back to article Tired techie 'fixed' a server, blamed Microsoft, and got away with it

Welcome once again, gentle reader folk, to the comfy corner of The Register safe space we call Who, Me? wherein readers share their stories of times when they were not perhaps at the very peak of their technical brilliance. Last week we put a call out for stories of lessons learned the hard way, and boy did you deliver. For …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Interesting

    So, Microsoft can actually provide 'value' {of a sort}!

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Interesting

      That's the HKEY to their success...

      1. PBuon

        Re: Interesting

        DWORD, innit.

        Trying ti channel my inner Ali G.

        1. Trank1234

          Re: Interesting

          You guys are awesome :-D

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Interesting

            If you want to cover all bases, use a Windows Server for handling DNS

  2. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    Speaking of the registry, why isn't the editor of this fine organ known as the "Regedit"?

    1. CountCadaver Silver badge

      Giving me disturbing visions of newspeak and ingsoc

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "why isn't the editor of this fine organ known as the "Regedit"?"

      Because the editor of El Reg is not broadly hated by the readership?

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Did you see what happened when they switched to the American attempt at English?

  3. Tubz Silver badge

    Hey Microsoft, why does a server registry not have a change backup or locked out from being changed by unapproved 3rd party tools?

    1. Tom Chiverton 1

      It does have a backup.

      Defined "approved tools". Who'd decide that ? How could that be abused, given M$ history ?

      1. SVD_NL Silver badge

        The moment you run it with sufficient privileges it's an "approved tool". In some cases it's actually approved *by* a tool, but that's not M$s problem!

    2. aerogems Silver badge

      Everything seems obvious in hindsight. I mean, how many sporting matches would have gone differently if only someone watching the game in a pub or at home were the one calling the plays?

      1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

        All of them?

    3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Microsoft does, at least on older versions in C:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack (or C:\WinNT\System\config\RegBack). But you can delete them easily since they are not in use.

      As for Windows 8 and higher they are off by default. Reactivate:

      [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Configuration Manager]

      "EnablePeriodicBackup"=dword:00000001

      "BackupCount"=dword:00000001

      + configure the existing scheduled task under \Microsoft\Windows\Registry to actually make it. If you want more control WHEN you have to export the task, edit the .xml, then re-import it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I never understood why all the useful system configuration options are buried in this largely undocumented hellhole of keys and strings and dwords. And only accessible with a crappy editor. (does anybody know the difference between regedit and regedt32?)

    Why isn't there a nice graphical config page with radio buttons and check boxes for every option and a paragraph of text explaining what each one does?

    Even the old windows ini files were a better way of doing things.

    1. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

      >>difference between regedit and regedt32

      regedit works? Dunno about these days but the 32 variant couldn't search in registry values, only in keys which was/is a bit of a limitation.

      Oh sorry - these days they are the same... back in the day there were significant differences in functionality. It seems the timeline went regedit (windows 95ish) -> Regedt32 (NT4 ish) -> regedit/32 (x64)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Config options buried in largely undocumented hellhole of keys, strings and dwords

      Anon: “I never understood why all the useful system configuration options are buried in this largely undocumented hellhole of keys and strings and dwords.

      To prevent Novell Neware running efficiently on Windows.

      Microsoft's Opening Statement in Novell v. MS

      Nov 1993: “We have to take the hard line. We can't give OpenDoc even an inch as easy runtime interface to OLE 2.0. We don't want to lose control of the API that ISV's are writing to. MFC is a special case since it belongs to Microsoft. If we say that OpenDoc is an OK runtime, then they will use that position to get ISV's to write to that interface plus they now get cross- platform benefits, etc.

      Aug 1995: “Below is the text of 2 messages sent previously regarding header files and libraries for implementing a Windows 95 Password Provider. To date, we have had no response, but we need this information. Can someone please respond with the information we need?

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Config options buried in largely undocumented hellhole of keys, strings and dwords

        Why I still hate MS

    3. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge
      Boffin

      "this largely undocumented hellhole of keys and strings and dwords."

      Many years ago I was browsing in my local second-hand book shop (the rather marvelous Barter Books in Alnwick) and came across a weighty tome called "The Windows 95 Registry". This detailed each and every registry key and value that was used by Windows 95. It was only a few quid so I bought it. It never got much, if any, use for reference, but I did occasionally pick it up just to marvel at the amount of work that had gone into compiling such a vast set of information (this was an independent work, not something published by MS as an official programmers' reference guide)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "this largely undocumented hellhole of keys and strings and dwords."

        Have they still got the trains running round the bookshop ?

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: "this largely undocumented hellhole of keys and strings and dwords."

          Have they still got the trains running round the bookshop ?

          They were there last time I visited - absolute gem of a place

          1. TDog

            Re: "this largely undocumented hellhole of keys and strings and dwords."

            That's where I got my Turner - in a box of unsorted prints priced at about £5.00 each. Browsed through them and with trembling hands bought that one. And cringed as the shop assistent tried to fold it to fit into a large envelope. Fortunately I sort of said, "don't worry" and put it in my carrier bag.

        2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: "this largely undocumented hellhole of keys and strings and dwords."

          I have one of their original batch of "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters, printer during WW2.

    4. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Devil

      One day, maybe we'll get a «Who Me?» by the person who designed the Windows Registry...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Designed?

        1. Ken Shabby
          Devil

          Someone spat on a wall and it hatched

      2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge
        Happy

        I can't remember his name, but years ago I saw a video of him giving a presentation about the Registry - his opening slide just consisted of the word "sorry" repeated multiple times.

    5. andy gibson

      Bring back TWEAK UI!

    6. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      "Why isn't there a nice graphical config page"

      so its scriptable and remotley adminnable , people doing that dont need nice graphics , although I'm sure you can buy a nice gui for it .

      see also WMI

      same applies

      1. Richard Pennington 1
        Coat

        As someone almost said ...

        Nice GUIs finish last.

        I'll use the "get my coat" icon.

    7. Shalghar Bronze badge

      "Why isn't there a nice graphical config page with radio buttons and check boxes for every option and a paragraph of text explaining what each one does?"

      Xteq X-Setup.Once was a freeware for private individuals, shareware for commercial as far as i remember.

      Worked very well with Win2000 and WinXP. Havent used it in a decade or so but still remember it.

      Doesnt give you really full access but every option is explained and potentially dangerous options must be confirmed before they are applied.

      Has been renamed to Xset and may still be available, but i gave up after a few broken or mislabeled links.

      If you are interested, try to find it at:

      http://www.xteq.com/misc/xset_to_xsp.html

    8. Mike Pellatt

      Yeah, this idea that some structured system is the way to store configuration information when you can have absolutely no idea of what will be required of it in 10 years time, or how some other team will abuse it because they have no idea of the design philosophy.

      Ob systemd sideswipe: I just hope Poettering understands this.

      1. cookieMonster Silver badge
        Trollface

        OMG!!! Now you’ve gone and done it!!!

        Pottering will add a registry for systemd in the next release, only accessible via powershell for Linux

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          dconf already exists.

    9. Just Enough

      Massive config page

      "Why isn't there a nice graphical config page with radio buttons and check boxes for every option and a paragraph of text explaining what each one does?"

      Because it would be a page with a scroll bar that reached to the moon. The paragraphs would either be infuriatingly skimpy, if ever actually documented, or go on forever. Only about half of the entries would make sense as radio buttons and checkboxes. Those that used listboxes instead would require hundreds of entries, using values that are impossible to understand without full documentation. It would take half an hour to open and and an hour to save. No-one would ever go near it.

    10. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Why isn't there a nice graphical config page with radio buttons and check boxes for every option and a paragraph of text explaining what each one does?"

      The hard disk isn't big enough to hold that much data if you want every key documented. And there is a finite amount of time before the heat death of the universe. There's no point in starting a job you know you can't finish before the end of all life.

  5. trevorde Silver badge

    Registry bomb

    Worked on a project where we stored various system level settings in the Windows registry. When a dev pulled the latest code, they ran a .reg file to get the updated settings. I put a bug in the .reg file which nuked the whole registry, resulting in a bricked machine. After bricking my machine & another dev's box, we realised the error. We had one remote dev who was just about to fly in to the office. I managed to phone him at the airport, just as he was about to board. He'd pulled my registry bomb and was just about to write some code on the flight over!

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Registry bomb

      We want to know the whole story, please submit it to here :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Registry bomb

      That story could have lead to an even better Who Me entry...

      "Wait, I can't get on the plane yet, I have to disable a bomb first..." (while pointing at laptop).

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Registry bomb

        "an even better Who Me entry..."

        The Answer To Life, The Universe and Everything is somewhere in the Windows Registry. But there is no "Who Me" entry in there :-)

  6. terry 1

    I think I know the software used. I recall trying it on my home computer despite many years of experience telling me don't. Sure enough it trashed the registry to the point it was unrecoverable. It also munched it's way though shadow copies so recovery options were thin on the ground. And at the time I was too cocky to do full images, just file backups via robocopy as they were deemed to be sufficient.

    I had an backup attitude realignment that day!!

    1. ColonelClaw

      Did the name of this software possibly rhyme with DMeaner? I'd be interested to know

  7. 43300 Silver badge

    Well, Microsoft breaking things isn't exactly stretching credibility very far, is it? Or stretching it at all, in fact...

  8. Howard Sway Silver badge

    a utility we've chosen not to name that could clean up a Windows PC's registry

    To be fair, it did what it said on the tin. It was just that their idea of what "clean up" meant may not have been the same as your idea.

    1. mobailey

      Re: a utility we've chosen not to name that could clean up a Windows PC's registry

      We're talking about CCleaner, aren't we? Where the first C stands for "Crap"?

  9. MarthaFarqhar

    The term Regicide should be appended to the OED definition.

    Any change to the Windows registry that will cause unexpected or harmful effects to the operation of a Window computer.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge
      Coat

      I thought it referred to the white space at the side of each page as I was reading The Reg!

      Mine's the one with the sore ass ...... I mean thesaurus in the pocket!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It was just the one king. No need to keep going on about it.

  10. Giles C Silver badge

    On another note

    Regarding being tired.

    I once had a manager who wanted a big problem fixing and demanded I kept working on it. To which I told him I have been working on this for 11 hours straight I am too tired to think sensibly and I keep on working and make a serious mistake it is his fault.

    I got told to go home and get some rest. Vjctory!

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: On another note

      Learned that lesson at university. Why I make mistake typing, correct it, and then fat-finger exactly the same mistake, it's time to give up on the late-night assignment typing and go to bed.

      Later on, when I was working fully-flexible hours as a developer (typically a mixture of 10-hour and 4-hour days), any hours after 12 I might just as well go home: I wasn't achieving anything useful.

      1. LogicGate Silver badge

        Re: On another note

        AM or PM?

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: On another note

          Yes.

      2. Giles C Silver badge

        Re: On another note

        I’ve done the same reading, once you have read the same sentence 3 times give up and get some sleep…

      3. Not Yb Bronze badge

        Re: On another note

        The lesson I learned from one all-night coding session was "make sure you take the cassette tape with the software on it with you to class the next day".

        Thankfully could find someone to bring it to me before class, but .... after realizing it wasn't in my bag, cue panic!

        (project was "write a text editor in assembly language", which apparently I could do in my sleep at the time, ha)

  11. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    Happy

    old, running out of space, and not in good shape

    That's definitely me (2nd clause is my desk). I won't ask Laurence to fix me.

  12. heyrick Silver badge

    and everyone blamed Microsoft

    To be fair, this was to do with the abomination known as the registry, so it kinda was Microsoft's fault...

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: and everyone blamed Microsoft

      Pffft, Microsoft... That was all I needed to say in a lot of situations, and the issues were dropped, people would look at the floor, draw a deep breath and agree. Quite magical!

  13. William Towle
    Coat

    "Glittering" Career in IT?

    It's worth having some handy in case the polish fails.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Glittering" Career in IT?

      Regular or reverse Polish?

  14. Trank1234

    Drawing deep within himself to summon his inner thespian, Laurence replied: "No."

    OMG, the journalistic acuity. I laughed so hard, lol.

  15. jhgoodwin

    Never money to fix it right, but always money to hire consultants to fix it when it goes sideways.

  16. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Way back when I was a student, I worked for Blockbuster video.. Because I was trying to save money, I worked every hour I could. It was a Friday (one of our two busiest days of the week), and I'd just worked a double shift, and did a stock take. The company did not allow stock takes to be done while the shop was open. I'd just finished the stock take, which took around 3 hours, It was 2am Saturday, and I'd been on shift since 9am Friday.

    As such, I was beyond tired when I finished that shift. After I finished, I was giving the shop a final once over, to ensure it was tidy (I was working again at 9am, and didn't want to deal with the mess when I got in). I walked past the kids video section. Saw an educational video with Sooty and Matthew Corbett on the cover. Sooty was wearing a Mortar Board and standing next to a chalkboard, on which I thought I read the word "fuck". I checked again, and it was the word "duck". I locked up and started the long walk home.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      you sure it wasn't f*ck Sooty was a right potty mouth

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So would you be if someone rammed his hand ...

  17. Paul Floyd

    Restore from backup?

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