back to article Boss visited the night shift and found a car in the data centre

Another week is coming to an end and that means it's time for On-Call, The Register's Friday column in which we share readers' stories of being asked to do the unthinkable to satisfy the incorrigible. This week, meet “Glenn” who told us that back in the 1970s he worked for “a large multinational that had several IBM mainframes …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Mini - not really

    Motorcycles, bicycles, ski and other sports equipment - aplenty.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Mini - not really

    > Motorcycles, bicycles, ski and other sports equipment - aplenty.

    I knew a mate once who objected to being grounded to a deskjob so decided to park his motorbike on his desk. I bet it sounded good while he rode it up the fire escape.

    The place I was working at the time we tried to work out whether we could get a mate's Mini up into our lab. Doors - check, space to turn it - check, goods lift- check, turning in to the corridor - check, getting it past the radiator by the kink in the corridor - Oh nuts!

    Well it was a nice idea.

  3. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Re: Mini - not really

    Back in the day at my residential halls in Southern NZ there was a tradition of pranks. One guy came back from a short trip away to find his car (memory says a mini but might not have been) in his room, on the second floor.

    It had been disassembled then reassembled in the guy's room. He had to reverse the process to get it out.

    You could do that to cars, and motorbikes in the day, they were user repairable. I can't even get the spark plugs out of my wife's car.

  4. David Harper 1

    Re: Mini - not really

    Impressive, but the gold medal still goes to the Cambridge University engineering students who managed in 1958 to hoist an Austin Seven car on the roof of the Senate House building one night. The full story is here, with a photograph of the car on the roof:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2210696/Cambridge-Universitys-1958-car-on-roof-prank-secrets-revealed.html

  5. Andytug

    Re: Mini - not really

    We tried similar with a Fiat 126, very easy for two strapping lads to lift the front up and walk away with it like a wheelbarrow (the handbrake was non-functional). Stopped when the front door was found to be too narrow due to the iron gates, didn't want to risk scratching either it or the gates.......

  6. Alister Silver badge

    Re: Mini - not really

    Not in a datacentre, but a telephone exchange where an equipment room which was once full of 30 racks of strowger selectors was emptied out when the exchange became System X.

    One of the TOs used to regularly park his Land Rover in there on nights to work on it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Fiat 126,

    a 500 would have been about 4cm narrower ...

    I devised a way to bring 500s with fucked engines back to life by transplanting a 126 engine and gearbox combo. Not as easy as it sounds. 126 had synchromesh, whilst 500 (which I learned to drive on) didn't. So I learned to drive with double declutching (before progressing to driving without using the clutch).

  8. Loud Speaker Bronze badge

    Re: Mini - not really

    As someone born and brought up in Cambridge, I knew how this was done from only a few years later. I bet there must have been thousands who knew,

    However, it was a brilliant plan, fairly well executed.

    However, nothing beats the (much earlier) prank in which a bunch of gas board workers digging a hole in the road were told that students dressed as police were coming to harass them, and then the police were told a bunch of students dressed as gas board workers were digging up the road. Cue major fracas!

  9. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: Fiat 126,

    126 had synchromesh

    While the clutch plates lasted, anyway. Dad had a series of them as company cars in the 70s (he worked for an Italian pharma company) and the clutch plates inevitably failed after a couple of months..

  10. gypsythief
    Coat

    " I can't even get the spark plugs out of my wife's car."

    That's 'cos they don't have spark plugs in diesels.

    Ok, ok, I'm outta here. Mine's the one with the Haynes manual in the pocket.

  11. Daedalus Silver badge

    Re: Mini - not really

    Cars on the roof? Such things are routine here in the land of the free with too much money and time on their hands. Given the low academic demands on university sports teams who can supply the muscle, the availability of cheap wood and nearby forests in which to construct the ramp, it's no surprise to find the dean's car on the roof sometime towards the end of term.

  12. Anonymous C0ward

    Re: Mini - not really

    In Durham legend has it that some engineers once suspended the VC's car from Kingsgate bridge.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Mini - not really

    ...Also at a NZ uni student party, a bunch of us guys got a little leery and decided it would be great to pick up and relocate a little yellow Mini belonging to one of the girls at the party - between the two trees out in the front yard. A half dozen of us lurched outside, huffed and puffed for a bit - job done! Mini sat neatly in the middle of the lawn with front and rear bumpers nestled between the trees. Great fun!

    Actually no ... none of us in our state of inebration had thought about the reaction of the owner which was to immediately burst into tears and hysterics, followed by the other girl friends flying into a rage calling us all the names under the sun until the car was carefully restored to its spot out front on the road.

    Oops.

  14. Captain DaFt

    Re: Mini - not really

    Such things are routine here in the land of the free

    There were a few classic VW Beetles around when I was younger.

    Since it only took five or six reasonably able teens to lift one, they always seemed to end up hidden in hedges, casually sitting on decks, placed bumper to bark between any two convenient trees, or any other odd place that they'd fit.

    Never put saw one on a roof though, a bit too heavy to lift that high. ☺

  15. AlbertH

    Re: Mini - not really

    Does an Austin A30 count? The car could be completely stripped and rebuilt with two sizes of spanners and two sizes of flat-bladed screwdrivers. It was just about the ultimate in simplicity. As students, we disassembled one in the car park and took it - piece by piece - upstairs to a fourth-floor laboratory, where it was reassembled.

    The following morning, the Prof admitted that it was the best April 1st prank that he'd ever seen when he found it between the benches in the lab waiting for the first lecture....!

  16. AlbertH

    Re: Mini - not really

    It's no surprise to find the dean's car on the roof sometime towards the end of term.

    We used to stand the maths master's mini on four oil drums!

  17. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Re: Mini - not really

    In our neighborhood, one VW bug always appeared floating in the owner's swimming pool at some point in the summer.

  18. Tikimon Silver badge

    Re: Mini - not really

    A VW Beetle decided to roost on the roof of my high school in 1979. Sat there for weeks. We also had a visit from a life-sized fiberglass Stegosaurus "borrowed' from a mini-golf place 25 miles away.

    Irrelevant bonus trivia: I talked with one of the dinosaur guys later. They had slipped into the closed park at 2:00am, wrenched the Stego loose from its mounts, mahandled it over a fence and into a pickup truck. Some of them sat in back to stabilize the thing. So far so good! Of course with no traffic anywhere the very first traffic light catches them. So here's a truck filled with teenage guys and a dinosaur stopped at the light... and a local police car pulls up across the otherwise empty intersection. The cops look at the truck. The kids look at the cops. Anyone would know the dino belonged 100 yards up the road at Jolly Golf. The cops look at each other... and burst into laughter. The light goes green, the cops drive away. Awesome.

  19. Z80

    Re: Mini - not really

    "In Durham legend has it that some engineers once suspended the VC's car from Kingsgate bridge"

    That it was the VC's car sounds like a recent embellishment to me, but, a car, hanging from Kingsgate bridge? It would appear so.

    https://community.dur.ac.uk/j.d.little/kingsgate/viewtopichtml_files/414.jpg

  20. EarthDog Bronze badge

    Re: " I can't even get the spark plugs out of my wife's car."

    Really they don't? Next you'll be telling me my Tesla didn't all those oil changes I paid for.

  21. werdsmith Silver badge

    Re: Mini - not really

    Not as ambitious as a car, but in school a teacher's yellow scooter was hoisted up with pulleys and parked 20 feet up on the edge of the sports hall roof.

    When the teacher saw it she angrily stormed off and by the time she came marching back with the deputy head and a posse of other teachers the scooter was parked back down in the car park.

  22. David 132 Silver badge

    Re: " I can't even get the spark plugs out of my wife's car."

    Plot twist - his wife's car's a Tesla.

  23. Aus Tech

    Re: Mini - not really

    The Prof must have been a good sport then.

  24. ICPurvis47

    Re: Mini - not really

    This was also done by the students at University College, London, about the same time. Engineering department students rigged a sheerlegs on the roof of the Engineering Building during the day, when it was not unusual for students to be up there, and one night they pushed the Austin Seven (about 1928 vintage, I think) up to the blank end wall of the building, hooked the hoist onto its front axle, and winched it up onto the roof. It was then manhandled across the roofs of that and other buildings until it was left perched crossways above the main entrance portico. College authorities had to employ the army and a huge crane to lift it down as they never found out who put it up there.

    Many years later, at a College of Engineering in the Midlands where I was studying, one of our classmates woke up one morning to find his beloved Beetle perched on four (empty) beer barrels outside the Principal's Office.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Ralph the Wonder Llama
    Joke

    "Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?"

    Quite a few, but I simply can't name names.

  27. Solarflare

    Re: "Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?"

    Beat me to it, have an upvote!

  28. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: "Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?"

    There have been a few vendor reps that should have had the halon treatment...

  29. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Re: "Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?"

    Simon? Is that you?

  30. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Re: "Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?"

    Water, water, lots of water and live electricity.

    FWIW no electrical shocks, but the water got warmer the nearer I went to the live plug (had no wellies and we need to down the servers and UPS'es).

    Suffice to say I skedaddled out of there ASAP. Sparky need to look at the earth leakage setup.

  31. Korev Silver badge
    Joke

    Re: "Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?"

    We had a small computer room with a "server wash facility"; for some reason my colleagues only saw the negative side to this innovation...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?"

    Yeah one year after the Christmas party the on call (and therefore sober) staff member went to answer an alarm. On entering he noticed that the air temp was much higher than normal and that all the chillers were switched off. Whilst investigating this he heard noises coming from the other end of the room. There he found two far less sober members of staff down one of the aisles who were clothed as nature intended on packing blankets. If the floor had been covered in something different their actions could have been described as "Rhino on the Lino". They were so into each other that they didn't notice him standing there and then walking past.

    They'd obviously thought that they'd found the perfect location to get "Jiggy With It" but it was obviously too cold. Their mistake was turning off the cooling which in turn alerted us that there was something wrong. The first time the pair paid any attention to the world was when the large yellow and red chiller master switch was switched back on. He didn't have to wait long for the temperature to drop a few degrees and for there to be a reaction. A figure covered in a packing blanket around the waist appeared and then disappeared the second they saw someone else. The on-call staff member yelled that they had two minutes to get dressed and get out before he'd be back with a camera (no mobiles allowed in there). When he came back with a camera they'd gone and the only evidence they'd been there was a scrap of packing blanket that had caught on a nail by the door. Everyone knew who it was because 'someone' had leaked the access logs for the security doors!

  33. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?

    Yeah, one of the more fuckwitted people I've ever had the misfortune to work with. It's a surprise to me that he ever managed to remember the Ops Room door code, but it's not a surprise that he managed to unplug the wrong minicomputer. You'd have thought the flashing lights would have given it away, but no...

  34. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?

    but it's not a surprise that he managed to unplug the wrong minicomputer.

    It could be worse - he could attach a completely untested string of DASD units to the live production system..

    Up to that point, we didn't realise that write-only memory was a thing. The writes would appear to succeed but no data was actually written. And we didn't find out for a day or so.

    Said ops person rapidly became free to pursue other exciting opportunities.

  35. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?

    Yes, a server running Windows!!!!!

  36. Baldrickk Silver badge

    Re: Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?

    I'm tempted to start downvoting Windows bashing. It's too easy a target.

  37. TRT Silver badge

    Re: Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?

    Ah, but were they electric windows, or handle wound?

  38. Nick Kew Silver badge

    @Baldrickk

    If ever there was a time and a place for Windows bashing ...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @Baldrickk

    Speaking of windows bashing...

    The most unexpected thing I have found in a datacentre is men with buckets and sponges attempting to squeegee some allegedly breakproof film onto the windows in case some local chav decided to swing at them from the small gap between the window and a concrete retaining wall.

    They set off the underfloor flood alerts and I find them and the duty security guard attempting to pat things dry in the subfloor with rolls of blue paper towels.

  40. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: Have you ever stumbled upon something that just doesn't belong in the data centre?

    Ah, but were they electric windows, or handle wound?

    Used to know someone who, amongst other things, acted as a middleman for various manufacturers trying to get their products to other companies to sell to end-users.

    At one point, he was going to one of the Scandanavian countries in order to try to sell some new double-glazing technologies to window installers there. Not wanting to let it go through the tender mercies of baggage-handlers, he wanted it in his carry-on luggage (it was a quarter-scale full working model).

    His first mistake was assuming that the SAS checkin staff had a sense of humour. Apparently, giving the reason for having it in his carry-on luggage of "on plane flights I like a windows seat so I generally bring my own" and "I like to open the window and smell the fresh air" didn't go down too well and he spent several hours explaining his sense of humour to airport security.

    This was before 9/11. He'd probably be on a plane to Gitmo if he tried that now..

  41. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    An entire replacement IT infrastructure?

    I've come across a whole backup IT system (completely outdated and hopeless underpowered with no way of shifting from the live system to this redundant system) kept in the server room 'just in case we ever need to replace the whole lot in a hurry'...

    It's also worth noting this was for a computer parts distributor so if came to that we could just....you know use the stuff on the shelves if it was a big enough emergency...

    (though it did have a number of 3Dfx cards from when they were a thing)

  42. jake Silver badge

    Re: An entire replacement IT infrastructure?

    Drop and insert dark data centers are a thing.

  43. defiler Silver badge

    Re: An entire replacement IT infrastructure?

    A friend and I were reminiscing just last weekend about the 'click' when our Orchid 3DFX cards kicked in. That was when you knew something glorious was going to happen!

    Besides that, there's now a Glide wrapper so you can force the 3DFX calls to Direct3D for newer cards. I was playing Dungeon Keeper 1 last night. :D

  44. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Obviously

    any manager.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Obviously

    Shame, only allowed one upvote

  46. Fatman
    Thumb Up

    Re: Obviously

    I gave him one on your behalf.

  47. jake Silver badge

    Things that don't belong in a working data center ...

    Middle management.and higher (applies to management track folks only).

    Any corporate bod with a non IT related Doctorate.

    Tour groups.

    Vendors.

    Fast so-called food, and especially popcorn.

    Mace/pepper spray (don't ask).

    Last, but not least: Janitorial staff/cleaners.

  48. kain preacher Silver badge

    Re: Things that don't belong in a working data center ...

    "Mace/pepper spray (don't ask)."

    Asks.

    Oh you left out children of management

  49. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Things that don't belong in a working data center ...

    Little girls called Molly

  50. Jonathan Richards 1
    Unhappy

    Bit risky...

    Beyond the risk of being caught oily-handed, I'd have thought one would need to spread the weight of a Mini (kerb weight somewhere north of 600 kg) across more than four floor tiles, especially if one is thinking of removing a tile or three and then of getting underneath. Hands up who has seen a collapsed raised floor?

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