On-Call Far out, it's Friday! Which means it's time for another edition of On-Call, El Reg's week-ending reader-contributed tales of support gigs that went south.
This week, meet “Jim” who one tended “a reasonably-sized server room/wiring closet, which hosted a number of internal and production systems. We were rather fortunate in that this area was properly fitted out, with independent heating, ventilation and air conditioning, anti-static flooring and other such features.”
One other feature of this server room was an air conditioning control panel that served the entire building. It was the only such control panel, so access to it was prized by people who wanted to be able to control the climate in their corner of the office.
So prized that Jim told us “several people had managed to acquire keys to the server room” so they could tweak the temperatures in the offices beyond.
This arrangement meant quite a lot of people who shouldn't ever be in the server room coming in and out of the server room quite a lot. And because those people with access could control the temperature in rather large zones of the office, things got a bit … erm … heated.
“Things really came to head when the COO of the company, clearly upset by the constant adjustment of the temperature in our very open-plan office, used his key to enter the server room, and install a device which – in his eyes - would prevent further adjustments from being made.”
“In most workplaces this would have been a good thing; some kind of cover or lock over the panel, restricting access to approved personnel.”
“ Sadly, this was not most workplaces.”
And thus it came to pass that when Jim next visited the server room on legitimate IT business he noticed “a chocolate Swiss roll secured over the air conditioning control panel with masking tape.”
Yup, you read that right. A cake on the control panel.
Which was bad for a whole bunch of reasons. First up: what a waste of cake! Second: you'd think the guy would have comer up with a fix that couldn't just be licked off the wall. Third: what kind of a COO can't figure out that a not-very-determined poke can get through a cake?
Jim was most offended by “the small pile of chocolate powder that had gathered on the floor under the panel, in what is supposed to be a controlled, clean environment.”
But he should really have worried about the masking tape, because when he walked into the data centre he disturbed it.
“Before long, a full-sized chocolate Swiss roll had fallen to the floor of our until-then clean server room, distributing a substantial quantity of crumbs, cocoa powder and sugar coating over a three foot radius.”
“To say that I was less than pleased is an understatement,” Jim told us. The rest of the ops team were similarly unimpressed: Jim told us “we all felt a line had been crossed and refused to resolve such an utterly ridiculous situation”. The operations manager eventually just went and got the office vacuum cleaner to put the incident behind everyone.
“Needless to say, when the building's access control system was updated a short time afterwards, the opportunity was taken to substantially restrict who could enter the server room,” Jim told us. And it's remained cake-free ever since!
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