back to article Shag pile PC earned techies a carpeting from HR

Welcome once again dear readers to Who, Me? in which we recount the heroic (and sometimes less so) antics of Regizens in the workplace. This week we're hearing from a reader we'll Regomize as "Ben". Back in the 1990s Ben and his buddy "Jay" would sometimes play merry pranks upon their cubicle-mate "Sherm". Nothing nasty – just …

  1. Korev Silver badge

    > "That was one of the funniest pranks I've seen in 35 years! Don't do it again," he said.

    Sounds like he was floored by the prank...

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      At least they were called on the carpet for it!

      -------> Mine's the one with the shag in the pocket! (Tobacco! Not pile!)

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        But... the common cormorant, or shag, lays eggs inside a paper bag!

        1. FBee

          Why does the porridge bird lay its eggs in the air?

          1. Someone Else Silver badge

            To YAN Firesign Theater addict aficionado. - - - - - ->

        2. that one in the corner Silver badge

          The reason, you can see, no doubt, was to keep the lightning out

          Very important to use the correct bags for protection against static discharge.

    2. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

      Summoned to the VP's office, I bet they expected a carpeting.

      Ahem, sorry...

    3. Stevie



      Now everyone will feel the need to pile in.

  2. Scott 53

    Almost put their jobs on the lino.

  3. Anonymous South African Coward

    Any photos of that epic cubicle?

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Good point. Might just be a shag-e dog story

  4. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Nice twist.

    Be hessian you again soon

  5. chivo243 Silver badge

    Ah, yes, the double crossover cross!

    You have to admire someone who will play both ends against the middle, hoping to come out unscathed! I prefer to be the instigator, drop the seed, and let others do the dirty work!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Radio Taiso

    I worked at ICL during the 80;s, when the takeover by Fujitsu was announced I wrote a memo from our boss to all the VME support team I worked with informing that 8 am morning exercise sessions would be starting the following month. THe team reaction was hilarious, so much outrage by 10:00. I came clean with my colleagues we all had a good laugh and I thought o more about it.

    Two weeks later one of my more notorious colleagues returned from leaver, Mr O'Hooligan started work before me and was literally on the way to berate our manager over 'this latest stupidity' as I walked to my desk. Thankfully I managed to restrain him before he got to our managers office, they had a difficult relationship and the stern telling off about the fictitious exercise sessions would probably lead to Mt O'Hooligan and myself both being fired, him for abusing a senior manager (again) and me for forging company documents (it was a very good spoof).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spoof

      I once (and only ever once) spoofed a message from our Security Officer to all employees. This was after she had come back from a trans Atlantic week long course and announced to an all employee meeting that the email was now locked up so tight and that there would be no security issues with it ever!

      The email had all the red flags: "Mandatory", "must be done this morning", "will check your email hygiene", "follow this link". I actually pointed the link to our internal security web page.

      Just a slight tap with the reality stick, but an email like her's was asking for engineers to subvert her security.

      Anon obviously

      1. Anonymous Custard

        Re: Spoof

        Way back in the day we had a mini-craze of doing something similar to people who'd walked away from their desk without locking their laptops.

        Basically quickly defined a new Outlook contact that looked like senior management but with a fake email address, then sent a suitably unsuitable email to it, copying the victim on cc (plus sometimes other fake management email addresses or even some of our real ones). So they received back the mail "they" had sent, apparently to all of the senior managers with dodgy content.

        Looked quite convincing to a quick inspection, after of course you then deleted the bounce-back non-delivery emails from the fake accounts.

        Well it got us through a few boring afternoons, and the amount of unlocked laptops dropped drastically, at least until it became a more well known prank and we got bored with it.

        1. nintendoeats Silver badge

          Re: Spoof


        2. Tim 11

          Re: Spoof

          A colleague left his PC unlocked so I quickly went onto amazon and tried to buy a big box of fish food.

          I couldn't put the order through because it wanted re-confirmation of password, but he did say that he kept getting fish food adverts for months afterwards.

      2. swm Silver badge

        Re: Spoof

        This was back in the days of the Xerox ALTO. We had someone who was paranoid about protecting his password. So, this became a challenge. About every day someone wrote his password on his monitor (we were all computer scientists and knew the systems inside and out). He was really annoyed and kept changing his password but there were too many ways to get the password.

        He was the only one attacked in this way because of his attitude.

        1. Outski Silver badge

          Re: Spoof

          I tend to use random lyrics from about the third verse of an album track from some obscure prog band, with some letter/number swaps - have fun with that, my ITSec colleagues and your multiple GPUs :o)

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Radio Taiso

      Damn! I wish I'd thought of that. I too worked for ICL when Fujitsu took over, but not in the VME support team. And I would almost certainly have fallen for that prank too.

      Good work, that person, have an upvote and one of these ------->

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My best was when the admin thought that everyones mailspool had to have the permissions 666. He got a mail from Santa, with a nice and reasonable header, telling him that due to certain incidents that it was unnecessary to enumerate here and now there would be no presents this year.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      666? Are you sure it was Santa and not Satan?!?

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        They do say that dyslexia rules KO!

        1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

          It must have been Santa because dyslexic athiests don't believe in Dog!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Read-Write for everyone. Claimed that the daemon needed it to be able to write to it... (mine was quickly set to saner perms, naturally with no ill effects)

  8. Barrie Shepherd

    I once 'informally advised' another Department Head that one of our Area Engineers was proposing to carry out an activity that was at best financially dubious and at worst illegal. The guy intervened and stopped the action - even sent me a 'thanks' email..

    Unfortunately the person I 'dobbed in' was mates with my Chief Engineer who apparently ranted and raved when given the 'half story' by his mate.

    Fortunately I was on leave at the time. When I returned from leave my boss advised me to keep a low profile. After some weeks I got a call to go visit the Deputy Chief Engineer, standing in his office the conversation went like this;

    "You know why you are here?

    "No idea"

    "Well you upset XXXXXX (The Chief Engineer) over that issue about questionable financial matters."

    " But ............."

    "Don't say anything! just consider yourself reprimanded and we will let it rest there"

    "OK, thanks,"

    "OK - you can the way it had the right outcome - but I did not say that"

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Did it end up in your record? I hope not!

  9. parlei

    Back in the days of MacOS 6/7 the system could have a notification sound that was rather long (20-30s IIRC). And if you did something non-allowed several times in a row it would of course play the sound several times. Silence is a sound too (there was even a song about that...)

    User clicks, but instead of a lonely submarine (or whatever) there is 20-30s of glorious, blessed silence. Since nothing happens the user clicks again a few times. And the Mac dutifully plays the notification sound several times in sequence before allowing the user to go on.

    1. Anonymous Custard

      Back in uni days at the student rag, we discovered that all those sounds were reconfigurable, including the ability to sample from the microphone.

      So one of the previously innocuous "ping" errors suddenly became "Don't Do That!" in a rather evil voice. Was quite funny to see the various writers and sub-editors jump when they pressed the wrong key combination or made the wrong click and triggered the sound.

      I should also possibly mention that my partner in crime for that went on to be a Lib-Dem MP and, for a while at least, a junior government minister. Says it all really...

    2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Oh, the time where multitasking was "multitasking" :D!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spoof BT Fax

    A long time ago, we were moving offices which also involved a new set of phone numbers (thanks BT). The Sales manager spent thousands on trinkets and gew-gaws to publicise the new number. The move dragged on for some while, so I spoofed a fax from BT saying that they had had to reassign the numbers and our new numbers were xxx and yyy.

    Left it on the fax machine at lunchtime for our office manager to 'find'. She was in on the joke, as was the director who pulled the sales bod into the board room for the mother and father of all rollickings - wasting money etc.

    A very red faced Sales manager was about to start shouting abuse at the poor BT rep over the phone when he was let into the joke. He was not amused.

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Spoof BT Fax

      When working with BT, always start complaining that they AGAIN did something dumb, without specifying anything, and you'll get a list of all the wrongs they inflicted you that you were not aware of...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We kinda proved our point..

    We had a room with various machines that were there to demonstrate interoperability (the magic word in the days the Internet had just been set up), but because it was for demonstrations it was also very nice and was thus often used for meetings for the more expensive of our staff. When repeated warnings that it wasn't a good idea to have meetings in a room with machines with microphones were flat out ignored we logged into one of the Sun pizza boxes and did a cat of the mic device to a file and played it back to them after they had finished.

    No, that didn't stop the meetings. But they did disconnect the few microphones in the room beforehand from then on..

    1. Dr. Ellen


      In early days, that pile carpet could have gotten you fired./ Walking on shag makes electrostatic charge, the bane of early computers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shocking

        Where did I mention carpet?

        1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

          Re: Shocking

          Most likely they meant that as a top-level reply to the original story involving the carpet, but accidentally posted it as a reply to your comment instead.

  12. MrBanana Silver badge

    Shag Pile

    The title brought to mind a number of scenarios, the dullest involved static shock destruction of a 16 port serial board attached to a Xenix 386 machine after an overly long lunch (not sure why that quite specific scenario popped into my mind) rather than something more racy involving carpet burns. Turns out the real story was even more dull.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Shag Pile

      Not directly related to IT but a good laugh.

      When the Barbican Centre first opened in London there was static build-up as you walked across the carpet. When you touched one of the metal handrails there would be a spark. The challenge was who could create the largest spark from themselves to the handrail. If you had some people old hands the result could be interesting..........

      I recall having discharges or an inch or more.

      It still does it but to a much lesser extent now, very boring!

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Shag Pile

        We had a studio build which the set designers insisted be carpeted. To cope with the static frying the cameras and mics, some incredibly expensive antistatic carpet was purchased - I believe it had carbon fibres in the weave. It was some ridiculous price - a grand a square meter rings a bell, forty years ago, but I'm probably misremembering.

        I do recall though that a colleague was able to re-carpet his van with the huge amount of oddly shaped off-cuts, probably trebling its value.

    2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Xenix & Multiport Serial Boards

      CompuTone? (I did a lot of SCO-Xenix and -Unix work in the 1990s.)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Engineer Pranks

    My co-workers pranked me once thusly:

    (1) Called me to a co-worker's office for a consultation;

    (2) removed the home row of keys from my keyboard, and replaced them with different keys reading, "ALL YOUR BASE" (from the now-old meme, "All your base are belong to us");

    (3) called my phone while I was out of the office and had my officemate answer, who then put my phone on "speakerphone", then replaced the handset in its cradle (by design, this didn't/doesn't end the call); and,

    (4) gathered around the phone of the instigator (also on speakerphone) and waited for my return.

    I returned, sat down, placed my hands on home row, then said, "These keys feel wrong." and looked down at my keyboard. Cue much laughter over the speakerphone. (I'm a touch-typist, and the keys they'd taken were from different rows, and the slant of some them when installed on home row felt wrong.)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "hacking" prank

    Years ago, my company was acquired by a competitor. This wasn't a merger of equals, but was a consume and digest job. It soon became obvious that our new overlords were going to cannibalize and close us.

    Having a sudden surplus of free time and animosity coupled with a shortage of fucks to give, I downloaded a copy of the corporate mission/vision/rah-rah-go-team internal web page, and made some (in)appropriate edits to the file. I emailed a copy to a few co-workers.

    When I came to work the next day, there were copies of the document all over the building. Nobody claimed to know who wrote it or who printed it. It became known as the "green paper" because whoever decided to print it didn't realize someone had left a ream of green paper in the workgroup printer. I was shitting bricks, anticipating an early departure from my job.

    Later that morning, my boss pulled me aside to share that the corporate flunky installed as our site management had seen the paper and called back to the mothership. There was a mad scramble to understand how their web page got "hacked" (and why it looked normal on everyone's computers). She clearly thought the entire solution was hilarious, so I owned up when she said "that was you, right? The writing style, the technical ability, it couldn't be anyone else".

    AFAIK, corporate never found out who wrote it or who printed it. The local IT department apparently temporarily lost the knowledge or ability to look through print queues. I'm not sure if anyone thought to ask corporate IT to look through email logs or inboxes (the guys I knew in the corporate IT dept. would probably maliciously complied and done an e-discovery for "green sheet" and come up blank).

    Anon, since the mother company still exists.

  15. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Two I remember from way back (as a trainee)

    The guy responsible for us, Brian, had a big blue spotted mug - this was in the days when we had a tea lady - and when he had a day off, one of the other trainees got hold of his mug put about an inch of water in the bottom, then ran freshly mixed silicon rubber compound over it. This was shiny white, almost perfectly matching the colour of the mug. Once completely set he made two tiny holes in it, turned it upside down, and trickled compressed air into one hole, forcing the water out of the other. That done he sealed the holes with another couple of dobs of silicon rubber.

    The following day we all managed to be in sight as the the poor instructor had his mug filled by the tea lady. We didn't have long to wait, as the heated air expanded and tea started flowing over the top of the mug - much to the instructors astonishment. Finally the silicon rubber ruptured and there was a mini tea volcano, to the merriment of all.

    Much later the guy's mug was accidentally dropped and broke (concrete floor) and the same trainee very carefully put it back together with water soluble adhesive. So this time the instructor suddenly found himself holding just the handle with a bit of the mug, and a desk awash with tea.

    Actually we bought him a new mug afterwards for being such a good sport.

    1. Cheshire Cat

      Re: Two I remember from way back (as a trainee)

      Very clever, particularly the bit with the silicone, though when wearing my H&S hat I do wonder about the risk of hot tea splashing over people. And the potential for dissolved water-soluble adhesive in the tea being ingested. I wonder who thought of the silicone trick?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, there was that one time where I got a '90 day write up' (i.e., it rolled off my record after 90 days) because I sent someone in our support team a congratulatory email for their recent promotion, and I used an GIF of Grig from The Last Starfighter (a rather obscure movie from the mid 80's) saying "Interstellar!" (The character's catchphrase). My mistake was sending it to the entire support team, and someone else* not only took it out of context, but reported me directly to HR (bypassing his management chain and mine) claiming that I was something I'm very much not.

    So, whenever it's announced that X has been promoted, won an award, etc. I don't respond at all. (Well, I respond privately to the person in question if I know them well enough...)

    And that's why we can't have anything nice at [RedactedCo], and why I'm posting anon.

    *the person I was congratulating? got the reference and was amused by it.

  17. red floyd

    I guess they got called onto the carpet

  18. Neoc

    If a cow-orker* leaves their terminal unlocked for too long:

    - move a (large) number of icons off the desktop;

    - take a screenshot of the now semi-denuded desktop;

    - replace their background with the screenshot;

    - move whatever icons are left on the screen to temporary storage;

    - restore the icons you moved in the first step (in their appropriate spots).

    Now watch as your friend comes back from lunch/meeting and wonders why only some icons responds to the mouse, even after a reboot.

    * (thanks, dogbert)

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