* Posts by Notrodney

18 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Nov 2018

Techie's quick cure for a curious conflict caused a huge headache


It cant be too bad a job - Ive been there 25 years and counting! (Although these days we have a trained team who know what they are doing - rather than a newbie with a dodgy set of instructions ;))


Back when I started my first proper IT job back in 1998 I was sent to the US head office for 6 months training. As part of my training I had to set up and install a Communication Server (a server that talked to third party systems). I was pointed to a clean PC, given the Software and an instruction manual and told to get on with it. Simple enough.

The first step was to install Windows NT Server on the box, which I dutifully did. I then proceeded to install our own software on the newly installed NT Server. While merrily working away installing and configuring our software on the nice new NT Server, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, the service manager race past my desk (which was quite impressive as he was getting on a bit). And then he raced back in the other direction. And then our internal Systems Administrator ran past. And then back again. Soon lots of people were running about the place looking rather agitated. The next thing I know, the Service Manager pops over to my desk, taps me on the shoulder and very calmly asked if I had just installed NT Server…

It turned out the manual I was following failed to mention that when you install the Windows NT Server you MUST set it to a Secondary Domain Controller, otherwise it decides it’s the Primary Domain Controller and takes over from the existing Primary Domain Controller. I had just managed to take down the entire network in our Head Office!

Luckily the company was very easy going so I never got in trouble. I think they were more impressed that I’d managed to install and set everything up from just reading the manual (as the manual failed to mention setting the Server to a Secondary Domain Controller I suspect I was the first person to manage it). Obviously, the manual was very quickly updated.

Turning a computer off, then on again, never goes wrong. Right?


Printer Problems

I was sent to a remote site to install some new software many years ago. The senior engineer had mentioned (with a grin) that although he had never been to the site, the younger lads in IT were always popping in there to fix 'printer problems'. The printer seemed absolutely fine, but oddly enough the young lady who worked there was absolutely stunning.

Your security failure was so bad we have to close the company … NOT!


Re: Head scratching

Before Covid I worked with companies that had offices across Europe (so very slightly different Keyboard layouts from country to country). We were always having issues with passwords being set by IT that

had special characters that were different keys in different countries. Especially when the PC was supplied from a different country (the PCs were pre-configured with hardware and software). Kept trying to explain that there are only certain characters they can use (I think ! was okay). Never seemed to get through to them.

A tip for content filter evaluators: erase the list of sites you tested, don't share them on 100 PCs


Bits and Bobs all over the screen

Many years ago a friend and colleague of mine was setting up a new content filter on the company network. He'd just finished configuring it as I went to grab him for lunch, so he thought he would give me a quick demo to show how it worked. Pasted in a dodgy link and hit go... unfortunately although the filter stopped the first page, it didn't stop the pages that automatically popped up from there, or the pages that popped up from them... and so on and so on. The screen filled up with bits and bobs faster than he could close them. The only way to stop them was to hit the power button.

How one techie ended up paying the tab on an Apple Macintosh Plus


As a techie teenager (back in the very early days of home computers) I received a call from a neighbour who was having trouble with her brand new PC. She was using the word processor, but it would not let her save the file. I popped over and took a quick look. The Word Processor software she was using was MS-DOS!

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


That number does not compute

It was a long time ago so I cant remember the exact details, but we had an out of hours support call come in from a customer in Hong Kong very early one morning. He had to read out some numbers but they didn't make sense. The number he was reading out was something like 3342 - eventually realised it was 3 lots of 3 and 4 lots of 2 i.e. 3332222!

Computer shuts down when foreman leaves the room: Ghost in the machine? Or an all-too-human bit of silliness?


I had a small customer in the Caribbean many years ago that had a problem with SQL back ups not running. They were scheduled to run at night, same as every other customer. Turned out they didn't have mains power, they ran on a generator - which they shut down every night when they finished work. Normally our implementation engineers are on site till the place closes, so he should have seen it... however I'm guessing the call of paradise was stronger than the desire to work stupid hours.

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz? Detroit waits for my order, you'd better make amends


An old boss used to tell the tale of a satellite system that would pack up on Friday afternoons around 4. It had all the techies scratching their heads. They would check every thing was correct but at 4 it would start to play up. One Friday he decided he'd had enough and popped outside for a cigarette... and noticed the drivers from the company next door had finished for the week and were sat outside drinking cans of beer - and throwing the empties at the satellite dish. I don't know how true it is, but it does make for a great troubleshooting anecdote.

For blinkenlights sake.... RTFM! Yes. Read The Front of the Machine


Many years ago we had an engineer that lived just around the corner from one of our customers. They had a system down at around 7am but he didn't start work (or answer his phone) till 8am. They rang him repeatedly but no answer. So they sent one of their mixer trucks to his house and it sat outside with the drum turning until he answered the phone. They were told to never do that again.

Don't be a fool, cover your tool: How IBM's mighty XT keyboard was felled by toxic atmosphere of the '80s


I had a friend who did IT Support in a hospital. One of his best/worst tales was working on a PC with a very dirty keyboard. He wondered how they could have got it quite so dirty, and then he realised it was the colonoscopy department!!!

For every disastrous rebrand, there is an IT person trying to steer away from the precipice



In the software I work with we use Associated Products. We occasionally have to remind programmers and project managers that the correct abbreviation is Assoc Prod

Sun welcomes vampire dating website company: Arrgh! No! It burns! It buuurrrrnsss!


Re: Inappropriate garb? Me? Probably daily ...

My last job interview was in my bike leathers (car broke down and the interviewer said not to bother changing in to my suit). I got the job as they considered anyone mad enough to wear bike leathers to an interview was mad enough to work for them.

Control is only an illusion, no matter what you shove on the Netware share


Back in the early days of Windows 98, I was working for a small software company. We had a couple of guys working for us whose idea of troubleshooting was to simply re-install Windows. We managed to sell a system to a company in China, so a friend who worked for us (and spoke Chinese) spent many hours installing and configuring Mandarin fonts etc (a long and difficult job in those days). While he was getting the PC set up to work in Mandarin, another guy was configuring our software... one of those guys unfortunately. As it was new software and full of features (or bugs to the uninitiated) something didn't work. My friend left the other guy to resolve the issue. When he returned later, he was proudly told that the issue had been resolved.... by reinstalling Windows. It was not long after that, that we got rid of the re-installers.

Disk stuck in the drive? Don't dilly-Dali – get IT on the case!


Back in the late 90s, we had a salesmen place his laptop next to a projector while it was running. Not sure how long he left it there, but the Screen had to be replaced as it had melted!

Planes, fails and automobiles: Overseas callout saved by gentle thrust of server CD tray


Restart not Shutdown

Had a similar incident where a server was shut down instead of restarted. Server was in a large server farm so we called them to ask them to hit the power button... only to find they had no record of the server so did not know where it was located. Luckily there was another server in the same rack so we ejected the drives - and streamed radio. The engineer then followed the sounds till he found the rack.

Are you sure you've got a floppy disk stuck in the drive? Or is it 100 lodged in the chassis?


I worked in South Africa many years ago with an American friend. One day he came running up to me and told the most beautiful woman he'd ever met had just given him a Stiffie... and held up a 3.5 inch floppy.

Junior dev decides to clear space for brewing boss, doesn't know what 'LDF' is, sooo...


The Great thing about SQL Server is how easy it is to set up and use with a little bit of knowledge. Unfortunately that's also its biggest problem. I've lost count of the number of databases I've seen where its set to full recovery model but no transaction log backup. Back when I first started I was very helpful and would set up the backup. These days I just send a warning email to the DBA... and then re-send it when the server falls over as its run out of space (I know I'm Evil, but in my defence, I find people learn far quicker from mistakes).