Sorry, is it just me ?
That is one hard read. Very ... clunky. Almost to the extent of being unreadable.
Welcome once again, gentle readerfolk, to the safe corner of The Register we call Who, Me? in which readers much like yourselves unburden themselves with stories that have been weighing on their minds – because they recall moments when things did not go quite according to plan. Take for instance this week's hero, who we will …
Clearly this was the damaged database and the source of the errors.
Well obviously it wasn't clear or he wouldn't have removed eDirectory from eight other servers first. After the third server he really should have put his hand up and escalated to a higher level for assistance with the issue.
"he attempted a repair of that machine.
It did not."
'It did not' meaning 'the machine did not repair'
But it does seem wrong. Maybe because the subject changes between sentences ("he attempted to see if the machine bounced. It did not" would be fine), or maybe it's because of some other susiedentery that we all know, but can't express.
Yeah, the circumstances of the story could read like a Grisham or Clancy novel, but the moment Novell Netware enters the narrative all dynamic flow will grind to a sudden halt, as if one had invoked "DOWN SERVER"
Believe it or not, boring was Novell's superpower. They just ran. Finding one sealed up behind a wall that hadn't rebooted in a decade wasn't that unusual. eDirectory was a different beast, one of the rare non-AD LDAP databases. Sun's one directory gave me less trouble, and Solaris was the cool grad student wearing shades in the basement to cover their blown pupils to Netware's floodpants and pocket protector.
But as a low trouble file and mail server, it was tough to beat. Just don't make it angry by dumping the power switch.
When you are dealing with an error and resolve it then you are learning about the issues, but if you can't solve the problems then you will be happier moving to a new field with problems that you can solve. Certainly that doesn't solve the problem but now we can look for a potential solution.
Ivor wasn't the problem, this is just an example of people being dumped into an unplanned working situation without the specific education ... it's like training someone to do the woodwork making fine dinning room tables and chairs, and then asking them to fix some mechanical issue in an atomic bomb when the get signed up as a soldier.
Or asking, "What's 1+1" ... when the student to writing a novel then the answer is 11, but if they are learning processor assembly language then they might say 10 ... the answer might be 2 but the errors all demonstrate a problem that enables the solution to be very helpful so that everyone can move forward once they realize the exact (but undocumented) question.
A fellow programmer liked to tell the story about how their checkbook balance didn't match the bank statement one month. Having been a math major they had to get to the bottom of it.
Took a bit, but they finally realized during the month they had started using octal math in the checkbook. And after working with lots of core dumps (which were in octal) that month. It was hard to find the problem because all the math looked right.
The only fix for that is to withdraw £80 just after every pay day every month, to force you to think in Base 10.
Still, all props to your friend for doing the maths properly. I remember, in a previous job, filling in order forms with a ball-point pen, and impressing the arse off a work experience kid by adding up the total without a calculator. Even if he did nearly lose his lunch when he saw just how close I dared bring my fingers to molten solder and fast-moving cutting tools .....
Ugh. I used to be the "computer guy" at a place that had about 20 employees. Most of my day job was non-IT related, but as the only employee with actual IT experience, I was entrusted with the care and feeding of our SBS 2008 server.
The big boss was reasonably tech savvy, and insisted on being the backup IT guy. He was the best option, and was reasonably capable. Unfortunately for me, he felt that a properly running computer shouldn't have any errors or warnings.
Great in theory, but not so great when you have to try and explain why it's not a big deal every time McAfee throws a hissy fit about something, or every time some random windows service decided it needed to restart.
One of my earliest proper programming jobs was "write a thing that summarises these log files so we can see the important or novel messages".
Turning a few thousand log lines into "2700 Warning As, 300 error Bs, and 2 of error C" can go a long way, especially if you had no idea error C was even in there.
This gave me flashbacks to a vaguely similar afternoon I spent untangling a mess of SAP ECMs.
The company created a custom ECM profile that allowed you to add whatever objects you wanted to it at basically any time, and used it as a kind of ad-hoc means of tracking changes without going through any kind of formal process. The finance department, partially to their credit, created ECMs and ran certain operations against them to track the changes. However, the company had a custom costing program which would sometimes eat the counter assignment in the material assignment part of routings. So, on a few routings, over the years, the costing program had eaten this particular part of the routing, and someone had come along and dutifully put it back. Except there was always a gap between when it happened and someone noticed it and eventually that was causing problems with the big FY end rerolling of all the costs. I'd trace the problem to one ECM, fix it, and then be told the issue was still there, but now with a different ECM. Ended up having to go through several years worth of ECM changes to some routings and manually undo people adding in that counter assignment until I finally got back to where the problem started. Then I could add it and it would propagate forward (validity dates). That was an annoying afternoon to fix like maybe 1-2 materials. And I think they were dinky little things that didn't cost much compared to some of the top level materials which could be in the tens or hundreds of thousands.
That custom costing program was often the bane of my existence. Also during the FY end costing process, since I was the only one who would even bother to help the Finance department, I discovered sometimes it would just completely ignore the costing BOM. It had a cached version somewhere, and if you tried to make precision edits to the BOM in the system, it would just happily ignore them and keep on using the cached version. You had to blow away the entire BOM and copy it back over for it to pick up that it had changed and make a new copy. I never really told anyone about that particular discovery IIRC, so I wonder what they've done in all the years since I've been there. Knowing the company they were still using that POS costing program, were too cheap to pay someone to fix those bugs, and with information so heavily siloed by departmental feudal lords... who knows.
I know someone who worked with SAP and came in one Monday morning to discover that he was no longer able to run the report he normally did. There had been some work done on SAP at the weekend so he assumed like the railways the engineering works had overran. Well lunchtime rolled round and he’d done all the other tasks he had to, running this report and investigating the contents was the last of his Monday tasks. Calls IT support who tell him not to worry it will be fixed by the time he returns from lunch. He comes back to the same situation and calls again speaking to a different support person. This person asks him to run a SAP command and identifies from the result that my mate doesn’t have permission to run that report.
He had it on Friday but now he doesn’t which is odd and basically a requirement of his job to have it. He says he might as well go home when the IT support person points out that the SAP work at the weekend was to restrict access to SAP functions people don’t need for doing their job. Apparently the auditors were unhappy with the restrictions in place and demanded tighter limits. His role had had certain commands overlooked, he found more during the week he was barred from using.
The opposite for me. I was 16 years old and my father decided to install this thing his company has just bought called Novell Netware. I learned so much about Netware by learning it from scratch with my dad that I quit college 6 months later and just went and got a job working with Netware at a bank! That was over 35 years ago now, had a very well paid career in IT for several decades after dropping out!
Cheers Netware, I owe you more than I could possibly ever repay.
Technical Report: An IT Professional's Odyssey
Abstract: This technical report recounts a challenging episode in the life of a skilled IT professional who, after grappling with the failures of nine servers, briefly considered a career change to beach vending. The narrative is presented in the style of "Who, Me?" from The Register, a platform for sharing IT misadventures.