back to article After nine servers he worked on failed, techie imagined next career as beach vendor

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 …

  1. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    Sorry, is it just me ?

    That is one hard read. Very ... clunky. Almost to the extent of being unreadable.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Sorry, is it just me ?

      But that is largely a cosmetic problem, and can be safely ignored!

      1. aerogems Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Sorry, is it just me ?

        OK, El Reg can just shut down the comments on this one. We have our winner.

    2. simonlb Silver badge

      Re: Sorry, is it just me ?

      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.

    3. mobailey

      Re: Sorry, is it just me ?

      Agreed.

      This just makes no sense:

      "he attempted a repair of that machine.

      It did not."

      I suspect the article was written by AI.

      1. Red Or Zed

        Re: Sorry, is it just me ?

        This is a perfectly normal but terse style of writing. Not AI

      2. goldcd

        Re: Sorry, is it just me ?

        Author Matthew JC Powell

        Matt JCP..

        Can you squint at pronunciation?

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, is it just me ?

          Squinting does not help. Maybe I should turnon an antialiaser?

      3. teebie

        Re: Sorry, is it just me ?

        "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.

    4. Howard Sway Silver badge

      Re: Sorry, is it just me ?

      It's describing working on Novell Netware. One of the reasons you don't hear of that product any more is that it was the very definition of "clunky". So don't expect tales of working on it to read like a silky smooth thriller.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sorry, is it just me ?

        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.

  2. SVD_NL Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Look, a piece of candy!

    Look, a piece of candy!

    Look, a piece of candy!

    Ooh, another piece of candy!

    ......

    1. Frank Bitterlich

      Re: Look, a piece of candy!

      Yep... I almost expected this to be some kind of Halloween story... luring him into some remote, little-known basement server room, one server at a time... and then...

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Full circle

    Many people started their IT career from selling stuff at the beach.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Full circle

      First thing you learn are your Shell commands!

      Today, you then go on to building sandboxes!

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Your not fooling me

        Mostly you just slack off and spend your time surfing.

      2. KarMann Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Full circle

        Finally! My idiosyncratic preference for C shell will pay off at last!

        1. Killfalcon Silver badge

          Re: Full circle

          She sells C shells on the C:\shore\

          1. aerogems Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Full circle

            I hate you. I hate puns, and here you are, making me upvote one because it's fairly clever.

          2. breakfast Silver badge

            Re: Full circle

            If you hold a unix shell to your ear you can hear the C.

    2. BenDwire Silver badge

      Re: Full circle

      Many people started their IT career from selling stuff at the beach.

      And most of the customers were in the sea up to their necks in sh*t from the local sewage works.

  4. James Dore

    Aaahhhh, eDirectory.

    Bet it was 'Replica in Skulk' error. BTDTGTNovellTS

    1. Adrian Harvey
      Boffin

      Re: Aaahhhh, eDirectory.

      I was betting on a stuck obituary.

    2. Rob Daglish

      Re: Aaahhhh, eDirectory.

      T-Shirt? I've still got the Novell BrainShare fleece, and the luggage tags. Last week, I found the car window sticker that they made from one of the competition entries (96/97 ish?) which proudly proclaimed "CNEs do IT in Trees"...

  5. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward Bronze badge

    "Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die

    One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne..."

    1. Excused Boots Bronze badge

      In the Land of Novell

      Where the Abends lie....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        <shft><alt><shft><esc>

        eip=CSleepUntilInterrupt

        G

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Happy

    Errors are very helpful

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: what's 1 + 1

      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.

      1. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: what's 1 + 1

        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 .....

      2. Killfalcon Silver badge

        Re: what's 1 + 1

        That's gotta be a bit of a headfuck to realise. "Oh, shit, I've unlearned basic arithmetic".

        1. JulieM Silver badge

          Re: what's 1 + 1

          I bet you'll never guess the *actual* distance a client of one of my friends in another industry confidently described as "2 feet 13" .....

  7. JRS
    WTF?

    eventuate

    Really ???

    1. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

      Re: eventuate

      What?

      It is a perfectly cromulent word.

    2. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge

      Re: eventuate

      I wondered if this was yet another Left Pondian thing. But no, it’s in all the Right Pondian dictionaries! But I do wonder if the author had been reading marketing glitz from https://eventuate.io, which bizarrely aims to go some way to solving young Ivor’s problem .,.,

  8. Duffaboy
    FAIL

    eDirectory ?

    I was a Netware Engineer for a brief period until Micorsoft killed it with NT server and was struggling to think what eDirectory was until a quick google came to my aid, Good old NDS that's what it is.

    1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      Re: eDirectory ?

      > Good old NDS that's what it is.

      And I loved NDS until I moved jobs and left it behind me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: eDirectory ?

      started life as NDS before it was re-branded as eDirectory around the time Netware 5 was released

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ever imagined your career in IT ending on a beach selling slices of melon?

    No, I've usually imagined it ending like a Quentin Tarentino film.

  10. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    Getting all errors and warnings out of MS-Servers

    Nope, you will not succeed. Useless informational messages cannot be muted, even if they spam the log for no good reason.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Getting all errors and warnings out of MS-Servers

      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.

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Getting all errors and warnings out of MS-Servers

      The ones that really piss me off go:

      "Oh dear, we seem to have made a mistake. Bye, Bye."

    3. Killfalcon Silver badge

      Re: Getting all errors and warnings out of MS-Servers

      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.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: Getting all errors and warnings out of MS-Servers

        Nice idea for a powershell script. As soon as a customer needs it I'll implement it.

  11. chivo243 Silver badge
    Go

    Fool me once?

    Twice or even thrice… But 9 times… checks calendar for various dates… April Fools, nope. Groundhogs Day? Hmmm.

  12. aerogems Silver badge
    FAIL

    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.

    1. JimboSmith Silver badge

      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.

      1. aerogems Silver badge
        Coat

        Score! "I want to do my job, honest, but I literally can't, see! Guess I'll just get my things and take a week's paid vacation while you get it sorted."

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

  14. t245t
    Joke

    Matthew: ChatGPT wants your job :)

    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.

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