Servers and scars: The perils of shortcuts

Haste makes waste, as one techie observes on both a professional and a personal level

I will never cease to be amazed at the lengths people go to in order to save time. Sure, we've all done it. But more often than not, we fall further behind.

It goes without saying that trying to save time in IT can bring comical or even disastrous results. I've seen IT workers who, rather than switch to a new spool of Cat5 to complete a run, will stretch the cable out from the wall to make the connection. Invariably, a falling notebook or a clumsy step will sever that link.

Don't get ahead of the game

I remember when we were dispatched to a remote site as the office was being remodeled and the server room was to be relocated across the hall. We were scheduled to work the weekend while the office was closed. My associate and I were there to prep when the office closed at 5 p.m.

I was on a terminal in another room preparing to launch a forced backup when the screen went blank. It turned out my associate had already downed the server and was carrying it across the hall to the new location! No surprise that it failed to boot -- the hard drive had crashed. This was before RAID 5, and it had no mirrored drives. Most of the weekend was spent restoring the server, and the project took many hours longer than it should have.

But sometimes a story outside the job itself can help illustrate a point, and here's one I share when tech workers keep looking for shortcuts. 

Stop, breathe, think

I was dispatched to a remote site to perform some upgrades to the servers. The location was very small, covering eight salespeople, an administrative assistant, and a woman who ran the AR/AP system. Her office was in the basement of the building and housed the servers. Everyone in the office knew she had a steady boyfriend, and it was rumored that he was about to pop the question.

Upon entering the office that day, I said hello but noticed on her neck what appeared to be one of the largest love bites I had ever seen. Her collar was up, trying to conceal it, and she seemed very self-conscious. Not wanting to embarrass her, I went to the servers and proceeded with my work. I could hear her fidgeting at her desk and caught her looking in her pocket mirror trying to cover the mark several times.

Finally, she blurted out that she had a confession. I wasn't sure I wanted to hear it, but she was between me and the door, and I was stuck. 

It seems she was running late for work that morning when she discovered she had no clean shirts. Grabbing one from the dryer, she put it on thinking it would be fine. After viewing herself in the mirror she decided it would not do so she moved to plan B. She grabbed a pullover sweater to layer over the wrinkled blouse. Another inspection in the mirror, and she still wasn't happy, as the very wrinkled collar was still noticeable. What to do?

Already late and not wanting to spend time removing the sweater and blouse to iron the collar, she hatched Plan B. She set up the ironing board and plugged in the iron. In seconds it was hot, and she knelt down with the collar on the ironing board while still wearing the blouse.

The fault in her plan quickly arose as the first pass of the hot iron hit her neck. I felt bad for her and was sorry that I had thought it a sucker bite. She wears the scar to this day.

Taking shortcuts may generate more problems than the time they're supposed to save, so choose wisely.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.