back to article The best way to screw the competition? Do what they can't, in a fraction of the time

Friday has rolled around once more, and so we welcome you to the latest instalment of On Call, where readers share their tech support achievements. This week, we hear from "Antonio", who was working at a small software company back in the early '90s. "That was when Novell NetWare was in its heyday, and we managed to sell the …

  1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Novell, novell, novell.

    Those were the days. Of rprinter and remote printering... and of a virus-resistant server as well (if you set permissions properly on shared DOS executables and the such).

    But coax *shudder* - so glad it died out as a networking solution. Ethernet is so much better.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge
      Coat

      But wasn't coax a Novell idea?

      I'll get my coat.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "Ethernet is so much better"

      Wasn't it Ethernet 10base2 or whatever it was called Ethernet over coax cable? AFAIK Ethernet was born on coax. BaseT (T as in "twisted" cable) became common IIRC in the 1990s.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Ethernet 10base2

        Yep, when I first worked in IT for the local Training & Enterprise Quango the whole place was 10base2 so each cable from the server room connected a dozen or more PCs together.

        It was always fun tracing which of the many connections in the pile of spaghetti behind the desks had fallen apart when half an office had suddenly gone off line. These events were usually accompanied by the manager of said office breathing down YOUR neck because one of HIS/HER staff had moved their desk and brought the whole thing crashing down.

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Ethernet 10base2

          Ah the joys of 10B2, where one idiot had always simply plugged the last node directly into a computer and thus failed to terminate the chain.

        2. IceC0ld Bronze badge

          Re: Ethernet 10base2

          It was always fun tracing which of the many connections in the pile of spaghetti behind the desks had fallen apart when half an office had suddenly gone off line.

          ===

          ah yes, the happy days of a [packet]storm in a teacup LOL

      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

        Wasn't it Ethernet 10base2 or whatever

        Yes indeed.

        A brief history of timeethernet for you wippersnappers who've never seen anything older than twisted pair with switches.

        Once upon a time, at the Xerox Palo Alto research centre (from where many things we take for granted came - including the mouse, the graphical desktop), they came up with this idea for networking devices. The very first version ran at (IIRC) 4Mbps, but by the time it made it out of the labs it became 10Mbps - and used a thick (1/2" dia) cable that looked a lot like hosepipe. This "thick ethernet" typically had few connections - possibly only one at each end for the terminator - with devices connected via "vampire taps" which were clamped round the cable and had prongs that pierced the insulation to make contact. This cable could be up to 500m long, and the system was known as 10base5 - 10 because it's 10Mbps, base because signalling is baseband, and 5 because it can go to 500m.

        Anyone who's worked with it will tell you that 10base5 wasn't the easiest to work with - the cable being thick and not very flexible, and a restriction on where you could put the taps (the cable was marked where they could be put - it's something to do with the wavelength of the signal), and you needed these thick and inconvenient AUI cables (15 pin D connectors) between the tranceiver clamped on the cable and the device. So the cunning engineers came up with a variant using thinner cable - smaller, cheaper, more flexible, using easier to use BNC connectors - which could be taken directly to the device. So now we got the easier to work with but more fault prone "thin ethernet" (or "thinnet", officially 10base2) which cane be up to 185m long (round that up, and you get the 2 in 10base2).

        If you needed more than what was doable with a single cable - or wanted a bit more reliability - then you could link multiple segments together with a repeater, or if really deep pockets, a multi-port bridge. Hands up who still remembers the 5-4-3 rule :D

        Then the clever bods came up with the idea of using twisted pair cabling and star wiring from a central multi-port repeater (which came to be called a hub) to each device - the 10baseT (T for twisted pair). 10baseT still had many of the issues of the coax networks - still only one collision domain, still swampable by a single faulty node, still the 5-4-3 rule.

        As an aside, there was a 10baseVG which used four pairs of Cat3 (voice grade, phone cable, hence the VG) which never caught on.

        And over time, we got faster networks (100baseT) and switches (aka multi-port bridges). The latter provided collision domain isolation - allowing A to talk to B while C was talking to D.

        And of course, things got faster again, and again, ...

        Kids of today, don't know they're born. Cue obligatory Monty Python sketch :D

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

          I remember 10Base2, including making up the cables (wonder if I've still got the crimp tool anywhere?)

          One of my employers had installed, at great cost, 10Base2 networking using make-before-break plug in cables, so in theory you could connect and disconnect individual machines without killing the whole network segment. The cables alone were eye-wateringly expensive, even more so in one of the buildings where they'd gone for the shielded version due to "noise" from the workshop. The downside was that it was very difficult to keep track of total cable length so I ended up buying a full blown network tester, wish I'd managed to retain it.

          Just about as I was leaving they recabled everything with 10BaseT instead, probably at further vast expense.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

            "One of my employers had installed, at great cost, 10Base2 networking using make-before-break plug in cables, so in theory you could connect and disconnect individual machines without killing the whole network segment."

            One of our customers had that. But they were in an old Victorian building with the original heating pipes. Yes, pipes, not radiators. Cast iron pipes about 4" in diameter, running along all the office walls about 3' off the ground. Just below the trunking and wall points of this expensive make before break system. Bendy metal contacts just inches above a nice heat source that went on and off during the day. And we all know what bendy metal and varying temperatures leads to, don't we boys and girls?

        2. TimMaher

          Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

          Nobody has yet mentioned Token Ring. The Big Blue alternative.

          I’ll get my coat but... I’m Back Monday.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

            Nobody has yet mentioned Token Ring.

            One Ring Token to Rule Them All...

          2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

            There's a reason nobody has mentioned Token Ring.

            1. The First Dave

              Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

              Don't forget about AppleTalk either!

          3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

            Nobody has yet mentioned Token Ring. The Big Blue alternative.

            I remember it being also called "Broken Ring". Worked at a multi-media test lab at IBM many years back, and we had Macintosh machines (original series iMac, etc) that couldn't be networked because the building only had token ring.

            Then way back at my first IT job, we had ARCnet. WAY cheaper than Ethernet (at the time), but a floppy disk taped to the back of a turtle would have had a faster transfer rate.

            1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

              Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

              OK, if it's an obscurity contest .. how many of you remember Polynet ?

              1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

                Re: if it's an obscurity contest

                I used to supply Artisoft Lantastic. Brilliant bit of kit for those not willing to fork out for Netware + dedicated server.

                1. Fabrizio
                  Holmes

                  Re: if it's an obscurity contest

                  NetWare 2.x used to have a non-dedicated mode which went away with NetWare 3.x

                  1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

                    Re: NetWare 2.x used to have a non-dedicated mode

                    Yes, I should have been more specific about Netware. All the servers I ever setup were v3 and upwards.

                    Novell acknowledged Lantastic as a competitor by launching Netware Lite, but IIRC Lantastic was a far more sophisticated product.

                    Sage even dared to tinker in that market too, their selling point was that their network cards were incompatible with the competition, which Sage asserted was a good thing where confidentiality of accounts data was concerned.

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

                "OK, if it's an obscurity contest .. how many of you remember Polynet ?"

                ISTR some vague memory of Banyan Vines too. No idea why I remember it it what it was. Some sort of networking kit or protocol or something related.

            2. onefang Silver badge

              Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

              "but a floppy disk taped to the back of a turtle would have had a faster transfer rate."

              Ah, you've not seen the IP over giant African snail? A small cart is hitched to the snail, where the wheels are two optical disks. Lousy latency, but throughput was impressive over short distances, and could be increased by swapping the CDs for DVDs, BluRays, whatever the next tech is.

            3. druck Silver badge

              Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

              10Mbs ARCnet is still to be found in Formula One ECUs.

          4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

            "Nobody has yet mentioned Token Ring."

            For Nick Kew: http://dilbert.com/strip/1996-05-02

          5. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

            "

            Nobody has yet mentioned Token Ring. The Big Blue alternative.

            "

            Or the differential coax pair method using BNC and TNC connectors used by Wan installations. Which used 75ohm coax so existing Wang cabling could not be re-used for Ethernet ...

          6. daflibble

            Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

            >Nobody has yet mentioned Token Ring. The Big Blue alternative.

            Another marvellous technology ruined by stupid pricing decisions and underdevelopment.

            Last place I worked you could still see all the token ring cabling if you looked in the dark places and above the false ceiling tiles.

            1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

              Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

              The reason nobody talks about Token rings is because J. R. R. Token gets mad.

              Does anyone else use an ethernet to catch an Ether bunny?

              If you laugh over Eggo(TM) jokes, does that mean you waffle-mao?

              I'll get my coat, it's the one with all the Tokens in the pockets...

          7. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

            who could forget! I had a very large cab filled with MAU's right behind my chair at my desk back in the late 90's We didn't have much running on Token ring at that stage. The IBM type 1 cable was thick as electrical flex and the hermaphroditic connectors, were massive!

          8. hplasm Silver badge

            Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

            "Nobody has yet mentioned Token Ring. "

            i will then....

            Th big fat black cables were a nightmare.*

            The twisted pair alternative was a fucking nightmare.

            *The hermaphrodite plugs were quite neat though. Would fit right in in these gender-fluid days :)

            1. sisk Silver badge

              Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

              "Nobody has yet mentioned Token Ring. "

              i will then....

              Th big fat black cables were a nightmare.*

              I dealt with Token Ring for about a year. Thankfully we were in the process of phasing it out when I started so I didn't have to deal with its quirks for long. However for about 3 years after we finally got completely moved over to Ethernet I had a few dozen defunct Type 1 cables hanging from the ceiling in my office. I wasn't allowed to pull them out myself (no, I don't know why) and getting rid of them was so far down on the list of priorities for the guys who were that it never happened. Eventually I asked for and got permission to just cut them off right above the ceiling tile so I at least didn't have to look at them.

          9. DustyP

            Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

            ...and before Token Ring was ArcNet which also worked over RG-62/U coax cables. I installed and managed a couple of networks running on Novell Netware 2.2

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

          One of the most terrifying moments of my career was tapping into a 10Base5 cable to install a new transceiver by physically punching into the cable a vampire tap , thinking I'd done a great job to return to the server room to 30 console printers churning away every 5 seconds with network errors creating a 4 inch stack of paper behind each indicating it hadn't gone quite to plan ....

        4. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

          Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

          You mention 100baseT.

          I was once monitoring ethernet links with an oscilloscope. I forget exactly why, but it might have been an attempt to monitor how quickly a particular system would respond.

          The 10Base2 was baseband signalling. The 100 megabit link was a modulated signal; all we could see was a carrier.

        5. Richard 111
          Coat

          Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

          >Kids of today, don't know they're born. Cue obligatory Monty Python sketch :D

          Back in my day we used rfc1149 for our network.

          OK, OK 10base2 has been around longer. I always kept a cable end terminator handy to stop the bits flowing out of the cable.

        6. daflibble

          Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

          >A brief history of timeethernet for you wippersnappers who've never seen anything older than twisted pair with switches.

          Thanks for the trip down memory lane

        7. Andrew Norton

          Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

          "Then the clever bods came up with the idea of using twisted pair cabling "

          I dunno about 'clever bods'. The guy that claimed to have invented that wrote this almost 10 years ago

          https://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/01/richard_bennett_utorrent_udp/

          5 days later, he was forced to publish a retraction (https://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/05/richard_bennett_bittorrent_udp/) after many people (including yours truly, who got told by Bennett that he didn't like detailed comments and would be putting a word limit on comments on his blog) pointed out to him that what he thought packets did, wasn't what actually happened, and what he claimed would happen wouldn't happen even if you doubled his worst-case scenario. (bennett still stalks me online, and likes to try and derail technical discussions by pointing out I've worked for both the Pirate Party, and as a defense expert in bittorrent lawsuits).

          But who knows, maybe it was the clever bods in the team that did it, and Bennett just claims fame where none is deserved as he was the secretary, or teaboy or whatever (but he does claim to be 'co-inventor of twisted-pair networking')

        8. swm Bronze badge

          Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

          The original ethernet cable was 3MBits/sec (actually 2.94 MBits/sec) over RG 11U foam coax and had a characteristic impedance of 75 ohms. The released version was 10 MBits/sec over a 50 ohm coax. The original ethernet transceiver was designed by Tat Lam. The mouse was not invented at Xerox but by Doug Engelbart at SRI on the NLS system - a precursor of hypertext.

          How quickly history is forgotten.

        9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Thumb Up

          "A brief history of ethernet"

          Masterful.

        10. JohnG Silver badge

          Re: "Ethernet is so much better"

          When looking for something in my attic last year, I found a tool that was used to make the holes in 10base5, when installing a vampire tap.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ethernet ran over coax! are you comparing coax to twisted pair perchance ?

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        I'm quite happy

        to call ethernet over coaxial cable "a coax cable" and ethernet over a cable designed for it "an ethernet cable"

        I know in both cases it is ethernet packets being sent and so it is ethernet networking in both cases, but along with the fact I know this, I'm happy to let it go

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: I'm quite happy

          ethernet over a cable designed for it "an ethernet cable"

          So ethernet cable is 10Base5 then?

          1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: I'm quite happy

            Listen up, children.

            Before wired Ethernet, there was Norm Abramson and ALOHAnet - a packet radio network over "real ether". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ALOHAnet

            In the beginning there was PARC and Classic Thick Ethernet over half inch (~RG-8) 50-ohm, double-shielded coax with vampire or N-connector transceivers. (Actually, in the *very* beginning, I think Metcalfe started with 3 Megabits/s and genuine RG-8)

            Then came "thin-net" - RG-58 coax and BNC connectors, still 10 Megabits. It didn't last long, because shared media is a bear to debug.

            Then came 10BASE-T, 10, and later 100 Megabit Ethernet over twisted pair, as exemplified by the then ubiquitous "CAT3" four-pair telephone distribution cable, RJ45 connectors and "66 Blocks". The advantage here, was that the Bell System had developed, at great cost, a complete premises wiring architecture that was inexpensive, available and, as with all of Ma Bell's efforts, *extremely* reliable.

            And with CAT3, came inexpensive switches. Yay! No more shared media. Individual connections could now be isolated, unplugged and tested.

            Fast forward to CAT5, CAT6 and gigabit over twisted pair. And *really* cheap and intelligent switches.

            So many Ethernet cables

        2. Velv Silver badge

          Re: I'm quite happy

          to call ethernet over coaxial cable "a coax cable" and ethernet over a cable designed for it "an ethernet cable"

          Ethernet is a Data Link layer protocol and sits at Layer 2.

          Coaxial cable and twisted pair cable are Physical layer transmission mediums and sit at Layer 1.

          There is no such thing as “an Ethernet cable”

        3. Spazturtle Silver badge

          Re: I'm quite happy

          You can get 1Gbps Ethernet over Coax using new MoCA adapters, can even use the same cable as your TV antenna does because it works in a different frequency range.

        4. LDS Silver badge

          "ethernet over a cable designed for it"

          AFAIK, twisted pair cable was never designed for Ethenet, it's the other way round - buildings already had twisted pair cables running around for phones and other telco equipment. so using them for computer network made sense, instead of running specific coax cables.

      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Ethernet ran over coax! are you comparing coax to twisted pair perchance ?

        Eh ?

        Yes, ethernet originally ran ONLY on coax cable (firstly the thick stuff, later the thin stuff), twisted pair only came "quite a few years" later. I realise that some youngsters might find it hard to believe that there was ever anything other than twisted pair, but it really is true !

        One of my regrets is not keeping hold of samples of various bits and pieces over the years, partly for "now grandchildren, this os what I used to work with", and partly to use in talks.

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
          Coffee/keyboard

          "I realise that some youngsters might find it hard "

          I was going to be insulted for calling me old, but I've just realised I'm middle aged.

          I think its time to buy a Porshe and have a midlife crisis.

        2. Trygve Henriksen

          I have several 'vampire' connectors for Thick coax, still in their blister packs...

          But luckily, we managed to throw out the effing cable years ago.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "we managed to throw out the effing cable"

            That can't have been easy.

        3. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

          @Hobson

          For my souvenir, I have a copy of a program on paper tape.

          1. PiltdownMan

            For my Souvenier of these days

            I have a representation of SNOOPY in ASCII, on 8-bit paper-tape. Used to print on Line Printers and Teletypes.

            Maybe I'm no longer middle-aged (I already have an MR2 just for fun).

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "One of my regrets is not keeping hold of samples of various bits and pieces over the years"

          There's a series on YouTube about renovating an Alto. One of the episodes is a visit from the Ethernet inventors who arrive with a box of various interface bits & bobs none of which can weigh less than a couple of smartphones.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Coax ethernet

          I managed to save several BNC connectors, T connectors, and 50 ohms terminators, the day my former employer started ripping them off the walls, to install Cat 5.

          I did it with the express purpose of building my own home network for free - after asking said employer - to let me have those bits and bobs instead of tossing all of it in the bin.

          Of course, I got my own twisted pairs with RJ45s a couple months later, but I could enjoy tripping over them and killing half of my home network for free for the duration of those months! The joy!

        6. js.lanshark

          Somewhere around here I have a Synoptics banner from a Trade show. "Synoptics, the leader in twisted pair Ethernet" or some such.

        7. JimC Silver badge

          and Corvus Omninet

          Our original Lan installation ran on Corvus Omninet. This was a shielded twisted pair installation (as opposed to UTP - unshielded twisted pair - onto which little 5 sided (IIRC) boxes were installed where you wanted a LAN point, which a standard length drop cable ran into. ISTR is was 1MB/S, so 10MB ethernet was a big advance when we moved to that. One of the big advantages of Netware was that it ran on all sorts of different cabling technologies, and would happily route between them with multiple cards on the server. Indeed I recall having a dedicated server with damn all disk space that's only role in life was to route between different cable technologies. I think we had 10base2, 10base2 over fibre, Corvus Omninet and 10baseT all running at the same time at one stage.

          10baseT was considered a royal pain in the neck due to the huge physical volume of cabling required compared to the much neater cabling of the bus installations.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Don't forget arcnet

        It was token ring

        1. keith_w

          Re: Don't forget arcnet

          No, it's not.

          Attached Resource Computer Network (ARCnet) is a type of LAN protocol that provides network services to 255 nodes at data rates of up to 2.5 Mbps. ARCnet is similar to token ring and Ethernet network services. ARCnet was fast, reliable and cheap, and it allowed different transmission systems to be merged and implemented on same network.

          Attached Resource Computer Network (ARCNET) - Techopedia

          www.techopedia.com/definition/6024/attached-resource-computer-network-arcnet

        2. pirxhh

          Re: Don't forget arcnet

          Archer was token passing, but no ring architecture.

          Then there was Corvus Omninet, 1 Mbps over very simple tweisted pair cable and dependable as hell.

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: Archer was token passing

            Typical auto-correct: Correcting the words you don't want to correct and leaving ones you do wanted corrected, uncorrected (e.g., tweisted).

    4. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
      Windows

      I can remember when my ex and I put NE2000 compatibles in our home PCs, and a line of coax between them. Suddenly it was tickety-tock, it's Doom-o'clock.

      Good times (well, the Doom bit, anyway...)

    5. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      "

      But coax *shudder* - so glad it died out as a networking solution. Ethernet is so much better.

      "

      Novell *did* run over Ethernet, just using a different protocol than IP (it used SPX/IPX IIRC), though you could configure it to use IP as well. It's just that at the time Novell came out the normal Ethernet cards were 10base2 (coax without switches), but Novell was perfectly OK on the later 10baseT and later physical links.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Novell WAS ethernet.

      unless you had token ring

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Novell WAS ethernet.

        As some folks on Experts Exchange are/were very fond of saying when I was a contributor/moderator there "Novell is/was a company, Netware is/was the product'.

        ...and Netware is/was compatible with Token Ring, so to amend the title: "Netware was not just ethernet."

    7. sisk Silver badge

      But coax *shudder* - so glad it died out as a networking solution. Ethernet is so much better.

      Oh come on, who didn't love vampire taps? :-)

      Seriously though, I've only read about EoC, a fact for which I am thankful. I'm a little under 40, so by the time I left college and started my IT career in the early noughts EoC was mostly just a memory outside of cable ISPs and a few places in desperate need of an infrastructure upgrade.

    8. pirxhh

      Ethernet is (was) coax - originally (10Base-5) thick, yellow coax with transceivers mounted to the cable by drilling a hole to the cable core, then came the so-called "Cheapernet" (10Base-2) RG-58 cabling that we all loved to hate.

      Twisted pair (10Base-T and later) came later.

  2. jake Silver badge

    Once in the rain ...

    ... I stopped and helped a lady with a flat tire. After waving her on her way, I put my jack & lug wrench away, and carried on to my destination somewhat dirtier & soggier than I wanted to be. When I arrived I apologized for my appearance, told the gal at the front desk that I was there to talk to the Boss about bidding on a network upgrade. The secretary spoke into the phone, and the Boss came out to meet me. He allowed as to how most folks bidding on lucrative contracts at least took a little care with their grooming, and told me to fuck off. In those words. As I was leaving, his wife walked out of the office. It was the lady I had helped. Later that afternoon, I got an apologetic call from the guy, offering me the job. I told him to fuck off and hung up the phone.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      I'm sure you appreciated the what-goes-around-comes-around moment, but I think you would have been better served by humbly accepting, then fucking him over on the price of your services.

      That's how I deal with smug pricks, I make them eat their hat - metaphorically of course.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Nah.

        I don't play those games. I'd rather lose a contract if the client is a shit. Life's too short.

        1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

          Re: Nah.

          @jake - I agree most fully with you. I most certainly don't need problematic clients quibbling over every.single.thing.

          I'd rather have a couple of clients, keep them very happy than having hundreds of clients all quibbling and so on, and be a sour worm at the end of the day.

        2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: Nah.

          I'll also note that it's a bad idea to judge anyone on appearances.

          The only people I've known well who are actual self made millionaires spend most of the time looking flat broke. Old car, cheap serviceable clothes, clipper hair cuts, sarnies for lunch. Same for some of those who inherited a telephone number amounts, although those were mainly in the countryside, and everyone dresses the same when you've got mud below and rain above.

          My main bank deals mainly with farmers. So I've walked into a business loan application meeting literally stinking of pig shit and got approved. The loan officer did politely offer for us to step outside for the formalities and had a preventive cancer stick to deal with it, but otherwise handled it very well.

          It's far easier to look broke and prove that you have money than the other way around. It's also always possible someone is having a bad day.

          Quite frankly if I want to get a measure of how someone (contractor or employee) will perform, I'd rather see them on a shit day rather than on their best day, as that will tell me more about their character and composure.

          Oh, and I concur with jake's "No shits" policy. One of the few perks of being self employed is being able to pick your clients.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Nah.

            I've done the "visit banker after cleaning the hog pens" thing. I completely lost track of the time[0], until SWMBO reminded me. Fortunately she (the banker) grew up in a barn and can look past my peculiarities :-)

            Another example: The last 9-5 I interviewed for (in 1989), I was wearing my racing leathers. When the interviewer queried my choice of "uniform", I pointed out that he had asked me to drive up from Palo Alto to South San Francisco by 10AM ... and had called at 9AM. I knew I could make it on the bike, but there was no way I was driving the Bayshore without armor ... I got the job.

            The 9-5 prior to that, I wore the same outfit, for similar reasons. When queried, I responded along the lines of "are you hiring an engineer or a fashion plate?" ... They made me an offer. I counter offered, they hired me at my price point.

            [0] Time flies when you're having ... uh ... fun?

            1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

              Re: Nah.

              Speaking of interviews, I landed my most lucrative contract ever even though I was stacked up against people who had 5* the qualifications that I did.

              When the hiring manager told me I asked him why he hired me instead of the others - he said that compared to my CV, what I told him during the interview made it clear I had done 10* more than the CV contained, yet when he spoke to the others it was the other way round :)

              Some people 'get it' - but not everyone unfortunately.

              1. ICPurvis47
                Boffin

                Re: Nah.

                I went for an interview for a position as a Technical Writer at a small publishing house. I was accepted for the job. Some time later, the chap that interviewed me (George) introduced me to some bigwigs from Head Office, and said that, when he showed me the PID (Process Interconnection Diagram) of a chemical plant that they were writing instruction manuals for, and pointed to a particular symbol, I was the only interviewee that had told him a) what it was, b) what its purpose was in the circuit, and c) a detailed explanation of how it worked. He later went on to become the IT Manager, and took me on as his Deputy. (see some of my other stories on this site).

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Nah.

            "The only people I've known well who are actual self made millionaires spend most of the time looking flat broke."

            Memory of Last of the Summer Wine. The three scruffs wandering round a car show room. Salesman asks manager "Shall throw them out?". "Nay, lad. Round here they they can look like that and be millionaires."

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nah.

              I've been told that back in the late 60s or very early 70s, or about then, a fisherman walked into a car dealership in Trondheim, looking 'rather scruffy' and smelling... like dead fish...

              The guy on the floor saw him and sent him packing. The manager saw saw what happened but was too late to intervene, but managed to catch up to the fisherman outside. He apologised, and said that he understood if he didn't want to shop here, but could he come by afterwards?

              The fisherman came by again before closing, this time cleaned up and driving a brand new car.

              He was sent by the crew to go and buy cars for them all while they showered and got ready to go home.

              (It was common for crews to buy the same car in the same colour, and preferably the top of the line of that brand if they hit it big on the sea. Which one wasn't all that important.)

              The seller learned two things;

              1. Never judge anyone by their looks...

              2. '2 weeks notice' doesn't mean a thing if you lose such a lucrative contract...

            2. John II

              Re: Nah.

              I knew of an auto dealership in my University town that NEVER did understand that. (Dissed a professor's wife who had just come in from the horse farm. She immediately went to a larger town and paid cash for her upscale vehicle.)

          3. Trygve Henriksen

            Re: Nah.

            Just google for pictures of "Olav Thon".

            He's a hotel magnate...

            1. rototype

              Re: Nah.

              LMFAO - That's Compo!

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Nah.

          "used a thick (1/2" dia)"

          Was it really only 1/2"" dia? It seemed bigger than that. Maybe that was just because it was so inflexible.

          1. bpfh Bronze badge

            Re: Nah.

            That’s what she said...

          2. Montreal Sean

            Re: Nah.

            "Was it really only 1/2"" dia? It seemed bigger than that. Maybe that was just because it was so inflexible."

            Said the actress to the Bishop.

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Nah.

          "I'd rather lose a contract if the client is a shit."

          On the whole I'd agree but in your particular case I'd have thought you'd have had a rather pliable client - you could always drop slight hints about grassing him up to his wife if he didn't behave.

        5. Chris King Silver badge

          Re: Nah.

          "I don't play those games. I'd rather lose a contract if the client is a shit. Life's too short".

          If a client treats you like that at the start of a relationship, what are they going to be like towards the end of it, i.e. the bit where you're supposed to get paid ?

    2. PM from Hell
      Pint

      Re: Once in the rain ...

      Working in a rural location I got used to new suppliers arriving late as they would not believe they would spend 20 miles behind tractors on a regular basis but also the 'oops I've had an RTA phone call as they ditched the car trying to overtake said tractors.

      Funniest occurrence was the salesman who drowned the demo printer he was delivering when he slid off the road into a dyke on an icy road, thankfully he was OK but the printer and the car carrying it both ended up submerged in 5 meters of water.

      I would ignore late arrivals for the first visit with no penalty but after that would expect them to listen to me when I would tell them to allow 1 1/2 hours for a 40 mile journey during harvest. Beer icon as its friday.

  3. wurdsmiff
    Angel

    BOFH

    Blessed Operator From Heaven?

  4. wmpattison

    Doesn't work for us

    We've had the opposite experience. We were on site doing stuff. As we left, the client asked if we'd swap the toners over in their office laser. Which we did. Not long after, we started to get steaming phone calls from the client's main site, complaining that their SQL server had gone off-line. When we asked why they were shouting at us, they told us "it was OK until you fiddled with the printer". We tried to explain that changing toners in a printer was unlikely to crash a SQL server 40 miles away, but they wouldn't have it. It was definitely our fault, and nothing at all to do with the building maintenance crew wandering around their machine room...

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Doesn't work for us

      I hope you eventually managed to convince them of the error of their ways or, at least, charged them a "hassle fee" to make up for their idiocy.

  5. sawatts

    Do what they can't do but in a fraction of the time?

    Whats a fraction of infinity?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Do what they can't do but in a fraction of the time?

      Whats a fraction of infinity?

      A lifetime.

  6. RockBurner

    Saving the incompetent from themselves

    I know it's wrong to gloat, and no-one likes a showoff; but sometimes you just can't help it....

    First 6 months into a web-dev position within an agency I was given the task of building up a CMS back end for a new website whereas my colleague had been building the front for quite some time. For some reason best known to themselves the client had insisted that the website be AJAX driven in it's entirety (this was around 2007/8 iirc when asynchronous loading of content was still relatively new for small companies in the UK).

    After many, many weeks of trying to build the AJAX front end my colleague was "spoken to" and resigned his position. I was handed the task and despite having had 0 experience of AJAX at that time*, the front end was completed in 2 weeks (including registering each 'page change' with the browser history, one of the main stumbling blocks).

    In addition my colleague had decided to build the website's database in such a way that each 'page' had a row in a table, and each page's visible contents were contained within 1 cell per row. The content formatting wasn't encoded using HTML in the cell, oh no..... each content "element" (title, sub-title, paragraph, block etc) was divided by special characters " | " and the meta information (html tag, classes, etc) contained elsewhere (IIRC in a different cell, also sub-divided by pipes), the two bits had to be tied together in the code before display, and each string of content/data concatenated by the code within the CMS before entry into the DB. Talk about a headfuck. (I think he'd heard of JSON and was trying to be clever)

    The biggest joke though was that the client went bust about a week before the site was due to go live.

    * Well - apart from the entire CMS system which had also been built to operate via AJAX. The Front End became a stripped down version of the CMS.

  7. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    Karma

    I once worked a contract in the city for a very well known firm, ending up effectively doing two jobs (for two different managers) at once. One of them was always having a go at me for not spending enough time on their projects.

    It all came to a head when I was planning a road trip across Italy (during my lunch break) and the manager decided I was a lazy sod and terminated my contract.

    About two months later I ended up having drinks with a few former colleagues and discovered that they'd had to hire two contractors to replace me, and neither of them was getting as much done as I did in 1/2 the time :)

    1. Caver_Dave

      Re: Karma

      I'm a permi and yet I've still had 2 people replace me on 2 occasions and 3 on 1 occasion.

      Managers truly do not understand what their staff do in my experience. But that's probably because Brits don't shout out their achievements and applaud themselves 5 times a day like most of the Yanks I've worked with.

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: Karma

        Very familiar. I still end up with the occasional contract job to keep me busy in the evenings because it's still cheaper to hire me on a contract rate than pay someone to take twice as long. In my defence I helped design the system while at a previous company. Said previous company however couldn't find anyone else who could do what I used to do so in the end replaced the entire software package. I heard after I left that they went through several IT managers in just a few months. Served them right for blaming the IT person for an accountant's cockup.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Karma

      I'm clearly doing it wrong. In my last job I was originally hired as the PFY to do all the shit jobs, with my boss as a high up manager doing everything complicated.

      By the time I left, having automated the shit out of everything, there was just one position left, being a rather more junior manager, because I'd streamlined everything to the point where my old job didn't exist any more.

      1. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Re: Karma

        The trick is to either store your automation scripts/software on a pen drive or encrypt them. That way only you can run them.

        1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

          Re: Karma

          @Spazturtle, but that is both unethical and unprofessional.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Karma

            both unethical and unprofessional

    3. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Karma

      "they'd had to hire two contractors to replace me, and neither of them was getting as much done as I did in 1/2 the time"

      I've had that a couple of times, been replaced by two guys, coz one couldn't cope with my work load.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Karma

      "It all came to a head when I was planning a road trip across Italy (during my lunch break)"

      Wow! What do you drive? A TARDIS?

  8. defiler Silver badge

    8hrs vs 5mins

    I once had the MD site me down for a chat, whereby he pointed out that an incoming support call could be routed to:

    1) Steve - a call-out, a couple of hours onsite, come back and speak to Dave, back onsite for an hour and get the job fixed. All chargeable.

    2) Dave - a call-out, about an hour to an hour and a half onsite, get the job fixed. Happy customer, all chargeable.

    3) Me - fixed in ten minutes over the phone. Delighted customer, and bugger all to bill.

    I can't say I had an answer for him. I have, however, gone onsite, fixed the problem and got back before my tea got cold. I can't help but feel I maybe had a hand in that company going bankrupt.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: 8hrs vs 5mins

      The PHB's and higher love billable hours. There was your mistake. Been better if you had gone, took a look at the problem, wandered off, then came back and fixed it.

      At one place I worked (in house), all the programmers had "look busy kits" on their desk. Usually a few manuals, a pile of code printout, and for some of them, a stack of blueprints. We could get things done in a couple of hours and then goof off the rest of the day with "off-site meetings" or web browsing.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: 8hrs vs 5mins

        In other industries that's the sort of stuff that gets shown on Rough Traders

  9. Lee D Silver badge

    Note to all those random people that phone me up trying to be "one of your suppliers in the future":

    This.

    I don't care if you're the cheapest. I don't care what incentives you throw at me. I don't care that you're friendly on the phone and try to engage me about the football / weather / etc.

    I can get all that ANYWHERE. Literally, I have so much of that that it's basically spam - on the phone, by email, etc.

    What I want from you is... helping me. This includes things like access control engineers who cleaned up after a third-party locksmith made an atrocious mess. Computer companies who overnight shipped me thousands of pounds of critical gear on the basis of a late-night email to keep us up and running (no contracts, no huge deals, just literally a box of gear arriving because they knew we needed it ASAP). Engineers that I know and trust, because they help out, not say "not my job mate" and even advise on things that are nothing to do with them because they see problems (and literally can't use it to upsell as they always refuse to handle prices etc. anyway - that's for "the blokes in the office" - and always tell you when even their own products "aren't something I'd recommend", etc.).

    Sure, that stuff is "unnecessary" and may even cost you money. But it keeps your clients. And your clients will spend more money on you.

    This is true of all customer service - you SPEND MONEY on customer service. It costs you time, money, equipment, effort, etc. But you get it back. I'll make sure you do. With things like this.

    And it's a definite two-way street. The guy who helps me out can phone me after work and say "Sorry to bother you, I'm at another customer's and I see they have a problem that I know you solved on your system... could you talk me through what you did?". Bang. We're best mates now, and mutually beneficial to each other.

    I've actually had to adopt a process now for a) taking suppliers details, b) ignoring them until I need their services, c) blacklisting them if they bother me too much to chase at any point, d) testing them out on small projects and seeing how they react when they realise they haven't won millions of pounds worth of business just because they were friendly in the first email, e) gradually building the projects up only if they are successful and seeing how long the trend lasts.

    This has left me with some areas of my work where I literally REFUSE any other contractor. Sorry, no, that job's going to Company X and I don't care if you can undercut them or you have to wait until next week for them - they do all our <whatever>. The other areas are where I literally can't find anyone who does a good enough job and I have to break them down into mini-projects and hedge my bets among several unknowns, knowing that at least one project will fail because of the way they operate, and then using the others to see who wants to pick up the slack.

    Drop the business boundaries and try to help me.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      I did a stint once as an account manager for a Global ISP who were going through some dodgy financial issues at the time.

      I was given the 'most difficult customer in the world' as one of my accounts. I went along to see him and it was clear in about 5 seconds that this guy hated bullshit more than anything. So I proceeded to explain that some of the issues on his network was down to the really shit routers the company was supplying him.

      I eventually worked out a deal where he would upgrade all of his leased lines (recurring revenue) in exchange for our company replacing all his shit routers with Cisco kit. When I presented this to the sales/finance team they went banana's - that is until they realised that the kit cost peanuts and the increased revenue was about £500k/year (which I didn't see a penny of, even though I sold it), and this was at a time when the company was losing accounts hand over fist.

      Still didn't stop them forcing me to quit after I got a bollocking in the middle of a crowded office for 'talking' for the last 10 minutes of the day - bloody place was run like a school playground.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      LeeD,

      My kind of customer. I'm the sales bullshitter on the other end of the phone (though not in IT, but building services).

      One of my ideal phone calls is the one where I tell someone not to buy one of our products. Which actually happens a lot, because our water regulations stuff often gets mis-specified. So I always check what certain products are actually going to get used for - and usually say something like, you don't need this as you can do it this cheaper way, or sometimes even this free way.

      The reason it's great is that the design engineer will often make them stick to the spec anyway, so we get the sale. And it's not worth fighting because our bit is only a small percentage of the overall contract price. But we've gained some credibility for not being thieves and also for knowing the law and how to comply with it. So when a design and build comes along, they phone me for advice on how to comply - and in return we get the sale.

      Of course some customers are utter bastards. They use our advice to get the right gear at the right price then still come back quibbling for a discount even though I just did the bloody design for free. And sometimes even got off and buy the competitor's product. Arses!

      I'm happy to advise people what stuff of ours is stupidly expensive, basically we buy it in so that we can sell a complete package to those who want it. But our own manufactured stuff is also expensive, because we're a small manufacturer in a niche area, but it's good quality and so worth the money. The stuff that's markedly cheaper is mostly crap - but as long as it lasts until the warranty runs out - many contractors don't care. We trade on our reputation.

    3. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      @Lee D a thousand times

      Upvote to infinity and beyond.

  10. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    when you charge more per hour

    it's because the "net cost" of having YOU do the work saves money.

    Or at least, that's what you want them to think.

    Giving away occasional freebies that demonstrate this capability are helpful, yeah.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: when you charge more per hour

      I might cost a lot, but I'm *great* value ;)

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: when you charge more per hour

      When I was self-employed, my phrase was:

      You don't pay me by how many hours I press buttons for you.

      You pay me to know which buttons to press and when.

      Have gladly charged a customer a full-day's rate for the simple matter of turning up, pressing Enter on a screen that said "Press Enter to continue..." and then going home.

      The question is not "am I being paid for pressing one key?", it's "was I willing to press that key, understanding the consequences, and take responsibility for whatever happened after I did?".

      (P.S. when you plug heaters into an extension that also runs "the server" - not my idea! - and the server turns off, and you hide the heater and just press the server power button, you should know three things. a) the server was set to "Press Enter to continue" on the BIOS, which if you'd done, it would have just booted up, b) your heater stays warm for a long time afterwards, especially if you try to hide it away in a cupboard, c) if I had been paid by the hour, I could easily have spent hours on figuring out the cause if I hadn't been lucky and observant... or you could have just owned up to it and I could have solved it in seconds for free over the phone)

      1. Black Betty

        Re: when you charge more per hour

        Hit with hammer :- $5

        Know where to hit :- $95

  11. diver_dave

    Non IT angle

    Several years ago I was teaching for a dive school in Malta.

    One of the dives, the Um El Faroud, is spectacular. However given Maltese traffic upto an hours drive.

    We get there and one client has forgotten his BCD. Now I love the Faroud and this was also to be a proper push dive right into the engine room.

    No problem says I... Customer Service time. Lend the customer my BCD and sit out the dive.

    50 minutes later the group surface.

    Customer hands me my BCD back. I ask how dive was.

    "Yeah.... Noce dive but the Jackets a bit sh*t...."

    Gurrrr.....

    Dave.

    1. Steve Aubrey

      Re: Non IT angle

      There *is* an IT angle. Unsure how you can share Binary-Coded Decimal, but . . .

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Non IT angle

        "Unsure how you can share Binary-Coded Decimal, but . . ."

        Upload it to Pirate Bay?

  12. Steve Kerr

    Screwing over the competition

    Done work for one bank once, they were charging something like £3-4000 a day for some upgrade work/

    We were called in to do another piece of the upgrade work on a piece of connected software.

    They paid us (1/3rd the price per day) to reverse engineer what the other company were doing to interface their software.

    I went through what they were doing and wrote out a step by step guide on how to do the interfacing in under 1/2 day.

    Turns out they were charging £3-4K to do what worked out to be just 10 minutes of configuration.

    Was cheaper to get us in to reverse engineer it than to get the software vendor themselves in.

    Reminds me of some other consultancy I was doing in Romania, I was asked to listen in on a meeting the bank was having with a software vendor that were trying to sell a bespoke 50K euro add on solution to the bank

    Listened to what they said, the bank asked my opinion, told them they could do what this add on would do with what they already had with a bit of config in about an hour.

    That was one very angry shouting salesperson at the other end of the phone when they just saw their nice cushy sale and bonus evaporate!

    1. bpfh Bronze badge

      Re: Screwing over the competition

      Pula mea :)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    user

    What interested me in the story, in my role as a user in these incidences, is the way that we would, from time to time, get caught between a service supplier who were doing a good job at what seemed a decent price and our bean counter overlords who were awarding new contracts ( to some other company) based on some theoretical advantage ( often kind of generic) rather than our needs. Things like a longer billing cycle.

  14. steviebuk Silver badge

    Nice

    Although no real need to take it out on the other engineer. It wasn't his fault they originally lost the contract. But having been there, I do see why end up not wanting to give them any info you don't need to. Shame they are the ones stuck in the middle.

    I remember 10BaseT (I think it was) back in college in the 90s while doing my IT courses. By the time I'd left, it was obsolete but it was what we had been trained in. Despite all my courses back then, I was wondering the other day why I never really picked up networking much or domains etc. Then realised, looking into the history that AD didn't come into being until 2000, after I'd finished.

    A few years ago, at my old place of work I found an old T-Connector. I'd always been oddly fascinated by those so stuck it on my key chain for nostalgia :) (yes I'm odd).

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Nice

      I used to have a drawer full of t-connectors and terminators (not the Arnie kind!). They were very useful for giving my mind something to do while waiting - for things to happen, boring phone calls, etc. Probably a good activity if I develop arthritis in my hands.

  15. phy445

    10Base5

    The first (and I think last) time I came across 10Base5 cable (the 0.5 inch coax) was in the mid-90's at a university that had committed to 10Base2 (the thin coax). In one physics lab a networked computer needed to be installed at the other side of the room from the 10B2 port and the total length of that 10B2 line was at the limit of the specification. The solution was a 10B2 to 10B5 converter then about 5m of the over-size coax to the AUI port on the computer.

    Shortly after I arrived we rearranged the lab so the the computer was next to the 10B2 junction, but we had to carefully coil the thick coax as there was a multi-month lead time on cable changes. Not too much later 10BT came in and all was well with the world.

  16. Craigie

    Ahhh beancounters

    Can't live with them. Can't hunt them for sport.

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Ahhh beancounters

      I'm sure we can figure out a variant on https://xkcd.com/356/ to help with that second problem.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in the dial-up era...

    I was an English monitor in a foreign Language Center. So kids would show up with their English homework, and solve their doubts...

    ... that gig left me with plenty of spare time. And five networked PCs, relying on modems to access the Web... taking 5 land lines to do so, leaving very few for the PABX to serve the front desk, including getting new students through the front door.

    I found a proxy server that could be installed in any Windows 95 PC, that would enable remote dialing and web browsing, and slaved the other four machines to that single PC with the best modem in the most secluded room, just rerouting gateway settings.

    Since most PCs would access the Language Center own services, the proxy would cache most of it, and speed up 90% of services. And open up 4 land lines for new enrollments.

    That year, record registrations happened through the phone...

  18. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I remember an occasion when I was working for a company on the bleeding edge of networked mainframe database tech, and I was at a client with a member of staff who, after a mere three months was jumping ship to the client and making noises about talking them out of our product.

    Aside: I was out the door myself in a few weeks, but he didn't know that, and I have some old-fashioned ideas about loyalty. He was a new hire directly out of the Navy and had spent his entire time programming targeting software for torpedo ordinance. A genius, maybe, but not versed in commercial IT and DP issues and no experience on our hardware whatsoever.

    So when he glumly said he had quit becuase he couldn't look the customer in the eye with our dismal product speed I spoke up and told him that he really hadn't tried to explore options before he went "shit product" on us.

    I pointed out that the current model was losing time on loads because of B-Tree page-ripping. This couldn't be turned off on our DB engine of choice (as I believe it could on DB2) but since the customer's data was VERY predictable we could have pre-loaded a bunch of dummy rows in slack time and then each "load" would really have been an update - much, much faster.

    I pointed out that we could convert the spinning rust file types to different transactional models to alter the physics of the way they got accessed and written to. Our current model was a best guess based on no actual statistical data. It might be the best way, it might also be the worst.

    And I pointed out that if all else failed to impress, we could take the files holding the tables and lodge them in core, making for sparrows-fart time access speeds. It would be a last resort as it entailed some hairy recovery concerns but it could not fail to impress anyone obsessing on load times.

    His face was a thing of beauty as I raised each point. At the end he looked at me and bleated that he had no idea we could do so much.

    Well, I said. You never asked for options. You listened to the customer and stopped there. It never occurred to you that your first loyalty was to the people paying your wages, and you never gave them the benefit of the doubt. I could have had you looking like a fucking hero in a matter of days. As it is, whoever replaces me will get that because I've left my notes for them.

    I always wondered if he ever tried to float those ideas as his own after he swapped jobs.

  19. Nick Kew Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Recognition?

    Did Antonio get recognition for that? I'd've thought he made himself too valuable to promote to a Suit, and thus (by definition) too junior to reward in any significant way.

    Perhaps he was working for a foreign company?

    Or was this incident an aberration, and he was useless the rest of the time? Hmm, doesn't seem very likely ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Recognition?

      "Antonio" got made a shareholder in the private company he worked for after a few more of these kind of stunts... Paid off well when the company was eventually sold off to a NASDAQ-quoted company. (Also: he was an engineer at that time but went through several promotions afterwards...)

  20. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Ethics

    Hats off to all the ethical people on this thread... worthy competitors if we were ever to meet in that context.

    I've come across a lot that aren't, mind you. Here's a sample (I might have mentioned this one before, apologies if I have).

    My biggest customer in my early days bought all their newer pc's from one of the lower tier manufacturers whose head office was only a few miles away. I would support the equipment they'd purchased from said manufacturer as well as supply other bits and bobs as required. One of the bits and bobs was a Logitech Mouse. In those days configuration involved a diskette (5.25" floppy). Supplied that, configured it and off I went.

    Days/weeks later I had a very unhappy customer on the phone "You've given us a virus."

    What had happened was that there had been a power surge which had taken out a few bits of electrical equipment, including one of these pc's (on the financial controller's (FC) desk). A guy from the pc manufacturer had gone in, replaced the motherboard in the pc and had suggested doing a virus scan on it using the latest "super duper" virus checker (which he was trying to sell, I can't remember if it was Dr Solomon or MacAfee). Anyway it found a virus and this guy implicated me as having spread it using the mouse software.

    I went in and talked to the FC. I knew full well that he locked all disk media I gave to him in his safe. So I asked where the Mouse disk was. In the safe. Has it been outside of the safe since my visit? No. Right, let's do a virus check on it. (No virus found).

    So where is the media originally supplied with the pc? In the safe. Has that been taken out the safe since being supplied? No. Right, let's virus check that. (Viruses found).

    As the curtain came down the FC was thumping his fist on the desk, "get me that pc supplier on the phone, right now..."

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Ethics

      Dr Solomon..... how it brings back the memories.

      Not to mention the following :

      Turbo Antivirus

      Norton Antivirus

      Central Point Antivirus (later Microsoft Antivirus IIRC)

      F-Prot

      Hours of fun to be had with some beasties (eg Exebug and Stoned)

  21. Morten Bjoernsvik

    Datawarehouse

    Once I did fraud software service. We got a call from a bank on friday at 4pm. It had been a breach at an online merchant and they wanted to know all their customers that had used their cards there the last 6months. They asked their large datawarehouse/Mainframe dept to do the query, but they said they did not have time until monday. So their called us a small Fraud app service provider. The query took 30minutes (simple on merchantid within the given timeframe for the banks issuer binranges). I charged 2hours and they could reissue cards for all affected users before 8pm. On monday there was a cake in the reception with "Thanks from XXXX".

  22. drewsup

    Oh the horror

    Nobody's mentioned Banyon Vines :o

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Oh the horror

      That's because nobody with a brain ever used Banyan Vines. For one thing, they charged an arm and a leg for TCP/IP connectivity ... for another, it didn't do anything that plain-jane SysVR3 (that it was built on) couldn't do in the hands of a half-decent sysadmin.

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