We pieced it together: Smoke was coming out of one of the executive's offices, and he had pulled the alarm. The fire department arrived and headed in. The exec talked to the firemen, all the while pointing over at us. When he's done, he steamed over and started berating us for buying "those cheap, piece of s#!t PCs." They were brand-new Dells, so we were confused. But sure enough, the fire department camesout just a few minutes later and said that the PC in this joker's office caught fire -- a little.
They let us back in and we trooped up to the exec's office to check things out. It took us a while, but we noticed that the seal on the back of the PC was broken and some of the case screws were missing. These were new PCs, so we knew none of us have had to service the thing. We gave the exec the stink eye and asked whether he opened the PC. He hemmed and hawed, then got all indignant.
As it happened, his son was a "real computer whiz" and told him to make sure all the "connections were set" or he wouldn't get the best performance. The executive opened the PC and "saw all these wires that weren't attached, just tied off and hanging" and decided to hook them up "to all the right plugs." When he went to turn it on, the PC "couldn't handle a full load" and gave off a bang and a lot of smoke.
Yeah, that was a fun conversation.
Fallout: An angry, embarrassed exec and a bill for a new PC.
Moral: Make sure your users know that the PCs you provide aren't for personal use. They're the property of the business; if they need to be opened, it'll be an IT staffer who does it no matter how smart your kid might be. Or not.
Stupid user trick No. 4: Introducing your IT infrastructure to a flight of stairs
Incident: Lava lamps in the server closet are one thing, but turning your infrastructure into a lounge might require more than just a backup plan, as one IT contractor relays.
Everyone has favorite clients, folks where you never know what you're going to find when you visit. This one time, we get called in on the hot line -- 911, major emergency, everything's down. Two of us got the assignment and went squealing out to the client site through Long Island traffic. We arrived, nodded to the receptionist who knows us, and headed up to the server room, expecting to find the company's IT guy with whom we contract. Only it's a lounge now: sofas, coffee tables, a vending machine, and a big-screen TV on the wall, but no servers. Well, that's the first clue as to why nothing's working.
We nosed around for the IT guy and found him in his office, desperately trying to expedite an order for new servers. Where are the servers we set up, dude? Oh, we moved them downstairs. There was a problem on the way, so that's why we need you to restore the servers. That was vague.
We did some digging and discovered that he asked the two mail guys (the office muscle) to move the server rack downstairs to a new room. Now this wasn't a relay rack, this was a full-on four-post server rack. And because Mr. IT wasn't sure he'd be able to hook it all up again, he told them to leave everything in the rack.
I'm not sure how these guys even got it to move across a flat floor. That thing had three servers, two switches, a router, a disk array, a tape drive, and a UPS installed. It must have weighed a ton. The two geniuses apparently decided that the freight elevator was too far, so they tried to move it down a flight of stairs "just one step at a time." Yeah, it fell on step two, one of the guys came close to getting killed and most of the stuff in the rack wasn't working anymore when it stopped its tumbling routine on the first floor.
Apparently, APC doesn't guarantee equipment in its racks if you drop it down a flight of stairs.