* Posts by A. N. Onymouse

12 posts • joined 28 Aug 2012

So you locked your backups away for years, huh? Allow me to introduce my colleagues, Brute, Force and Ignorance

A. N. Onymouse

Re: Meanwhile...

I used to get calls all the time from friends of friends (who wanted cheap home IT support) who had a tower system at home that 'just stops working after 5 minutes'

My first question was "Do you have carpets?"

In almost every case the user had a floor mounted tower on wooden floors in a corner somewhere that collected the dust and fluff and clogged the CPU fan causing a shutdown on overheat. Carpets collect the dust anf fluff, wooden floors somehow shove it all in a corner.

Quick vacuum and an air blower and I accepted my payment in beer or whisky.

Sadly my free beer supply dried up with the switch to laptops and tablets.

Accenture sued over website redesign so bad it Hertz: Car hire biz demands $32m+ for 'defective' cyber-revamp

A. N. Onymouse

Re: Wow!

How on earth could it get that bad?

All too easy.

Firstly you get your regular progress meetings attended by as high a person as you possibly can. This has two main consequences:

1) The meeting gets attended be second tier first-tier wannabees who see the easiest way up the tree is to YesMan their way up on the coattails of the superiors

2) the more 'important' people attend the fewer tech staff can attend and it becomes a management review.

Management are more easily distracted by shiny things so show them a nice interface. Whereas techs will ask awkward questions about actual function, tests, simulations etc

This goes against the usual rule of thumb for normal development which is never show management a working interface as they will assume that everything is complete. Also, never show coders a fully working back-end as they will assume it all works.

Next, keep fudging until the boss and minions are so far in that they cannot report the issues without landing themselves neck deep in the warm, brown and smelly stuff. Then starts the frantic firefighting and genuine teamwork between client and consultants trying to patch everything and hope they can fix it before anyone notices (similar to the morning after a teenage party when the parents are coming home later in the day and there is a panic trying to prop up three legged horse ornaments or gluing a vase back together with toothpaste).

Then people start looking for new jobs as part of their normal 'career development'. The replacement team comes in, smells something wrong and starts finding vomit in the sock drawer, the whisky bottles all seem to be filled up to the previous level with cold tea* and teenager insists that the TV always had that funny blue bit in the corner.

Oddly enough, over the years, I have been the teenager and the parent and the replacement team member in this scenario.

Techie finds himself telling caller there is no safe depth of water for operating computers

A. N. Onymouse

Always keep your disaster plan up to date

"Thinking through all this, I took two very slow gentle steps toward soasto not make waves, and carefully held down the UPS's power button for what felt like several minutes, but was probably only 5 seconds.

PCs went off, and all was well. I should have just switched off the building mains - know for next time."

We had a flood thanks to developers on the industrial estate cutting through a water main when demolishing an old building. The Disaster plan procedures were followed and the mains power was shut and padlocked off.

Unfortunately the disaster plan procedures were written before the server room got a containerised back up generator that automatically powers up and keeps the servers alive when the mains power goes off.

Thankfully the resulting voltage tango was non fatal.

Lessons learned. Robust procedures etc etc etc.

Are you sure your disc drive has stopped rotating, or are you just ignoring the messages?

A. N. Onymouse

Re: I can believe it!

2019 version: "Click each of the blurry images below with what resembles a shop front on it."

I had one of those. Click each image containing a crosswalk.


Google what a crosswalk is and then click on the pictures of a pedestrian crossing.

mumble grumble! US English/UK English. mumble grumble....

Heard the one where the boss calls in an Oracle consultant who couldn't fix the database?

A. N. Onymouse

Re: Wrong City

"On another occasion, I was booked to do some performance tuning work for a large drugs company in St. Petersburg. Anyway, the flights were booked for me and I was told that a limo/taxi would meet at the airport. Needless to say, no-one was waiting for me at the airport. Who knew there was a St Petersburg in Florida!!! That one took a bit more sorting out."

When travel departments foul up they do it spectacularly.

I was booked to do a training session in Hong Kong with a telecoms company. Travel dept sorted it all out. I was leaving in the morning, arriving about 12 hours later and the training was the next morning.


Except that they forgot that Hong Kong is 8 hours ahead so instead of landing at 8pm, we arrived at about 5am. With the training session starting at 8am we barely made it out of the airport and into the office in time. We barely shambled through the training looking like unmade beds on zero sleep and far too much free in-flight alcohol.

Jet lag is one issue but jet lag, sleep deprivation and sobering up while awake, talking and being watched by a room full of polite but slightly bewildered people is not a great experience.

The post script is that we just barely managed to get through the day and then they insisted in taking us out for dinner and drinks afterwards.

Oh and they also managed to get a hire car delivered to my colleague's door in Blackburn. He lives in the one in west Lothian. The car ended up outside a house with the same street name in Lancashire.

A. N. Onymouse

"S100, the original OU science foundation course, provided students with a simple balance."

That goes back a bit. I did S102 in 1989.

We did get a balance and weights in the home experiment kit.

Sysadmin trained his offshore replacements, sat back, watched ex-employer's world burn

A. N. Onymouse

... and sometimes make a lot of money fixing it

My contract with a large company was coming to an end and my replacement was a 'young whizz kid' with computers (I'm in my 50s). I had to train him to maintain a multi-user database I had brought up to date from a single user text front end to a multi user, concurrent, graphical Java-based front end (worth noting that I was not allowed to touch the underlying database structure, just build a front end)

Turns out that Whizz-Kid means a cheap graduate with a great looking CV but no real life experience. I handed over my notes, procedures etc, did the training handover and moved on to another contract.

Just over 3 months later it all went wrong and I got the panic call. Recent graduate had changed the code then left and left everything in a mess. It turns out that he didn't understand a lot of stuff like threading, locks and synchronization.

Or back ups.

Rather than admit it he hid the problems until they became too big to hide and then bolted.

I boosted my hourly rate to eye-watering levels and spend a couple of months fixing the mess and ended up with a regular contact to do a health check.

A. N. Onymouse

Re: Timing is everything

I had the same question during an interview. My reply was that I would not bother.

If shrunk to 3 inches high then my lungs would be unable to absorb the relatively enormous oxygen molecules. As I was now about 1/20 of my height then my metabolism would have to increase greatly to counter the energy lost to atmosphere as my surface area to volume ratio changes. I estimated a couple of seconds before I used up the air in my lungs and passed out and that I would rather make my peace than try to jump out of a blender.

Didn't go well. The HR rep was very unhappy but the engineering rep was stifling a laugh. I was accused of not taking things seriously, I pointed out that she started it.

Peers approve Brit film board as pr0n overlords despite concerns

A. N. Onymouse

Who will they get to review the content?

There is an odd cyclical thinking in the BBFC reasoning.

1) Material must be reviewed and censored to prevent people from being corrupted and depraved by the material.

2) BBFC employs people to review material for content that would deprave and corrupt.

3) If this material can deprave and corrupt then the censors must be corrupted and depraved through constant watching, if not then it cannot be corrupting material.

Conclusion: The BBFC censors are all a bit pervy and they are telling us what is normal?????

€100 'typewriter' turns out to be €45,000 Enigma machine

A. N. Onymouse

Re: My Find

In my case first edition hard cover of the first three Discworld books signed "Best Wishes. Terry", "Besterer wishes. Terry" & "Besterest wishes. Terry".

All three mysteriously went missing from my house at some point.

I think that an orangutan stole them for the library

IT salary not enough? Want to make £10,000 a DAY?

A. N. Onymouse

In my experience (30 years on counting) companies love expensive consultants because expensive advice is *always* better than free in-house advice.

Invariably we will report a problem to the management and recommend a course of action.

The management accept the issue and reject the action

Management hire consultants at ridiculous rates.

Consultants investigate (ask us) and, amazingly, come to the same conclusion as we did.

Consultants present findings and bill.

Management implement findings and pretend that they are new and exciting.

We get more cynical.

Consultant. (noun) Someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time and then bills you for it.

UK kids' charity lobbies hard for 'opt-in' web smut access

A. N. Onymouse

Re: OK if they want to protect children then make it simple.

"Require all computers to be sold with a "Nanny" system installed so that you need to log in to be able to access various stuff."

Oh yes because that will stop it.

All it takes is for some kid to pop in a live linux disk from the cover of just about any linux magazine in any reasonable sized supermarket in the UK or even just download a live linux image and burn it to a USB stick. No blocks, no trace of any dodgy surfing and mum and dad live in a pink fluffy world thinking that the software is working.

Kids are far more switched on when it comes to IT (specifically circumventing blocks) than adults. The only way is to talk to and educate the kids about the risks or else become Amish.



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