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When the IT department speaks, users listen. Or face the consequences

If there's anything that gets my backup ...

On Call Friday is here! A chance to slope off early, enjoy a few brews and look back on a week of hard work. Unless, of course, you are one of the unfortunate souls destined to be forever at the beck and call of users. Bask in the fact that it's not you as you peruse this latest instalment of On Call.

Today's tale comes from a Register reader we shall call "Philippe", who is most definitely BOFH material.

Our story takes place back when Windows 98 was fresh and Windows ME was a mere glint in a marketing manager's eye. Philippe, responsible for the network and systems of a major media outfit near Paris, was trying to persuade his users to stop using Window's helpful "My Documents" to stash their important files.

"I had spent," he told us, "one year, every month, requesting every user save their files under the regularly saved Z: drive (mapped from profile) and not under the unsaved My Documents.

"Back then, it seemed, there was no way to map My Documents to another drive..."

After an entire year of nagging, surely the users would have got the message, right?

And so it was that one morning a user reported her computer was throwing up disk errors. Ever diligent, Philippe "sent a support dude who promptly reformatted her drive during the evening and reinstalled all for the next day."

Let's face it, IT teams got pretty adept at the "nuke from orbit" approach with Windows – a skill that has stood them in good stead to this very day.

"The next day," recalled Philippe, "I was the first in the office." And so he was on the receiving end of the inevitable phone call from the user.

Again, being a diligent soul, Philippe went directly to her office to assist.

"She described how all her files were missing. Yes, nothing in 'My Documents', since the local drive was wiped, and of course, she never used the Z: drive."

She had, remarked Philippe acidly, "superbly ignored 12 emails asking all to use the Z: drive!"

"There was this priceless moment," he recalled without too much sympathy, "when the painful understanding of what the situation was, fell onto her when she asked, 'This means ... I lost all my files?'"

Sadly, there is no happy ending to this tale. Not for the user at any rate.

"I did something cheeky," Philippe told us, "responded 'Yes, exactly,' and promptly fscked off, leaving her to her own misery."

Clearly a BOFH of the highest order: "I really have no sympathy with users who ignore every IT staff advice..."

Ever had a user ignore instructions and then enjoyed a quick splash in their misery puddle? Of course you have, and On Call needs an email from you to tell us all about it.

Where were you 20 years ago? Were you frantically cutting COBOL or adding a crucial extra byte or two to a date field? Or a bodge that might last to, oh, 2050 before it explodes? Who, Me? and On Call would also like to hear your sordid Y2K tales for a festive feast of near-failures and dodged bullets. ®

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