back to article Ad agency boss owned two Ferraris but wouldn't buy a real server

Thirsty folk will tell you it's always twelve o'clock somewhere, but Friday comes but once a week and The Register marks it by offering another instalment of On Call, our weekly reader-contributed column that shares your stories of the weird and woeful world of work. This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Aaron" who very …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We once took over a customer who had a server for their Exchange environment. Proper brand name server with hardware RAID and multiple disks. The problem was the storage provided by the disks on the RAID controller was far too small. The previous vendors "solution" was to install the OS and Exchange binaries on the RAID volume, but put the Exchange databases on an external USB drive bought from Harvey Norman.

    To add insult to injury, the backups were saved to the same external drive.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Sadly all too common - bean counters baulk at the cost of enterprise grade disks for the server when they can by a consumer grade external drive for a fraction of the price.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        To be fair, the markup on "Enterprise discs" is crazy

        1. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

          >>To be fair, the markup on "Enterprise discs" is crazy

          My Enterprise disks are running with no errors reported 10+ years after manufacture whereas the consumer grade devcies I have tend to die within 5 years of similar use. I don't really mind paying the premium if I get the lifetime...

          Yeh I know... spinning rust... ssds... whatever. This isn't about timely replacement and rolling upgrades - it's about markup and relative reliability.

          1. NoneSuch Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            I'm with you 42656e4d203239. I boot from NVMe but have 3.5" Enterprise drives as my long term storage.

            Consult the Backblaze hard drive failure rates. When I build a PC, I always go with their lowest failing drives. None of mine have ever failed.

            1. FIA Silver badge

              It's always worth buying a good quality mechanical item, but I'd say good consumer drives* are as good as enterprise kit. (but without the same warranties).

              It doesn't really matter if your HD fails if you have redundancy and good backups too.

              TBH I thought that was the point about BackBlaze, they used consumer grade drives, but I suspect I may have made that 'fact' up??

              Hmm, no, they do... found this whilst researching...

              * I used to really like the IBM/Hitachi stuff, I had one of their consumer drives running 24/7 for over 9 years, which got replaced out of fear, not failure.

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                The cross charge to the non tech departments for their SAN storage use reflects the cost of Enterprise disk.

                Often hear "but I can get 5TB drive from Amazon for 100 quid!!"

              2. Martin an gof Silver badge

                one of their consumer drives running 24/7 for over 9 years

                More out of curiosity than anything else now, I have some customer-facing machines with Maxxtor 80GB 10krpm SCSI discs now crossing 19 years old. Those are the 'data' drives in machines which boot from similar age 7.2krpm SATA drives, Seagate IIRC (look, it's Sunday evening). Not many such machines left, but more than just one or two. It's amazing how well some things can last.


                1. Chz

                  I've a consumer-grade Seagate 250GB from 2006 sitting in my PC. As my personal desktop, it's had to endure tens of thousands of power cycles over its life which I'm sure makes for a harsher environment than running 24/7. It's still perfectly adequate as a MAME repository, so it will sit there until it dies. There's an old WD Green 750GB sitting next to it in the case, from 2009 or so. That just holds backups of useful data from the NAS. I'd say aside from some tranches of disks that clearly have some sort of manufacturing defect, the consumer kit is almost/just as reliable. (FWIW, the 2006 era 7200rpm Seagate is much, *much* faster than the Green. On the order of twice as fast. Those Greens are dog slow.)

              3. Martin an gof Silver badge

                found this whilst researching...

                Fascinating read, but 11 years old by now. Here are some more recent stats


          2. Mark 65

            Depends on the consumer grade - my HGST drives have 80,000 hours on them and they're still rocking on.

          3. nintendoeats Silver badge

            On the other side, Within the last 6 years at different times I have bought 8 of the cheapest 8TB drives you can get (4 for primary storage, 4 for mirrored backup). In the past year I have had to replace 2 of them. I certainly wish that I could have bought better drives, but times when I had excess income and times when I needed to buy storage never lined up.

            I'm not sure I'm actually worse off given just how cheap these drivers were, but having to replace 2 in short succession is not fun.

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              > On the other side, Within the last 6 years at different times I have bought 8 of the cheapest 8TB drives you can get.

              Those are USUALLY shingled drives. They are known for a high failure rate and slow speed. They can't even remotely take as much vibration or movement during operation since they always have to write a bunch of tracks, i.e. a few rotations, in one go. On top of that, the cheap version of those drives vibrate quite a lot, which helps to get a long lifetime :D! The enterprise shingled drives are better, especially the host-managed ones, but I don't like them too.

              1. nintendoeats Silver badge

                Oh, they absolutely are SMR. But if drives that cheap hadn't been available, I would probably have had to drop down to 6TB drives, which would have meant running out of storage a few years sooner. Since until recently I was limited to a 4-bay NAS (plus 4-bay backup unit), that would mean either completely replacing the drives or buying more storage hardware.

                Of course now I have the slightly ancient 45-bay server my buddy gave me, so running out of places for drives is no longer an issue :p

        2. NLCSGRV

          The mean time between failures on enterprise-grade disks is also crazy.

        3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Depends what capacity you need. As the capacities rise, particularly in spinning rust, the disparity becomes pretty small to non existent.

          Most people should be using SSDs though, and there's little point in enterprise solutions there.

          1. david 12 Silver badge

            Most people should be using SSDs though, and there's little point in enterprise solutions there

            Industrial mSATA SLC SSDs are still available. Expensive with tiny capacity, but it's not like there is no point to it.

            1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

              For *the consumer* there is little point even bothering with enterprise solutions for perceived reliability or speed. For specific applications there will always be a reason for SLC, and DOMs are definitely useful in embedded systems.

      2. Mike007 Bronze badge

        The issue here is putting the primary and backup copies on an external drive which is more likely to get damaged or stolen, and the same drive meaning no backup.

        When it comes to consumer Vs enterprise drives if you are talking less than a dozen drives you probably won't notice any difference. Statistically over thousands of drives you may have fewer failures with enterprise drives and therefore less maintenance etc. but for a small deployment drive replacement is an irregular task.

        You should always assume a drive will fail, and if using RAID that another drive will fail during the restore process. If buying consumer drives means you can buy an extra parity drive, I would say that is a good idea... Like off-site backups.

        1. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge

          My small fileserver (Celeron + 4 disks in 2x RAID 1) went through a phase of appearing to eat disks ... even though I bought fileserver grade disks (eg Seagate Ironwolf). The problem turned out to be the Ubuntu kernel's use of SATA Native Command Queueing by default. There is a kernel option to turn that off, and it's all been sweetness and light ever since.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge


          The issue here is putting the primary and backup copies on an external drive which is more likely to get damaged or stolen, and the same drive meaning no backup."

          The issue here is putting the backup on a medium that can't be taken off-line if not off-site for secure storage.

        3. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Silver badge

          "If buying consumer drives means you can buy an extra parity drive"

          That would be the Inexpensive Drives in RAID then

          1. Montreal Sean

            I've been running a RAID for decades at home.

            Random Assortment of Inexpensive Disks. Yup.

            At least they're all backed up onto one large drive I keep off-site...

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "bean counters baulk at the cost of enterprise grade disks"

        The best way to get money from bean counters is to install the cheap option they want and encourage it to fail ASAP. There's always money to fix it.

      4. Glenn Amspaugh

        Yearly Scratch File System Cleanup notice goes out…

        …and at least 1-3 "I can buy [current largest single consumer Hard Drive] at [insert local chain store that sells both home PC parts and refrigerators] for just [below-actual-cost in local currency]" emails each year when users are told to reduce their usage.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Company originally had onsite servers with offline backups and a down time measured in single digit hours per year. Also a tech boss with some understanding of the work the rest of the business did.

      Old Tech Boss leaves and new one arrives with new ideas.

      Company then put everything into the cloud to let others worry about servers and disks.

      New Tech Boss surprised when cloud unavailable due to lack of internet owing to a jcb cutting the fibre.

      Old Tech Boss in handover notes advised to have offline backups just in case but company declined to do so.

      Staff reduced to emails on phones and New Tech Boss forced to explain problem to Board of Directors.

      Fibre in road fixed a day or so later in evening to relief of New Tech Boss.

      Everything back to normal before MSFT has an outage hours later and everything dead again.

      1. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Local ERP running on premise: 3 hours of downtime a year.

        Large ERP running on someone else's cloud: 45 hours of downtime in 2023.

        1. mistersaxon


          3 hours of downtime including maintenance windows? Because cloud maintenance windows are usually counted as downtime if they cause disruption - and they can and do.

    3. Dimmer Silver badge

      We must have taken over one of the guys other customers.

      Same thing with the file server. Production and backups on the same external drive. User didn’t know it because they had created different shares.

  2. KittenHuffer Silver badge


    This wouldn't happen to be the famous Aaron A Aardvark would it? Who changed his name so that he would be the first entry in the phone book?

    Bonus points to anyone who can remember the story where this took place! ..... Without simply Goggling it that is!

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Aaron?

      He became the first cit to be killed when Cal started to purge the entire population. The day the law died? Proper early 2000AD, double digit prog no, I still have it in storage!

      How many bonus points?? ;-P

      1. Martin Howe

        Re: Aaron?

        Yep! Remember it fondly. The Day the Law Died.


        Sir, the citizens are revolting!

        Tell me something I *don't* know.

        No sir, you don't understand, they're rioting all over the city!

        They WHAT? They DARE!


        Love that little exchange :)

    2. Barking House

      Re: Aaron?

      Classic Judge Dredd - The Judge Cal saga

    3. Jet Set Willy

      Re: Aaron?

      Not far off my real name. I can tell you it is not always fun to be first in line for stuff.

      1. disgruntled yank

        Re: Aaron?

        A couple of classmates of long ago, surnamed Zugel and Zura, probably wouldn't have minded trading places with you.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: Aaron?

          A my surname languishes at the bottom end of the alphabet it sometimes pays off.

          One Friday walking through London on my way to Paddington & I hadn't received my usual notice of contract extension until literally 16:55* last name on the list, apologies etc etc but there's been a rate increase worth about 2.5 beer tokens per hour.

          Get to work Monday colleague mentions to me,

          "As you're here I presume got your contract renewal came through then, I got mine Thursday"

          "Yes literally last thing Friday afternoon, rate increase was a bonus too!"

          "What rate increase?"

          Most of my colleagues surnames are at the top end of the alphabet, so he gets on the blower, the rate change came in on the Friday, no its too late for him (& the others) the placation statement of

          "It's alright you'll get it next renewal" was not well received.

          *Icon as it was almost beer o'clock & I was probably aiming to go into The Tyburn Tree near Marble Arch.

          1. Anonymous Custard

            Re: Aaron?

            I was probably aiming to go into The Tyburn Tree

            A good place to hang out...

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Aaron?

              That was almost a good joke but a bit of a stretch!

              1. David 132 Silver badge

                Re: Aaron?

                I like gallows humour.

          2. Fred Daggy Silver badge

            Re: Aaron? Nae, Murphy

            In real-life, my first name first character is fairly close to the start of the alphabet while family name first character is down the bottom. In a small enough group (like a school class), close enough to first/last in the list.

            It seems that whenever it is beneficial for me to be "last in line" the line up is decided by first name and should it work on my favour to be first cab off the rank, the list is prepared by family name. Its probably confirmation bias but it drives me nucking futs!

            Then there is the one time that it actually worked in my favour, only for the hand of god to decide that the list would be reverse alphabetical order. The actual reason why is a faded memory, but being pissed stays with me to this day.

    4. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Aaron?

      Did he err on the side of caution?

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Aaron?

        No, but he did have a G string.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Aaron?

          You win the internet.

          1. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: Aaron?

            Thank you kind sir, but I’ve got one already. Plus this one’s all manky and bits of it aren’t very nice :)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Been there, done that.

    Client insisted they needed the latest greatest IT environment, gave me what looked like a pretty well thought out list of goals, requirements etc.


    Nah, can't you just do all that with what we already have?

    What, you mean we need to *buy* software, we've already got Office and WIndows (one copy and licence for each)?

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: Been there, done that.

      You cite the exact reason why Microsoft added the activation to Windows XP and Office 2003. Companies like the one you describe, using triple or four digits copies of Office 2000 + Windows 2000 (or older), but only bought one of each. That consumers would have to activate too was just a byproduct.

      1. xyz123 Silver badge

        Re: Been there, done that.

        I know one fruity phone company and one telecoms company AND a satelliet tv company that in 2024 STILL use thousands of unlicensed copies of windows.

        They hide this by "secure" facilities where you need notice to inspect/enter. So all the staff "work from home" on that day....purely co-incidentally......

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Been there, done that.

        i worked for a small defense contractor making sub's. They had very few proper O365 business std licenses but a sh1t tonne of O365 business basic licenses. The few business std licenses were "shared" among staff as you could install each copy on 5 devices. I pointed out that was 5 devices belonging to the same user, not 5 devices shared with multiple users. Oh that's ok the chances of being caught is very low, was the reply

        1. mistersaxon

          Re: Been there, done that.

          Bet they billed for the licenses though, just didn’t buy them.

  4. Macka

    Walk away

    Sometimes it's better to walk away from bad business. They can't have been paying for all the extra time and effort it was costing Aaron's employer to support them either. His boss should have served them notice to terminate the contract and ended the relationship.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Walk away

      If it was Capita, IBM or their ilk, with on army of lawyers on call to make sure the contract is airtight and fully details precisely their responsibilities and all the get-out clauses, yes, but most smaller operations will not have that level of legalese in their contracts so can often be trapped in unprofitable support roles by cheap and nasty clients.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: Walk away

        If you are a small tech business and cannot afford excellent legal help with your standard contracts, then you cannot afford to be in business.

        1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

          Re: Walk away

          ... and likely soon won't be.

        2. Snake Silver badge

          Re: small tech business without legalize

          It can work both ways if you're intelligent about it. I doubt that a contract that hasn't been locked down by Big Buck lawyers had a guarantee of service reliability; the tech company could simply state that failure to support the required level of hardware to support their performance goals meant that any belief in "service" from their end was moot and they could only do the best they could, using the materials provided.

    2. Dimmer Silver badge

      Re: Walk away

      We have a clause that if the customer does not follow security recommendations and or hardware recommendations we can renegotiate the contract price.

      The other clause is when they exceed so many hours, per hour charges begins.

      It is a managers job and duty to prevent the abuse of their techs.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "They have that kind of money"

    And very little sense to go with it, apparently.

    Normal, it's an ad agency. There's no intelligence there.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: "They have that kind of money"

      Most (reasonably) rich people get that way by not spending money unnecessarily. Unfortunately they tend to have a poor idea of what is actually worth spending money on when it comes to tech.

      Also, what are the chances that the flash cars were leased, so not actually his and just there to give the illusion of wealth?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "They have that kind of money"

        Given the choice, what would you buy? A grey box with blinkenlights or a Ferrari?

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: "They have that kind of money"

          Given the choice, what would you buy? A grey box with blinkenlights or a Ferrari?

          Blinkenlights every time. Yes, I'm a nerd. So?

          1. Anonymous Custard

            Re: "They have that kind of money"


            How many boxes with blinkenlights have ever been wrapped around a tree or lamp-post when the ego outstrips the control skills...?

            1. collinsl Bronze badge

              Re: "They have that kind of money"

              Depends how many trucks carrying computers have crashed over the years ;-)

          2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

            Re: "They have that kind of money"

            Petrolheads are just another kind of nerd.

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: "They have that kind of money"

          For the price of a Ferrari, would it grey?

  6. Tim99 Silver badge

    Maybe a typical Oz thing?

    In 1998/9 I was asked by a customer what was needed to update the 6 PC LAN that ran our software. I suggested Pentiums with Windows NT4 Workstation running peer-to peer with one of the PCs running the "new" SQL Server 7. A few weeks later I was asked to install the new equipment that the owner had bought. It was one Pentium for himself, with the instruction to use his 2 year old desktop PC as the "server". I noticed that he had leased a brand new Holden Commodore 5.3 litre V8, and suspect that he had gone to the bank for a loan based on my specs and used the money for the car lease...

    1. Roopee Silver badge

      Re: Maybe a typical Oz thing?

      Definitely not specific to down-under!

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Re: Maybe a typical Oz thing?

        The bit about leasing the Holden might be!

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Maybe a typical Oz thing?

      "Holden Commodore 5.3 litre V8"[bit]

      Did it play Bubble Bobble or Turrican?

    3. PRR Silver badge

      Re: Maybe a typical Oz thing?

      > the 6 PC LAN ... I noticed that he had leased a brand new Holden Commodore 5.3 litre V8, and suspect ... used the money for the car lease...

      We had a 6 PC network in a ticket office. One day the asst office manager showed up in a new Audi Convertible (drop-head?). Audis were so rare in the USA that I did not bother to note the model or trim-level. We just knew that NObody in the division had the income to import/support a car like that. Did she have a Sugar Daddy? Tongues wagged.

      One day the head office manager came in on her day off and found odd notices in the FAX machine (yes, that old). The asst OM had been doing some kind of credit card skimming and deleting the evidence before the head OM saw it. Questions raised, police called, job lost, eventually pretty Audi repossessed.

      There was an unrelated fraud in the next office soon after. The purchase order system was being dragged out of the 19th century toward a 20th century and beyond. The Great Leap was not monotonic and a sharp accountant could get checks sent to cronies on just her personal approval. One day the email (yes! limping to the future!) went out "Suzzette has left the organization. All her responsibilities have been re-assigned to Robert..." and shortly after "All P.Os. now need more signatures..."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe a typical Oz thing?

        Not IT but fraud.

        I have to cross a suspension bridge to work every day, the Tamar bridge, connecting Cornwall with Plymouth. These days you can get half price crossing via an electronic tag but back in the day the scheme used books of pre-paid tickets. It was 50p a crossing or buy a book of 50 or how every many it was tickets for 25p a ticket. Cross bridge hand over ticket to man in booth. Now the scam, the booth operators would buy books of tickets and when handed a cash toll would pocket the cash and deposit a ticket instead so doubling their money! The whole scam ran for quite sometime and was only discovered when a local primary school were doing a project on the number of crossing of the bridge, they presented the project to bridge management and when they looked at the work the numbers didn't tally! hahahahahahah

  7. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    Hopefully Aaron sent an invoice and if they didn't pay lodged the wind up petition.

  8. Howard Sway Silver badge

    The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

    I've worked for one Ferrari owning boss, and judging by this tale they're all equally stupid. I once agreed to accompany him in it to his house, during work time, to get something working on his PC there. This hideous yellow car made an equally hideous racket, and could accelerate like a rocket. It turned out that his daily commute in it involved an 8 mile journey, mostly along an extremely busy and urban dual carriageway, with traffic lights about every third of a mile. So the drive involved being rapidly accelerated and decelerated over very short distances, with no time advantage gained at all because the world's fastest car would have taken exactly the same amount of time to do the journey as a £300 old banger.

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

      Most people who buy a Ferrari don't to it to be faster. They buy it because they want to be seen as a Ferrari owner.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

        In the immortal words of Donkey (from Shrek):

        I think somebody's compensatin'!

        1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

          Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

          Nah, they'd buy a Harley if they wanted a big throbbing beast between their legs!

      2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

        You can own a Ferrari without being a dick about it. Sure, tootle around town in it, at the proper speed limits, without vroom-vrooming between stop lights. On the weekends, take it out to the racetrack and vroom-vroom it to the limit of min( your_driving_skills, your_heart's_content ).

        If I had a Ferrari, it would be painted Fly Yellow, with a red interior. :-)

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

      My very small and not at all powerful car can generally do those sorts of journeys faster, because it can fit into spaces that bigger cars can't. Use the right tool for the job, and for that job, the right tool is a city car.

      1. David Harper 1

        Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

        Better by far to use the right tool for the job, than having to do jobs for a right tool.

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

          > Better by far to use the right tool for the job, than having to do jobs for a right tool.

          Love it!

          Your Friday pre-lunchtime pint -->

        2. Someone Else Silver badge

          Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

          You win the interwebz! (For this week, at least...)

      2. Roopee Silver badge

        Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

        And probably more comfortable too!

        One my clients had a bright yellow Lamborghini Diablo (sat in his garage, "part of his pension investments") which he invited me to sit in, and it was the most uncomfortable car I've ever sat in - the huge wheelarches necessitated having ones legs skewed off to one side and the seat had no lumbar support and a fixed, wrongly-positioned, head rest - dreadful UX.

        1. Woodnag

          Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

          A service manager told me some 6 months ago about a current model Lambo waiting 3 months for tyres. Different sizes front/rrear of course.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

        Also banging up a cheap car is less of an issue than banging up a Ferrari. Bonus points if it's already banged up.

        1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

          I was at a petrol station when I saw some teenagers getting out of a thrashed-looking Ferrari 308 GTS. It appeared to have been spray-painted black, from cans of spray paint, not all precisely the same shade of black. They fuelled it with "regular". I cringed, and was put in mind of the bad end of Ginger in the Anna Sewell book, Black Beauty.

    3. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

      I remember hearing somewhere or other that the gear ratio on a Ferrari is such that you can basically never take it out of first gear and be within legal speed limits almost anywhere. Which, kind of makes me wonder what the point is. Then again, I've always been a bit of a function over form sort of person. If something looks nice, bonus, but it's a distant second to getting me from A to B reliably.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

        "Fun to drive" can be huge if you're into that sort of thing. Also "it's more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow". Those two mean that I like small low power econoboxes that you need to drive in a spirited manner. (Most modern cars aren't very fun. Too big and too detached. I *want* the steering to communicate the features of the road. I *want* to hear the engine. Information is *good*.)

      2. Pete Sdev Bronze badge

        Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

        Which, kind of makes me wonder what the point is

        Small-genitalia compensation device?

        See also: conspicuous consumption

      3. omz13

        Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

        Friend of mine had a childhood dream to own a Ferrari. After years of saving, he achieved his dream and bought one. Second hand. Looked wonderful. Sounded wonderful. And during summer he’d drive it around. His girlfriend at the time wasn’t impressed as it was the most impractical car around (too small to hold a bag of shopping, pain to park, and everybody looking at you like you’re a bell-end). One thing most people didn’t know was the insurance was a killer and he could only keep it on the road for a month, two max, per year. And because it wasn’t driven all year around, whenever it went for a service there was always something needing attention because it hadn’t been driven enough. And the cost of servicing was insane. When I see somebody in a Ferrari I always feel kinda sorry for them.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

          "When I see somebody in a Ferrari I always feel kinda sorry for them."

          When I saw somebody in a Ferrari I used to feel pleased for my cousin-in-law. He used to service them.

          He was also racing mechanic for a local farmer (related to a a cousin-in-law on the other side of the family, as it happens) who raced a vintage car. For a road car he had Lancias. When the V6 Dino came out he bought one of those instead. Callied in to visit one of his mates and got "Yer do, Cec. I hear tha's bought half a Ferrari."

        2. Ace2 Silver badge

          Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

          A relative of mine explained to me (in 2000 prices) that sure, one might cost $90K, but every 15K miles you need a tuneup that costs another $5K.

          Like the saying goes, you don’t own it - you’re just borrowing it from your mechanic.

      4. dr.k

        Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

        I suspect most folks who hang out on this site are strictly "function over form" types.

    4. Duncan10101

      Re: The owner has two Ferraris. They have that kind of money

      Totally with ya. I used to live in the middle of a city, so every journey was entirely in traffic. I got a cheap, second-hand Chinese scooter (I think about 125 engine) and that was without a doubt the fastest way to get around. I overtook a big, black Ferrari. I overtook a big, yellow Porsche. I overtook an armed-response vehicle (which was on-call with its flashing lights going ... and that was uphill). Not only that, but the police won't pull you over, nobody will ask you for money, nobody wants to wash your windscreen, and running costs are negligible. Cheap crappy scooter FTW :)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I used to work for a computer distributor/builder/retail and support company in Liverpool UK. Proper jack of all trades type place. I was in sales and would dread the service manager coming to get a "server build" sorted, as we would always price up a DELL/HP server because the warranty/aftercare etc was always excellent. The service manager would hit the roof and go off an work out his idea of a server build. It would usually be a Asrock K7s41 socket A motherboard (yup going back a few years now), some random cheap raid card and a bundle of discs in a Cheiftec. In fairness it would be a dam site cheaper than the Dell/HP stuff we also sold. But he would spend hours and hours on the phone or onsite trying to keep stuff working. Whereas the DELL/HP stuff we sold to othercustomers, I dont recall any major failings.

    We in sales eventually refused to quote the service team for "servers" because we didnt want our name attaching to the Frankenservers the service manager wanted to install.

    1. Dimmer Silver badge

      Re: Franken-Servers

      “ But he would spend hours and hours on the phone or onsite”

      I my much younger days I was so proud of the new electric screwdriver I had purchased and was showing it off to one of my elders.

      “Look at how fast I can do the job now!”

      The old timers reply, “aren’t you paid by the hour?”

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: Franken-Servers

        > The old timers reply, “aren’t you paid by the hour?”

        This is actually a sign to change something, unless that actually fits to your type of mind.

    2. parrot

      Re: Franken-Servers

      I recognise this feeling of dread. Sales guy used to spec up a “server” for a customer and it would arrive without warning in loose bits on a pallet. Would take five times longer to prepare and was basically a PC motherboard in a case with a few drive bays and a RAID card. Didn’t feel worth the effort.

  10. TonyJ


    I was once called to a dead server which was used to run (bare metal) the AD, shares, printer queues, user profiles...well, everything.

    This was for an airline. A cash rich middle eastern one.

    Anyway, the UK MD had refused to pay for any kind of backup or second HDD to be RAID'ed as he felt the company were trying to rip him off. He had the same attitude to the PSU or a UPS.

    There was a brownout that popped the PSU and HDD.

    Having explained that everything needed to be rebuilt and if there wasn't a local copy, tough shit.

    So once everything was recreated I sat down and his response to the question of "now do you see why we recommended all that resilience?" his answer was "yeah but now it's happened, it won't happen again..."

    I have lots more similar stories.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      Didn't the head office invite him to the embassy in order to explain to them why it was set up like that?

    2. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

      Re: Well...

      "yeah but now it's happened, it won't happen again..."

      Maturity of chance implies immaturity of human.

  11. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    I have rarely had issues getting funding for hardware for a specific task, but I did once fail to get any funds for the purchase of a software library. This was in the early 90s, and I requested funds for the purchase of a UI-building toolbox for MS-DOS and Windows 3.x, which at the time was a fairly pricey bit of code, but I argued that it would save tons of development time. Developing a toolbox myself would take months (and would lack the portability of the toolbox I wanted), and the cost of my salary over those months would far outstrip the cost of said software. Common sense did not prevail. One problem was that I had already developed a reasonable library for MS-DOS, but without the ease of use of a UI-editor etc., so I could hobble along and develop applications at a slower pace. General conclusion: hardware is sexy, software isn't.

    1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

      Capex vs. opex, perhaps?

      That doesn't justify it, of course; it's just a different flavour of boneheadedness.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > fail to get any funds for the purchase of a software library

      Tell me about it. Job description said the GUI had to use MFC - nope, can't use any of the competing, even free, GUI libraries "not a problem as there are so many third party MFC libraries" (ignoring any issues with the time & effort needed to evaluate those extra libs, getting past sales blurb etc). Oh, no, you can't *buy* any extra libraries, no budget for that.

      Many hours on CodeProject etc, product actually delivered and the clients can work it, so that all came out ok, didn't it?

      Next product: team gets loads of libs, all they can buy. Oh, no, you stay on support on the old product ("you know, I hear he spent all that time bodging up the GUI instead of using Acme's Super Duper Lib, what a waster").

  12. James O'Shea


    Way back in Ye Olden Daze, Apple used to sell Mac mini (note lowercase 'm' on 'mini') Servers. They had a fairly good CPU (Intel i7, multiple cores, not too bad clock speed) and two Apple-standard 1 TB hard drives. And shipped with Mac OS X Server. I still have one, from 2012. It still works. One of the HDDs has been replaced by a 1 TB SSD. OS X Server is long dead; it runs just plain macOS X... and is long out of support, so there are no new versions. Plain macOS X can be tweaked to become a full-out server; it's a UNIX box, after all. Mine is a server, with a few 10 TB external drives pretending to be a NAS attached, on the same net as my equally aged WinServer 2012 R2 box (what, doesn't everyone need ADDS at home?) fitted with several 5 TB drives in a RAID 5 array. I used to have a pipe to the DVR AT&T provided; AT&T has gone to cloud storage for their virtual DVR for the latest version of their TV service, and I haven't yet worked out how to liberate stored video from that, but I have lots of video from the old DVR stored on the servers. I also dump DVDs and BluRay to MKV and MP4 and put the discs away; the WinServer box has a BR burner.

    Why didn't Ferrari guy get a server version of the Mac and/or just tweak the OS to be a real server? All the OS updates would have been unnecessary. And there ain't anything that says you must issue updates immediately; just wait until the weekend and update everything at your leisure. Patch Tuesday and Apple Update Day for me are usually Saturdays. All of that running around was absolutely unnecessary.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Interesting

      "Why didn't Ferrari guy get a server version of the Mac and/or just tweak the OS to be a real server? All the OS updates would have been unnecessary. And there ain't anything that says you must issue updates immediately; just wait until the weekend and update everything at your leisure. Patch Tuesday and Apple Update Day for me are usually Saturdays. All of that running around was absolutely unnecessary."

      Yeah, I'm not an Apple user, but shirley even Apple can't be so incompetent that an update to one device would cause it to not be able to talk to another device on the same network until that device was at the same patch level. At worst, I could see a possible patch to SMB to enforcing a new version and defaulting to not supporting pervious versions for security reasons, but that has to be a pretty rare occurrence.

      1. Ace2 Silver badge

        Re: Interesting

        This is what stuck out to me. I don’t know that OS X has ever had problems sharing files across versions.

    2. Juan Inamillion

      Re: Interesting

      I don't understand this either. On a Mac you can switch off auto updates. During my one and only time working in corporate IT for a Very Large publishing company, our building had around 400 Macs (including Mac servers) and around 100 PC's. The Macs were all locked down, nothing could be updated except manually pushed out from a server. It all worked like clockwork, certainly for the 3 years I was there!

      With regard to SMB, there was a problem around 2010, as I recall, with a change to the way SMB was handled by Apple which caused problems with shares not being seen properly. I can't remember the details but IIRC we had to use a third party fix for while.

      1. VicMortimer Silver badge

        Re: Interesting

        Apple decided to roll their own instead of using Samba. It... wasn't as good. The biggest problem was file permissions, it wouldn't set them correctly for new files, they'd be user rw but group read only. My nasty fix was a cron job that reset permissions on everything in the shares every 5 minutes.

        Users who have local admin (and that's VERY common in small businesses) will find a way to install updates they aren't supposed to.

        I've heard "It just did it itself!" more times than I can count. I know the user is lying, but it's generally easiest not to call them on it.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is so much wrong with this story technically it seem to have been written by someone who's never used a Mac.

    Installing drivers for USB drives on MacOS?

    SAMBA shares not working on each upgrade of MacOS because of a mismatch? What?

    Sure, buy a real server but this story makes no sense whatsoever.

  14. phuzz Silver badge

    I'm pretty sure the title of this article should have read "Ad agency boss owned two Ferraris because they wouldn't buy a real server".

    You don't get rich by spending money on the little people. (/s)

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      What does 'per second' have to do with anything?

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        It's to show I'm being sarcastic. Think of it as a sort of html tag.

  15. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Friday comes but once a week

    "Thirsty folk will tell you it's always twelve o'clock somewhere, but Friday comes but once a week"

    On the plus side, it's Friday for about 48 hours someone in the world :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Friday comes but once a week

      Reminds me of the tale of the unloved twit who went on a cruise because he was hopeful of his chances on the International Date Line.

  16. aerogems Silver badge

    Sort of reminds me of a global company I worked for once upon a time. In certain areas of the healthcare field, this is a very well-known brand. I saw the markups on some of the products they sell, and they were ridiculous, like 300-400%, and I was in a meeting where some SVP was saying how if customers call them up saying they're going to go with a cheaper competitor they tell them, "Good luck with that!"

    Anyway... internally, the company is incredibly stingy. They wouldn't pay for a proper PLM tool, or even to make some changes to a home grown one they had for a specific site to make it applicable for the entire company. So, instead of copying and pasting a bunch of shit from spreadsheets into emails all day, I had to cobble something together with VBA. A horrible solution, but pretty much literally the only one I had available, and likely only because the IT department forgot, or was too lazy, to modify the Office install to not include VBA.

  17. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Mac Mini Servers

    I had an 'other duties as assigned' side gig about a decade back, helping the company events staff put on tech trade shows. We used to ship around a big rack with Dell servers, lots of money. I acquired 4x Mac Mini servers with maxed out CPU, RAM, and added Thunderbolt external disks. Virtualized all the physical servers and loaded them up on Fusion. Our 6 foot tall hard side shippable equipment rack transformed in to a luggable suitcase and a hand truck.

    One of the classroom labs demonstrated a web gateway product, which meant I needed extra NICs. The Thunderbolt drives had a daisy-chain port, so I added an ethernet adapter. Ended up with all the event traffic running through that external hard drive & Thunderbolt cable (we hosted our own WiFi, cheaper than using the convention center's system). The Mac Mini never missed a beat and no one realized the diminutive nature of the infrastructure we were using. Worked great!

    Cheers to Apple's little power-house PC!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, not only does this story reek of nonsense (MacOS versions different so can’t share files? Really?) but also so many people mocking driving a Ferrari like the reason you’d buy one was to save time in traffic? Really?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > so many people mocking driving a Ferrari

      Mocking driving TWO Ferraris

      > like the reason you’d buy one was to save time in traffic?

      No, like the reason you'd buy one was to compensate for the size of your server.

    2. aerogems Silver badge

      The article very specifically mentioned SMB shares. Even on Windows, where it's the "native" file sharing system, it can be flaky AF, working one day and then not the next despite no discernable changes. macOS is using SAMBA, which adds another layer of flakiness onto things.

  19. Bebu Silver badge

    Why two?

    Puzzled why even cocaine addled ad agency exec would want two Ferrari? A Ferrari and a Lamborghini I can grok but a pair of, what for me are purely, A-2-B devices whose main advantages are that their emissions don't require shovels?

    Given the traffic in Sydney and the mere 8km (5mi) involved the (m)adman could likely have hoofed it a lot faster along pedestrian/bicycleways or on an electric scooter.

    In Sydney(AU), which has surprising number of Ferrari etc, I have only seen red Ferrari (rosso) but apparently you can have them configured in other colours although hot pink might be pushing it.

    Even in academia the groups that have extremely large recurrent research funding tend to want beer priced champagne (=cheap&nasty&unreliable) solutions whereas those with more meagre resources will often invest more in longer term solutions with solid hardware and supportable software.

    To be be fair both have trouble attracting and retaining suitable IT staff - low salaries, year to year contracts and perceived limited portability of scientific and high performance computing skill sets, are probably the main reasons.

    The best example of cheap, nasty but reliable I have seen was a linux mail spool mirrored on two pata drives hanging a particularly repungnant raid card. The two disks were from the same batch probably sequential but after nearly ten years service they both reliably failed with major media errors, within hours of each other.

    As the original sysadmin who had put the system together had left a year or so after setting this up and wasn't replaced, there were no backups etc etc. Fortunately pop3 then was still de rigeur so most users had copies of their past email stored on their desktops.

    1. theOtherJT Silver badge

      Re: Why two?

      Because you want one mid engined V8 like a 488 or hooning around like a lunatic in and a big front engined V12 like a 812 for luxury grand touring.

    2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: Why two?

      Probaby has two because when a ferrari is in the shop it might takes months for a part to get shipped. better to be safe than sorry.

  20. xyz123 Silver badge

    Fun fact: Apple is so distructing of its OWN macs, that they use Windows Server and Linux only to run their backend stuff. Support staff are forced to use Macs (old ones to save money obviously), but MacOS is so insecure they cannot trust it with customer payment info etc.

  21. VicMortimer Silver badge


    I'm calling shenanigans on this entire story.

    It has NEVER been a thing that updating macOS makes shares on a server running previous versions of macOS unconnectable. I've got clients right now who have servers running Mac OS 10.13 (because that's the last version that Mac OS X Server actually ran on) and macOS 14 workstations. I've got one client still using Mac OS 10.6 on their server (and yes, I've told them to stop, they don't wanna, so I still maintain it, they keep paying me). Uptimes in years can be a thing for those old ones that aren't getting updated any more (and yes, that means they go behind a firewall).

    The USB story sounds like nonsense. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying I've NEVER seen a macOS update break USB drives. Of course, in the old days only an absolute moron would use USB drives on a Mac server, FireWire was MUCH faster and more stable. Today you use Thunderbolt, OWC makes some nice Thunderbolt SSD RAIDable boxes.

    The Mac mini was sold AS A SERVER until 2014. There was a server configuration, shipped with dual hard drives to make setting up a RAID mirror easy. They still make great servers for small offices, they're tiny and easy to hide in the wiring closet, you can even mount one (or two if you want redundancy) to the wall. I just installed a M2 mini as a server in a law office late last year, it's been up since the last time I installed an update, ZERO user complaints.

    And of course this "Aaron" character decided a homebuilt 'server' was somehow better. I'd call him a moron, but....

    This never happened.

  22. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    This is exactly why american corporate culture mentality is broken. Morons are given positions of power when they should be cleaning the toilets.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bean counters are often scared of investment because they mistakenly think they’re being money efficient. What actually happens is the cost is then hidden elsewhere like in reduced productivity when stuff hits the fan or with poor performance but that’s harder to measure or price up so they don’t consider it. A less diplomatic answer is they’re mostly useless idiots who only ever prioritise spending on management ideas or their own comfort.

    1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Those bean counters dont think anything, the answer to most of lifes human question is what is in it for them.

      The bean counters are of course doing to help thesmelves in some way. They dont think anything, they know very well what they are doing.

  24. hoofie2002

    Hardware is the cheapest

    One thing I have learned over many years is that hardware, even if you buy top class equipment, is still the absolutely cheapest thing you will every buy in IT.

    The most expensive is people's time

  25. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    As a long term support guy, with a lot of Mac experience, I've also got a lot of experience of dealing with creative people. They tend to assume that because a way of doing things works for them, it will work for everyone.

    I'm not actually singling out the creative industries here, as a lot of users from all industries do this, but my experience is with the creative industries.

    A few times I've had to stop users using their own budgets to buy Mac Minis, with USB drives to stick in the corner of the office, and use as a file server..

    The correct procedure if you want a shared area is to prepare a business case, then request it from a our systems team, who, assuming they grant the request, will ensure it is properly backed up etc.

    The lack of thought for enterprise situations often extends to the design of the hardware/software they use..

    I've seen a *lot* of design software that cannot be easily installed automatically, often not supporting any form of command line silent install, and having copy protection that is tripped by any attempt at a snapshot based installed (I don't like doing these anyway, as they can cause problems, but sometimes you have no choice).

    I've also seen some applications that require Administrative rights over the machine to run, despite not doing anything that *should* require admin rights.. In my experiences, this is usually because they need to write to their own installation folder. I had to deal with one DVD authoring system (which was a low end professional system, not consumer) that insisted on storing user projects, and all their media in a Library, the files for which were in the Application install folder.. This had two problems. First, it needed write access to it's own folder, which is a no no.. The second is that users used our computers on a first come first served basis, so we couldn't guarantee that any given user would have the same computer they had last time, so they wouldn't necessarily have access to their projects.

    I could resolve the Admin rights one easily enough.. Just reset the permissions on the Library folder to give users full control (modify did not work), but that does not solved the missing projects problem. I probably could have resolved that by moving the folder elsewhere (perhaps to a server) and replacing the library folder in the install with a symbolic link, but that would have introduced other problems, such as file locking and possibly corruption. Thankfully, after a couple of years, Adobe released the first version of Encore, and I was able to persuade the users to switch to that. Encore had it's own problems, but it did work better in our environment.

  26. Lazlo Woodbine

    I used to work in pre-sales tech support for a security distributor.

    One of my tasks was working out how much storage a CCTV system would need based on number of cameras, type of camera, frame rate on idle, frame rate on alarm, number of days archive etc.

    I'd then recommend the number of servers needed and the amount and type of storage.

    One job we had people tendering for was a large town in Berkshire that hosted a castle and large public school.

    The system involved over 100 cameras in total, and over 100tb of storage, made up of 10tb of very fast storage for live recordings and 90tb for archives.

    For reasons I'll never understand, the guy that won the tender ran a mobile phone shop, he didn't have an account with us and was buying everything on credit card.

    He also had no idea what he was doing, so he was going to pay £1000 a day for my time and a colleague.

    I sent him a detailed list of the server and stoarge requirements, with a recommended set up configuration, he assured us he would buy the gear and set up the arrays, they would be ready for us when we arrived on site to do the config.

    When we got there he'd bought a couple of very dodgy looking Chinese servers running 3-year out of date Xeons, not the spec I suggested, about half the RAM I suggested, and instead of the SAN I told him to buy, he'd bought a 5U SATA connected box holding 64 x 2TB SATA drives configured as a single RAID 5 array, to do the live recording and archive.

    We told him it wasn't going to work, and it failed about 6 hours after we turned it on, because two of the drives he'd bought off eBay died and the system couldn't cope with recording all those cameras whilst it rebuilt the array.

    The customer's justification was the kit I recommended would have cost around £60k, his box of hard drives and chinese servers cost less than £10k. The point that my system would work and his didn't seemed to get lost somewhere.

    My manager pulled us out that afternoon and demanded the council appointed a different company.

    The last I heard the customer filed for bankruptcy as he couldn't cover the credit card debt and the camera manufacturer appointed one of their approved installers to fix the mess...

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