FAIL - the most incompetent IT pros

Commentards! We are researching an article on incompetent IT pros. What is the most stupid FAIL you have seen from a co-worker or ... cough ... what is the most stupid mistake you have made. This could make a good story - but we need your help to make it fly.

This topic was created by Drewc .

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I had a manager that thought batteries for the big UPS units in the server room were unnecessary expenses until we lost power followed by a quick surge that killed the main data server. I was promptly blamed for the incident and I stormed not only into his office but in the GMs office as well. My fault? No way! I had put in the request, in writing no less because I follow the CYA rules always, and his response to my PO request was "declined".

He was let go some time shortly afterwards due to other poor decisions.

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There's a shortage of laptops, so I am commandeering yours

Had a lunatic Data Centre Manager who under-estimated the number of laptops he required, so he opened the Cabinets of the HP XP512 Disk Arrays, removed the maintenance laptops inside and reformatted them and distributed them to users.

My co-worker only found out when he opened the cabinet at 2am on a support call. "Unimpressed" was one way of describing it.

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Father Dougal

A sandwich student, recently arrived for his mid-course year of work, find himself staring at the Big Red Emergency Shutdown button and wonders what it does. To find out he presses it. Bringing the building containing several hundred developers and all the dev and test systems back up took an entire day as we discovered that all the kit that we had piled in over the years couldn't all be started at once without tripping the power supply.

The next week all the Big Red Buttons got Big Perspex Lift Off Covers to make pressing them an more conscious decision.

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Anonymous Coward

MCSE

I'm sure many have heard of the wonders of MCSE, however one particular and I shall call him Muppet bought a customised computer with a switch on the power supply, queue the comment "I'm an MSCE and know all about computers, this one is dead and needs to be returned", to which the reply was "Have you turned it on at the back?", short silence and an "ok, thanks".

Insert proverb or historical witty comment here

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Re: MCSE

I was gifted a sick AMD K6-2 500 based computer many years ago. It would run MsDos from a floppy, but would not install Windows 95 or 98. It ran so slow, a 386 could have beaten it in a benchmark.

It had been replaced under warranty and written off by the company I worked for.

An in house A+ certified tech, and his MCSE super had troubleshot, approved, and completed the warranty replacement. Another MCSE tech had purchased it for parts from the company, and gifted it to another A+ certified tech after he couldn't get it to run and had stripped anything useful from the chassis. With a replaced hard drive, ram, optical drive, and floppy; the machine still wouldn't run.

This last tech told me that if I wanted it I could have it. After 10 minutes on my bench, the machine was happily installing Windows 98. The problem? Power supply set to 220, plugged into 110. Came out of the box like that, brand new.

People ask me why I don't believe in certs. See above.

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Mushroom

Private server in company server room

I am so ashamed.

Twas the time of LOIC. Me and some mates had been drinking and gaming and were screwing about and nuking each others connections and giggling as each other got kicked off and so on and so forth, anyway ..... I had my private server sat on the network at work which was a hosting company, straight onto Virgin's network, 10MB with 1:1 contention ratio, they hosted many many sites and mail servers.

Yes you can see where this is going....

So I RDP'ed onto the server and installed LOIC. entered my mates details ..... I might of forgotten to set the time limit as we had all been doing it from home and Hit the Big Button.

its very hard to RDP into a machine that is going mad killing somebodies phone line half the country away. I realised I couldn't turn it off and I apologised in a very slurred voice that rebooting his router might sort it (or not because he had a static IP) but much laughs were had. It was a Friday night I had no Idea it had nuked the entire Server farm and some of virgin's local area. First I heard was Saturday lunchtime that virgin technicians were onsite and could not figure out what was causing it, I VERY sheepishly suggested to try rebooting my machine as it had "crashed" last night and I couldn't reach it. I actually had to argue that they try it as they kept saying no no the entire site is down it's not just your machine and they were considering digging up the road.

I was told to pickup my machine and never bring it back.

I have definitely learnt my lesson and feel very bad for what I did. It's all fun and games until you take the datacenter offline.

I could of posted about some other Fails from other people that are pretty close on par, but I believe that some honesty is needed here.

And again my apologies for my stupid drunken behaviour

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Anonymous Coward

It was at home, not at work, but the dumbest thing I've seen from an actual IT pro was me. I have a file server at home that was backing up to an extra drive on the kids' PC via rsync. Yeah, I know, the alarm bells are already ringing here, but it gets worse. (Also, in my defense, their computer is the one that I can count on to be left on and not have the backup drive tinkered with. I actually shut my computer down, sometimes for days at a time, and they don't use theirs for anything except YouTube and Minecraft.) When the file server failed, which was thankfully a problem with a cable rather than the drive itself (I didn't know that right away), I went to pull my backups. At which point I found that I'd been backing up a 2TB drive to a 300GB drive. Doh. So right now my plans for the 5 day weekend (Yep, I'm a Merkin and this is the week of Thanksgiving) include tearing their computer down, setting the 300GB drive as their primary drive, then setting the 2TB drive that's currently sitting on /home to receive my backups.

Anon for obvious reasons.

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I am sitting here in 2016 wondering whatever made me want to post a weather blog in the middle of a forum about computer tech.

Then I picked up a laptop I have been meaning to reboot for the last few moths but lost the dvd for.

It just occurred to me to lift the lid and see if I put it there.

YES!

Good job!

Time for bed.

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@ I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

"Time for bed."

Way, WAY, WAY past time, apparently.

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Silver badge

Sometimes the thing that's broken is the power light. Just because it looks dead, doesn't necessarily mean it is. I was reminded of this in the most surprising way possible whilst attempting to repair a strip plug.

~ =8-(

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Gold badge
Facepalm

Ah yes. Reminds me of just the other day. Stripped the central heating boiler down, cleaned everything, tested all the components and reassembled. Made no bloody difference at all.

I still haven't found out just who it was who turned the heating function off at the programmer, probably because whoever it is knows damned well that my finding out will dramatically shorten their life expectancy.....

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Silver badge

I see your central heating boiler story and raise you one (while also keeping the surprise theme going).

I'd just got the pilot light ignition system going successfully when my wife absent-mindedly turned the hot tap on upstairs (after being requested not to; but she had stuff to do and had forgotten). The boiler went *WHOOOF!* and it looked just like backdraft; with flames roiling along the ceiling, along with the sooty remains of my fringe and eyebrows. Luckily my wife reacted to the bellowed stream of profanity and crashing noises of me diving for cover and turned the tap off within a second or two, so nothing got too hot and no harm was done.

I was very, very surprised indeed.

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Silver badge

"I was very, very surprised indeed."

I am, too. What kind of crap system would allow that kind of thing? I mean, seriously, the pilot was lit (implying normal service), and yet the simple act of igniting the burner to make hot water introduced enough gas into the system to cause what is described above?

The mind absolutely boggles.

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Re: "I was very, very surprised indeed."

Wasn't me who downvoted you BTW.

I didn't know for sure that it was the ignition system when I started, so I probably had more of the front off than was strictly necessary. Including -and this is the relevant bit- the front of the heating chamber (if that's what it's called).

(for those of you who don't know; the pilot light ignites gas released into a (usually sealed) heating chamber which has a sort of reverse-radiator thing through which water runs...it needs to pump a fair bit of air-assisted gas in there because it has to heat the water as fast as it's running through the pipes).

Now had I known it was the ignition to start with, I could have got at that bit without opening the heating chamber; but I didn't. And anyway; the kids were at school; my wife knew I was working on the boiler and I was giving it a general tidy up and cleaning while I was in there.

This is where the IT incompetence comes in...an experienced boiler engineer would probably not have the heating chamber open and the pilot light lit at the same time. I thought I was safe because the only other person in the house knew I was in there meddling with things that man was not meant to understand. She knew I was messing with the boiler, so gave the radiators a wide berth; but just didn't connect that with the oft-repeated act of running a bit of hot water. Until she heard the swearing.

I knew it was risky; but thought I had covered the bases; and had failed to account for absent-mindedness as things turned out. As one who has lost their phone and eventually found it in the fridge, for fuck's sake, you would have thought I would have planned for that most powerful of forces. Possibly I did, and subsequently forgot about it.

The moral is: pilot light OR heating chamber; not both. If you are going to have both open; then make sure you are the only person in the securely-locked building. Pro-tip: Also radiators coming on on an automatic timer can have exactly the same effect as absent-minded wives (*WHOOOOF* *sizzle* *swearing*). I'd actually planned for that.

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Re: "I was very, very surprised indeed."

Got it. PBKAC.

We are all human, we make mistakes. It's in the design spec, near as I can tell ;-)

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I was working for a well known Bromley-based SME who has (or had ) a contract with a Government agency. I had a call that required a new 42 inch flatscreen Plasma screen to be installed in a court in Warrington as it was 'dead'. Worrying how on earth I would get the damn thing off the wall with no ladder or support from staff on-site, when I eventually reached the site after a 4 hour drive from central London, I went to investigate the issue of the 'dead' screen, only to find out the screen was not plugged in.

Somehow this had escaped the attention of any sort of vetting of the service desk, before yours truly was bundled into a VW Caddy and sent up the M6 with a replacement screen to remedy the situation.

Imagine how keen I was when a month later, the same issue appeared at Telford Crown Court - but somehow I was still sent to 'fix' it by switching it on... I was concerned by the vetting process and thought my employer could have made a better selection when it came to use of resources by asking the client more questions on what they've done to resolve the fault before an engineer is sent out...

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Unhappy

Where to start.

Very early on i my career I was generously given an external iomega Zip drive, but no PSU. No problems as I am also studying towards my BTEC in electronics and computer technology; I whizzed up a spare cable, jury rigged it to a molex hanging out of the side of the box and plugged it in. Everything ran as expected and I was pleased with myself.

Cue a few months down the line I'm not using the Zip drive for anything and have unplugged it, leaving a pair of bare wires hanging out of the side of the box. Bare wires that, I realise, are hovering millimeters above the surface of my cup of coffee. I very carefully try to move one away from the other and instead lump it with my meaty fist and blow my PSU.

Much later I'm in charge of a file server for a client. This is my first foray into virtualisation. I've built a new box in vCentre, got it up and running, replicated shares and confirmed permissions. All is left to do is to mirror the data from the old server to the new.

I setup the mirror (using Double Take I believe) and let it get to 100%. Jigger and poke the logon scripts to redirect our users to map the new server location, check its all ok and leave it a week.

After a week I check that no-one is using the old server, which they aren't, and set about deleting the data from the old server.

Have you spotted it yet...

I get a call half an hour later from the client saying "all our stuff is disappearing in front of our eyes". I check their share and they are correct, everything is deleting in front of our eyes. It was then I learned the vital maxim; break the mirror before deleting the source.

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Anonymous Coward

facepalm. mine.

I did that the other day. was writing a batch file to copy an app to a destination pc's program files dir. Decided id use robocopy with the mirror command - to remove any old files in dir from olderversions.

Tested it on colleagues laptop, specified path as "c:\program files\" thinking it would add the dir of the app, instead it treats prog files as the destination dir and deletes anything that is not this new app. - colleagues laptop now trashed! whoops.

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"How do I do that then?"

OK, I can't resist a couple of examples of support calls.

I started off my IT career (I have since which countries and careers) in PROM testing and telephone support. OK, we were supplying fuel monitoring systems to truck drivers who are not the brightest bulbs in the desk… if you catch what I mean in my deliberately mixed metaphor.

Anyway, there was this guy who, when he called, which was fairly regularly, would always ask, "How do I do that then." He even had a certain rhythm to the saying and so we included a voice that asked 'How do I do that then?' in the help file section marked 'How do I do that then?' written by yours truly.

Once you heard "How do I do that then?' you knew the next hour would be spent explaining painfully exactly what key had to pressed, what icon had to be clicked and possibly what a mouse was in the first place. On day, to my despair, I realised the pointers of the downloaded file needed for the month's fuel reports would have to be reset. This required use of a DOS program and dropping to the command prompt. This was going to be deeply painful with Mr "How do I do that then?" We had already spend half and hour on the phone talking through how to point and click to check the fuel reports and the data stored on site. "Move the mouse up the icon with a book on it with the word 'reports' on it and click it once. Now, you have a screen marked report, yes? Good… no you move the mouse to the button marked 'fuel summary…"

[I then begged the developer to write a GUI for the utility which he duly did.]

The thought of guiding the guy through opening up the command prompt, navigating to the required directory, running a DOS prompt by typing complete with switches… was too much to bear. So I asked him,

"Do you have an IT department?"

"Yes." He said.

I draw breath to ask "Can you please put him on the phone…?" when he added…

"You're speaking to him."

Breath strangled. Breathe deeper.

"Okay. Move the mouse to the 'start' button and click once…"

Not exactly I.T. Pros here but we did have the fuel depot manager who called up asking for assistance on matters described in painstaking 'press-the-yellow-button-then-the-red-button' detail in the manual that I had spent three months writing.

"This is all in the manual." I pointed out.

"Yes but… I'm not very good at readin'."

"Okay. Press the Red button…"

Then there was the case of the engineer, in the days of software on floppy disks, who found the DOS software on the office PC on site had been corrupted.

"Do you have copies of the disks?"

"Oh yes." He was told. "We made copies as you told us."

So they went to the filing cabinet and brought out two photocopies of the disks.

But my mistakes? Er, cleaning out test data painfully collected from the server which was still in use killing testing stone dead.

Several times.

Gulp.

And... managing to mangle a batch file copy such that I wiped out drive C: completely on my machine just before going on leave!

I returned to a new install of Windows 98 on my PC with a start up message "Engage brain before using!"

Fair enough!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "How do I do that then?"

painfull stuff. Talkingto users and not seeing the screen is pure torture. thank god we have remote control now. in a previous job I would spend hours just getting customers to spell a fairly simple URL on their phone . I was on the verge setting up a send-texts-from-the-net thingy out of my own money!

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Anonymous Coward

Anon for very obvious reasons.

Work for a software company, recently we ran into some issues and asked the local Admin to run in verbose mode to pick up some extra info, asked him to login and up popped his password in plaintext along with all the other AD logins being entered on the network!!! Very awkward call after that.

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Anonymous Coward

zero forethought

I worked briefly with a chap (lets call him Dave) who if he saw someone do something , his two braincells would charge at each other from either side of his otherwise empty cranial cavity, collide and form what could be classed as a rudimentary thought. The thought was always the same "I can do it, not a problem!"

We were desperately short of engineers, and his girlfriend who was our secretary at the time said he was really good with computers and knew loads. so we gave him a shot, unfortunately it was a high calibre bullet to his head.

This was back in a time where Small Business Server 2000 was the server OS of choice for our client base and it was very common to see instances of the VPop3 mailserver out there as well. One of our clients was based in rented office that had 1 shared internet connection for the whole building, and one central mail server running Vpop3 for all of the tenants. One day in this building they were all given the news, they can now all get their own internet connections, so our client wanting more then 1/2mb shared between 50 others opted to go for this ASAP. So we sent in Dave with a little ADSL router, and to our surprise he got this going. He struggled with setting up the SBS2000 Pop3 connector but with some help over the phone and then me having to VPN in and use VNC to show him he eventually got this gist and bumbled through.

I got a phone call half an hour later saying that exchange was being funny and only half the mail was coming through. I had warned him that before he configured the mail account on the SBS server, he needed to get the I.T. support team in the business house to disable the mail accounts for our client on their VPop server so it wouldn't go and collect their mail anymore, leaving that up to our mail server instead. He had forgotten this, when he was reminded he went downstairs to have chat to get this organised. He phone me up pleased as punch that he had solved the issue now and proceeded to regale me with a new version of the last three hours history in which he had single handedly done everything brilliantly and solved all the problems with no help.

Then he called again, asking about how to restore Vpop accounts. For his knowledge of VPop was limited to he had seen someone use it for five minutes. Instead of asking and waiting for the I.T. team from the house, he had conviced the girl at recption he knew exactly what he was doing and he did remove the 5 accounts for our client from the VPop server, and removed the accounts for 200 other users of all the other companies in the house as well.

This was but the first of many in his brief career in I.T. with other such greats as formatting a sage server with 3 years worth of custom written invoicing templates, and after being demoted to only being allowed to do cabling work which he assured us he could get right informing us that he was colourblind and that job he did last weekend may have a few duff ports (70 out of 100).

We let him go very shortly after that, we knew his next career choice was that of a part fitter in a garage as his girlfriend came to work the next week with her car bonnet being unable to close properly after he changed a light cluster.

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Facepalm

"can you hear me mother?"

This isn't as epic as previous stories here but it tickled me

I work in medical devices governance for a hospital trust and had arranged for our IT department to fit an I/O card into a PC for a thermometer calibrator. I could have done it myself but it wasn't my PC so I thought do it right, and get them to install it. A little later I get a call from the ward sister to say that someone had called out but said the card didn't fit. Having seen the card and PC myself I knew immediately what the problem was, so I called the helpdesk.

"Hi, I'm calling about a request to get an I/O card fitted"

"Yeah, I called out but the card doesn't fit"

"It's a low-profile machine, did you try turning it sideways?"

I get a grumpy "no, I'll call over" in response

and then as I wait for him to tell me when he'd be out, the next thing I hear from the phone is

"Cheeky bastard!"

"Eugene Doherty, who the fuck is he anyway?"

Me, "Hello?"

"...Telling me how to do my job..."

He had obviously cut off my side of the call but not his. There then followed several more minutes of ranting to his office colleagues about me and then his supervisor who'd had the temerity to tell him to go to another building a short distance away to fit new hard drives, "...and it's raining outside!"

After trying to interrupt his tirade several times, I hung up as it was clear he couldn't hear me, though I could clearly hear him.

I subsequently emailed his boss, in amusement rather than anger as he hadn't realised he was addressing me, but advising that they teach him how to hang up before slagging off the caller

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In my mind, accepting a position where the dress code didn't actually match the operating requirements is the fail ...

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There must be an echo in here.

Is a five plus year delay for an echo some kind of record?

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Silver badge

Re: There must be an echo in here.

Is a link fail in 17 days a record?

But seriously , yes , these forums move fast and if you dont pop in at least once a year you might miss something!

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Silver badge

Re: There must be an echo in here.

Well, if ElReg insists on adding an entire paragraph to a commentard's one-liner, strange things are bound to happen. Seriously, it worked a couple weeks ago. ElReg bug?

(The real link, if anyone cares ...)

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Bronze badge
WTF?

Screw it up once, shame on me..... + part 2

I had setup Ghost in the company I was working at and had one day right before knockoff time had used the Ghost boot floppy to connect to the Server and deploy the image. Reboot the machine when finished and bloody nothing was there. Haha , silly me, I must have reversed the Source and Target Source. My cockup so I worked passed finish time to complete the job. Forever after I double checked the Source and Target to make sure that never happened again.

Fast forward 6 or 7 years and I have a private job to setup and install software on 2 identical machines. Yoho thinks me, do the first one and then Mr Ghost can do the second one really quick and ..... profit! Finish the 10 hour install (lots of software) about 8pm on the Friday night ready for the 10am delivery the next morning. I removed the empty HDD connect the identical HDD of the completed machine and because the drives were the exact same, I triple checked the Source and Target. Checked a forth time and hit the go button. About 20 minutes later connect the Ghosted drive only to have it, yes you guessed it. Spent the rest of the night installing the bloody software again and this time I got Ghost right.

I was working at a school and they wanted a new computer lab. I got a professional cabler and an electrician in to give the quotes as I didn't want to run the cables for 35 points in a brick building that didn't have a false ceiling. The principal decided to go with the quote from a mate from his teacher training days. I later found out that this quote was AUD$4,500 more than the ones I had obtained. I do remember my sparky saying that the lab would need 2 circuits due to the number of power points required. Computers arrived and the school IT teacher and I were busy unpacking and connecting the various parts up plus cable tying the cables so it all looked nice and pretty. I plugged computer number 21 or 30 into the power point and all the lights went out. At this point the computers had not been turned on, just plugged in. Short story, the principal's sparky had wired all the points into a single circuit and number 21 killed not only the lab but the whole block that switch board supplied. His sparky returned and the fix was to remove the safety switch from that circuit. Warning emails sent to multiple addresses and I left once the lab was imaged. I don't value my life much but I get to choose when and where I die but it ain't going to be in a bloody computer lab.

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The biggest IT fail of co-worker I would like to highlight is that he was almost done with his MBA, working with me in Software House and he didn't even knew how to "COPY AND PASTE ON EXCEL SHEET".

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Silver badge

IT Fails?

Where to begin?

iOS developer interview yesterday:

1) Do you have any experience of using Vagrant, Docker, VirtualBox, VMWare or other virtual development software? No

2) Using a stylesheet, how would you offset the top of an app, to allow for the new iPhoneX design?Dunno

3) I ask you to clone from a repo and create a feature branch, how would do that?

What's a repo?

Interview terminated after 5 minutes.

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