back to article Developer recovered deleted data with his face – his Poker face

Welcome to the fifth edition of Who, Me? It's a new Register weekly column in which readers confess to times their skills fell just a little – or a lot – short of what was required to stop things going pear-shaped. This week, meet "Dom", who back in the 1990s learned the "Clarion" programming language. Which wasn't much use …

  1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    A poker face a day keep the pink slip away.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      A poker face makes you all Gaga though

  2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    ... compare the tax tables to previous versions to see how they deteriorated over the week until finally the indexes were saturated

    Straight out of BOFH's excuse calendar.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Yep. Though he did DO the backups, so that's fine.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        More dangerous than delete and * is the the mirror option (as seen in robocopy and equivalents)

        If you dont get your source and destination paths dead right , which can be done by as little as not putting a final "/" on the end , robocopy ends up chewing through your colleagues system32 folder like pacman!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Back in the day, I remember, as SysAdmin, the company using VCS (or something like CVS but not as good). One of the developers had linked the repository from his server, rather than a check out. He did some changes and promptly removed what he though was a local copy.

          He used rm -rf which then traversed the link and started deleting there. Thankfully, we had nightly backups.

          1. Tom 38 Silver badge

            He used rm -rf which then traversed the link

            rm doesn't follow symlinks. The only time it does anything that could be thought of as following a symlink is:

            ln -s foo /data/foo && rm -rf foo/

            This also is not "following the symlink", the user is explicitly referencing the directory pointed to by the symlink foo by including the trailing slash, so rm is being passed the physical directory it points to, not the symlink.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              > rm doesn't follow symlinks

              That's dangerously misleading. (It's true, but it misses a key piece of information).

              rm -rf recurses into mounted directories, at least on Linux. So if someone mounts the company's main fileshare deeply hidden inside a temporary directory, then I delete the temporary directory with "rm -rf temp_dir" then it deletes everything it can on the company's main file share.

              I know this from personal experience! Fortunately there were backups from the previous night.

              Tip: Never type "rm -rf", do "rm -rf --one-file-system" to prevent this.

              1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                "rm -rf recurses into mounted directories"

                You must also be aware that if the matching pattern/regex includes '..' it will go UP a level and then down from there!

                At least the time I almost suffered from that, it was a recursive chmod command on '.*' to change hidden files/directories permissions from my home location. And I did it as myself, so when it tried to go up and down in to all other's home directories the standard permission bits stopped it.

                But for the grace of $DIETY go I...

                1. the spectacularly refined chap

                  You must also be aware that if the matching pattern/regex includes '..' it will go UP a level and then down from there!

                  No, it is specifically prohibited to delete . or .. and has been since at least the first version of POSIX.

                  Although I did once hose a SCO OpenServer 5 system where a bug meant it didn't guard .. . I wasn't very impressed by this, particularly when it emerged that SCO were aware of the bug, had fixed it in the latest version, but never thought fit to release a patch or even a warning for the earlier versions.

                  And yes this was the "old" SCO, not the new SCO with the dubious legal claims.

                  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                    "No, it is specifically prohibited to delete . or .. and has been since at least the first version of POSIX."

                    My comment is not about deleting the current/parent directory, but that it will follow them. For example, try this in your home directory as a non-destructive example:

                    ls -R .* | grep '\.\.' | grep -v $USER

                    You would expect it to show you just your own hidden files? But you might be surprised by what is also there when you filter out the obvious (1st grep looks for the double-dot parent style of name, 2nd grep should ignore your own files, but of course it is not just your hidden file it is matching either!).

                    1. the spectacularly refined chap

                      You would expect it to show you just your own hidden files? But you might be surprised by what is also there when you filter out the obvious (1st grep looks for the double-dot parent style of name, 2nd grep should ignore your own files, but of course it is not just your hidden file it is matching either!).

                      I wouldn't be surprised. That is how wildcards are supposed to work. There is a specific safeguard on deleting . and .., i.e. within rm rather than the globbing mechanism.

                      1. Daytona955

                        Sadly chmod had no such safeguard when I inadvertently tried it whilst running with far to many privileges.

                        It was a long time ago, on Ultrix. So maybe more modern *nixes have closed that trap for the unwary/stupid...

              2. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

                Many moons ago, an ex-DEC colleague told me about an incident where someone loosed an unguarded recursive delete with root privileges on an inadequately-secured network. Much hilarity ensued, although pretty much the only people laughing were my colleague's group, since *their* servers were configured not to trust root accesses from off-machine.

            2. Havin_it

              Not to dilute your point, but it's ln <target> <linkname> innit?

        2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          @ Prst. V.Jeltz

          The UNIX equivalent command waiting to do this is 'dd', also known as destroy data for an obvious reason. dd can be used to copy whole physical HDD as well as to wipe them be reading /dev/zero (or /dev/random for the more paranoid) as the source of data to write to the HDD.

          Just be very, VERY, sure you get the if= and of= options the right way round.

          Very slightly less risky but equally odd/comparable to robocopy is the rsync command. It won't by default delete files, but the behaviour in whether it copies/creates the main directory is depended on the trailing '/' in source and destination paths in a way I always seem to forget. So the --dry-run option is always my initial addition until I see roughly what it will attempt to do.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        " Yep. Though he did DO the backups, so that's fine."


        With an up to date backup nothing is irreversible.

        1. balrog

          Re: " Yep. Though he did DO the backups, so that's fine."

          Apart from pesky Russians encrypting your hard disk and your backups......

  3. OffBeatMammal

    wow. blast from the past. mid 90s I had the pleasure of using Clarion... a step up from COBOL, but less productive the qbasic!

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Qbasic GORILLA FTW!!!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Qbasic GORILLA FTW!!!!"

        Creating nuclear bananas was one of my first programming challenges after discovering QBASIC by creating an overflow while trying to get my banana into orbit.

        1. David Harper 1

          The game was much more entertaining if you tweaked the parameters that set the strength of gravity and the wind speed. Hurling bananas into a hurricane in Moon gravity was fun.

    2. anothercynic Silver badge

      Ahhhhh Clarion!

      Like @OffBeatMammal, I had that pleasure. And COBOL. IBM COBOL II, I think... or was that VS COBOL II? Hell knows...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had similar poker face experience

    working on a pre-sales team where the sales consulting architect clearly had no idea what the changes were in the latest version of the product.

    The nonsense passing his lips was spectacular, however I realised that arguing in front of the customers of millons of dollars of contract was probably not in my best interest.


    Had to write a lot of "clarifications" later on, and spin them as "free improvements"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if there will be any poker face stories

    from the revelation that KFC cannot sell chicken in the UK due to software faults with DHL. You couldn't make it up!

    1. Dale 3

      Re: I wonder if there will be any poker face stories

      Here's hoping whoever's involved at KFC/DHL are regulars here, and their story will be told in due course (with identifiers "redacted" to protect the guilty, of course).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How to obfuscate?

        "An unnamed fish battering (product changed for anonymity) company"?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wonder if there will be any poker face stories

      DHL: Drop it, Hide it, Lose it.

      1. Sean o' bhaile na gleann

        Re: I wonder if there will be any poker face stories

        DHL: Drop it, Hide it, Lose it.

        How about "Kan't Find the Chicken"?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poker faces can be essential when working with infrastructure. A couple of years ago we had a network engineer (a good one actually) that managed to down our entire building's network by connecting a mis-configured switch. Cue an emergency "oh shit", a emergency cable removal from the borked switch, then an emergency "excuse calendar" session for when the executives upstairs start inevitably asking why the entire network went down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      we tend to find that when a lot of machines start to exhibit strange behaviour , and its obviously the backroom boys with their rollouts and updates and policies , they dont need an excuse or a poker face because they fix it* and then deny it was them at all **.

      * bugrudgingly after the evidence is overwhelming

      ** unless they need the help of the grunts to visit a large number of machines personally.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Reminds me of the time we had a major network outage in one of our UK DCs, which completely crippled our largest UK client's, customer data feeds. This was something like 7,000 corporate customers, all sending time critical data in from their sites, over various routes into the DC, Internet FTPS, dial-up, VAN networks etc. (this was around 2003, and the client was very out of date with regards to comms).

        I wasn't on call that night, but once I arrived in the morning, I was dragged off to a war room that had been set up (this was a small open plan room, with 4 bays of 6 desks each). I joined my team in one bay (we managed the integration services).

        The network guys were in the next bay over, and had already denied any changes at their end, and insisted it was our integration platform at fault, and that they were only there to support us in identifying the issue. One of the other bays had various managers, change management, account managers etc.

        Considering the network guys were just there 'to help', they seemed very intent on looking at things like firewall settings etc. So I sat in the desk closest to them, so I'd be in ear shot.

        I was running various tests, to try and isolated the issue, some routes and protocols worked, others didn't. I narrowed it down to anything using FTP/FTPS via one network route (which covered about 90% of the customers data traffic). This info was then shared with everyone, to help track down the problem. We knew by this point it wasn't out platform.

        The network guys were whispering amongst each other, but I overheard one of them saying 'That doesn't look right', while pointing to a screen and another agreeing. The guy at the keyboard rattled a few buttons off, and a few mouse clicks. But they didn't say anything to anyone outside of their team.

        I noticed the failed routes suddenly started to work, and I re-sent some of the failed jobs, and all was working again. So it was obvious to me, whatever they'd just done, had fixed the issue. But they were still not saying anything.

        So I chirped up, "Thanks guys, whatever you just changed, seems to have fixed the problem.".

        They stumbled a bit, and looked rather sheepish, at which point the management came over and asked what had they done to fix the issue, and of course why it was wrong in the first place.

        Turned out one of their guys earlier in the week had changed some settings related to FTP traffic on one of the external firewalls, and had saved, but not applied the changes (this wasn't an authorised change either). Then the previous evening, one of the other guys had restarted the firewall to resolve a different issue, which picked up the FTP change and basically broke the platform!

        I will happily (ish) hold my hand up if I've done something wrong, but one thing I cannot stand is one person, or worse a team, blaming someone else for a mistake they made, and I'll happily drop them in the s#!t from a great height if I find anyone doing it!

        PS: Rant over, sorry for the long post!

        PPS: The network management was outsourced to BT around 2001, it's now done inhouse again!

        1. Stu Mac

          "outsourced to BT"

          <shakes head>

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any time your client is being a humongous idiot a poker face will resolve things that much quicker.

    E.g. "If we set the red colour channel above 255 maybe it will get redder"

    "Let's see." clickety-click "I'm not seeing it."

    Obviously somewhere along the line, the functions we were passing over 255 to contained a line like min(255,r) so going over 255 did nothing, but it was all a magic box to her. Letting her see for herself that it didn't work was far more effective than the twenty seven swearwords and sixteen synonyms for idiot that the request truly warranted.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      "Hmmm. It's 24 bit colour, so we should definitely be able to set the red value to greater than 8 bits."

      (I'm actually surprised it saturated rather than wrapping. But maybe I'm just old.)

      1. Paul Shirley

        Depends on how it was set, an api like opengl can specify out of range values will saturate. But pass them in as actual 8bit value and they'll wrap before ogl can clamp them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Nothing that low level, this was a command to create an instance of a map icon representing a truck. The colour choice was validated before it was stored, let alone plotted.

  8. Admiral Grace Hopper

    I can't remember why I was part of the conversation

    , but I still have the dent in my tongue from biting it when a colleague assured that the new laser printers would be a direct replacement for their impact printers and that they could still use their three-part stationery with no changes.

    I shuffled myself sideways onto a different project sharpish as soon as I got out of the room.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I can't remember why I was part of the conversation

      "I shuffled myself sideways onto a different project sharpish"

      In similar circumstances I shuffled out of the entire company. It was quicker and paid better.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: I can't remember why I was part of the conversation

      One afternoon I had a sales weasel tell me with a straight face that the laser printers he was selling would have no difficulty coping with 5-part NCR[0] forms. It was the first question I asked, with the intention of getting rid of the guy quickly. I wasn't expecting that kind of bullshit ... So I decided to string the prickguy along for a bit (supper for the Wife & I at The House of Prime Rib in San Francisco ... recommended!), until I got bored mid-morning the next day. Then I asked for a money back guarantee if they didn't work as advertised, including all parts, labor, downtime, and shipping. In his own handwriting. He swore at me quite nicely before leaving, never to be seen darkening our doorway again ...

      [0] That's "No Carbon Required", not "National Cash Register" ...

  9. jake Silver badge

    If you can't dazzle them with brilliance ...

    ... baffle them with bullshit.

    Back in the day, when I was a 9-5 wage slave working both the voice and the data sides of the isle, I knew I could clear any meeting by asking if there was "any progress in the new algorithm for dynamic bandwidth allocation over adaptive differential pulse code modulation" ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you can't dazzle them with brilliance ...

      Why not simplify things and statically adapt with a couple of extra lines?

      I sometimes enjoy joining in and escalating the BS to a spectacular height, particularly if management are listening. They start to believe almost anything if enough people play along.

      +1 for making me laugh.

    2. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: If you can't dazzle them with brilliance ...

      You are Wally AICMFP.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If you can't dazzle them with brilliance ...

        You are Wally AICMFP.

        Sure, I'll wire that to you in the morning. Just forward me your ibanking Q-word and parts seventeen and twenty one of your security chain so I can enable the flowchain.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: If you can't dazzle them with brilliance ...

          Too late, AC. I already put the check (cheque) in the voicemail.

  10. Banksy


    So how did he actually get out of that one? Need more details.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Truckers

      So how did he actually get out of that one? Need more details.

      He cable-tied himself to the underside of one of the trucks heading south, then once safely over the border he changed his name to Jesus and set up a laptop repair business above a knocking-shop in Tijuana. In exchange for undertaking the weekly clap inspections the madam lets him live there rent-free, and occasionally rewards him with the house's fabled 'special extras' whenever he releases an updated version of the in-house booking app, 'Hola, Shagr'.

      I hope that's not too much detail for you.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Truckers

        Stop fibbing, Rich 11. It was duct tape, not cable ties. Everybody knows that.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Truckers

          Let's agree to disagree. Surely you must understand how difficult it is to resolve all the inconsistencies between the different stories of Jesus.

          There are more important things in this world.


          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: Truckers

            It was the backup tape itself and I claim my 5 pounds.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Truckers

            Ah, but a friend of mine actually knew Chewy. I got the story from the horse's mouth. As it were.

            Not a splitter, a reformist.

  11. MJI Silver badge

    Databases on Netware

    My favourite was Clipper with a client server engine (Advantage XBase Server).

    Very fast and very reliable.

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    A salesman finding himself moved over onto the delivery side. Karma.

  13. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Poker face fail

    Yonks ago, in a different life, I and a colleague got the task of installing some newfangled twisted-pair to replace the coaxial cabling. The offices had nicely accessible, large cable ducts running along the outer walls. And all the outlets, for power, network, telephone, were on the bottom of the duct, with the connectors being plugged in from below - and against gravity. The only obvious problem with those duts were their lids, outright bitches that heavily resisted both, being taken off and put back on. To put them back an aweful lot of fist-hammering was used. Acquired my "iron fist" there in Mr Miyagi-style.

    So, one day while happily hammering along, suddenly the face of an accountant went pale, then white. Just when I was starting to worry that he might be dying he turned redish - steaming hot red! Accompanied by a screamed "I lost all of my day's work!" - it was mid afternoon.

    That was about when we realised what happened: the hammering slowly but surely drove the power plug of his computer out of the mains socket. An orange socket, the ones connected to the UPS. One of us, I can't remember if it was my colleague or me, calmly said to the destroyed, steaming accountant: "you should regularly save your work - you never know when there's a crash." We left the office, closed the door and in the staircase we got the mother of all laughing fits.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Poker face fail

      > Accompanied by a screamed "I lost all of my day's work!"

      I was told the story of an electrician who popped a circuit breaker in a university department to change some wiring in a few offices only to hear some screaming from along the hallway and see an academic run into the hall screaming "my work, my work!". It turned out that he was working off floppy and hadn't saved back to disk for several _years_ due to the reliability of the power.

      1. ricardian

        Re: Poker face fail

        This happened to an Open University researcher who stored several years worth of data on a local machine and had no backup that was remote from his/her office, a fire destroyed most of the equipment but the manufacturer managed to recover most (but not all) of the data from the fire-damaged disk - an expensive recovery process. Alas, I cannot find any record of this event online

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another useful skill: Skullduggery

    I worked in the City at one point and whilst the parent company was huge, this office was a small offshoot that was trying to grow their business. However, in order to do so they needed to have two datacenters and the office all connected, along with dual ISP uplinks with AS failover etc.

    Problem was, they never gave me any money for equipment or staff, I managed to scrape together all the components for a Cisco 12000 series chassis from the cupboard spares at one point.

    Anyhoo, whilst testing the BGP failover I had to clear out the tables to get everything talking nicely (since the office wasn't connecting the two datacenters together at this point I was running the BGP peering from the two DC's across the internet in a GRE tunnel - not recommended practice and there are quirks to overcome, but it worked).

    The MD went nuts when I cleared the BGP over a lunch-time break and told me never to do it again or I'd be fired (should have got out then really). I wouldn't do it after hours, because bang on 5.30pm all the people left in the office started smoking, and there were no opening windows! Nasty, and since I'd given up smoking I wasn't staying around for that.

    In the end I simply set the routers to reboot in 10 minutes then I made sure I was talking to some sales droid within the MD's line of vision when it all went shit-shaped. I said I'd go and look into it, and lo and behold I had the network up and running again in a couple of minutes.

    When asked what the problem was I told the MD that the BGP peering became saturated and de-stabilized the routers' back-plane memory, forcing a reboot, and that adding some AS path filters to strip out unnecessary advertisments would keep it under control :)

  15. LewisRage

    DEL & * catastrophe

    In the distant past I was providing support for an EDI supply chain system, the one I was currently working on was running one of the large distribution depots for Marks & Spencer, essentially everything went through here.

    I talked their IT through tidying up a bunch of backup data files that were impacting performance. I said, and I'm pretty sure I said this right, "type Del *.0??" what she heard was "type DEL *.??"

    Sadly all the current data files had a 2 letter extension and we were running this in the data directory.

    All their data had gone. I asked about backups and she had the audacity to say 'I don't know about that I'm the Unix admin'. Turns out that they didn't keep backups.

    Fortunately they had a functional spare system that we could replay all the changes into and we got them back up and running after only something like 12 hours of solid work.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: DEL & * catastrophe

      Heh, had somebody delete a critical data file from Ulti-Sales (POS system I supported back in the day).

      Poor lady didn't know what to do. Of course I tried a rebuild first. No luck. (It was support over a phone, luckily she was computer literate, and knew what to do).

      Asked her about backups, and they did have it. I got her to restore the backups to a different directory, then copied the critical file over to the live POS system, and ran a rebuild - and all was well, no data lost.

      She was happy. And so was I.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: DEL & * catastrophe

        Many years ago one of my colleagues was writing a data submission process. This wasn't going to be for anything critical, so she was writing this as a simple bash shell script (AIX UNIX), which would be run from cron every 5 mins.

        The data would be coming into a dir, via some network shares and internal FTPs (late 90s). With the data being submitted/pushed into an old ESB system we had.

        The data was archived as it was processed (basically moved to a daily archive dir, with .hhmmssnn appended to the file name). The original file was to be deleted once it was confirmed it had been pushed into the ESB okay.

        She set up some test data on the dev environment, and kicked off the script manually, and happily sat there monitoring the ESB frontend, as her test data came through, confirming each file, and its contents were as expected. (You can see where this is going!).

        Then she started to see odd file names in the meta data, that she didn't recognise, with content that she didn't expect to see. Yup, once the new script had finished with the test files in her test dir, it worked it's way up and down the tree, into any parent and then subdirs it could find, submitting, archiving and deleting everything it it's path! Wouldn't have been much of an issue if under cron, as the user there was always very restricted, but she was logged in under a generic developer account, which was basically like having god mode back then.

        So glad we had nightly backups!

        Needless to say, a few things were changed after that day, with generic god mode accounts being locked down or banned, and a lot of changes on users and group settings etc.

        1. harmjschoonhoven

          @AC Re: DEL & * catastrophe

          bash shell ksh script (AIX UNIX)


  16. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    Kind of like..

    ..a flight attendant calmly asking "Is there anyone on board that knows how to fly a plane?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kind of like..

      "Why of course I can." I state with a poker face.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Kind of like..

        If no one else replies, at least you can know you *tried*!

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Kind of like..

      "Is there anyone on board that knows how to fly a plane?"

      Yeah, I was in that situation once. Naturally I did the right thing and stood up, shouldering the responsibility for getting everyone safely on the ground. I mean, bearing in mind the alternative, who amongst us wouldn't?

      The stewardess didn't think to ask me about the full extent of my flight experience so no-one ever knew that it comprised just a few hours flying a PC-based Tornado GR3 simulator, where I'd never got beyond the first mission of laying a JP233 runway-denial weapon along the length of an Iraqi airfield in 1991. I mean, who would know that a 737 wouldn't handle the same at 40 feet and 270 knots? I certainly didn't.

      Still, every crash you walk away from is really a landing, right? Right?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    customer: can i print the internet with this computer?

    me: yes, you can print the bbc, yahoo and microsoft. it can take a while with microsoft because it has to print out the whole system documentation - but that's microsoft for you!

    customer: *nods enthusiastically*

  18. GlenP Silver badge

    Not major but...

    Back in the day when I was switching between Apricot and PC Compatibles I will admit that once or twice I went to format a Floppy on the former with Format A: forgetting that was the HD.

    Thank heavens for Norton Undelete! As long as you caught it before it finished you could run that and rebuild the file system in a few minutes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not major but...

      Did this with an entire HDD which I was suppose to migrate to a new one on my PC build. After 3 days I learnt the best way to save £30-£100 on file recovery software is to learn how to use TestDisk.

      Thankfully it was a quick format, and I only had to copy back the (hidden) backup file partition, a process TestDisk finds and automates well.

    2. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: undelete

      Some twenty years ago a not too bright colleague deleted a file on his Irix workstation. He downloaded from a Russian website a program that was supposed to undelete files on a UNIX system, but in fact was malware. It took our service department several days to restore some order. Fortunately the damage was restricted to this one machine and we mocked our colleague with the story for a long time.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deleting production data

    I too, have experienced that ice-cold feeling in my gut ... on realisation that the database connection on which I've just issued 'truncate table' is somehow connected to a production database, not the dev database that my database tool suggests that it is.

    On that occasion, I was able to connect to a disaster recovery spare and recover the data I had just blown away in production, but that was a seriously adrenalyn-fuelled half hour followed by a lot of beer to relax when realisation settled in that I'd got away unnoticed with no permanent damage done.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Deleting production data

      My first IT job as a programmer on a UNIX system. Note... we didn't have a "test" environment, only "live" data. I'm writing a search utility for marketing and did some cut and pasting from another script to speed up the writing process with the intention (what the road to hell is paved with) of fixing the thing. Come in the next morning and the boss wants met to run what I have done so he can see my progress. Cue mad panic as suddenly all the data on the mainframe disappeared. Luckily, the backups were on site and only about an hours work was lost by the staff. I kept my job as did the manager though we both got reamed for it. The following week a "test" server appeared at our door. The same one the manager had been requesting for two years.

  20. MJI Silver badge

    Delete on Netware is not that bad


    Great for recovering deleted files

  21. Smoking Man

    And the beauty of using scripts as opposed to type commandline after commandline lies in:

    That you can easily do much more damage to a wider set of data in almost no time.

    I remeber quite well when I had messed up several directories with thousands of files of old, older and newer versions, a huge set of files with the same name etc.

    It was already late int he evening, when I hacked a small shell script that checked various directories for file duplicates.

    And, as expected, I somewhat messed up the check ("test, []"), which at the end kept all duplicates and deleted the single files that should stay untouched. Job well done.

    Mines the one with the backup tapes..The ones with "tar: read error".

  22. swampdog

    Cheap keyboards

    ..where 'rm *.xxx' turns into 'rm *>xxx' so always use "-v" so as to have a record of what's just vanished.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Custom software on Novell

    Sounds heroic.

    In a past life, I sought to make a meagre crust with some Linux consultancy. In a neighbouring office was the region's Netware man, who serviced quite a few regular clients and made a much better living than I did. But he considered it madness to try and develop custom software on Netware. On several occasions when his Clients had custom needs, he introduced a single Linux machine to their network, and gave me the job of setting it up to meet the client's needs.

  24. swm

    I know of a co-op who worked for AMD who, in his last week, decided to transfer some nifty scripts he had written back to his college account. He wrote a perl script and set it running only to hear a yell from the support person. It seems that he had a link to the K5 floor plan & wire list in the directory he was transferring so his script merely started transferring the crown jewels back to his student account (he was legitimately working on these files).

    The yell was caused by exceeding the maximum size of transfers and filling up one of the server disks. They had to get into his student account and delete some of the files.

    You never know what will happen when you run a script that copies directories over the network.

  25. Paul Shirley

    being your way of of unwanted work

    Sometimes you need to bullshit your way out of unwanted jobs. Like the time I sat in the pitch session for writing a football game and pokerface on talked about the difficulties dealing with 22 players PER SIDE on the 8bit hardware of the time... Never found out if my boss worked out why the pitch failed ;)

  26. Jake Maverick

    people like this cause 99.9% of the problems on this planet :-( I don't find it funny

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not about programming, but...

    When I used to fly small airplanes, I flew a heavily loaded (3 passengers + pilot) into an airport with a short runway and a hill at the the far end of the landing run. Near touchdown, I decided that my approach was not good enough, being a little too steep and fast, so I belatedly transitioned to a go-around and tried to fly back out in the direction of that steeply rising terrain. The geometry was - less than ideal. As the little plane struggled to climb above that ridge line, I struggled to find the sweet spot between not quite grazing the trees and plunging into them while gently banking away from the little mountain. All the while with the stall warning intermittently spitting out little hints of impending doom.

    My front seat passenger turned to me and asked if there was a problem. I coolly replied, "No, not at all."

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Not about programming, but...

      Not the same thing at all. If you're in the air, you're still flying. Of course there was no problem. Likewise, anything you walk away from is a landing ...

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