* Posts by PM from Hell

219 posts • joined 24 Mar 2017


Not to dis your diskette, but there are some unexpected sector holes

PM from Hell

Re: Closest I've seen...

Surely you mean Mices? and she should have been instructing them to remove their balls and check for fluff on the ball rollers.

Oracle 12.1 users warned as mainstream support ends in July

PM from Hell

Is this to force EBS customers to migrate to the cloud?

Migrating an on premises EBS install to release 19 is likely to be a 12 month project with no visible benefit at the end. It would probably make more sense to re-implement your ERP System in the cloud taking advantage of new app features rather than having a huge expense for a purely technical upgrade.

Watch a RAID rebuild or go to a Christmas party? Tough choice

PM from Hell

Re: IBM Engineer...

I have been a technical Support Manager my focus was always on maintaining service levels I could negotiate maintenance windows but unplanned outages were anathema. I've had many conversations with IBM engineers. I've always found with a bit of digging asking a few 'what if it's not that' questions would get us to the point where the engineer really wanted to be but wasn't allowed to tell me officially.

This was 15 years ago but even then engineers were under huge pressure to not pull spares from stores unless they were definitely going to be used as the engineering manager were trying to minimize spares costs.

A call to the Account Manager would normally result in a changed plan often with the 'if its not that there will be a charge' conversation. I think I ended up paying for one disk volume which wasn't required, the new disk was just added to the array providing some extra space. This was lower than the financial penalties that would have been extracted from my budget for an unplanned outage of that length.

As the Tech Support Manager it's your job to make sure that the change plan is properly planned, impact assessed and executed, Its also your job, having done that, to support the engineer and operator should things go wrong. There's only one person you should have been angry with and you see his face in the bathroom mirror every morning. I know the engineer was an IBM employee if he is the nominated site engineer he;'s still a member of 'My' team. Try that approach working with your vendor support staff, whether its hardware engineers, network specialists or devs and you'll find they suddenly get very open with you as y ou just want to work with them for a solution not point the finger of blame.

Whatever you do, don't show initiative if you value your job

PM from Hell

Re: Where were the procedures ?

And for gods sake optimize your queries! as an ex tech support manager I was often pressured to make more machine resources available when devs put non-optimized code live. As the dev teams would not work with us pre-production I'm afraid my default response ended up being to get a DBA / Sys Admin to identify the query hogging 99% of a CPU and then just telling the Devs the system was coming down until they had optimized the code at that point they would finally talk to a DBA who would assist them in optimizing the query and adding any additional indexes required or even move a disk partition onto a less busy drive. Now so many dev projects are in the cloud I'm seeing exactly the same issues which can cause huge cost issues for the operations teams as they have to throw more and more CPU's At projects to deliver acceptable performance rather than tuning code.

BOFH: Where do you think you are going with that toner cartridge?

PM from Hell

Re: Too Often...

I bought a shed full (literally) of HP Inkjet printers for a County Council through a properly managed tender, we explicitly included the fact that they had to be UK spec with UK power supplies and Cables.

We opened up the first box and sure enough it had an EU plug.

We contacted the reseller who blithely suggested that we should 'pop to Tandy and buy UK spec leads'. I'm not sure our local electrical shop would have had 250 leads in stock but as the supplier was at fault I expected him to make good. He was very upset as he was now going to lose money on the sale (this is probably true as margins for resellers were only about 2-3%. I'm afraid my view was that wasn't my problem, he could come and collect the pallets of Printers and I'd buy from the second placed reseller or he could supply the right CE marked leads.

Replacement leads would have cost us £625 and the difference in price between him and the 2nd placed company was £500 on a £40,000 deal, we were finding this was true for all hardware tenders at the time we'd run a tender for 1000 PC's and the top 3 bids would be within 4-500.

Beware the fury of a database developer torn from tables and SQL

PM from Hell

Don't forget to proofread

I Worked with a Welsh Council many years ago who were sold a Council Tax application.it needed all customer facing documents translating into Welsh.Testing had gone reasonably well especially as the proposed legislation had not been passed before The application was written so changes were required several times a week. It took weeks and weeks to find an English / Welsh Translator willing to take the job on due to the tight timescales and the technical nature of the documents. The translator finished and handed over the translations, it had been a tough job as the text had to fit into the same size text boxes as the original English.

On handing it over she asked the senior manager who he had engaged to do the proof reading. Needless to say another several weeks were spent finding somebody qualifies to perform the proofreading

Timescales were incredibly tight as Bills needed to be sent out on time.

Your software doesn't work when my PC is in 'O' mode

PM from Hell

Re: PC

As well as having the diskette pinned to the Acknowledgement slip (Only the very old will know what that meant) I have received a photocopy of a diskette.

You can buy a company. You can buy a product. Common sense? Trickier

PM from Hell

Re: 'twas ever thus

I moved into a new build house on a cold, wet day and turned the heating on, I did feel very warm after a while but put it down to the fact I was working hard, When we found a box with a thermometer in it turned up the temperature in the lounge was 26 degrees c and it went up to 30 before i gave up trying to get the thermostat to respond and turned off the boiler.

That was the situation for the next 48 hours while waited for the central heating engineer to return, turn on boiler, let the house get warm, turn off boiler.

When he arrived he checked everything declared it normal and wanted to walk away. On pressing him he finally went out to his van and came back with a new thermostat which he was just going to swap with the initially installed one. He was adamant that it must be a thermostat fault as he'd 'fitted hundreds of these systems' it tuned out the supplier had cage the wiring on the latest range it was there in the instructions but he never read them. The engineer was somewhat distressed as he';d fitted another 20 houses spread across several sites in the previous few weeks, all of which would now be about to use their heating.

Buying a USB adapter: Pennies. Knowing where to stick it: Priceless

PM from Hell

It wasn't dropped honest

How many times have you been called out to a laptop which suddenly stopped working to find obvious;y new cracks or grazes on the case and been told no its not been dropped!

'Enterprise' browser maker Island valued at $1.3bn out of the gate

PM from Hell

Re: Another browser

Super. I'm sure it will comply with all possible interpretations of the standards, just like all the others do.


Help, my IT team has no admin access to their own systems

PM from Hell

When tech support manager I always insisted on this. Imagine my embarrassment when after having had to retrieve the password for a mainframe system to heck up on dome config info, when my sysadmin was away for 2 weeks I left it in a shirt pocket and it was then washed. I had a very nervous 10 days hoping that there was no need for admin access to the system. All credit to him that there was no need for any system privilege access for the whole period. No Disks filled, nothing expired we didn't even need to create any new users while he was away.

Client demo in 30 minutes. Just what could go wrong?

PM from Hell

who needs the internet

I was managing a launch of a very early public access system in libraries, everything had been tested many times but the delivery of the kit and the kiosk to house it was late.

To make matters worse the cabinet provider delivered the kiosk to the IT department not the library on a day when no van was available. Fortunately that fitted in the back of my Ford Granada with the seats down.

We fitted everything into the cabinet and then found out that it refused to talk to the central server over the network, my technical team were getting nowhere and we had the Leader of the County Council, local MP Service director and press arriving in an hour.

The only quick and definite fix was to get the server to site and connect the kiosk directly to it.

I left the team sorting out cabling from the kiosk to a nearby issues desk and went to the the server in the trusty Granada. I did notice some white powder on the floor by the server (under a desk of course). I brought the server back it was connected to the kiosk, everything fired up and the launch was a success. All the way through the presentation of the new service, interviews etc I noticed my hands were itching bu was required to be present until the launch was completed.

By the time we managed to get out and adjourn to a local hostelry my hands were double their normal size and beetroot red. It turned out that the white powered was ant poison which was very toxic. needless to say once we sorted out the comms problem the server wasn't returned to the Library HQ but was installed in a rack in My data centre (having had the ant poison cleaned off the cabinet)

Saving a loved one from a document disaster

PM from Hell

Dogs dont do that but

My Labrador pup managed to hit my open laptop so hard wagging his tail that it was thrown from the coffee table onto the floor, thank heavens for SSD's

PM from Hell

Re: Imperrfect

RSI Existed for decades before the mouse or even computers. My mother was a contract Comptometer operator who had to give up her very well paid job because the pain got so bad.

Working with data prep operators in the mid 80's most were sporting wrist or elbow braces from injuries received initially from using card punch machines then on 1st generation key to disk systems.

Many typists themselves ended up with RSI and initial computer keyboard were sometimes worse than the IBM golfball typewriters they replaced. I do seem to remember speccing dedicated data prep keyboards from compaq when replacing a legacy key to disk system and providing upgraded keyboards for a secretarial pool after running some user experience exercises. I think they had to have longer travel to replicate the experience of using a typewrite as the expert typists muscle memory couldn't shorten the key depressions they had made several million times in the past.

In my first management role I was told anything over 4 pages in length had to be hand written and passed to the typists for transcription into a document. At that stage they were not actually saving drafts, every iteration was re-typed. As a technician I'd been typing my own documents for years and was used to basic text editing features like cutting and paste plus I have terrible writing. It took a stand up fight with my manager before I was even allowed to submit drafts as electronic documents (initally as wordpad documents) which were then retyped by the typists into wordperfect. It ws actually battle to get wordperfect licences for my team so we could stat to design forms to support the service management processes I had been brought in to implement

Apple seeks patent for 'innovation' resembling the ZX Spectrum, C64 and rPi 400

PM from Hell

Re: Output?

I'm a Contract PM and have a nice home office set up which has worked with every client I've worked with over the past 4 or 5 years. I suspect most of us who regularly work at home have something similar.

I use a desktop docking station with a USB connection to whichever laptop I'm currently using. That connects up to the dual screen set up, wireless keyboard and mouse, webcam, sound system etc.

It gives me a nice desktop space and an HD / HiFi set up for video calls

Whilst the dock is a Toshiba device the fact it uses display link drivers means that all the major laptop vendors have them included in their builds for their own 'universal' docking station. I've only had one issue where the helpful build engineers had removed all the 'extraneous' drivers from the build but that was fixed by a quick google search for the Dell docking station which included the display link drivers and a call to the clients service desk to have them installed off we went.

The proposed apple device adds nothing to this set up and would actually complicate things probably at increased cost

Fujitsu confirms end date for mainframe and Unix systems

PM from Hell

Re: Support for five more years ?

When I was involved in mainframe support the replacement cycle was 3-5 years to keep increasing capacity. There will be some customers who will need to increase capacity to either keep decent levels of system performance or to provide additional capacity to support the migration work. Whilst in some cases this can be provided by an additional lower spec mainframe some will need the additional power on a single mainframe.

BOFH: Time to put the Pretty Dumb F in PDF reader

PM from Hell


During my time managing tech teams I've lost count of the number of MSC / PHD holders I've managed this included a surprising number of nuclear physicists a real rocket scientist (he was a missile designed in a previous career) and someone who had a doctorate in the study of mosquitoes but couldn't do field work as a dose of malaria would kill him :(but also managed people who started off in plumbing butchery and the armed services.

Non of it matters to me as long as they have the right attitude, can learn new technologies and have a structured diagnostic approach to problem solving (although even that can be taught).

PM from Hell

Copyright and licencing

Back in the dim and distant past when I was first involved in 'free' software I had problems getting legal advice on copyright and licencing. Having an academic librarian for a wife helped immensely as they had already had to go through similar processes to understand exactly how many pages of a book could be photocopied for research and had had to go through the mill on understand how on-line database user accounts could be used on subscription services.

At one point I think I was getting requests for 'free' utility installs every week, always network wide, always free only to home users and almost always installing some piece of crap software alongside the 'free' utility. The best examples were the the tool which insisted in printing out money off vouchers for american grocery stores. And another which installed a very 'leaky' internet browser.

I implemented a simple process to identify the business case, confirming the benefits against the time my team would spend testing the software and building a supportable install pack and confirming that the requester would be responsible for any licence fees.

The number of requests dropped down to about 6 per year, of those about 2 were granted, 3 of the other 4 were rejected because they functions they provided were often in MS office or one of the existing tools we already provided and the final one because it was basically malware.

Software guy smashes through the Somebody Else's Problem field to save the day

PM from Hell

Re: I recognise the story

I was tech support manager for a County Council. When the legislation on working on electrical equipment changed I had to organise a course on how to fit a plug on a mains lead for my comms team. The same team who literally built the x.25 switches for each site at the time from the chassis up :(.

Our site electrician was actually embarrassed to have to do this for us but we needed the sign off of the H&SE ream were going to ban us from working on any electrical equipment. The Desktop team didn't have to have the training as all their mains leads came with molded plugs and were never re-wired.

By the nature of the role members of both teams would regularly be working on hot devices with the case removed when performing testing.

How do you call support when the telephones go TITSUP*?

PM from Hell

booking time

I was once asked to start booking time for my tech team in 6 minutes slots 'because that's what lawyers do' I had a chat with a friend who was a lawyer who confirmed that whilst in theory he did that in reality he worked in 30 minute intervals and that he also had a very nice PDA (when these things were new) with an app to allow it to happen.

I 'enthusiastically' agreed with my boss that this was the way forward and talked to him about the efficiencies we'd have with the guys being able to just press a button to start / stop recording their time on projects then presented him with the proposal to buy and implement the PDA's, Server app and associated infrastructure and the cost of an administrator to manage it all.

Unfortunately he turned it down so we carried on just 'making it up' at the end of the week before going to the pub.

He din't realise we had stopped doing time sheets 2 years earlier, our admin team couldn't cope with a team where members might be working on 20 different projects in a week so we 'piloted' a weekly review / reporting process.

When civilisation ends, a Xenix box will be running a long-forgotten job somewhere

PM from Hell

Re: Talking of things long forgotten, chugging away in a corner...

I had a similar experience with on old Compaq 286 server.

This one had actually been put into a cupboard and forgotten about, still powered on, still running a single simple process and the up-time must have been in years as no-one knew it was there.

We rediscovered it when we had to change the IPX routing across all our, several hundred, servers to a new protocol (I cant remember the details). Unfortunately the default protocol was the old version so all our network traffic routed through this aging 286 machine until we found it and switched it off. We had tracked it down to a LAN segment, knew what device type it was, but then had to literally swarm into some offices checking under desks and on top of cabinets until one the the team found a couple of cable disappearing into the side of a cupboard. We turned off the machine for a couple of days and there were no complaints so it was then decommissioned.

Munich mk2? Germany's Schleswig-Holstein plans to switch 25,000 PCs to LibreOffice

PM from Hell

Re: Not following

The key there is 'about to test it'. I've been involved in several attempts to break free of Microsoft using google and Libra office offerings.

The end result has been that a large number of Microsoft licences have had to be retained for corporate application compatibility or for inter-working with external partners. If you have an enterprise agreement this usually ends up being 1-1 with a copy of MS products having to be licenced for every device as it's more cost effective and less risk than only licencing the devices which must have Office. From there new starters tend to then continue to use MS Office as there is no additional cost and its what they are used to.

Every time a non MS vendor creates a product which is fully compatible MS change the file formats. In addition until non MS vendors can match the corporate app integration (for document production spreadsheet manipulation etc) then the traction MS hold will mean they cannot break the vice-like grip MS have on corporate accounts

A tiny typo in an automated email to thousands of customers turns out to be a big problem for legal

PM from Hell

Fix the problem - safely - then worry about legal / senior management

As an ex Tech Support Manager my job was to keep the senior managers off my team until we had resolved any issue.

1/ what went wrong

2/ Push an all user comms out to explain there is an issue and its being worked on

3/ Identify the fix

4/ Impact assess the fix, including looking of the risk of making it worse involve senior stake holders and audit if required

5/ If the fix will take a while push put another comms

6/ Take whatever backups are required to protect the data

7/ Apply the fix

8/ Perform return to service tests

9/ Issue a comms to let users know the service is now available

10/ Internal Team incident review

11/ I report back to senior management

Individual engineers were always protected, my team, my problem

A lightbulb moment comes too late to save a mainframe engineer's blushes

PM from Hell

Re: I’m sure a lesser techie would have sussed that in a flash

I'm sure there was a documented IBM monthly process to test the lamps which had been disregarded as they always worked

There's no Huawei back now: Biden signs law that forbids US buyers acquiring kit on naughty list

PM from Hell

Oh the irony,

I remember replacing a 3COM corporate network with CISCO gear because I could buy the new entrant Cisco kit and maintenance for 3 years for less than the cost of the 12 month maintenance charge for the 3Com gear. This represented a large revenue saving over the next 3 years.

I had a very interesting discussion with my auditors though as the 3com kit had been bought with an intended 5 year life and I replaced it before the second anniversary. We had a very circular conversation.

Why are you writing off £250,000 worth of nearly new equipment, because its cheaper to buy new than maintain the 3 com kit, how much are you selling the 3 com kit for? Scrap value as no body wants it. But its worth £250,000.... How I wished for a cattle prod, a bucket of quicklime and an an old roll of carpet.

To put things in perspective that cost would be well over £1M now.

Microsoft: Many workers are stuck on old computers and should probably upgrade

PM from Hell

I use new old stock Toshiba Dynadock U3's in both home offices, they support 2 external monitors and have an Ethernet connection as well as a ridiculous number of USB ports. Working with several different clients I've only had one problem connecting a laptop to the dock and that was resolved by a call to their service desk to get the Dell USB dock driver installed so that Displaylink was then available. I think most vendors now use display link to drive their own kit so its an ideal solution for me

Say what you see: Four-letter fun on a late-night support call

PM from Hell


Any ICL techies out there will remember the STD Table Full error, a pain in the arse to diagnose during the day and a nightmare at 3 am in the morning. The usual answer was to get the site to start an IPL.

Getting that call meant that sitting at home on my tiny One Per Desk wasn't going to hack it so a drive into the office, fight with the security guard about parking in one of the 4 directors parking spots by the front door then a few hours of remote diagnosis using VISA. On a very rare case the IPL cleared the error and I'd be back in bed for 4:30 AM but it usually meant I'd still be working on the fault when the day shift came in at 08:00.

I really do not miss that part of the tech role

Remember when you thought fax machines were dead-matter teleporters? Ah, just me, then

PM from Hell

Car :easing and patches

I worked in a diagnostic team for ICL, we would get a stupid number of faxes per day from a car leasing company showing us what we could be driving (BMW's and Audi's usually) if ICL hadn't signed up for a company car contract with Vauxhall. In between these reams of flimsy paper would be what the fax was actually intended for prior to email, receiving faxed copies of O/S patches to fix customer systems. The joy of receiving a barely readable 200 line patch in Hex had to be experienced to be believed.

We would then need to drive out to the client site, type the fax into their system try and apply it then start working to guess which characters had been mys-typed (was that an 8 or a B) etc.

Luckily the patches had a checksum at the end so you would eventually get tot he stage after a couple of hours where the patch would be accepted. If you couldn't read the checksum then a call to the patch writer would normally resolve the issue.

If it was a critical Kernel patch used to resuscitate a dead machine then it would need to be fed in from a card reader at IPL time or keyed in at the operator console. Luckily I think I only had to do that once and it was only 3 cards which needed typing, we had to disable the O/S security sub-system when a sysadmin had mistyped the password for all 3 privileged accounts when he changed them.

Oh how we used to laugh

Beer Icon as after spending 2 or 3 hours getting a patch loaded then waiting to re-ipl a machine, then testing it at 2 AM we would always find somewhere where we could get much needed alcohol

Judging by the way your face lit up, my inbox just got more attractive

PM from Hell

This is actually real

I thought Dabsy was having an early 1st April but this appears to be a real product. Who the on earth would buy this

Give us your biometric data to get your lunch in 5 seconds, UK schools tell children

PM from Hell

only 3% objected

There is a fundamental difference between Scotland and England.

In Scotland central and local government have a high degree of trust, there is an inbuilt assumption that the government is benevolent and has the best interests of its citizens at heart. This is why there is already a ScotGov ID card in general use for all ages which can be used to access a large variety of services (I believe this could even be used for school dinners).

Compare that to the view of the UK government where there is a general distrust of both motivation and action.

PM from Hell

Re: Really odd...

I've been using contactless cards like this since pilots in the the 90's its not even new technology. The limiting factor with the early systems was the card cost as they tended to be propriety and expensive. Now standard cards are in use they tend to be multi purpose providing an ID card, door entry access, canteen / vending machine payments, pull printing and even 2FA.

The multi use reduces the per application cost and the fact you need to carry it around even to get into the building tends to mean that people rarely forget or lose them

There is absolutely no excuse for capturing bio-metric information for this application and I bet the kids in the school still have a contactless card for other purposes. If using a PIN is a problem on a card then remove that requirement for canteen purchases. I've never worked anywhere where a pin was required for this.

Scoot on over for a wheely tricky mystery with an electrifying solution

PM from Hell

Re: School science.....

Turns out the wonderful dunlop wellies I wore in the winter were an excellent insulator!

Who knew?!

Every JCB Driver in Europe

BOFH: You. Wouldn't. Put. A. Test. Machine. Into. Production. Without. Telling. Us.

PM from Hell

So how old are you

Am I the only person who remembers 'Word Perfect Radio'? I had to have my phone budget increased massively to pay for the hours of being on hold to support lines on the west coast. My team also all ended up with executive speaker phones so they could carry on working on other things while on-hold. This was after several incidents were instances where having been on-hold for over an hour they didn't manage to respond quickly enough when the p[hone was finally put through to support and were hanged up on.

Nothing works any more. Who decided that redundant systems should become redundant?

PM from Hell

Re: Chuddies (sort of)

It appears that mens clothes companies are now doing the same.

Being a typical middle aged man I went on a website to re-order a some trousers, same size and style as the pair I had bought 2 years earlier and were still wearing.

I bout 3 pairs in different colors, all were different lengths with a difference of 2 inches between the shortest and longest. The different colours were also palpably different quality of cloth as well.

Electron-to-joule conversion formulae? Cute. Welcome to the school of hard knocks

PM from Hell

Re: Ask the dog - it has an 80% success rate

I'm a PM with a technical background but definitely not a developer. I always encourage devs who are struggling with a thorny issue to describe the problem to me, If they spend the time to describe what they are doing in terms I can understand then they almost always have the answer before they have finished talking.

If they get all the way through and we don't have an answer they have enough detain for us to get the team together and we'll walk through it until we find a solution.

Invariably they will have uncovered something during our discussion that will give someone else an insight that leads to a fix, often a quick chat between two developers leaves a lot of assumptions about what's been done, sometimes we do need to go down into the detail, even walking g through the code to get a resolution

BOFH: Pass the sugar, Asmodeus, and let the meeting of the Fellowship of Bastards … commence

PM from Hell

Re: And another classic!

I was managing a project within the operational business, I was employed by IT but my 13 dev's were funded by the business. We had been based in the IT department but the next phase was a collaborative development with the customer service teams.

It turned out that when the Service Desk moved the PC's they set them up PC's to revert back to a 'known state' every morning at 6 AM.

It took a couple of hours to find out what went wrong after we lost a days changes, a quick call to IT to get them taken out of that group and the... the same bloody thing happened the next day. We had to revert to taking out the network cables overnight while I had to work my way up to the head of infrastructure to get the guys machines moved to a developer group. On the bright side that only took 2 weeks and it wasn't like I was trying to manage a business critical project. The joy of the dev who had worked until 10PM on an urgent change then forgot to unplug his PC's network cable was a joy to behold.

PM from Hell

Re: I don't care what his name is

I hope the little black buttons are on a small black box in a cable tray under the desk

Not too bright, are you? Your laptop, I mean... Not you

PM from Hell

Re: Ah, a first time user

I have had so many problems with legacy documents I've needed to reference when replac ing very old systems. The classic though was working for a a subsidiary of a french company where I had terrible problems with spell check until I realized that any template or document would have a small sextion where the language was set to French

So the data centre's 'getting a little hot' – at 57°C, that's quite the understatement

PM from Hell

Re: I can finally tell this one!

Hot Tango was for the 2900 Series, S39 were painted in Argentinian Grey

See that last line in the access list? Yeah, that means you don't have an access list

PM from Hell

Re: Smoking gun.

I'm a contract PM, my job is to get an implementation live by the agreed deadline. I will take some shortcuts when the pressure is on, minimal testing of non-core functionality, maybe defer a patch application until after go live (unless there are critical security updates)

But I will never allow a breach in security. I often need firewall rules adding or amending to get SAAS systems working but I will always try and sit down with a firewall admin and talk through the requirement, often then progressing to testing exactly which port numbers do need to be open and for which protocols.

Vendors seem to know less and less about what is really required every year.

I used to be able to get a specification of all iP addresses ports and protocols from vendors before we stated implementation but now SAAS vendors will often just specify a couple of IP addresses for all ports and protocols, effectively kicking a huge hole through the firewall.

I'd rather we had to redo some tests which failed early in UAT because rules were not enabled than find out that network security was breached after go-live because we'd compromised it that much,

Undebug my heart: Using Cisco's IOS to take down capitalism – accidentally

PM from Hell

Re: Yes, I've had a boss like that

I worked for ICL in the 80's as a software support consultant om mainframe systems. My ICL pass would get into any dC with our equipment in with no questions asked. At the time this included several secure sites. They were used to engineers turning up at any time of day or night.

If there were any difficulties we were instructed to ask to speak to the Chief Exec / CIO so that we could inform them that a critical fault was not going to be resolved and there would be a large bill for the abandoned visit. If that didn't work we could contact the account manager 24/7 , they always had personal contact details for the senior customer exec and would call him/ her at 2 am if required.

Explaining this always worked for me. The one time I got pushback was when the security guard locked the car park with my car in it. I asked him which was the best hotel in town and pointed out that the cost would be billed to the customer. needless to say he did then open the car park

Beige pencil stockists on high alert as 'Colouring Book of Retro Computers' hits the crowdfunding circuit

PM from Hell

Re: Data centre

in the 80's that may have been the only blue box left in that data hall as that would have been a 1900 series machine, for the 2900 series we went 'Hot Tango' I did visit one user site after they upgraded and they were strident in their complaints that the new colour clashed with the data center decor/

Rackspace literally decimates workforce: One in ten staffers let go this week

PM from Hell


If they literally decimated the work force they would line them up and execute 1 in 10. Even with the labour laws in the USA this would be frowned upon (except in Texas)

Is it broken yet? Is it? Is it? Ooh that means I can buy a sparkly, new but otherwise hard-to-justify replacement!

PM from Hell

bigger screens

I've relocated from my office in the attic to the spare bedroom during the heatwave. All the kit upstairs is nicely wired into cable management so I just grabbed the spare 32" tv to use as a monitor, Now I want 2 32" monitors in my office. Its a good job the heatwave had broken as I was just about to order another dynadock for the 'temporary' office so I can hook up all the additional bits and pieces I normally have access to (second monitor, separate webcam & hi fi sound for video calls) etc.

I've found recycling old hi fi units for use as pc speakers works very well and as my laptop is normally closed (its an ultralight with a tiny display) the microphone in the separate webcam is far better than the laptop mic. In fact this afternoon I think I'll hook up the Teac unit we've replaced in the dining room to the temporary office.Oops now I do need the docking station if I'm going to stick to a single wire connection from the laptop, so I may as well buy that second hand monitor at the same time to go dual monitor here as well.

Ably blog claims company doesn't need Kubernetes to scale, surge in traffic takes down entire website

PM from Hell

Development fads

I was tech support manager for an organisation where the developers were seen as magicians and the ops / tech support teams as drudges. We were an Oracle shop (Oracle having been specified by the Development Manager) and my team had built up a very high skill level supporting Oracle. We been supporting bought in apps for a number of years before the development team started building bespoke apps. Their initial deliveries were pitiful and my team had to spend a lot of time giving them tuning advice, you can imagine my reaction when the Dev manager announced they were changing development platforms for the next big thing (I can't even remember what he proposed). He had just about got the go ahead to do this when I found out. His business case was based entirely on the fact that the licencing was cheaper than Oracle when I pointed out that most of our apps were Oracle based and my team would be running Oracle for the next decade his face was a picture, just to twist the knife I pointed out that it had taken his team 2 years to get productive on Oracle and the training had cost nearly £100,000. Needless to say that initiative was canned.

GitHub Copilot auto-coder snags emerge, from seemingly spilled secrets to bad code, but some love it

PM from Hell

Committed Devs

I'm a PM and you are exactly the type of Developer I love working with, its about problem solving and creativity but with quality, future maintainability and performance all included. This is the approach I recruit for and although there will always be some point where the development 'sticks' having someone who is prepared to stand up to me asking that question 'do you want it hacked or do you want it right' is a godsend to me. It may give me an awkward meeting with senior execs to deal with while I have top justify a delay but that's what I'm paid for. My generic answer in some of these meetings is 'I've got a good team, if it was easy it would be done by now'.

A hotline to His Billness? Or a guard having a bit of a giggle?

PM from Hell

Bloody Sales Databases

I bought a house on a new build estate with the promise that broadband was on its way. We put up with months of disruption while Openreach laid a fibre from the exchange all the way through the town center to a Distribution point on the outskirts of the development. We then had to wait for another 3 months for someone to activate the postcodes on BT's sales database. Ironically my next door neighbor was a network tech manager for BT's outsourcing division but he was as powerless as the rest of us. When the sales database was finally turned on they missed off one post code. My ate who was relying on broadband arriving to reduce the number of 100 mile commutes each week was waiting for broadband for another 6 months.

PM from Hell

Sunos Documentation

I was managing a Business driven project around that time. The Director of IT was in a turf war with the director of the division I was working in and had refused to co-operate on the project. I was brought in by an IT Division Program Manager to manage the Project with a team of developers employed by the Energy Trading Division. All the SunOS documentation (paper manuals and CD's) was locked in a filing cabinet in thew IT offices and we were based at the HQ building.

The Tech Support team refused access to the documentation and although I had experienced developers on the Unix O/S they were being caught out by SunOs's idiosyncrasies As the technical support team wouldn't, at that point, register a support account for me with Sum we had no access to any technical documentation.

In the end I found copies of the documentation we needed on the University of Alaska's student support site which thankfully didn't need any credentials to log-in.

The Turf War was sorted out in the end after a stand up fight between my boss and the Director of IT who finally realized failure of the project would come home to bite him. Once relations were re-established I was offered copies of the manuals, I just rejected them telling the techs that I had an on-line source.

Stob treks back across the decades to review the greatest TV sci-fi in the light of recent experience

PM from Hell

Onion Bhaji's and Lager

Enough said

Chinese web giant Baidu unveils Level 4 robo-taxi that costs $75k to make

PM from Hell

Jonny Cab

Unless there is a yellow plastic driver programmed to have small talk with me I wont be interested.



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