back to article Convenient switch hides an inconvenient truth

Welcome once more to On-Call, your weekly dose of tech support head-scratchers sent in by Reg readers. In this story, we meet “Marvin”, who tells us that, some years ago, the US brokerage firm he was working for decided to spruce up one of its rooms. The room in question was the classroom, used for all-hands daily briefings …

  1. GNoMe

    is that it?

    That story kind of peters out.. So I assume that when the remote was used to turn the projector one the old 'Big Red Button' circuit was tripped and all the computers upstairs turned off resulting in the barrage of expletives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: is that it?

      Yes, instead of being a circuit the cable they found was in fact a switch. The Big Red Button just connected the 'Live' wire to the 'Neutral' wire, so when the projector was connected between the 'Live' and 'Nautral' wires, turning the projector on acted the same way as the old switch.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: is that it?

        Yes, instead of being a circuit the cable they found was in fact a switch. The Big Red Button just connected the 'Live' wire to the 'Neutral' wire, so when the projector was connected between the 'Live' and 'Nautral' wires, turning the projector on acted the same way as the old switch.

        Ahhhhh, thanks for that!

        Like "GNoMe", I was wondering why the article finished prematurely!

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        So labelling stuff is tedious and boring. Until it saves you doing stuff like this

        Something to keep in mind perhaps when you next have to install some new stuff and think "Nah, what's the point of labeling it?"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So labelling stuff is tedious and boring. Until it saves you doing stuff like this

          "Nah, what's the point of labeling it?" Exactly, the installation review will catch that - however - label it completely wrong and then there is a con-slutting gig secured in the future to 'make it work' ....

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: is that it?

      No no no, you missed the cause for the screaming.

      The remote turned out to be for a garage door opener & was causing all the kilts & skirts to keep lifting up over their owners' heads.

      The screams were because there were more men than women thus affected.

      I'll get my coat, it's the one with the pockets full of garage door openers. =-)p

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: is that it?

      What's the quickest solve you’ve ever made in a tech support crisis?

      User: "The screen is black"

      Me: "Can you switch the computer on please?"

      User:"Oh, that fixed it, thanks"

      1. Criggie

        Re: is that it?

        I've had a faster one... "give the mouse a wiggle please?" "Oh that's fixed now!"

  2. Jay 2

    Hmm, it's almost a "Who Me?" story. Not one of the better Friday offerings to be honest.

  3. wolfetone Silver badge

    Are we scraping the barrel of On Call's now?

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge
      Coat

      They have been for a while, which is a shame. You'd think that there'd be hundreds of great stories from the readers. Either they aren't getting sent in or for some reason Vulture Central is choosing the rubbish ones.

      Mine's the one with the memoirs in the pocket.

      1. defiler Silver badge

        The real war stories end up in the comments. The article only seems to serve as an air duster to clear the mental cobwebs away.

        1. Killfalcon Bronze badge

          It's almost "This weeks topic is... power supply weirdness" or Air-con or pre-Y2k scripts.

          I'm hoping for leap-years next week. I used to be able to reliably able to predict a spike in tickets at the end of every fourth February, but managed to change to a less experimentally-inclined job in 2015, so I missed all the fun last time.

          The best I can recall off the top of my head was a system getting the ages of some pensioners wrong... because the devs had mistakenly programmed it to think 1900 was a leap year (Excel also does this, at least Excel 2010). Admittedly that's not such an issue anymore.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. MonkeyBob

              1900 was not a leap year as it is divisible by 100 but not 400

              In the Gregorian calendar three criteria must be taken into account to identify leap years:

              The year can be evenly divided by 4;

              If the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless;

              The year is also evenly divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year.

            2. http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/thumb_up_32.png

              No, 1900 was not a leap year. The criterion for years divisibly by 100 (ie century starts) is that the year _is_ divisible by 400. That’s why Y2k was a leap year.

            3. Cuddles Silver badge

              "Um - 1900 was a Leap Year (it's divisible by 4 but not by 400)."

              That's exactly backwards.

            4. Fatman

              RE: Um - 1900 was a Leap Year (it's divisible by 4 but not by 400).

              In a word - NO, it was not.

              <quote>Um - 1900 was a Leap Year (it's divisible by 4 but not by 400).</quote>

              <source>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_year</source>

              1. swm

                Re: RE: Um - 1900 was a Leap Year (it's divisible by 4 but not by 400).

                Actually "divisible by 4 but not by 100 but not by 400" slips a day every ~37,000 years so I have heard proposed "divisible by 4 but not by 100 but not by 400 but not by 40,000" (to keep with the "4" motive). But we will just have to wait and see how fast the Earth is spinning then.

          2. JimboSmith Silver badge

            I had a free time limited version of a casino games suite back in the windows 95 days. I had altered the date by a fair few years when installing it so that the thing would run indefinitely. I ballsed this up however and it required me to keep the date in the 70s. However someone borrowed the computer to apply for something and had to use a DOS program to do so. The person in question had filled in their date of birth and discovered it then worked out she was 3 years old. So she changed the date to the correct one and carried on. She didn't realise that this would bugger things up but I returned from college to discover that the game didn't work anymore. Bloody annoying but she had no idea it would cause problems for anything else.

            1. swm

              Around 1970 on December 7 someone set the year to 1941 as a joke. When this was discovered the operator reset the date to the proper year. All logged on users were billed for about 30 years of connect time.

              1. mosw

                "... All logged on users were billed for about 30 years of connect time."

                What ever you do don't let AWS know about that trick!

        2. JudeKay

          If you think you could do better, and wish to have your deeds chronicled beneath the red mast of the vulture, you could just email Rebecca Hill at rebecca.hill@theregister.co.uk. If. *cough*

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            If you think you could do better, and wish to have your deeds chronicled beneath the red mast of the vulture, you could just email Rebecca Hill at rebecca.hill@theregister.co.uk. If. *cough*

            already done and story told, but true enough some of the better stores are to be found n the comments.

        3. rskurat

          "The real war stories end up in the comments. The article only seems to serve as an air duster to clear the mental cobwebs away."

          This is true at several websites I follow: Not Always Right, Clients from Hell, Off the Menu, etc. Not unique to El Reg.

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Barrel Bottoms

        The fix for this is to offer a T Shirt for the lead story.

        1. MrMerrymaker

          Re: Barrel Bottoms

          What would the Tshirt say?

          'I anonymously confess to fucking up!'

          1. choleric

            Re: Barrel Bottoms

            Shome shuggestions:

            *Someone* once crashed a mainframe and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

            IT workers of the world. Our hands on your emergency power buttons.

            I eat script kiddies for breakfast. Snap, >kzert<, ping.

            I press kill-switches for a living.

            :~$whoami

            El Reg "Who Me?" Outstanding Sysadmin Skills award winner.

            1. J. Cook Bronze badge

              Re: Barrel Bottoms

              ... I have a t-shirt that one of our vendors was giving away at a conference that says "I'm here because YOU broke something." I wear it when I get called into the office on off-hours. :)

          2. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Barrel Bottoms

            I was thinking a red shirt with the register masthead and logo on it.

            El Reg wins 'cos advertising, and low costs due to volume discounts on shirts.

            Writers win 'cos free shirt only available through posting good story.

            Win-win.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Barrel Bottoms

              "I was thinking a red shirt with the register masthead and logo on it.

              El Reg wins 'cos advertising, and low costs due to volume discounts on shirts.

              Writers win 'cos free shirt only available through posting good story."

              Are you really wanting to be wearing a *red* shirt when attending an emergency?

              "Win-win-lose"

              FTFY

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Well... how many times can we have "oops..." as a switch is clicked or a cable pulled or command line mistyped? We've all done our share of these. It's a rite of passage.

      Having said that, I do look forward to reading these weekly and the comments as our common random acts of distraction, newbieness, or forgetfulness, along with the usual missteps caused by someone who preceded us is reassuring that we are not alone.

      1. mosw

        >'Well... how many times can we have "oops..." as a switch is clicked or a cable pulled or command line mistyped?'

        What make these stories entertaining is not so much what mistake was made as what the unexpected consequences were and how/if our anti-hero survived the ordeal.

  4. RGE_Master

    Given the fact that this is pretty poor, I think i'll have to tender my own "Who, me?"

    I was working for a pharmaceutical company and I had the pleasure of fitting an additional 512GB of memory to a test box. Unfortunately they didn't bother labeling up each server in the enclosure, I was given a map of what server was where. So I promptly shut the box down, pulled it out, fitted the memory and then booted it back up.

    Zero issues, up until the following morning. I didn't bother using the UID on the machine to make sure it was right. Turns out I pulled the incorrect server, caused some application testing to fail and then fitted an astronmical amount of memory to it. The upside was the testing completed in a few hours with the extra memory instead of 24 hours, once that had finished, I shut it back down, shut the correct server down and moved everything.

    Another one

    I was cabling up an enclosure via fabric over to our san, Low and behold they never bothered to cut the cabling so by the time it got to the san, there was a massive pile of fiber, literally huge. So I started my work and traced the correct cable and plugged it in, all was fine, until I lost my footing on the flood and promptly put my foot into the pile of cabling. we lost 7 cables out of the hundreds that were there. So we had to re-cable them again.

  5. GNoMe
    IT Angle

    Here's my On-CALL

    many years ago working as an IT apprentice I had to spend a week in each department. During the week in the tendering department they were showing me how to use the system on the old green screen terminals. After several minutes of them trying to get it to work they said 'hey you're IT' at which point I walked over and pressed the On button on the front and watched as the screen came to life.

    1. Pirate Dave
      Pirate

      Similar has happened to me twice in the past two months. Both times it was in HR. Ah well, I like the easy calls...

      1. Gordon861

        I had similar at an old job, boss was setting up projector system for the directors on an away day. Following 30 minutes of them trying to fix the system I get the call to bring the spare laptop and projector to the event.

        30 second look at the setup with senior management crowded around, spotted that the VGA from the laptop was plugged into the VGA OUT of the projector, plugged into the correct port and TA-DA all working fine. Boss didn't look too happy.

    2. Byron "Jito463"
      Facepalm

      Where I work

      Where I work, we do on site service for both residential and business. I had a service call one time - in the middle of an ice storm - for a residential customer, who was complaining that he couldn't get anything to display on his screen. On a day when only two of us were working, no less.

      I make it there safe enough and proceed to check for what the problem might be. The computer is running, so I proceed to check the cables. As I'm doing so, I notice there's no light on the monitor. I press the power button on front of the monitor, and sure enough it powers right on. Problem solved.

      If it wasn't for the ice storm, I might have cut the guy a break on the service call fee. As it was, I think he was embarrassed enough that he paid it willingly.

      =======

      On a separate occasion, one of my coworkers had to do an on site for another residential customer. His solution? Power on the computer. Sometimes you have to wonder what's going through people's minds before they decide to call for support.

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: Where I work

        Back in the alt.sysadmin days I recall a story that got posted:

        "I can't access the internet"

        "What seems to be the problem?"

        "Well the screen is black and there are no lights on the computer"

        "Is it plugged in?"

        "Yes"

        "Can you check to make sure all the cables into the monitor and PC are connected?"

        "No"

        "Why not?"

        "It's too dark"

        "Then turn the lights on"

        "I can't, there's a power cut..."

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A long time ago - in a company far away

    While doing tech support for a large software reseller, I got the infamous call:

    "I'm stood at the server and have put the disk in, what do I do next?" from a contractor tech for a southern (UK) organisation.

    He was wanting me to talk through the upgrading of Exchange 5.5 to 2003 (it was some time ago)

    No prep work, no cleaning of active directory for dead accounts, no cleaning of DNS, no nothing.

    I replied with a "go and do the prep work, then call us back", which he was not happy with, but my manager supported this response. We'd been stuck with a talk through of recovering a server not long before this.

    Never did get a call back from the tech in question, or anyone else for that matter. They must have found some one who knew what they were doing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A long time ago - in a company far away

      At a company that shall remain nameless because I don't want to get sued, I was a PFY to the BOFH. Our boss thought he could "show us a thing or two", came in early, & proceeded to install a software package. When the BOFH & I showed up a bit later we were greeted with a nonfunctioning server room, a panicky boss, & instructions to "fix it, quick!" BOFH & I jumped on it, got the mess cleaned up, the servers back online, the data recovered, the backups restored, & the customers back to earning us money. The BOFH impressed the hell out of me when he wrote up his report as to the cause of the unplanned outage. In much nicer language that wouldn't get him fired it amounted to "Our boss is an idiot who didn't RTFM. Had he bothered to RTFM then he would have known that the software he tried to install was incompatible with the server software versions we're using. The software expected $Path, found $OtherPath, & promptly nuked everything as it "corrected the error"." Boss tried to cover his ass to the upper manglement, failed utterly, and we got a new boss a month later!

  7. chivo243 Silver badge
    Meh

    a bit thin?

    That's it? Flipping the breaker and seeing people go berserk?

    Seems a bit weak, like tea where the teabag barely hit the water...

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: a bit thin?

      like tea where the teabag barely hit the water

      In Shetland that's called "water bewitched", and not kindly. Sheep, oil, and robust tea. Lovely place.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: a bit thin?

        Also known as Love-in-a-Canoe tea...

        As in: fucking close to water.

        1. agurney

          Re: a bit thin?

          or fortnight tea (two week)

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: a bit thin?

          "Love-in-a-Canoe tea..."

          I thought that was american beer

          1. Martin-73 Silver badge

            Re: a bit thin?

            @Alan Brown

            I'm guessing the downvote was from someone who hates Python?

        3. herman Silver badge

          Re: a bit thin?

          A real Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe. The secret starts by finding a nice romantic spot under a tree to put the canoe down...

          1. Long John Brass Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: a bit thin?

            A real Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe. The secret starts by finding a nice romantic spot under a tree to put the canoe down...

            Is that when they get eat (out) by a bear?

            OK ok I'm going

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: a bit thin?

            Just remember to put the canoe upside down. That way you can easily seal yourselves off from the outside, thus neatly avoiding the blackfly and mosquitoes.

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I just love the comments on On Call stories

    You learn the damndest things.

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: I just love the comments on On Call stories

      The real On Call is always in the comments...

  9. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    I don't get it.

    1. Spazturtle Silver badge

      It wasn't a power circuit, the two wires connected to a button, pressing the button connected the wires and triggered the e-stop. Connecting the projector to these 2 wires did the same thing as pressing the button.

      1. Pirate Dave
        Pirate

        I don't get why they used 115 VAC for a signal circuit instead of low-voltage DC. Button-On, Button-Off reads the same at 12 VDC as at 115 VAC.

        1. pirxhh

          It's a plain and simple relay circuit, thus operating at the mains voltage.

          The 115 VAC power the coil to a relay, which breaks the power to the mainframe (and whatever). Same as the light circuit on stairs or hallways. Old-school but reliable.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. stiine

              Re: stairs and hallways lights...

              You should aslo keep one hand in the other back pocket. This will prevent you from turning your chest in to a resistor with two arms as leads.

              1. matjaggard

                Re: stairs and hallways lights...

                Yes, but when you fall off the chair with the bulb in one hand and the other hand in your pocket, you have no way to catch yourself.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: stairs and hallways lights...

                  Our mainframes in the 1960s had to have a controlled sequence to power the cpu and peripherals up in the right order - and then gently down again at power off. This was achieved by a button on the operator's console that was connected to a little box on the wall. The box contained a geared motor that engaged a series of cams over a period of a few minutes. Each cam operated a power switch for its designated pieces of kit.

                  The box had a door with a glass front so you could see the cams working. In the prototype mainframe test area the box always had its key in the door - as kit was moved quite frequently.

                  One day someone opened the door to the box while everything was running. A safety microswitch on the door instantly cut all power. It took three days to get the mainframe running again.

                  1. BostonEddie

                    Re: stairs and hallways lights...

                    I remember that mechanical sequencer setup, though don't recall it ever being used; I think it sat on a shelf in the oven room because it might someday be useful. As late as the 1990s the company ordered one of "my" burn in ovens with a sequencer with semicon logic to assure logic ICs were sequenced in correct order.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: stairs and hallways lights...cam timers.

                    It's perhaps worth remembering that the Soviet Union set a spacecraft to go around the Moon and back using drum and cam timers.

                    I've used them myself as safety supervisors for critical sequencing (think lightning strike simulation for signalling circuits, 10kV 10kA). It is very important that the analysis includes a detailed logic and sequencing diagram including all switches in the drum system. Including any door switches.

                    If an emergency sequence stop is needed it must be a BRB - big red button - and not something like a door switch. In fact, the door release should be a shielded screw which engages the motor supply switch when fully inserted.

                    It occurs to me given the 1960s date cited that this kind of incident was probably part of the learning curve that led to the design of fail-safe systems.

                2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: stairs and hallways lights...

                  "but when you fall off the chair with the bulb in one hand and the other hand in your pocket, you have no way to catch yourself."

                  Learn to fall and roll properly. If you try to catch yourself in a fall like that, you're fairly likely to end up in an emergency room waiting for Xrays on a wrist/arm break injury known in the trade as "Fell on outstreched hand" (FOOSH) - these take a while to heal and are worse the older you get.

            2. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: stairs and hallways lights...

              "but in Ol' Blighty household lights that can be switched on/off in two places"

              One of the first things my Dad taught me about home electrics was how those types of circuits work and how easy it is to get confused by what's happening. He told me this because he has at least 3 stupid stories from when he was a very young PFY working for his mate, with one story ending up with him having to going home early with a very, very large headache after coping a full load off an unchecked live.

              1. Martin-73 Silver badge

                Re: stairs and hallways lights...

                The favourite of lighting circuits in the UK is for someone to remove the ceiling rose to fit a 'designer light fitting', not make notes of where the wires come from, and have the thing work thusly:

                Switch off, light is on

                Switch on, BANG

                Causes me as a domestic sparks more calls than anything else DIY related

            3. Twanky
              IT Angle

              Re: stairs and hallways lights...

              Disclaimer: I am not a qualified 'sparks' and may be out of date with current regulations but - Shirley some mistake?

              The two switches are two-way and have two possible paths for the 'switched live' between them. If both switches agree on the path then the switched live is connected to the load and the light is on. If the switches disagree on the path then the light is off.

              1. ibmalone Silver badge

                Re: stairs and hallways lights...

                Disclaimer: I am not a qualified 'sparks' and may be out of date with current regulations but - Shirley some mistake?

                The two switches are two-way and have two possible paths for the 'switched live' between them. If both switches agree on the path then the switched live is connected to the load and the light is on. If the switches disagree on the path then the light is off.

                That is the way I was taught (not a spark either, but did used to help my dad, also it actually gets covered at GCSE physics!), the other way (use the two two-throw switches to separately switch polarity to either side of the lamp) will also work, but the method you describe is more generalisable and has the advantage you know which wires will be live and which neutral.

                A flat I used to live in had an entrance and stairway light that didn't work. First floor flat, so entrance hall and stairway then first floor landing. Double switch in entrance hall, neither did anything, single switch at top of stairs, worked first floor landing (crossover with another switch on the first floor). The landlord was not the type to be proactive about this type of thing, and I took the view that as a tenant I shouldn't be messing with the wiring. Situation remained like this for a couple of years until my parents happened to visit and my dad was quite up for having a look. I dissuaded him, but he'd put a bee under my bonnet, so after he left I took off the downstairs switch, it simply hadn't been wired in, live was sitting unconnected. There were extra wires, but these were connected to the system for the landing switching and not easy to trace, can't remember the exact setup, but couldn't be used to cross-over switch the entrance light.

                It seemed the most likely explanation was: the entrance hall and stair light should have been controllable from entrance hall and landing, landing light would have been fine to switch only from the landing switches. Whoever put things in only realised this after switches were in and things were plastered, at that point the arrangement couldn't be changed without starting to pull out wires and change the way the landing lights worked, and so they just didn't finish connecting the thing up. I connected the entrance light, but if you wanted to turn it off at night you still had to do it before climbing the stairs...

        2. usbac

          Dave,

          If you use a low voltage control circuit, you need other components like step-down transformers, etc. If this is controlling an entire data center, you want as few components in the circuit as possible. The last thing you need is for a $20 transformer to bring an entire company to it's knees.

          1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

            At Usbac...

            "The last thing you need is for a $20 transformer to bring an entire company to it's knees."

            Why not? If a $20 hooker can do it...

            *Cough*

        3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          "Pirate Reply Icon

          I don't get why they used 115 VAC for a signal circuit instead of low-voltage DC. Button-On, Button-Off reads the same at 12 VDC as at 115 VAC."

          Low voltage DC extends up to 1500V, i.e. roughly the same as the peak of low voltage AC (1000VAC, peak nominally about 1400V, 6% tolerance, call it 1500). You want ELV.

          That pedantry aside there are many different signal circuit voltages in use and 115VAC is very common in the big place to the left of the pond. So is 48VDC (telecoms). One nice thing about AC is that it's easier to detect wires carrying it. Another is that for signalling it causes a lot less contact wear than DC.

  10. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    Sounds familiar...

    I just love electricians/telecom's engineers who just arbitrarily decide to take a connection- Our company monitors a number of remote GNSS stations around the country- all on their own dedicated phone lines. The number of times we've lost those lines because someone has decided to use it for their own monitoring (usual an alarm company) even though testing the line would have shown that it was busy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds familiar...

      Or the modern equivalent of connecting to the clients network and just picking an IP address.

      A customer where I used to work was in the fortunate position of being able to put in a water turbine - 89kW IIRC and I recall working out much the renewables incentives on it would be, nice little earner !

      Anyway, the company that installed it were used to having their own dedicated ADSL line, but at least they did ask what IP address (note the singular) they could use before connecting it to the customer's network.

      Unfortunately, the guy who did the PLC stuff new somewhere on the low side of naff all about networking, and there were three boxes using three IP addresses - and one that he picked just happened to be that of the VoIP PBX ! I got called in to sort it out, had to use packet sniffing to find out what they were doing (as the PLC guy was too clueless to be helpful), and change the IP of the PBX (and change the DHCP range to exclude the other addresses used) - after which everything co-existed just fine.

      1. Trygve Henriksen

        Re: Sounds familiar...

        You set up exclusions?

        Why would you do something as evil as that?

        You should set up dummy reservations, and write in the comment why it's reserved.

        (Unless you ran a DHCP server where you could add a comment to exclusions, of course. )

        Exclusions tends to stick around a long time after the device is retired. And without a good comment or other documentation, no one will dare removing it.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Sounds familiar...

        > I got called in to sort it out, had to use packet sniffing to find out what they were doing (as the PLC guy was too clueless to be helpful),

        I've found this time and time again with PLC twats. The fact that one such installation controls a couple of 1MW generator/UPS setups and has direct control of such things as overspeed control should be enough to cause sleepless nights, given the company in question has $verylarge multiMW installs with $extremelylarge companies across the UK - including a couple of airports and supermarket chain head offices that I know of.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds familiar...

      Same here. We have alarms people using old telephone cable even though we have not supported it for over a decade (we're all IP now). The Estates department are a law unto themselves.

      1. stiine
        FAIL

        Re: Sounds familiar...

        "Same here. We have alarms people using old telephone cable even though we have not supported it for over a decade (we're all IP now). The Estates department are a law unto themselves."

        That's probably because the local Health & Safety regulations require it. No VoIP phones in elevators.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Sounds familiar...

          "That's probably because the local Health & Safety regulations require it. No VoIP phones in elevators."

          No phones at all if the analogue cable is so old it's fractured.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Sounds familiar...

      "The number of times we've lost those lines because someone has decided to use it for their own monitoring"

      I had someone do that on a client site. As the line was _mine_ - the telco contract was with me, not with the client - I billed the idiot heavily for downtime caused. He squeaked loudly and tried to get out of it but it ended up in court and the billing was upheld. the client was quite amused as said idiot had made a botchup of the rest of the job too and client had kicked them off the premises.

      The kicker was that $idiot hadn't bothered with public liability insurance (incredibly cheap to obtain)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are the stories in the comments this week better than the article?

    1. Ryan 7

      Because the comments on a toilet cubicle wall would be better than that article, too. It's strange, since the first few weeks with the new columnist were brilliant.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mostly it's the story-writer being 'clever' and not explaining the fault. It's like that thing about "not explaining the joke" - fine, sure, it does kill the joke to over-explain it. But here, it's as if they've just not written the punch line down. "A man carrying a foot-high piano walks into a bar. <EOF>"

      It's fine when it's something like "the cleaners unplugged the server", but when it's leaning into some technical field most folk here don't do it falls flat for a lot of us.

      Wiring on EPO switches will never come up for me: I don't even work within a hundred miles of the datacentre. I genuinely had no idea that an EPO button worked by bypassing the main power (connecting Live to Neutral) rather than physically breaking the power connection (ie, disconnecting Live and Neutral), so this was just baffling.

      1. Pirate Dave

        "A man carrying a foot-high piano walks into a bar. <EOF>"

        AND??? come on, don't leave us hanging after you've taken us this far...

        1. DJV Silver badge

          Blimey, I thought everyone knew that one!

          https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=12%20inch%20pianist

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Blimey, I thought everyone knew that one!"

            I remember an elderly member of the radio club telling that joke in about 1961.

            He told a story about when he ran his own radio shop - probably early 1930s. A local church had decided to scrap their bells. They commissioned him to install the new technology of an electric record player, big amplifier, and speakers in the belfry.

            The record player had an auto-change function so that several fragile shellac 78rpm recordings of bells could be played in sequence - each lasting a few minutes.

            The grand premiere was scheduled for a Sunday - and the local great and good were among the throngs standing outside the church. The guy had loaded the record stack the previous day - but went along to hear the audience's reaction. After a few minutes the tension got to him and he left.

            The next day he slipped quietly into the room with the equipment. Shattered in pieces on the floor was a record which had had no label. In the middle of the stack of records he had inserted "Tiger Rag".

  12. Steve Channell
    Facepalm

    Teradata

    A number of years ago Teradata UK took delivery of a shinny new NCR massively parallel database computer, and were very keen to demonstrate everything about the new host.

    One salesperson hit on the idea of pulling one of the fans out to demonstrate the emebeded systems management and the fan speed up.

    Unfortunately the hapless salesperson triggered a manufacturing investigation back in the US that eventually lead to a team of engineers being dispatched to site.. where they scratched their heads to understand why the host fans kept failing.. until the hapless salesperson did his party piece

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Teradata

      In 1967 our prototype mainframe consisted of a line of 6' (1.8m) high cabinets. Each one had a bank of cooling fans mounted in the top - exhausting upwards through a mesh. When a replacement fan was fitted the date was inscribed on its label. A fan failure would be detected during the daily routine maintenance.

      For some reason fan failures started to be so common that the time was also added to the date. The engineers devised a more visual fan failure mechanism. A strip of thin paper was held in place on top of the cabinet's mesh by the weight of a large hexagon nut at one end. A quick glance across the room showed which strips of paper were no longer wavering vertically.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Teradata

        "For some reason fan failures started to be so common that the time was also added to the date. "

        I've seen this with fans - particularly shaded pole induction motors, when designed for 60Hz. At 50Hz they run hotter - and critically - more slowly, meaning less cooling less airflow over them.

        The result is fairly predictable. What's not predictable is that disassembling them, cleaning thoroughly and using decent heat-resistant lubricant can usually prevent it in the first place and/or bring them back to life seemingly forever.

        1. Niall Mac Caughey

          Re: Teradata

          The difference in airflow can be dramatic.

          Some years ago I worked in a broadcast transmission station with two rather large transmitters - think 30 fet long, eight feet wide and seven feet high. Despite multiple cooling systems we always had issues keeping the kit within temperature limits. Since they were US-made I (eventually) thought of the 50-60Hz difference, but my boss had already thought of that and the moters had been changed.

          Being a student of human nature I decided to check for myself and. after some serious contortions wriggling around inside the working machinery I found that my boss was correct - mostly. With the aid of a mirror on a stick I confirmed that the largest blower moter was indeed a 60Hz model. When we pulled the fan manufacturer's specifications we found that the 15% reduction in motor speed translated into a 40% reduction in airflow!

          A trip to the local engineering suppliers resulted in two new pulleys and some fan belts - a quick and extremely cheap fix.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was one installing 30 new computers and monitors into a first floor IT suite at a school during the half term holidays.

    To save time we threw all the empty boxes out of the window into the car park below. From there it was just a short walk to the skip to dump them.

    Someone (me) thought it would be a really fun idea to leap out of the window and into the soft arms of the boxes and packaging.

    Believe me, it wasn't soft in the slightest.

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      It's only soft in the movies because the boxes hide a bunch of mattresses. As seen in almost every DVD extra, ever...

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        The cardboard boxes are usually on top of an air mattress that has vents in it, they allow the air to escape at a rate that helps to decelerate your falling body. The cardboard boxes do the same thing by crumpling the way a car body in a crash would. I used to do Western re-enactment, one of our stunts was being shot off a cabin roof, I can tell you it works well, unless you miss the centre!

        1. H in The Hague Silver badge
          Pint

          "The cardboard boxes do the same thing by crumpling the way a car body in a crash would."

          And I _think_ that the boxes are strapped together so the crumple rather than scatter.

          Icon as it's almost that time of the week.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cardboard. Not renowned for it's soft 'cushioning' effect when jumping on it. Sometimes hindsight allows 20-20 vision. Other times, it's just another method for finding Darwin Award recipients.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        depands on the cardboard , and how much of its box integrity is left. With 1/2 million empty tissue boxes, that might have worked ...

  14. jake Silver badge

    And as any fule kno ...

    ... Mainframes run on a single, 115V circuit.

    Likewise, BigRedButtons are always connected to a single, 115V circuit that runs through a standard, unlabeled breaker panel.

    And, of course, all techies everywhere would be unsuspicious of a J-box where the hot and neutral were wired together by default ...

    To say nothing of the lack of traders rioting when the breaker was tripped to do the electrical work ...

    1. Kerry Hoskin

      Re: And as any fule kno ...

      what I thought exactly

      1. The First Dave

        Re: And as any fule kno ...

        Which underlines how poor this was - the circuit in question was designed to 'trigger' when the circuit was _closed_ by shorting the Live wire to what was described as a Neutral, but was actually a Signal wire. I'm slightly surprised that turning on the projector triggered the circuit - must in fact have been current driven as the voltage drop wouldn't be anything close to the 'full' 120v

        1. pirxhh

          Re: And as any fule kno ...

          No, a projector starting up (or trying to...) has a pretty low resistance, so there will be more than enough current to energize a relay coil.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: And as any fule kno ...

            "No, a projector starting up (or trying to...) has a pretty low resistance, so there will be more than enough current to energize a relay coil."

            To put this into perspective, when I was doing some work on startup inrush currents on things like computer power supplies, we were seeing peaks on the first half cycle of over 40A and around 30 on the second half cycle, on a PSU rated a couple of hundred watts. This was in the early days of SMPS when the storage capacitor on the naughty side was basically connected to the mains through four diodes and presented a near short circuit.

            People used to think incandescent lights have huge inrush currents, around 10A peak for a 100W bulb, but TV sets and PSUs for electronics just seemed designed to blow fuses and trip circuit breakers. In extreme cases the surge into the capacitor might eventually cause it to rupture and catch fire.

    2. gskr

      Re: And as any fule kno ...

      I think the point was - tripping the breaker didn't trigger the shutdown.

      It was only later when that circuit was completed (ie by turning on the projector) that the "red button" shutdown was triggered.

      I wish this was clearer in the article - I've had to turn to the comments to educate myself (and I always do for a "On Call" / "Who Me" -> often find just as good if not better stories buried amongst them!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And as any fule kno ...

      "... Mainframes run on a single, 115V circuit."

      In the UK that is 240v.

      A customer had ordered in advance the smallest model of a new range of mainframes. Unfortunately the development times started to get extended. Gradually the putative range of models started to get pruned. Eventually the customer order was upgraded to a top model - considerably more powerful - at a bargain price.

      Even then the UK production was limited. Very belatedly an 110v US version was imported for the customer.

      The manufacturer's engineers commissioned the mainframe on the customer site using a jury-rigged step-down transformer - and left site for the day. Overnight the customer's electricians incorporated the transformer into the building electrics. Next day the mainframe was switched on - with the autotransformer connected back to front.

  15. sandman

    I was working in an organisation that finally decided to move into the 20th century and buy some of those new-fangled Babbage thingies. The building dated back to the 19th century and the wiring wasn't much younger. This was all fine until one of the managers decided his office was a bit cold (to be fair, we were wearing fingerless gloves at our desks, very Dickensian). He plugged in his new fan heater - cue 20 screams...

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      So you weren't his biggest fan...

    2. Andytug
      FAIL

      Heaters are the bane of our lives

      Despite all the desk sockets being clearly labelled 3A (or 5A-printer only) and staff being told they must only plug heaters into the walls, you come to any desk and find half the sockets no longer work due to someone plugging a heater into it. And then into the next one, and the next one, until they wise up....

      One of our offices was found during a re-org to have approaching 30% of desk sockets dead due to this.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Heaters are the bane of our lives

        Those 3A fused sockets are a total pain. Why can't they just use decently rated cable ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Heaters are the bane of our lives

          Panel heater on under desk, whilst air con unit is cooling, yet the big window is open. This is common in many offices in summer.

          1. matjaggard

            Re: Heaters are the bane of our lives

            I think it was the cleaner in our office who broke almost literally every unused socket by plugging in the vacuum cleaner.

            1. Richard 12 Silver badge

              Re: Heaters are the bane of our lives

              And this is another reason why the British 13A plug and ring main is superior.

              Design by committee can work brilliantly when the committee members are haggard engineers with a very dim view of humanity's intelligence.

        2. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Heaters are the bane of our lives

          "Those 3A fused sockets are a total pain. Why can't they just use decently rated cable ?"

          Accountants. That way they save £30 on the building budget. The fact the maintenance budget goes off scale is someone else's problem.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Heaters are the bane of our lives

            >> "Those 3A fused sockets are a total pain. Why can't they just use decently rated cable ?"

            > Accountants. That way they save £30 on the building budget. The fact the maintenance budget goes off scale is someone else's problem.

            The simple solution to THAT particular problem is to force them to work in one of those offices and organise a selective set of socket failures.

    3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      The fact it's 19th century doesn't really change things. I'm in a late 20th century building and the sockets aren't designed to support heaters. Socket damage has been caused by people trying to plug in high current devices.

      Granted, it didn't take down the entire ring though...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought it was funny, for the people who thought it didn't pass the bar, c'mon they're all good stories, let's not set the bar too high or people will maybe think twice about writing theirs for fear of being 'not good enough'

    1. J. Cook Bronze badge
      Pint

      An anonymous Coward wrote:

      thought it was funny, for the people who thought it didn't pass the bar, c'mon they're all good stories, let's not set the bar too high or people will maybe think twice about writing theirs for fear of being 'not good enough'

      It's tricky to set the bar at just the right height- too low, and people step over it. Too high, and you hit their kidneys instead of the groin. /rimshot

      *wanders off to start a week off early*

  17. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    So... was some Halon released?

    1. Waseem Alkurdi
      Devil

      In the traders' room? Or is it beancounter central?

  18. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Shall I tell you of the time I fell overboard and was almost eaten by a hammerhead shark?

    I once fell overboard and was almost eaten by a shark. The funny thing is, its head was shaped exactly like a hammer.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Was it the daddy shark? Doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo...

    2. The March Hare

      Re: Bah!

      Oh Walter, really...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bah!

        I used to know a carpet fitter called Walter - dont remember his surname.

        1. elkster88

          Re: Bah!

          > I used to know a carpet fitter called Walter - dont remember his surname.

          Had to be Wall, didn't it?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      An IT colleague used to tell of the time he went into garage in Wales - and was attacked by a lion. No one believed him - but apparently it was someone's pet that they kept in their garage.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nicotin story

    Not sure it's a oncall story, but this is friday, WTF :)

    Years ago, at an entertainment company, since the network was such a huge mess, I was tasked to label every PC with their name and IP address (yes, I've heard of static DHCP :).

    I arrived at one dude's desktop and couldn't stick the label at all. I turned out the dude was a severe smoker, in a closed office. The poor desktop was yellow with nicotin, probably to the point licking it could get yourself killed.

    I ended up washing the poor thing with alcohol to be able to stick the label ...

    1. Ian Emery Silver badge

      Re: nicotin story

      I had to refurbish* an "Imperial Tobacco" tobacco tin filling machine many years ago. it had been in continuous service for about 30 years so layers of tobacco covering it, from fresh, down through layers of variously decomposing, to a thick dark oil.

      Not even the smokers would sit near me in the canteen whilst I was working on it; and I got through a months worth of overalls in 2 days.

      * Replace all the old human control electrics with a computer controlled system

  20. MrMerrymaker

    Maybe it's time for a new column

    Users with a silent L

    Tales of how colleagues messed up in the workplace.

    I suspect the amount of emails detailing the many 1D10t errors a user base struggled with would collapse the email servers of El Reg

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Found similar here. If it wasn't unauthorised laser printers blowing the 3A desk sockets, it's menopausal women with fan heaters under the desk. We re-desked one floor and found most 4 gangs had 1, some 2 blown sockets. Maplin made a small fortune in selling fuses to us that day. Later office refits used 5A sockets.

    My favourite was a couple of years ago. With a predicted Snowpocalyse on the way, some bright spark manager in social services bypasses proper procurement processes and purchased 100+ fan heaters from the stationary supplier, which were delivered on a pallet. Next morning, just after 10am the power goes off to the entire building, lights stay on. Facilities investigate and a circuit breaker has tripped. Power stays back on for 5 minutes, then it trips and goes off again. Rinse and repeat. Finally facilities cotton on there might be a load issue, go walkabout and spot the offending items on the social services floor. Stern email sent out mid afternoon, all fan heaters are confiscated throughout the buildings. Much complaining from middle aged women ensues.

    At least the servers and networks stayed up!

    AC cause I want to keep my job! ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      At my wife's prior employer, a scientific research institution, their facilities safety officer got worried about the fire danger of having a bunch of people with heaters under their desks. Considering this facility had numerous labs with all kinds of flammable gasses (hydrogen tanks, etc.) and cabinets full of organic solvents, he had absolute authority when it came to safety.

      He sent out an email saying that on a specific day, his staff will be going through every room and removing any heaters found. They then said that they will randomly check the facility, and that if any heaters were found, the employee would be formally written-up.

      There was a lot of complaining, but he got his way in the end. After all, management thought a major explosion would look bad in the local papers!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "[...] their facilities safety officer got worried about the fire danger of having a bunch of people with heaters under their desks."

        In the old days we used to move between offices within the building by ourselves. I remember being the unsteady end*** of a desk going up some stairs.

        Nowadays H&S dictates that only authorised movers can do such things.

        Preparing to move to a new part of the site we were told to put everything in crates on Friday afternoon - and on Monday morning they would be waiting by our new desks. They were - minus our collection of extension cables which had been confiscated and destroyed. We then explained to Site Services that we needed them not for our office - but for emergency use on customer sites.

        ***my colleagues had discovered it was my 21st birthday and taken me to the pub at lunchtime. In theory I only drank Coca Cola - but I was naive and trusting.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "[...] their facilities safety officer got worried about the fire danger of having a bunch of people with heaters under their desks."

        A company can only have one Primary Directive for staff to obey without exception.

        A friend worked for a large company where "safety" was that directive. One day she had to avoid a stepladder in the middle of a fire escape corridor. It was positioned under a hole in the ceiling tiles but no one was about.

        She moved the ladder to a secure place. Later on she was called into the management office after a complaint from the building worker who had been stranded in the false ceiling space. Her defence was to quote the company's "Primary directive". Management had to admit she was right.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I used to work in a lab and had the same thing fanny heaters everywhere!

    2. Trilkhai

      If it wasn't unauthorised laser printers blowing the 3A desk sockets, it's menopausal women with fan heaters

      Menopause causes hot flashes and thus tends to drive women to find sources of cold air, so you're leaping to the wrong conclusion on that one. In your company's case, it was far more likely that — like most women — they needed the room to be a higher temperature to be anywhere near comfortable than the men did, and someone had set the thermostat well below that point.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        In your company's case, it was far more likely that — like most women — they needed the room to be a higher temperature to be anywhere near comfortable than the men did, and someone had set the thermostat well below that point.

        After much campaigning by ladies wearing light sleeveless tops our office is now averaging 27C, occasionally hitting 28C. Of course, in the summer, people near the windows will open them to "help" the air conditioning, much as you help a fridge by leaving the door open. (Under normal circumstances the place is a steady 22C all year, a former female manager was as perplexed by the basically seasonal responses to the steady temperature as I remain.)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "Under normal circumstances the place is a steady 22C all year, a former female manager was as perplexed by the basically seasonal responses to the steady temperature as I remain"

          It's been shown on multiple occasions that the best solution to these kinds of problems is to install a thermostat in each cubicle.

          Don't connect them to anything, just install them. People can adjust them to their heart's content and feel good about whatever they've set.

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
            Happy

            That was always a bug bear for me. If you're too cold, put a jumper on.. I could hardly take my shirt off....

            When I worked in London, I eventually got moved to my own office, with it's own aircon, so I could have it at a comfortable 17 whilst the main room toasted at 23+ with its air "con" ..

            Even my boss was left in the open-plan area.

            Some visitors actually thought I was important!

      2. JulieM Bronze badge

        Clothing Differences

        That's because men's clothing (N.B., actual men's clothing, as opposed to fashionable women's clothing designed to look a little bit like men's clothing from a distance, whilst still leaving no doubt up-close that the wearer is in fact a woman) tends to offer superior thermal insulation to women's clothing. At least, this is so if we limit our consideration to the subset of what is acceptable to wear in the office Monday to Thursday; a T-shirt, shorts and hiking sandals are cooler than a blouse with a jacket or cardigan, skirt, thick tights and boots, but a woman would be unlikely to dress in that way in the sort of temperatures in which a man would dress in that way.

        Every year, on the second day in a row over about 25 degrees, there is a story in the national newspapers about school boys wearing skirts to survive in the heat .....

        Someone really needs to let the word out that the human body burns up calories faster in lower ambient temperatures -- just turn down the thermostat, and begin losing weight effortlessly while your body adjusts to the cold!

      3. Slef

        Or peeps who had not heard of Jumpers! (the woolly kind)

      4. ICPurvis47
        Big Brother

        Getting your own back

        At one point in my varied career I was in Site Services, and was charged with procuring, installing, and running the Energy Management System of a large electrical manufacturing company in the (UK) midlands. Every office and production area had its own temperature monitor that fed a signal back to the computerised control system, which in turn controlled the heating to that department. One day I noticed that one particular office was displaying a temperature that was significantly lower that the others, and that the heating system was going full blast. I took a stroll through the office in question, and pretended not to notice the plastic sandwich bag full of ice cubes that had been suspended in front of the sensor. On returning to Site Services, I logged in and turned the setpoint for that office to zero, thus turning off all their heating. After about an hour, I received a phonecall from someone in that office complaining that it was very cold there, and that the radiators were not even slightly warm. "Oh, yes" I said. "your ice cube trick has caused the thermometer to go off scale, and roll over, it is now saying that the temperature in your office is plus 32 Celcius. If you remove the ice cubes, it will correct itself". A few minutes later the indicated temperature started to rise, so I reset the setpoint to 19 Celcius, and the problem miraculously went away. They never tried that trick again.

  22. steviebuk Silver badge

    Surely this shows...

    ...why you should get the electrician in to check the circuit and not do it yourself as a bodge fix.

    1. usbac

      Re: Surely this shows...

      I've worked with many "licensed" electricians in my career, and I'm not sure that would have changed anything here. My experience has been about 50/50. There are many good electricians, but there are just about as many that should never be around electricity!!

      From a previous el reg post:

      We share a large industrial building with a ball bearing factory (I know, it sounds like a line form Hogan's Hero's!) A while back we had a sudden power outage. Our data center has good UPS backup power; enough for about two hours for all of the systems including cooling.

      Senior management called the power company, and they said they would investigate, but that it would likely be the end of the day before they had an answer. So, management sent almost everyone home (almost, meaning I had to stay to shut down all of the production systems when we got close to UPS exhaustion).

      So, I had just finished shutting everything down, when my boss and another VP came by and said "let's take a walk next door, and see if they know anything that we don't?" As we are walking around the side of the building, an electrician comes out of a side door. We stop him and ask him what he knows about any of this. He suddenly has a horrified look on his face. He then makes some half-assed excuse about having to check something, gets in his truck, and literally leaves long black skid-marks across the parking lot.

      It turns out that the stupid jackass had turned power off to the whole building! There are four very large electrical boxes at the end of the building. Two are for us, and two for the neighbor. None of them are marked, of course. We turned them all back on, since if someone was actually working on something, they would be properly locked-out, right? Needless to say, our boxes are all padlocked now.

  23. Herby Silver badge

    Information on "shunt trips".

    There are special circuit breakers that exist that have an extra set of wires to allow remote tripping of the breaker for whatever reason. Usually there is some fire code involved. The power for this extra circuit is usually a separate circuit from the one that needs to be tripped.

    In the case mentioned, I suspect that the wires in the ceiling were those intended to be wired to the "big red switch" somewhere. They will nicely read line voltage (USA: 120 volts) since the meter is of such high impedance. In fact this reading is probably through the extra coil on the "shunt trip" breaker. Fast forward to turning off the breaker for the circuit, then turning it on with the outlet in place of the "big red switch", and any load will impress enough current in the shunt trip breaker to let it do its job (turn off a nice (probably 3 phase) circuit that powers the rest of the floor.

    So the projector took the place of said "big red switch" and killed power to the rest of the place.

    In the end, somebody should have labeled the wires!

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Information on "shunt trips".

      The electrician who removed the Big Red Button is the one who really has explaining to do.

      You don't leave any wires dangling but connected. You always disconnect them from their source of power.

      If you're taking off the button, you also remove the other end!

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Information on "shunt trips".

        It's happened to me that you CANNOT disconnect the other end of the circuit. (circuit that has more than one load, and a JB hidden (against current regulations but fine up till the 90s) under a floor that has the bane of my existence: Laminate flooring.

        In that case, isolating the ends of the wires and maybe labelling them with what they used to do and what circuit they're on would be the only option.

  24. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    Buy Anecdote Industries AI

    I'm sure I read years ago on another board, the original cause of the 1987 Wall Street crash was a VAX fuck up and by the time it was fixed, disaster had ensued. #hesaidshesaidpullthecableohdear

    N.B. I wouldn't touch the power in a Yankee DC with yours.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Buy Anecdote Industries AI

      N.B. I wouldn't touch the power in a Yankee DC with yours.

      Why not? (Not a criticism of you or America, i've never been in an American DC and am curious to what the issue is!)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Buy Anecdote Industries AI

        "Why not?"

        Fear of the unknown, probably.

  25. Lost it

    Power outage?

    So... Back when we miners were on strike the local government started killing power occasionally.

    I was present at a car garage when this happened, the garage was in a basement area and there wasn't much in the way of natural light. A mechanic there wanted more light so went to grab the lead light. It was clamped to a car on the 4 post ramp, the cable ran under the ramp which was lowered.

    So said mechanic gets the hand crank out, plugs it into the socket on the motor and slowly starts to raise the ramp. IIRC it had a Rover P6 on it. After about 5 minutes on the hand crank he asked me to spell him for a few turns. I refused...

    Eventually he got it to "click" on the first safety ratchet, crawled under the car, unclipped the lead light, carefully fed the whole thing under the slightly raised ramp, then walked over and plugged the lead light into the 12v transformer fed from the 13 amp socket on the wall....

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about: Some minor problem with the 1/2 rack full-a-fans (is that 20 U?) CISCO router handling VPN's and God Only Knows which other special client loopholes and crude hacks which have now all gone and retired to Silicon heaven.

    Eventually one is exasperated, reboots the thing and then discover that previous BOFH never saved the entire configuration, only parts of it (previous BOFH also never gave out the password for the load balancer over some remuneration issues) so ... one should have seen that coming, 'cause since we are slamming the door on the way out - why not prepare a little booby-trap in something too!?

    Lotsa fun and learning CISCO CLI while getting everything up again from scratch!

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