Can't get pranked by your team if nobody in the world can log on

Dirty Den escapes with a slapped wrist

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Who, Me? Welcome once more to Who, Me? The Register's weekly column featuring readers' tales of the things they'd rather forget having done.

This week's face-palm moment comes from "Dennis", who wrote in to tell us about a time in 1996 when he was stationed in a northern UK town rolling out Windows 95 at a chemical plant.

Dennis and his team of Visual Basic developers were tasked with "migrating/rewriting anything that wouldn't survive the transition from Windows 3.11/NT 3.51".

The team, which Dennis referred to as "a proper dirty dozen", were pranksters and had to fend off each other's wind-ups by blocking network access to their machines whenever they left the room.

"Otherwise every desktop shortcut would be renamed to smut," Dennis recalled.

One Friday, as a beer-fuelled lunch was approaching, Dennis's mind had wandered slightly and he was about to head off.

"I opened up the policy tool and switched it to block external network access, locked my machine, scooted to lunch," he said.

But his break was to be anything but chilled out, because 20 minutes later the phone calls began.

"People could no longer log in. Anywhere. In the world," Dennis said.

"People who were already logged in were fine, but anyone who'd logged out, or locked, couldn't log in or unlock.

"The default setting in Server Manager is the domain, not the workstation," Dennis recalled thinking. "Had I remembered to switch it to my workstation before changing the policy?"


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On realising that the answer was probably, "no" – and learning a lesson "in why all the developers being domain admins was a bad idea" – Dennis raced back into work.

"I then had to find the domain controller – physical access was now needed – and found it, and restored access," Dennis said. "I created a new user account (naming it 'Windows Servicing'), logged in as that and deleted the event log."

Returning to the office with a nonchalant swagger, Dennis then spent the next few hours wondering how much digital evidence he'd left behind.

"Overnight, on my trusty modem, I dredged whatever I could find about BDC controller log syncs in a blind panic," he said.

The next day, Dennis returned to work to find that the person who sat next to him had 'fessed up to the misdemeanour.

"But since there was no evidence in the logs (how strange), the team lead decided to send out an email saying it was just a network outage," Dennis said. "And bollocked everyone for being idiots."

Suffice to say, Dennis never needed to fend off any silly attacks after that.

Have you ever been a menace in the workplace? Tell us about the last time you ruined productivity for users across the world – or the time you got away with it. ®


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