back to article Sysadmin unplugged wrong server, ran away, hoped nobody noticed

Another working week beckons so once again let’s kick it off with a fresh instalment of Who, me? For those of you new to the column, it's The Register confessional for IT pros who broke things. This week we meet “Hayden”, who confessed that: “Back in 1992 I was sort of a snot nose kid just a few years out of college that knew …

Page:

  1. technoise

    This story doesn't make sense.

    If the two cables were intertwined so that both would be disconnected if just one was pulled, how come his own server didn't switch off as well, the first time he tried to disconnect?

    And I presume the "blinkenlichts" were just power LEDs? You would surely shut down the server before disconnecting the power?

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Pulling on the cable is not the same as pulling the plug.

      In the developed world, power plugs are mounted at right-angles to the cable so that pulling the cable gently can identify the plug without disconnecting it; I understand that in other parts of the world the plug is in-line with the cable so that I gentle pull would disconnect it (and I assume this is where your misunderstanding comes from).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        In your "developed world" the article already says that *one* of the plugs did indeed come out.

      2. IGnatius T Foobar

        plugs

        In the developed world, power plugs are mounted at right-angles to the cable so that pulling the cable gently can identify the plug without disconnecting it

        I understand that your intent is to declare the superiority of the UK power plug over the US power plug, and I might even agree with you, but in the "developed world" data centers use C13-C14 and C19-C20 connectors regardless of the locale and voltage. And those are never mounted at right angles.

        1. Angus Ireland
          Boffin

          C13/C14 is never at right angles, eh?

          but in the "developed world" data centers use C13-C14 and C19-C20 connectors regardless of the locale and voltage. And those are never mounted at right angles.

          It might not be common in "developed world data centres", but it's certainly done.

          http://cpc.farnell.com/schurter/r47850100/rewireable-iec-socket-90deg/dp/CN02277

          http://cpc.farnell.com/schurter/4736-0000/c14-iec-plug-e-r-a-rewireable/dp/CN20025

          Similar sockets and plugs can be found for C19/C20 if desired...

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: C13/C14 is never at right angles, eh?

            my server cabinets have right angle leads. it makes the cable runs MUCH neater as they all cable 45d downwards straight out of the PDU.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: plugs

          That’s true now, but the story was in the 1990s. The servers were on the floor rather than in racks. They had single power cords (no redundant PSU). The plugs would have been BS1363 rather than IEC C14.

          I have many unhappy memories of grovelling under the floor to find the right cable to unplug.

      3. J27

        So the developed world is the UK (and former protectorates)? US, Austrailia, Japan, Canada, most of Europe are all 3rd world countries?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Yep. Only the UK is developed. Every fule no that.

          Look at their completely modern home wiring system, for example. Outside of China (that well known bastion of safe and secure wiring habits), other first world nations that use Ring Wiring include Uganda and Indonesia. I think we should all learn from this fine example and pay close attention to TheBritishWay. Everybody else on the planet is obviously wrong.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Yep. Only the UK is developed. Every fule no that.

            Everybody else on the planet is obviously wrong.

            Especially those that drive on the wrong side of the road.

        2. andy bird

          and your point is?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          So the developed world is the UK (and former protectorates)? US, Austrailia, Japan, Canada, most of Europe are all 3rd world countries?

          By now, the US has indeed sunk to that level. Dictator in charge, poor people being exploited to the max, no attention to Human Rights and absoluetly no interest in protecting the environment.

          The rest still has some resilience, but the question is how long it will take before they realise that being dependent on the US is a Very Bad Thing indeed as it is heading as a country for the same problem as Jared Kushner with 5th Avenue 666: an inability to repay mounting debt..

        4. onefang Silver badge

          "Austrailia, Japan, Canada, most of Europe are all 3rd world countries?"

          Dunno about Japan, Canada, or Europe, but Australia has 3rd world quality Internet.

      4. Diez66

        In the developed world?

        In Spain, and a lot of Europe, the plug and cable are in a straight line, tug the cable, pull the plug.

        Sweet.

        We get other things right, maybe?

        Friend of mine did accidentally hit a big red mushroom on the wall that shut a whole test and development lab down, we went down the beer hall and never spoke of it again., Well until today.

    2. Little Mouse

      "both would be disconnected if just one was pulled"

      Only if both power cables had an identical length of cable betwixt the entanglement and the sockets.

      If not, the one with the least slack would pop first.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > "both would be disconnected if just one was pulled"

        > Only if both power cables had an identical length of

        > cable betwixt the entanglement and the sockets.

        > If not, the one with the least slack would pop first.

        He was quoting -- and questioning -- the article. It said "both would come out" yet only one did.

        Why does the OP deserve all these downvotes?

        1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

          "Why does the OP deserve all these downvotes?"

          For not understanding Murphy's Law... (maybe)

    3. David Nash Silver badge

      "the easy approach was just tug on the cable at the point I knew it was my power cable and with another hand wait for a tug at each of the plugs in the outlet.”

      “After five or six tugs the plug moved."

      This means he tugged the cable to feel which one it was. It didn't disconnect at that point.

      " I was like ‘bingo’, and promptly pulled the plug.”

      This was when he disconnected the plug that moved slightly. turns out it was the wrong one.

      What's so hard to understand?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's awkwardly phrased and some with dyslexia I could not follow

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Maybe I'm looking at this wrong, but I'd shut it down, then disconnect it at the boxen. No need to rip up the floors, knock other cables loose. I also label the cables and leave a note in extra large bold about what server goes there and where it currently is located.

      1. Huw D

        Indeed. If you're desperate to pull the plug on something, pull it from the back of the something.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I frown gently at hiding boo-boos - honesty is better

    and I can understand the intertwining, its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

    It could almost be described as being akin to platted hair, I assume as all the cables were originally stored in coils.

    In my experience rooms like that have been comms cupboards where often they become uncontrolled due to no engineer ever visiting twice and each one knowing a different "best" way of doing things.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

      Every time I power down my computer at home for the approximately annual dust vacuuming/ upgrade/ etc, I carefully detangle the moderately large collection of power/ usb/ network/ etc cables behind it. However, despite the fact that nothing goes back there until the next time, they never seem to be as tidy as I left them!

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

        Having spent most of Sunday afternoon doing exactly this, I wholeheartedly agree.

        I have a theory -- a theory which is mine -- that the resident house spiders keep themselves amused during the long winter evenings by weaving all the cables together. Let's face it, they're big enough and have enough legs free to do the job.

        1. Mooseman Bronze badge

          Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

          " -- a theory which is mine -- "

          Is this anything like your theory about brontosauruses?

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

            I've got a theory that it's a demon.

            1. Alister Silver badge

              Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

              According to Sir PTerry, it's due to malignancy - the local hostility of things towards non-things.

            2. Sir Awesome

              Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

              A dancing demon? Eh, something isn't right there.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: A dancing demon? Eh, something isn't right there.

                Nevertheless, evidence of dance demons /is/ available online :-)

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-x2TmIRkMg

                (now with a real video. hurrah)

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

              A dancing demon, no, something isn't right here...

          2. KarMann

            Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

            My theory, which is mine, is that all power leads are thick at one end, much, much thinner in the middle, and then thick again at the far end.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              My theory, which is mine

              I believe that theory is actually my theory, which is mine

          3. Stevie Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Is this anything like your theory about brontosauruses?

            Well done Mooseman. I too heard the high pitch cough.

            Let us share e-beers and play the juke-box to drown out the "disbelieve" claque who live in a make-believe world of bent plugs and too many volts volts and Eskimos.

            1. Danny 14 Silver badge

              Re: Is this anything like your theory about brontosauruses?

              we just use a ring label and trunk all the cables. dial up a number or feed a colour and clip clip done. saved my bacon many times with network and power cables.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Is this anything like your theory about brontosauruses?

                "we just use a ring label and trunk all the cables. dial up a number or feed a colour and clip clip done. saved my bacon many times with network and power cables."

                That's great in a well organised and largish operation. But I suspect in this case, especially all those years ago, the room probably started out with one server and slowly grew, and whoever was in charge at the time knew every box and cable. Then grew some more and the "one guy" moved on or got promoted and by then it was too late to strip it all out and tidy things up as the business could no longer afford the downtime.

                One of the few solution is to start a new room, where only new kit goes and maybe older kit which has to be powered down for repairs or whatever so can be safely moved to the "tidy" room. Eventually you end up with the entangled room running the last three or four servers that no one understands, no one appears to use but which will cause a catastrophe if turned off.

        2. Chris King Silver badge

          Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

          "I have a theory -- a theory which is mine -- that the resident house spiders keep themselves amused during the long winter evenings by weaving all the cables together. Let's face it, they're big enough and have enough legs free to do the job",

          That's fine, until one of them calls for a human sacrifice.

        3. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

          You don't need house spiders to explain this - or rather, they don't explain it, because wire tangling is an essential property of the universe. If physicists weren't too busy messing around with trivia such as dark matter, string theory and quantum entanglement they'd be getting to the bottom of this. Cable entanglement is far more fundamental to understanding the universe. The real fundamental rule is that cable entanglement (e) = total mass of cable (t) multiplied by the square of the time unobserved (c). i.e. e=mc squared

          1. Baldrickk Silver badge

            Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

            You don't need house spiders to explain this - or rather, they don't explain it, because wire tangling is an essential property of the universe. If physicists weren't too busy messing around with trivia such as dark matter, string theory and quantum entanglement they'd be getting to the bottom of this. Cable entanglement is far more fundamental to understanding the universe.

            I believe that there is in fact an entire branch of mathematics that describes how cables get tangled.

            Or I at least remember my A-Level Maths teacher telling me that there is.

            The story goes that the guy who started it got fed up of his headphones getting tangled in his pocket, and set out to understand just how it happens, and needed to come up with some totally new methods for handling it.

          2. onefang Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

            "If physicists weren't too busy messing around with trivia such as dark matter, string theory and quantum entanglement they'd be getting to the bottom of this."

            But string theory and quantum entanglement are precisely why cables get mysteriously entangled. Dark matter probably is involved to, it's usually dark for long periods of time where the cables are.

        4. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

          @ Rich

          I was wondering if Anne ever got married.....

          1. JassMan Silver badge

            Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work. @Alistair

            Maybe he was just plagiarising Anne Elk's theory. But then again, someone much more erudite than me said "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Maybe it was Colton.

            Why is there no "tongue in cheek" emoticon when you need one?

        5. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

          Those evil spiders really hate Christmas tree lights too!

        6. Fungus Bob Silver badge

          Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

          "I have a theory -- a theory which is mine --"

          As do I - poltergeists.

        7. Aus Tech

          Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

          Don't you know that power, Ethernet, USB and other cables all have a life of their own? They seem to love to get all tangled up, despite all the care that a person takes when connecting the computer and associated peripherals.

      2. Symon Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: its like the leads at the back of my desk at work.

        Top Tip! How to stop cables intertwining.

        If you put two (or more) cables, ropes, whatever in a bag, they always get tangled up. If you simply tie the cables together by making a loose half hitch of both (or more) cables at each end, they don't get tangled. (Mostly!) Do I win £5?

        I suppose it might work on the desk too, for example, tie the power and video cable together, but I think the tangles in this case are caused by adding cables willy nilly.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I frown gently at hiding boo-boos - honesty is better

      "I can understand the intertwining"

      It's how they breed. We all know that next time you look there are more cables than were there last time.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: We all know that next time you look there are more cables than were there last time.

        In which case some sort of cross-breeding programme with ballpoint pens might be an idea ?

        1. Oh Homer Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: breeding ballpoint pens

          My pens are more like socks than cables. They're an endangered species that disappear as soon as you leave them anywhere out in the open.

          Seriously, forget tracking birds, the RSPB needs to track the mass migration of pens, and figure out why they only ever migrate in one direction. Does the global population of pens fly south for the winter, only to die in the attempt?

          Either that, or quantum physicists need to forget about all that string compactification nonsense (haven't they figured out yet that you can just wrap your string into a ball?), and instead concentrate on finding and analysing all the portals to other dimensions that swallow pens, socks and ships, amongst other things.

          They could start with my tumble dryer. It's highly suspect. While I'm not actually aware of any ships lost whilst navigating the supernatural abyss of my tumble dryer, it seems to have consumed pretty much everything else that dared to even get close to the event horizon of its interdimensional gateway, or what the manufacturer claims is merely a "door".

          Then the bods should settle their unrelenting gaze on my co-workers, who are unquestionably also interdimensional portals to an alternate universe populated entirely by what were formerly my pens, established by the first pen to ever achieve self awareness, and which is now on a crusade to spread its sentience to all pen-kind and liberate them from the Basildon Bonds of literary servitude.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn
            Thumb Up

            Re: breeding ballpoint pens

            “Somewhere in the cosmos, he said, along with all the planets inhabited by humanoids, reptiloids, fishoids, walking treeoids and superintelligent shades of the color blue, there was also a planet entirely given over to ballpoint life forms. And it was to this planet that unattended ballpoints would make their way, slipping away quietly through wormholes in space to a world where they knew they could enjoy a uniquely ballpointoid lifestyle, responding to highly ballpoint-oriented stimuli, and generally leading the ballpoint equivalent of the good life.

            And as theories go this was all very fine and pleasant until Veet Voojagig suddenly claimed to have found this planet, and to have worked there for a while driving a limousine for a family of cheap green retractables, whereupon he was taken away, locked up, wrote a book and was finally sent into tax exile, which is the usual fate reserved for those who are determined to make fools of themselves in public.”

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: breeding ballpoint pens

            "My pens are more like socks than cables. They're an endangered species that disappear as soon as you leave them anywhere out in the open."

            My pens leave their caps behind like abandoned skins.

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019