back to article BOFH: On a sunny day like this one, the concrete dries so much more quickly

BOFH: "I've forgotten more about computing than you'll ever know!" I snap at the PFY in response to a sarcastic remark. "OK, then – how do we get it to go?" "I don't know, it's one of the things I've forgotten," I admit. Man, I hate old computers. No: I hate old computers which have some non-standard config – like most old …

  1. juice Silver badge

    > "I've forgotten more about computing than you'll ever know!" I snap at the PFY in response to a sarcastic remark. "OK, then – how do we get it to go?" "I don't know, it's one of the things I've forgotten,"

    I feel personally attacked by this relatable content...

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Coat

      I feel personally attacked by this relatable content...

      Just remember: memory's the second thing to go.

      1. }{amis}{ Silver badge
        Joke

        Just remember: memory's the second thing to go.

        I thought it was the sex drive!

        1. hmv Bronze badge

          Re: Just remember: memory's the second thing to go.

          Who knows?

          I can't remember either.

        2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Devil

          Re: Just remember: memory's the second thing to go.

          My sex drive is perfect thankyouverymuch! It's RAID 0 and backed up on tape...

          Admittedly a bit rusty, and there's sometimes a bit of banging and whirring - but nothing that a good slap in the right place can't sort out.

          1. Korev Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Just remember: memory's the second thing to go.

            Since I upgraded, I've been told that it's over in a flash... She always was a bit SASy that one...

          2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Just remember: memory's the second thing to go.

            Stiction is definitely something to avoid in your hard array :P

        3. alain williams Silver badge

          Re: Just remember: memory's the second thing to go.

          Is that a hard or floppy drive ?

          1. theN8

            Re: Just remember: memory's the second thing to go.

            I'd rather be a 5.25" floppy than a 3.5" hard disk every day of the week...

        4. FozzyBear Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Just remember: memory's the second thing to go.

          Luckily, Mine's hot swappable.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Whats the first?

        1. Shooter

          Dunno - can't remember.

        2. deeso

          I don't know - I can't remember.

    2. Ol'Peculier

      It's at times like this that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young

      Why, what did she tell you?

      I don't know, I didn't listen.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Was that a Ford quote?

        1. Ol'Peculier

          Arthur > Ford > Arthur

          1. Kevin Johnston

            grrrr...so I posted without properly reading what I was responding too and now I cannot see how to delete...definite pre-holiday apathy IT-blindness setting in...had to just over-type the whole thing

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  2. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    It sounds like the BOFH will cement his relationship with the auditors...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      This is a concrete example of high level problem solving. It is vitally important to get the groundwork right before execution, followed by a good thorough coverage of the issues.

      Or to quote police sergeant Alfie Moore, "a shallow grave is just laziness."

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Coat

        Absolutely, it's the foundation for everything else, you need to make sure there are no floors in the plan...

        1. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Unless a floor is required. I have a tropical fish tank with a piece of driftwood on the left which is concave on the underneath and home to a school of dwarf chain loaches. Except the long resident (born in the tank) bristlenose catfish kept trying to burrow under it by excavation. The problem is she is too big and the wood kept falling into the hole. She was in danger of digging to China, via the humate layer under the gravel.

          I had a piece of driftwood formerly of the larger piece in question (the catfish eats wood for her digestion, we all need fibre in our diets) and used this to put a floor in place with the concave wood on top. The catfish has ceased to excavate and the loaches have a home with a floor and a roof and multiple access routes. A real des res. If you're a bottom dwelling fish with shyness issues which likes a bit of group bonding.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "a shallow grave is just laziness."

        Real laziness is burying the body in a rubbish dump. That way people come along with more rubbish and bury it deeper for you.

  3. Amos1

    Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

    If you've ever had to do what they described (resurrecting an ancient system, NOT knocking off auditors), click the Up Arrow. If not click the Down Arrow.

    If I could click my own posts I would, several times. The best one was when we had to bring up an old server in 2016 from an acquisition years before I started with the company. A Novell 3.11 server with the acquired company's financials.

    We'll do the auditor poll another time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      migrate, archive or delete

      After a particularly traumatic year I refused to hold on to legacy kit citing the Data Protection Act on data retention. Its a lot harder for them to come back at you if the drives have been physically destroyed in the car park with a borrowed sledgehammer, buried 15 deep in landfill (we were a county council), mechanically shredded or (least favourite) overwritten 7 times with random patterns of 1's and 0's.

      After that year my rule was migrate, archive or destroy. for several years we would spend thousands of pounds running reports to be microfiched, then we had a period of writing them to searchable CD's. Now we tend to hold the required data on-line and anything older than required is deleted. no offline copies, no weird database formats and no copies of propriety databases we would never understand and never be able to access without the application being installed. For anyone faced with the request to retain the database after the apps been deleted, you can legitimately respond with 'we cant just keep the database as it uses their schema and that's part of the intellectual property of the application. To retain the database we need to licence the app. If we don't licence the app we have to delete the database.

      You can export the data to a set of flat files but most ERP and Finance systems have over 1000 tables.

      Despite all the training given on data retention I still found a senior finance manager who had the organisations accounts for the last 15 years held in excel spreadsheets in his home drive

      1. eionmac

        Re: migrate, archive or delete

        Your industrial injury insurance records should be available for 40 years. We copy to paper (twice) lodge one with external lawyers, other with the ancient library of instruction manuals for kit used in company.

    2. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      Hell yes. Most memorable, but far from only, was a sudden/urgent requirement to get an old AS/400 box going, and get a client emulated on windows to speak to it. I'm in my mid 30s, and i'm a windows and linux sysadmin. I was at the time, circa 25. Fun times.

      1. cookieMonster
        Thumb Up

        Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

        Been there, done that. The AS/400 was a great machine, we ran one for over a decade, never had a problem with it. Most reliable piece of kit I ever worked with (28 years in IT).

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

        My first ever *actual IT job was to get PC's talking to an AS/400 over a token ring network. Managed it, but only by trying every possible permutation of options/settings - a bit like when I recovered a Lotus Notes mailbox that the £3k/day consultant couldn't (I didn't know what you could or couldn't do, so tried things he would never have dreamed of).

        *as long as you don't count fixing hard drives for a living.

      3. Kobus Botes
        WTF?

        Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

        @rmason

        Reminds me of the time we needed to restore a particular user's mailbox (user having departed six months earlier and suspicious uhmmm... activities detected later by a successor) in order to search for evidence (not by us). Only to find that an Exchange 5 mail store could only be restored to an Exchange 5 server, so we had to build one (having upgraded in the mean time).

        Only to find that it could only be restored to the original Exchange 5 server, or one built on an exact same machine (same m/b and processor at least; possibly same size hard drive as well - memory's fading).

        Only to discover that one could not restore individual mailboxes - the whole thing had to be restored and the particular mailbox then extracted.

        Took about three weeks to accomplish what should have been a straightforward job.

        ================> Our reaction at the time.

    3. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      Why is it Up for having to do this and Down for not?

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      Not quite resurrecting an ancient system but having to keep one going beyond its support life as the auditors wanted to use the Xmas/New Year slot that was intended for the migration.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      I was paid (not enough, really) to maintain a Windows 98 desktop machine with a copy of a bankrupt company's financial data and the client on which to run it. It used a proprietary database so there were few alternatives outside of exporting all data via ODBC into ... what?

      This particular desktop was "repurposed" at one time as the game machine for the CFO's eight-year-old daughter; but then returned to commission when he discovered that all newer machines failed compatibility with the financial software. So this particular "business" machine had something like unicorns and pink cotton-candy clouds as the screen background. I thought it all-too-appropriate for the former company.

      I dutifully maintained the system for my monthly fee (confiscatory and an abuse of authority, really) until the day they ignored my invoice. After 30 days aging for my monthly invoice I unplugged "My Little Pony" or whatever it was, and took the whole thing out to the local gravel pit where I further "decorated" the exterior of the machine with 12 gauge holes from my favorite pump shotgun.

      As a polite shooter, I picked up all the pieces, put them all in a box, and took the box to my local electronics recycling center.

      I thought for years what I might reply should anyone from "Deadbeat, Inc." call me for financial archives. After a decade, I forgot; until today.

      Still, I made some humorous and spirit-lifting coin on the technical fears and legal requirements for a former company. Three and something years. Maybe more.

      Today they'd upload the data to an online service and wait for accounting to forget to pay the bill.

      Hey. Maybe I need to get into online storage. Pity. Too late.

    6. Dr. G. Freeman

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      What's the option for knocking up/off an auditor ?

      (She's knocked up, and knocked off being an auditor ?)

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      Pathetic trolling for up votes

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

        If they could actually be viewed or traded for something of worth I might agree - otherwise - what would be the point?

    8. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      Oh my, my last Novell touch was in 2006 at a customer - including a DOS program for their business (at least they used it with XP machines...). The company closed down shortly after. There was no more money in their business and the owners were old enough to retire.

      The other one is an old linux-compaq-oracle with kernel 2.2.something which I had to force-virtualize 2013 (or 2014?) into an 2012-R2 hyper-V cluster, complete with a windows 2000 machine for the client software. Required a kernel upgrade to 2.4.? (lower one digit kernel number) from an ancient SUSE CD, luckily it worked.

      Still works today, but today they wouldn't be required to keep that old data. But they still keep it since every year some customers ask for old stuff, and if you have such old data your customer is impressed.

    9. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      A few years ago, we were asked to import some data into our current MS SQL system by a client.

      No problem, we thought.

      The data was sent to us on a caddy-encased CD ROM, and, it turns out, was an IBM DB2 database from the late nineties.

      So we had to find and buy a caddy type CD-ROM drive. The only one we could find was SCSI connected, which needed a full-sized ATA card interface, so we had to find a workstation which would support that.

      Then we had to install Windows NT4 to be able to run the version of DB2 that was needed.

      The only way we could get the data off the machine was over the network, so we had to dig out an old 3COM network card which NT4 would actually recognise and talk to, and set that up. All the fun of setting IRQs and so on to get it to work.

      We must have spent a good couple of weeks getting it to the point where we could actually use the data...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

        "So we had to find and buy a caddy type CD-ROM drive. "

        Why? Was the caddy glued shut or something? I remember CD drives being introduced. The first one I played with was about the size of a VCR. I never saw one where the CD was permanently installed into a caddy though.

        As it happens, I have an IBM branded single speed SCSI CD-ROM drive which takes caddies. It used to be plugged into my Amiga 1200 with the DataFlyer SCSI interface, chained after the Zip-100 drive.

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith Bronze badge

          Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

          Yeah, pretty certain you could've just taken the CD out the caddy and put it in a regular disc drive!

          Copy the data off, fire up a VM of something old enough to run it, and there you go, it'll happily transfer via "network" to the host OS.

          It's about 15 minutes work, but only because that's a 1x CD read speed you'll be wanting to force, just in case the ancient disc explodes.

    10. stiine Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      Not an old system, but old tapes. They held backups of the Student Information Systems data for a university, and they had tapes going back to the first computer. It was the lead programmers job, along with the operators' job to copy them to new media. This meant pulling the tapes from the vault, cleaning all of the drives, and mounting the tapes. If a tape wouldn't read on drive 1, they'd move it to drive 2, and so on, until they had tried all of the drives. If a tape still wouldn't read, they'd call the support engineer and have him tweak the drive's tape speed, capstan speed, etc, until they could get a good copy. To their credit, I don't know of any data request they weren't able to fulfill while I worked there.

    11. Robert Sneddon

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      I had to machine up a new roller[1] on my lathe for a half-wrecked QIC120 tape drive to read someone's ancient email archive backup. It actually worked and we got the fifteen-year-old data off the tape and onto a USB stick.

      [1] I made the roller from an old platen from a daisywheel printer I had dismantled for bits a decade earlier. I knew it would come in handy some day...

      1. Brett Weaver

        Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

        A S36 (5362) with external hard drive. Being decommissioned 33 years after installation in 1983... had to write a screen scraping program to run on a clone novell terminal emulator so I could export all the organisations fixed asset data. The computer ran smoothly from 1983 to 2006. There was quite an event to finally enter "POWER OFF"

    12. PhilipN Silver badge

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      I had to lend an ancient 5.25 inch floppy drive to the local data recovery outfit (a law suit I was involved in professionally). They didn’t have one. Zero result.

      I tried myself with a disk(ette)* tool bought online. Result after 2 days : zero. I calculated 6 months to check just one floppy.

      Question: these were floppies from an old Xerox word processor. Anyone know what formatting they used? There was nothing online.

      OR Question 2 : how could the opponent have wiped clean a number of floppies - shove them in the microwave? Place a dynamo magnet on top of the pile?

      *First time I have used that word for ...... Shoot!

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

        OR Question 2 : how could the opponent have wiped clean a number of floppies - shove them in the microwave? Place a dynamo magnet on top of the pile?

        Or did they just hand over a stack of unused, blank floppies with the right labels slapped on?

        1. PhilipN Silver badge

          Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

          Since the floppies were found during a surprise visit to the office in the middle of the night when no one else had an inkling of what was going on - no.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

            So they were prepared!

      2. Grikath

        Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

        A1: for text, usually plain hex.

        A2: 5.25 floppies were never meant for long-term data storage. The proper answer would have been: you expect me to pull anything sensible from what ?!!!!

        1. hittitezombie

          Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

          I think my C64 discs are still in a cupboard at my family's place. I wonder if I could coax a byte or two out of them using the ancient 1570.

      3. Trygve Henriksen

        Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

        It's possible that a CatWeasel drive controller could have helped you read the floppies.

        (It's the type of use it was made for, really)

        It's possible that the drive was out of alignment. Then it's pretty difficult to even detect any data on the media when reading it on a different drive.

        1. Marshalltown
          Coat

          Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

          "...It's possible that the drive was out of alignment. ..."

          One of the very best security measures, as long as you have that drive and it doesn't drift any further.

    13. The IT Ghost

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      Fun times....many years ago, I worked as a field engineer (whilst being paid to be a bench tech) and got a call to a local attorney's office. They had another firm install Netware 3.12 (newest and shiniest at the time, told you this was many years ago) and the install wasn't complete. On investigation, found one of the small mountain of floppy disks was bad - pulled one from my kit and completed the reinstall, then had to restore the data. Using an ancient 8-track tape drive that hadn't been tested with any Netware since 2.15. It took about 8 hours to just catalog the tape, and a lot longer to restore everything. Ended up working on it for most of 8 days straight, including through the weekend. The attorney signed off daily on my time sheets without murmur. Finally got everything restored, and as an added bonus, had to fix the diskless workstations and get them all PXE booting properly again. Finally all done...next thing I know, the attorney shows up at *our* office mad about the bill he got, despite having signed off on each day. My boss, bless him, quickly extricated me from any participation in the "discussion" and pulled the company owner in instead. No idea how it turned out, but I'm sure a hefty discount was involved.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

        Surely you didn't expect a lawyer to get mad about the bill BEFORE you finished, did you? I'm sure he was seething inside each time he signed, but being a lawyer he showed no outward signs. Can't have you setting up a backdoor to allow you to undo your work, can he?

    14. John Doe 6

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      Yes, but not for the auditors, they usually only want data up to 6 years back.

      We had to get an ancient backup system going to restore a more than 10 year old Lotus 123 file which could prove that a product someone just had patented was something we had for years. IBM was btw. very helpful providing the Lotus 123 software needed to read that file.

    15. ARGO
      WTF?

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      Not quite in the resurrecting the dead category, but more talking to a zombie: I once had a job getting data out of a 30 year old CDC Cyber that was *still running as a live system*.

      The chosen route was to connect something as a peripheral. As the peripheral port comprised 20 subminiature coax transmission lines, that involved a lot of reverse engineering and paying a fortune to have the required hardware built. The result was possibly the world's most expensive ISA card.

      We also found that the entire system depended on those coax lines being exactly 100ns in length. Finding a company that could even make the things was a mission.

    16. Kiwi Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      The best one was when we had to bring up an old server in 2016 from an acquisition years before I started with the company. A Novell 3.11 server with the acquired company's financials.

      A customer brought me a machine that needed to run to get at the data. A 486DX CPU, and finding a HD that I could use to copy the data to - IIRC in the end I created a 200MB partition on a much larger drive that the machine could see, IIRC I searched far and wide before finding an old computer in one of my own closests that had a 4G HDD that the 486 could actually talk to.

      Strangest thing was the machine was absolutely pristine in condition, looked as if it'd just come out of the showroom. Amazing mechanical keyboard as well. No App Menu key (aka 'Windows key') nor right-mousey keys though. It was part of a control system in a local factory but talked via serial or parallel ports so wasn't hard to replicate stuff into a VM - but getting the old data out of the propriety database took some effort (licensed to mobo...)

      This was in 2013 BTW, and until it started failing the machine was in daily use.

      [Still cannot get over how clean it was....]

      EDIT I also have a VM image that started life as another customer's machine. HW finally dieing, she had her financials, recipes and other things in some nicely laid out DOS stuff including a reasonably done menu.. Brought back memories of when doing that was the high point of home computing (and much of business computing for that manner). The personal data was deleted but I kept the image in case I ever actually needed a working DOS VM...

    17. NeverMindTheBullocks

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      No so much Resurrection as Resuscitation.

      In the dim and distant past I did a stint as a support bod at a large London investment bank.

      As part of their BC/DR processes we were scheduled to come in over a weekend to carry out a controlled power down of the data center under simulated outage conditions. Building power isolated, Switch to generator power, fail over to the remote DC somewhere in Hertfordshire, onto battery backup (they had an entire sub-basement full of lead acid battery's on heavy duty racking) and then gracefully power everything down before bringing building power back online, recovering the DC and re-connecting to the remote DC to resync everything.

      All went well with the shut down, UPS took the load as the building power was cut. Generators came on line and ran for an hour before being shut down again and leaving the building on battery power while we ran through the shutdown routine for the DC.

      The problem came when we started powering the kit back up. Most of the servers came back just fine

      but the rows of cabinets containing a couple of hundred IBM PS/2's performing non-essential (i.e. not trading floor related) tasks remained ominously quiet. Turned out the last time they were shut down was 3 years previously during the last test, and 90% of them had failed to boot due to stiction. Cue myself and 2 other support staff armed with rubber mallets from the FM stores working our way up and down the aisles, pulling servers from the cabinets, opening the cases, whacking the drives a couple of times and replacing them back in the racks to see if they would boot. We got them all back eventually but it was a lot more overtime than had been planned for.

    18. Luiz Abdala
      Windows

      Re: Informal poll on whether you've ever had to do something like this

      We did the migration thing: we would migrate the old HDD into the new machines.

      Set the new machines up, put the OS up, add the old disks as slaves somewhere, bingo! Instant migration.

      At one point I had a desktop booting from a 160GB HDD, with a 80, a 40, and a 20 disk in the same IDE ribbon. Each of them with a flavor of Windows, all surprisingly bootable, except the Windows 3.11 multi-partition in the 20GB.

      Icon, of course.

  4. BOFHfollower

    Two Bofh's in a week I could get used to this, keep them coming Simon!!

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Like waiting for a traditional bus. Fares, please.

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      reeally? wow tnx 4 the tip , must have missed one ..

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Pint

        Had me scratching my head for a bit as well..

        Thanks for paying attention to the fanmail, Sir! :)

  5. bpfh Silver badge
    Boffin

    I'm surprised

    That the server that old booted, with intact data, in the computer room, without the PSU exploding, setting of the halon release, then getting the old halon release declared as an emergency, and not have to pay the enviromental charge for accidental release AND gets rid of auditor and evidence in one swoop. 3 for 3. And get the boss to put the tab on expenses for economies on time not wasted :)

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: I'm surprised

      Also "The poor auditor, electrical faults were common in servers of that age"

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I'm surprised

        And during the PSU post-mortem...

        "Looks like there's something lodged in there pretty good... *tug*... "

        "Well, well. What a coincidence. It seems the terminals were shorted by... if I'm not mistaken, a carelessly discarded 24/6 size staple."

  6. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    This BOFH must be a coincidence as our HRdroid wanted us to recover a file from backup this Monday.

    No problem... we can do it. Errr, which file was it?

    It turned out to be a file from 2011. HRDroid got told to pound sand.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      HRDroid got told to pound sand.

      Would that be a mixture of 3 parts sand, 1 part cement and 3 parts gravel by any chance...

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

        Proper mixtures

        Don't add too much water or you'll end up with cement soup.

        Anyone else remember the OR's floor incident from "M*A*S*H"? (I believe it was season 9, episode 3, "Cementing Relationships".)

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

          Re: Proper mixtures

          Just checked for my curiosity: Correct!

          You memory is not mashed up.

          "I never said six part gravel in my life! I said four parts sand, three parts gravel!"

          "Congratulations ladies and gentlemen, we just laid 240 cubic feet of oatmeal."

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Proper mixtures

            "I never said six part gravel in my life! I said four parts sand, three parts gravel!"

            He didnt specify how much cement then.

            I thought it was 3,2,1 anyway?

          2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker
            Pint

            Re: Proper mixtures

            Jou, thanks for the quotes from the episode. I remembered "Congratulations... we just laid" but forgot the rest of the punchline.

            Pint for you, sir ======>

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        That seems a bit light on gravel.

      3. Chris G Silver badge

        Remember, you want at least 20 cm depth of concrete poured over anything organic, it holds the smell back.

        Heavy black plastic membrane before the pour is good too.

        1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

          centimetres? what kind of heretical measurements are those? Concrete should be laid in inches, no less than 4 and ideally over 6.....

          1. Marshalltown

            20 cm is eight inches. And even then you want to really hope your neighbor doesn't train search and rescue dogs. One of my friends trains dogs and one day one of his trainees alerted at the fence. Called the police and explained the anomalous behaviour. They received permission from the neighbor to search - over confidence on his part. My fried expected a dead squirrel or rat. The dog went directly to the new concrete patio. Somehow the neighbor hadn't noticed his wife taking a nap when he poured the concrete.

        2. moooooooo

          or be good friends with a local pig farmer....

        3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Correct. Concrete with organic (read: biodegradable) matter in it is not up to code.

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Been there, and invariably it's IT's fault that the user didn't keep a copy of the file.

    3. Evil_Tom

      I worked for a building & maintenance company and was asked if there was a chance of getting information on an employee from files or a backup.

      I asked from what system and year and the answer was "we don't know and 1976". My sarcastic answer was "if you can tell me what application you were using and database I'll get it back for you".

      Apparently it was for an asbestos exposure legal case. The "database" was potentially a filing cabinet in the basement which had flooded several times over the intervening decades rendering whatever paper remaining into a mulch.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Sign saying "beware of the leopard" optional...

      2. TRT Silver badge

        re: ...an asbestos exposure legal case.

        Unfortunately the room in question had also caught fire at some point in the past. Fortunately the fire was confined just to that one space thanks to a mid-1970s initiative to line all the archives with a fireproof material.

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith Bronze badge

          Re: re: ...an asbestos exposure legal case.

          Got that the second time I read it. :-D

  7. Sykowasp

    3000 quid back in 2004, that would be at least 1000 pints, over 250 work days, and 2 BOFHs, is 2 pints per day, each.

    So there should be a few more dodgy entries in the financial database IMO. Clearly they should have put the Post Its under the Blue Posts, and the Staples at The Gun.

    1. phat shantz

      Early Lessons

      Always distribute your "office supplies" over several, if not all general ledger accounts.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Early Lessons

        I thought the Blue Post was an IT supplier? With the promotional uh, "mouse mats" for the tiny mice you use while traveling? And actually they did order more stuff from them, with other descriptions. There was one system called "LAGERS", for example (no, I cannot remember what the backronym meant, look it up yourself, lazy sod.. youth today, etc.). No, my memory is not what it never used to be... (in IT, like in bike racing, sooner or later the PEDs, or in this case, the alcohol, gets you....)

        1. brotherelf

          Re: Early Lessons

          Lager is german for storage or warehouse. It's the little trivia like that that can save your (cough, I mean, the BOFH's) day.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Pint

      "is 2 pints per day, each."

      I'd be surprised if the BOFH and the PFY were lightweights!

    3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      3000 quid back in 2004, that would be at least 1000 pints

      at least 3000 its more than that now in 2019 , by a long way!

      Its 4500 pints at my local. so thats 3 pints - 15 years inflation , im gonna guess 5 pints .

      Although , if it was going on the Staples account I wouldnt be drinking the $1.99 Bud Lite .....

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Pint

    OLD DC!

    I've been one upped! I try to keep one of everything, you know just in case in 10 years, two days before retirement, someone asks for something that is no longer being sold...

    I see Simon has upped his game too, not just a roll of carpet and some lime, but a whole construction site to *cough* hide some evidence...

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: OLD DC!

      Preserve the evidence please!

  9. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    £3000 on staples

    It's quite easy to spend that much...

    A box of Type K staples ( 15000 of them) from a certain manufacturer is around £38 ex VAT.

    Whoopsy ordered 100 boxes rather than 10 for the copier that got replaced a year later and they were all recycled, should work as an excuse ;) not as tasty as beer though.

    I can't believe I went off on another tangent... Concrete cures harded if its under water or the surface kept moist :o

    https://theconstructor.org/concrete/concrete-curing-time-duration/11119/

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: concrete curing

      This. Concrete doesn't need any heat to harden, the hardening is an exothermic reaction in itself.

      Letting the surface dry out too soon will result in a visible piss-poor quality - which might prompt an auditor (yes, they occasionally roam building sites as well) to take a closer look. And you don't want that.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith Bronze badge

        Re: concrete curing

        Yep. Hence the big sheets of blue plastic get put on top of the concrete as well as underneath, when it is sunny, or if it is raining heavily. Useful stuff, heavy plastic sheeting.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: concrete curing

          don't forget the gaffa tape

  10. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    21 year old desktop graphical workstations

    (SGI) -- because they could do nifty things with audio files. Kept two of them alive for three years whilst I convinced folks that both Mac's and Linux desktops not only could do the work but do it faster and better.

    Funnest part? decrypting the encoded application passwords for the upload process. Since no one on *either* end of the flow knew either what they were or how to change them.

    Hex + md5 is *not* a secure encryption protocol.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: 21 year old desktop graphical workstations

      Was given an old SGI desktop, originally used as a CAD workstation, but latterly repurposed as a footrest, by a departing comrade.

      I went through almost exactly this procedure: first, getting the peipherals connected, which required adapters for the now obsolete keyboard, mouse, monitor and AUI network connectors. Then, the booting of the system, which did occur without incident. No one could remember the root password, of course, but this was Old UNIX, and there was a "demo/demo" account, which allowed the /etc/passwd file to be copied. "John the Ripper" was then applied to the root password, and in less time than it took to get a cup of coffee, the correct answer had poppsd out.

      Many more adventures resulted in an OS update, installed on a SCSI disk purchased off the 'bay, using a TFTP server. Hours of fun with vintage UNIX ensued. It was a slow time at work. System is now in my basement...

      // no UNIX license plate icon

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 21 year old desktop graphical workstations

        " "John the Ripper" was then applied to the root password,"

        These days possession of such tools of expedience could land you on a watch list at the very least :(

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: 21 year old desktop graphical workstations

          well theres a legitimate reason to have them in the SGI post , and also in the BOFH story...

  11. stiine Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Excellent!

    I laughed out loud after the 3rd line. Excellent job Simon.

  12. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Pint

    ahhh 2004

    Quite modern then by the standards of the 1990's CNC machines with the dataport designed in the 1970s and run in some stupid arsed 1/2 hardware flow control, 1/2 software flow control and 1/2 semaphore mode with an input buffer of 10... yes TEN whole bytes...

    By the time the modern software has noticed the control emitted a lone x-off byte which wandered its way through 10 meters of cable at the astounding rate of 9600 baud, the sending PC has flooded the buffer with about 1K of data.

    Oh the joys of the 085 alarm which sends you on a search for the old windows 98 PC kept in a storeroom especially for backing up the oldest machi.... whaddya mean you threw it out in the trash!

    Lucky for us we're next door to a scrapyard with a free and easy way of disposing of people who cant read signs saying "UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES THROW OUT THIS PC"

    Beer... because its time

    1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

      Re: ahhh 2004

      Or a vinyl plotter cutter off the ark, using a nonstandard pinout RS232 cable (that even the manufacturer had to scour their archives to find a copy of the pin out for as it was so old)

      Ended up cannabilising the cutter controller boards from machine 2 to get machine 1 to work, though managed to wire up the Y and Z axis to the wrong controllers.

      Took about 3 weeks of tearing my hair out, fiddling with the plotter software over and over and multiple cable making attempts to get the thing to work and not chuck random errors out, when it finally printed I was elated, I'd sworn I was NOT being defeated by an overgrown printer....

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: ahhh 2004

        Did you have the boss hanging on your arse going 'is it done yet?' 'is it working yet?' every 5 mins and you had to turn around and say "not quite yet" with a smile on your face while a black and evil mood burned your very soul?

        Or is that just me?

        1. Fatman Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: ahhh 2004

          <quote>Did you have the boss hanging on your arse going 'is it done yet?'</quote>

          To which my standard reply was:

          "IF you want me to get this fucking _________________ 1 done, then leave me alone to fix the problem!!!!!! EVERY TIME I have to stop what I am doing, and answer your stupid questions, just distracts me, now get the fuck out of here. I will inform you when I am done!"

          Once, a specific boss repeatedly interrupted me while I was doing some db mangling, I told him to FOAD. Once I finished the task, he hauled me before the Ivory Tower Inquisition Board, and demanded that I be fired for insubordination, and disrespect of superiors. Fortunately for me, the ITIB knew better, and I was told to leave and go back to work; they will handle the situation. It is my understanding that his employment was terminated on the spot.

          1 Insert value of choice here.

        2. CountCadaver Bronze badge

          Re: ahhh 2004

          "Boss" being my wife's father who was trying to start up his own custom vinyl company (said plotter was a rarity - tractor feed rather than the more modern friction feed, which meant it cut perfectly straight even over seriously long designs (think whole side of vans or longer) where as friction feed can wander.

          He was ok with it as they'd sat there for months and I needed something to do while my work permit for that country ground through the bureaucracy (and I mean ground slowly)

          I think he thought I was going to go postal on it at one point - "Go take the truck out for a while and clear your head"

        3. CountCadaver Bronze badge

          Re: ahhh 2004

          If anyone wonders what it was exactly - Gerber HS750 made by Gerber Scientific.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ahhh 2004

            If anyone wonders what it was exactly - Gerber HS750 made by Gerber Scientific

            You should have said something sooner, I think I have the info around here somewhere.......*

            *Not really, just want to see what your reaction would be!

            1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

              Re: ahhh 2004

              this was 14 years ago lol....time flies......

        4. JR
          Pint

          Re: ahhh 2004

          I wanted to use the third pane's opening line several times with my previous PHB.

          https://www.schlockmercenary.com/2009-04-14

  13. VicMortimer

    Ugh, this is all so familiar.

    Just this morning, I finished up a job for a dentist. It seems his old digital x-ray system was failing. Now, he'd gotten a new system and was using it for all new x-rays, but the old ones were still in the old system. The old system that was running an ancient version of the software, on XP, with a failing power supply, fan, hard drive, and who knows what else, covered in dust and that lovely white powder you find in all dental office computing gear, that powder you strongly suspect to be bits of ground-up teeth.

    Anyway, after moving the drive to newer hardware and faking out the XP activation (apparently MS won't activate it any more) I finally got it to boot long enough to export the data. (Yes, just moving the drive was risky. But there was something wrong with it, I couldn't get it to image to a newer drive. I did manage to sort of get a backup before I dropped it in another machine.)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Ugh, this is all so familiar.

      "that powder you strongly suspect to be bits of ground-up teeth"

      But probably dental stone, plaster of Paris which sets particularly hard. I used to visit a dental supplier in Belfast to get supplies of it which we issued to Scenes of Crime Officers.*

      Eventually it transmogrified into a combined dental supplier and video hire shop, VHS being a new thing. I asked the owner which was the more profitable line. He didn't actually say but it turned out he wasn't happy about the amount of cash he had to tie up in stock for the video side.

      *Handy tip for mixing small amounts of plaster: if you store it in plastic bags just add water to the bag and mix it by palpating the bag (oooh-er Missus!). We issued it in one pound bags with the instruction to add a pint of water per bag. You could practically guarantee an empty beer bottle near any crome scene to act as a measure.

      I see the building industry caught up a few decades later with bags of ready-mix mortar with hose attachments. What a pity I never patented the idea.

    2. CountCadaver Bronze badge

      Re: Ugh, this is all so familiar.

      sticking a "difficult" drive in the freezer for a while can work wonders, you have to be quick though before the bearings and electronics warm up too much....

      1. Slow Joe Crow

        Re: Ugh, this is all so familiar.

        I've had that work twice, I've also swapped the circuit board off of a good drive to get data off a failed drive. fortunately the machine had two identical Quantum SCSI drives

  14. PhilipN Silver badge

    SCSI!

    I told you not to use bad language around here. Now go and wash your mouth out!

  15. Anonymous Tribble

    "Two days later we have a replacement drive – the major component of the cost being the shipping"

    That happened to me, but it was more like two weeks to get the replacement drive.

    A disk failed on a client's ancient Unix server. The OS was very fussy about having the exact model of disk with a particular firmware revision. An engineer eventually tracked one down somewhere in the middle of a rainforest in Brazil and we had to wait for it to be shipped to the UK.

    1. Hazmoid

      "Middle of a Rainforest in Brazil" where it was probably being used to prop up the desk of the local Warlord.

  16. Azamino
    Windows

    Growth

    The problem with any fiddle is that it just gets bigger (ooer!).

    By now they’ll be billing for enough staples to end obesity in America twice over!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old Machines

    Ah, yes, old machines. I was peripherally involved with a rather unique case not too many years ago. It seems that a court was reopening a homicide case (e.g., a real "cold case"). The coroner's autopsy report had been recorded on a dictation machine, before being transcribed to a printed form. The jurisdiction still had the dictation machine tape, but had scrapped out the dictation machine itself quite a number of decades ago. And, of course, they wanted to be able to hear the original tape (We'll ignore tape life issues, etc.). But, how long has it been since anyone has even seen a dictation machine? Yikes!

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: Old Machines

      Which type of cassette?

      I only have working machines for standard 'compact' cassettes(music cassettes) and the microcassettes.

      These are still quite common.

      PicoCassette machines may be a bit more difficult to find, though.

  18. Bullseyed

    Blueposts?

    Blueposts? 2004/2005?

    I smell... World of Warcraft.

  19. perlcat

    Staples

    I'd like to point out that beer *is* a staple. 3,000 on staples is a bargain.

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