back to article BOFH: Thermo-electric funeral

"So all I need is the data from yesterday and maybe the day before," the Boss says, handing over his pride and joy. "Ooooooh!" the PFY says. "A *ONE GIG* USB stick! Did you get it from a pound shop in a box of 10?" "I paid 85 quid for this when it first came out!" the Boss says proudly, as if owning IT antiquity was one of …

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I need a cooling hammer!

To go with the server mallet and network mace.

And the LART...

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Re: I need a cooling hammer!

The server mallet line reminds me of the 1st place I worked.

I was looking for something in the IT room, and found a box of mallets asked my boss why we had a box of mallets laying around. His response was THOSE AREN'T MALLETS THEY ARE HIGH PRECISION COMPUTER ALIGNMENT TOOLS!

I was just like WHAT?

He proceeded to grab one walk out to one of the work benches, and proceeded to show me how they aligned the towers that were screwed down to the bench by beating the living hell out of the side of one till it was perfectly straight.

Then he said they were actually multipurpose as they doubled as a tool to increase work output from the workers as he then flung it at a metal cabinet (creating a LOUD bang) near one of my co-workers who was goofing off with his back turned to us, and said NOW GET BACK TO WORK. Guy almost pissed his pants.

Best boss I've ever had I so missed working for him when they replaced him with someone that had an IQ that rivaled the bosses in the BOFH stories :(

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Re: I need a cooling hammer!

THOSE AREN'T MALLETS THEY ARE HIGH PRECISION COMPUTER ALIGNMENT TOOLS!

That would be what our office refers to as The Universal Adaptor.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: I need a cooling hammer!

How do you work in IT and not have a blunt implement named Margaret (Although due to H&S rules Margaret now has a twin which is a foam bat)

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Re: I need a cooling hammer!

"To go with the server mallet and network mace."

And a master key for security-related tasks. Which completely coincidentally looks like a crowbar.

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Re: I need a cooling hammer!

"How do you work in IT and not have a blunt implement named Margaret?"

I wonder if there was ever an IT Alan?

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Ah, yes

The idiot I used to work for decided to start an ISP, despite the fact that his experience with computers was Wordperfect and surfin the early web and usenet for PRON. We, his otherwise skilled staff, were drafted to set up the new business alongside the existing one, which involved the outdoors, dirt, government agencies and such. So, when we had nothing more pressing to complete we had to rewire the office AND build the servers - he had an actual IT guy hired to manage the system once we built the necessary ... but that guy wanted to actually BUY already built SERVERS with WARRANTIES!! Why waste money on that when you already have guys with screwdrivers to assemble parts - actual in house warranty work, come to think of it. Anyway, "cheap" was a magic word. The hammer actually did help straighten cases that were just not fully formed, but with the worst, cheapest cases, the blanks of sheet metal had not been square in the former when the case was stamped. They assumed a vaguely rhomboidal form upon assembly. Tightened up properly, these often would torque frame and thus the mother boards, creating conditions that would pop networking cards, harddrive interfaces and other cards in the extension slots right out the slots over time and multiple heating and cooling cycles. It also created a distinctive rocking effect when you bumped the house built systems. A bigger hammer was employed to scrap them so that they would never, ever, re-emerge as a problem over the help line. Third bright idea of boss was to have same screwdriver-equipped staff build cheap PCs for the hoi poloi so they would remain loyal to the ISP, AND same staff would "support" this debacle despite the non-isp related work that piled up steadily.

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"A bigger hammer was employed" [...]

One of my favourite sayings: "This looks complicated; I'll need a bigger hammer.."

Useful for any situation, pretty much ;)

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Re: "A bigger hammer was employed" [...]

If it doesn't fit, you need a bigger hammer.

If it breaks, it needed replacement anyway!

--> The one with the 2 pound lump hammer in the pocket please.

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TRT
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Re: "A bigger hammer was employed" [...]

We called them "variable pressure applicators" or "impulse generators"

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Re: Ah, yes

"...cases that were just not fully formed, but with the worst, cheapest cases, the blanks of sheet metal had not been square in the former when the case was stamped. "

The kind of case that left you bleeding from simply picking the device up? (I've run into those)

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Mushroom

Re: "A bigger hammer was employed" [...]

This principle isn't quite a joke though the physics is subtle.

Consider a spike being driven into a solid material. So much of the impact energy goes into elastic deformation, and sometimes into non-elastic deformation. A too-small hammer has insufficient percussive energy to actually drive the spike.

Or, in layman's terms, do it right and the nail doesn't bend.

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swm

Re: I need a cooling hammer!

When I was working with laser printers the optics would get out of alignment and the tech reps were forbidden to touch the optics for safety reasons. We, in research, had no such compunctions and I regularly used what I referred to as an optical sledge hammer to knock things back into alignment.

Being one of the designers helped a lot though.

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Re: I need a cooling hammer!

Ours was a metal table leg from Ikea.

we called it 'cluebringer'.

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Re: I need a cooling hammer!

At the mainframe site where I started work half a century ago, the site engineers had a claw hammer with the text "CPU REPAIR TOOL" cut into the handle.

If there was ever an intermittent fault without obvious cause, the back panel was removed from the CPU, then the hammer was run along the exposed board edges. This reseated all the boards in seconds, and all was good for another couple of months.

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Re: "A bigger hammer was employed" [...]

Tapometer.

Percussive maintenance.

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Re: I need a cooling hammer!

A "Manually Operated, Percussion-oriented Adjustment Device". MOPAD. Always have one handy.

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I'm surprised it took that long.

I was expecting them to "immerse in a glass of water" and plug it in.. glass and all.

That way EVERYTHING would be stuffed...

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Water PAH

Liquid Nitrogen! Let's suffocate everyone!

Maybe more fun, liquid oxygen. BURN that titanium case

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I don't think water will be enough as a drying cycle will call up the undead hardware again. You need add salt to ensure correct electrolytic exchange across the floating gate membranes.

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Facepalm

Seen this before

...with a usb interface half full of pocket lint." The other half is in the computer's usb slot.

Buy a damn usb device with a cap! This is the 21st century?

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Re: Seen this before

They probably did but lost it within seconds, its odd how its true how people actually still attempt to use Flash drives which clearly are broken and shouldn't even work. Its odd how I've had a few perfect looking ones just go belly up for no reason >_>

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seen this before

Its odd how I've had a few perfect looking ones just go belly up for no reason

Always remember that these things don't even support TRIM. Who knows what kind of wear and tear is being applied to the poor Flash drive?

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Re: Seen this before

Possibly also ESD damage. I had to do a training day on ElectroStatic Discharge and how it affects semiconductors, back when I was an avionics tech. They showed us electron microscope photographs of chips with ESD damage. It looked like the substrate had been impacted by meteorites!

In some cases the craters took out half or three quarters of a track. Then you get a hot spot that slowly burns out over time. Followed by the exchange...

Me, "What did you do to it?"

Them, "Nothing! It just suddenly died!"

Me, "What did you do to it 6 months ago?"

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Re: Seen this before

I used to be site gardener on a big it/com's site,I got to know the in house it admin and his crew (useful for advice and freebies,their hardware skip was amazingly productive!!)

I was given written instructions that when on morning litter pick/site inspection to keep eyes open for Ian sticks etc and if found take them to only one guy in the it crew,it turned out their idiot co-employees kept "finding" Ian sticks etc in car parks etc and then just plugging into anything but their own machines to see what or who's data they had found,the it guy showed me the box that was half full of "compromised" sticks,some of which he reckoned did not contain the kind of malware etc that you would expect to pickt up from even the most "esoteric" porn site,he had a totally UN-connected bodge pc locked in a cupboard,which was used to check the sticks etc,he reckoned it must be one of the most badly infected machines he knew of,even though they used to flash a fresh image back to it every so often,and another box of sticks an bits the crew had removed from machines or folk and the state of some that folk had tried to plug in,usually having bin driven over a few times from the look of them !!

He reckoned that folk trying things like that had made them so much extra work that they ignored orders not to and blocked every Ian port in they could find in the entire building of three big floors !!2500 + machines,they reckoned to get away with it by pointing out how much money/time would be saved not having to firefight their co-workers idiot behaviours...

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re: I'm surprised it took that long.

@oldcoder, the BOFH noticed that there was at least an hour to go before beer-o'clock; he needed to while away the time by giving the Boss false hope before flattening it.

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as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Wait, what? It isn't?

Shit.

And there's nothing wrong with my 128mb USB stick made out of indestructible military grade bakelite the size of a chocolate bar.

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Joke

Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Antique? I have still got an 8" floppy disk lying around, with a whole 128 kB of storage (CP/M 2.0 from Digital Research is on it, according to the label).

128MB USB stick antique! Youth these days

Erm, .... has anybody got an 8" floppy drive with USB interface lying around?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

@ Michael H.F. Wilkinson

I have an 8" floppy but that's going nowhere near a USB socket.

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

I hear you can get an external interface for that these days

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Somewhere I've still got ... not sure what to call 'em ... magnetic "cards" the size of the old computer punch cards but plastic with a mag coating on. There were fed into a slot which swallowed them. made graunching noises as it read them and if you were lucky spat 'em out again. Part of an ancient word processor built into a large desk I acquired in my youth. Probably lots of someone's ancient data on 'em, but no way to read 'em now ....

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Is it sat next to a pile of Sony magic gate sticks?

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Yes - I have numerous 8" floppies, an 8" drive, and a Kryoflux.

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Paris Hilton

Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

8" drive with a KryoFlux should do for you. Getting the power supply sorted for an undocumented connector is fun, too.

@Valarian -- beat me to it heheheh

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Somewhere in my bits and bobs collection, I've got one of these:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_flash_drive#/media/File:8mb_ibm_disk_on_key.jpg

I won it in a competition back when they came out and it was *amazing* at the time - but I am easily pleased... ;-)

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

I've got some 8" floppies formatted to V7 UNIX UFS standard from 1978 and 1979. We had to use them as overflow storage on a PDP11/34 when I was at university, because there was too little space on the RK07 drive packs!

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Darned young whippersnappers. What's the use of having a memory device if you can't see the memory bits? So, I keep one of these things around:

http://pw1.netcom.com/~wa4qal/core.jpg

For you youngsters that don't recognize it, it's the magnetic core storage plane out of an IBM System/360 model 65 processor, vintage about 1965 or so. Should still have data in it (Probably OS/360).

But, for when the electricity goes out, and you really need to do computing, I have this device to fall back to:

http://pw1.netcom.com/~wa4qal/abacus.jpg

Who says an IBM machine needs electricity to work?

http://pw1.netcom.com/~wa4qal/abacusfr.jpg

Dave

P.S. I don't live totally in the stone-age. I have a USB flash key. I think it holds 16 MB. Oh, and I also have a stack of IBM 5081 devices (Google them if you dare!).

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

...because there was too little space on the RK07 drive packs!

I spent two summers in Westfield, Massachusetts, aligning heads and servo systems on the RK06 production line during my grad student days.

RK07 was the double-density version of RK06. About 1977, IIRC.

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Oh, and I also have a stack of IBM 5081 devices (Google them if you dare!).

No need.

Face down, 9 edge first.

// shopping list in the right-hand pocket.

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

magnetic "cards" the size of the old computer punch cards but plastic with a mag coating on

What, Language Master? Can't say I've ever seen these used for computers, but I don't see why they shouldn't be.

Which calculator was it that used teeny versions of these for program storage?

An HP 65?

M.

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Happy

Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

I don't have any 8" drives left. I do have a 5 1/4 that must have shrunk in the wash.

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Mine is the one with UNICODE, The Universal Telegraphic Phrase-Book, Cassell and Company, Ltd. London, Paris & Melbourne 1897 in the pocket.

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

What's all this magnetic stuff? Nothing beats the TTY & paper tape I have in the basement...

The reassuring clackety clack that thing emanates when running at its glorious 110 baud can never be matched by any floppy...

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Windows

Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

I think I might have one of these lying around:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SuperDisk

and a box of 10 Superdisks,120mb of mighty diskette for a whole 1GB of usable backup!

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

"The reassuring clackety clack that thing emanates when running at its glorious 110 baud"

My old Creed model 7 ran at 45 baud - entirely mechanical with 2 solenoids for input, running on a 1/10 hp motor.

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

TI-59 had the tiny versions. I had one.

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

I still have a 16MB USB stick. It is in a plastic case, not titanium, it is not bent and it still works. I think it cost me over a £/MB at the time.

I've also still got a machine with a 5.25" drive on it that still works, having found some disks that fit it the other day and wondered what was on them.

Oh, and a TI-58 calculator, baby brother of the TI-59 but without the card reader.

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

I think I have one of those 'titanium' USB sticks. It seems to be made from pot metal.

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

The early USB floppies, at least, were an external interface between a standard 3.5 drive and the USB. And 5.25 floppies used an edge connector on the same ribbon cable as a 3.25 used. Dunno about an 8" floppy drive, and there's a power to wonder about too, but it doesn't sound impossible to get the drive connected via USB.

If the Boss got started on it, some of the critical details could easily be insurmountable. I think USB floppies are a bit different now, for instance. But would he listen? And what does he want an 8" floppy for?

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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

TI 59, IIRC...

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