An early crack at network management with an unfortunate logfile

It's a backronym, right?


Who, Me? Come with us on a journey back to the glory days of Visual Basic 6, misplaced enthusiasm and an unfortunate naming incident. Welcome to Who, Me?

Today's tale comes from a reader Regomised as "Stephen", who was working in the IT department of a Royal Air Force base. "My duties were many," he told us, "from running daily backups of an ancient engineering system using (I kid you not) reel-to-reel tapes to swapping out misbehaving printers."

This being the early 2000s, his boss loaded up our hero with more tasks. He could change printers and tapes, so Visual Basic (and its bedfellow, Access) should present no problem.

And it wasn't; ever keen to learn, Stephen knuckled down and got to grips with the delight that only Visual Basic for Applications could offer.

A little knowledge, however, can be a dangerous thing.

"The base," he told us, "had many, many different squadrons, departments, offices and functions all of which had their own unique ridiculous demands [and] requirements but there was a single massive database to which everyone needed access."

This meant there were a plethora of front-ends sprayed around the base, created by previous workers who, it seemed, were about as good at communication as they were at coding. Supporting the mess was a nightmare. What to do?

The answer was obvious to Stephen and his new-found skills. Visual Basic (version 6, for those that remember it or are still working with it) could do a range of things, and writing a bit of code to wander the network in search of obsolete code was all in a day's work for our hero. Anything outdated was automatically replaced with the latest and greatest.

Visual Basic, eh? Those were the days.

And those days were good. The users were happy, helpdesk call counts dropped, the base was a joyous place, at least as far as its IT was concerned.

There was however a problem. Careful fellow that he was, Stephen had added some logging to his code. As the app did its thing, it left a debug file in the root of C:, just in case anything went wrong. A sensible precaution, not that Stephen expected his code to go wrong, but, alas, he had chosen an unfortunate name.

Now we at El Reg do love our backronyms. So we'll give Stephen the benefit of the doubt and assume his file was named for a Wide Area Network Knowledgebase and nothing childish and immature.

Having forgotten to turn off the logging, Stephen's code, er, deposited this text file on every workstation it ran on. The base was positively festooned with Wide Area Network Knowledgebase and his fellow developer colleagues soon noticed the mysterious file with the icky name turning up on their disks.

A horrified Stephen hastily amended his code to purge the rogue file with extreme prejudice and, he thinks, nobody ever noticed.

Have you ever accidentally updated a network and only later realized the extent of your crime? Or were you the one who had to explain why certain acronyms could make your company's innocent app most definitely Not Safe For Work? Confess all with an email to Who, Me? ®

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