• Beowulfenator (unregistered)

    Frist? I can't believe it!

  • Quite (unregistered)

    I have exactly the same trouble with my keyboard on my computer in my own home office. Except it's not monstrous manuals (note how subtly I restrained from writing "monster manuals" there) landing on the keyboard, but cats (come on, gimme a break, they are full employees of the family firm).

    The technique I use is that of the sliding shelf. When I have finished work for the day (hour, minute, whatever) I slide the shelf back underneath the monitor. It works like a little drawer. Then, any pesky wildlife larger than a mouse cannot access the keyboard to press sabotaging keys.

  • Björn Tantau (unregistered)

    Um, unplug the keyboard when it's not needed? Don't store books in the server room? Am I missing something here?

  • Valhar2000 (unregistered) in reply to Quite

    I use passwords. You can mash keys all you want; unless you type the right password, the computer wont do anything other than show messages on the screen.

  • Jérôme Grimbert (google)

    Books are needed to operate in the room. Old keyboard (unlike usb one) need an initialisation: once unplugged, it won't work again without rebooting. And rebooting, you cannot.

    A better solution: store the book at ground level. If room get soaked, book are lost first, then electrical equipment.

  • TheCPUWizard (unregistered)

    So TRWTF is that a reasonable (and proven effective) solution was not in place originally, and that the person only came up with it as a snarky comment.

  • Ann Nonimousse (unregistered)

    Don't leave us hanging, what happened to "custodial"?

  • fragile (unregistered)

    "When the shelf collapsed, it killed a janitor."


    But no interruptions, right?"

  • Quite (unregistered) in reply to TheCPUWizard

    Plexiglass shields are 100% reasonable enough (assuming they are hinged like the lid of the keyboard of a piano, otherwise TRWTF), it's the chains that cause amusement. Calls to mind Unseen University library.

  • Quite (unregistered) in reply to Valhar2000

    nah, easier to just slam the door closed.

  • Quite (unregistered)


  • Gechurch (unregistered) in reply to Jérôme Grimbert

    You're right older (PS2) keyboards needed initialisation. If they weren't present during boot the PS2 port would be disabled. But once initialisation happend during boot you can unplug and re-plug the keyboard as much as you like and it will work each time you plug it in.

  • Russell M (unregistered)

    A LOT of creative license on this one, but the core was completely true. It wasn't a network switch, it was a Lucent 5ESS switch, and the fact that it was down meant that customers couldn't make 911 calls. I also wasn't the one involved, I just sat on the sidelines while the phone switch technicians ran around like chickens with their heads cut off.

    No janitors were actually killed in the making of this story. ;-)

    The first part of the story was also true, and funny in its own right. They left out the part about giving the construction worker a laminated "crash-em" award.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Russell M

    Are you talking about this?

    a construction worker plugged a power drill into a UPS and drained it

    That could have been its own article.

  • Russell M (unregistered)

    NedFodder: Yes. I submitted it as its own article. Same company too.

    An electrician tripped a breaker, and instead of resetting the breaker, they moved on to an outlet that worked. 45 minutes later, the whole ISP section of the telco went down. As they said, right when I was bragging about uptime. I learned that lesson.

  • William Crawford (google)

    With older keyboards there was also a risk of shorting out the motherboard if you plugged them in while they were on, and it was strongly discouraged, even if it technically worked. Of course, they made keyboard switches that did the job without the risk, so that was a possibility.

  • Foobar (unregistered)

    Cost of custom-made plexiglass keyboard covers vs cost of a KVM switch?

  • EatenByAGrue (unregistered) in reply to fragile

    "When the shelf collapsed, it killed a janitor." See, that was the mistake. It should have taken out someone more expendable, like an accountant or upper management.

  • Joe (unregistered) in reply to Björn Tantau

    Older hardware may not like having a keyboard plugged / unplugged when live or you have a hard time getting at the plug.

  • Joe (unregistered) in reply to fragile

    till the local cops came in and Dexter kicked the power cable out.

  • RJStanford (unregistered) in reply to Gechurch

    Unplugging it post-boot wouldn't work though, even if it worked. In that situation, should the unthinkable happen and an unattended reboot occur, the machines then either wouldn't be able to come up or wouldn't recognize the keyboard once plugged in.

  • Ron Fox (google)

    So where's the WTF - this is more like corollary's 1 and 2. to Murphy's law:

    1. Shit Happens.

    2. When you think you've accounted for all possible Shit see 1. above

  • (nodebb) in reply to Björn Tantau

    Don't put your server farm in a room haunted by Eleanor Twitty gets my vote.

  • Guru Evi (unregistered) in reply to Gechurch

    Not really, PS/2 keyboards and mice had/have the capacity of blowing up the port or short circuiting if you plug/unplugged a live port.

  • Oliver Jones (google)

    Holy medieval library, Batman! Books chained to shelves!

    And then there are the power drills in the server room, generating lots of paper dust and chaff. What could go wrong?

  • Mason Wheeler (unregistered)

    The bit I'm surprised by is that no one's commented yet on the boss's rant from the start.

    "Our system is down. No one can call anyone. I want updates every half hour; if anyone doesn't call me with a progress update, they're fired!"


  • (nodebb) in reply to Quite

    cats (come on, gimme a break, they are full employees of the family firm).

    I see they have you properly trained. Everyone knows that cats own the family firm and you are merely their servant.

  • SlightlyD (unregistered)

    Ahh... the chained library.


  • Loren Pechtel (google)

    It wasn't a book but I had a similar problem that was baffling for a while.

    Report: The assembly station is quickly clearing any job that shows up at it. Forcing a job back to there results in it being sent on in a few seconds.

    Troubleshooting I learn that the computer at assembly is not the culprit, the behavior persists even with it turned off.

    The eventual culprit is identified: There was a supervisor's computer tucked in an alcove that happened to be set to the assembly station. A broom had fallen over and was leaning on the keyboard--specifically the enter key on the number pad. Unfortunately, the keyboard shortcuts:

    Enter selected the current menu option, the menu came up with it on process job. That brought up a list of available jobs, enter selected the current one. The assembly station only printed labels, it was not interactive. The supervisor's computer was set to not print the labels--hence by selecting the job it was immediately completed. Upon completion the station went back to the main menu.

    Since this was a rarely used computer that was out of view it took a while before it was identified as the culprit.

  • Mr. AHoleDBA (unregistered)

    I... I... don't... understand.... WHY even leave the keyboards plugged in the sensitive data center??? O.O They allow maintenance crews in there willy nilly?

  • Russell M (unregistered)

    There was no rant. That was creative license. :)

  • Herby (unregistered)

    Ah... Tel;phone central offices... Wonderful things, even nicer to visit.

    A story related to me:

    Normally central offices are powered by "battery" (a MASSIVE 48 volt bank of batteries that would easily fill up a whole house. These are charged by massive refrigerator sized power supplies that use buss bars to route the power. On the occasion in question the power failed, and the whole office was now run on the battery, which will last a few hours, being battery and all. The next step after a power failure is to spin up the turbine generator to get those battery chargers working again until the power company can do its thing. This requires the starting of the turbine which is done by blasting it with a bunch of compressed air that is stored in a large tank for this purpose. Said tank has enough air for two starts of the turbine, but that usually isn't a problem, because the first thing you do is re-charge the tank.

    We now take notice of the "big guy" who wants the turbine working "right now" and he starts the generator. This works wonderfully. The next step is to flip the switch and power everything "vital" to keep the central office working. He flips the switch and by his surprise it fails miserable, killing the generator, stopping it dead. It turns out that over time lots of people have plugged things (pencil sharpeners, toasters, etc...) into the "vital" circuits and this has overloaded things. When on utility power, nobody noticed, and didn't worry about it.

    The next step "our hero" takes is the unfortunate one. He decides to repeat the process, generator start, and flip the switch. Insanity prevails, and the same result happens. The problem is that the tank holding the compressed air has now been depleted, and there is no more "start" left for the turbine. So, in his zeal to be a hero and have the office running on generator power as soon as possible, he must bear witness to a dying central office. A couple of hours later it does just that.

    I don't know what corrective actions were taken (I assume that the "vital" circuits were checked to make sure they were "vital"), but I suspect that many meetings were held to point fingers.

    The moral: If you have a finite supply of something, do your best to replenish it when you use it, before it is all used up. Similar moral: When you are up to your a** in alligators, you kinda forget that the original objective was to drain the swamp.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Quite

    monstrous manuals (note how subtly I restrained from writing "monster manuals" there)


  • SmokingMan (unregistered) in reply to fragile

    Re: "Don't leave us hanging, what happened to "custodial"?" - he ended up locked up in an abandoned missile solo in the middle of the Nevada dessert with nothing but an extraterrestrial black oil-like virus to keep him company, he won't be causing us any trouble again.

  • David C (unregistered) in reply to Mason Wheeler

    Mason: Makes sense to me. It just means they need to fix that phone system within the first half hour.

  • LK (unregistered)

    So they solved the future issue with proactive work? Sounds like a good result to me!

  • Developer Dude (unregistered) in reply to William Crawford

    re: shorting out a keyboard by plugging it in while computer is running.

    I did that once in a test lab back in the 80s

    Fried the keyboard and IIRC something in the computer. That was about 30 years ago, so I don't remember exactly.

    Or was it a monitor? Long time ago.

    I seem to recall that they had KVMs even back then and that KVMs were (still are) wired to make the computer thing that there was a KB attached when the KB is switched to a different computer?

  • (nodebb)

    I somehow think that KVM drawers (the 1U thing that has LCD monitor + keyboard with touch pad, that can mount on a server rack and allow you to slide it back to it's place when not used) are standard equipment now. The one I've seen is also network enabled (like this one: http://www.networktechinc.com/kvm-drawer-ip.html ) so you can remote access it from office and workaround problem like the previous "telinit 1" article.

  • Olivier (unregistered) in reply to cheong

    They are standard equipment, but last time I checked, they cost like 10 times a standard keyboard+monitor.

  • Brian Boorman (google)

    so your article about the electrician would not be new

    When has that ever stopped TDWTF from publishing it anyway?

  • Edwin (unregistered)

    I'm disappointed. I was expecting that they would drain the UPS again with their power tools while improving bookshelf.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Herby

    You've got a battery that lasts a couple of hours at full load. Just how long does it take to re-charge the air tank? Alternatively, should you not re-charge the air tank using the turbine generator before flipping the switch to power everything else on?

  • GorGutz 'Ead 'Unta (unregistered)

    Ah yes, investigators complaining about opportunity costs. Opportunity costs: what the company THINKS it could be making right now but isn't. I also like to imagine that boss demanding reports every 30 minutes shouting at them like J. Jonah Jameson demanding more pictures of spiderman.

  • (nodebb) in reply to GorGutz 'Ead 'Unta

    IMO, as I.T. staffs , racket up the lost with opportunity cost is a good thing. This makes the next purchase of non-essential DR equipments or even better ordinary network related equipment easier to be justified.

  • guest-on-the-shield (unregistered)

    This is made up right? Why not just unplug the peripherals?

  • Dieter H (unregistered) in reply to SlightlyD

    Calls to mind Rowan Atkinson's sketch "Fatal Beatings". Wonderful image.

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