back to article Struggling through the Crystal Maze in our hunt for a spare CAT5

“For heaven’s sake, they’ve moved everything.” Sharp observation. Of course they moved everything, it’s an office move. If they hadn’t moved everything, some of your kit wouldn’t be there at all. It would still be 10 metres away where you used to sit. We are Glass – Gary Numan As office moves go, at one of my client’s …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


    After the meeting, I return to my desk and waste ten minutes trying to persuade my PC to log in to the network, only to discover that some sneaky bugger opposite has hijacked my Ethernet cable. Well, he’s not in at the moment, so I jam his cable back into the back of my own PC. For good measure, I open lots of windows on his screen, grab a screenshot and make it his desktop background image. This is BoFH circa 1998: the old ways are the best.

    I'd be a tad more careful about doing that little trick in future Mr Dabbs. If you were in Florida you could be facing 25-life for that little escapade.

    I do agree with the Cat-5 search. I also got reprimanded for adding a 5 port switch to the network so that the single LAN port ... you know the rest. With me they tried the 'health and safety' angle. Saying that the device was not safe.

    Then I pointed out the little white sticker on the PSU that showed clearly that it had been safety tested a month before and by the same company that they used.

    What I didn't tell them was that the switch was 'lifted' from the MD office during the move. His shiny new office had more ports than the UK has ferry ports so he didn't need it any longer.

    Ah... the memories of office moves.

    Now my Office only moves from the front of my house to the back depending upon the time of year.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      >> felony

      I'm not surprised. Everything is illegal in the USA. It must be like living under the Taliban over there.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Indeed. "The rule of law" seems to be a distant almost quaint suggestion these days for most of the world.

        Taliban & IS point to a random book interpretation, while the USA points to a secret law!

        Even that cretin Grayling recently tried to argue to the UK High Court that he could ignore the rules his department wrote, because his department was free to change them. So rather than actually change them... The court slapped him down.

        I suppose once you've got enough laws then you can argue anything & everything is illegal somehow.

        Once AI starts enforcing everything, we will be doomed.

        (As an aside, if everything were illegal unless allowed, you would get freer over time. Especially with 650 idiots who do nothing but pass laws all day.)

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

            Waiting for the quiet war?

            This is more or less part of the world-building scenario of the sci-fi author Neal Asher; once AIs were built, then they slowly took over. At some point, they realised that they were much better at this running things malarkey than were humans, and simply obsoleted out the human politicians entirely.

            The human politicians revolted, but rapidly found that the human populations they had been counting on to rise up against AI oppression did not do so, because the AIs were not oppressive, merely a hell of a lot better at running a fair and equitable society. This became known as the Quiet War, mostly because it consisted largely of politicians being told to put a sock in it and go get a proper job.

        2. Chris G Silver badge

          Freedom at a price

          (As an aside, if everything were illegal unless allowed, you would get freer over time. Especially with 650 idiots who do nothing but pass laws all day.)

          As a general rule, in Spain if there is no law permitting something it is basically illegal.

          The bummer is that once a law has been passed to make something legal (an increase in freedom?); you normally have to have a certificate of competence for whatever it is and then pay the government for a licence subect to a bevy of further rules.

          Failure to conform (unless you are somebody's cousin) results in fines that range from ridiculous to 'suicide is the only way out'.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Freedom at a price

            As a general rule, in Spain if there is no law permitting something it is basically illegal.

            It is always good to consider citizens as euthanizable robots of the state apparatus that need a certified upload before they may function. It keeps lengthy discussions at bay.

        3. Red Bren

          AI law enforcement

          "Once AI starts enforcing everything, we will be doomed."

          Try getting an AI to fathom the contradictions of the legal system and you're going to be facing a HAL style nervous breakdown, followed by a Skynet judgement day.

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Actually, Mr Dabbs

        Many companies would consider that to be 'unauthorised use of a computer that's not yours to use', and hence subject to disciplinary procedures.

        You have no idea (or perhaps you do) what a sh**storm you can cause by sending an email from that person's computer (like a colleague did) or doing something innocuous as the above, regardless of whether they were supposed to lock their desktops or not. Employers take a very dim view on that kind of behaviour.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: Actually, Mr Dabbs


          It really depends on the scale of the company. Somewhere I worked many moons ago, my network manager got a recording of a particularly self-important staffers X-factor audition tape (I didn't ask how but I believe if involved some BOFHery and confidence tricksterism) and changed his login sound to it.

          It's OK though, because the guy was a git.

          Can't imagine getting away with something like that in, say, a local government or a large corporate like IBM or similar though.

          Still, helps keep the sanity there, eh?

          Steven R

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Actually, Mr Dabbs

          We recently had a witch hunt for the person who changed a shared computers desktop background to a pile of zombies from an obscure cuban zombie movie.

          Luckily HR has a level head (I'm shocked), and just laughed when they found out it was a zombie comedy and told the perpetrator to keep it the default tranquil blue from then on, to avoid the waste of time the witch hunt caused.

          Anonymous because of computer use/disclosure/etc policy...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Actually, Mr Dabbs

          That's odd. We have these things in windows called accounts - if I send an Email from someone else's computer, it still shows up as me sending as I'd have to log into my account.

          What kind of security is it if you're not allowed to use somebody else's computer, but they don't have timed account locking and a "lock computer when you leave your desk" policy?

    2. Tom Chiverton 1

      Illegal here to, no ? 'access to a computer system' and all ?

    3. gerdesj Silver badge

      " I also got reprimanded for adding a 5 port switch to the network so that the single LAN port ... you know the rest. With me they tried the 'health and safety' angle. Saying that the device was not safe."

      I got called out to diagnose a weird network fault at a customer's premises. Some clever bugger used an old ADSL router as a switch to add ports.

      It still had DHCP enabled ...

      1. Colin of Rame

        Oh fu......

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    half-full-glass possibility: I used to work with Dabsy

    half-empty-glass possibility: all corporate workplaces are equally fucked-up

    It's the second one, ain't it? The doomed Doomed DOOMED one?

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: half-full-glass possibility: I used to work with Dabsy

      Unfortunately yes it's the second one. Or else Dabbsy probably has most of the el Reg readership (and indeed most of the tech world) as former colleagues.

      The aquarium reference also made me smile, we have a meeting room in our Dresden office which the locals have christened with that name (with good reason). Who says Germans don't have a sense of humour...

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Dr_N Silver badge


    Don't most corps get around this by using WiFi these days?

    Especially if it's just to support sales/marketing sharing their latest animated PowerPoint presentations....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WiFi

      Definitely for the marketing and business development - especially if their latest laptop is so thin it doesn't have a network port.

      However if said marketing needs access to sales figures, which are taken from certain Sage accounting software (recommended network connection a gigabit switch), then wifi is going to cause problems.

      Timely piece on office movements, come this Thursday I am anticipating observing if three desks really can be squeezed into the space currently occupied by one. Currently a single free network socket, and you can't plug three BT phones into a switch....

    2. Daniel B.

      Re: WiFi

      Wifi is garbage for anything that isn't residential use. Corporate networks use a lot of bandwidth and wifi is ill-equipped to handle that much stuff. Moving multi-GB files is already a lengthy process when most of your nodes are still stuck on 100BaseT, doing it on wifi would probably kill the wifi link for everyone else.

      Wifi is for lazy people who can't be arsed with running CAT5e through the building.

      1. launcap Silver badge

        Re: WiFi

        > Wifi is for lazy people who can't be arsed with running CAT5e through the building.

        And people that work in listed buildings[1] where immeasurable paperwork is required to add CAT5/6 ducting or make holes in walls that date from the 13th century[2]..

        [1] Obviously though not the ones made when a 12" wall was considered a flimsy temporary structure. Especially with lots of granite in the mix.

        [2] This is, of course, the classical definition of an edge case. Unless it happens to be *your* working environment.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: WiFi

      No, especially WiFI needs to be really secured properly if you want to use it without opening your network do dogs+pigs... most instead of doing that simply ban WiFi.

    4. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: WiFi

      Indeed, WiFi would be fine for the email and CRM stuff you're talking about: they could effectively remote-in from their desktop PCs... except that their corporate desktop PCs don't have WiFi, what with them being corporate desktop PCs and all.

  5. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    I used to dream of office moves

    In true Yorkshire style I really did relish the thought of an office move.

    But then there was 3 of us in mission control that made the cleaners cupboard look spacy (then they stuck a second door onto a mezzanine floor so it became a corridor too) only benefit was it 8 network ports per desk.

    Now I've got 2 network ports but an office with 2 of us the size of a semi-detached. (I still miss the second monitor)

  6. LDS Silver badge

    In the company I worked for fifteen years ago we were moved about every six-eight months. It looks the developers were allowed to use only the office nobody else wanted, so as the company was growing - and it was growing hiring more sales/management people (always looking for the best offices), not developers (it went bankrupt a few years after I left), developers had always to move elsewhere. It was done during working hours, and nobody cared about delaying work and the associated technical issues.

    In the five years I worked there, I was moved in 11 different offices (always working on the same projects with the same colleagues), sometimes to the same floor, sometimes to a different floor, sometimes to a different building, a couple of time to "temporary remote locations" nearby so we also had to move the dev lab server room because connectivity with the company server rooms was a joke, once they attempted one of the first wireless bridge, it should have delivered 2Mbps, but was very unreliable. Anyway, Visual SourceSafe was unusable at such shared bandwidth (and some DBs as well)... but it was a tough fight to be allowed to move dev servers on the local LAN as well.

    One of the temporary site was a street shop, so people passing by could see us from the large street windows, but nobody ever tried to enter and buy a developer. Another one was an old factory building, it had been fully cabled with new shiny Ethernet port and switches, just the company was one of the old IBM resellers dinosaurs and all machines we moved there had Token Ring NICs...

    The CEO secretary had chosen the furniture herself: soviet dark gray high metal walls divided the desktops, and casted a gloomy mood over the whole place. When we were (almost) allowed to remove them, it was like when the Berlin Wall came down. Each and every developer, with any tool they could find or improvise, started to demolish the damned thing with fiery happiness...

    1. Evil Graham

      "Visual SourceSafe was unusable at such shared bandwidth"

      It wasn't all negative then.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        I may agree, but when its use was mandatory and every check in/check out took ages (and could fail in the middle) was no fun. Also, those in charge then was terrified by "concurrent" changes, so forced the pessimistic locked model - you could not work on anything someone was also working on until he or she checked it in... and of course it would have been your fault if you didn't meet deadlines!

        But in some other ways it was an interesting testing rig for some bad coded DB applications that used large amount of bandwidths because of poor coding and classic "select * from <table>" even if they needed a single field of a single row...

  7. Nelbert Noggins

    Someone actually noticed a switch was added? What gave it away, the sudden increase in productivity and decrease in complaining about network access?

    I remember adding a wifi cable router to a network so a team I was in could actually do their jobs. Static IPs were required to let us through the firewall on a policy with less restrictions so we could connect to remote servers and do the work we were paid for. As the team expanded the 3 month + wait for IT to sort things out became a running joke. Another member of the team managed to get a spare high end desktop whitelisted so that became a LAN accessed team workstation as well.

    If the software auditing the internal network ever raised a flag about an unknown device nobody ever acted on it. Every corporate I've worked in has had their internal network locked down so far I can't do the job they hire me for unless I use mobile internet or the buildings guest wifi. Unfortunately waiting for IT to sort it out would mean I'd have reached my contract end before I had access :(

    1. Daniel B.

      Someone actually noticed a switch was added? What gave it away, the sudden increase in productivity and decrease in complaining about network access?

      The still-active DHCP usually does that, as it will wreak havoc on the rest of the network.

      Even if you disable DHCP before connecting it, some mildly competent IT departments will notice that a certain switch port is now serving more than one MAC address, a dead giveaway that someone's plugged a switch in there.

  8. Daniel B.


    One of my jobs involved that particular layout. It was funny, because the whole floor was remodeled from a "sushi bar" layout to the "aquarium" layout, supposedly to use them as conference rooms. But what really happened was that we were stuck into those conference rooms. The good thing is that we didn't have Ethernet port shortages, but we did need to raise a ticket so that the network dudes would enable 'em and put 'em on the correct VLAN. It was fun, as the conf room we were assigned to was small, so our 2 person team was very comfortable.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Aquarium

      802.11x, RADIUS and dynamic VLAN assignment... far more secure (you can "plug yourself" in the wrong VLAN...) but requires some upfront setup... and the average sysadmin is too lazy to learn anything useful and implement it.

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge

    The joy of moves...

    We had a manager who relished in moving and rearranging her "teams" every few months. The catch is, she didn't tell anyone below her... neither supervisors or worker bees. So on a late Friday after they've all gone home, myself (and maybe a contractor) start the IT work (pc's, ports, phones) and building services starts everything else. Chairs, sometimes cubes, and naturally, all the junk that worker bees bring in.. dolls, toys, posters, etc.

    After a long weekend of this crap, we had to be in early, early Monday to direct people to their new desks otherwise, they wander around aimlessly looking for their new place. And we have to be ready to deal with the whines about things not working right or not in the exact location as things were on their old desk.

    That manager is gone now.. but in the usual style, she was promoted and moved to a larger office. Now, instead of moving 100 people, she's moving 200-500 at a time....

  10. BongoJoe


    Years ago, before they knocked it down, I used to work in Bell Telephone in Antwerp and the first we'd know of a move would be when a Jobsworth (he would be the one with the small greasy moustache) and a Workman (the fellow with a brown overall) would turn up at your desk.

    Jobsworth would look at his clipboard in an officious manner and whisper something to the Workman who would clag a sticker on your desk corner marked something like "18/F/12" and walk off.

    You knew that you were about to be moved.

    There was no point in asking the Workman where you were going as he didn't know and the Jobsworth wouldn't tell you. "It's not possible", he would say in his Flenglish and move on and put another sticker on someone else's desk.

    We may still be working for the same department but we could end up anywhere. And usually did.

    And did our department manager know of this move? No. It was all down to some mysterious department somewhere else which decided these things and when we landed in the new place we'd either carry on as before or see if the manager of those around us wanted a new body on his team.

    Little wonder that they knocked the place down.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      It's a donkey with augmented decision power.

  12. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I actually watched this 13 ghosts movie. I guess it was worth the beertime I was having but now I feel bad and empty inside. This is "worst ever" levels of quality!

    A commenter on imdb says:

    Some people praise the set design, but you won't catch me doing so. It might have sounded like a neat idea to have every single wall and floor and ceiling made of sturdy clear glass, with Latin phrases written on every surface in white letters, and it may even have looked impressive to the cast and crew as they walked around the set, but to us, it's just shopping-mall chaos that hurts the eyes and conveys nothing. And what's the POINT, visually speaking, of having the house reconfigure itself, if it ends up looking precisely the same after as before?

    He hasn't heard about glass offices.

    Now, having "lorem ipsum" in phosphorescent "Extra Serif Alchemical", size 666 on every fucking office glass wall sounds like a neat idea.

  13. imanidiot Silver badge

    Watching the funny monkeys

    Working in a cleanroom I've come to dub the tour groups who watch us work from outside to be "watching the funny monkeys". Quite who are the monkeys and who is watching who is debatable. I remain convinced those idiots in the suit and tie got the short end of the deal. (Not to mention they don't always look that intelligent with their noses pressed into the window to try and get a better look)

  14. Herby Silver badge

    Glass conference rooms...

    They would be "really cool" of you had that switch controlled opacifier type glass. One flip of a switch and it all turns out dark.

    Of course any BOFH worth his salt would have an auxiliary switch to turn the function in its opposite sense, at the most opportune time. I suppose that is another story.

    But the magic glass is a bit pricy so I doubt that bean counters would approve and the general idea of glass conference rooms with the nice sound board qualities of the glass well known would be a terrible thing.

    Thankfully at the last place I worked at, you just plugged in your computer and DHCP did the rest. The telephones were that way as well. Unfortunately the phones didn't allow for bluetooth headsets, but I solved that by going to ebay and getting a more improved model, and the bluetooth adapter. The phone/IT people never discovered I did it. When I left, I took my goodies with me, and left behind the "original" stuff. It was nice to have the computer sound AND the telephone in my ear so as to not annoy anyone.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Red Bren

    Why is it

    In every office I've worked, each desk has 3 or 4 network ports, but on average only 1 in 5 actually works?

    To get a network port enabled, first the (outsourced) local support engineer has to trace the cable back to the cabinet to ensure it's plugged in. Then the (outsourced to a different provider) network engineer has to enable the connection. Each step has its own 7 working day SLA and costs £££ so people just bring in their own hubs.

    When the company decided to install IP telephones, they got a nasty shock when they discovered how many desks didn't have a network connection and hadn't budgeted for the extra work. You could tell the project manager didn't believe us when we told him we all used wifi.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm getting a kick out of this

    My company of 150 or so is about to move into the city, to a newly rehabbed "innovation district", because the management thinks a new location will help us get noticed more.

    Doubles my commute, huge disruption to our work, and we lose a free parking garage by moving to a location that's accessible only by public transit. Normally, this would be good, except that the public transit here is terminally dysfunctional.

    The half of the workforce, mostly young and single, who live in the city think this is a great idea. The older half, more settled in the suburbs are less enthusiastic. Management is pushing full ahead, so already, daily work is being interrupted by moving tasks.

    Fun times.

  18. Czrly

    Ah! Alistair! You forgot the other critical tautology of impromptu office subdivision: when erecting glass fish-tanks inside open plan offices for any purpose (usually, a manager want's a nicer office) it is mandatory to ensure that the newly divided areas each contain EITHER the air-conditioning vent OR the air-conditioning controls and thermostat but NEVER both.

  19. Rick Giles

    Office moves have an ulterior motive

    They do office moves at the company we maintain the IT infrastructure for so that the cubicle surfaces get cleaned at least once a year.

    That's my theory anyway. Can't really see a productivity increase after the move.

    Mines the one with the doctors note excusing me from manual labor due to a "bad back"...

  20. Pedigree-Pete

    Glass Meeting room for Conferencing suites.

    I always wonder what idiots decided glass meeting rooms with polished wood floors would ever create a good space to use audio & video conferencing products in. " You sound like you're calling from a toilet" my CEOs participant says.

    Deploy some carpets & wall tapestries.

    Take the analogue conference phone home & try it in your nicely furnished, carpeted lounge. Then call me and tell me the echo canceller is broken.

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