back to article Techie with outdated documentation gets his step count in searching for non-existent cabinet

Have you got that Friday feeling? El Reg does, mainly because we're bringing you the latest instalment of On Call. Every week, we trawl through emails recounting the times readers have been faced with a particularly tricky call-out, searching for the best one to take you into the weekend. This time, we meet "Wayne", who got …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Coat

    So it wasn't his job

    Then why did he not talk to the guy who's job it was ? And how come there was no support ticket ?

    It took four weeks to get that request sorted out and I'm supposed to believe that he was in charge of that all that time ? The organization of that company was obviously a mess, and the proper procedures completely lacking.

    And there wasn't even a fire. I am disappointed.

    1. A K Stiles

      Re: So it wasn't his job

      The moment the switch wasn't in the required cabinet the favour should have been done. "Sorry, I've spent the requested 5 minutes looking and the docs and the request don't match to reality - I can't interfere without risking bigger problems I can't immediately see, you'll have to go through the proper channels."

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Re: So it wasn't his job

        It's all in the mindset. Some of us don't think like that.

        I used to think like Wayne - that going the extra mile (or marathon) would be appreciated, and would do no harm to my career.

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: So it wasn't his job

          But your sanity on the other hand.

          I note the use of the term 'used to'. Good man.

          I sometimes go above and beyond for customers in my day job (domestic sparks). It always leads to disaster.

          From the time I solved a squeaky floorboard (unrelated to work) by screwing through the central heating pipe that was NOT in the correct area (centre of the board)... to the times (numerous) I've fixed a customer's 'internet issues' by changing the default channel on their cheapo isp supplied modemrouterthing to one that the entire neighbourhood isn't using. It makes you a hero short term, and 'free tech support' till you block their number.

          1. Nick Kew Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: So it wasn't his job

            I note the use of the term 'used to'. Good man.

            Hey, it only means I used to have a career!

            Or at least, I thought I did.

          2. OssianScotland Bronze badge
            Coat

            Re: So it wasn't his job

            Ah yes - informal support. Normally followed by a lifetime of supporting the damn device on the grounds you were once within a metre of it, so must be responsible. I once had a phone call along the lines of "You remember that computer you fixed... well, I've replaced it, and that's not working, so when are you going to come out?"

            Answers (on the theme of "When hell freezes over" on a postcard please....

          3. bleargh

            Re: So it wasn't his job

            NEVER - NEVER - forget the golden rule - "if you fix the problem, you own the problem".

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So it wasn't his job

            Learnt the hard way too. I was installing some data cabling hundreds of miles from home and a sparky wanted to use the same bit of trunking I'd installed for one of his cables (before the rules on cable separation I guess!). So I left the trunking lid on the floor to save him taking it off later the same day and putting it back. Needless to say I got a call a couple of days later from an unhappy customer asking me to return to site to "sort out" a section of trunking with a missing lid...

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: So it wasn't his job

          You go the extra mile. I agree. You do not run a bloody Marathon.

          Professionalism means knowing boundaries. You can push them, but not break them.

        3. steviebuk Silver badge

          Re: So it wasn't his job

          True. Got me fuck all. Although where I am now it's truely appreciated but never expected. Which is very rare and taken me a while to get used to.

        4. ShadowDragon8685

          Re: So it wasn't his job

          My uncle constantly bangs on in that. He says that people who "only do what they were hired to do" never get advancement, and he insists that my dipshit niece's dipshit husband was "laid off" (IE, "fired but we'll tell Unemployment we simply don't have work for you so you can claim") from his position as an office drone on a sod farm because he drew a hard line and flatly refused to even learn how to do any agricultural production work, or ag-adjacent work like operating forklifts or pallet-wrapping machines.

          And perhaps he was, but if so he was in my opinion wrongfully dismissed ("other duties as assigned" only stretches so far) and they know it, that's why they're officially "laying him off" rather than firing him, to make him happy enough to not contact a lawyer.

      2. J27 Bronze badge

        Re: So it wasn't his job

        I think I would have gotten to the point where I noticed they needed a new switch and stopped there, but you're totally right. Going out an a limb for someone is a good way to find that limb snapping off and taking you with it.

      3. BillG Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: So it wasn't his job

        In my youth, when it came to IT or tech jobs that wasn't my responsibility, I used to sometimes volunteer to help out. I later learned there was a reason why I'd been asked to do something that wasn't my job - the people whose job it WAS to do it, didn't want to do it.

        There was always a good reason why they didn't want to do it, and it was either because it was technically FUBAR or there was a toxic political side to it that wasn't visible to me.

        As I've gotten older I've learned it's healthier to not volunteer for these things.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So it wasn't his job

      Been in 1st level support for 3 years now. Heard "ITIL" for the first time two months ago.

      Wayne works at a bastion of process and order.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: So it wasn't his job

        I think the relevant acronym might be ”OBTW” (Oh! By The Way) usually heard at the completion of the agreed job, just as you are heading for the door. It invariably means at least another (unpaid) hour or two before you leave.

        >>====> Because you usually have just put your coat on before the OBTW...

        1. Chris King Silver badge

          Re: So it wasn't his job

          It's a Columbo. "Just One More Thing..."

          1. Nunyabiznes
            Pint

            Re: So it wasn't his job

            Sensuous. Look up Jeff Foxworthy - Southern US slang for "Since you is".

            Sensuous up, get me another beer.

            1. 404 Silver badge

              Re: So it wasn't his job

              Every day is/was sensuous until I went off on some folks on a maintenance round...

              'Sensuous here, can you take a look a <machine name>? It's been doing <whatever>.'

              'What? Since when?'

              'Three weeks ago'

              '!?!? Why didn't you call me?'

              'Figured it could wait until now'

              ...<blood shoots out eyes, I'm on a schedule>

              'No. You waited until you could get the problem fixed for free - Y'all do this to me all the time and it ain't right and you know it!

              'I didn't realize....'

              'The HELL you didn't, <insert name here>! You're a dentist for God's sake! You don't do a DAMN thing "sensuous here", so why pull it on me?'

              'I'm sorry, 404.'

              Honestly should have lost the client, but they were wrong and they knew it. Hasn't happened since.

        2. The Boojum

          Re: So it wasn't his job

          Yay! I get to use my most recently acquired bit of grammar - Nazi pedantry. Something is an acronym only if you can say it as a word (e.g. NATO). Otherwise it's an initialism. And I defy anyone to say OBTW as a word. In fact I defy anyone to say OBTW faster than they can say the underlying words!

          1. A.P. Veening

            Re: So it wasn't his job

            And I defy anyone to say OBTW as a word. In fact I defy anyone to say OBTW faster than they can say the underlying words!

            Try that one with "WWW" ;)

            NB: That is only really a problem in English.

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

              Re: So it wasn't his job

              Simplify it to triple-u triple-u and it's easier to say.

              1. A.P. Veening

                Re: So it wasn't his job

                World Wide Web is still shorter and easier to say.

              2. jake Silver badge

                Re: So it wasn't his job

                The vernacular works for me, to wit "the web".

                And then there is the tried & true "TehIntraWebTubes".

              3. Kubla Cant Silver badge
                WTF?

                Re: So it wasn't his job

                Simplify it to triple-u triple-u and it's easier to say.

                What's wrong with "sextuple-u"? (Apart from the fact that nobody will know what you're talking about.)

            2. HelpfulJohn

              Re: So it wasn't his job

              I've usually pronounced it as : "woowoowoo-dot", or, sometimes, "wubbles-dot".

            3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

              Re: So it wasn't his job

              Try that one with "WWW" ;)

              I have heard a radio announcer who would humorously say it as a very fast "WuhWuhWuh" when giving out URLs on air.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: So it wasn't his job

                Try that one with "WWW" ;)

                I've heard "dub dub dub dot" in the southern US.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So it wasn't his job

            > And I defy anyone to say OBTW as a word. In fact I defy anyone to say OBTW faster than they can say the underlying words!

            \əbˈtwə\. And with that bit of pedanparry, I shall henceforth refer to these letters as an acronym.

        3. Dave K Silver badge

          Re: So it wasn't his job

          My usual acronym was WYH - while you're here. Usually solved with a dose of SIGAA - Sorry, I've got another appointment.

          1. Glen 1 Bronze badge

            Re: So it wasn't his job

            How hard would it be to...

            Can you just...

            Quick one for you...

        4. Huw D Silver badge

          OBTW...

          The correct response is ODFO.

        5. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: So it wasn't his job

          I think the relevant acronym might be ”OBTW”

          Such a request might come from an OBTW too - 'orrible bloody time waster.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So it wasn't his job

        ITIL - nearly everybody in the place has been put through Foundation, but you know it's going to be useless when the trainer says "You know what ? You're doing it wrong already!".

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: So it wasn't his job

      "And there wasn't even a fire. I am disappointed."

      Maybe the article photo is an actual image supplied by "Wayne" of the manager who requested the port?

    4. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: So it wasn't his job

      And he was no longer customer facing so sounds like 3rd line yet didn't know about the infrastructure he was supporting. Or the 3rd line department didn't bother mapping out what they supported.

  2. A.P. Veening

    That manager would go on my black list, meaning no more favours whatsoever and full BOFH-treatment at the slightest opportunity. And that is besides a hefty number of hours overtime.

    1. Dave K Silver badge

      Agreed, anyone that deliberately lies about the scale of a job is someone that would go on my black list after that. Meaning they must log a ticket, and I'll only fix what is listed in the ticket.

      I don't mind doing occasional favours for certain people, but at the very least I expect honesty from them when asking for a quick bit of unofficial help...

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        When the arsehole was described as his former manager, I assumed that Wayne had got his revenge in the customary cattleprod / halon / liftshaft way.

        1. The Boojum

          I reckon I can just see the BOFH's shadow at the top of the photograph heading the article.

    2. Andrew Moore

      Plus, he’s the type of manager that’s liable to note in your performance review that you are slow at doing basic tasks and how it took you 4 weeks to do a 5 minute job...

    3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

      If an employee lies to me, chances are they're getting fired. If a client lies to me, they're almost certainly getting fired. Decent human beings react to that with the appropriate shame-faced apologies, after which I may reconsider.

  3. ShortLegs

    And what was "Wayne's" manager doing over the next four weeks? Did he not notice the PO for a switch and an OT form cross his desk?

    Every time I've run a team or department, I've ensured every single person knows how to say "no" to outside requests, other managers, and if the other person doesn't accept "no", to hang up/walk away with the comment "Please speak to my manager, "shortlegs". It's called 'aircover', because loyalty works both ways and as a manager that is part of the role.

    No problems supporting anyone else in the business, just go about requesting it the right way, and I'll make the decision, prioritise the task, and if needed help you budget it ;)

    1. A.P. Veening

      Every time I've run a team or department, I've ensured every single person knows how to say "no" to outside requests, other managers, and if the other person doesn't accept "no", to hang up/walk away with the comment "Please speak to my manager, "shortlegs". It's called 'aircover', because loyalty works both ways and as a manager that is part of the role.

      No problems supporting anyone else in the business, just go about requesting it the right way, and I'll make the decision, prioritise the task, and if needed help you budget it ;)

      I don't mind the occasional five minute favour, as long as it is both occasional and no more than those five minutes, provided I can spare the time in my schedule. Just like loyalty, favours work both ways. But I will usually inform my manager about it.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Cable laying in a smaller shop I had a visit from the neighbours. They asked if I could move their card machine/till from one side of their shop to the other. All it was supposed to be was lift the floor tiles & run the cables. They didn't want them to be visible or a trip hazard. They'd already got the extension cables, i could work after hours and I was promised a drink so why not? "It'll only take ten minutes" She says.

        I thought it shouldn't be too hard to push them underneath and pick them up at the other side of the room. Trying this with the cable didn't work because everywhere I tried was hitting an obstruction. I was going to have to lift a lot of heavy floor tiles. Well I discovered that this had originally been two shops that had been combined. As a result there was a reinforced concrete small wall under the false floor. That had originally been part of the separating wall between the two retail units. The contractor had cut through at floor level and then sat the close fitting floor tiles on that. There wasn't a gap anywhere let alone anything large enough to run a cable without cutting through reinforced concrete. I said sorry but I couldn't do it and explained why and the girl said she'd let the boss know. A phone call later and the boss remembered why the last person she'd asked had also said it can't be done. I did get the drink but that wasn't the promised ten minute job I had agreed to.

    2. Dave K Silver badge

      I generally insist on this as well, but I can accept occasional 5-minute favours with good reason. Examples being a particularly pleasant lady here who asked for help as an important customer was in the meeting room and they were having issues getting the projector working. A ticket with a 4-hour SLA isn't really much good here, so I popped along and fixed that one. The fact that the lady raised a retrospective ticket for us and left glowing feedback for the ticket also helped ensure that I'm happy to occasionally provide ad-hoc support for people like this if there's a good reason.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Yup. Given the antics of senior managers and others it might be difficult to believe but contributing to whatever pays the wages is what anybody should be doing. In the article it's difficult to believe that the manager had grasped that simple idea.

    3. Peter Prof Fox

      "While you're here" should be encouraged

      When people ask you a "While you're here" that means they trust you. (Or they are demanding, entitled, whiney and greedy, but I think most techs can spot those.) Step two is to find what is really wrong. Step three is to wave a magic wand or, and this is why it's worth encouraging, is either profit from the new requirement or get to the bottom of some fundamental system flaw that's been causing grief, repeated call-outs etc. because the right person never got to look at it.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: "While you're here" should be encouraged

        I prefer to ask: while you're here, can you see how big a job this task will be.

  4. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Had my share of "5 minute" jobs.

    I don't believe in that kind of fairytales anymore.

    And my PFY get told upfront if it will take long or not, I will never tell him "it's just a 5 minute job" because Mr Murphy.

    1. JJKing Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Mr Murphy is a bloody optimist.

  5. Snorlax Silver badge
    Devil

    Someone needs a cattleprod in the groin...

    Old manager from a different department wants a favour?

    "Sure, just let me run it by my current manager first."

    "Sure, what's the ticket number so I can assign the job to myself?"

    "Sorry, my manager's locked himself in the server room again. I need to go let him out."

    "Sorry, I haven't had lunch yet. I'll swing back later."

    "Sorry, I've got a meeting with HR now about some unfounded sexual harassment allegations."

  6. Pangasinan Philippines

    Assertiveness

    A course in assertiveness is the answer.

    Basically it is a hundred ways to say 'NO'

    Don't know why the course lasted a week though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Assertiveness / Don't know why the course lasted a week though.

      You were supposed to just assert yourself and walk out, as soon as you'd got the hang of it. :-)

    2. Chris King Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Assertiveness

      "A course in assertiveness is the answer."

      I was doing a HR course, and there was an Assertiveness course running in the room next door. We noticed that the other course had better food than us, so we nicked theirs (leaving our more meagre fayre in its place) before they broke for lunch.

      So what could they do about that ? Ask for it back ?

  7. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Four weeks to complete a five minute job

    Capita?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Four weeks to complete a five minute job

      He doesn't seem to have involved the accountants and got a commendation for turning a five minute job into a four week one, so no.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Four weeks to complete a five minute job

        Missed the obvious objection. He finished it.

  8. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

    Sick companies self identify

    When the only way of getting things done is to rely overly on personal relationships. Every company like that I have worked for later went bust :-(

    1. A K Stiles
      Joke

      Re: Sick companies self identify

      Well that's terribly honest of you!

      1. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

        Re: Sick companies self identify

        Tee hee :-)

        Global Crossing actually went bust twice!

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Sick companies self identify

          Those are bad, but another style gives them a run for their most disorganized title, which is companies in which one person or group is responsible for each specific technical area, and no person or group is responsible for more than two of them. If a real technical problem exists, so much time is wasted by the group who got asked about it with the group that should be doing it and the group who knows necessary information to do it that nothing happens. Meanwhile, when one group tries to do something that may be somewhat connected to the things they should do, they run into situations known by a different team but not properly documented, or otherwise properly documented on one of these sheets of paper in the big filing cabinet, and break something. At least somewhat ironically, this structure is usually created under the idea that the systems people should be more organized into specific groups.

          1. Anonymous IV
            Alert

            Re: Sick companies self identify

            Quite some time ago there was a situation where a network group, part of <Huge Bank PLC>, based loosely in the southern half of the UK, were completely unaware of the existence of a second network group doing identical work, but loosely in the northern half of the UK.

            (If you had worked in IT for <Huge Bank PLC> this information would have come as no surprise...)

  9. chivo243 Silver badge
    Windows

    Managers pffft

    It's only one job... but, you have to do it 9x!!

  10. jake Silver badge

    My stock answer to "Can you do a five minute job?" ...

    ... is "Sure, but I have <thing> I have to take care of first."

    Gives me time to eyeball said five minute job at my leisure ... and 9 times out of ten I let 'em know that it'll take much longer than 5 minutes, and I can't do that without a proper contract because it will piss off my accountant/Wife and my insurance company. The other 10%? It's a true five minute job, which I happily take care of gratis to keep the client happy.

    My insurance company won't actually give a shit, but my clients don't know that ... It's a dodge that comes in handy in lots of places. Clients under foot when installing new equipment? Keep 'em away with "You must stay back at least 20 feet, it's an insurance thing." Client wants to borrow a tool "for just a second"? Sorry, no can do. Insurance. Buddy wants to borrow a work truck (and you, of course) for a dump/tip run or to move house? Can't. Company vehicle. Insurance says no. Etc. Use your imagination.

    1. Jay 2

      Re: My stock answer to "Can you do a five minute job?" ...

      Similarly I'm using security/audit to force though what I need to do and to deter (batshit insane) requests that would cause more work/grief.

      On a slightly more serious note there is now a big onus on cyber security and all it entails, so it's not just me enjoying being a BOFH and saying no a lot.

      1. Antonius_Prime

        Re: My stock answer to "Can you do a five minute job?" ...

        Being a BOFH doesn't invole saying "No."

        It involves locking the person in a room over the weekend with no food, plenty of liquids and a plant pot near the window...

        That happens to be wired to a Red Snapper brand cattle fence zapper...

        1. MJB7 Bronze badge
          Holmes

          Re: BOFH

          It involves locking the person in a room over the weekend with no food, plenty of liquids and a plant pot near the window...

          That happens to be wired to a Red Snapper brand cattle fence zapper...

          You are Simon Travaglia and ICMFP.

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: BOFH

            No he's not, because the AC is not set to alternate between "very hot day in the Saharan mid-day sun" and "Arctic winter midnight hailstorm", combined with the fire alarm and sprinklers going off every 5 minutes.

            1. chivo243 Silver badge
              Terminator

              Re: BOFH

              I think what the BOFH would want is a Monroe Box invented by Dr. Marvin Monroe.

              It's a special isolation chamber. The subject pulls levers to receive food and water. The floor can become electrified, and showers of icy water randomly fall on the subject.

  11. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

    I have some sympathy for the "5 minute favour"

    It can be very good for customer relations and get rid of annoyances. You do however have to have the knowledge or experience to assess if it really is a 5 minute favour...

    Although not 5 minutes, I was once asked to do a "simple code upgrade" moving some customised features to a new version of our codebase. This was expected to only take a few hours of cut'n'paste and a little tweaking. After looking at it I discovered that the original engineer had no idea what he was doing, the code clearly didn't work, wasn't fully marked up etc etc. By the time I realised it would have been quicker to have simply started from scratch it was 50 50 to restart or finish fixing the code monster from the previous engineer. This was a good life lesson for me at the time, to treat all "small" requests with caution...

    1. cosmogoblin

      Re: I have some sympathy for the "5 minute favour"

      This is why, as a non-programmer, I preface all code (even some personal stuff) with a variant of "I'm not a coder. This seems to work but it's a mess and I don't know what I'm doing, line 36 in particular is just copied from StackExchange. If you're reading this, SORRY!"

  12. DougS Silver badge
    FAIL

    I have ZERO sympathy

    It didn't become his job to spend a month adding a switch port just because he agreed to a 'five minute favor'. He chose to make it his job, so why should we feel bad for him? I don't.

  13. Apathy101

    5 minute jobs...

    Whenever I setup for a "5min" job I know fine well that it's going to take several hours, but when I organise to do a job, setting aside the time, etc, that I think will take hours, I'm always finished within minutes saying "Was that it?"

  14. Empty1

    "While you're here"

    "While you're here" - The worst three words for a service person of any ilk.

    1. dbtx Bronze badge

      Re: "While you're here"

      "While you're in there..." just saw this one 8 hours ago. TL;DW: More problem = more quote = more bill, no matter how trivial they pretend to know that it is. Video is less than 4 minutes ;)

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: "While you're here"

      Another "worst" is: "I have a question?".

      1. A.P. Veening

        Re: "While you're here"

        Another "worst" is: "I have a question?".

        How about: "I have a short question"? That invariable indicates the person asking doesn't have the first clue about the issue, so the answer will be long.

  15. Andrew Moore

    My approach...

    When anyone asks for a “5 minute favour” I always tell them “I can spare you an hour”. This lets them know that I’m calling them on their BS and indicate to them my time is valuable.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: My approach...

      If they know enough about the job that they can call it a 5 minute fix, why don't they just do it themselves? If they don't know enough or aren't skilled enough, then they don't know it's only a 5 minute job.

      1. Andrew Moore

        Re: My approach...

        I did challenge someone with "and how did you arrive at that timescale?"

  16. Alister Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Outdated Documentation

    Not quite on the same subject, but we received a notification email to our admin address the other week, from a server which we thought had been retired 7 years ago.

    Turns out that the hosting provider where we had a private cloud set up had never turned off the hosts and Vms after we terminated the contract, and the servers have been sitting there since 2012.

    1. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

      Re: Outdated Documentation

      If there's company confidential or personal information on those servers, you may want to become an anonymous coward real fast :-(

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Outdated Documentation

        If there's company confidential or personal information on those servers, you may want to become an anonymous coward real fast

        Nope, we removed all of the data before we terminated them.

        1. DougS Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Uhh...

          Yeah....about that. If it knew how to email your admin email address 100% I would not trust that all the data was wiped!! I mean, you obviously missed that, what else did you miss? If it is still running, even if files were deleted that doesn't mean the data doesn't still exist on the hard drives since you can't do a full military wipe on an active drive.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wayne / Ian

    The request ticket mentioned "cabinet A2" and the documentation matched so off Wayne went, seeking out the cabinet on the third floor.

    "I found the computer room and cabinet A2 but no sign of any of the switches on the diagrams," Ian said.

    Did he stop off in records for a name change?

    1. dbtx Bronze badge

      Probably, and then he kept the sticker "HELLO my name is WAYNE" so that nobody could find him.

    2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

      Re: Wayne / Ian

      No wonder he couldn't find the right cabinet, he was in the wrong story.

  18. imanidiot Silver badge

    There are no small changes

    Only small managers - Dilbert

  19. Daedalus Silver badge

    ObDNA

    Every engineer knows that the first place to look is in the bottom drawer of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard".

    Well, somebody had to mention it...

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: ObDNA

      Actually the sign on the door says "Cabinet A2", but the leopard's still in there.

    2. A.P. Veening

      Re: ObDNA

      And the second place to look is in he bottom drawer of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Gym".

  20. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Did he check the bottom of the locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.

  21. Andy Taylor

    Remember Scotty's advice

    In "Relics" (Next Generation, Season 6, Episode 4) Captain Montgomery Scott passes on some words of wisdom:

    SCOTT: Do you mind a little advice? Starfleet captains are like children. They want everything right now and they want it their way, but the secret is to give them only what they need, not what they want.

    LAFORGE: Yeah, well I told the Captain I'd have this analysis done in an hour.

    SCOTT: How long will it really take?

    LAFORGE: An hour.

    SCOTT: You didn't tell him how long it would really take, did you?

    LAFORGE: Of course I did.

    SCOTT: Oh, laddie, you've got a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker. Now listen

    LAFORGE: Captain Scott. I've tried to be patient, I've tried to be polite. But I've got a job to do here, and quite frankly, you're in the way.

    SCOTT: I was driving starships while your great-grandfather was still in diapers. I'd think you'd be a little grateful for a some help. I'll leave ye to work, Mister La Forge.

  22. Peter2 Silver badge

    Another 5 minute job...

    Not really IT related, but many years ago when I was in the Air Cadets the unit I was part of picked up an (ex forces) minibus from the armed forces scheme for tossing decent ex military equipment to the cadet forces cheaply.

    The minibus was a brilliant buy for practically nothing, in excellent condition. The only problem was that it didn't have seatbelts. (This was the late 90's, so not legally required for busses at the time) However, it was thought that it should have them retrofitted given that the minbus would have teenagers in. A local garage who dealt with that make of vehicle was approached, who decided that it'd be an incredibly simple job, just drill holes through the bottom of the vehicle and then bolt the seatbelts on stalks reaching the seats through those holes, which was a standard optional extra kit from the manufacturer.

    It was such a simple and easy job that the garage decided that they'd do it free of charge to get some free publicity by getting in the local newspaper by doing a handover to us after they'd done the work.

    So, the minibus went in to this garage, a mechanic produced a drill and applied it to the right section of the floor and applied a bit of pressure. The drill sank straight through the floor... and into 2" worth of sucessive layers of the most hardened steel money could buy (harder than the drill bits) followed by layers of Ceramic (Chobham armour?) and Kevlar that the Army had applied to the bottom of the vehicle in case it ran over an anti tank landmine or buried bomb in Northern Ireland. This was apparently not one of optional extra kits the manufacturer supplied for that type of vehicle.

    The job was apparently the most difficult fitment of seatbelts ever recorded in the country, requiring 3 drill bits per hole, and about half an hour per seatbelt as they had to push the bolts up from underneath the vehicle and tighten them from the inside, as doing it the other way the bolt heads sank into the Kevlar making it impossible to get the spanner around them... It should also be noted that knocking on the side of the minibus also made the sort of sound you'd expect if hitting the side of a main battle tank rather than a flimsy bit of metal a fraction of a milimetre thick.

    So it's not just IT; some jobs are easy looking on the surface, but rather more complicated if you look at them in detail or actually try and do the job.

    1. Maty

      Re: Another 5 minute job...

      Um ... just checking here. The bottom of the vehicle was amoured, but there were no seat belts? Every mine-proofed vehicle I've travelled in used a parachute-type harness to ensure that you stayed very much in place while your vehicle was doing backflips.

      Also, often the seats were unpadded, because you really don't want the seat hitting the base of your spine very fast and very hard as the padding is compressed.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

        Re: Another 5 minute job...

        Sounds like bullshit to me for all kinds of reasons, not least that if you have a sheet of armour plate for the floor, you'd just weld the seatbelt mounts to it.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Another 5 minute job...

          That's what I was told when I was in my teens by the adult staff who'd found it hilarious and I didn't question it then. The floor inside the minibus was a plastic layer though to make cleaning easy and presumably would have had the vehicle frame under it, with the armour plate underneath that, which would prevent easy welding inside.

          Perhaps it was story that grew with the retelling, thinking about it with technical knowledge gained since I can see any number of problems that could cause a vehicle.

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Another 5 minute job...

      P2 mentioned, "...the most hardened steel money could buy (harder than the drill bits)..."

      You'll find something similar inside Mercedes car doors. An idiot rust proofing technician drilled through the first layer of sheet metal instantly, but then his drill bit couldn't even scratch the inner reinforcement layer of ultra hard steel. He gave up after 10 minutes and roasting several drill bits.

  23. Johnny Canuck

    One of the guys I do work for asked me if I had a computer that could backup older IDE drives. He said the computer was used to control some kind of laser and they didn't want to buy a whole new computer and laser system. I do have older computers with IDE and floppy drive controllers on the motherboard so I said I could probably do it. He sent me pictures of some old cabinet with an gigantic MFM hard drive in it. It was a PDP-11. I declined the job.

    1. jake Silver badge

      That kind of thing is quite lucrative.

      I charge a couple thousand per meg of data retrieved from the old drive.

      The credo here is "First, do no harm!" ... make CERTAIN you know what you are doing before plugging one of these things into hardware that it didn't come with! You won't get a second chance if you fuck it up ... well, DriveSavers might be able to help, but they charge more than I do.

  24. Grease Monkey

    Quite apart from not understanding why you'd need to deploy a new vlan for a single user I don't understand the logic of this tale.

    You need a new user connecting? Well firstly you have a port on the wall. This has a port number which relates to a network cabinet. While I can understand that sometimes it's difficult to find the right cabinet due to lame labelling or dodgy documentation, I can't see why this engineer was trying to locate the cabinet by looking for a specific switch.

    In cases like this the first and most important thing is the cabinet in which the end user's network port terminates. It's no good deciding that you want to connect the user to a particular switch if that switch is in the wrong cabinet.

    So firstly you find the cabinet that the users port connects to. Secondly you find out which vlan(s) the use needs to connect to. Only then do you start looking for a switch to connect to.

    Somebody needs to learn to use their brain rather than their feet.

    1. Diogenes

      Sigh...

      Quite apart from not understanding why you'd need to deploy a new vlan for a single user I don't understand the logic of this tale.

      On top of that, the job wasn't just for one new starter, but nine.

      You need a new user connecting? Well firstly you have a port on the wall. This has a port number which relates to a network cabinet. While I can understand that sometimes it's difficult to find the right cabinet due to lame labelling or dodgy documentation, I can't see why this engineer was trying to locate the cabinet by looking for a specific switch.

      The request ticket mentioned "cabinet A2" and the documentation matched so off Wayne went, seeking out the cabinet on the third floor.

      "I found the computer room and cabinet A2 but no sign of any of the switches on the diagrams," Ian said.

      Thinking that was a bit odd, he asked the local facilities engineer for help.

      "There's a cabinet A2 on every floor," came his cheery reply.

      ...

      Sure enough, some other engineer had renamed all the devices but failed to relabel the switch

      ...

      Wayne proceeded to select a network port for the new starter but the switch was full, and all the other switches were over 100m away, which was the maximum distance supported.

      ...

  25. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Two dirty words

    You know you're in for a long day when you hear "just" or "only". As in, this will "only" take a couple of minutes or "Yes, we're all done.............. we "just" need to ______________". Contractors are famous for this sort of thing.

  26. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    Have you tried the Aircon server closet.

    See above, have you created a ticket and the management of resources is the mother of invention. Moving further up, yes boss, it's a tight budget their facing this year. I understand that lack of investment in prior circumstances, has lead to a short-fall in staffing and desk provision. Here's the request for extra budget allocation and if you recall, the discussion was mutually agreed to hold, due to uncertain macro-economic conditions and political turmoil. I always prefer affective communication in closing a sale personally. #thewheelsofindustry

  27. Herby Silver badge

    There are simple devices that help in the calming of requestors...

    You need to get one of these.

    They are quite useful. Ones in the other binary are available as well. Wonderful devices for the BOFH's desk

  28. Simon Beckett

    Hiding switches

    I was once creating some infrastructure documentation and one floor cabinet in a 5 storey building was missing... Turned out after a lot of lifting of ceiling tiles and ears against walls that the floor had at some point been refurbished and they'd built a wall in front of it, fully enclosing the cabinet...

  29. bish

    I suspect...

    The former manager really didn't like Wayne very much, and relished the opportunity for vengeance.

  30. adam payne Silver badge

    If I had a pound for every time someone has said "while you're here", "can you just help me out with this, won't take long", "oh good IT" I would be a millionaire.

  31. JoMe

    I always remember some simple rules my first good boss taught me

    1) 5 minute jobs are never.

    2) Saying "yes" to this, means saying "no" to something else. Even if it's "5 minutes"

    3) If you don't have accountability for it:

    a) don't touch it without explicit permission from whoever is.

    b) if you get permission, and find that documentation/labels/etc. are wrong, point out to the person that owns it and leave them to correct it.

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