The good old days
Back when PPP over ATM meant someone had pissed on the cash machine.
Welcome again to On-Call, The Register’s Friday forage through readers’ memories of tech support jobs that became FUBAR*. This week meet “Robin” who back in the 1980s had a bit to do with a company called “Lion Systems Developments” – or LSD for short. Robin was around when LSD “won the contract to supply the communication …
Reminds me of the many shortcut descriptions in the techy field.
As a young apprentice I worked with a guy referred to as Fubsy. His real name was probably Dave, but everyone said "See Fubsy about that ... Fubsy has the key .... Borrow one off Fubsy etc". Took me months to find out FUB meant effing useless bastard.
Surely along with the list of El-Reg standards we should have a list of these many useful acronyms.
A friend of mine has one he calls the WHIP syndrome when he has trouble working out what has gone wrong with some electronic gismo. (What haven't I pressed).
SPOF should refer to the Customers.
Back in the day, way way back, I was being cross trained on old IBM (IIRC) Cash Machines in a well known High Street Bank.
The Banking Hall had the kit walled off in an enclosure with large mirrors above so anyone could see what was happening inside.
TL tapes an put of order note over the card reader (A4 so noticable.)
As we haul the back off off the cash chutes he points up and says "Watch this."
Cue Customer walking up to said cash machine (powered off) who duly ripped off the A4 and inserted His card.
Much cursing later we retrieved said card and handed it to the Banking Staff who happily expalined that they would need to log an Engineer visit.
PEBCCAC - problem exists between cussing Customer and card reader.
I had an incident at an ATM one Sunday that caused me to invent an acronym. I had £200 cash that I needed to be in my account urgently. I was going on holiday the next day and wouldn't be able to get to the bank before the flight. So I was using the deposit point to put the money in and after using my card I received an envelope for the money. I put the money in the envelope and put that in the ATM, so far so good. Then the machine asks if I need more time to make the deposit and I realised that it hasn't registered the cash going in. So I called the phone bank and told the bloke what had happened. He said not to worry about it he could see that the money was in the account. I said that this was only because the transaction hadn't finished. Once I said No to the more time question the system would reconcile the lack of an envelope and remove the money. "It doesn't work like that sir" is the reply so I asked to speak to a supervisor. This bloke said the same thing as the initial advisor and I gave him the same reply. He told me I was clearly not aware of how things work. I said I was fairly confident I understood but if he knew better I could let the transaction finish. As soon as I did he became very excited because the £200 had just vanished from his screen. He was most apologetic and said he'd put my complaint in immediately. Fortunately I had an old number for the branch and was able to call them from Heathrow before my flight. I knew the lady that answered the phone and she told me she'd have a look for the missing cash. It was credited to my account that day.
I christened the phone banking staff as a Feckingly Annoying Technologically Challenged Support-staff.
Staff never used to and in most cases still don’t care about who has physical access to computing systems. Show up in OpenReach gear and ask to be let into the comma room (aka computer or hub room) and in you get, no questions asked, especially in this world of outsourcing where the reception staffed by inter serve have no clue and don’t care who you work for or why you are there so long as they get to charge extra for an unscheduled access arrangement.
The suit and tie are important.
I was doing an audit of a satellite office in the Far East. We were prepped by being told that no-one wear suits, its al very relaxed. So three of us turned up on Sunday, a day early, wearing suits and carrying smart attache cases. We walked straight past security (Fail 1) in to the CEO office, which was unlocked (Fail 2) and proceeded to mooch around. We found an internal document that even we should not have access to. It was THE most sensitive document that the company possessed.
We then went to said CEO's home address, disturbed his family barbecue. On being shown the document and our explanation of how we obtained it, you could see the blood drain from his face as he envisioned his pension floating away. The senior auditor just said "We WILL have you full co-operation for this audit, won't we."
I learnt that day that appearances really do matter!
"... especially effective if a suit and tie is visible underneath"
I used to drive a Range Rover and wear a smart suit - even though I was a techie. When I arrived at one particular company site the car park would invariably be full. To my surprise the security men would usher me to a reserved space. This went on for many months until someone realised I wasn't top brass.
Had a IBM field guy turn up, he rings me up as hes 5 mins away.
After 10 mins no show, its Friday afternoon & POETS day for me as I commute back to Devon.......
5 mins later he rings again he's lost, he's driving around the premises because security let him drive straight on-site without a question (It was raining hard & they could't be arsed to get out of the hut or open their window) & hes using a phone (Big sign by the barrier that security just opened - Saying any electronic things like that are prohibited on site due to risk of Dartford vapourising itself (No bad thing in itself, but not if I'm in the middle of that explosion)).
This is the same pharmacutical company that opened the barrier at the other end of the site to let internal miscreants steal a pill pressing machine on the premise of moving it to the other site across a public highway, who then got into a waiting vehicle with it.
... especially effective if a suit and tie is visible underneath
And you have a clipboard with some official-looking papers.
In the late 70s/early 80s my dad was a buildings surveyor for a largish London firm with buildings over looking the Thames in an expensive bit of town. He'd get sent off to a condemned squat one day and Heathrow the the next.
On one trip to Heathrow, armed with a clipboard and a dictaphone, he found that if he walked up to a door making notes people would go out of their way to let him through. No security checks, just let him through. Apparently it was all fun and games until he found himself airside with no way to get back in to the terminal without a lot of explaining.
Fast forward 20 years and he was running an odd-job type of building firm and got the job of fixing some lighting at a car hire concession at Stanstead. With arrogance typical of the trade, he rocked up, stopped his car on double yellows with hazard lights on, and went off to work. Thirty minutes later he returned to his frankly fucked Ford Capri abandoned in the drop off point guarded by a pair of very unamused armed policemen.
Sometimes, but not always. Company I work for works for some very large multinationals and without the right access being emailed to the reception/security teams you don't get past them, even if you have the right codes/access arranged.
First job after leaving the army we had a Fire Maintenance company turn up unannounced. Claiming they wanted to inspect our fire extinguishers. They had no appointment so their company was called and they were turned away from site.
Some sites yes you can walk on and not be challenged, I would personally say this is getting less and less though.
On a weekend a lorry arrived at an IT company site saying they had come to take all the lab oscilloscopes away for recalibration. The security guard let them in and helped them with the loading. Oops!
That was in the days when the buildings were surrounded by lawns down to the street - with no security fence.
I was once working for a large financial institution, about twenty years ago.
We had a call from one of the users that a system had stopped working, around 6pm. Couldn't log into the server remotely, so we wandered into the machine room - where we found the top off the server, and the memory chips all nicked. Someone had literally come in off the street and pinched the memory from a server.
This was in the days when memory chips were very expensive....
It was a long time ago, but still - anon for this one...!
"This was in the days when memory chips were very expensive...."
Same thing happened at our office. Overnight someone stripped the memory chips out of many desktop PCs.
While there was security control of people entering through the main gates - leaving was not regulated. There was some debate about whether they had scaled the perimeter fence to get in to the site - or whether it was an inside job of someone staying behind. The buildings had no external or internal door controls in that era.
Same pharma company just different location (Stevenage) used to have a problem with laptops being walked out of the secure card access storeroom overnight (I was the last man out & the last man in the following day, usually arriving to some more ranting by the stores guy about missing stock) by security.
Laptops also walked themselves out with people who weren't issued with them in the first place at the same place.
One time I was stopped by the head of security in the hallway of one of the buildings about how secure Kensington locks were, during the course of the discussion he informed me that someone had got into a locked office over the weekend, by getting into the unlocked office\lab next door lifting up the ceiling tiles to climb over the dividing wall & drop down to get the laptop of their desire.
They knew that was the MO as the individual did not clean his foot marks off the desks he landed on (unsure if he left the same way as he entered).
The very best one was on issuing a laptop to a young lady at the same place on a wet Thursday & replacing it with a new one on the Monday.
Apparently Thursday night both she & her partner (Who also worked at the same place) had their car broken into while they were at Tescos & had both laptops taken from the back seats of their car.
This was in the days when memory chips were very expensive....
Late 90's, we had a small but significant number of expensive RAM clips go missing - from a locked cupboard in our stores.
We had our suspicions as to where they were going and so arranged to get them smartwater-marked.
Sure enough, the next weekend some more went missing. The police got involved and visited the home of the two contractors involved and, sure enough, a number of smartwater-tagged RAM sticks were found. Said contractors were very good at wangling weekend overtime and had unquestioned access to all parts of the building.
What's sad was that, even though the RAM sticks were expensive, they were a pittance compared to what the two guys in question were already earning. And so, for a pittance, they threw away a lucrative contract and, since they gained a criminal record, any likelyhood of getting another one.
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