photo credit: Rocky X @ Flickr It was Friday afternoon, and Mike was 78% of the way out the door and into the parking lot when he heard the pitter-patter of footsteps behind him. Don't look, don't look… he thought, intent on getting out the door and starting his weekend.

He turned around and looked. One of Mike's fellow admins ran down the hall; his company-mandated tie flapped around, and one of his shirt-tails had worked loose in the chase. "Mike! There's a virus attacking the VAX!"


There were a number of reasons why that didn't make any sense. For starters, there weren't any VMS viruses in the wild in the early-90s. And they were very careful about what code ran on VMS- even if some user managed to get a virus onto the system, they'd have a very hard time getting it to run in a way that could do damage.

Mike dutifully trudged back to the command center, tossed his coat on a chair, and logged onto his terminal. Sure enough, at the top of the alert log, was the message: Virrus attacking system. A few moments later, the same message went out to all the administrators. And again.

There was no plan for this sort of thing. Someone had the bright idea of taking the VAX cluster down and calling Digital's support line. The next business day, no one admitted to being the person who had this idea, but at the time, it sounded like something to do. Unfortunately, this sent the sales team into a round of frantic whining, as the VAX hosted their CRM system. And when sales was upset, management was upset.

On behalf of the sales-team, Mr. Werner materialized in the command center, his dark suit wrapped around him like a cloak of shadows. A chill breeze wafted off of his sallow flesh. "Why," he creaked, "didn't our virus scanner catch this?"

"There isn't one," Mike replied. "VMS systems aren't-"

"We don't have one?" Werner shrieked, his voice like a pair of band-saws mating. "This is a mission critical system! This is vitally important to our business! Due diligence! My desktop has a virus scanner! And the mainframe doesn't?"

By this time, Digital had been roped in, and they were as confused about the problem as Mike's team. They were concerned that this could be a new virus in the wild, but didn't have any ideas on how to help troubleshoot the problem- and with the system down, there wasn't much they could try.

Mike blanked out on most of this exchange, wistfully thinking about how he almost escaped the building. His desk phone rang; it was the service desk with a customer on the line. "I've got a customer who has been having issues connecting to the mainframe all day."

"Well, the VAX has been down since 4:30," Mike said. "He can try again on Monday and see if the problem persists. We've kinda got a crisis down here."

"I understand," the helldesk imp said, "but according to the user, this started before that. He's a new account, and he was told that his account should be available this afternoon. He said he's been trying to log in for the past few hours, and hasn't been able to."

"Well, I can look into it when the VAX is back up. What's the account name?"

"Virrus. V-I-R-R-U-S. Virrus."

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