the entire time they were interviewing people for the job, continuing to hire people who would need a place to sit, etc.
Day comes when someone shows me the room they have. They wanted to put a dedicated switch in there for all the VoIP phones and whatnot. No problem, but as I'm looking around I'm wondering where they plan to put said switch because aside from like one conference room and a couple of offices, the entire rest of the place was just one big open area... EXCEPT for what was literally a closet for people to hang their coats. It was about 2ft across, maybe 8ft high, and 3-4ft deep. No ventilation of any kind, no power outlets, no network ports, the only access control was literally just a standard door with no lock... At this point, no prizes for guessing where they thought they wanted to put all the expensive networking equipment.
Suffice to say, we had a difference of opinion on things and parted ways not too long after that. I am morbidly curious to know what happened with that plan in the end though. This is a group so far out of their depth, to them UPS was just a package delivery company.
The last place I worked before retiring had a remote office with that same type of closet. They stuffed it with a couple of small servers and all the networking equipment. The staff, having no other place to hang coats still hung them there. In rainy season, they draped plastic over all the equipment. Also, the door was to be permanently left open at all times but newbies often didn't know this and closed it.
That office was 100 miles away from my building. Luckily, I got a very nice milage rate and extra pay for going there. They eventually moved them to a different location with a proper small room for all the equipment that had A/C to it and a locked door.
Fun times indeed.
Someone told me about an upgrade that was needed to the ceiling void. The techies spotted the potential problem (water leak or something else) and raised it with management who said it has been fine for the last 5 years-- we will not pay to upgrade it.
The techies cooked up a plan of preventative maintenance. If there was a problem - what would the impact be? The "accidentally" simulated the impact, and shut down the system to prevent damage. This cause an outage (causing a switch over to the DR site). During the management review of the outage, management recommended that the ceiling void problems be fixed as a matter of urgency - and do not worry about the cost.
The technical team learned to present to management "if this problem occurs at peak time - it will cost $x Million in fines and compensation". That focused people's minds.
I don't see why a memo wasn't circulated to let everybody know about the work being done with a sign-off required and enough time so anybody on vacation or out of the office would have time to respond. People that had something to contribute could write a note back to whomever was heading up the project and if there was too much to go over by sending notes, a meeting could be scheduled. Facilities management would be a good one to have onboard in a case like this. Chances are they know more about the realities of the system and keeping it going than anybody else. The same would go for a new design. An architect can't do a proper design unless he knows what's needed. He'll happily mark "Server Room" on the plans and never consider power or HVAC requirements. He's an architect, not a datacenter expert. He might not even consider that placing a room full of boilers just above is a really bad idea. Those boilers need to go somewhere since they are on his list even when cable drops for workstations weren't considered.
His favourite story seemed to be the one about the squash courts. There is a special expensive plaster used for the walls of the court and it came with instructions stating that they had to be followed to the letter or the plaster would fall off. So they made absolutely sure the builders didnt cut any costs and made sure the instructions were followed to the letter.
The plaster started to fall off. A call to the supplier resulted in a conversation which was basically "Did you follow the instructions to the letter?" "Yes we made absolutely sure the builders followed them" "Ah! That's the problem. We find the builders almost always skimp on the most expensive ingredient (our plaster) and so we have had to adjust the instructions to compensate and that normally saves us a lot of money fighting follow up claims!"
This story brought back memories, none of them good.
Our computer center was world-class, with machines worth 10's of millions of dollars. Unfortunately sitting in an older building that like many structures in California had a flat roof. And it was time for some maintenance work. The bids went out late in the summer, so work began close to the beginning of California's rainy season. The crew took off the old roof, put down foam insulating panels, sealed the joints, and coated the surface with the usual hot-tar mixture. Hot tar in 95+ Fahrenheit days is much more odious than normal and soon floors of the office building attached to the machine room building were filled with the sickening smell of dead dinosaur. Management actually showed a bit concern for me and temporarily moved me to another office located in another building upwind of the roofers. I just wish that had been the end of the tale.
Several days later the rains began in earnest. Steady, sometimes heavy rain. About two o'clock in the morning I got a call from my boss's boss.
"We have water coming into the machine room. I'm driving over to pick you up."
Oh there was water coming in all right. It was like a rain forest in there. Operations were using 55 gallon drums to catch the flow in an attempt to keep the place from flooding. My job was to help power down the supercomputers, smaller machines, and peripherals so that no one would get electrocuted. Given that some machines had 100 amp bus-bars feeding the circuitry it did seem prudent to take the gear offline.
It turns out that the roofers made a bevy of mistakes. They graded the roof incorrectly, flanges were improperly fitted, AND they left debris on the roof that washed into the drain. Which plugged up, allowing water to build up on the new roof then flow down into machine room.
I won't repeat what our program director was saying about the roofers early that morning - there were a lot of references to various forms of extremely brutal summary execution. The emergency work crews found the screw-ups, which led to a lot more violent language by our program director. Eventually the roof was properly water-tight and we all could sleep - albeit fitfully.
We were lucky enough to move from a ground floor computer center to a top floor computer room in a ten story shopping center building. It was a pain to move all the equipment but a nice place to work. Just before Christmas the shopping center flew in a giant fiberglass Santa Claus and placed it on the roof. Coming in on a Monday morning after weekend rains we found water and pieces of drop ceiling tiles all over our Printronix and Versatec printers, of course the hammers on the Printronix rusted and dropped out occasional dots. The water and tiles missed the PDP-11/70 and the tape drives on the other side of the room.
Questions were asked about the source of the water and it was determined that the metal brackets holding up Santa Clause were anchored to bolts drilled into the roof. The installers had missed some of the roof beams while drilling and had just covered over the incorrect bolt holes with loose gravel on the roof. The rain had built up on the membrane roof and had drained through the holes, onto the drop ceiling and then all collapsed into the computer room. Cleanup was a pain!
Repairs were made, and all went well, after Christmas Santa Claus was laid down on the rood and covered by a tarp. You could see the bottoms of his boots from the parking lot. Merry Christmas.