More stupider user tricks: IT horror stories

Take heed; lessons await

Trick No. 5: Green is great unless it's due to nausea

Incident: This came from a sysadmin who worked for one of our consulting clients. A senior exec went on a green kick. Everything had to be recycled, including old PCs. Unfortunately, instead of talking to reps from each department on how to handle this, the exec simply designated a team of buddies to dole out tasks, which meant that a non-IT staffer was in charge of PC hardware recycling.

To be fair, the guy did his job. He calls a local agency that places decently configured, used PCs in local schools. This outfit even takes care of picking them up; all they want are machines with fully wiped hard disks so that their volunteer techs can install student versions of Windows.

The plan looks good. As the hardware lifecycle on a batch of old machines comes up, new ones are purchased, and the old ones are designated for the recycling bin. Unfortunately, with all the work of a hardware migration in front of them, the company's IT guys are more interested in the new ones than in wiping the old ones. So they just stack the old ones in the downstairs storage room next to the loading dock with a sign on them saying, "To be recycled." What that sign should have said was: "Leave alone until we say otherwise, or die."

The non-IT exec sees the PC heap and calls for a weekend pickup. On Monday all the PCs are gone, but the IT guys are so busy with the new stuff that they don't even notice until Tuesday afternoon.

Fallout: These poor weenies had to chase the PCs all the way to the processing center, find them amid a few hundred others, and perform the hard disk wipes there. That, or get fired.

Moral: If you're worried about local data safety, then pound the priority into your IT staffers' heads. Maybe make a few of them roll to make your point.

Trick No. 6: Don't bail on e-mail

Incident: A case for covering your rear end when it comes to server support, submitted once again by the highly popular "Name Withheld." According to Mr. Withheld, "We normally have an admin rotation for server problems on the weekends. But this time the staff was smaller because we'd just lost two techs in a single week. Both left to go to other jobs. I could have called an outside outfit to cover us on the weekend, but I just didn't make the time, and by Friday it was too late." Seems Mr. Withheld had plans for the weekend, as did his last remaining tech staffer. So he figured, "What the hell, we haven't had a problem in several months. It'll be okay."

Well it wasn't. One of his road-warrior execs left on Friday for a vacation. He knew enough to set an away message on his e-mail and to forward those e-mails to his home e-mail address. According to Withheld, this was back in the days of 10MB e-mail stores for most ISPs, and the exec forgot that his was almost full. The e-mails he gets Friday afternoon quickly fill up his home ISP account almost to capacity.

Saturday morning the exec's dad sends him an e-mail message with a dirty joke in it -- including explicit language. Withheld's e-mail server kicks off a delivery failure e-mail complete with a copy of the original e-mail, which goes to the exec's home ISP account. That's full now, so it in turn kicks off a delivery failure message of its own. Theirs has a copy of the e-mail in it, too. Boom, you've got an e-mail loop. Back and forth, "I can't deliver your message."

Withheld's e-mail server's disks fill up pretty quick after that, but neither he nor the other tech figure it out very quickly because both are frolicking away from their beepers. By the time they do figure it out, it's in the wee hours on Sunday morning, and Withheld winds up cutting his weekend short to drive all the way back to the office and take care of things.

Fallout: The company set up a better remote management package for all its servers and eliminated the ability for users to forward their own e-mail. "Instead we give them Web access to their office accounts."

Moral: Murphy is a mean mother. If he's got a chance to get you, he will. So take the time to cover yourself with the support staff you need. It's not like there aren't competent techs out there looking for work -- even part-time.Â

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Oliver Rist

Show Comments

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?