Admin took out a call center – and almost their career – with a cut and paste error

Have you heard the one about the techie who forgot what was on the clipboard?

Who, me? Brace yourselves, gentle readers, for it is once again Monday, and the work week has commenced. Thankfully, The Reg is here with another dose of Who, Me? in which readers share tales of times they had a day worse than the one you're having. We hope it helps.

This week meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Hugh" who once worked at a call center in Florida – "the kind that sell stuff people don't need and then do all they can to prevent them from cancelling" as he described it.

Oh, yes, Hugh, we know the type.

The center was built on Ubuntu and a system called ViciDial. Hugh edited and updated scripts on his machine using variables that changed for different campaigns, and the sales agents – some 300 of them – saw updates in real time on the terminals in front of them.

As you might imagine, this was not exactly a high-profit business, so an awful lot was done on the cheap. Thus the open source system. Another consequence was that there was no test environment – everything happened in production. Seat of the pants stuff.

Well, as often happens, Hugh found himself with some idle time and a connection to the internet – a dangerous combination. And as often follows from that, he found himself reading some sites on which … let's say … grown-up humor featured strongly.

We're not judging here. Hugh was, after all, a grown-up.

Hugh found some of the jokes amusing, so decided to save them for sharing with others who shared his sense of humor. Some copying and pasting to the clipboard followed.

You see where this is going, of course.

Before very long there was uproar as 300-odd sales agents realized the scripts they were reading to prospective customers contained language and concepts not conducive to sales patter.

Not even in Florida.

Somehow the contents of Hugh's clipboard had made their way into the variables for ViciDial, and the humor he had hoped to share with like-minded folks was being shared with, well, a whole other audience.

Management demanded an explanation, of course. Hugh explained that "Ubuntu pushed an apt package that caused the script to read from the incorrect NFS mount that contained a former admin's disgusting downloads. How could we have ever known this guy had all of this stuff there?"

Well, it was that or admit he'd made a total n00b error.

In the end, he got away with it – and was actually pretty happy that the downtime had saved a few hundred people from sales calls they didn't want.

Ahh, the old "former employee's fault" escape clause. Who among us hasn't tried that one on at least once? If you have ever been rescued by a predecessor who may or may not have existed, tell us about it in an email to Who, Me? and we might share your tale to soften some future Monday morn. ®

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