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Security? We've heard of it! But why be a party pooper when there's printing to be done

The boss that went rogue and cocked a snook at the corporate policy he wrote

On Call With the gateway to the weekend upon us, it is time to crack open the On Call files once again to enjoy a tale from one of those brave engineers at the front line of the tech world.

Today's story is from a reader we'll call "Sven" and, for a change, is almost an anti-on call since it concerns what can happen when the all-important company mobile is turned off.

Sven's tale begins innocuously enough: "I was working for a contractor that was developing van-tracking software for a well-known cash delivery company."

Unfortunately, "one of the base units being used for software development went missing".

Naturally, a miscreant could get up to all manner of mischief with such a device and, since this all took place around 30 years ago, security was not quite what it is now.

There was, said Sven, "mass panic and new security measures were introduced".

"Everybody had an expensive £300 lock fitted to their office door that required a five-digit code to open.

"We were all told to input a code for our office and not to write it down or tell anybody."

So far, so good. We've all experienced the knee-jerk reaction when something bad happens and, to be fair, one would have expected a firm writing software for cash-delivery trucks to have already had things pretty well locked down.

Desk beer - pint at a keyboard. Photo by shutterstock

Here's to beer, without which we'd never have the audacity to Google an error message at 3am


Better late than never. However, this is not the end of the story.

The week after, the office manager, a chap we'll call "Bill" (because we have watched Office Space far too many times) was hosting a birthday party for his daughter and, according to Sven, "he takes 100 pictures with his new company-supplied digital camera".

Rashly, he "promises all the kids that he will print the pictures so they can have a copy".

While digital cameras may have been rare back then, photo-quality printers were also expensive beasts. However, the manager had a plan. "He turns up at the office on Sunday morning to use company property to fulfill his extravagant promises..."

Alas, "the photo-grade printer which was on a wheeled cart has been wheeled into someone's office".

And, of course, all the offices now had those fancy new keypads.

Not to worry! On-call will come to the rescue! Except, in those halcyon days, people used to take weekends off and "our colleague used to turn his company-provided mobile off on weekends".

If you'd thought that the manager would take the hint about the snaffling of company property, think again.

"Monday morning, we are all called to a meeting. 'Bill' decides he needs control of the equipment and anything else we have in our offices."

And having learned from his locked-out experience and doubtless keen to avoid disappointing his princess a second time, the chap also demanded all employees change their code to be "2x12=24" or "21224".

(That, of course, wasn't the actual code, but you get the idea.)

"I still remember it," said Sven, "after 30 years."

Ever had a manager double down on brazen incompetence when a company mobile wasn't answered? Or maybe you were the one who turned the thing off to enjoy a well-earned weekend? Drop an email into On Call and tell us all about it. ®

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