Techie's test lab lands him in hot water with top tech news site

But who are we to hold a grudge...

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Who, Me? Monday morning arrives once more for those of you holding the fort while colleagues are on holiday.So why not enjoy this extra special instalment of Who, Me?, El Reg’s weekly confessional column.

Because this week, Vulture Towers plays a leading role in the tale that our brave reader "Victor" recounts.

"Perhaps 13 years ago, I was working in my first proper techie job as a data centre engineer for a well known hosting company," Victor told us.

"It was a very quiet shift and so I was working on a test lab we had put together, testing a bunch of different servers."

Then, a ticket arrived from the support team, who wanted help with a couple of servers they were running maintenance on, which involved Victor logging into the machines and going through some scripts.

Once that was done and dusted, Victor went back to working on the lab until he needed a much-deserved break and went to shut down the servers.

“I ran shutdown -h now, copy and pasted into all of my open terminal windows and then went off to get a drink,” he said.

By now, seasoned Who, Me? readers will see where this is headed... and indeed, there was no rest for the wicked, because Victor's pager went off before he had time to reach the break room.

“I picked up the ticket and vaguely recognised the machine number," he said, and – lo and behold – on looking up the location, it turns out to be the same servers.

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Assuming the maintenance didn’t go so well, Victor walked over to take a look.

“I went behind the rack, plugged in the kB and mouse, and… nothing. Then I walked round the front and realised there weren't any lights on the servers,” he said, which was "very odd".

Undeterred, Victor powered them back on, checked the boot up log, logged into the server and, all looking good, he updated the ticket and handed it over to the support techs to investigate.

About 15 minutes later, our man got a phone call asking if he had shut down the servers.

Affronted, Victor replied: “Of course not! Why would I do th…” And then, the penny dropped.

Realising his mistake, Victor called his boss – who was luckily “a very nice man” who recognised the panic in Victor's voice and offered some sage advice rather than a rollocking.

“He said, ‘I’m not worried that you broke something, that's expected, the most important thing is how you deal with it’,” Victor explained.

“‘Now you have to be honest and write an email to the customer and explain what happened’. So I did and that was that.”

And – if you hadn’t guessed by now – the two servers Victor had shut down were El Reg’s.

“So I was responsible for at least 5 minutes of downtime some 13 or 14 years ago,” Victor said.

To prove there’s no hard feelings about the loss of traffic, ad revenue or readers in those crucial few minutes, we have extended Victor the same courtesy we do with all our readers – anonymity in telling his tale.

And we'll do the same for you. So, if you’ve done anything to cock things up for your favourite tech publication, you can tell us. Email your sins over to Who, Me? and we promise we’ll be kind… ®


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