The IT Anecdotes thread



  • If you work in IT, you often accrue random (sexy?) anecdotes that aren't necessarily WTFs, but nevertheless are entertaining.

    You should post them here.

    here is one:

    When I was at university we were taught Java, and this was done through the use of an application called BlueJ. This was handy for understanding inheritance between classes, as it drew a dependency graph for you and that was your main file navigation method, however it was totally useless for anything of any significant weight.

    eventually we got taught design patterns, in exactly the bad way that everyone worries about, that they are the bees knees and you should seek to apply them wherever possible because they definitely always improve things and never make anything go wrong (better start coding factories for your factories guys!)

    then I graduated, and got a Real JobTM and received minimal remuneration for my efforts. I was working on an application in C# that handled workflow for the companies highly skilled (i.e. paid) but non-IT workforce. Said workflow application was built around giving said workforce tasks to complete against a number of jobs they had on at that time, and setting deadlines several days/weeks/months ahead for those tasks. This meant that said workforce would ignore a job, no matter how simple, until about 3 days before it was due, and then maybe do it if they didnt have anything else more important on. Then, if they really couldn't find anything better to do, get their subordinates to do it in their name.

    Eventually, this application was chugging away and providing ostensible value for the workforce, and a new IT director arrived, who obviously decreed it should be scrapped and outsourced to be entirely rewritten in Java by an external company. Sounds like a great plan! It was made pretty clear that we were surplus to requirements so I started looking for new gainful employment.

    The end.

    this was not a very entertaining anecdote. but it was an anecdote.



  • Once I zapped a laptop with static electricity. It never worked again.



  • On my last day at a job, I took a dump on the keyboard of my boss's laptop and then slammed the lid down.

    Just before, I changed the hostname to "SHTSNDWHCH".



  • @Bort said:

    On my last day at a job, I took a dump on the keyboard of my boss's laptop and then slammed the lid down.

    Just before, I changed the hostname to "SHTSNDWHCH".

    feel like I should file this under "a shit that never happened"



  • Had a teacher in college place a MsgBox call inside of an infinite loop, and we had fun watching him click Ok for a while before just killing the program.


  • :belt_onion:

    @boomzilla said:

    Once I zapped a laptop with static electricity. It never worked again.

    One sunny football Saturday afternoon, I heard my wife tell me, "I'm going to clean out the interior of my computer, it's got a lot of dust." I nodded in agreement, paying as much attention as a husband ever does, and went back to watching the game.

    Thirty minutes later she comes back in. "My computer won't boot up anymore, could you take a look at it." I go in to find that sure enough, it won't pass the post. My first thought was that she had disconnected a cable or something by accident, so I checked all the connections and tried again. Still nothing. Got on my PC to diagnose the error code, which it claimed was the memory being bad. I'm starting to get suspicious... there's no way she messed with the RAM just to clean dust out of the PC. But I have some spare pieces that fit, so I replace it and try to boot again. Still nothing, still claims the RAM is bad. Now the wheels are turning in my head... I pull everything but the bare essentials and try to boot. No change. It was almost certainly the motherboard itself that was failing. And that's when I remembered what I had seen out of the corner of my eye as I nodded to her earlier.

    She was carrying a Swiffer™ (1)

    I immediately realized that I would be lucky if it was only the motherboard.


    1) For those who don't know, Swiffers are an electrostatic dusting cloth. Fortunately the motherboard was indeed the only thing that got fried.


  • I used to do this to some of the PCs in the high school computer labs except I'd put the infinite MsgBox loop in a VBA startup macro on Word and Excel.



  • At uni, one of our professors created a fork bomb during the lecture, and then proceeded to run it (as root IIRC because of safeguards on the system to prevent fork bombing) on the IT faculty's Unix server. He managed to show us the process table a couple of times before it hung the ssh session he was connecting to the server with. He had a bit of an "Oh shit" moment before realising he'd been lucky enough to have another ssh session still open, and was able to kill it and all its children.



  • @Spencer said:

    At uni, one of our professors created a fork bomb during the lecture, and then proceeded to run it (as root IIRC because of safeguards on the system to prevent fork bombing) on the IT faculty's Unix server. He managed to show us the process table a couple of times before it hung the ssh session he was connecting to the server with. He had a bit of an "Oh shit" moment before realising he'd been lucky enough to have another ssh session still open, and was able to kill it and all it's children.

    its



  • I blame auto-co-wreck<!--doesn't mean autocorrection was actually at fault, but I blame it regardless -->.





  • @Spencer said:

    was able to kill it and all its children.

    I.T. is a brutal field...


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    A few years ago one of our clients moved to a new building that they purchased, which had previously been a bank. It was actually a really cool building, with some interesting architecture. As a few years earlier they had a leak in the roof of the prior office space and files, servers and networking gear were ruined, the owner wanted us to install all of the gear in the old bank vault. Yes, that was just as cool as it sounds.

    The doors had to be altered, so no one could become trapped inside, etc and a few other things. Part of running cabling in to the server room bank vault involved having to core a hole through the concrete and steel walls of the vault. Imagine calling up a concrete cutting company and when they ask you specifics (thickness, PSI, reinforcing, etc) you tell them that it is a bank vault. It led to a bit of confusion. Apparently they thought that I was planning a robbery.



  • @Intercourse said:

    Apparently they thought that I was planning a robbery.

    But you weren't. At the time.



  • The robbery then became the concrete cutting company's, realising they could charge whatever they wanted for the job


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @Zecc said:

    But you weren't. At the time.

    evil laugh

    @Spencer said:

    The robbery then became the concrete cutting company's, realising they could charge whatever they wanted for the job

    Pretty much, but they kind of had to. They were not coring through a 4" basement wall. IIRC, it was over 16" thick, with heavy reinforcing steel every few inches. I don't remember the price of that core, but it was not cheap.

    You know those bank heist films where guys take out a bank vault in just a few minutes without alerting anyone in the neighborhood? Yeah, total bullshit. That core took for fucking ever. I doubt many people have heard a core drill in action, but if we had done it at night we would have been lucky to contain the noise to a city block and definitely not just the building. The same goes for thermal lances silently zipping through hardened plate steel in seconds. (as in "The Score") It just doesn't happen like that.



  • @Intercourse said:

    You know those bank heist films where guys take out a bank vault in just a few minutes without alerting anyone in the neighborhood?

    Real bankrobbers use stethoscopes



  • @mott555 said:

    I used to do this to some of the PCs in the high school computer labs except I'd put the infinite MsgBox loop in a VBA startup macro on Word and Excel.

    I once changed an AUTOEXEC.BAT file command from PROMPT=$P$G to PROMPT="RUNTIME ERROR IN 230, CALL SYSOP". The professor in charge of the lab wasn't able to run his demo program that day...



  • Why didn't you just use @blakeyrat's laser eyes that he develops when he goes on a rant?


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @RTapeLoadingError said:

    Real bankrobbers use stethoscopes

    It will take a damned long time to cut through a bank vault with a stethoscope.

    @chubertdev said:

    Why didn't you just use @blakeyrat's laser eyes that he develops when he goes on a rant?

    Because that would have led to a rage quit and he would then be a high school drop out. In schools you cannot just show up to class after a few months out of the blue like nothing ever happened.


  • sockdevs

    @chubertdev said:

    Why didn't you just use @blakeyrat's laser eyes that he develops when he goes on a rant?

    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @Arantor said:

    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor

    And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
    Shall be lifted - nevermore!



  • Had something similar happen here. I don't remember all the details, but for some reasons one of the introductory labs mentioned fork-bombs, and showed the "classic" bash implementation. The lab warned that running it is a bad idea etc etc.

    One year, the lecturer mentioned (prior to the labs) that most systems nowadays had mitigation measures against fork bombs (i.e., sane process limits and such), and demonstrated that on his laptop.

    Several students decided to try it out one their laptops during the labs (with no ill effects). Except one guy who (accidentally or otherwise) ended up launching the fork-bomb on one of the Uni's central remote-login servers for students. Guess which machines were misconfigured and most definitively crashed from fork-bombs and had to be rebooted manually by the IT-staff? Well, yeah.



  • Hopefully it ended well, a server should have been updated to the correct configuration after a non-malicious fork-bomb.



  • @chubertdev said:

    a non-malicious fork-bomb.

    Is there a difference between fucking someone's system maliciously and non-maliciously?


    Filed under: casualty-free nuclear bombing



  • From what I remember, the student initially got an angry email from the IT-folks with a nice threat of suspending his account if he didn't explain himself. He told them what had happened, and backed-up by us (I was a TA at the time), they let it go.

    I'd assume that the configuration on the server(s) was fixed, but TBH, I never checked afterwards.



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    Is there a difference between fucking someone's system maliciously and non-maliciously?


    Filed under: casualty-free nuclear bombing

    Yes, the executor of the fork-bomb isn't as likely to repeat their actions, or broaden their scope.



  • @cvi said:

    From what I remember, the student initially got an angry email from the IT-folks with a nice threat of suspending his account if he didn't explain himself. He told them what had happened, and backed-up by us (I was a TA at the time), they let it go.

    I'd assume that the configuration on the server(s) was fixed, but TBH, I never checked afterwards.

    Lucky him. I've done things like that, and usually, you're made the scapegoat.



  • In my high school we got shiny new PCs with Windows 2000, installed in two of the 4 IT classrooms (about 12 each).
    After a class, I was the last one to leave, and did a new "arrangement" of the keyboard and mouse.

    Win2K had a similar login dialog to this:

    See the 'help' link on the lower right corner? If you clicked there it would open:

    What I did: put the mouse resting on the numpad enter key. The screen starts flashing showing and hiding the help dialog. And that repeated in the 12 computers on the room.

    10 mins later I already had forgot what I had done. But as Math class was starting, the IT head teacher "P" storms into the room and asks "What did you do? Teacher L. says someone installed a virus on classroom A. It was you, wasn't it?"

    I was silent for at least 20 seconds trying to parse "WTF? Virus?" Then I started laughing like a mad man. After I calmed down I told the class and teacher "P" what I had done. Epic embarrassment moment for the IT teachers :)



  • "Let me run my antivirus."
    :knocks a mouse off a keyboard:



  • @chubertdev said:

    Lucky him. I've done things like that, and usually, you're made the scapegoat.

    For the most part, the IT-guys at that Uni were actually relatively sensible, down-to-earth people with a surprisingly high tolerance for random shit, if you were somewhat courteous and didn't make their jobs harder on purpose.

    Now, IT-management on the other hand...



  • Almost forgot this one:

    Started in the field at a consulting company with 20 employees, about 7-8 .NET developers, a few designers, a couple of hardware guys, etc. Us software devs would be put in decent-sized rooms, 2-3 per room. Wasn't too bad. Less space than what I have now, but far more room than what blakey has.

    The standard setup included Logitech MX keyboard/mouse combos, very standard. We also had a ping pong table.

    How those two are related: three of the devs in the same room went to play ping pong with another guy, and while they did so, I rotated their mice. So when they came back, they all started using their mice at the same time, watching the cursor on their screen move in a way that did not correspond to what they were doing.

    I had pretended to come in to ask a question, and couldn't keep a straight face for more than two words when one of the guys lifted up his mouse to examine it.



  • @redwizard said:

    I once changed an AUTOEXEC.BAT file command from PROMPT=$P$G to PROMPT="RUNTIME ERROR IN 230, CALL SYSOP". The professor in charge of the lab wasn't able to run his demo program that day...

    Back in the day when computers still sometimes had floppy drives but everyone had long since stopped using them, the administrative staff where I worked was moving in to a new building.

    I found an old DOS boot floppy and a copy of Basic and whipped up some fake error screens. Each computer got a slightly different version. Mostly streams of silly text-mode error messages ("ERROR: Water in your disk drive") or fake blue-screens, all of which ended with "Remove the floppy disk from your drive and press ctrl-alt-delete".

    The best one I did, after finding all my old DOS stuff including a graphics library, was a screen that looked almost exactly like Mac System 7. It even went through the happy mac loading screen, loaded some extensions and then showed the desktop. If the user tried to click anything, they got a bomb error (thus perfectly replicating System 7 *cough*).

    They retaliated a couple months later by turning my office pink.



  • @reverendryan said:

    all of which ended with "Remove the floppy disk from your drive and press ctrl-alt-delete".

    wow, that was nice of you.



  • I was tech support at the time, so I was really just doing myself a favor.



  • Reminds me of the time I discovered UNC paths and almost got expelled from high school during my final year.

    This was back in the early 2000s. Everyone in the school has a drive mapped to some folder on the school's central server. I'd noticed that the mapped drive had a description "foobar on \x\y\students". I thought, "I wonder if I can access another student's?" Tappity Map Network drive \x\y\students\jsmith, oh hey, there's all your files. Tappity, tell me if you can see a new file in your drive. Cool, I have read/write access to your student drive. Tappity, checks out for accessing a few more students.
    Now, we know from looking over various teachers' shoulders that their folders are in \x\y\teachers. I wonder if this will work, surely there'd be restrictions in place... NOPE! I've just found I can get (at least) full read access to teachers drives. Not game enough to test if I can write to them.

    A couple of days later, Assistant Principal calls me on the PA to come to the main computer labs. The sysadmins had apparently seen that I'd been accessing shit I wasn't supposed to in security audit logs and wanted to know how I'd been doing it. Showed them how I mapped drives to UNC paths (at this point in my life, I didn't know you could just type the UNC path directly into the address bar), and I was told that the only reason I wasn't being expelled (or even suspended) is because I hadn't (and they knew I wouldn't have) done anything more malicious than simply accessing the folders.

    A day or so later, they've blocked it. And by "it", I mean manually mapping drives. It wouldn't be until after I'd finished high school I'd realise I probably could have just put the UNC path in the address bar because they wouldn't have gone as far as securing folders to only those they were meant for (iirc, this was all backed by NT 4.0 Server).



  • @chubertdev said:

    Yes, the executor of the fork-bomb isn't as likely to repeat their actions, or broaden their scope.

    or take your money.



  • @chubertdev said:

    but far more room than what blakey has.

    More room than the yacht? Wow!



  • You'd be surprised what percentage of small businesses didn't have proper permissions on their NT servers in the early 2000's...

    Oh wait, I just remembered what forum I'm on...

    Still, the frequency of seeing such basics missing is scary.



  • @redwizard said:

    More room than the yacht? Wow!

    Yeah, isn't that standard-issue?



  • One of my school teachers tried to give us a PowerPoint presentation, from a laptop. A message appeared saying "You need to install a language pack to check the spelling of this file. Do you want to do that? Y/N" with focus on the "yes" button. So she carefully read the message, positioned the mouse cursor on the "No" button using the touchpad, and... pressed the Enter key. Naturally this selected "Yes". PowerPoint complained that it couldn't find the necessary files, went back to the previous dialog, and the cycle repeated for a couple minutes.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    I remember doing something really quite similar with a Netware system back in the early '90s, except I remembered to configure IT Support's system too…

    Good times.



  • @Spencer said:

    Reminds me of the time I discovered UNC paths and almost got expelled from high school during my final year.

    Reminds me of my own experience in high school... One of my friends found out that \\server\c$ was accessible, copied the SAM database and started cracking all the passwords. He found out the admin password quickly (it was a five-letter word...)
    But even that work was overkill since all students had Local Administrator privileges.

    The machines were only protected by some “security” software which was basically applying local group policies during logon. It was quite easy to work around it... For instance, even though IE was blocked, it was accessible by typing a URL into the address bar of any Explorer window. It was also possible to run any program by creating a button on a PowerPoint slide, assign it a Run Program action, and clicking it.

    One popular passtime at one point was to taskkill processes on other people’s computers. lsass.exe was a favorite candidate because that produced this annoying error message:


  • area_deu

    No animated gif?
    I'm disappoint.



  • @VinDuv said:

    The machines were only protected by some “security” software which was basically applying local group policies during logon. It was quite easy to work around it... For instance, even though IE was blocked, it was accessible by typing a URL into the address bar of any Explorer window. It was also possible to run any program by creating a button on a PowerPoint slide, assign it a Run Program action, and clicking it.

    Why is it that school IT loves Group Policy to death, but has not the foggiest clue about the actual security mechanisms that have been baked into Windows NT since version 3.5?



  • You guys don't somehow happen to be my old buddies from my high school class of 34 students? These both are very familiar.

    @chubertdev said:

    How those two are related: three of the devs in the same room went to play ping pong with another guy, and while they did so, I rotated their mice. So when they came back, they all started using their mice at the same time, watching the cursor on their screen move in a way that did not correspond to what they were doing.

    I did this to a whole computer lab once. The computers were set up in back-to-back rows. We either switched the VGA connections or the keyboard/mice, I forget which. Apparently drove a lot of students mad.

    @Spencer said:

    Reminds me of the time I discovered UNC paths and almost got expelled from high school during my final year.

    This was back in the early 2000s. Everyone in the school has a drive mapped to some folder on the school's central server. I'd noticed that the mapped drive had a description "foobar on \x\y\students". I thought, "I wonder if I can access another student's?" Tappity Map Network drive \x\y\students\jsmith, oh hey, there's all your files. Tappity, tell me if you can see a new file in your drive. Cool, I have read/write access to your student drive. Tappity, checks out for accessing a few more students.Now, we know from looking over various teachers' shoulders that their folders are in \x\y\teachers. I wonder if this will work, surely there'd be restrictions in place... NOPE! I've just found I can get (at least) full read access to teachers drives. Not game enough to test if I can write to them.

    A couple of days later, Assistant Principal calls me on the PA to come to the main computer labs. The sysadmins had apparently seen that I'd been accessing shit I wasn't supposed to in security audit logs and wanted to know how I'd been doing it. Showed them how I mapped drives to UNC paths (at this point in my life, I didn't know you could just type the UNC path directly into the address bar), and I was told that the only reason I wasn't being expelled (or even suspended) is because I hadn't (and they knew I wouldn't have) done anything more malicious than simply accessing the folders.

    A day or so later, they've blocked it. And by "it", I mean manually mapping drives. It wouldn't be until after I'd finished high school I'd realise I probably could have just put the UNC path in the address bar because they wouldn't have gone as far as securing folders to only those they were meant for (iirc, this was all backed by NT 4.0 Server).

    I discovered this on our school's NetWare-based network. Didn't get in trouble though, me and my buddies were very well-respected by anyone in charge of anything and it was basically one of those "Oh, well I'm glad those guys figured out it and not someone else" things. There was one other student not quite affiliated with my circle and not very respectable either who went into a teacher's network storage and put something rather vulgar into a worksheet she saved there but I don't know if that was ever discovered. We didn't rat on him either. In any case the permissions system was heavily improved within the next few weeks.



  • @dkf said:

    Netware

    +1

    I miss that OS. One of the few that really lived up to the idea of "just works" (well, until they released version 5 anyway...)



  • @aliceif said:

    No animated gif?I'm disappoint.

    Here you go:

    (Not meant at you personally.)



  • @tarunik said:

    school IT

    Right there is your answer. They're still learning, but they missed the first class.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @mott555 said:

    I did this to a whole computer lab once. The computers were set up in back-to-back rows. We either switched the VGA connections or the keyboard/mice, I forget which. Apparently drove a lot of students mad.

    Great minds think alike, I did this in high school also. Back to back computers had each other's mouse. What does everyone do when their mouse doesn't work? They move it in circles. With no one doing so at the same time, everyone thought their computer was running really slowly because everyone was doing it at different times. Hilarity ensued.

    Early on doing end-user support I realized that if you need to throw anything away that is faulty, you need to destroy it because some idiot will see a mouse or a network cable in the trash, think to themselves: "How did this get in here?", and put it back in the storeroom.

    I had a user file a ticket that their computer was really slow and laggy. Within short order I had diagnosed that the left mouse button was intermittently not working so she thought she was double-clicking something to open it but the computer was not receiving the signal which made the computer seem slow. I grab a new mouse and install it, throw the old one in the office trash and go on about my business.

    A month or two later, I get another call from a user, same issue. Lather, rinse, repeat. It turns out that everyone else had very basic mice. The broken one was a high-end Logitech with the back button, etc. Someone would take it out of the trash, put it in the storeroom and then months later another person would think: "This mouse is better than the one I have, I am going to swap them."

    Now I cut every cord on every mouse when I throw it away. Same for network cables, etc. Because some asshole will dig it out of the trash and use it.


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