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IT advice fuelled by beer is the best IT advice of all, right?

Taking aim at the messenger

Who, Me? Wave a cheery hello to Monday with a warning from a Register reader that advice given in a pub is perhaps better limited to which brew is better. Welcome to Who, Me?

Today's story comes from "Sam" and takes place in the final decade of the last century. He was working for a computer and office equipment supplier that was courting a Big Fish customer and getting nowhere.

Sam was enjoying a pub-based liquid reward at the end of another long week when he felt a tap on his shoulder. It was the grumpy-looking old fellow responsible for maintenance at the company Sam's employer was trying to sign up.

"You know about these bloody computers, don't you?" he said, and proceeded to complain about a terminal in the maintenance office that was forever glitching.

It wasn't Sam's problem (not yet anyway) but he listened to the tale of woe. "IT had swapped the hardware multiple times and even rerun the network cabling," he said, "which back in those days given the size of the site was neither a cheap nor easy job."

Ever helpful, Sam pondered the problem. "Given that level of equipment swap-out, it's hardly going to be hardware," recalled Sam. "I asked him if there was anything in that office that could be interfering with the equipment..." Perhaps an iffy fridge? One of those new-fangled cordless phones?

Nope, nothing like that. But it transpired that the maintenance office was next door to the welding shop. Keen to get back to his pint, Sam suggested that maybe the welding kit was causing RFI interference. Maybe, just maybe, all that was needed was a bit of extra cabling and a move of the terminal to the other side of the office.

"It worked!" said Sam. "And I got a pint put in my hand a week later with a thanks."

Unfortunately, his glory was short-lived. "The following Monday I got called into the MD's office to explain the exact circumstances surrounding why we had just been formally blacklisted as a supplier to Company X following the dismissal of their head of IT."

It transpired that Sam's helpful advice had caused a bit of embarrassment and, shorn of its manager, the IT department had taken its revenge and slapped a Do Not Use on his employer.

"I expected the worst," said Sam, "but the big boss was actually OK about it saying that a customer that 'shoots the messenger' that badly would be nothing but trouble long term and we are best well clear.

"He also strongly suggested that I keep my tech advice in the office rather than the lounge bar at the Coach and Horses."

Ever been the messenger who was shot? Or handed out advice that seemed ace over a beer on a Friday night, but less so by Monday morning? Confess all with an email to Who, Me? ®

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