Even dirtier IT jobs: The muck stops here

More dirty tech deeds, done dirt cheap

Dirty IT Job No. 2: IT mortician

Wanted: Morbidly minded individual sought to gather up dead or discarded electronic equipment and perform last rites; excavation and embalming experience preferred.

In every organization there's always somebody who has to go in and deal with the dead parts of IT -- whether they're reclaiming infrastructure from companies that are no longer in business or simply disposing of machines that are too old to use, even if they're not quite dead yet.

As with disconnect/reconnect specialist, the job can be literally dirty, says Dimension Data's Lawrence Imeish. "This stuff can be pretty disgusting," he says. "You're dealing with years of dust, grime, and neglect. A guy gets back from one of these jobs, you'd think he worked in a coal mine."

Sooner or later, someone will demand you take possession of their "extremely valuable collections of IBM AT look-alikes, Pentium-1 knockoffs, and 'does 386 sound familiar?' artifacts from the Mesozoic era," says Bill Horne, a systems architect with William Warren Consulting.

Horne says he patiently explains that the best resting place for such systems is a local charity that will take them off the company's hands without charging a recycling fee, but most clients remain unconvinced.

"You'll be rewarded with angry demands to remove them that very minute, no matter what you thought your plans were for that day," he says. "The rear surfaces of at least one machine will be razor-sharp, and that's the machine you will make the mistake of grabbing as it starts to fall off the shelf where it was balanced precariously for centuries."

Worse, every machine will have at least one virus on it, and the software will be unsalvageable. "The best you'll be able to do is get a couple of 'free' Windows ME serial numbers," says Horne. "But you'll have to resign yourself to your fate, put bandages on your hands, wipe the blood off the face plates, flatten the hard drives, and deliver them to the Disabled Veterans' collection point."

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Dan Tynan

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