San Francisco's mayor gets back keys to the network

Gavin Newsom meets with Terry Childs

But without access to either Childs' passwords or the backup configuration files, administrators would have to essentially re-configure their entire network, an error-prone and time consuming possibility, Chase said. "It's basically like playing 3D chess," he said. "In that situation, you're stuck interviewing everybody at every site getting anecdotal stories of who's connected to what. And then you're guaranteed to miss something."

Without the passwords, the network would still continue to run, but it would be impossible to reconfigure the equipment. The only way to restore these devices to a manageable state would be to knock them offline and then reconfigure them, something that would take weeks or months to complete, disrupt service and cost the city "hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars," Ramsey claims.

Crane argues that these monitoring devices were installed with management's permission and were critical to the smooth functioning of the network. They would page Childs when the system went down and allow him to remotely access the network from his personal computer in case of an emergency.

In interviews, current and former DTIS staffers describe Childs as a well respected co-worker who may have gone too far under the pressure of working in a department that had been demoralized and drastically cut as the city moved forward with plans to decentralize IT operations.

About 200 of the department's 350 IT positions had been cut since 2000, mostly to be relocated to other divisions within city government, said Richard Isen, IT chapter president with Childs' union, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21.

Despite his conflict with some in the department, Childs has a lot of support there, Isen said. "There is a lot of sympathy, only because there is a basic feeling that management misunderstand what we actually do and doesn't appreciate the complexity of the work."

(Paul Venezia is Senior Contributing Editor with InfoWorld)

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.
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

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.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?