back to article Sysadmin jeered in staff cafeteria as he climbed ladder to fix PC

The end of the week is nigh and to ease your passage into the next phase of existence – the blessed weekend - El Reg brings you On-Call, our Friday column chronicling readers’ stories of jobs with strange beginnings and sticky endings. This week, meet “Tom” who “back in the halcyon days of Windows for Workgroups” found himself …

  1. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "So he edited its autoexec.bat file"

    Okay... so it was his own damn fault...

    If you have remote access to the whole machine anyway, there are dozens of other options for leaving a message to the user without causing the machine to stop being able to boot properly !

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: "So he edited its autoexec.bat file"

      Indeed there are, but none would have got the wanted reaction. The 'users' would just have grumbled about a silly message and carried on.

    2. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: "So he edited its autoexec.bat file"

      > “I had to find a 20' stepladder, clamber up into the dusty roof, plug in a keyboard and mouse, get the damn thing going and then fix the share security

      So why not just edit it back and reboot the machine remotely?

      ISTM this guy caused his own humiliation.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: "So he edited its autoexec.bat file"

        So why not just edit it back and reboot the machine remotely

        From TFA, this is Windows For Workgroups, so one of Windows 3.1{,1}. These versions of windows run over DOS, providing a UI and SMB over NetBIOS for sharing. He had edited the autoexec.bat to display a message on the screen, and a "Press any key to continue". autoexec.bat is run by DOS, and so the (probably keyboard-less) machine was stuck in DOS displaying a message, therefore no SMB.

        I think more interesting is that there was a 36" screen combined with a Windows 3.1 machine, so presumably a CRT as a display screen?! Display screens only really took off when we had large flat screens, and then we didn't have Windows 3.11.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: "So he edited its autoexec.bat file"

          machine was stuck in DOS displaying a message, therefore no SMB.

          Depends wherabout in the autoexec the message was. If it wwas right at the end where could quite well have been SMB since the net start command would have already been done..

          (Having flashbacks of trying to get the netbeui working *and* retaining sufficient memory to load other stuff - like Win 3.11. loadhigh is not *always* your friend, especially when the network card low-level driver locks the machine up if you stick it into hi-mem)

          1. Mr Humbug

            > If it wwas right at the end where could quite well have been SMB since the net start command would have already been done.

            If my, admittedly hazy, recollection is correct, the net start command woud load the NetBEUI stack and the client software but you didn't get to share stuff (like the root of the C: drive) until Windows for Workgroups had started.

        2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: "So he edited its autoexec.bat file"

          I think more interesting is that there was a 36" screen combined with a Windows 3.1 machine, so presumably a CRT as a display screen?! Display screens only really took off when we had large flat screens, and then we didn't have Windows 3.11.

          It was probably *originally* set up with a CRT (or, as they had at a former employer) a big rear-projection TV with a VGA-to-Composite adapter, then eventually newer and newer TVs were attached to the existing PC. Have seen that done too.

  2. TheElder

    Once upon a time... and possibly sticky

    I was stetting up some new items in a machine in a government office. There was a very attractive young woman that normally used the machine. After a little while she was leaning over my shoulder rather closely to watch me working. This became a bit distracting so I took a little break to have a bit of a chat with her.

    She informed me that she would soon be returning to school. Really? I asked. What will you be studying? Her reply was "Human anatomy". ♫

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Once upon a time... and possibly sticky

      Bomchickawahwah!

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Once upon a time... and possibly sticky

        "So, uh, would you care for a coffee later...?"

        "Sure you may!"

    2. TheElder

      Re: Once upon a time... and possibly sticky

      I found a nice character to go along with testicular rhythm music. Ѡ

      (I guess I must be one...)

      Character synonym: Uprightness

    3. Montreal Sean

      Re: Once upon a time... and possibly sticky

      Hopefully she wasn't studying to be a coroner... :p

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Coat

    What is this ?

    A sysadmin that doesn't know where an IP address is physically located on his own network ?

    Tsk, tsk.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: What is this ?

      Let it be a lesson in appropriate device naming. something like "canteenscreen01" would've done the trick.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: What is this ?

        No , devices are named after their asset tag. Always. There is no other acceptable thing to name a machine. (possibly excluding servers)

        You can then keep a database and write all kinds of colourful descriptions of what it is , where it is , who put it there , when they put it there, who owns it , etc etc

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: What is this ?

          No , devices are named after their asset tag. Always. There is no other acceptable thing to name a machine. (possibly excluding servers)

          This. I still have nightmares about the site where the chap in charge named devices after the (normal) user of the machines.

          The problem comes in when you pull spare machines off the shelf of spares that are already named identically to things on the network so can't be on the network, yet they need to be on the network in order to get your admin details from a DC to rename the PC or remove it from the domain.

          After you've run into little gems like that which result from crap naming practices then you start caring a lot more about just naming things after the asset tag. There is a network visible "computer description" field which you can use to store user or location information if required.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What is this ?

            Once upon a time I was working for a firm and they'd refitted a lot of the offices to make them spiffier. The panel aircon was seen as not looking spiffy enough so it was "removed" and a dial was put in the same space for the user. The actual panel was just put up behind the ceiling tiles and the dial controlled the panel, you could make it hot or cold just by turning the dial no worrying about the complicated settings etc. Where there were individual offices in a bank of three or four of them the panels were co-located above the tiles just outside so that access to and disturbance to (the users of) the offices was less likely to be needed in case of a fault. One Monday night after a drinking session in the pub over the road I returned to collect my bag and was asked by the building security if I knew anything about the aircon system. I said I knew a little bit and was asked to go up to the nth floor (the executive level) and see a lady there who was having problems.

            I knocked on the office door and a voice said "just a minute please" eventually the door was unlocked and a lady who looked like she'd got dressed in a hurry was standing there. Her hair was ruffled and her top was too on too far one side which looked a little odd. Also as she opened the door a wall of very hot air hit me and it was obvious that she'd stripped off because of the heat. She said that the aircon had failed an hour or so ago and it was obvious that her not massive office with lots of lights was now a sauna. I suggested that she could just have had the door open until I got there but alas she was working on something that meant she couldn't do that. She had been on conference calls to the USA and couldn't risk being overheard. I said if it was that important she could close the door whilst I investigated the fault but first I'd have to get a ladder to reach the tiles. All the panels when I did get up there were showing a fault but easily reset by cycling the power.

            Once I reset all of them I checked the one other office that was unlocked and the (cooler) air was flowing normally in there so job done. I knocked on the occupied office and she again asked me to wait, this time for a bit longer than before and I could hear she was involved in a phone call. She looked a bit more relaxed when she finally opened the door and there was much less warm air. She said it was 'much' cooler now and thank you very much for the help. I said the dial should be working now but would she mind if I checked it? That was fine with her so I went in and as she turned to walk back to her desk I noticed that she'd caught her skirt in her knickers and that she had a very nice figure! The dial worked as expected and the panel display was showing the corresponding temperature, job done. The next day I had a delivery of pastries waiting at reception for me from the local bakery as a thank you.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: What is this ?

              "a lady who looked like she'd got dressed in a hurry was standing there."

              And you believed her story?

          3. /dev/null

            Re: What is this ?

            I take your point, but giving your PCs essentially random numbers of the form AN548690249032 doesn't seem great either....

          4. jcitron

            I actually headed up a project once to do such a thing.

            I worked for a rather large financial institution. The previous IT support guy had setup the user desktops with their username as the machine name, such as Smith_J, for example. The situation you described is exactly the problem we ran into as machines were recycled in and out of use and storage.

            The solution I came up with, and this was nearly 25 years ago now, is exactly that to rename all the machines using their asset tag assigned by the company. These were those metal tags which are epoxied to the case.

            As I setup my proposal for this project, I went on to say that monitors didn't matter because they can be switched around without impact, but the PCs needed to be unique. Without the users being involved directly with the machine name, it became somewhat difficult identifying where the users were located.

            To resolve this issue, the users too were instructed to tell the helpdesk not only their asset tag number, which was prominently displayed, but also their cube number.

            Later on this became more important because users moved around the building on a monthly basis as the company was moving departments around. With the users moving around like this, we would spend way too much time looking for a user with PC X12432s, who we thought was on the 12th floor northwest corner, but now had moved to the 15th floor central.

            To locate the users, we had a simple map, which I put together with the cube numbers on it. This became another project in its self because the company decided to re-layout the floor plan about six times in the few years I was with them.

        2. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

          Re: What is this ?

          You missed out - who's fault it is.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What is this ?

          "No , devices are named after their asset tag"

          ... bought a new laptop for my (I think then) 15 year-old son a couple of years ago and while setting it up got to the page where you can change the name from the defautlt manufacrturer/model combo that windows defautled to. So I asked my son what he wanted his laptop to be called, he replied "what! I can give my laptop a name?" follows by a pause then "I'm going to call it Jeremy" (n.b this was pre-Corbyn!) ... hence our home LAN has a "JeremyTheLaptop" on it!

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: What is this ?

            "hence our home LAN has a "JeremyTheLaptop" on it!"

            Well at least he didn't call it Eric.

            Mine's the one with the list in one pocket of machines all named after HHGTTG characters.

            (FWIW, several major internet servers at MIT were named after Bloom County characters. Old fogies may remember FTPing or gophering into senator-bedfellow.mit.edu)

            1. Glenn Booth

              Re: What is this ?

              And what's the problem with a PC called Eric, may I ask?

              I'm currently on my second Eric, so being Welsh this one is actually called Eric-ap-Eric. I've also owned three Alfie's and a Doris. Alfie and Doris were both Ubuntu boxes.

          2. jcitron

            Re: What is this ?

            Yes that's okay for home use where you might have 5 machines running at once, unless it's a house of geeks like mine, and even then the machines are named after their model and processor. AlienwareLT_6700k, for example.

          3. D@v3

            Re: JeremyTheLaptop

            Tag numbers for work units.

            Silly names are perfectly acceptable for home units, as you (should) have fewer to manage and keep track of, hence mine have had such standard names as Quentin and Rupert (over the years).

        4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: What is this ?

          descriptions of what it is , where it is , who put it there , when they put it there, who owns it , etc etc

          All of which go out of date about 5 minutes after you walk away from the machine. Or so long and bitter experience tell me..

          1. foxyshadis

            Re: What is this ?

            All of which go out of date about 5 minutes after you walk away from the machine. Or so long and bitter experience tell me..

            Learning to let go lessened my stress significantly. Once managed switches became a thing, it was much simpler to just track the MAC through a breadcrumb trail of ARP & mac-address tables until I found the final port, then it usually wasn't much effort to find the PC. (The massive sales office switch being the only exception.)

            Finding wireless devices, on the other hand, that's the REAL fun.

            1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

              "Finding wireless devices, on the other hand, that's the REAL fun."

              Simple:

              1: Revoke access

              2: follow the scream.

          2. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: What is this ?

            All of which go out of date about 5 minutes after you walk away from the machine. Or so long and bitter experience tell me..

            Or take a two week vacation and a "temp" employee (either hired in or transferred from another site) I put on site to "help"... for some value of help. They always seemed to want to screw with the database and rename or relocate things.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: What is this ?

            "All of which go out of date about 5 minutes after you walk away from the machine. Or so long and bitter experience tell me.."

            There's plenty of software to keep up with that. GLPI + Fusioninventory is a good (cheap) starting point.

      2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        Re: What is this ?

        "A sysadmin that doesn't know where an IP address is physically located on his own network ?"

        1998-2001 I was the site IT manager for a small chemical plant of about 200 users. The cabling was significantly behind the technology curve in that it was Thin Net coax but with an interesting twist - there was a make/break quick connector wall plate in each office which allowed one to connect or disconnect in individual PC without bringing down the whole run. The BAD part of that is the connector stuck out about two inches from the wall and the stiff cable effectively made that distance closer to four inches. Many users took this as a challenge to shove desks, file cabinets, etc as close as they possibly could to the wall and thereby either breaking the connector or the wall plate which inevitably caused the make/break part of the wall jack to fail open. The only good news was that it was fairly easy to identify which run had the problem so troubleshooting was seldom more than a dozen offices/labs/control rooms. Still a PITA, though. After I got transferred back to the corporate office across town, one of my successors was able to finally convince management to pay for a total rewire.

        1. Trixr Bronze badge

          Re: What is this ?

          Similar issue I had in an academic institution in London, which had multiple buildings spread across Bloomsbury. The connector was seemingly the BEST thing to hang an academic's coat on, despite multiple reminders to the office occupant that it was not in fact its purpose.

          Traipsing across half of the west end when it was hosing down was not my favourite activity.

      3. fobobob

        Re: What is this ?

        Ejecting the cd-rom drive remotely is a potentially useful option in some environments; also fun to get the user to try to read a non-existent label on their PC before doing so if you know where/who. Also, dumping urandom into /dev/dsp or equivalent on some *nix systems.

    2. storner

      Re: What is this ?

      Since it was in the Windows for Workgroups days, TCP/IP was most likely not used. Just some random address assigned by the NIC and running Netbios, IPX or some other abominable protocol.

      Personally, I would have made the PC speaker start screaming at the user with a NSFW vocabulary. Guaranteed results much quicker.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: What is this ?

      Presumably this was in the days of hubs rather than switches.

      Even if _i_ don't know where a device is located, Netdisco will nail it to X switch Y port and each one of those has the cable plugged into it as the description field.

      It only cost 130k to sort the network out, but I'm happy.

    5. swm Bronze badge

      Re: What is this ?

      In the early days at Xerox with thick RG11U foam 3MBit ethernet I, many times, was in the ceiling tracing ethernet cables. I made a TDR device to track down bad transceivers. This would tell the distance from the TDR to the fault.

      Once, there was a machine (ALTO) connected to our net that was apparently stolen so the gumshoes went around checking serial numbers of all of the machines. They wouldn't trust anyone so a plump security person, with difficulty, wedged herself behind my machine to read the serial number.

      At PARC they once wrote a virus (for experimental purposes) that got loose and they had to break into several locked offices to stamp it out.

      This is long before TCP/IP etc as we used the PUP protocols and the leaf/sequin protocols that was similar to the TCP protocol used today.

  4. jake Silver badge

    So ...

    A sysadmin in a company that is large enough to have at least 2 shifts finds an open share on the network, can't figure out who owns the box, nor where it is located, and so IGNORES THE FSCKING THING for three weeks? Some sysadmin.

    I'd have immediately brought the place to its knees[0] until the box was located. No potential security headaches on my networks, thank you very much.

    [0] And have. Three times. All three were C-level idiots plugging unauthorized portables into the corporate network. All were fired on the spot. It helped that I contributed to the corporate network security bylaws. Now ask me what I think of BYOD ...

    1. RavingDaveD

      Re: So ...

      Goodness, you must be a bundle of laughs to work with, having said that, I hope you work for my Bank!

    2. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: So ...

      You don't really give sysadmins a good name with such a militant and disruptive approach to things. There's better ways of dealing with such issues than bringing the place to its knees and firing people the moment someone plugs in an unauthorised laptop.

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: So ...

        It's just Jake. El Reg's resident bastion of truth, restraint and modesty.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: So ...

          El Reg's resident bastion of truth, restraint and modesty BOFH.

          1. A. Coatsworth
            Trollface

            Re: So ...

            >>El Reg's resident bastion of truth, restraint and modesty BOFH.

            Usually Simon's stories are more believable than jake's

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: So ...

              For the record, my job title at the time was Floating Senior Member of the Technical Staff. I wandered from department to department, putting out fires. In this case, I was straightening out broken corporate computing culture in wholly owned subsidiaries of a Fortune 50, reporting directly to The Board. Part of my remit was to shake up Sr. Management at the subsidiaries ... They were dragging their feet over adhering to the new (to them) corporate mandate. When you're an F-50, you don't want unauthorized equipment anywhere near your network, but cowboys (like most of the above commentards, apparently) always think they know better. A high-level firing or two usually makes 'em realize that THEY don't own the network, the corporation does.

              I've used the same methodology ever since, when necessary. Seems to pay the bills quite nicely now that I've struck out on my own.

              As for interpersonal relations within the company ... back before I decided to become a contractor, I was the guy who started Homebrew clubs in several companies, and I was one of the people who helped introduce Cricket to Silly Con Valley ... I'm a happy go-lucky guy, for the most part. Just don't fuck with the equipment that I have been charged with safekeeping. You'll lose.

              And no, I'm not a "BOFH". Do any of you lot even know what an Operator is? An operator is the flunky who swaps out tapes during late night backup runs. An operator keeps the admins in coffee and the printers in paper and ink. An operator counts supplies in the stock room. Most operators are interns these days. If you're a machinist, an operator deburs and degreases parts. Operators are rarely given jobs more important than remembering "one lump or two". The whole concept of an operator having admin access to corporate equipment is laughable.

              1. jcitron

                Re: So ... I suppose you never worked in computer operations.

                @jake

                "And no, I'm not a "BOFH". Do any of you lot even know what an Operator is? An operator is the flunky who swaps out tapes during late night backup runs. An operator keeps the admins in coffee and the printers in paper and ink. An operator counts supplies in the stock room. Most operators are interns these days. If you're a machinist, an operator deburs and degreases parts. Operators are rarely given jobs more important than remembering "one lump or two". The whole concept of an operator having admin access to corporate equipment is laughable."

                I suppose by this statement you never worked as a computer operator. There's a lot more to this than you think. Admin rights is also necessary for many tasks which would be impossible to perform otherwise.

                From 1988 to 1994, I was a computer operator for two organizations. My responsibilities went well and far beyond taking inventory, and mounting tapes, and sorting the printed reports, though this was part of the job.

                In the first company, I was responsible for backing up 3 VAX 11/780s, 1 VAX 8350, 2 VAX 11/750s, and 2 Sun OS systems. The 3 VAX 11/780s and the 8350 ran VMS while the two engineering lab 11/750s ran Ultrix. The two early Sun systems ran of course their Sun OS with one actually being an Interleaf publishing system and the other for R&D and CAD.

                On the VMS clustered machines, I submitted batch jobs, monitored the processes, and ensured all jobs completed successfully because there were dependencies of each job, which meant if one failed, then another would not complete.

                In addition to the daily operations, I had what we referred to as additional projects. These projects included repairing printers, monitors, and video terminals. This in part was due to my skills as a hardware technician initially, and having come from the company that made the video terminals originally. I went through a closet full of dead equipment and with an oscilloscope, DVM, and some schematics, I was able to repair everything but two terminals which were totally fried inside due to a lightning strike on the building.

                Other projects included replacing network equipment, running cables as needed, and even rewiring the punch panel. The previous operators were careless and had wires stretch haphazardly across the panel. My job was to carefully reroute these and re-punch them down.

                When I wasn't monitoring the VAX batch jobs, I was also assisting the R&D department with their own proprietary Convergent Technologies workstations. These systems had an array of plug-in modules, which also needed swapping out, replacing, and repair. I did not have schematics for these, but was able to Frankenstein a few out of the scrap units.

                The various printers not only needed their paper and ribbons, but sometimes the print heads needed replacing, or sometimes other parts. Two of these printers were those huge DEC LP27 band printers which would jam up, and require parts to be replaced. This usually occurred on weekends of course and the weekend operator would page me to come in and help repair one of these beasts.

                Other projects came up from time to time including writing queries and building reports in Datatrieve32 and writing the batch jobs to submit these to the queue.

                So why would we need admin rights?

                Well we would need to do system shutdowns, cancel submitted jobs, add users to the systems, perform standalone backups and so many other tasks, which would be impossible without having admin rights.

                Like all jobs these rights were given to us with the understanding of the implementations and consequences of things going wrong. Did we ever have a rogue employee? No. Never on my watch after I was promoted to lead operator.

                In my final operator's position before I was promoted to helpdesk support, I ran a MicroVAX 4000 along with a massive cluster of Novell servers, and a remote IBM mainframe.

                Our job description in this company involved daily backups of course, adding and removing users from the Novell server as required, clean up files, reboot and shutting down servers, workstations, and running batch jobs. All of this and a lot more, which I'm now forgetting with time since it's been 20 or more years since I was there.

                In this job we were proficient in VMS, IBM MVS/TSO, SNA network printing, and Novell administrator roles. (I know I can hear you laugh because of the kinds of systems, but remember this was late 80s and early 90s).

                The MVS/TSO system ran special batch jobs which required editing of the batch files prior to submission, and adding and deleting users. Being the MVS/TSO environment, the formatting had to be 100% accurate, otherwise, the job would fail. No extra spaces, nothing out of alignment. Absolutely perfect.

                Since this was a financial institution, there were very specific SLA requirements set forth by regulations. Specific reports, checks, and letters needed to be printed and mailed by specific days. With these strict requirements, we had to maintain a nearly 24/7 363 day online availability. The systems were only taken down, usually during holidays, to perform maintenance and hardware replacement as required. With this availability requirements, we monitored the systems for failures and remained on call at all times. It was our responsibility to report problems to the on-call support person as well as to hardware manufacturers to replace failed equipment such as DEC and at the time Novell.

                In addition to running batch jobs and performing backups, we too had special projects or specific areas of responsibility. My so-called pet project was documentation. Our manager developed a documentation server, which was to eventually contain every job that we ran regularly. The template was further refined and shared with the DBAs who needed special jobs run during the day.

                Like many projects, this lead to others including report management and printing, and overall through my guidance the department went from an error prone operation to one that had a 99% success rate. The department also became proactive as we became aware of what was needed, and aware of the inter-operations of each and every task and job that was submitted on the systems. In doing this, I earned a company award and a nice little extra sum in my pay.

                Again during this time there were no rogue employees and no need to limit our access to the systems. When an employee did leave, whether to move to another company position or changed employment, their user accounts were terminated according to security protocols. This is how all user accounts should be managed.

                So yeah, we only make coffee?

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: So ... I suppose you never worked in computer operations.

                  I think you said it best:

                  "In my final operator's position before I was promoted to helpdesk"

                  In other words, an operator is lower than helpdesk staff. Enough said.

                  1. jcitron

                    Re: So ... I suppose you never worked in computer operations.

                    The promotion was well beyond just helpdesk actually, though the position was part of the helpdesk support team. I was moved from computer operations to Network Engineering, which involved the much higher echelons of Novell server support, network monitoring, etc.

                    This was all long before the days of IT and the "network admin" as we know it today. The team that I joined were the ones who were on call that got the reports and pages (yes a pager!) from the computer operations people when a server decided to crap on a hard drive, usually during the 3rd shift in the middle of a snowstorm, for example. We did not look down upon the computer operators and they were treated as part of the team, which they were as they played a critical role in keeping the company on track.

                    But the main point is computer operators do more than "just change tapes". That is part of the job, like every job including a network administrator being responsible for nightly backups. The responsibilities we had at the time went far beyond that, as I told.

                    Using proper user-management techniques and administration, accounts can be locked down and managed as needed rather than applying a all-in-one blanket approach, which you do. Why did you do this originally? Was the company that unsecure and being hacked so that the networks needed a lockdown? You didn't really explain this as this could have been a one-off situation which required this due to a high-security issue and legal implications.

                    Managing users is not difficult. It's one of those things that takes time to do the right way, with some thought and pro-active preplanning in addition to properly set IT policies. An Ad-hoc setup where everyone is given admin rights, has a password of PW12345678 which never expires, is truly bad. (The retired IT guy in me will have nightmares thinking about this latter point!).

                    Believe me I have been in both environments, and the former is much easier to work with from the get go. The latter is nasty and causes more work for the support staff, as well as opens up the company to legal trouble as well. A small company I worked for had this kind of environment, and after some management changes, I was promoted to a higher position within that company, which allowed me to enforce the "newer" security changes. This involved not only a buy-in from management, but also the users as well. There was some flak from the user-base initially, but after some training and policy enforcement, the understood the implications.

                    The biggest part of this was the user-training, which is also quite easy to do, but time-consuming, and lacking in a lot of organizations. Just because people "know" how to use a computer,doesn't mean they know how to use a computer in a corporate environment. The wing-it-on-the-fly setup with all having admin-rights, might work for Joe and Mary home-users who like to share photos with each other on their home NAS, but in a larger corporate environment things need to be a bit more secure, as you should know.

                    But anyway you are right on the BYOD stuff. Scary crap it is especially if the IT policies are not set properly, let alone the support issues which I mentioned on another post. This goes right along with that new Internet of Things (IoT), which allows remote control and access to all kinds of hardware.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: So ... I suppose you never worked in computer operations.

                    "In my final operator's position before I was promoted to helpdesk"

                    In other words, an operator is lower than helpdesk staff. Enough said.

                    I wouldn't trust you to manage the water cooler, let alone anything critical.

                    If you have not learned by now to value people for what they do rather than the position they have in an organisation, you would not be able to pick up danger signs well before they become the catastrophes they tend to be the harbingers of. I have done audits in very high end companies and UHNW environments, and the best intel comes from exactly the people you so casually discard (which, of course, gets anonymised before the board sees it), not to mention that people who have worked their way up are FAR more aware of the context in which they work and are represent important repositories of institutionalised knowledge.

                    A company is not a flat layer of people that do things, it's an organism where the best delivery occurs when all cells are happy to work together. The attitude you display is toxic.

          2. Kiwi Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: So ...

            El Reg's resident bastion of truth, restraint and modesty BOFH.

            Wouldn't be more BAFH?

            As in Bullshit Artist Full of Himself?

            (Where've you been lately RealJake(TM)? We've had some imposter here lately posting good stuff that doesn't sound anything like your normal quality stuff! :) )

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So ...

        You don't really give sysadmins a good name with such a militant and disruptive approach to things.

        Not to mention that you deprive yourself of the pleasure of making this personal. Why annoy your coworkers when you can pinpoint a suit? Honestly?

        Well, that's you demoted from BOFH. You get one more chance as PFY, otherwise it's Helldesk for you :)

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So ...

        There's better ways of dealing with such issues than bringing the place to its knees

        "Format c:" usually works.

        Or (in the old days) the Ping of Doom.

      5. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: So ...

        "There's better ways of dealing with such issues than bringing the place to its knees and firing people the moment someone plugs in an unauthorised laptop."

        Yup. If someone plugs an unauthorised laptop into _MY_ network, they'll find they can't do anything. They can plug into as many wallports as they like across the site, they'll get the same result, but putting the authorised device in will work instantly.

        If they get clever and plug a hub into the wallport, the system will either disable the port the moment a second device is connected or (at my discretion), continue working but disallow the unauthorised devices. I don't like the latter option as it opens the possibility of sniffing.

        Gotta love 802.1x

        It still sets an alarm, but there's no need to shut the site down.

    3. Nick 6

      Re: So ...

      I read that as "unauthorized potatoes", and it didn't surprise me any more than the correct answer.

    4. JimC Silver badge

      Re: So ...

      He says Windows for Workgroups days, which means that the potential for unauthorised access into corporate networks was rather less than it is now. In the days when corporate networks were not connected to the internet at all open shares were less of an immediate concern. If I recall correctly in those days my employer's only connection to the net was email.

    5. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: So ...

      "I'd have immediately brought the place to its knees"

      If it was my company you'd be the one fired on that spot for something like that. Second time anyway.

      You wouldnt be doing it a 3rd time.

      For some reason I'm picturing "Master" from Mad Max 3 holding the town to ransom with a power embargo.

      Also If your users are not well disciplined enough to not do that , you need to lock the ports to mac addresses. And if they are allowed to bring their own shit in , you need to take measures that said shit cannot do any damage no matter what state its in.

    6. Jim 43

      Re: So ...

      Three times you've had C-level fired for plugging unauthorized kit into the network?

      Please come up with more believable lies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So ...

        Sure he did. Granted they were security guards that sat in the shack located on the level between "level B" and "level D" in the parking ramp...

    7. walatam

      Re: So ...

      "I'd have immediately brought the place to its knees"

      "All were fired on the spot."

      Wow. I'd really like to come and work at your place. Sounds like a nice, collaborative, enlightened and peaceful place to be. I'd bet that everyone really wants to work there and really, really thinks the IT team and sysadmins are ace, just ace.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So ...

        At a previous employers years ago I was on the early shift (before 9am) and had a call from someone who urgently needed to get a file from the laptop his guest had brought in, to his office PC. This was a C level executive and you weren't expected to say no to these people without good reason. Although in their defence they would listen to reason and didn't like to break the company rules (well most of them anyway). The bloke wanted to plug the laptop in into the network and transfer the files that way which I said was against company policy so no. He asked what I could do to facilitate the movement of these files given this was quite urgent and he needed them "Now, if not sooner". I said they could be burnt to a CDR which I would then virus check and went up armed with some blank discs and a drive given his laptop didn't have one. When I got there the executive was in a "hurry up can't you" sort of mood and I asked which files it was. I was presented with a laptop and shown 4 not very big Word files and a Powerpoint presentation that was under 2MB.

        I noticed that the laptop had 3G capability* and said as they're small files had they considered just sending them by email - which wouldn't require me to do anything and would be a darn sight quicker. Executive looks at me with a face like thunder and I thought I was about to get a pink slip and instructions to clear my desk by lunchtime. Instead he says that's a brilliant suggestion and could I give my direct line to his PA please in case of future problems like this.

        *he received an email whilst showing me the files and at the time we didn't have wifi.

        1. jcitron

          Re: So ...

          I also developed a connection too with management doing stuff like this. The good people seasoned executives see that you and others like us see outside the box and have problem and critical thinking skills which go well for solving day-to-day problems.

          Now that I am retired, I still get periodic calls from these people. Many of them are now retired as well, but call on me to help them with their computing needs. When I was in need of a new job, because the company was closing, the CEO of the company put together a nice recommendation letter, which landed me a nice job very quickly too at another company.

          So in the end, it pays to be nice to people, and not stomp all over them. Sometimes you need to be firm, yet, show that human side as well. This world works both ways.

    8. This post has been deleted by its author

    9. Don Dumb
      Facepalm

      Re: So ...

      @jake - "I'd have immediately brought the place to its knees[0] until the box was located. No potential security headaches on my networks, thank you very much.

      [0] And have. Three times. All three were C-level idiots plugging unauthorized portables into the corporate network."

      So I immediately imagine the conversation:-

      "Yes, Chief Exec, I through it entirely reasonable to almost destroy your business because there was a network share I didn't recognise."
      Shortly followed by:
      "No I don't know what you mean by 'babies and bathwater'"

    10. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: So ...

      "I'd have immediately brought the place to its knees[0] until the box was located."

      Maybe all the downvotes because in other places productivity is more important than finding an errant box, especially given there's a reasonable chance it'll be some management bod ”just plugging in...." or some other excuse above the pay grade of the s by sysadmin.

    11. Kiwi Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: So ...

      All were fired on the spot.

      [checks windows] Nope. No farm land visible around here. Must be something wafting in from over the ridge. I'd swear I can smell bovine excrement coming from somewhere nearby!

    12. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: So ...

      "Now ask me what I think of BYOD ..."

      It's perfectly fine as long as you can ensure that the BYOD is attached to a different network to the internal one if plugged into a wallport or attaching via Wifi (dynamic Vlan assignment via radius)

      Giving staff a sandboxed network to run their personal kit which doesn't touch the internal one but gives a modicum of Internet solves a number of issues with people doing stupid things.

    13. jcitron

      Re: So ...

      I already have the same answer as you when I think of BYOD!

      That was the most annoying thing when I had to deal with the users.

      - A user brings in his or her laptop because they like it better than their office machine, which works perfectly well.

      - User puts in a ticket because laptop doesn't work on corporate LAN because they forgot to get the COD for the guest network and install VPN software, but the user still can't get things to work after installing the software and getting the code.

      - We traipse down to help and find that the user's antivirus is blocking the corporate network and VPN, but the settings can't be changed because they got the laptop originally from their spouse who got it from their employer.

      This scenario played out day after day at the last place I worked.

      It only got worse when the company allowed multiple mobile devices, tablets, and phones to connect as well, and the users wanted to integrate the company's email client into them. This was big Red's Beehive (shudders), which required spinning in a chair while waiting for the golden red orb to appear and drop pixy dust on the user in order to get it to connect if it would at all. Well it seemed that way because that product required multiple contiguous steps, which had to be done exactly without interruption, (try to do that with people interrupting, phone calls, etc.), otherwise, you'd lose your place and have to start over!

      But alas, I'm retired now so I don't have to think about this stuff anymore except in nightmares and memories.

  5. Richard 26

    "A sysadmin that doesn't know where an IP address is physically located on his own network ?"

    Not so easy in those days: could easily have been an flat thinwire network. And nobody said anything about using IP. Kids today, don't know they were born, etc. etc.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      ""A sysadmin that doesn't know where an IP address is physically located on his own network ?"

      Its not so easy these days either. A 512 address range can cover quite some ground!

      I dont know how fancy switches were in those days , but i guess nowadays you could figure out the mac , and then which port its in , and then what wallport thats patched to , and then wander the office block banging on doors , disturbing people trying to figure if the numbers are getting closer to the one you want .

      And even then If that port is hidden in the canteen ceiling you could be forgiven for missing it!

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "I dont know how fancy switches were in those days"

        If you were replying to Richard 26 I guess you didn't realise the import of "flat thinwire". No switches - everything shares the same medium.

        1. jcitron

          Thin-net was great... I had someone move some furniture and place a heavy file cabinet on top of the network cable, which crushed it and caused an outage until I could put a terminator on the last PC before the break.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      A workplace where there is an accurate map of where each wall port is physically located?

      Such a utopia must be a mirage! Most of the places I've worked you'd be lucky to know which floor the port comes out on, let alone a particular room.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "A workplace where there is an accurate map of where each wall port is physically located?

        Such a utopia must be a mirage!"

        I did it once for a client who had had the network extended 3 or 4 times already in a relatively new building. Most offices and work spaces had multiple RJ45 jacks from several different patch panels and cabinets. They were all labeled correctly, but it was still hell to manage it. For example, cabinet 1 panel E sockets 19-20 would be next to cabinet 2 panel J, sockets 3-4. Didn't help with the switch cabling either.

        And a few months later the client outsourced IT to another company so the new admins reaped all the benefits...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Most offices and work spaces had multiple RJ45 jacks from several different patch panels and cabinets. "

          It's even more fun when there are old and unused wall points, and even the currently in use ones were installed at different times with different looking wall points, some of which are the same as the old, unused ones and the numbering systems is so poor there are multiple wall points with the same number, not always in the same room. If they are even numbered at all. It seems it's rarely practical or economic to rip out and start fresh so, as you pointed out, we end up dealing with multiple upgrades and obsolete cable runs, often with little and/or poor documentation.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "we end up dealing with multiple upgrades and obsolete cable runs, often with little and/or poor documentation."

            Documenting everything is part of the job. if it's not done, then make sure the contract includes sorting this out.

            manglement will buy it if you explain that spending N hours sorting this out _and_ forcing subsequent work to be documented properly will save N+M hours later on, especially when shit and fan have a smelly encounter.

        2. ricardian

          I once worked for a large government department which had a brand-new building comprising 4 floors and several hundred telephone sockets. BT supplied and installed all these telephone sockets but instead of buying a dymotape machine and using it to label the sockets the sockets were labelled with a standard pencil which soon became erased or illegible

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        A workplace where there is an accurate map of where each wall port is physically located?

        Such a utopia must be a mirage

        Well - we know where every wall port is. What we don't always know is what's plugged into it. Or whether someone on the sevice desk has randomly decided to 'clean'[1] up the access switches and re-patch everything. Obviously, they can't be expected to know that specific people need to be plugged into one of the limited number of gigabit ports!

        [1] Take a bunch of wires. Unplug them all. Sort them by colour (ignoring that we use different coloured patch cables to indicate traffic types) and plug them back in. Ignore updating the patch log. Then go back two nights later and put them back into the original ports (as indicated by the patch log) after a stern talking to by Someone Senior in Ops Management.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          A workplace where there is an accurate map of where each wall port is physically located?

          Such a utopia must be a mirage

          I don't get this. One of the self assigned jobs I did at my company years ago was bringing in a scale ruler and walking around with a cheap multi functional laser measure like estate agents use that I bought from boots god only knows how many years ago.

          Once I had a floor plan (drawing boxes the right size and shape with a ruler isin't rocket science) I just wrote in where power and data points were, with extra markers for risers etc. It only took an afternoon to do and has probably saved me that much time in looking for things since.

          If you haven't got documentation and you want it, there is rarely anything stopping you from writing it yourself.

          1. J. Cook Silver badge

            I'm lazy; that's what building blueprints are for. (which is why you like being somewhat friendly with the facilities people (not facilities management, but the ones who actually do the work, although both helps))

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "after a stern talking to by Someone Senior in Ops Management."

          The stern talking to should happen _before_ they're allowed near the cables.

          If this kind of event happens before the talking to, then it's a _management_ failure. Afterwards it's just a pink slip event.

      3. jcitron

        My boss had me draw one up for the building we were in at the time. I did a fairly nice job in Excel too and it went quite well. I ran into issues though in the manufacturing area where the connections were in the ceiling with drop-down cables. I had to leave those blank but got everything else.

        The project wasn't difficult just time consuming. We were lucky too that the contractor that built our network did a splendid job labeling everything in the first place, and unlike the previous building this was all new build. In the old place, there were multiple dead connections due to lightning strikes which had melted ports and even took out a switch at one point.

        I did have a rogue Apple computer on the network. This machine took some hunting down after I got some phone calls from people who couldn't connect to the network. When I checked the switch to see if it had died or something, I noticed a solid port, both lights completely lit up with nothing on the other ports at all. (If the switch had died, I would need to call corporate network services to come in and replace the switch).

        Since I had no map of this building, I had to do a walkabout. After about an hour, I found that little crappy Apple Mac sitting in one of the R&D labs slamming the network. I unplugged the POS from the network, and all the users could connect.

  6. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Stop

    Let me get this straight

    The device had it's C: shared, enough that he could remotely edit autoexec.bat. But he didn't notice the "message display software" (which in those days would have been a <=8 character directory in the root of the drive). Surely a minimal amount of rooting around would've given a clue as to the purpose of this machine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let me get this straight

      The device had it's C: shared, enough that he could remotely edit autoexec.bat. But he didn't notice the "message display software" (which in those days would have been a <=8 character directory in the root of the drive).

      Actually, I'd buy that. I've come across setups where they added binaries to C:\WINDOWS so they were only discoverable by means of a date sorted directory listing. No, don't ask. I was happy enough that I never did that myself - I knew what the PATH statement is for.

      Ugh.

  7. Little Mouse

    "Have you had to perform sysadminnery in front of an ... erm ... appreciative audience?"

    Not me - but in the early ninties an ex-colleague of mine was once the IT-guy on one of the City trading floors.

    You can only imagine the amount of abuse he used to get from the self-obsessed, money-driven wankers every time he had to enter their demesne to replace their broken kit. And like all spoilt, tantrum-prone children, they used to break a lot of kit...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And like all spoilt, tantrum-prone children, they used to break a lot of kit...

      Ah yes, the (non-capacitive) touch screens for which releasing the phone handset to free up a finger was too much trouble, so just whack! the screen with the handset & on to the next call. Handsets broke more often than screens, usually.

      1. My Alter Ego

        Jesus - people actually did that? They'd get a dumb phone if that was observed here.

        But then, "stop being a c**t" is a regularly used phrase in our office.

    2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

      "Not me - but in the early ninties an ex-colleague of mine was once the IT-guy on one of the City trading floors."

      A former colleague had done that.

      Apparently, when the support team received calls involving downtime, they would sprint to the user concerned to get there before the keyboard got smashed into the screen, or worse.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "they would sprint to the user concerned to get there before the keyboard got smashed into the screen, or worse."

        User destroys his system. Very much a "not my monkeys. not my circus" event.

  8. magickmark
    Windows

    Windows for Worgroups

    Lets try to remember what Windows for Workgroups was actually like!

    Some of the first networks I set up (this would have been 1992/93) were using Windows for Workgroups 3.1 and later 3.11, looking back at it now through modern eyes it was a fucking terrible system, but at the time it seemed wonderful.

    Remember that MSDOS was still the operating system and Win for Workgroups was really just a program on top of that, it was not till Win95 that Windows became the OS.

    This allowed users to share their resources and to request those of others without a centralised authentication server and used the SMB protocol over NetBIOS, Security? What was that?

    The networks I set up at the time were quite small and mostly each network was contained within one room (smallish open plan offices) and each office having its own self contained network, the main purpose being to share the expensive £2,000+ B/W laser printers, one in each office space. They did not connect to the Internet in any way shape or form.

    They were based on a Token Ring Network system using BNC cabling (basically TV areal cable) to link the PCs in the office together. As I recall we later added some CAT5 cabling between the rooms with switch boxes that had a BNC connector to connect them to the Token Ring in that room. This was to allow for the sharing of a VERY expensive colour laser printer.

    Not really sure what my point is here but lets remember back then it was different world with different rules.

    To get in my obligatory DNA quote:

    "“In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.”"

    1. Vic

      Re: Windows for Worgroups

      They were based on a Token Ring Network system using BNC cabling (basically TV areal cable

      They weren't.

      If you had coax and BNCs, you were running Ethernet of some flavour. Token ring used twisted-pair cable with this huge hermaphrodite connector. Once used, never forgotten...

      Vic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        yep I had a cabinet right behind my desk where a load of Token ring MAUs were the connectors were nearly the size of a 3 pin plug!

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Windows for Worgroups @AC

          They really weren't that large. The connectors had a square profile about 4cm each side, but were about 6cm deep, although they only stuck out of the socket about 4cm. They did have thick cables, though.

          When the IBM building I was working in was being decommissioned, I was shown one of the networking rooms. Remember that the same connectors were also used for 3270 and I believe 5270 (AS/400 and their predecessors). There were hundreds of the things connected to banks of 3174 and 3274 terminal controllers that were meant to be floor standing but were on shelves, stacked 4 high, MAUs and whatever AS/400s used as terminal controllers. I've never seen such a mess.

          Was told that in the grand old IBM tradition, if they needed to re-wire a port, they used a new cable, because it was impossible to disentangle the old one from the knot of existing cables without disrupting something, and because it was known for a long time that the building was going, there was no point in cleaning it up.

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        Later versions of Token Ring particularly the stuff sold by Madge also used RJ-45s and could be put through the same structured cabling that 10baseT, telephone and serial cable could use.

        The CAUs also worked more like switched, rather than the crude mechanical relay star hubs (MAUs) that the original implementations used.

        Oh the hours spent trying to identify the rogue system trying to insert itself at 4Mb/s on our private 16Mb/s token ring when the building wiring people plugged one of the conference rooms in to it by mistake! Bloody MAUs. Were just too dumb. Killed the whole ring dead.

        Good thing that at the time we also had some systems still capable of using the 3270 connections direct to VAMP, otherwise the support centre would have ground to a halt! Split the single ring into two rings with a bridge between them after that, so that at least half of the desks would still work if the same happened again.

        1. Vic

          Re: Windows for Worgroups

          Later versions of Token Ring particularly the stuff sold by Madge also used RJ-45s and could be put through the same structured cabling that 10baseT, telephone and serial cable could use.

          Not coax, though...

          Vic.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: Windows for Worgroups @Vic

            I'm actually not sure about coax. There were certainly enough conductors, and I'm pretty sure that people like Inmac used to carry some form of balum that you could plug in to allow 3270 and 5270 twinax to be carried on your structured cabling system.

            They may have been an active line driver rather than a balum.

            If you are talking about 10base2 coax Ethernet, then it was possible to get 10baseT transceivers that allow you to plug 10base2 or even 10base5 equipment into a 10baseT network.

            There were a number of other network types that ran over coaxial cables like ARCNET, but I never had any serious dealings with them.

            1. Vic

              Re: Windows for Worgroups @Vic

              I'm actually not sure about coax. There were certainly enough conductors

              Not on a single coax, there weren't. Token Ring used two pairs - four conductors.

              Vic.

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: Windows for Worgroups @Vic

              As I'm sure Mr. Gathercole remembers, the word is balun (from balanced/unbalanced). And I'm fairly certain he typoed 5250 ...

      3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        Ugh. Token Ring. Twice as complicated and twice as expensive as Ethernet. All for "guaranteed latency".

        Banks thought (thanks to IBM's salespeople) that the "increased reliability" of TR was worth paying for. They changed their tune pretty quickly when 100BASE-TEthernet came out.

        Wait 'til you've tried to get a TR switch through EMI testing. Can't be done.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Windows for Worgroups

          Ugh. Token Ring. Twice as complicated and twice as expensive as Ethernet. All for "guaranteed latency".

          At the time our building was commissioned (late '80's) token ring was far more robust[1] and stable than ethernet.

          Also, IBM did our building design and fit-out and ethernet was the Great Satan. To be fair, our lowly 4 Mbit token ring was quite long-lasting and performed quite well. Probably because the network design was done by IBM.. (in the days when they had actualy engineers and technical architects).

          [1] For example, tripping over a cable wouldn't bring the whole network down. Although short-circuiting the main ring down to the length of one patch cable did. Oops.

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        Once used, never forgotten...

        Indeed. Definately not to be used in conduits with a small radius turn..

      5. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        For while anyway, until IBM figured out how to make it work over UTP/STP. Then while you still had the One Ring logically, the physical layer was your standard ethernet star topology going back to the hub.

        Also, in the US at least, THinnet was 50 Ohm, whereas our TV cables were 75ohm. it'd work, but not very well.

        (I am thankfully not old enough to have played with Thicknet or Type 1.)

      6. David Roberts Silver badge

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        Arcnet?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows for Worgroups

      At the time, I was working for a company that had two offices. Head office was full of managers, sales bods, marketing etc. The other smaller office was the tech support, engineering etc (where I worked).

      Head office decided that networks were the future, and decided that they were going to go with Novell 3.something. And being cheap decided that they were just going to get the software and that we techies can install it. Which we did, no networking experience, just by reading the manuals we managed to get a network 10Base2 going with a 386 server, together with cc:Mail, file and print sharing.

      Other office - nope, you can't have a network like Head office. So with my new network "experience", I built a smaller network using WfW. In comparison, it was soooooo much easier and we ended up with a much better out the box. Our "server" was just a PC with the parallel printers also had a fax modem. We could fax straight from the desktop - they couldn't!!

      Different times in the olden days.....

    3. magickmark

      Re: Windows for Worgroups

      To late to edit the original post, but I have just remembered the amazement and excitement of getting Doom to run over the network and running around the game with colleagues shooting demons and each other of course.

      Showing my age there!!

      1. The March Hare
        Meh

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        Aye we ran a quake server on Friday arvo's

        guess who forgot to turn the sound down in the middle of a frag-fest as his boss walked into the office.

        oops.

    4. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Windows for Worgroups

      "Not really sure what my point is here"

      You probably intended to share a story about that one time someone figured the terminator on the end of the cable was entirely redundant and removed / forgot to reinstall it...

      1. magickmark

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        You probably intended to share a story about that one time someone figured the terminator on the end of the cable was entirely redundant and removed / forgot to reinstall it...

        That happend so many times that I used to carry spares in my pocket and would always be the first thing I'd check if there were problems!!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows for Worgroups

      "(basically TV areal cable)"

      Except most definitely NOT TV aerial cable which was 75 ohm when network cable was 50 ohm. Once went to investigate why a segment of the network wasn't working properly (it was sort of working but with a hellavu lot of retransmissions and general noise related effects) and found that the intern who had cabled that floor had run out of cable, and somehow picked up a reel of 75 ohm cable instead of 50 ohm.

      Recabled the lot and the noise went right down, retransmissions etc calmed down to usual levels and sanity was restored.

      Still to this day can't figure out where he got the reel of 75 ohm from!

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        It might have been ARCnet - token passing ring protocols (though not IBM Token Ring) and 62 ohm thin coax cable.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        "Still to this day can't figure out where he got the reel of 75 ohm from!"

        Local TV shop?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          75 Ohm cable

          I should add that at one stage (early 80s) I used a network which was designed to be wired up with 75 Ohm TV coax. It consisted of small boxes, allegedly each contained a Z80 with an RS232 connector, a TV connector & a small stub of TV coax with another connector on it. These were daisy-chained with more TV coax. I can't remember what the head end was like but it must have broken out a batch of RS232s to connect to the host, a Z8000 box.

          A few years later, and another job not a million miles from Euston, I came across a very much grown up version, again strung together with coax but definitely not TV coax, doing much the same job. In that case the head end had a room to itself but still fed the serial lines through to a server. And that gig also had some of the original hose-pipe sized Ethernet as well.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        "Except most definitely NOT TV aerial cable which was 75 ohm when network cable was 50 ohm."

        ARCnet was 75 ohm (and only 2MB/s). A lot of older Netware installations used it

        (the installations I encountered used genuine Novell cards)

      4. swm Bronze badge

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        The original ethernet (3 MBit) was 75 ohm RG11U foam cable TV cable about 1" in diameter. We would tap the cable with cable TV taps. The later ethernet (10 MBit) cable was 50 ohm cable. This was long before ethernet was commercially available.

    6. FIA

      Re: Windows for Worgroups

      Remember that MSDOS was still the operating system and Win for Workgroups was really just a program on top of that, it was not till Win95 that Windows became the OS.

      <Pedant>Win 95 was still sat atop DOS, it's just packaged different. (And you didn't have to type WIN).

      Win NT was the first none DOS windows I suppose. (Let us forget MS OS/2 as I suppose that doesn't really count).

      Consumers didn't really leave DOS until the XP days.

      </pedant>

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Windows for Worgroups 4 A

        Windows 95 did NOT "sit atop DOS".

        The dos window you got when you booted to the cl was a different beast, as you found out when you tried to run dos games and had to retrofit real mode drivers (if you could find 'em).

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Windows for Worgroups 4 A

          "Windows 95 did NOT "sit atop DOS"."

          It may not have been compatible with previous versions of DOS, particularly if you were hoping to use a device driver written for the older system, but it was definitely DOS. Anyone with a clue ran the early versions of NT instead, which needed less hardware, were far more robust and actually had all the features that Microsoft's marketing team were claiming for 95.

          1. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Windows for Worgroups 4 A

            Oh Ken Hagen, I worked for a Microsoft partner when this all went down. I didn't need "a clue" because I had access to the ultra top secret NT 4.0 as well as the NT versions shown to the "clued-in" unwashed.

            I was on the bleeding edge of the internet and the equipment used to put some pretty large corporations in touch with it.

            Windows 95's underlying OS was not DOS.

            1. FIA

              Re: Windows for Worgroups 4 A

              Windows 95's underlying OS was not DOS.

              It was.

              It patched and prodded it and bypassed it in places, however you couldn't run without it.

              To quote this page:

              "Now, there are parts of MS-DOS that are unrelated to file I/O. For example, there are functions for allocating memory, parsing a string containing potential wildcards into FCB format, that sort of thing. Those functions were still handled by MS-DOS since they were just "helper library" type functions and there was no benefit to reimplementing them in 32-bit code aside from just being able to say that you did it. The old 16-bit code worked just fine, and if you let it do the work, you preserved compatibility with programs that patched MS-DOS in order to alter the behavior of those functions. "

              I'd say 'memory allocation' was a fairly fundamental thing.

              Also, make sure you don't run out of real mode when using it, as DOS can't allocate a program segment prefix if you do; done on every process startup, 32bit or not.

              tldr; Win95 ran atop of DOS, bypassing it wherever possible, however if you removed DOS it wouldn't work, even when booted.

            2. Kiwi Silver badge

              Re: Windows for Worgroups 4 A

              Windows 95's underlying OS was not DOS.

              Yet it was possible to turn off the "auto stary windows" option, and run dos stuff exactly as if you wete running 622 instead of the 7.x running "ver" under 95 and 98 did.

              I did more gaming than Win stuff back then, and as such it was preferable to not have Windows running unless your "game" was minesweeper...

      2. TheElder

        Re: 95 and MSDOS

        "Win 95 was still sat atop DOS, it's just packaged different."

        Precisely. You beat me to it. Although what was that little piece of shit between 98 and XP? I would rather run Windows 2.0 than that crap.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: 95 and MSDOS

          Although what was that little piece of shit between 98 and XP? I would rather run Windows 2.0 than that crap.

          Windows Me. The spawn-of-Satan Millennium Edition which I only ever saw once at a mate's house and never in the workplace -- thankfully.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: 95 and MSDOS

            "Windows Me."

            ME being a particularly nasty disease - myalgic encephalomyelitis - also known as "chronic fatigue syndrome", which was appropriate given what it did to performance when you 'upgraded' to it.

        2. jcitron

          Re: 95 and MSDOS

          Yup. Windows 95 was basically WFW with a new shell.

          I ran a WFW network for sometime and got "quite friendly" with the NET command. :-)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Consumers didn' t really leave DOS until XP

        Thought it was Windows 2000?

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Consumers didn' t really leave DOS until XP

          AIUI, Windows 2000 finally made it onto business desktops, but for consumer / home / games use it would not do. Then came Windows XP.

      4. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        Win 9x still relied on DOS for booting, but once in memory, it unloaded the DOS bits and took over everything like a proper OS. Win 3.1 and prior relied on the underlying DOS for several functions.

        NT was the first Windows to completely eliminate DOS, but 9x was still the first to not sit on top of DOS while running. The DOS that was still there was more or less a chain loader.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows for Worgroups

      We dubbed it "Worries for Windows" because its resource sharing abilities were, how do I put this, somewhat on the unreliable side.

      That said, the principal problem was customers who thought they could save themselves the cost of a server by making all stations able to share from the root up and so pass files back and forth.

      I must admit that this idea allowed users to develop by users that I in my worst and most evil BOFH days could not dream of (which is why I miss that facility a bit :) ). The most entertaining side effect was that it did not matter which workstation crashed, there was every potential it took someone else's files with it.

      Marvellous.

    8. Andre Carneiro

      Re: Windows for Worgroups

      Aaaaah, yes! I remember the excitement of being able to print in a separate room for the first time.

      And the pain of a BNC network going down and trying to find where the break in the link was!

      1. heyrick Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Windows for Worgroups

        Aaaaah, yes! I remember the excitement of being able to print in a separate room for the first time.

        Meh. BBC Micros, Econet, could do stuff like that since the early '80s...

    9. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Windows for Worgroups

      but at the time it seemed wonderful.

      Only if you hadn't already been using OS/2..

      They were based on a Token Ring Network system using BNC cabling

      Err.. token ring didn't use BNC - it used quite bulky cables with a hermaphroditic connector on the end. My early career was at a place that used token-ring and it was a real pain. Or at least, all the IBM token-ring stuff that I used did.

      (Our network was a series of rings - one per section of each floor, all joined together by a central ring. I managed once to bring the whole office to a stop by accidentally short-circuiting the central ring.. I walked out of the network closet to hear a whole floor-full of PCs clicking away[1] as the network cards couldn't obtain a token.. Given that most people there were mainframe programmers there was very little they could do with no network access. I can't remember the excuse I used but I remember a sense of relief when I realised I wouldn't be sacked for it.)

      [1] The IBM adaptors we used had a small speaker so that it could indicate errors. When no token was available, the error noise was a click once every couple of seconds

    10. Mr Temporary Handle

      "it was not till Win95 that Windows became the OS"

      Windows 95 was a pretty big step forward but it, Windows 98/98SE and 'Millennium Edition' were still 'protected mode' shells over good old MSDOS.

      Windows NT and Windows 2000 (based on the NT codebase) were the first versions which could be accurately described as 'real' operating systems in their own right.

      EDIT: Seems a lot of people beat me to it :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "it was not till Win95 that Windows became the OS"

        Windows NT and Windows 2000 (based on the NT codebase) were the first versions which could be accurately described as 'real' operating systems in their own right.

        As far as I'm concerned, that feat has not even been achieved with Windows 10, but that may be because I have used *really* big systems which adjusts your expectations regarding stability, redundancy and resilience. Now, Windows NT, wasn't that the desktop software that was one bit different from the server variant? It's been a while, but I seem to recall something like that.

      2. Sanguma

        Re: "it was not till Win95 that Windows became the OS"

        DOS was the loader and the file system and DOS - BIOS drivers. Windows was the 32-bit protected-mode shell.

        Andrew Schulman's book Unauthorized Windows 95: A Developer's Guide to Exploring the Foundations of Windows "Chicago" went in depth into the issue.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clothes optional

    I had the pleasure out of uni working for a company that was funded, lets say, by "premium adult content"

    The joy of been on call to get that call in the middle of night that the streaming computer wasn't working, and having to go into work to fix the computer in front of the less than clothed "premium adult content".

    The unwritten rule that if caught on the camera you had to well, entertain the masses, made for some interesting rumours, and one guy never did get seen again until the next morning allegedly.

    I would choose the paris icon, for obvious reasons....

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Clothes optional

      "The joy of been on call to get that call in the middle of night that the streaming computer wasn't working, and having to go into work to fix the computer in front of the less than clothed "premium adult content"."

      Did you enter with 'Meine Dispatcher says there is something wrong with deine cable?'

      This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most so you better learn to channel your inner Karl Hungus!

    2. Mr Temporary Handle

      Re: Clothes optional

      A former colleague of mine once had a contract for a similar organisation.

      Sadly the only people he ever got to meet there were overweight middle aged blokes who, fortunately, were fully clothed at all times.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Clothes optional

        Sadly the only people he ever got to meet there were overweight middle aged blokes who, fortunately, were fully clothed at all times.

        Ah, so they were running a premium rate sex line :)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flashing up messages asking the user where the hardware is , is a particularly retarded system of asset management. It is also the system we employ here.

    facepalm.

  11. Byz

    First Window NT machine on a network

    Back in the mid 1990's I was a contractor at a large security company. I was asked to look at this new Windows NT 3.1 (became 3.5 soon after).

    So eventually after installing the OS (many floppy disks later) I had a look at the local network and noticed I could see hundreds of C: drives that were shared (and access them) that you couldn't normally see from windows 3.1, being a good contractor I reported this security issue to the IT security department.

    The IT security head assured me they would deal with this issue by the next day.

    The next morning an email went out to the whole company (many thousands of people) that stated "Windows NT is not allowed to be installed on any machine in the company".

    I learnt a real lesson about IT security departments that day :o

    1. Chris King Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: First Window NT machine on a network

      The next morning an email went out to the whole company (many thousands of people) that stated "Windows NT is not allowed to be installed on any machine in the company"

      In my last gig, I helped install a bunch of NT4 Workstations, which due to the network topology got in a permanent Browse Master Election with an Alpha running DEC Advanced Server [1].

      For various reasons, adding a WinNT 4 Server to act as a WINS server wasn't an option, so I put Samba on a Tru64 box and pointed everything at that for WINS - with the "OS level" byte set to 255 to out-rank everything else as Domain Master Browser. Not an ideal solution, but Advanced Server was pretending to be NT 3.51 and thus outranked by all the NT4 boxes.

      Imagine all these machines spamming the network with packets, and this thing suddenly turns up screaming "I am Windows 25.5 from the far future ! KNEEL BEFORE ZOD !!!"

      [1] "Advanced", my fat hairy arse. Pathworks/PCSA with a different label. Pint, because I'm not drinking enough to forget that.

    2. ma1010 Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: First Window NT machine on a network

      Good Lord! You must work somewhere around here.

  12. Fat_Tony
    Facepalm

    Sysadmin jeered in staff cafeteria as he climbed ladder to fix PC

    Must be the IT equivalent of folk cheering when a bar man smashes a pint glass

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: Sysadmin jeered in staff cafeteria as he climbed ladder to fix PC

      ... the article omits to tell us what he was wearing under his kilt.

  13. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    whoever was responsible

    " identified a PC that shared its C: drive with the world. Tom couldn’t figure out where the machine was located, or who used it. But he decided whoever was responsible for it deserved a little nudge in the direction of better security"

    Thats whats weird about the whole thing - its the days of win 3.x and someones giving a shit about security?

    Someone who has to resort to asking the users where the machine is, gives a shit about security?

    And " whoever was responsible" wasnt the user , it was probably him!

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: whoever was responsible

      Sweet Azathoth's Nebular Nodes! Make your dismissive quibbles more incisive and entertaining. It's Friday ffs

  14. asphytxtc
    Facepalm

    Probably my worst day at work..

    I remember, back in the late 90's, working for a company that had a large warehouse, and at the far end of this warehouse was a lonely PC used for shipping the days items out, printing the labels and booking consignments etc. One day we got a call from the dispatch guy to say the machine wasn't connecting to the network, he couldn't ship out the days orders and could we come take a look.

    True to form the computer wasn't connecting at all, and there was no obvious reason I could find, so I took it back to the lab and set it up there to diagnose the issue however, when connected at my desk, it worked first time. Odd, must be an issue with the network connection at the back of the warehouse then.. seemed a reasonable assumption. The port on the switch was live and worked without issue so my immediate thought was "ah someone in the warehouse has probably broken the cable with a palette or something". Now this particular network cable has been installed for years.. a lowly piece of Cat5 that SOMEHOW makes it's way to the end of the warehouse.. nobody quite knows how, nor what route it takes to get there but after much faffing around following it through ceiling tiles and the like, I finally discover that the cable follows along one of the steel roof supports of the warehouse (the whole length of it!) before dropping down a piece of trunking used for the switch for the lights outside the delivery bay.

    Wonderful..

    And this is a big warehouse, two thirds of which has a mezzanine floor over it, thankfully, which made inspecting the cable all the way along a fairly easy task with a long ladder until the point where mezzanine floor ended and there was still no sign of any breaks or damage in the cable. Now the rest of the cable ran along this beam for the last 1/3rd of the length of the warehouse.. some 50' up in the air from the floor and, whilst pondering exactly how to investigate the remaining length (or even how on earth I'm going to rig a new cable along that length anyway), it was then that I noticed, about half way down, a small piece of thin black cable sticking out from behind the roof beam. Thinking this was odd I set about coming up with a possible way to inspect what the cable was, could it be something related? I was unsure but I knew I needed something with more reach than my already quite long ladder to get up there.

    Roll the clock forward twenty minutes, and there I am.. shaking and sweating, standing atop a pile of 10 palettes, perched atop a long reach forklift, fully extended, fifty feet above the solid concrete floor of the warehouse with about 20 pickers and packers laughing and cheering below me. I'm not all that good with heights, I'll be honest.. this was probably my worst nightmare. But then the reason for the failed network connection was finally obvious.

    Turns out that the dispatch computer USED to be located at the end of the mezzanine floor, with parcels rolling down an old parcel chute out to the loading bay and originally this network cable had dropped down from the ceiling straight to it. When the machine was moved next to the loading bay doors.. the remaining cable wasn't long enough to reach the new position and apparently splicing and extending the cable made the reach too long and caused connectivity problems. The previous admin, several years before, had decided that as a quick fix he would extend the cable by the addition of an old 8 port hub stuck up behind the beam, wiring it into the power supply for the outside lights! This poor thing had been up there for all these years acting as, not only an improvised network repeater, but also the improvised central heating for a nest of pigeons up in the roof!

    Needless to say, whilst the hub had impressively weathered several years of one of the toughest environments I'd ever seen.. it had finally expired, probably due to the fact it had to be dug out of a monumental amount of pigeon crap that had accumulated over the years.

    Also needless to say, I was VERY glad to be back on the ground once more a little while later, still sweating profusely, with legs like jelly from the vertigo.. and pigeon S#*T all over me...

    Worst, Day, Ever

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Probably my worst day at work..

      Also needless to say, I was VERY glad to be back on the ground once more a little while later,"

      Since you had no clue what the fault was, you probably didn't have what you needed to fix it, so who went back up and put new hub in? :-)

    2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Probably my worst day at work..

      "Odd, must be an issue with the network connection at the back of the warehouse then.. seemed a reasonable assumption."

      On a factory tour long ago, my guide showed me a wall with thick metal cable trunking attached. Apparently they'd only used thin metal trunking until a fork lift took out both of what was supposed to be a redundant pair of cable runs. The second incarnation used two different routes as well as the heavier trunking.

      Great story. I was wondering if a fork lift would feature and was not disappointed.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reference to WfW dates this story somewhat, but so does the 20ft step ladder. Surely today going that high requires a scaffolding tower and someone with hiviz, a hard hat, and a certificate from the "working with both feet above floorlevel" training course.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    my job title at the time was Floating Senior Member of the Technical Staff

    Ah, you're the one that refuses to go down with the first flush, a problem only exacerbated by toilets with an "economy" flush (which translates as always needing to flush twice).

    I'm impressed your company had so many floaters that there even was a senior level. I take it you needed THREE flushes?

  17. Jon Wilson 1

    jack of all trades

    We had to install some equipment at an electronics factory in the Philippines. All the simple stuff (UPS, racks, cabling, etc.) was ordered in advance, and drop-shipped to site. When we started to rack the main kit, we discovered that the 19-inch rack was only about 18"+3/4. Unfortunately the pillars were not of the adjustable kind. What to do? Brute force of course!

    15 minutes later, we had asked around, and obtained a car jack. It was nicely positioned between the sides of the rack, bending them outwards. Also in the server room were about 30 of the local staff, who had come to find out why we needed a jack to set up a multi million dollar production line.

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