back to article Suits ignored IT's warnings, so the tech team went for the neck

Friday is here, and perhaps your temper is a little frayed. Which is why The Register always opens the last day of the working week with a fresh installment of On Call, our reader-contributed tales of exciting incidents on the front lines of tech support. This week's tale comes from a reader we'll Regomize as "Bruce" because …

  1. B83

    The interneet

    This story reminds me so much of the IT Crowd and 'The 'Internet' episode.

    Thanks for the chortle.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: The interneet

      We'll all have to Jen up on that one...

      1. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

        Re: The interneet


        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: The interneet

          Really - Moss you go down the road with these puns.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The interneet

            Indeed. Reynholm in immediately.

  2. Korev Silver badge

    "The first week, we throttled them down ten percent. Each successive week we withdrew another ten percent," Bruce confessed.

    After a month of these shenanigans, the IT team again requested the additional ISDN line.

    So the execs got board waiting?

    1. aerogems Silver badge

      To quote a line from the IT Crowd: Up all night just to see one boob.

      When you get between a top level executive and their ability to look at porn on their work computer, things have a way of magically getting done.

      1. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

        We should redefine network speed as measured in kilo boobs.

        -> where's my measurement equipment?

        1. aerogems Silver badge

          That should be added to El Reg's alternate units of measure, though I suppose it might be confused with the Bulgarian Funbag.

          1. Dimmer Bronze badge

            Tech on the phone with CFO

            We need a firewall.

            Isn’t that expensive?


            Then no. We don’t need a firewall.

            Can you open a command prompt an type ipconfig


            What is the ip address?


            One ping bomb later,

            Uh, I think we need a firewall

            Yes sir, we will get it ordered and installed immediately.

            Unfortunately this is an actual conversation and those old enough will be able to date it by the ping bomb reference.

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              I remember something similar: I stopped a few times with teardrop...

  3. Sparkus


    Except that we added a summary of sites being visited by the suits..........

    Even in day of Jennicam, no one wanted that to become common knowledge in the company.

    1. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward Bronze badge

      Re: similar

      Ah, the heady days of Jennicam and the BOFHCam...

      Sadly, those days are long gone... :(

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: similar

      We had an issue with the f$^#^ckers.

      We spray painted some wifi routers with dazzle flouro paint. Red, Yellow, Green, Pink (for upper manglement area) on some pretext, but really so it was super obvious to everyone which router serviced which part of the company.

      After a month a big printout of top sites and usage by router color went up on the lunchroom noticeboard.

      First thing they did was try to move off the pink router....

      But after a while their use of job hunting and porn sites came down to more acceptable levels.

  4. UCAP Silver badge

    Quite a few years ago, I used to be the IT Manager for my company. One day I got a call from the CEO saying that all of his e-mails had disappeared from the server, and I needed to get it sorted out PDQ. This was a completely unexpected problem and I had to investigate the root cause of the problem before I could fix it.

    The root cause turned out to be easy.

    The CEO also owned a flat in Majorca and had gone out for a week or so of R&R; however he had taken a brand-new laptop with him so that he could stay in touch electronically. While he was out there he had set up the email client on the laptop, but had decided selected POP3 as the protocol instead of the (mandated by IT) IMAP (we did not use Microsoft's e-mail server having had a bad experience with it). not surprisingly, the POP3 client then sucked everything down from the server, deleting the server-side copies as it went. When the CEO came back from holiday, he left the laptop in Majorca so that he did not have to carry it back and forth.

    Once I had realised what had happened I (a) restored the CEO's mailbox from a backup taken before he went off on holiday, noting that anything that had come in afterwards was stuck on his Majorca laptop; and (b) told the CEO what had happened, whose fault it was (his), and gave him strict instructions on how to not repeat this screw-up. Thankfully he listened!

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Excellent, except that I find that last sentence rather hard to believe!

      1. UCAP Silver badge

        My CEO was one of a pretty rare breed - he could think and breath at the same time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Thats what the bluetooth earpiece thingy is for.

          ("breathe in ..... breathe out ....")

      2. 080

        It depends on how vulnerable the CEO felt, with all the evidence in IT's hands it was probably quite vulnerable.

    2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      "The log said that all emails were downloaded in Majorca. And what happens in Majorca stays in Majorca, undless you get it manually back".

      But OK, if the CEO is good (yes those exist!), I'd have done the same.

      1. l8gravely

        why keep pop3 enabled then?

        My question is why you even had POP3 enabled if the standard was to only support IMAP? Sure, you might need it for some wierd clients, but you push them off to a different server, or lock them down some other way.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: why keep pop3 enabled then?

          You are asking the wrong one. Switch to "Nested Thread" view.

    3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      What happened to (c) disable POP3 access ??

    4. adam 40 Silver badge


      Where the water doesn't taste quite like it oughta.

      You can blame the desalination plant.

      1. Rich 11

        Re: Majorca

        I wouldn't know. The only time I was there I drank nothing but beer. Oh, and some red wine chased with several shots of wodka at the winery that's up on a ridge somewhere near the centre of the island.

    5. plunet

      Seems like you missed out on a field trip to the errant laptop in Majorca to retrieve the so important missing emails.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        I did think that. Surely worth a "I don't think we can get your important work back without the laptop, and it's not safe to leave it there unprotected"

    6. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: he left the laptop in Majorca

      At least he didn't leave it plugged in and logged on with the email client active.

      (Power save? Wassat?)

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Once had a call where all the email for everybody had mysteriously vanished. Turns out that whoever had setup their AV hadn't put exclusions in for Exchange server. Sophos had decided that the Exchange server database matched a signature for a really old virus and deleted it.

      To add insult to injury, they also hadn't been testing their backups. The DB level restore failed. Fortunately, they had also been doing brick level backups which worked, but were S-L-O-W. Had to do a dialtone fix to get them back up and running with an empty database, then restore mailboxes from the brick level backup. Prioritized the most important mailboxes. Took about a week to get everyone back.

    8. bemusedHorseman

      Okay see, the real fail here is not that POP3 was able to be selected at all (sometimes you really do need offline copies of emails), but the fact that the POP3 protocol itself defaults to "immediately nuke the server copy" rather than the fail-safer "keep remote server copy until I manually delete it from the remote server".

      This is the first setting I always change when setting up a local email client.

  5. WanderingHaggis
    Big Brother

    The power of controlling the internet

    As a charity we used to have board and trustee meetings where it became apparent people weren't paying attention (in the course of one meeting I received an email stating we had policy which contradicted what IT had recommended and I knew hands on leadership were pushing for and as well hadn't been voted at that point.) Very awkward for us getting the job done and telling recalcitrant volunteer workers to comply. From that point on I got the GDs permission to have a wifi outage during meetings. Attention increased, and under table chat was curtailed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The power of controlling the internet

      Really? Turned of the wifi? We used to sit spread out on the back row and play a networked fps.

      Anon because while I don't work there anymore, they still do.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: The power of controlling the internet

        I understand why you sat in the back row. People would look askance at you when your head and/or body jerked left or right to avoid the rocket headed your way. I must also commend you and your compatriots' abilities to suppress the usual FPS smack-talk.

        Shouting out, "Ride my flaming-hot rocket, you shit-eating monkey-fucker!!" while the CEO is in the middle of saying something is definitely a career-limiting move.

  6. Willy Ekerslike

    Not just IT. If you want to get a problem solved there are two options:

    1) Persuade manglement the solution you need is their idea, or

    2) Make the problem theirs.

    Either way, they’ll end up pushing for the solution to be implemented and, unless you manage to really screw up, you’ll earn Brownie points.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait a minute...

    ...I vaguely recall a BOFH episode where the title character artificially increased network traffic as part of some nefarious scheme.

    Life really does imitate art.

    1. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: Wait a minute...

      There was one where the PFY was doing something like randomly changing the amount of bandwidth a certain floor or department got every day.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait a minute...

      I do remember something similar as well. Also I believe that Simon T. Is also from Oz - could they be the same person?

      1. Scott 26

        Re: Wait a minute...


        He's from NZ (which != Oz)

        1. Yes Me Silver badge

          Re: Wait a minute...

          In any case, all Australians are called Bruce, as far as I recall the ultimate source of truth.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wait a minute...


            Where men are men and sheep are afraid...

            1. BenDwire Silver badge

              Re: Wait a minute...

              I think you meant NZ, but they made a very good film about those sheep going baaad!

              Black Sheep

              1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

                Re: Wait a minute...

                Oh I'd forgotten about that film. Just insane!

  8. JulieM Silver badge

    Fun with tie-wearers

    I once encountered a tie-wearer using a calculator add up a column of figures in an (yes, it was that long ago .....) spreadsheet. And not even a proper scientific one; just a four-function idiot-calculator, with oversized keys and probably drool-proof coating.

    I had to leave the room for a moment for both our sakes. But then I had an evil idea. When I returned, I gently moved away the calculator and told him Calc had some extra features over and above what was available in the Microsoft Excel he probably was used to, and suggested he prepare to have his mind blown. Then I deleted his manual entry (which I had already clocked as incorrect, because he had entered one field incorrectly into the calculator), and shew him how to create a formula to add up a group of cells. And the computer put in the right answer.

    I just hope when he started his next job, he insisted to use with its built-in formulas instead of Microsoft Office .....

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Fun with tie-wearers

      I had someone do that. On our expenses form. The one I’d created that added up the fields for you at the bottom. Which he’d ignored, and used a calculator anyway…

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Fun with tie-wearers

        All the agencies I've worked through send me timesheets where you have to manually add everything up. I create a template from them with the correct formulas in the relevant boxes, down to Monday=manualentry, Tuesday=Monday+1, Wednesday=Tuesday+1, etc., hoursworked=end-start, etc.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Fun with tie-wearers

        "Which he’d ignored, and used a calculator anyway…"

        That's just proper paranoia. Who can tell if that spreadsheets formulae are actually producing the correct result and not shaving off some in favour of the company :-)

    2. Rtbcomp

      Re: Fun with tie-wearers

      I've used a mechanical adding machine to check a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet before now.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fun with tie-wearers

      Excel - that's the one with the square lined paper?

      I had a client who also used a calculator like this.

      They also had another trick... writing their text across three columns instead of making one column wide enough to type in.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: Fun with tie-wearers

        Project Manager finally grumbling after spending half the morning editing all the alpha numeric prefix out of the serial numbers I had collected as requested via a barcode scanner into a Excel spreadsheet.

        Wish you hadn't done it like this?


        Wish you hadn't done it like this I'm about two thirds done changing all the serial numbers.

        Why dont you use search & replace?


      2. Dagg Silver badge

        Re: Fun with tie-wearers

        Decades ago I had a manager that used Lotus 123 as a word processor as that was all they understood...

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: Fun with tie-wearers

          That is not really wrong, you've got better control over formatting and "tabs" than with normal Microsoft Word.

        2. CRConrad

          Actually, they were right and you were wrong.

          Decades ago I had a manager that used Lotus 123 as a word processor as that was all they understood...
          That's what it was for.

          The 1-2-3 in the name stood for:

          1 - spreadsheet

          2 - database

          3 - word processor

        3. RAMChYLD

          Re: Fun with tie-wearers

          Eh, sounds just like my mom.

          As much as she got me into computers, her go-to program (we don't use the word "app" around here) back in the 80s was Lotus 1-2-3. For letter writing (her excuse was that the cells made it really easy to position text when it comes to writing formal letters and such. This was when 95% of printers were dot-matrix and uses a fixed monospaced font, and only exactly 80 characters could fit on a single line on a sheet of A4 paper, so you learn to keep track of things like that), for managing her budget... pretty much everything.

          She switched to Excel in the late 90s, but the excuse stays the same. She doesn't use Word, only Excel. It's the only thing that mattered to her where productivity is concerned.

          Now I managed to switch her to LibreOffice Calc. So far she seems to be fine with it, but she only uses LibreOffice Calc.

    4. Rich 11

      Re: Fun with tie-wearers

      an (yes, it was that long ago .....) spreadsheet.

      Only that long ago? I can remember SuperCalc!

      Kids these days...

      1. John Miles

        Re: I can remember SuperCalc!

        I can recall rebooting PC because I could workout how to exit Supercalc

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Fun with tie-wearers

        "Only that long ago? I can remember SuperCalc!"

        I remember the launch of Visicalc for the Apple ][. Pah! Kids today. Git of ma lawn!

        1. Rich 11

          Re: Fun with tie-wearers

          Alright then, Obadiah.

          Back when I were a lad, long before electrickery was invented, I strung acorns together to make an abacus...

      3. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: Fun with tie-wearers

        Well, the first time I used Microsoft Excel, I did have to ask someone where "recalc row" was .....

      4. mirachu

        Re: Fun with tie-wearers

        I remember using CalcStar way back when on school's CP/M machines. It was somewhat painful.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: Fun with tie-wearers

          Never heard of it, but it is available: (firing up DOSBOX now) (edit: Does not work there "not enough memory" :D - probably have to try the CP/M version in an CP/M emulator)

  9. SVD_NL Bronze badge

    One does wonder... a company like that survives

    What's there not to understand about a graph that says "usage trend, maximum capacity, expected ISDN delivery time"

    That just seems like the most basic business planning task ever.

    When this bank is hemorrhaging money, do they tell finance to come back when they run out?

    1. KarMann Silver badge

      Re: One does wonder...

      When this bank is hemorrhaging money, do they tell finance to come back when they run out?
      If the money is being hemorrhaged into their mates' pockets, then yes.

      Yes, they do.

      1. Blade9983

        Re: One does wonder...

        Par for the course I believe.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: One does wonder...

      This was my thought too.

      The OP wrote The CIO forwarded the request to the bank's Executive Committee, which promptly rejected it because it was clearly wasteful to buy an extra link when the current one wasn't even half-used!

      But those highly (over) paid executives are employed to do "strategic thinking"."Thinking strategically" was even part of the annual review of managers when I was in education, so I am sure it must be in commercial spheres. If not what are they for?.

    3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: One does wonder...

      Nothing. People love to pretend that people who haven't had stuff explained to them, and which they can't be expected to understand without explanation, are the ones at fault.

      Obviously this is actually a story about someone who couldn't present a business requirement clearly enough to be understood, but that doesn't fit the alt-right slant the reg likes to lean at these days

      1. markr555

        Re: One does wonder...


      2. keithpeter Silver badge

        Re: One does wonder...

        UK public sector survivor here

        Most (like about 90%) of the senior post-holders I worked to could actually distinguish between an average load and a maximum. And they could appreciate the need to plan capacity for the maximum.

        That was in the context of students, classrooms, chairs and desks, corridor widths, canteen seating and number of staff though. Perhaps easier to visualise.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: One does wonder...

          Nice tests! They actually make me think compared to those other typical online tests which are "binge-purge syndrome". But it is late in the evening and my native tongue is German, so I'll postphone after hitting the wrong button on math question three although I had the correct value in the calculator right in front of me :D.

          1. keithpeter Silver badge

            Re: One does wonder...

            If you liked those then I'd recommend the British Army Recruitment Battery (BARB) tests, especially the symbol rotation test.

            There used to be a free sample test which could be accessed without any form of registration. I had good mileage out of that one used on an interactive whiteboard or tablets and with half a dozen teenagers trying to work out the questions. Alas, all the samples seem to be registration only now which is a loss.

            Icon: Calculator? [raises eyebrow]

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: One does wonder...

              Na, symbol rotation is literally childs play. I did a number of those tests before I was 10, including 3D rotation of objects and "similar pattern matching", and they were boringly easy back then. Learning the pattern of woodchip wallpaper is more interesting.

              1. Intractable Potsherd

                Re: One does wonder...

                Ah, not just me, then!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: One does wonder...

              > with half a dozen teenagers trying to work out the questions

              That really only works on quiz shows and Mock The Week:

              Your topic is "world news", the answer is "Tuesday"; what is is the question?

      3. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

        Re: One does wonder...

        Obviously this is actually a story about someone who couldn't present a business requirement clearly enough to be understood

        That can only be written by someone who hasn't met the type of person who starts with "what's the price ?" and responds "I'm not spending that on anything" regardless of the business case. I've personally witnessed that - a myopic business person who knew the price of everything but hadn't a clue (didn't want to have a clue) about it's value to the business. To add an IT angle, he wasn't prepared to pay us to do his network cabling properly and bodged his own complete with badly fitted plugs, regular Cat5e running outside (and even buried), and consumer grade switches hidden wherever he felt was easiest for him - and of course it was then our problem when his EPOS system (which was a pile of rubbish anyway as one of the "I don't pay that for anything" things was an EPOS upgrade to something that would work in his business) kept falling over due to network failures. We had the satisfaction of charging him more for fixing the faults than it would have cost to do the job in the first place - and he eventually stumped up for an EPOS upgrade (again, costing more than if he'd done the right thing in the first place) when he finally realised what it was costing his business not to. His approach to property maintenance, H&S, pretty much anything was the same. It was a business that needed a licence to operate, and eventually licence renewal was refused as long as he had any involvement in the business.

        Then with another work hat on, I recall us constantly being told by the manglement to be proactive - to look ahead and (effectively) do stuff before it becomes a problem. But needless to say, any time we went along and (like this story) said "it would be a really good idea to upgrade the network because ...", we just got told "let me know what that's happened and the network can't cope".

        TL;DR version - some people are 110% immune from the most expertly crafted business case if it doesn't align with what they thing they should spend (or not spend) their money on.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: One does wonder...

          Decades ago my late dad was was running a factory on behalf of bosses who had that attitude. He spent more of his time keeping old (sewing) machines working than he did managing. And some stuff needed an outside technician brought in.The cost of keeping those old machines running far exceeded the cost of a systemic, scheduled upgrade programme. And that's before counting the cost of delays, lost business and contract penalties.

          Which is why two factories went down to one - the least efficient of the two, but nearer to where the bosses lived and, and then that one in turn went bust- dad found himself out of a job. He'd been loyal to the bosses, because they'd promoted him and stayed with them even though he'd long known which way the wind was blowing. He should have got out earlier.

          Some bosses just seem to begrudge the cost of doing business. If it's the choice between a new machine for the factory or a new Jag it's the car every time.

  10. aerogems Silver badge

    Once upon a time I was a young repair tech at a now defunct retail chain. I worked at a "special" store that was not customer facing and was located more or less literally right in the middle of a distribution warehouse. The whole building, with it's metal frame, was like a giant faraday cage. Soooo... naturally the company decided that they'd just give us a cellular hotspot device for an internet connection. This was right around the time Apple started making it possible to restore the OS from the Internet so they could stop bundling DVDs and flash drives with the OS image on them with new computers. The hotspot would generally fall over if you tried to do much more than view a web page, and sometimes even that was enough, so the idea of downloading a 4-5GB OS image was completely out of the question. Other techs in the same store would need to be able to do things like download Windows updates for customer systems, or download updated drivers, etc.

    My immediate supervisor and his manager, to their credit, both saw the issue and kept trying to push for something more reliable, but like our story's hero, were constantly rebuffed. By the time I left, it never did happen, and I heard they shut down that store shortly after I left, making everyone go work in a customer facing store. So, I felt the hero's pain as it echoed down through the ages.

  11. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

    Bruce wasn't by any chance "big bearded Bruce"?

    Beards, after all, aren't that rare with IT folks. Bruce being Australian would also fit the bill

    ... unfortunately, the official YouTube channel of the band doesn't feature that very song. Please give The Beards some love, bearded love to be concise.

    -> I'll see myself out for the weekend

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Thanks, I'll add that to may "songs about beards" playlist.

      currently this one is favorite

  12. Code For Broke

    Around these parts there is always someone else who is hungry for your job. If I faffed with network speeds to our C-suite, I and most of my team would be gone in a matter of hours. We are replaceable. Yes, the replacements won't be as good, says my ego. But facts are facts.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      If that is true you mus go out there, right now. I assume you are US, so take the good side of "hire and fire" freedom and go.

      1. Yankee Doodle Doofus

        U.S. here. I assume you are not U.S., or you would know that anyone using the word "faffed" is not U.S.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      What part of that story leads you to think the C suite knew they were being gamed?

      1. Code For Broke

        Uh, the part where the signed the contract with a supportive note?

  13. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Nearly lost my job for a similar 'solution'

    Late 1990's. OldCo was acquired. The very authoritative NewCo decided to backhaul all the Internet traffic across country, rather than implement a split tunnel or something like that. And it sucked.

    Silly me runs PING with a -t and -l switch. The -l sets the size, and I set it to the max 64k. And I let it reach out to the gateway IP address which was across the country. Ran a few extra CMD windows...and then did it on a few more machines.

    Evidently IT was paying for a variable speed communications line, and when traffic increased so did the bandwidth. Talking to peers across the office they all noticed the Internet was magically getting better. I was generating enough traffic to trigger the next tier where there was a big step up in capacity.

    My mistake came when I left the CMD windows running overnight. Previously it just appeared as a spike in daily traffic during business hours. When IT saw it go 24x7, they knew something was up. Traced back to the network port & Win98 PC at my desk.

    The next morning I got hauled in front of HR. What were you doing, job threatened, that type of thing. I remember telling the HR droid... "If the PING command is so dangerous, why does IT leave it on our computers?"

    They didn't have a good response, and I got a 'Well, don't do it again'. IT did increase the baseline bandwidth though.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: Nearly lost my job for a similar 'solution'

      Your mistake was not scripting it to run only during business hours.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: Nearly lost my job for a similar 'solution'

        You are right, but the task scheduler would have been enough. No scripting needed for this, not even .cmd or calculating the right -n number.

  14. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Doubling time

    Dr Al Bartlett does a good job explaining the exponential function. He puts 100% at midnight and then works back so 50% is at 11:59 and 25% is at 11:58, and so forth. If it takes a month to provision more bandwidth, at what time do you have to start worrying if your needs are growing quickly? It's a much shorter time frame than a suit might guess.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Doubling time

      Suits do not guess, they decide. And once they've decided, reality just needs to deal with it.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Doubling time

        "Suits do not guess, they decide. And once they've decided, reality just needs to deal with it."

        I keep forgetting that. I can't recall how many times they'd just put something on the calendar and by that action believe it's enough time to complete the task.

  15. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    We had this site that kept annoying us yearly and before the end of financial year. The site would ask us to provide a quote to put WiFi in the building. We would come up with a plan and provide a BoM. The most senior person in that building would always reject it. Generating plans and BoM is time consuming and after 4 consecutive years of getting knocked back, we decided to go straight for the jugular.

    We told the senior person that we are going to put a WiFi outside her office (and ONLY her office) because we want to do some "testing". Within a few days, WiFi users started appearing in our stats. Week after week, the number of WiFi users increased. After 8 months, we announced that we were disconnecting the WAP because testing was over.

    One early morning, we turned off the radios (but the WAP remained) and within 20 minutes we got an angry call from her demanding the WAP to be returned and made functional again.

    We refused and told the senior person the WAP is earmarked for a different building. "I paid for that," she said hotly. And when she said that, we sprung our trap.

    Our director calmly reminded her that "'someone' in your building kept rejecting the BoM for the last 4 years. That WAP is not yours and definitely not yours to 'keep'. Hand it back." and sent her a well prepared email, with attachments of previous rejection emails with her signature block along with a new quote.

    The BoM got approved before lunchtime.

    1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

      Even for a person of that "calibre", that's cruel - but justified. And it's why so many times I've done stuff by email that would normally been done verbally, just so it's easy to keep the incriminating evidence.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not the same but

    yes, used terms to confuse a manager regarding an issue I'd forgotten to fix. She always thought I was so good and helpful. I never abuse this, I only did it because this manager was known to be a cunt. When I told her staff after see left, they all found it funny as they didn't like her either.

  17. Mr. V. Meldrew

    Ahhh...the early days.

    I was asked to set up a care in the home business in the early 1990's. I relished the challenge, particularly being involved and caring for more mature members of our society.

    The IT bit was down to me, we had Tandy and a small outfit called "Viglen". I chose Viglen fo the PC choice and natrally a dot matrix printer, I loved the sound and all the paper spewing out of it.

    We banked with Lloyds Bank in the UK, the business manager suggested "internet banking" - yes you heard "internet banking"!

    Well as younger upcoming man who could resist?

    I discussed and sold the idea to my late bosses, the answer was yes.

    A week or so later a small parcel arrived from the bank, containing 14 floppy disks (not sure of the size now). Maybe 4" could be wrong, size didn't matter in them days.

    With a dial up modem and PC loaded with banking software that took an hour to load, the business opened!

    My lovely staff were to be paid straight into their bank account, a novel idea, you had to do the wage run before 4.30

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Ahhh...the early days.

      Loved my Viglen keyboards in the 90s.

    2. ricardian

      Re: Ahhh...the early days.

      Reminiscent of Multimate on lots & lots of 5.25 inch floppies

    3. CRConrad



  18. Mr. V. Meldrew

    Ahhh...the early days. (Part 2)

    Before 4.30 PM on the Wednesday before the Friday payment to the lovely staff.

    So the first BACS (payment transfer) payment went out, at 56K speed to the bank. It totalled some £4 K or thereabout.

    Everybody happy I thought.

    How wrong I was, on the Friday the 'phones got hot, not with clients but with staff "where is my money?" being the question. By the end of the day, 30 cheques (checks) written and handed to the staff I went home.

    The bank never solved the problem, we went back to the old system, pen and paper.

    They refunded the £4K

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Ahhh...the early days. (Part 2)

      "The bank never solved the problem, we went back to the old system, pen and paper."

      When new tech is hot off the press, always think "that sounds great, but does it work?" Another good thought is "is this really necessary?" You don't want to be in the beta test group. If the service works, the vendor should have a few customers that can provide references.

      If you have studied your XKCD properly, you will remember a chart that calculates what the breakeven is for something you set up to save time to see if it's worth the effort. The same thought process is valid for many things. If you buy this new shiny, will customers pay you anymore for your finished product? Will is save enough time to see a return in a reasonably short period of time? How many people will die if it F's up? (metaphorically). So, how much more time did it take to cut physical checks with the proper deductions after you switched systems? How much longer would it take a couple of months down the road when you've forgotten how and have to re-learn the process? When I switched to a PR service and people were getting paid via direct deposit, it was as common as muck to do it that way. I don't recall having any issues, but by then the company would have seen most of the most common faults and know how to patch it all up since they were on the hook to pay penalties if the tax authority wasn't sent the withholding on time.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: When new tech is hot off the press . . .

        Yes, that's what Borkzilla & Co have taught us after three decades of borking first releases. But back in the day of the 56K modem, we were all young and starry-eyed when faced with another new shiny, because new and shiny was all around and we all thought, surely the company wouldn't advertise a product that didn't work ?

        Now we know that yes, a company can very well advertise a non-working product because "there will be a patch soon". Patch which may solve the problem, and might even do so without creating other issues - maybe (but don't bet on it).

        So yeah, now we know to wait a few weeks (or even months) for the initial bug set to be resolved before rushing to purchase a new shiny. Because we've learned the hard way (well, for those who have learned, at least).

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Ahhh...the early days. (Part 2)

        This probably also applies to all those multi-squillion quid admin systems that go horribly, expensively wrong ( like Birmingham recently).

        How much additional savings will there be, if any, by including any given function into it rather than just keep doing this as a separate process? And if the answer is little or none- just don't include it.

        And of course when someone later wants to add in an extra section, because it sounds like a good idea with resulting significant extra costs - the same question applies.

        There is a cost to adding complication and I have nasty suspicion that it's an exponential one.

      3. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Ahhh...the early days. (Part 2)

        "When new tech is hot off the press, always think "that sounds great, but does it work?" Another good thought is "is this really necessary?" You don't want to be in the beta test group. If the service works, the vendor should have a few customers that can provide references."

        I always say that and am always dismissed as "negative". I'm sorry that I can't stand smarmy sales peeps who sell shit that clueless managers ALWAYS believe over their own staff.

        Fucks me right off!

      4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Ahhh...the early days. (Part 2)

        XKCD also tells you what happens if an employee has an Irish name like Robert O'Tables. :-)

        (yes the original XKCD version is set in a school)

  19. Scene it all

    Here is your password

    The response time of a resource like a communications link or a CPU goes up *exponentially* after it reaches 50%. The suits apparently did not know that.

    In the early days of development of a certain nameless operating system the developers thought it would be clever to make use of the hardware's CRC32 instruction to generate hashes for account passwords. Some more math-oriented members of them team thought this was a very bad idea, but were rebuffed. So the math-nerds thought a demonstration was in order. They wrote a program that read the password files on every computer running this software (which they could do, being on the development team, and the files were not as protected as they might have been) and set about cracking the credentials. They had realized that it was not necessary to come up with the correct password for an account, but only come up with a password that *hashed to the same CRC32 value*. And that the payback of this effort would be increased by doing it for the entire network at once, which was hundreds of accounts. They essentially cracked all the passwords at once.

    The next day everybody on the in-house network, developers and managers alike, received an email saying that here was either their password or one that would work just as well. I remember getting one of these emails.

    The hashing algorithm was changed immediately.

  20. sitta_europea Silver badge

    Once upon a time my wife was going to visit her parents by train and I wanted to park at the railway station in Derby to see her off.

    The parking area was full but there was a guy sitting in his car, obviously about to leave.

    Several times I tried to make eye contact, but he ignored me and just sat there.

    So I parked behind his car, blocking him into his parking space, and my wife and I got out of the car.

    The reversing lights on the other guy's car came on instantly.

    "Oh, sorry, did you want to leave? Let me move my car for you..."

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Curly Haired Peon

    Love this story! Sadly had never heard of BOFH before but now I have

    1. CRConrad

      So you were one of that day's lucky ten thousand...

      ... for that day, nearly two weeks ago.

      (If you have no idea what I'm on about, google “xkd today's lucky ten thousand".)

      1. CRConrad

        Or even better... “xkcd today's lucky ten thousand".

  22. ITRF guy

    I'm just not ok with the compromise of business integrity on this one. I would have simply kept making the recommendations, continuing to be more emphatic, until the managers approved the additional bandwidth. In my opinion, IT and security are in the categories that it's mandatory to trust what they say and do as absolute fact. Otherwise, it's a clown show. If the network was on the road to bandwidth starvation because of oversubscription, then so be it and let it happen but document the requests for a solution.if I was the IT manager or above the IT department and found that they had manipulated bandwidth, I would have cleared house with terminations,

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      so be it and let it happen

      Problem with that is the fallout. It's no good saying "I told you so" if your biggest customer withdraws business and puts your job at risk, or your bank gets the sort of poor reputation that sticks around for years and leads to takeover, re-branding and "cost saving synergies". Let's face it, it's never the PHB who gets downsized for a preventable mistake.

      Rabbits out of hats are specialities of many of us 'engineer' types and just occasionally we get a box of chocolates, but more importantly we get to keep paying the mortgage.

      Then again, speaking as a little Dutch boy with finger-in-dyke desperately hoping someone will pay heed to my pleas to 'do something' about a fleet of equipment, some of which dates back 19 years and some of which is running OSes which went out of extended support ten years ago, I am beginning to wonder if I should have been building an Ark rather than getting a cold, wet, stiff digit.

  23. Giles C Silver badge

    Where I used to work we had 3 sites triangulated using 1Gb BT LES circuits this was about 10 years ago,

    All was well for a couple of years until the company got bigger and we started running the links at 90% or more all the time.

    Eventually we got the budget to go to 10Gb links instead.

    So we got them delivered and one long weekend set about turning them on.

    A few hours later we were finished and headed home, the next week the previously 1Gb link running at 95% has transformed into a 10Gb link running at 50%

    We found that a lot of replication and batch jobs suddenly had there run time reduced dramatically- wonder why….

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pointy hair boss man

    Anonymous because they plonker will instantly recognise himself if he reads it.

    Wrote a DOS based label printing routine for bar codes for boxes big one on one for the king side little one goes in the end.

    Real easy really cheap on paper ran it through a large office printer printed 52 pages a minute stormed through the the work.

    Boss man tells us about new thermal printers that can print on anything and we could use them to print labelling for the clothes in the boxes AS well as the box labels.

    Tried to explain about the costs, but using his superior brain and management training he made the executive decision.

    Printers ordered new stationary organised and new silk labels ordered.

    3 months in he had spent the entire years budget on stationary and printer repairs.

    Overheard him whinging to another boss man about the stupid costs of IT.

    Ah I left the office that evening smiling and with a spring in my step.


    1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

      Re: Pointy hair boss man

      I could upvote you for the tale, but also downvote you for the ending - so I've done neither.

      The problem is that the person responsible doesn't associate the costs with his decisions. Now he's told others that it's your fault. So having had your reputation sullied, you leave with a spring in your step ?

      Had you included that you'd kept records of the earlier exchanges where you'd warned of the costs, and "accidentally" let others see that (especially his boss), then you'd have had an upvote.

  25. RJX

    Haha, did the same thing to the CIO, with his approval

    All plants were connected to to HQ with a lousy T1 yet he had 100 M/bps connectivity. He got tired of the complaints and said 1.5 M/bps was good enough for anyone. Since he had a DHCP reservation we used QoS to throttle him to T1 speed. After three days he threw in the towel and approved the connectivity upgrades.

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: Haha, did the same thing to the CIO, with his approval

      Strangulation by QoS is really an effective method of "punishment".

      And so is "duplex half".

  26. Alan W. Rateliff, II

    Using a boss's hubris and arrogance against him

    Way back when, I worked for a boss who thought a little too much of himself. In the early days he was open to our ideas and was a seemingly congenial fella. Though I learned from others about some of his penchants and history for dishonesty toward vendors and customers. As time moved on, he became dismissive and sometimes just flat-out rude about our requests, and the dishonesty turned more inward against the company. We figured out that if we planted the seed in his mind about something we needed then forged a campaign of customer requests and complaints, within a few weeks he would bring up this amazing idea that absolutely needed to be implemented and in short order. Even though these are often last minute, we were always at the ready to get it done and put in the extra time if necessary. For the good of the company.

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