• Brian (unregistered)

    At least it didn't launch a missle

  • oh geez (unregistered)

    Sure, datacenter should be off limits for , well pretty well everyone except staff. But taking out probably the most "exciting" part of the tour.... ugg... what an eventful (err less) day

  • Patrick Farrell (unregistered)
    Comment held for moderation.
  • (cs)


    "F**k security, the kids need to see this." Good job.

    Makes me think of Wargames. "So, kids, this is where we keep the computer that could blow up the world. The author had a son who died named Joshua, and some say there might be a related exploit... And up next is this bank of terminals for you all to fiddle with. Try 'Games'. Really."

  • fmtaylor (unregistered)

    Guess they never heard of a molly-guard. Google it of you are unsure....

  • Foo Duck (unregistered)

    The CIO should be greatfull for not having to find a child freezed to death or at least dehydrated in the datacenter on a monday morning.

  • kuroshin (unregistered) in reply to Foo Duck
    Foo Duck:
    The CIO should be greatfull for not having to find a child freezed to death or at least dehydrated in the datacenter on a monday morning.

    Dont fool yourself. The CIO could have issued a release : "Oh, we were just testing the backup and restore routines on a peak day."

    captcha: darwin, (the CIO or the kid ?)

  • (cs)

    Well, atlest it didnt kill the WHOLE center, ive seen a kill switch for the massive UPS, you press that thing, and 60 servers go down HARD

  • Alex (unregistered)

    As a kid, I pressed every button I could get my hands on. They used to have the red buttons to stop moving sidewalks 2 feet above the ground -- no longer, due to me pressing those buttons all throughout western civilization.

  • Engineer Rob (unregistered)

    Yeah, we had a button like that in our data center, right by the doors in case of fire, it would turn off all power. Unfortunately, we also had big red buttons by the doors to the elevator area, that you needed to press in order to get to the elevator. So every few months, somebody would get confused and just slap the big red button on their way out of the data center. Eventually they figured out to put on a lid you had to raise in order to hit the button. (Is that the proper name for the button the other poster mentioned?) Ah, good times.

  • (cs)

    Perhaps the phrase "Press this button" should be added to help deter the urge to press it.

  • nobody (unregistered)

    IBM loves big red buttons.

    The IBM 1130 had sort of one, it was a knob with a red label that cut off all power, intended to be used if the machine was on fire or something. Funny, if the machine was on fire or emitting sparks, I'd rather go to the circuit breaker than risk touching it.

    Anyway, my high school actually had one of these computers. One of the teachers pulled the emergency pull. It fried the core memory. IBM never fixed it right, though; instead of replacing it, they wired the bad word's address to another word, so one word had two addresses.

  • (cs)

    I just hope the pentagon doesn't have bring-your-kids-to-work-day...

  • Sarkie (unregistered)

    I had to comment on this.

    As a child I had a birthday at a McDonalds, and we were given the tour of the Drive-Thru. We were quite young about, 6-7, but we still understood the sensors and how they automatically opened the windows, to pass the food to the drivers in the car.

    So when the question came to "Who knows how the window opens?". Since it was my birthday, I thought "Well I should Answer". I watched as the tour guide approached it and the window opened. So I said "you walk up to it and it opens". He smiled, as we walked forward nothing happened. But another kid goes, "No it's not he hits that switch with his arm". As this sentence escapes his mouth, another kid presses it.

    Then lots of commotion ensued, as managers were running round, we didn't know what happened so we all walked back to our seats and got obese.

    Then 4 Fire Engines turned up, and a "No More Tours" Sign was posted up and I think it is company policy now.

    Oh well.

    Cheers, Sarkie.

  • David (unregistered) in reply to Brian
    At least it didn't launch a missle
    I think you mean missile.
  • JustMeAgain (unregistered)

    2 separate points

    1. Since I brought my 13-year-old daughter to work as a receptionist/office helper for a day she has vowed never to work in an office again -- she's now 20 and is keeping the promise.

    2. IBM used to have a big red HALT button on the operational keyboard of mainframes. An operator I knew was once reading a novel on the keyboard while he was bored, you guessed it, it was sitting on the key. After a while he noticed a lot of commotion going on around him, and eventually figured out the cause, surreptitiously hitting the button again, so the machine could continue where it left off.

  • (cs)

    I'm surprised no one has yet posted this link: http://jargon.net/jargonfile/m/molly-guard.html

  • fmtaylor (unregistered) in reply to don

    sorry I left out the link and left the googling to the user.....

  • Frzr (unregistered)

    Some 12 years ago we had a UPS outage. Fearing a voltage surge when power was supposed to come back, we turned off the four "big red buttons" on the then-new IBM 3090J (which was a room-sized monster). A while later we realized IBM made these switches "for emergency use only", i.e. it was impossible to turn them on - you had to call IBM service and pay a huge fee per switch...

    About a month after that incident, someone accidentally turned off the "big red lever", shutting down the UPS: he thought it was the knob for opening the cabinet behind it.

  • (cs)

    Moons ago, I was doing work a for a government agency. We mostly did small contracts for component and vehicle installs.

    It was the day where the office was overrun by the children of government employees (contractors couldn't get their kids on base). Anyway, a certain contract required racks that had APC SmartUps 2200s installed in them. We had a bad batch apparently and they began to literally explode their batteries during the system burn in and configs in the lab.

    The procedure was to haul them outside and yank them apart (the batteries swelled when they exploded and they were impossible to remove via the front access). We also didn't want to touch the acid in the batteries.

    So the kids that were formally looking at vans, boats and trucks with sirens, antennas and guns mounted at every conceivable angle. Were now oohing and aahing at a smoking hunk of plastic and steel being yanked apart by two guys in jeans.

    They were quickly rushed inside, and we were given a stern talking to, but Hazmat later backed us up for getting them outside before the toxic fumes overcame somebody. Gotta love being a contractor.

  • (cs)

    If the worst it did was shut off the server, then they should consider themselves lucky. I once worked in a place where the Big Red Button would simultaneously cut all power to the data center and set off the Halon fire suppression system. Naturally, it was behind a rather heavy molly guard.

    And of course, the Jargon File alleges that the Big Red Switch on an IBM 360/91 would actually fire a non-conducting bolt into the main power feed. I have seen similar systems in non-computer related equipment, where tripping the BRS would cause a small controlled explosion and thus break the power connection. But only in systems where the time it took to do this needed to be measured in microseconds, which is likely not the case in a server box these days.

  • Jno (unregistered) in reply to jrwr00

    That's not a UPS, it's a UEIYPTBRTPS - Uninterruptible Except If You Press This Big Red Tit Power Supply, Model GOYKYWT (Go On, You Know You Want To).

    The genius who installed our secure computer room (Faraday cage, with air-lock-stylee double doors interlocked by pneumatics) could do no better than put the Emergency Power Off button on the wall right next to the Open The Damn Door button. We too got a perspex box after the fifth time the lights went out ...

  • Bob (unregistered)

    Reminds me of the last time my dad took me to work. I was 7 or 8, and had just learned Basic at school. He sat me down in front of their brand new PC and after going thru the directory a couple times, I found the game I wanted to play - FORMAT. Took me about 30 seconds to realize I did something horribly wrong.

  • (cs) in reply to Patrick Farrell
    Patrick Farrell:
    Gawd, how many times have I wanted to push those buttons too. That kid sounds like management material. I've never pulled a fire alarm either (though I've wanted to sooo badly).


    Back in the day of these IBM machines my wifes father purchased such a machine and was so proud to have set it up and spent several hours entering their financial information into a program. However this was in the early days of home computing and he got up to get something. My wife who was quite young at the time saw the button and couldn't resist the temptation to push it. Needless to say if her mom wasn't home that day, I would probably be married to someone else. Moral of the story was he learned to save his work often.

  • mastmaker (unregistered) in reply to don
    Comment held for moderation.
  • lmodllmodl (unregistered)

    take your kid to work day? Depends on the job... years back, I worked at a company that made fire trucks. not just any fire trucks, but the big ones with ladders on top... Show me a kid that wouldn't enjoy that tour...

    'ell, I knew quite a few adults begging me for the tour... top it off with a machine shop with lots of metal fab equipment, and you have some real fun.

    Captcha : burned : how appropriate...

  • (cs) in reply to jrwr00
    Well, atlest it didnt kill the WHOLE center, ive seen a kill switch for the massive UPS, you press that thing, and 60 servers go down HARD

    Well, that many servers going down hard sort of makes a really nice reverse-whoosh sound - cool if you're a kid; well, cool even if you're not a kid ;)

    Who wants to listen to servers going down softly?

  • (cs) in reply to snoofle

    Hmmph! Looking around, I notice that our data center doesn't have a Big Red Button.

    I feel so ... deprived

  • Robert (unregistered)

    Many many ywars ago, my father took me on a job interview. He was a teacher, and this was a brand new school. It had these red boxes that said "Pull for fire" and being 4 or so, I tried it out. Of course the fire alarm went off, and being a new school, they did not know how to turn off the alarm. The rest of the interview took place with the fire alarms going off. And yes, he got the job.

  • Robert (unregistered) in reply to Robert

    That should be "years" not "ywars"

  • Jethris (unregistered)

    I was working for a classified government agency (not the agency, but the facility). We had a large data room, approx 15k sq feet of old equipment. Our mission was critical, and outages over 5 mins were reported to the Joint Cheifs.

    I had just started there, and was still in training. An electrician needed to come in to do their electrician type stuff. Because he was not cleared to be in there unescorted, it was my job to follow him around and ensure he didn't see anything he wasn't allowed to.

    On the way out, he looked at the emergency power off switch, marked with a big red sign "EMERGENCY POWER OFF. USE ONLY INCASE OF EMERGENCY." That was right next to the HALON discharge system, which was deactivated.

    Mr. Electrician stated that both switches were inactive. I tried to argue, but at this point he proceed to hit the power off button, crashing the entire (very fragile) system. It took 3 hours to reboot all the systems.

    He was never allowed back in the data center.

    CAPTCHA: Poindexter. Yeah, he was one.

  • (cs)

    I was a datacenter once and saw one of those big black-with-a-hint-of-red monoliths that those big IBM mainframes are.

    It too had a big red button on the front panel.

    The Button was however covered with a case made of acrylic glass, thus making it impossible to turn it off :-)

  • Andrey Naumov (unregistered)

    Once, when my wife and my son - 1.2 y.o. walking trouble - landed in the LAX being in the US for the first time, border officers came to ask her couple questions, so they walked in one room with a computer. My son ran to the wall and quickly pulled the power cord off.

  • akatherder (unregistered)

    Our big red button was stuck on the wall next to a door. There were some file cabinets right in front of it, and more than once a co-worker or security guard bumped the button and took down the entire computer room. We were the main inhabitants, and we were "development", however the other inhabitants were global router operations.

  • Got enough wtfs of my own (unregistered) in reply to David

    Everyone knows what he meant. Please keep from taking up forum space with this drivel. Sheesh.

  • Anon (unregistered) in reply to Bob
    Reminds me of the last time my dad took me to work. I was 7 or 8, and had just learned Basic at school. He sat me down in front of their brand new PC and after going thru the directory a couple times, I found the game I wanted to play - FORMAT. Took me about 30 seconds to realize I did something horribly wrong.

    I did something similar. I thought the computer was running a little slow. So I dug around a bit and found a file called WIN386 in the root directory. I reasoned: Oh, this file must be making the run like a 386. DELETE

  • Datacenter Guy (unregistered)

    At least it wasn't the EPO (emergency power off) button for the entire datacenter!

    The datacenter where my server is located has such a button, in case there's a fire or whatever. It would bring down thousands and thousands of servers all at once.

    Fortunately, it's actually two buttons, each protected by its own plexiglass flip-up cover. There's also a stern warning on the wall about the legal penalties you'll face if you push it without merit.

    At least the kid didn't stick a peanut butter sandwich inside the RAID array :)

  • Val (unregistered)

    Wow, this happens a lot. I worked at a company for 10 years, and was around for 3 different cases:

    1. Child at work with Mom in the data center, Big Red Switch, IBM mainframe. Stopped order entry and billing for a while. Until this event, the mainframe had never been powered off since it was first installed.

    2. Child-like senior exec in charge of building services, over-excited about a false electrical alarm from the data center (the alarm system had been giving random alarms for some time), rushes past the operators into the data center and slaps the Emergency Power Off (EPO) switch just inside the door. A dark and silent data center is a spooky place. We put a molly cover over the switch.

    3. Janitor, broom pole, exposed read/write switches on front panel of EMC data storage cabinet. All of a sudden, random apps start complaining they can't write to disk. Took HOURS before someone noticed the disks were set read-only from the panel. Velcro and acrylic to the rescue; the next cabinet we got from EMC had the panel built-in as standard equipment.

    The more things change...

  • (cs)

    I did something sort of like this when I was young. My mother is a pharmacist, and they have one of those silent alarms under the counter. If someone ever held up the store, they could discretely push the button to alert the police. When I was about 5, this button was at eye level, so I started pushing it over and over. In a few minutes about four police officers came in. The rest of the details are pretty fuzzy though.. I was five, after all.

  • matt s (unregistered) in reply to snoofle

    It might not be red. Start pushing buttons and see what happens. ;-)

  • my name is missing (unregistered)

    I didn't know the Easy button from the commercials was an IBM invention.

  • J (unregistered) in reply to Brian

    From "Ren and Stimpy"

    Ren: Now listen, Cadet. I've got a job for you. See this button? [Stimpy reaches for the button; Ren slaps his hand away] Ren: Don't touch it! It's the History Eraser button, you fool!

    Stimpy: So what'll happen?

    Ren: That's just it. We don't know. Maybe something bad, maybe something good. I guess we'll never know, 'cause you're going to guard it. You won't touch it, will you?

    Narrator: How can he possibly resist the maddening urge to erradicate history at the mere push of a single button? The beautiful, shiny button? The jolly, candy-like button? Will he hold out, folks? Can he hold out?

    Stimpy: No I can't! Yeagh! [Pushes button]

  • Tom Woolf (unregistered)

    I worked in a finance center in a small out-of-the-way department. Our space included what used to be a small computer room for the previous tenants. Though not big, the room did have a little red switch by the door. A coworker, not knowing what the little red switch did, and being a hands-on kind of guy, thought he'd see what it did. What it did was kill the power to the room, completely and absolutely. The half dozen financial analysts working on spreadsheets suddenly had their PCs die. Any unsaved work was kaput.

    The next day there was a 5-foot long dot-matrix generated sign taped over the button that repeated "Push this button and we will kill you" over and over and over.....

  • Rob Banzai (unregistered)

    I worked in the national call center for the United States Postal Service. We had a server room with a great many servers, phone and network equipment, rows of lead acid batteries for backup power, the works.

    We also had a big red "EMERGENCY POWER SHUTOFF" button next to the double exit doors. No problem, after all it did say "EMERGENCY POWER SHUTOFF" and we did not allow children in the server room.

    Unfortunately we allowed US West technicians in the server room. On his way out after completing his work the technician hit the button thinking it would open the doors. Never mind that the word "DOOR" "OPEN" or anything remotely like it wasn't on the sign over the button.

    It was my day off so I missed the fun. When I got back in I made several paper mockups of the Big Red Button including the US West logo and scattered them around the server room as decoys.

  • nobody (unregistered) in reply to J
    Narrator: How can he possibly resist the maddening urge to erradicate history at the mere push of a single button? The beautiful, shiny button? The jolly, candy-like button? Will he hold out, folks? Can he hold out?

    Stimpy: No I can't! Yeagh! [Pushes button]

    Ren: Stimpy, you eeeeediot!

  • JohnB (unregistered)

    In the future there will be only one data centre and the Big Red Button (tm) inside will be guarded by a man and a dog.

    The man will be there to feed the dog.

    The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the Big Red Button (tm).

  • Fudge Packer (unregistered)

    In case you didn't know, an IBM P695 is just a mid-range AIX server.

    Some are confusing it with the z/Series (System/390) mainframe [which actually comes in sizes as small as a PC tower or as large as a medium sized Kenmore fridge].

  • (cs)

    I arrived at the keyboard to find that the mouse was unplugged. This was in the pre-Windows-95 days before plug-and-play and Shut Down menus. The procedure was to plug the mouse back in and power cycle the CPU.

    Except this wasn’t a Windows PC but a high-end Unix workstation that someone had foolishly let me near. And that big tower case included a shared hard drive or two. This was patiently explained to me in an email from the admin a couple days later.


  • justin (unregistered) in reply to Fredric
    I just hope the pentagon doesn't have bring-your-kids-to-work-day...

    "Timmy! How many times do I have to tell you? DON'T START A THERMONUCLEAR WAR!!!"

  • (cs)

    Ah ... thanks to Windows, you don't even need a Big Red Button.

    Some keyboards have three nifty keys added to them: "Sleep", "Suspend" and yes ... "Power".

    Some dude put one of those "smart" keyboards on our Primary Domain Controller (winbugs 2003 server) without thinking.

    So once I was working on some stuff, tried to press the "Del" key and pushed the "Power" button instead.

    Which starts a non-interactive, non-stopping forced shutdown.

    On a server.

    Good thing that POS button doesn't work on Linux... but what were the keyboard designers thinking when they set up that thing???

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