back to article Techie saved the day and was then criticized for the fix

On Call is back from an Easter adventure with another reader-contributed – and perhaps tear-inducing – tale of tech support. This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Manny" who warned us that if he revealed where his story took place, he would have to shoot us. Thankfully he did not. His tale started with a call from a …

  1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

    A server room with two air-con systems, with the first failing over to the second on failure. But we almost always had one of the air-con out of action awaiting repair.

    Took me a while to figure it out, but the thermostat was set for 16 degrees and the units installed weren't capable of actually pulling the server room down to that temperature. So the main unit would run continuously ...... until it failed. Then while the main unit was waiting for repair the second would run continuously.

    I finally just started sneaking the thermostat up by half a degree every few days. After a couple of weeks the server room was at a nice cool 18 degrees, and you could hear that the units were only running about 20% of the time.

    From that point on we didn't have another air-con failure, and the only people disappointed with this were the air-con repair company who lost a nice little earner!

    1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

      Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

      Client of mine rents office space from another company, so our servers are in a mini rack in their computer room. there's 3 part trunking along the wall with the 2 air cons on it.

      When I started, said trunking had plastic sheeting taped to the wall above it, under the right aircon. It was like that for 3 years.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

      Help! It's 40c inside the rack and the fans are screaming! No problem, open both doors to the server room, open windows in both adjacent offices, have the facilities guys bring all the fans they can carry! Oops, its 32 c outdoors.... Facilities manager rents huge portable aircon units. The temp eventually dropped back to 30c or so, aircon replacement took over a week*, 5 days for delivery, and 3 days to install, and then another month to find the tube they nicked during installation, when they finally sent a senior engineer to investigate. They were called out to fill the coolant 5 times!!

      No longer my monkey, no longer my circus ;-}

      *It was a shitty job to do in a very small space, I felt sorry for the HVAC guys.

    3. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

      "I finally just started sneaking the thermostat up by half a degree every few days."

      The real trick would be sneaking the documented procedure up by the same amount.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

      Approximately 20 years ago, maybe longer now: arrived at one site of (what was then) a 'major' London-based data centre provider to find some standing fans and a portable air-con unit close to our rack on one of the data floors. The air-con unit had a long, long hose which lead across the floor and... out of a window (this was not the ground floor).

      Unsurprisingly, within weeks we had moved out to another data centre. Luckily for us we only had one rack of kit in that particular facility.

      A/C. (Air Con?)

    5. Excused Boots Bronze badge

      Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

      What I have never understood is this ‘trying to keep the server room at Arctic temperatures’, mentality.

      I have always worked on the basis that servers etc. are basically happy at roughly the same temperatures at the ‘meat sacks’ would be, say 20-22 C (68-75F or so for our right-pondian cousins - seriously though guys, when are you going to give it up and adopt the Celsius system? It really is simpler.)

      So yes, set the thermostat to what would be comfortable to you and then leave it alone!

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

        seriously though guys, when are you going to give it up and adopt the Celsius system? It really is simpler.)

        It's not us regular guys in the US that make this decision... I learned the Metric system in 1976 or so (because we were going!), and can use both Imperial and Metric. Living in Europe and knowing Imperial made me a king among men when goods from the US arrived. The only thing the US got out of that exercise was Coke and Pepsi in 1, 2 or 3 liter bottles...

        1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

          Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

          Knowing Imperial helped when goods from the US arrived? Wouldn't they have been in US Customary, and therefore only some of the values have been the same as Imperial?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

        While Celsius is clearly the better system, I think Americans could be forgiven for keeping Fahrenheit if they were willing to toss the rest of their silly measures. Scientists will use proper units regardless, but average people have an abstract relationship with temperature. It hardly matters if your sense of 32° is very hot or very cold, and for most people, boiling is when you see bubbles, not when your pot reaches 100°.

        Now, measuring units based on the width of a Victorian child’s fingernail or using lengths such as 1 foot and 362/17482 inches is just sociopathic.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

          "and 362/17482 inches is just sociopathic."

          Hyperbole much? I'm fairly certain that in the whole of human history, the only sociopath who has suggested that 0.0207070129276 inches would be a useful measurement is yourself.

          1. ModicumSuch
            Coat

            Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

            > the only sociopath who has suggested that 0.0207070129276 inches would be a useful measurement is yourself.

            Also known as 0.526mm.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

              "Also known as 0.526mm."

              The AC sociopath was discussing inches, so I replied in kind ... but that's 0.52595812836mm, if you want to go that route.

              In more proper ElReg units that would be 0.0038 linguine.

              1. Bitbeisser

                Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

                "but that's 0.52595812836mm, if you want to go that route"

                Well, that would be rather retarded, as nobody, in almost all use cases, would require and use such a precision. Again, one of the points that you and most of your fellow US Americans are completely missing.

          2. Bitbeisser

            Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

            "Hyperbole much? I'm fairly certain that in the whole of human history, the only sociopath who has suggested that 0.0207070129276 inches would be a useful measurement is yourself."

            Not really, as you are totally missing that nobody would/should be using inches anymore. Or feet, ounces and other Fred Flintstones units...

          3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

            I expect this is meant to be the difference between two definitions of "one foot", but I don't recognise it. Wikipedia says that a foot distance historically is "usually between 250 mm and 335 mm".

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

          So basing it on a fraction of the length of the Earth’s méridien - and getting the calculation wrong - is any better ?

          1. Bitbeisser

            Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

            Nautical/navigational miles, that is a totally different issue. And one that is based on an acceptable logic. Pretty much all of those Fred Flintstones units used in the US of A aren't...

        3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

          Celsius is clearly the better system

          Rubbish.

          It's tied to some of the other SI units in a convenient fashion, true; but then Kelvin is superior, because it does away with negative values and the notion of "degree".

          Fahrenheit made more sense when it was invented. It's based on two reference points which are 64 degrees apart, making it possible to graduate thermometers that used a linear mechanism by successive subdivision of the scale. Celsius was just arbitrary. And since Fahrenheit degrees are just a bit less than half the size of Celsius degrees, Fahrenheit offers more precision without specifying fractional degrees, which is useful for casual use.

          There are only two things which recommend Celsius today: a zero which is at a temperature familiar to many people, which is convenient for some intuitive interpretation of temperatures on human scale but inconvenient for scientific or industrial purposes; and familiarity. While I would never suggest anyone switch to Fahrenheit — a scale that's no longer particularly useful, any more than Celsius is — there's little rational justification for Celsius either. If you're not using Kelvin, you're using something moderately foolish.

          Oh, and: "boiling is when you see bubbles, not when your pot reaches 100°". Yes, exactly. Boiling is most definitely not when your pot reaches 100° (Celsius, at sea level), because of water's very high enthalpy of vaporization. When you reach the "boiling point" temperature you have a long way to go yet before boiling.

      3. Not Yb Bronze badge

        Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

        0 Celsius Cold

        100 Celsius Dead

        0 Fahrenheit Quite Cold

        100 Fahrenheit Quite Hot

        0 Kelvin Dead

        100 Kelvin Dead

        Fahrenheit will always make more sense to me for talking about temperatures meant for human presence.

      4. andy the pessimist

        Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

        Basic commercial spec devices are rated 0 to 70 C. Lifetime reduction starts to occur with a junction temperature over 100 C. I don't know what the temperature range is for the mechanical bits is.

      5. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

        Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

        I understand that the USAian federal goverment actually mandated the metric system, including centigrade many moons ago, but, a majority of the states disagreed....

      6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

        Celsius is for children. Adults use Kelvin. (The mad use Rankine.)

    6. Wzrd1 Silver badge

      Re: I have done the air-con shuffle in the past!

      Yeah, much the same on AC shuffle and souper seekret shit.

      End of the day, wanna give an attaboy or burn when I turn off she shit you object to.

      One attaboy qualifies one to be a leader of men... And earns one precisely dogshit in terms of a meal.

      But, keeps the wheels churning.

      Now, some thumb sucker came along and tagged me REF.

      Retired, Extremely Flatulent.

      But, I still remember The Room, where we knew flying saucers originated in domestic discord.

      And Harry Potter was playing only with his twig, as usual.

  2. simonlb Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Sounds About Right

    Some managers really are complete arseholes, completely ignore how someone actually resolved an issue and restored service and instead focus on how some 'process' wasn't followed or what that person did wrong. This is an easy 'lessons learned' example of documenting and making the location of the keys or the name of the primary keyholder available to the person who is looking after the system. Ok, he broke the locks but the managers didn't even know how the servers were configured and tried to say Manny was in the wrong when he did everything he could to get them up and running again.

    That said, if I had been in Manny's place and didn't have the details of where the keys were, I'd have escalated to someone who did know and then when everything is back running as normal, have the relevant documentation updated with the correct details.

    Unless that was already part of Manny's job.

    And he hadn't done it, yet.

    Icon because I had an arsehole manager once and revenge is sweet.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Sounds About Right

      If the use case is to secure a server rack in a secure room that's in a secure room, and the protection was a lock that could be foiled with just a screwdriver, then I'd say the manager is at fault for signing off on such shoddy locks that aren't fit for purpose.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Sounds About Right

        They make locks which are direct replacements that are difficult for neophyte pickers to bypass (proper fitting disc tumblers, for example (I think the LPL calls them disc detainers)). They usually cost a couple dollars more than the stock ones, though, and what manager will pay for that?

        1. Joe W Silver badge

          Re: Sounds About Right

          Who wants to pick a lock when you can just break it? Unless you try to be sneaky, which Manny wasn't...

          1. PB90210 Bronze badge

            Re: Sounds About Right

            <cough> take off the side panels...

            (been there, done that)

            Had a guy smash a window to the telco room to allow through draught after an aircon failure... it was pointed out to him that the (mainly clockwork) kit was rated to around 120f and the aircon was merely for the meat sacks

            1. keith_w

              Re: Sounds About Right

              side panels often have locks as well. I was working in a warehouse situation where there were several wall mounted device cages, 1 day every 2 weeks after the old IT contact person left. A new warehouse manager started and asked me where the keys were so I told him I had no idea, and that it was the responsibility of the person who had them installed to have managed the keys. I had wondered that myself when they removed an AP from a connected outside structure by cutting the cable prior to demolishing the structure. I still don't know if they have located the keys.

              1. J. Cook Silver badge
                Boffin

                Re: Sounds About Right

                re: locks on side panels

                Usually (at least for the ones we have) they run off the same key for the front door of the cabinet.

                Also, the two keys I've seen in general use by server cabinet companies are the infamous CH751 and the Elco 1333, both of which can easily be found/obtained from the usual scumbags. :)

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Sounds About Right

          (Corrected) I went to Timpsons to get spare keys cut for my [censored]. I handed over my key, and the shopkeeper took two identical keys off a wall hook and handed me them. Oh well. So I got on my [censored] and pedalled home.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Sounds About Right

        I was thinking that, but I know nothng of such matters. Which suggests that it was blindingly obvious and said manager was a total idiot.

      3. midgepad

        The lock is only

        to tell people the door is not for casual opening, usually.

        If there is no lock, it is hard to reprimand someone for opening the door.

        If there is a lock (or other alleged security mechanism) then it is clear to anyone without the key that they need a reason. As indeed he had.

        There's where his manager was the inverse of adequate

      4. Excused Boots Bronze badge

        Re: Sounds About Right

        The issue here is that it’s a ‘tick box’ exercise. The manager simply has to sign off on ‘is there a lock on the cabinet Yes/No’. It doesn’t specify if said lock could be defeated by a two-year old with a lollypop stick!

        There is (technically) a lock on the cabinet, the lawyers are happy, trebles all round in the board room, no?

      5. Pete Sdev Bronze badge

        Re: Sounds About Right

        the protection was a lock that could be foiled with just a screwdriver, then I'd say the manager is at fault for signing off on such shoddy locks

        There's locks to prevent access, and there's locks that prevent undetected unauthorised access.

        Presumably the lock on the sever room door were the first type and the locks on the cabinet the second.

        1. Not Yb Bronze badge

          Re: Sounds About Right

          And of course there are locks the only purpose of which is to meet a particular security standard to the letter. "We were told to meet this standard, here's proof we did, so you don't get to hold us liable for not meeting the standard" is a very common refrain in corporate lands when something expensive goes wrong/stolen.

        2. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

          Re: Sounds About Right

          Most locks at best are only delaying measures because Professional Crims can open most locks quickly and security locks take 30 minutes to 1 hour to defeat

          1. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

            Re: Sounds About Right

            >>security locks take 30 minutes to 1 hour to defeat

            hmmm... I know of one beautifully engineered dial lock that the only hack for is (according to the internet) a robodialler which will take rather a long time (many hours to days) even if you know the open digit!

            As it happens once you get used to those particular locks, there are sometimes little 'tells' that hint you might be approaching correct digits in the opening sequence but they vary from lock to lock and do depend rather on what was done the last time the lock was serviced.

            If you know which lock I am talking about you will, no doubt, agree - if you don't you obviously don't have/haven't had a need to know.

            Normal locks, however, yes 30 minutes to an hour would be about right. Often it is easier to defeat the container or the keeper of the key!

            1. StargateSg7

              Re: Sounds About Right

              I could do an RF frequency scan of the lock to get 1/100th of a millimetre per pixel 3D-XYZ image of its internals and look at the micro-scratch marks left on the metal parts of its internal mechanism to get the true combination. Takes about 5 minutes to do and that lock is open at the 6 minute mark!

    2. Colonel Mad

      Re: Sounds About Right

      only once - lucky you!

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    FAIL

    Sounds like management all right

    Doesn't know the specifics of the hardware, doesn't care why the server was down or the aircon had failed to restart properly, but knows just enough about your department to blame you for everything.

    Typical.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like management all right

      Correction, that isn't management, that is manglement.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like management all right

      AS OP Simonlb points out. This is managers holding on to a process at the expense of solution. I guess all managers have to do that to some extent, to stop people freewheeling all over the place. But an even half-decent one knows when the rules needed to be broken.

      1. Not Yb Bronze badge

        Re: Sounds like management all right

        Brings to mind one definition of a trusted computer being "A computer that can break your security policy."

  4. Barking House
    FAIL

    Floor loading, what is that

    When I was a field engineer I visited a large Telco DC to be greeted with various people lifting floor tiles looking for some specific cabling - I immediately advised the customer contact who was escorting me that there seemed to be too many tiles up and the floor might be in danger of collapse. I made quite a fuss as I thought their people might be in some real danger of injury and they did yank everyone out of the room. Whilst the senior DC manager was sought for his opinion part of the floor collapsed tipping a VAX Mini onto its front (Though impressively it kept running).

    In the aftermath I was blamed as the customer said if their people had been in the room they would have been able to prevent the floor collapse - They asked my company not to sent me to site in the future as I was banned ....

    PS: The ban only last about 2 months until the Senior DC owner was moved onwards to a new position, this was not the first major incident I found out that had happened under his stewardship.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Floor loading, what is that

      Depends on the style of floor. I've driven an F250 onto a raised floor with over half the tiles lifted, loaded the truck with equipment, and driven it out again. Several times (we were moving the DC a couple blocks to the East).

      I would not recommend doing this unless you know for a fact that it is safe, though ...

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Floor loading, what is that

        It depends entirely on what tiles are removed. In some patterns it's entirely fine as the floor can retain it's rigidity, in other patterns (especially long uninterrupted lines) the stands lose support and buckle, causing the floor to start collapsing (and cascade to any still connected parts of the floor)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Floor loading, what is that

          Again, it depends on the style of floor.

          Consider, for example, that I'm in earthquake country.

    2. Excused Boots Bronze badge

      Re: Floor loading, what is that

      Of course, if their people had been in the room, and the VAX had fallen over and hurt someone, then they would be looking at a lawsuit of truly Biblical proportions!

      Two can play at that game.

      1. Not Yb Bronze badge

        Re: Floor loading, what is that

        If it was an old Tandem server that fell over, they'd just need someone to lift it back upright, and possibly reconnect some cables.

  5. jake Silver badge

    Locks.

    1) Don't pry the silly little things open. Rather, learn to pick them. Equipment cabinet locks, desk drawer locks, file cabinet locks and the like are among the easiest locks to learn on. Making picks is easy, instructions can be found online. All you need is a few tines from a street sweeper and a Dremel. Or, if you live in an enlightened country you can buy kits of assorted picks and turning tools for very little money. Try Covert Instruments for a good selection of quality tools. Lock picking is a useful skill, and not all that difficult to learn. Recommended.

    2) Those equipment cabinet locks are usually fairly generic, and OEM parts were probably available if you knew where to look. In fact, I'll bet a wooden nickle that they are still available. Call your nearest locksmith, or just look em up online. Both Grainger and McMaster-Carr sell a wide variety at reasonable prices. Also recommended.

    1. Victor Ludorum

      Re: Locks.

      Try Covert Instruments for a good selection of quality tools.

      'This is the Lock Picking Lawyer, and today I'm going to show you how to open a data cabinet with some simple tools...'

      Is Jake the LPL?

      V.

      1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

        Re: Locks.

        Is it bad that I first worked out how to rake a lock in Scouts with a paperclip when we couldn't open the door in the scout hut?

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Locks.

          I always found server racks / cabs fairly easy to open as the lock was always just clipped into a circular hole in the metal or glass and could easily be rotated with a screwdriver in the keyhole.

          Perhaps they wernt the highest quality.

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Locks.

            The slightly higher end ones nowadays have D shaped hole with a flat on the lock body. Attempting to rotate those out of their retaining nut works just fine, but by shattering the glass instead of freeing the lock. Takes a bit more explaining...

          2. Contrex

            Re: Locks.

            I worked in a Civil Service office with highly confidential documents stored in steel filing cabinets. If we couldn't find a key, or if it snapped off, we'd call the Mitie building services bloke and he'd nip round with a bloody great big screwdriver and a new lock and key.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Locks.

              When I first started work at a very well known engineering company, one of the first tasks given to apprentices was to make themselves a set of lock picks from broken hacksaw blades.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Locks.

              I learned to pick file cabinet locks decades ago after it became necessary to open a cabinet whose key was long lost; the lock had been inadvertently pushed in, locking it. I called Maintenance, thinking they'd do the sensible thing and just drill the lock (as I would have). Nope. Hairy ape shows up with big screwdriver and proceeds to mangle the cabinet, destroying its ability to ever be locked again (or even properly closed, for that matter).

              After that, I self-taught. Cheap locks are EASY. This saved at least a half-dozen file cabinets, drawers, and lockboxes from a similar fate over the next decade. For file cabinets, once the lock is open, you can easily remove the cylinder, preventing a repeat problem until a new cylinder is bought and installed.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Locks.

                The downside, of course, is being an easy scapegoat if stuff goes "missing" from locked filing cabinets or desk drawers when you are the one who has previously and proudly showed off your skills. It's probably a good idea to make sure others learn or that you never fall foul of superiors :-)

        2. UCAP Silver badge

          Re: Locks.

          Did you get a badge for managing to do it? Scouts seem to have badges for just about everything.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Locks.

            No badge for that here in the US. Several years ago, one of my nephews tried to convince the BSA to let him write a new locksmithing merit badge. They flat turned him down ,,, and threatened to throw him out if he let on to his buddies that he knew how. When I pointed out that their Automotive Maintenance merit badge would give a scout the ability to hotwire a car, I thought they'd have a collective coronary ... and I was asked to leave. The automotive badge requirements have since been dumbed down.

            The world is filled with namby-pamby hand-wringers. Sad, that.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Locks.

              There is a badge .... but you have to unlock the 'right' cabinet to get it !!!

              :)

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Locks.

              It seems they don't actually trust or believe their Scouts who take an oath to "do good" etc. I wonder why?

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Locks.

                "I wonder why?"

                Gut feeling? Projection combined with the Peter Principal.

                Individual Scouts and their local leaders are usually upstanding members of a local community, but the further up in the hierarchy you go the more detached from reality they become. As with any such organization, there are exceptions to the rule.

        3. that one in the corner Silver badge

          Re: Locks.

          I hope you got your badge for that.

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Locks.

          "Is it bad that I first worked out how to rake a lock in Scouts with a paperclip when we couldn't open the door in the scout hut?"

          Be Prepared? :-)

        5. Not Yb Bronze badge

          Re: Locks.

          First person who taught me about how locks aren't always secure, was Dad, showing me the second method of using the key to open the server room where he worked.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Locks.

        No, I'm not the LPL.

      3. Roger Greenwood

        Re: Locks.

        Agree, essential skill. At the apprentice training centre one of the firtst things you made was your own toolbox. You then got to padlock it to keep your tools safe. Next skill was picking locks so you could nick tools from other apprentices, or, in the case of one imaginative oik, open the box, fill it with hydraulic oil, refit lock leaving no trace.

        1. saxicola

          Re: Locks.

          I don't think my apprentice toolbox would have held oil for long. I still have it though some 50 years later.

          1. Trygve Henriksen

            Re: Locks.

            That's when you use Grease instead of oil....

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Locks.

              Probably an appropriate place for this comment ... Never use grease or oil to lubricate a lock. It picks up dust and turns into grinding compound and/or eventually jams the lock with accumulated crud. Instead, lubricate with a tiny bit of graphite, but only if absolutely necessary.

            2. herman Silver badge

              Re: Locks.

              We once filled a guy’s cubicle with packaging foam peanuts - put cling wrap over the opening.

        2. herman Silver badge

          Re: Locks.

          You don’t need to open a toolbox to fill it with oil. Anyhoo, now I wonder why we never thought of that…

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Locks.

        This reminds me to look up the LPL channel for the April 1st video. They're always worth a watch. Getting into his wife's Beaver was my favorite.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: Locks.

          The one for this year is hilarious, and crammed to the gills with double and triple entendres, similar to previous years. It's worth it.

          (I'd refrain from drinking while watching it. :D)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Locks.

          《This reminds me to look up the LPL channel for the April 1st video. They're always worth a watch. Getting into his wife's Beaver was my favorite.》

          No idea what LPL is but surely the last sentence can not mean what I think it means?

          1. Anonymous Custard
            Headmaster

            Re: Locks.

            https://www.youtube.com/@lockpickinglawyer

      5. Rob Daglish

        Re: Locks.

        If he isn’t, then it’s the only thing he hasn’t been so far…

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Locks.

          Presumably you are prepared to show us all at least several places where I've claimed to be anyone other than myself.

          ::crickets::

          Even one? No? Not even one? What's that make your comment, Mr. Daglish?

    2. may_i

      Re: Locks.

      There is an old adage about locks only keeping honest people out, and it's so true.

      None of these trivial locks which secure server racks, little steel cash boxes and similar take more than about five seconds to open with a rake pick and that doesn't even require more than a modicum of skill to use.

      Many moons ago, the shared laundry room in my apartment block was locked when my booked time came around. The person who had locked it with their booking tag wasn't even home so that I could get them to remove their clothes from the machine so that I could start my wash. What to do? Then I noticed that the door was hardly a great fit in its frame - the simple application of a large screwdriver between the door and its frame was sufficient to open it. After dumping the missing resident's wet clothes in a trolley and starting my wash, I was on my way out when another resident saw me leaving the room and commented "Oh, have they finally come and collected their washing?". I replied "No, it's all in that trolley over there". "But how did you get in?" she said.

      The look on her face when I simply smiled and showed her the big screwdriver I had in my back pocket was classic!

      1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

        Re: Locks.

        "Who are you? And how did you get in?"

        "I'm a locksmith... and I'm a locksmith"

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Locks.

          "Thank you. I just had it stuffed."

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Locks.

        Actually, locks don't keep honest people out, either.

        However, honest people don't do anything illegal with their knowledge and ability.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Locks.

          Locks keep honest people honest and delay dishonest people to varying degrees is the most accurate descriptor.

        2. collinsl Bronze badge

          Re: Locks.

          > However, honest people don't do anything illegal with their knowledge and ability.

          Unless the mere act of bypassing the lock is illegal in your jurisdiction...

      3. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: Locks.

        Many moons ago, the shared laundry room in my apartment block was locked when my booked time came around.
        In the UK, it's normal to have your own washing machine.

        Quite a few people I knew even acquired a washing machine before they got a fridge. If you shop the pedestrian way, little and often, then you will eat your food up before it has a chance to go off. But you always need clean clothes!

        1. collinsl Bronze badge

          Re: Locks.

          Usual but not required. Lived in a flat in London that had one washer & one dryer shared between 5 flats of people in a converted house.

      4. Hazmoid

        Re: Locks.

        Lol, locked my car keys in the office one day so had to jemmy the lcok using my Leatherman. Basically levered the door latch back into the door.

    3. ChoHag Silver badge

      Re: Locks.

      > All you need is a few tines from a street sweeper and a Dremel.

      If you have a Dremel your lock-picking kit is already complete.

      1. Excused Boots Bronze badge

        Re: Locks.

        “ If you have a Dremel your lock-picking kit is already complete.”

        Or a sledge hammer, works just as well. Not as subtle but does the job!

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Locks.

          Neither the Dremel nor the sledge hammer are lock picking tools. They are lock destroying tools.

          Similar to the difference between hacking and cracking.

          1. PRR Silver badge

            Re: Locks.

            > Neither the Dremel nor the sledge hammer are lock picking tools. They are lock destroying tools.

            Many, even most, padlocks will open with a sharp smack on the side. See the notch in the U-shackle? A little tooth engages it, just spring loaded so the lock can be closed. Smack the lock sharply. the tooth bounces, you pull the shackle. After you done it once to get a knack, you rarely have to do it twice. Or hit hard enough to leave a mark. (Remember that when your insurance only covers "forced entry".)

            Many car seatbelts open just as easy. Some only need a book, not a metal banger.

            We had lots of sliding doors at work. Keys lost. One time the new manager called a locksmith in before asking me. I wandered in, saw the pack of picks and the power-drill backup. I grabbed a door and lifted it over the bottom track then under the top track. Took a book and put it back, no comment. I know how liberal arts students would never catch on, but I was surprised a locksmith didn't get it. OR maybe he was dogging the job to jack the bill? I have had relay rack sides work the same way.

            I don't understand HOW a lock could be obsolete, except from marketing perspective. For most of a century cabinet locks were standardized quasi-cylindrical things plus various washers, shims, and tongues to suit the situation. Yes, the OEM might stock the complete assembly, but any lock-worker (sharper than mine) should be able to swap-over and make-work.

    4. NXM Silver badge

      Things Resembling Locks

      Decades ago my mother had a 1900cc Peugeot 205 GTI, the flashiest hottest hot hatch of it's day. When we were out and about one day the door blew shut ... with the key in the ignition. We were miles from anywhere.

      I cadged a piece of wire from another driver and with no practice at all was able to slide it past the window into the door and pull the lock popper up. I'd never done it before.

      The "lock" was really only there for show, like modern auto-open keyfobs.

      1. midgepad

        Re: Things Resembling Locks

        Likewise. Different model.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Things Resembling Locks

          been there, lady with a broken arm was being taken to hospital in one, got locked in and of course couldn't reach the key. Mum borrowed someone else's key and managed to get in through the boot.

    5. KarMann Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Locks.

      Ha! It's not just me! Back about 30 years ago, I found a couple of those street sweeper tines broken off on the street, and realised they might come in handy for just this kind of thing. I took one to work and polished it up (I worked in a jewellery shop at the time), shaped it a bit, and found that it fit in my Swiss Army knife in the slot for the plastic toothpick, which I'd almost never used anyway. I still have that knife, but the tine may have gone astray sometime in the past couple of decades. But, it's good to find some supporting evidence that I was on to something back then.

    6. streaky

      Re: Locks.

      If normies knew how easy lock picking is, people wouldn't bother using locks. I use ABS ultimate at the back of my house because I know I can get in without keys if I lose them and a BS-rated electronic lock at the front because I know that even if Yale's servers are run by a spotty teenager who (unofficially) works for Mi5 and it all runs on Windows 98 and an era-appropriate Perl install and none of it has been maintained since then it'll still be more secure than the absolute best physical lock money can buy.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And this is why...

    My ex-boss and myself keep a few choice tools around that look somewhat like some stiff wire and some thin bits of metal.

    We're also both subscribed to the lock picking lawyers channel...

    We also really keep seriously eyeing ordering a pair of covert companions.

    Anon because I'm not putting my name to knowledge of physical security bypasses...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When your manager has never lifted a screwdriver in their life.

    You just know you are in trouble. Hiring people just because they have management experience does not work in the Tech world because you have to dumb down your explanation of why you had to do something in a particular way.

    1. Anonymous Custard
      Headmaster

      Re: When your manager has never lifted a screwdriver in their life.

      95% I agree with you (and 100% if the manglement are also self-aggrandizing and/or a moron).

      But you do get the occasional gem of a manager who knows what they don't know, are comfortable that you know more than them on the subject and will support and facilitate you doing your work.

      I had a boss a while back who fitted that category, and was happy for me to use him as a sounding board to think things through by explaining it to him, which often helped me sort things in my mind too (there's no better way to be sure you know and understand something fully than to have to explain it to someone else).

      Plus he may not have had deep technical skills, but he did have decent common sense and a logical way of thinking, meaning he'd often ask not-so-technical questions that again made you stop and think or reconsider how you'd approached the problem. Often got over the old "not seeing the wood for the trees" scenarios, or when you'd got too focussed on a given possible solution and had missed something else or a test that should be done.

      If you luck onto one of them, hang onto them for dear life...

      1. MiguelC Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: there's no better way to be sure you know and understand something fully than to have to explain it to someone else

        Have one!

        Hell no, have several!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where's the ON CALL: tag

    Where's the ON CALL: tag in the article, so we can find the story should we be otherwise occupied on the day it is released?

    1. JQJ

      Re: Where's the ON CALL: tag

      Use the "Send corrections" link (https://www.theregister.com/Author/Email/corrections?message=re:%20https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theregister.com/2024/04/05/on_call/) at the top of the Comments page to report this. That usually gets reacted to quite fast. Don't bother now anymore, I' ve already done it. :-)

    2. ChoHag Silver badge

      Re: Where's the ON CALL: tag

      The URL https://www.theregister.com/Tag/<tag> can be used to search for stories that have been given a tag, such as https://www.theregister.com/Tag/On-Call

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Where's the ON CALL: tag

        You can also use that with an RSS reader, I subscribe to the BOFH and Liam Proven's articles with that.

  9. wyatt

    Flipping aircon- 7 hour round trip as the 'has anything changed' question was met with a 'no' from a customer. Open doors and fans were fairly conclusive even without stepping foot into the sauna.

  10. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    see title

    "On Call" missing from article headline / title ! nearly missed it!

    1. JQJ

      Re: see title

      Use the "Send corrections" link (https://www.theregister.com/Author/Email/corrections?message=re:%20https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theregister.com/2024/04/05/on_call/) at the top of the Comments page to report this. That usually gets reacted to quite fast. Don't bother now anymore, I' ve already done it. :-)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mess with locks = big nope

    I'm in a similarly locked down facility, and I would have slid to a halt with the locked servers.

    A) You have to be by-the-book around here security-wise. I don't fancy explaining things to a tribunal.

    B) It would inconvenience the smarmy idiot with the keys, but he would not be able to bitch.

    C) It would inconvenience upper management, and if they bitched, you'd be able to kick it to upper upper management.

    D) All of the above has resulted in me getting the keys.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Mess with locks = big nope

      Of course. Always follow policy and procedure.

      But if you know how, let the Boss know you can pick the lock(s) and minimize damage (costs). Make certain you get a wet signature authorizing it before making the attempt, though..

    2. I am David Jones Silver badge

      Re: Mess with locks = big nope

      Yep, in a place with that kind of security, I wouldn’t even go through an unlocked door if it said ‘no entry’ on it, let alone pick/break a lock

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Mess with locks = big nope

        What if it said "Beware of the leopard"?

        1. DJV Silver badge

          Re: Mess with locks = big nope

          In that case, just make sure you have your towel with you.

          1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Mess with locks = big nope

            Plus an electronic thumb, and a book with large, friendly letters on the cover

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Mess with locks = big nope

      This story reminds me of seeing the same user environment back in the 70's when the computer servers saw massive problem that were fixed when the tech examined everything late in the evening and remove all the rats nests from the top of the PDP-11 boards in each server. He was cursed for shutting all the systems down to remove and clean all the CPU and memory boards. After a few hours he had everything fixed.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Mess with locks = big nope

        ...Actual rats?

        1. DJV Silver badge

          Re: Mess with locks = big nope

          Rats, squirrels, politicians - you've always got to clear up after they've been in your systems.

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: Mess with locks = big nope

            Whew. 90 percent of us have the other kind of rat's nest - "A software or hardware system whose design lacks organized structure, making it difficult to understand and maintain", according to Wiktionary.

            Oddly perhaps, Wiktionary doesn't include the "actual rats" version - unless that's implicitly included. Google does start with actual rats, though.

            To be truthful, Witkionary does offer first, for non-technicians, "Something that is excessively complicated, entangled, or disorderly." I think that's the same thing as the "software or hardware" version but with less analytical insight.

        2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: Mess with locks = big nope

          Yes, originally all the floors all had a lot of space underneath the tiles to allow wire connections to everything, the servers were fully accessible and the rats had managed to invade the servers, we were told that they had just setup their own nests. At least they were not sitting in the RL02's and tape drives.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Locked racks

    I once worked in a place with good reason treat their data as sensitive and needing heightened security and limited access to the physical servers. I did often think, however, that by the time you had got into a concrete bunker like data centre, past several card controlled access points, past a doorway monitored by security guards who if they couldn't run most certainly could shoot, past the similar but solitary guard in the hut by the gate through the layered barbed-wire laced fence, then you probably weren't going to be fazed by the lock on the server rack.

    1. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: Locked racks

      No, but the "beware of the leopard" sign on the door may well dissuade you from continuing any further...

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Locked racks

        There may well be a reason that lavatory is disused too.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Locked racks

      I did often think, however, that by the time you had got into a concrete bunker like data centre, past several card controlled access points, past a doorway monitored by security guards who if they couldn't run most certainly could shoot, past the similar but solitary guard in the hut by the gate through the layered barbed-wire laced fence, then you probably weren't going to be fazed by the lock on the server rack.

      You are overlooking the not so minor detail that you won't be the only client/customer of such a DC. And it might just be nice to avoid tempting other clients/customers. And they feel the same way about you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Locked racks

        Original A/C here - they very much were the only user of that DC - they owned it and ran it for the simple reason that they didn't want to share access to their data or the machines that led it with anyone else at all.

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Locked racks

      The first minute or so of the film "Carry On Spying" comes to mind.

      At a large secret establishment, a milkman strolls in past a long series of bored-looking guards and "Private" and "Keep Out" signs on doors.

      1. collinsl Bronze badge

        Re: Locked racks

        Or "The Simpsons" where Burns and Smithers walk through a series of highly complex and secure doors and access methods only to get into a room with a broken door straight to the outside with a stray dog running out through it.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Locked racks

      "I once worked in a place with good reason treat their data as sensitive and needing heightened security and limited access to the physical servers."

      I did a repair on device at customer corporate HQ the other week. I was lead into the server room, shown a desk space and left alone to get on with it. The server racks didn't have doors, mainly because they would be superfluous what with all the networking cables hanging out the fronts making any door unable to close. We do have a contract with them, but it was my first time there and they didn't know me from Adam :-)

  13. darksatanic

    One place I worked, we had a pretty hefty supercomputer (which bankrupted a department that didn't ask for it or use it, but that's a different rant). I think it debuted in the top 10 worldwide.

    Anyway, one evening the aircon failed in the machine room. Aircon monitoring either didn't trigger or wasn't present. The temperature rose. Equipment started failing. The first thing that failed was the core switch for the room, effectively isolating it from the rest of the world. Then the temperature monitor triggered an alarm. The temperature monitor was plugged into the core switch.

    The first anyone knew of it was when the security guard did his rounds at 7am and found the shutter over the main door was hot to the touch, and called in the fire brigade.

    Nothing had actually caught fire, and almost all of the hardware (including th supercomputer) was fine, but a pair of ear defenders had melted onto the metal rail they were hanging on...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Locks, only one way to do it right

    The only way to do locked cabinets right is the following I've seen once:

    - different (secure, not joe will open it with a needle type) key for each cabinet

    - a remotely triggered (by support) locked cabinet for cabinet keys access

    - said cabinet is CCTV monitored (so they know which key you're taking)

    Implemented correctly as above, it works, but yes, it's pricey.

    Then, you have the usual same key for each cabinet, that Pointy Hair Boss has confiscated and stored Heck knows where.

    At which point, all staff will have pinched one version of the keys left unattended, after a couple of months, and your cabinets will only be locked for the cleaning staff, at least for those allowed in there ....

    If you don't implement the first one, don't implement locked cabinet at all !

    1. Anne Hunny Mouse

      Re: Locks, only one way to do it right

      Cabinets with Manifoil safe type locks are quite a good deterrent.

      They definitely do exist.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Locks, only one way to do it right

        Similarly equipped file cabinets also exist.

        Both are extremely expensive, though.

    2. OhForF' Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Locks, only one way to do it right

      >a remotely triggered (by support) locked cabinet for cabinet keys access<

      So once the router for remote access misbehaves you're back to picking/smashing the lock to open the cabinet housing that router.

  15. Daedalus

    Sometimes it's good to be a jobsworth

    Maybe I'm old and bitter, but faced with this kind of cockup, I would simply have said "too bad, not my job" and let the higher ups argue about it.

    The rule is: the last person to touch it gets the blame.

  16. aerogems Silver badge
    Holmes

    There was a hilarious radio show I used to listen to before one of the hosts died. One of the hosts had been married several times, and someone calls in to settle an argument between him and his wife. The veteran at marriage said how if there's anything he's learned from all his failed relationships, it's that you have a choice. You can choose to be right, or you can choose to be happy. Manny chose to be right.

    But the story does remind me a bit of a brief stint I did for a company. Part of the job was being the person who babysat the AT&T rep who would show up to establish Internet service for a new office. There was no super on site, it was just one of many faceless office park buildings that dot the California landscape. Naturally the door to the utility room is locked, so the AT&T rep, a grizzled veteran of the job if I'd ever seen one, just pulls out a screwdriver and jiimies the lock on the door. Upon closer inspection as we were going into the room, it was clear plenty of other people had done the same thing. Once in the room it was a mess. The building super was in the process of moving all the teleco equipment from an upstairs office suite to this utility room, and of course nothing is labeled. So while the AT&T guy is trying to figure out which set of points on the board correspond to the correct office suite, I'm looking around the room and see someone had wrapped a bare copper wire around the spine of the building fuse box. Someone wrote on the wall "nice ground" (or earth as some of you may know it). Eventually it turns out the board the AT&T rep was looking for was in an office suite. The clients were real jerks, and one of those "analystics" web companies (I didn't know that until after I accepted the job) so I made sure to be out of there before the inevitable wailing and gnashing of teeth when the super decided to disconnect all that stuff to move it to the utility room, and it "slipped my mind" to mention it before I left. Just my bit of petty revenge.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Car Talk" was a great show.

  17. DS999 Silver badge

    If you have a secure server room

    Located in a secure room, wouldn't you think that the racks would be alarmed against tampering or something? I'm assuming this is some sort of military or spook site, as multiple levels of paranoia without filling in the obvious checkboxes employed by far less paranoid sites seems on form for them.

    1. Excused Boots Bronze badge

      Re: If you have a secure server room

      Yes, you might well think that this being a ‘military/spook site’, they would have alarms on the cabinets!

      In the real world though…….

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: If you have a secure server room

      I've seen individually alarmed cabinets. After the first few false alarms they always seem to accidentally become disabled.

    3. John PM Chappell

      Re: If you have a secure server room

      One of those "Sounds like something we should have" ideas that turns out to be unwanted in practice. Ultimately because it is an increased cost and whenever the alarms go off it was a fault or an accident and not a real incident.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: If you have a secure server room

        Dunno, I recall a site (major bank in Canada) that had individually alarmed cabinets on the part of the floor (complete with a second badged entrance) reserved for their more critical systems. I recall hearing the alarm once, turned out someone opened the wrong cabinet so it wasn't a false alarm.

        So they not only get the security against deliberate intrusion but have an extra layer of protection against someone accidentally working on the wrong cabinet, which it prevented in this case. The operators had some sort of control panel that let them shut off an alarm if e.g. a vendor rep is coming to swap out a power supply.

  18. Camilla Smythe

    Feynman

    https://www.openculture.com/2013/04/learn_how_richard_feynman_cracked_the_safes_with_atomic_secrets_at_los_alamos.html

  19. k8la

    My initial thought was that we need the BOFH to come out of retirement. Then I realized that not even he could overcome the strongest force in the cosmos, "The Peter Principle".

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AirCon in the server room you was lucky. In our MDs infinite wisdom he had steel plate bolted to a door to keep the room secure. However in this room was also the gas central system boiler. The server constantly ran hot and would fail every now and again and be covered in a fine black dust.

    Eventually it got moved to its own room with aircon - this necessitated moving it while keeping it on ups (novel netware tooks ages to boot), one techie carrying the server me carrying the ups up two flights of stairs to its new home.

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