back to article Nobody would ever work on the live server, right? Not intentionally, anyway

Greetings and felicitations, dear reader-folk, and welcome to the soft landing to the working week that we at The Reg call Who, Me? in which we share tales of readers like you who found themselves in unfortunate circumstances – often of their own making. This week's tale is a lamentable one, to be sure, as it is a story of …

  1. Andy Non Silver badge

    Don't let that guy work without supervision

    Han Solo?

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

      Looks like it's time for some film puns...

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

        Let's see what develops...

        1. b0llchit Silver badge

          Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

          It can't see the light of day.

      2. mtategcps

        Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

        I've got a bad feeling about this...

      3. Lil Endian Silver badge

        Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

        I Leica good pun...

    2. Mr Crisps

      Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

      Maybe should have expected a negative reaction?

      1. Dinanziame Silver badge

        Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

        "I have a bad feeling about this"

    3. Admiral Grace Hopper

      Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

      Someone has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, fly boy.

    4. Wanting more

      Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

      I expect Han felt very exposed.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

        Hopefully he developed into a more aware person, and maintained his positive outlook.

      2. Lil Endian Silver badge

        Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

        I expect Han felt very exposed.

        He could've avoided that by hiding in a darkroom.

    5. mobailey

      Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

      re: "After taking photos, camera users took those films to a retailer"

      So, Han shot first.

    6. mirachu

      Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

      Of the Solo cup fame.

  2. Korev Silver badge

    Younger readers may not believe it, but before smartphones came along cameras used "film" - thin plastic ribbons coated in light-sensitive substances.

    I know this is a joke, but it does make me feel rather old...

    Grey beard icon -->

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      I don't have a grey beard, but I remember having to go to Boots with a disposable camera or a roll of 35mm (actually my first film camera was a disc format!) and handing it in, waiting days to get it back. Then digital cameras happened and I didn't bother with film.

      Until 4 years ago, where I bought a cheap russian 35mm camera and a roll of Ilford XP2 (black and white, but can be developed with the colour process). I've not used a digital camera since for serious photography. Don't get me wrong, I whip my iPhone out to take a photo if I have to, but if I am on holiday or just fancy a day of taking photos, I will use film.

      Why? The development of it. It's alchemy mixed with meditation. It provides excitement at the same time. Load the film in to the container, mix the developer, swirl it at set intervals (or just leave it for 1 hour for interesting results), stop bath, rinse, leave them to dry. Then stick them in the scanner while taking a sneak peak of your shots looking at the negatives. Only reason I scan them is because I don't have enough room for a dark room, but if I did I would probably do that as well.

      On paper it's an awful process. It's time consuming. It's expensive. It's not instant. But given we live a life of being in a rush and having instant gratification, film photography offers something different. Like I said, it's like meditation. Plus, given you have 36 chances to get a photo right it forces you to look at something and decide if it's worth it. Before I got in to film again I would happily snap away on my digital camera and I would get maybe 1 good photo and the rest would be garbage. And would I even look at that one good photo again? No, it'd stay on the device to languish with the other photos I took in the heat of the moment that never get looked at again.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        " stop bath, rinse, leave them to dry"

        No fixer?

        1. Flightmode

          I too never used stop bath on film, only on prints. For (BW) film I'd do developer + agitation, rinse, fix, rinse thoroughly, squeegee.

          My father, who is an avid photography enthusiast, told me when I got started that you can't go wrong with Tri-X film - the worst thing that can happen is that the emulsion itself cracks, and if it does it'll crack absolutely evenly and you'll get a cool graphical effect from it. Well, I proved him wrong when developing my first roll in the school lab one night. I did the last rinse in WAY too warm water, so when I went to dry it off, large swaths of the emulsion came off the substrate and stuck to the squeegee. It wasn't very even, but the resulting pictures were pretty ghostly and kind of cool anyway. So I guess half a point to dad for that one.

          I can still remember the smell of Agfa's Rodinal developer combining with the 1:63 dilution of Kodak's Indicator Stop Bath. Fondly.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Chemical Photography

            I use a stop bath for film developing and processing. I heard on a YouTube presentation that the standard chemicals will process two 8x10 sheets of film, or their equivalent, which means that my two developing tanks (one for roll film and one for 4x5 sheet film) will actually process twice their capacity. So I load up the tank, pre-wash the film ( Ilford HP5+) develop, stop, fix and wash, while saving the chemicals for another round. The stop bath does help to preserve the efficacy of the fix solution. It works. Now, admittedly I'm unlikely ever to make images as wonderful as Evelyn Hofer (current exhibition at the Photographers' Gallery in London well worth a visit) but hey, it is good fun.

            Evelyn Hofer:

            Her still life photographs are amazing (link too long, just search)

            I'm using an Intrepid Cameras 4x5 Mk4:

            (Yes, I am retired and have oodles of time, and a bit of spare money.)

            1. wolfetone Silver badge

              Evelyn Hofer

              Never heard of her, but she reminds me of Vivian Maer. I heard about her story (well first heard the Manic Street Preachers song about her, then deep dived) and I find her fascinating.

              There's also Phyllis Nicklin who did a similar thing in Birmingham, as well as Vanley Burke who I've met and he's a wonderful man. There are so many people still documenting life around us and make great photography from it.

              1. Hans 1

                Re: Evelyn Hofer

                Anything mentionning manics in any way gets an upvote - in zis case well dezerved, excuse my français


            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Chemical Photography

              I once did a media training course (one of those get naïve-and-lost young graduates people off the dole figures things (and it was genuinely useful, I hasten to add (and probably much more of a confidence boost and help to find my feet than my university had been, where we were very much treated just like fodder))), and one of things we got trained up in was photography.

              Yes, long enough ago that there was no D in SLR, and we were also trained in how to develop the shots we had taken, in a darkroom. It was all rather good fun (and I took quite a few shots that I'm fairly proud of), but the whole darkroom kerfuffle is not something that I'd particularly want to have to do on an ongoing basis - kudos to those who do enjoy it, however.

              The photography trainer was a really decent bloke and definitely taught us some useful skills about how to frame shots and make good use of focus and exposure, etc, but I later heard that he left a year or two later to become a crime scene photographer with the police (I think more because although the media centre job was enjoyable, the pay wasn't so great - I can't imagine there would have been so much creative freedom in his new job, however, and I'm sure some of it would have been rather grim!).

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Chemical Photography

                I had a course in middle school (6th grade?) that included taking black-and-white photos, developing the film ourselves, and making our own prints. Not sure I'd want to do it routinely now, but it definitely gave me an appreciation for the process. The teacher had us wind a scrap bit of film onto the developing reel, first in front of ourselves in a regular room with our eyes open, then behind our backs until we could get it right without being able to see it. Only then could we attempt it with "real" film in the darkroom.

            3. ricardian

              Re: Chemical Photography

              And Orkney has Gunnie Moberg

          2. CountCadaver

            I love Tri-X

            Didn't they stop production of it though?

            I shoot digital but I'd kill for a decent filter that could accurately mimic Tri-Xs grainyness

            1. Flightmode

              Just checked Wikipedia now, and it seems that both Tri-X and T-MAX are actually still being manufactured by Kodak themselves (and sold by Kodak Alaris after the collapse of the Kodak empire). It’s been many years now since I shot on film, but I loved experimenting - and having a father who worked for Kodak in the 80s and 90s definitely helped feed the addiction…

              The colours you could squeeze out of the Ektar 25, the definition of the T-MAX P3200 and - as you say - the Tri-X grain… Add a Cokin P057 Star 4 filter and I’m happy.

          3. hedgie

            I've done the far too warm thing, and the reticulation can be beautiful. The only time I ever had the emulsion come right off though, was an attempt with liquid emulsion on glass. It's safe to assume that my attempt to pre-treat the glass did not work the way it was supposed to.

        2. wolfetone Silver badge

          I don't use fixer. I can't tell you why as I either didn't know you had to use it, or I've just never bothered. Can't really think why. But the film I've developed has been OK without the fixer.

      2. Natalie Gritpants Jr

        Bet you enjoy cleaning your vinyl before warming up your tube amp. Me, I'd rather not faff if I don't have to. If I want to meditate, I have a snooze and let my brain clear out the fluff.

        Have you thought of wood turning? Great hobby for guys of a certain age.

        1. Contrex

          I wouldn't equate liking film photography with being an audiophool. You can see that a decent photo is good, but a lot of audio nonsense is just hocus pocus woo-woo.

          1. FIA Silver badge

            Nah, in this case they're both the same.

            One person has a hobby they get a lot of enjoyment out of which also has the side effect of producing something potentially beautiful.

            Other person doesn't understand this and feels the need to dig, for some reason.

            Power to the photographer I say.

            (Also, as a currently retired, take advantage of it, you're in that golden age where you'll actually get one.... I'm in my 40s and will be working until I drop...)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            " You can see that a decent photo is good, but a lot of audio nonsense is just hocus pocus woo-woo."

            Some of it yes. But most of it exists solely because people haven't had an opportunity to actually listen a good audio system and they have no idea.

            Good ones are in tens of thousands of pounds (or euros), very few can afford to own one. A good (film) camera is *a lot* cheaper. But both have one thing in common: At high end price has very weak connection to picture/sound quality.

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Budget HiFi

              It's true. If you spend tens of thousands of pounds, you will (probably) get a good audio system.

              But you don't need to spend that much!

              A couple of thousand, concentrating on the turntable, cartridge and speakers can get you something that will exceed most people's needs (and their preparedness to arrange a room for optimal listening!)

              If you spend very carefully, and cherry pick what you get, especially if you're prepared to buy second-hand, you can get something very listenable for under a thousand, and if push come to shove, I could probably put together a reasonable sounding complete system, new, to play LPs, for under £500, but there would be compromises (the speakers, especially, and you would end up with a turntable sporting a AT-3600L cartridge which is an absolute bargain).

              My vintage kit, which currently includes a modded Pro-Ject turntable(1) with a classic Ortofon cartridge(1), Cambridge Audio CD player(2) and DAC(2), rebuilt NAD receiver(2), ancient JVC casette deck(1) (this is the last component of my original HiFi that I'm still using), and a range of speakers from Kef(2), Warfdale(2) and a niche brand called Keesonic(1) (I use different speakers for different types of music) could probably be bought in it's entirety second-hand for well under a grand. I've collected it over 40+ years, some new(1), some second-hand(2), replacing bits when they break or I find something better, and I think it sounds more than good enough (although the itch is always there), and it has certainly surprised visitors when they used to come into the house.

              I actually have more than a complete system of components I've tried to see if I could improve the sound over the years. Must get around to advertising some of it to sell while there is still a market for them!

              1. mirachu

                Re: Budget HiFi

                Wharfedale, Shirley?

                I don't bother with vinyl, it takes up space, has an *archaic* UI, wears and so on, so I mostly deal in slightly smushed bits. Yes, I know vinyl can sound good. It's just a hassle and my crappy ears (I'm 50, have tinnitus *and* 30 dB drop in treble in my right ear) can't hear the difference between the original and a version with strategically lost bits.

          3. doublelayer Silver badge

            Those who buy expensive audio equipment are very sure that doing so has an effect, whether it does or not. The same applies to people who have very expensive or specific photography equipment or processes. Both of them are correct to some extent, as a moderately expensive camera or speaker system is better than the cheap versions available to anyone, but either can be taken to extremes where they're convinced that the product is better even though everyone else can't tell the difference. This doesn't matter much to me, as I'm not doing either so whatever equipment is used doesn't bother me, but it can sometimes help to consider whether some peculiarities in your desires might be approaching the unrealistic level that you see clearly when it's something that's not your hobby.

            1. Stuart Castle Silver badge

              I think there is also a psychosomatic effect here. You realise you've just spent the price of a car on a record player, so you convince yourself it sounds much better, when in reality, it probably does sound a little better, but not a lot..

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Limiting factors are the human senses.

                How much difference can our eyes and ears discriminate?

                And I'm guessing that it's much less than the difference between decent and mega-expensive kit.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Hey, look, my OS and monitor can do 128-bit color? Still enjoying your 32-bit (which is really 24-bit)?

                  Oh, wait, actually, it would look exactly the same; once you're in the "millions of colors" range it's hard to see a difference. I imagine it would be the same if I had a monitor with twice the resolution of my current 1920x1080 - the limitation rapidly becomes the eyeball rather than the hardware.

                2. mirachu

                  What senses can differentiate in general is different from a specific case, and when you mix psychology all bets are off.

                  Also, you're almost certainly wrong about the difference between bits of hardware.

            2. fromxyzzy

              There's an axiom in the world of music production about expensive instruments and gear: Nobody can tell in a mix.

              When you mix it with the rest of the band nobody will care if the guitar cost $200 or $2000.

              1. Outski

                But you can tell the difference between the types of guitar, LP, Strat, Tele, PRS, Ricky... My beloved RS sounds nothing like my Squier Strat, even on the same amp settings.

                And you can tell the difference between players as well - Dave Gilmour and Steve Rothery sound different playing the same piece of music, for example.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The only thing in common with photographers and audiophiles is their dedication to their hobby.

            As long as they're not bothering other people, leave them be

          5. swm

            I once had the idea of selling digital speaker cable but I reasoned that no one would fall for that. Then I saw an advert for digital speaker cable.

        2. wolfetone Silver badge

          I'd ask you to do two things.

          1) Don't hate me.

          2) Stop looking through my window, pervert.

        3. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Hey, my "hobby" is riding my electric bike to places I want to go.

          It's a pain in the ass (literally - I'm buying a better seat) to plan out the route and all the charging stations, but I kind of enjoy that. It's like planning an airplane flight, and I sure as hell can't afford an airplane.

          I can see the same sort of satisfaction from developing your own prints.

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          I get the impression that some people have been brainwashed by the low resolution of digital cameras and don't realise what photography can actually do with a large format. The information in a large negative would be hard to match in digital although Leica did,as I recall, try setting what was essentially a scanner mechanism on the focal plane of a large format camera. The time needed to set up a shot on a large format means that the result reflects a degree of thought denied to that of a point and click.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            My Nikon neg scanner produces ~65MB jpegs for 35mm negs, but I've only got the colour depth set to 14 bits.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Low resolution? That's not what I'm hearing from the photography pros. I've heard a lot more about how a 50 megapixel sensor just isn't going to help without better lenses than the cheap stuff, new or used. Even sometimes that 12 megapixels is plenty for virtually all purposes, and that is better than 4K, which is only 8.3 megapixels.

            You can get medium format or large format digital cameras. Most of us don't have fifty thousand dollars to drop on a camera like the Hasselblad H6D-400c, and few ever have. I don't know who is being brainwashed, but most people have gone from compact point and click cameras to cellphones and are happy about it. Some carry DSLRs like we might have carried SLRs in previous days. There have probably been more people with tools and skills to copy a scene in oil paints than large format camera, both then and now.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Colouring Books

        As a student in the 80s I worked in production engineering for a small electronics company. They did their visual aids by taking B&W photos of the assemblies then colouring in the relevant components in felt tip to highlight them. So if the VA was for RTVing a capacitor bank I'd take a before pic of the capacitor bank with someone holding the RTV gun in the right position, then take after pics of the finished assy. They had a darkroom on site so I learned to develop and print then I'd use felt-tip pens to colour the capacitors in blue, the tie-wraps in red and the RTV in yellow then write the instructions. The VAs looked really good and the colouring made the conmponents stand out really well.

      4. david 12 Silver badge

        waiting days to get it back.

        ... someday my prints will come ...

        (Snow White. 1937)

        1. Death Boffin

          Someday my Prints will come

          So she would be The Printless Bride?

        2. J. Cook Silver badge

          I was wondering when that pub would develop.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

            Happy Hour

            Sometime my pints will come!

            Beer O'Clock, I'm off.

        3. Potty Professor

          Some day my prints will come...

          ...was the refrain frequently heard in the drawing office where I worked back in the early 70s.

      5. GlenP Silver badge

        I took a conscious step back a couple of years ago with digital photography. Like most people* I got into the habit of shooting lots of pics in the hope I'd get a good one rather than thinking about, and setting up, the shot carefully as I used to do when shooting expensive slide film. I've stayed with digital but tried to apply a film mindset if that makes sense.

        The one thing I would go back to film photography for is B&W - for some reason digital monochrome, whether produced in-camera or post processed, just never has the same look.

        *I met someone at the North Norfolk railway who shot absolutely everything on 4K video then spent days searching through for the few stills shots he wanted!

        1. Flightmode

          Like most people I got into the habit of shooting lots of pics in the hope I'd get a good one rather than thinking about, and setting up, the shot carefully as I used to do when shooting expensive slide film.

          Aaron Johnson noted this phenomenon in his fantastic What The Duck comic strip (2006-2016). Forgive the links to the merch pages, but the comic archive search comes up with 0 hits.



        2. NXM Silver badge

          "shot absolutely everything on 4K video"

          I read recently that amateur astronomers do this to find the 'lucky shot' of Saturn, say, out of the many many frames with atmospheric wobbles, starlink satellites and so on that ruined them. Probably takes ages to find the good one though.

          1. Emir Al Weeq

            There may be some that do this, but "stacking" is the method that I and many others use. In essence you average out many frames to produce a good image.

        3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          I went nuts a few years ago and bought (very cheaply) some of the film cameras I had lusted after as a kid. I still use them from time to time.

          I discovered that I work differently with film. You become conscious of the "cost" of the medium; not so much in dollars (or pounds), but in the time and effort required to see what you have exposed.

          I'm not sure if the instand results with digital help you to "see" what your film work will look like, or if the additional deliberation that comes with film photography makes you a better digital photographer. The two do seem to complement each other, though. Of course, today, I don't think anyone still makes prints with an enlarger...I scan my negatives and print from jpg. I do still have the equipment to process 35mm and 120 film, which I do occasionally. Just to keep my hand in :-)

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Antron Argaiv: Of course, today, I don't think anyone still makes prints with an enlarger

            Some people still make enlargers, and sell them:




      6. Peter2 Silver badge

        I learned to take photos on film. Because of that (and that you had ~30 photos in total which cost you money for both for the film, and getting them developed) you learned to make sure that you had a decent shot, that you'd got the settings reasonably right and weren't making any stupid mistakes like taking photos on bad angles for lighting (eg, into the sun or similar)

        The result is that with a digital camera which sorts out a lot of the settings for me, I take excellent photos because I sort out angles etc instinctively and "know" if i've got a shot before touching the button.

        I have a few hobbies which result in me bumping into photographers. Out of those, there are only two who really outclass me in every way in equipment I'm frankly envious of, and knowledge. Having a chat with the better one (cadging some tips in the process) he suggested that having lived through film photography was a training experience worth considerably more than the college class in photography that many of his competitors had. We were saying this watching an aloof know it all "professional wedding photographer" who was wandering around after us trying to duplicate our shots (which were mostly close up portrait photos) at an event. (probably trying to implement "if you can't beat them, copy them")

        The thing is, we were both using 15-55 mm lenses which are suited to close up work, but can't do distance photography worth a damn (hence us wandering around taking portrait photos.) This chap copying us was using a 200mm+ telephoto lens which can't do portrait photos worth a damn, but can take very nice photos (looking like a closeup) from a few hundred meters away. He needed an entirely different set of angles and shots for his equipment, but didn't have a clue how to use his equipment, and of course with no rather harsh financial penalty for taking bad photos (which used to be inherent to film) there is nothing to stop people from just keep snapping away until more or less by random chance they get a half decent photo.

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          professional wedding photographer

          We were at a hotel last year (the Dunblane Hydro) where a wedding was taking place. They had three wedding photographers plus a videographer wandering around - I can't comment on the quality of the results but that seemed overkill to me! And yes, long lenses seemed to be much in evidence in an environment more suited to something sensible. perhaps it's what they're taught in Wedding Photography 101?

          1. WonkoTheSane

            Last wedding I went to, the happy couple bought enough "disposable" cameras for all the guests and put them on the tables for the reception meal.

            1. anothercynic Silver badge

              This is arguably one of the more fun ways of doing a wedding, as either everyone on a table know each other, or they don't at all (there's always a table that's for the "don't know where to put you" people), so the photos might come out spectacularly good or funny, or absolutely abysmal.

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                For daughter's wedding a few months back I did suggest putting all the guests who hated each other on the same table. I was over ruled. Some people have no sense of fun.

            2. hoopsa

              It's a great plan unless your wedding is in Scotland

              In which case you will inevitably end up paying to develop dozens of up-kilt photos. Which, I suppose, one might be happy to do.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: It's a great plan unless your wedding is in Scotland

                A mate used to delight in visiting those photo shops that had the developer/printer in the window with a roll of film from a debauched night, out then waiting in a coffee shop opposite to seen the expressions of the passers-by as his prints came out of the printer

                For some strange reason he never actually paid or collected any of them...

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              We did this AND a professional photographer. Lots of great photos from both.

          2. Tom 38

            long lenses seemed to be much in evidence in an environment more suited to something sensible

            I believe its so they can take "intimate" style close-up photos without getting right in to the subject.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Maybe. Or maybe the long lenses are there to look impressive and justify the charges

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Sadly, my photos were at best sort of OK when I was D and P ing my own in my youth in the 70s and 80s, and are still at best sort of OK today.

          It was fun to do. But I was no Lord Litchfied

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I didn't grow up in the film era of photography, but I do remember the times when CF or MMC cards had limited storage (or using the camera flash drained your battery).

      Not having to worry about battery life or storage capacity is a good thing, but in my opinion the scarcity of photos you're able to take does increase their value. You make sure the shot is perfect, and only take pictures of things that actually matter.

      These days I spend more time sifting through trash photos than enjoying memories.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        I take loads of photos (many of them my little furry friend), and then spend ages looking for just the right one some time later.

        But what I've found is that all too often, the photos are "flat" compared to the reality. Things that looked impressive create somewhat meh pictures.

        But more than that, put the bloody camera down or those photos will be the only memory you have as there is the danger of spending so much preoccupation with the camera that the real event is simply missed. Experience first, photograph after, but that latter part is optional...

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          At the time of the eclipse we went to Cornwall. One child was a toddler, the other waiting to be born.

          We all waited on the edge of a cliff for The Moment. The sun got darker ( being by the sea was a mistake by the way, but that's another matter)

          At which point Mrs 6 shouts "I left the camcorder under the pram". By the time I found where she'd hidden the bloody thing I'd missed most of the eclipse.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            It sounds as if you were on the north coast. On the south coast there was no moment.

      2. RAMChYLD

        I guess I'm one of the last who grew up in the film era.

        My dad owns an Olympus Pen EE-2 with a cheapo Soltron Flash. Got it for dirt cheap from a friend who was leaving the hobby. It served him extremely well.

        We got onto digital photography very late. I got my first digital camera in 2003-ish. It was a cheap Chinese brand camera and the pictures it took were grainy and crap, but it made me happy.

        Nowadays the whole family uses the camera on our phones now. No one carries around a camera anymore.

        I'm really tempted to break out the museum piece and see the Olympus in action again, although I think camera shops most likely won't know how to make heads or tails of the picture it takes...

  3. Korev Silver badge

    Han worked for a company that supplied Unix systems to a firm that processed photographs from film.

    It's a Unix system I know this

    1. Bebu Silver badge


      It's a Unix system....

      HPUX from the shutdown command but I would think the root shell prompt would be '#' rather than '>' unless it was to indicate it was the backup server having taken over the production role :)

      I always liked the BSD 'fake' shutdown option (-k) with 5 mins grace (to get the users off or avoid Han's mistake) followed with a real shutdown.

      1. rcxb Silver badge

        Re: HPUX

        I always liked the BSD 'fake' shutdown option (-k) with 5 mins grace (to get the users off or avoid Han's mistake) followed with a real shutdown.

        I set-up our UPS low-battery shutdown alerts to report to everyone the system will go down in 3 minutes, though it's actually scheduled for 2 minutes.

        I hate procrastinators.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: HPUX

          Evil. I like it!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or, $deity forbid, design systems such that the only way to test the output of a change is to actually deploy it in production.

    Yes, such madness is far too common.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Well, I don't know about any actual IT systems out there, but our politicians seem to have exactly that 'let's try it and see' attitude towards social policy changes*, particularly the NHS ...

      *But only for the ones poor people use, not for the rich, obviously.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        To be fair, most of us don't have a simulation country tucked into the desk drawer to see what long-term effects a particular policy will have, before implementing it on the real one.

        If you do, please loan it to your government representative!

        1. H in The Hague

          "To be fair, most of us don't have a simulation country tucked into the desk drawer ..."

          Doesn't quite fit into your desk drawer, but this should do nicely:

          An analogue fluidic simulator.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            And here I thought Sir Pterry had made up the Glooper!

            1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

              Until you read the afterword, if memory serves me well. Not so many jokes, but interesting.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "the only way to test the output of a change is to actually deploy it in production."

      One program in the system I looked after had been written by a programmer who, thankfully, had left long ago. It always annoyed me because of her odd programming style. It largely consisted of much the same code repeated multiple times. It was ripe for refactoring as we say now but maybe not at the time.

      Late one afternoon I decided to tackle it.

      One block of code was repeated several times. Copy that into a function and replace all the repetitions with a function call. Very straightforward. This must have shrunk the LoC to about half.

      The remainder of the repetition consisted of two similar but not quite identical blocks of code each repeated several times. Not quite so straightforward. Copy one version into a new function adding a switch parameter then add the different sections of the version using the switch parameter to decide which t call.

      Replace the repetitions with function calls taking care to use the correct value of the switch.

      We now have a much simpler program, a fraction of its original size. It ought to be easier to understand what it's supposed to do which was one of the objectives of the change. But the remainder is still a bit of a tangled mess. Sorting through it to work out just what data would be need to test all the alternative paths would still take ages.

      Well it was really all very much a mechanical replacement - the same code is being run, just from one of the two new functions instead of inline. Of course it must still work exactly the same as before.

      It was now early evening. Why not put it live?

      So I put it live.

      Of course it worked exactly the same as before - what did you expect?

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge


        "Why are the IFs nested more than 4 times? , you can only move 5 times in tac-tac-toe"


        "In case the user wants to play again"

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Decades ago, late 80s maybe, as an amateur programmer I read lots of articles explaining stuff like how to write functions in the code.

        None of them bothered to explain waht ehy were for or, in effect, why we should do this.

        It was a couple of years later, when I was working for a living and had pretty much stopped writing software that I was polishing up some rather poor BBC Micro educational software to make it more usable ( OK probably breaching some sort of copyright) that I saw some function calls in action ( the coding wasn't bad, just the programme design was appalling, if my memeory serves me correctly). A bit of a lightbulb moment.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          My ex-college room-mate was talking to me a few years after we graduated about wanting something to help his (secondary school) students prepare data from experiments, using the BBC Micros that the school used.

          I took this as a challenge, and wrote him a program that could take multiple data sets and plot them against auto-scaled axes, with the ability to load, save, print, edit and even merge 2 different data sets together, along with the ability to apply a function to the data before plotting it. Not as extensive as something like Gnuplot became or SPSS, but something suited for the classroom. (and this was something like 1983).

          I was working in education (further education in my case), and had been writing demonstration code (mainly in ISO standard Pascal) that HNC/D computing students could use as examples of good programming style, so I decided to make this BEEB program a Rolls-Royce of coding, on the assumption that the kids would take it apart to see how it worked, and I wanted them to have as good an example as possible. It used every good feature I could think of that BBC Basic provided, and even though the memory was tight, managed to leave enough comments in so people could work out what it was doing.

          I got some very complementary comments back from staff at my mate's school, with their IT technician saying that he had never seen such a well-written program. Strangely, a program with very similar capabilities to mine appeared in educational software catalogues soon after, but as I had explicitly written in the comments that I was making it freely available, I don't think I could complain (not that I proved it was my code).

          I keep meaning to find it again to see whether it stands up against my memory, but it's buried somewhere in the hundreds of ageing 5.25" disks that I accumulated over the years. I was going to go through them to write them to SD card (I bought an SD card filesystem for my BEEB and refurbished it and another one just for this purpose) before they became unreadable, but it seems such a huge task.

      3. Lil Endian Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Ravioli Code

        Of course it worked exactly the same as before - what did you expect?

        Haha! Nice non-twist in the tail Doctor Syntax!

        Sounds like you produced what I call "ravioli code". It's more palatable than spaghetti code as the functions form nice little enveloped pouches, but they're still floating around in some disorderly sauce code!

        [Edit: I've been using that phrase for decades. Doing a search reveals I'm not alone - I really didn't know it was out in the wild!]

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Ravioli Code

          I've never heard it , but I've long been of the opinion that spaghetti is the stupidest possible shape for pasta , or indeed any food , so I can get behind it!

          ... and to make it worse when you go eat at an italian , they confiscate the knife! lest you try to chop the spaghetti into manageable pieces :(

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: spaghetti

            When cooking spaghetti at home, I always break the strands in half before use. Makes it easier to weigh out, to fit into the saucepan for cooking, and easier to eat.

            1. mdubash

              Re: spaghetti

              But then you can't wind it round the fork, as il Dio intended...

              1. J. Cook Silver badge

                Re: spaghetti

                Yes you can- just user a narrow fork. :D

                1. Lil Endian Silver badge

                  Re: spaghetti

                  There could be a problem with the space-tine yield!

            2. Outski

              Re: spaghetti

              You weigh spaghetti?

              I've always used the "hmm four of us, two are teenagers, that seems about right" method

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Ravioli Code

          I'm glad you liked the twist.

          Sounds like you produced what I call "ravioli code".

          If your analogy is correct there would be just the same amount of code there, just packaged differently. The main object of the refactoring was to reduce the LoC and hence the amount of memory consumed at run-time.

          1. Lil Endian Silver badge

            Re: Ravioli Code

            I think I'm happy with the analogue, there was a smaller plate - you cooked up some tasty antipasto ravioli!

            (Maybe my concept of ravioli code isn't the same as mainstream :)

      4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        If I was the original programmer, I might use that style to deal with, say, ten different cases that I thought were going to be mostly just the same, but I wasn't sure, or I thought there could be a requirement change, so I put the same unit ten times with variations in the copies that required it.

        Or if I was afraid to use functions, or if I wanted the program laid out neatly on one page in the order that it happens.

        Or if a manager wanted the program to be on one page and in order, without subroutines.

        But also, gosh, I've written some clever stuff, that I don't understand myself at maintenance time.

  5. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    An old friend of mine shutdown the wrong server once. Nothing major, just the primary web server for An outage that, IIRC, was even mentioned on El Reg at the time. I never found out what happened, but he was looking for a new job very quickly after that..

    1. plunet

      The way that ntl:hell was sticky plastered together back in the day, I would imagine that the web server shutdown it also shut down all the transparent web proxies that ntl: never wanted to admit that they were using and caused a broadband duvet day.

      1. Lil Endian Silver badge

        I was with NTL back in the day. Whenever it rained fairly hard I'd lose my connection. So once when that happened I ran a traceroute which failed at about 5 or 6 hops. I told them the IP of that last responding node. Lo and behold! They fixed it! Fair go to them.

  6. Joe W Silver badge

    Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

    When he arrived he confirmed with the manager on duty that staff were aware of what he was doing. A few staff were using the Backup/Test server, but he should be OK to shut it down in about 15 minutes.

    Ok. He told them about the plan, they said this was good with them, even telling him that some people were using the backup/test server. Sure, he could have checked the number of active connections to the machine (confirm stuff - like when working on electrical installations: you check for yourself the fuse is out and secured against being turned on again), but the production machine could have keeled over "just then", basically when he shut down the test system. It would have been better to have both a backup and a test system, but who has the ressources for that... (I hope that manglement learned this lesson at least).

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

      I did wonder why no one at the company had noticed that they were running from the back-up system, and told him. Why didn't they realise this? A properly configured system should have sent some sort of alert when the live server failed and the back-up server took over, I would have thought.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

        probly sent it months a ago.

        using backup ever since

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

        Maybe it happened after he told the backup server to shut down - and if anyone thought to tell him about it, they couldn't find him? Or they did - but too late, when it was "What did you do?"

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

      The Russian adage goes: Trust but verify. I really think this is one of those things where you really can't trust when somebody tells you it's fine. You need to verify for yourself.

      1. Sam not the Viking

        Re: Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

        Having worked on power-electrics your adage rings so true.

        "Is it switched off?"


        "Is it isolated?"


        "Is it earthed?"


        "Can it be back-fed?"


        No. No. No. Yes.

        I was so paranoid about this, if I was isolating something for someone else, I demonstrated it was safe by putting my hands on the busbars. A tip gained from a North Sea Oil worker.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

          I know of several power companies where gripping the busbars is standard practice to demonstrate a circuit is safed. Certainly makes people very willing to verify that they've done their jobs.

        2. Potty Professor

          Re: Shouldn't people tell him there was a problem?

          I once got a serious belt from the HT side of a 5kV - 240V step down transformer that I had been assured could not be back fed - it could and was. In my agony I managed to scream hoarsely "Switch the ***** thing off" and one of my co workers dived across the board and killed it before it killed me. This led to an in-depth investigation as to why, but I missed that because I was off sick for a week to get rid of a nasty case of the shakes. When I returned to work, I always shorted anything out before I touched it, sometimes with spectacular results.

        3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

          The backs of your hands, perhaps? One hand? Then you might get it wrong and survive. Or not. Taking it like a quarterstaff is unnecessary showing off.

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

        Just literally had this, get into work.

        See the test cell being worked on,

        Walk up, halfway there "Ahhh just the chap, you are good to go on Test Cell updates"

        Get back to desk, check a couple of e-mails (Outgoing PHB (Terminated) boss) & start my script running!

        At that halfway point chap who gave me the go ahead goes "Ohhh can you not do the vibration server yet, someones still working on it"

        "Sorry - Too late bud" literally as my powershell script reports that its just completed the restart process to kick off the ghost image & starts on the next PC.

    3. chivo243 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

      "Ok. He told them about the plan, they said this was good with them, even telling him that some people were using the backup/test server."*

      Before the other shoe fell, I figured the fail over would have happened in between issuing the shutdown command and making his way to the donuts. It would have been nice to be brought up to speed*

      1. Ideasource Bronze badge

        Re: Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

        nonsensical that they didn't wait till after hours.

        Hey boss shouldn't we wait until the end of work day to start screwing around with the servers?

        Boss says, but then how would I get my adrenaline fixed from risky behavior? No we're going to do this the exciting way.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

          Where I work, "after hours" only comes once a year; it's 24/7/351 production. (2-week shutdown.)

  7. Dinanziame Silver badge

    One of the most pathetic letter I received was from a film developement business. They had used to send ultra-glossy magazines, boasting the quality of their colors and their crisp detail. This one was a single black and white sheet of paper, acknowledging that they were mostly dying since everything was going digital, but that maybe we still had old films which we'd like more copies of, or perhaps even digital pictures to print, and they were fully ready to do the job. Like receiving a letter from your grandmother in the hospital saying that maybe you can visit her, whenever you have time, while there's still time...?

  8. Pete Sdev

    Sounds like a UX problem. There should have been a large blinking red light to indicate "live is currently down, using backup server".

  9. Sequin

    I found about 10 old rolls of undeveloped film in boxes while having a clearout and decided to have them developed to negatives as I have a negative scanner packed away in another box.

    They came back with a warning that because the films were old and may have been stored in less than ideal conditions they could be degraded. Some were, but I could make out what they were. Others were fine, and the latest ones that were ok were from my daughter's 4th birthday party - she's now 31!

  10. Rufus McDufus

    I once supported a certain database software, and the customer was a certain Hull-based telecoms company. I'd been given a number to dial in to access a test server to do some work on it. I dialled in and immediately saw reboot messages displayed. Hmm, weird I thought. This may have happened a second time on a subsequent login. Anyhow, later on I saw it reported that this telecoms company suffered some outages...

  11. David Nash Silver badge

    The backup (DR) and the test server were the same? That sounds like a bad decision.

    1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      > The backup (DR) and the test server were the same? That sounds like a bad decision.

      Quite common on some systems I saw, the test environment would be jettisoned upon failover

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not uncommon

    Colleague did the same thing only without the prior check - just happened to patch the live server first. Cue howls of outrage telling him to always do updates on stand-by first, test and failover and only then do live.

    Thus assured in clear messages which left no room for doubt that he was patching live in error, he had learned his lesson, knew better and deliberately patched stand-by this time...

    ...which by now had taken on the live workload, causing yet another chorus of howls.

    1. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: not uncommon

      Oh God. Back in 2002 (at my current employer) we had a bespoke-built Intranet system on a physical Dell server and a copy on a PC (same OS, in theory identical) as the test server.

      Microsoft patches. Worked fine on Test. Rolled out to Live. Irretrievably broke the Live server which needed complete rebuild plus a full rebuild of the bespoke software at considerable additional cost.

      This will now identify me to approximately three people in the world.

  13. IceC0ld

    curse you - the bacon and egg bun goodness calling, overcomes ALL who have the desire :o)

    and yea, done similar, got away with it though

  14. wyatt

    Reminds me about the story I once heard about a system that failed.

    Supplier got ripped a new one as the customer had purchased a fully redundant with failover/bells/whistles the lot and nothing should ever go down. Turns out the primary had failed a while back and no one noticed until the secondary failed.

  15. Wolfclaw

    The manager failed to develop any intelligence in telling people they are now on the backup.

  16. Grogan Bronze badge

    I have to confess, as I was reading, I hadn't anticipated that scenario. I'll bet that could have happened to me lol

  17. BenDwire Silver badge

    Server on a Mezzanine ?

    About 35 years ago I looked after a file-server* that was installed in an office on a mezzanine. Unfortunately, the mezzanine also provided enough space for the component stores used by our electronics company. In general we co-existed reasonably well, apart from one young storemen who decided that he should run up and down the stairs as quickly as possible. (No 'elf and safety back then).

    Being a bit of a skin-flint operation, the mezzanine was done on the cheap and developed a bit of a sway as people moved around. After about 6 months the disc drives started getting louder as the bearings were being knackered by the constant motion caused by the lumbering storeman. After many hours of negotiation, and prophesying an impending complete system failure, I eventually managed to convince the MD into getting the fabricators back to weld in a few cross-braces on the mezzanine supports, and score enough cash to buy new drives with a higher capacity.

    Eventually we were able to create a dedicated room on the ground floor after we'd made enough profit to buy the factory next door.

    * A Tandon 286 with two (count 'em) 20MB MFM drives providing storage for 6 or so terminals (IBM XT Clones) running our very basic ERP system (Multisoft, anyone?) Everything strung together with 75 ohm co-ax, and DOS 3.31 as the network operating system. Ah, simpler times.

  18. Tim99 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    A life saver

    Years ago a colleague used a red screen for live systems and a neutral one for tests. I thanked him, and have never turned the wrong one off since.

    1. Lil Endian Silver badge

      Re: A life saver

      I do like my coloured command prompts! Ah, bashful bliss!

      PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[38;5;9m\]\u@\h\[\033[00m\]:\[\033[38;5;9m\]\w\[\033[00m\]\$ '

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: A life saver

        Oooh. Naughty naughty. Embedded terminal control sequences.

        I suppose most people use something that looks like an ANSI 3.64 (ISO 6429) terminal now, but I always get jumpy when I see such things as not all terminal emulators implement the same colours or control sequence supersets of the standard. In addition, my experience with the new MS Windows Terminal indicates that this is missing several capabilities that appear on an xterm (which is how it identifies itself), so things like vi are unusable. Hopefully fixed in later versions.

  19. aerogems Silver badge

    Just started a new job about a month ago at a company migrating to SAP. A week or two back I came in to hear people talking about how some new data center admin from SAP decided they would be helpful by getting rid of a few things the company wanted removed. So they ran some kind of script that removed that data, and a whole lot more, and naturally the script was set to make sure there were no backups made or anything like that.

    It’s why I always make sure to do test runs when working with tcodes like mm17 and treat them with the respect that is deserved of a tcodes that can make mass updates to materials. I make a very conscious effort not to get complacent with any kind of mass update tool.

  20. ColinPa

    I'm the rookie

    When I first started work, we had a 360 DOS/VS system. Our development team had 2 disks. One live, and one build. After the build was successful - they swapped disks.

    My job was to compile the product onto the build system. My second day in the job, had people coming round saying "its stopped working". Whoops I had built into the live system. My team leader came and discussed it with me, and agreed I had followed the written instructions - but there was one line missing. "Mount the build disk". He edited the instructions.

    Next day the same problem happened - I overwrite the live system. My team leader came round... and agreed that yesterday's build disk was today's live disk, so the documentation should be clearer. He moved me to a different area where I could do less damage.

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: I'm the rookie

      This reminds me of an Instagram clip (yes, I know, shut up) where a father follows the instructions given to him by his child to make a PB&J sandwich (for the non-Americans, peanut butter and jam).

      Here's the Youtube clip of it. It's brilliant.


  21. gnasher729 Silver badge

    Live server has fault - switches to backup server - backup server is turned off - an obvious problem.

    But if the order was backup server turned off - live server has fault - cannot switch to backup server. Wouldn’t that have the same effect?

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Probably yes - Han's problem is (as reported) that he got the backup server to turn off, just after it became the live server.

      But conceivably, the live server hands over to the backup server only if the backup server is there - say, when a problem is not yet critical. In that case, it would have been better to remove the backup server sooner.

  22. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    Do Not Trust the Names, and Do Not Trust the Labels

    People swap machine-guts without updating the physical computer-case labels.

    People swap machine-guts without updating the disc labels (physical and/or electronic).

    People swap machine-guts without updating the hostname.

    People swap machine-guts without updating BGINFO.

    Co-worker during Y2K testing: "What's wrong with this monitor? The screen background is red instead of green.

    Me: "There is nothing wrong with that monitor. PROD is red, TEST is green, and DEV is blue."

    Co-worker: "But the screen is red, yet it reads TEST."

    Me: "Did you do anything potentially data-destructive at that keyboard?"

    Co-worker: "Uhh ... maybe."

    (Icon for the work required to sort out the cock-ups caused by careless/lazy people taking shortcuts ... and not telling anyone)

  23. Johnb89

    It doesn't have to be true

    I once pulled the backup processor in a system in a test lab, that was absolutely not connected to anything live. A light started blinking at the top of the rack, and a message came up on the control terminal in the test lab.

    Just then, across the large data centre floor, through at least 2 wire reinforced glass walls, a mainframe crashed.

    They blamed me.

  24. Daniel Bourque


    Assume Nothing

    Trust nothing

    Check Everything

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