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MaxTheLimit
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It's worked like that for years...

Tue May 30, 2017 8:52 am

I just got back from an on site service call. I feel compelled to voice a frustration I have with a phrase I hear WAY too often. I get a shudder when I hear ' It's worked like that for years '.

Many times when I hear that it comes after something completely impossible. In this case, I was on site to diagnose why a business had their network and internet drop on them. I enter the closet where their gear is kept and I see that their DSL modem is on and has sync, but their router isn't powered on correctly. I follow the cable back, and I see that the power adapter they have plugged into this device ( which requires 24V 2.5A ) has an adapter that outputs 2.5V and 500mA.

I'm unable to find the adapter that's supposed to power this router. So I tell the owner ( a quite old lady ) that the power adapter for the router is missing, and the cable plugged in isn't powerful enough to work. I tell her I will have to go back to the shop and grab a power cable that will work.

She insists that no one has touched it, and that it's been working like that for years. She also claims she bought the router from us ( she didn't ) and that is the cable that came with it. Even when I show her that the power adapter says 'Dlink' and the router say 'Belkin', she insists they go together. I have a hundred of these sorts of stories. I have talked to people who actually insist their gear has worked fine for years without any power source at all. I've been told that machines without any sort of wireless network adapter were able to connect to the internet for years without being wired to a network access point.

It's worked like that for years. Yeah, and the entire city power grid is supplied by a single gerbil on a little wheel.

Can anyone beat the examples I've provided? I'm sure folks around here have hear some doozies.
 
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Tue May 30, 2017 9:25 am

I believe I've already told the story about the co-worker who insisted that her PC occasionally "ate" floppy disks. As in, she put them in, and they simply disappeared without a trace. Somehow, she had just accepted this as normal -- "yeah, it does that sometimes, I just go and get another disk when it happens" -- until one day it ate a disk that had the only copy of an important file on it (that's when she came and got me).

Turned out she'd been accidentally shoving the disks into a gap in the front bezel instead of the floppy drive without realizing it.

When I opened up her case there was a good-sized pile of floppy disks sitting at the bottom.
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frumper15
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Tue May 30, 2017 9:26 am

In the HVAC business there are two that I like that are similar. "It's doing the same thing it did last time" which simply means it's not heating or cooling as expected but since you were out here two years ago and fixed it, you must not have done it correctly because it's broken again - two years and thousands of running hours later.
"My last unit ran 20 years without any maintenance and this new one you installed broke after 3 years" Yes, the new high efficiency unit probably requires more maintenance than the 60% efficiency standing pilot furnace that had literally 4 parts in it, but I think even it would have struggled to work with an air filter that looked like a fleece blanket and hadn't been changed since we installed the equipment.
People have a hard time taking responsibility for things they own - i suppose it's human nature to want it to be someone else's fault even if it's no one's fault.
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Tue May 30, 2017 9:38 am

I once knew a guy who had all kinds of problems with his computer and told me that it "worked" that way since he had it. The system would overheat and shut down for an hour before he would be able to turn it back on. It turns out that he and his wife were really heavy smokers, and when I open the computer it was full of smoke stains and ashes. The smell was so strong that it made me gagged.
 
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Tue May 30, 2017 9:48 am

just brew it! wrote:
I believe I've already told the story about the co-worker who insisted that her PC occasionally "ate" floppy disks. As in, she put them in, and they simply disappeared without a trace. Somehow, she had just accepted this as normal -- "yeah, it does that sometimes, I just go and get another disk when it happens" -- until one day it ate a disk that had the only copy of an important file on it (that's when she came and got me).

Turned out she'd been accidentally shoving the disks into a gap in the front bezel instead of the floppy drive without realizing it.

When I opened up her case there was a good-sized pile of floppy disks sitting at the bottom.


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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Tue May 30, 2017 9:59 am

frumper15 wrote:
In the HVAC business there are two that I like that are similar. "It's doing the same thing it did last time" which simply means it's not heating or cooling as expected but since you were out here two years ago and fixed it, you must not have done it correctly because it's broken again - two years and thousands of running hours later.
"My last unit ran 20 years without any maintenance and this new one you installed broke after 3 years" Yes, the new high efficiency unit probably requires more maintenance than the 60% efficiency standing pilot furnace that had literally 4 parts in it, but I think even it would have struggled to work with an air filter that looked like a fleece blanket and hadn't been changed since we installed the equipment.
People have a hard time taking responsibility for things they own - i suppose it's human nature to want it to be someone else's fault even if it's no one's fault.


Shamelessly I've been guilty of this. Although I never once voiced it to any technician. Even changing the filters......even though you walk by them every day (and I have two) it's simply something you never think about until its too late. But I have gotten better. Not exactly monthly but maybe every 4.
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MaxTheLimit
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Tue May 30, 2017 10:00 am

just brew it! wrote:
I believe I've already told the story about the co-worker who insisted that her PC occasionally "ate" floppy disks. As in, she put them in, and they simply disappeared without a trace. Somehow, she had just accepted this as normal -- "yeah, it does that sometimes, I just go and get another disk when it happens" -- until one day it ate a disk that had the only copy of an important file on it (that's when she came and got me).

Turned out she'd been accidentally shoving the disks into a gap in the front bezel instead of the floppy drive without realizing it.

When I opened up her case there was a good-sized pile of floppy disks sitting at the bottom.


I've had a lot of things like that. I see a lot of candy bar wrappers that get shoved through panel gaps.

I've had some interesting overheating ones as well. The best one I recall is a machine that was overheating because the lady didn't like the look of the case so she covered the entire thing, all vents and holes, in the same wallpaper she used on her walls so that the computer matched.

I'm working on a barn machine right now. I'm told there is something wrong with the computer. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that all the fans are clogged with animal feces. I got the variant of it's worked like that for years : It's never caused a problem until now.
 
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Tue May 30, 2017 10:23 am

I worked on a sister-in-law's system once that was nearly that bad. The CPU heatsink and front case intake vent were packed with solid masses of compacted crud, consisting of an unholy mixture of dust, cat hair, cigarrette smoke, and various dead things of the 6- and 8-legged variety (IIRC there was a moth, several flies, and a spider or two).
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:00 am

Isn't it wonderful when they call you because they don't know what's wrong, and then they try to tell you how to fix it.
For half the people it's human nature.

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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:35 am

The good old, has anything changed recently prior to this not working? "nothing has changed" response. Only to later find out that they of course have changed, usually something significant, like reinstalling windows, moved to completely new hardware, rolled out new software or edited / removed a key related aspect... etc. etc.

The worst thing is people who report a problem, and then provide zero background information about what they are seeing, what they expected, or what they did. Derpness x2 when it's being reported by another tech who should know better.
 
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:48 am

blitzy wrote:
The worst thing is people who report a problem...
No. The worst thing is the heavily-accented non-native English speaker on the opposite side of the planet, connected through an overly-compressed and laggy VOIP system, who insists on reading each line of their script that doesn't even apply to my hardware or issue.... e.g.: when I read out the error codes displayed on the screen and they tell me to check if the power plug is inserted into the wall outlet and then check if the video cable is connected to the display. :roll:
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:55 am

whm1974 wrote:
I once knew a guy who had all kinds of problems with his computer and told me that it "worked" that way since he had it. The system would overheat and shut down for an hour before he would be able to turn it back on. It turns out that he and his wife were really heavy smokers, and when I open the computer it was full of smoke stains and ashes. The smell was so strong that it made me gagged.


A very long time ago, I worked for a medium sized computer builder who built, sold and serviced their own brand PCs. I worked in the computer repair department. One day, we received a computer back for repair. It was wrapped up in nicotine stained curtains (frankly I was amazed it survived the trip but anyway...) and it absolutely stunk. I refused to work on it.

The poor tech who did ended up replacing all of the moving parts (disk, CPU fan, chassis fan, PSU) because they all got gummed up with gunk and the CPU because it overheated because of the failed CPU fan. If it were up to me, it would have been sent back to the customer with a great big "warranty void" sticker on it but they repaired it under warranty.
 
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:33 am

Not sure what is worse, "It's worked like that for years" or "this is a recurring issue, I need this permanently fix. I am sick of calling for this 3 times a week" for operator errors.

My biggest pet-peeve are people who are blatantly calling tech support to get out of their own jobs. I have seen some people sit in a helpline queue for 2 hours just to have the first words out of their mouth be "I think there is an outage going on." *groan* The worst is when they have the balls to then immediately followed up by asking for a ticket number to give their leader to show they have been busy working with tech support.
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:17 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:
blitzy wrote:
The worst thing is people who report a problem...

No. The worst thing is the heavily-accented non-native English speaker on the opposite side of the planet, connected through an overly-compressed and laggy VOIP system, who insists on reading each line of their script that doesn't even apply to my hardware or issue.... e.g.: when I read out the error codes displayed on the screen and they tell me to check if the power plug is inserted into the wall outlet and then check if the video cable is connected to the display. :roll:

I can top that. How about an IT department that:

- Just closes support incidents after either A) doing something random that obviously doesn't fix the problem; or B) doing absolutely nothing at all

- Refuses to allow closed incidents to be reopened (you have to call or log in to the IT help desk system and open a completely new incident every time they incorrectly close one)

- Is actively and aggressively hostile to users who open incidents at "work stoppage" priority (i.e. this issue is preventing me from doing my job), because "that means someone has to drop what they're doing to deal with your problem... so I'm downgrading the priority on this ticket"

After several months of IT incompetence destroying everyone's productivity, a high-level meeting was called to discuss the problem. IT was adamant that they were doing a fantastic job, because "Look at our performance metrics! All of our tickets get closed within the defined response time window, based on the ticket priority!"

That was a couple of jobs ago. I am so glad I don't work there any more. (Incompetent IT was one of several issues at that place; I wouldn't say it was the reason I left, but it was a major contributing factor.)

The really sad thing about that situation was, we had people in our office who could've done (and did, before the company got bought) a far better job of maintaining the critical IT infrastructure. But after the buyout, everything got locked down and we were no longer allowed to do our own IT support.
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:08 pm

just brew it! wrote:
JustAnEngineer wrote:
blitzy wrote:
The worst thing is people who report a problem...

No. The worst thing is the heavily-accented non-native English speaker on the opposite side of the planet, connected through an overly-compressed and laggy VOIP system, who insists on reading each line of their script that doesn't even apply to my hardware or issue.... e.g.: when I read out the error codes displayed on the screen and they tell me to check if the power plug is inserted into the wall outlet and then check if the video cable is connected to the display. :roll:

I can top that. How about an IT department that:

- Just closes support incidents after either A) doing something random that obviously doesn't fix the problem; or B) doing absolutely nothing at all

- Refuses to allow closed incidents to be reopened (you have to call or log in to the IT help desk system and open a completely new incident every time they incorrectly close one)

- Is actively and aggressively hostile to users who open incidents at "work stoppage" priority (i.e. this issue is preventing me from doing my job), because "that means someone has to drop what they're doing to deal with your problem... so I'm downgrading the priority on this ticket"

After several months of IT incompetence destroying everyone's productivity, a high-level meeting was called to discuss the problem. IT was adamant that they were doing a fantastic job, because "Look at our performance metrics! All of our tickets get closed within the defined response time window, based on the ticket priority!"

That was a couple of jobs ago. I am so glad I don't work there any more. (Incompetent IT was one of several issues at that place; I wouldn't say it was the reason I left, but it was a major contributing factor.)

The really sad thing about that situation was, we had people in our office who could've done (and did, before the company got bought) a far better job of maintaining the critical IT infrastructure. But after the buyout, everything got locked down and we were no longer allowed to do our own IT support.

That is pretty bad if the office people can do a better job then the IT department can. BTW is that company still in business? I wouldn't want to work for a company like that, even if I was just a janitor.
 
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:30 pm

whm1974 wrote:
That is pretty bad if the office people can do a better job then the IT department can.

Well, more than half of the people in the office were engineers of some sort, and of those about a third were software developers; one of the developers had even contributed patches to the Linux kernel. So not really surprising.

whm1974 wrote:
BTW is that company still in business? I wouldn't want to work for a company like that, even if I was just a janitor.

They're still around. And at least the janitor didn't need to deal with the IT idiocy.
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:39 pm

MaxTheLimit wrote:
I just got back from an on site service call. I feel compelled to voice a frustration I have with a phrase I hear WAY too often. I get a shudder when I hear ' It's worked like that for years '.

Many times when I hear that it comes after something completely impossible. In this case, I was on site to diagnose why a business had their network and internet drop on them. I enter the closet where their gear is kept and I see that their DSL modem is on and has sync, but their router isn't powered on correctly. I follow the cable back, and I see that the power adapter they have plugged into this device ( which requires 24V 2.5A ) has an adapter that outputs 2.5V and 500mA.

I'm unable to find the adapter that's supposed to power this router. So I tell the owner ( a quite old lady ) that the power adapter for the router is missing, and the cable plugged in isn't powerful enough to work. I tell her I will have to go back to the shop and grab a power cable that will work.

She insists that no one has touched it, and that it's been working like that for years. She also claims she bought the router from us ( she didn't ) and that is the cable that came with it. Even when I show her that the power adapter says 'Dlink' and the router say 'Belkin', she insists they go together. I have a hundred of these sorts of stories. I have talked to people who actually insist their gear has worked fine for years without any power source at all. I've been told that machines without any sort of wireless network adapter were able to connect to the internet for years without being wired to a network access point.

It's worked like that for years. Yeah, and the entire city power grid is supplied by a single gerbil on a little wheel.

Can anyone beat the examples I've provided? I'm sure folks around here have hear some doozies.

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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:40 pm

just brew it! wrote:
whm1974 wrote:
That is pretty bad if the office people can do a better job then the IT department can.

Well, more than half of the people in the office were engineers of some sort, and of those about a third were software developers; one of the developers had even contributed patches to the Linux kernel. So not really surprising.

whm1974 wrote:
BTW is that company still in business? I wouldn't want to work for a company like that, even if I was just a janitor.

They're still around. And at least the janitor didn't need to deal with the IT idiocy.

Well I suppose it really depends on what sort of business a company is involved in. But I'm thinking that if a company has something that critically important as an IT department that is half-arsed, what other departments are also half-arsed as well?
 
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:48 pm

whm1974 wrote:
Well I suppose it really depends on what sort of business a company is involved in. But I'm thinking that if a company has something that critically important as an IT department that is half-arsed, what other departments are also half-arsed as well?

"Half-arsed" is probably being generous WRT to that IT department. The IT department was by far the worst, but as I already noted, that wasn't the primary reason I left.
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whm1974
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:17 pm

Norphy wrote:
whm1974 wrote:
I once knew a guy who had all kinds of problems with his computer and told me that it "worked" that way since he had it. The system would overheat and shut down for an hour before he would be able to turn it back on. It turns out that he and his wife were really heavy smokers, and when I open the computer it was full of smoke stains and ashes. The smell was so strong that it made me gagged.


A very long time ago, I worked for a medium sized computer builder who built, sold and serviced their own brand PCs. I worked in the computer repair department. One day, we received a computer back for repair. It was wrapped up in nicotine stained curtains (frankly I was amazed it survived the trip but anyway...) and it absolutely stunk. I refused to work on it.

The poor tech who did ended up replacing all of the moving parts (disk, CPU fan, chassis fan, PSU) because they all got gummed up with gunk and the CPU because it overheated because of the failed CPU fan. If it were up to me, it would have been sent back to the customer with a great big "warranty void" sticker on it but they repaired it under warranty.

I don't blame you for refusing to work on it, you can get sick trying to clean and repair that computer.

On another note, I don't hear that much about computers dying due to their owners smoking around them anymore now. But it sure seemed like it was rather commonplace back during the 90's and early 2000's.
 
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:24 pm

I consistently get complaints about our storage systems that range from "it worked just fine on the last system" to "you guys have no clue what you're doing, it works on my desktop!".

This is in reference to large Lustre, MarFS, and GPFS installations. Generally a review of their code shows that they're lucky it even ran to completion on their desktop, let alone on a large parallel filesystem.

I also get complaints about our TSM backup systems - "my files were there last week, what do you mean you deleted them when I asked you to before I realized I really needed them but after I signed the form saying I really really didn't need them?". Sigh.
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:54 pm

Not particularly exciting but we've run an intranet site (on port 80) at one branch for about a decade and it's snapshotted every day just in case the people that update it screw something over. It just so happens that the same machine has also run a McNeel license manager for about a decade.

After a round of minor updates, the intranet was broken and since I've performed updates on the license manager several times a year without any issues, ever, I just presumed that the staff responsible for the intranet had broken it again.

I rollback to yesterday's snapshot and the intranet works again but of course the server has updates pending so it's a reboot. This time the intranet is broken again but nobody's had a chance to screw with it yet, so I'm thinking one of the updates has killed it. Rolling back to the older snapshot again, I'm installing updates one at a time, checking the intranet still works between each install and it does. Clearly not an OS or webserver update issue, then. I remember that there's a license manager update required to so I slap that on and lo, the intranet is broken once more.

Much digging later, it appears that the license manager has stolen port 80 from the intranet after the update. It's an open-and-shut case, too: The license manager has changed and is now causing a port 80 conflict. I stop the updated license manager service and the intranet works again, start the service up again and the intranet breaks!

I call up McNeel and ask what's changed. Why does the latest license manager update (required for the latest client betas) switch to port 80?

"I'm sorry sir, The license manager uses port 80 and it's hardcoded. It has been hardcoded since the end of 2006, there's no way you can change it to another port and we didn't update any net code in the patch you're talking about - it's just an ID update to recognise the new beta clients."

I also roll back a third time and check what ports the previous version of the license manager was usin. Port 81.
So, apparently, I've been running a server in an impossible scenario for a decade. Sure enough, if I use an older installer of the license manager on a clean VM, it also uses port 80.

"it's worked like that for years...." is my only defense.

I uploaded the VMDK to them so they can dissect it. I wonder if they'll ever figure out WTF happened, but according to them it shouldn't have been possible, let alone operational.


Disclaimer - I'm not a coder. I wouldn't even know what program to edit the licence manager in, let alone know what to change, and nobody else besides me has access to this server. I just run the installer and click 'Next, Next, Next, Finish' using defaults.
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:03 pm

In scenario of the opening post, assuming it wasn't just human issues (someone swapped it without telling anyone), I've seen a lot of cheaper power adapter output grossly high voltages so it doesn't seem inconceivable that such a faulty adapter was outputting just enough juice to keep the electronics working. Until it doesn't anyway.
 
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:09 pm

@Chrispy_ - Sounds like it could be a race condition. Maybe the license manager defaults to port 80, but switches to port 81 if port 80 is already in use. If the new license manager starts up a little faster, it could be grabbing port 80 before the web server does. Can you delay the startup of the license manager by a few seconds?
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:57 pm

just brew it! wrote:
@Chrispy_ - Sounds like it could be a race condition. Maybe the license manager defaults to port 80, but switches to port 81 if port 80 is already in use. If the new license manager starts up a little faster, it could be grabbing port 80 before the web server does. Can you delay the startup of the license manager by a few seconds?


That's what I thought initially but no. Even with the service on manual rather than auto or delayed startup, it always uses 80. This is why I (and they) are confused. It's quite literally hardcoded with no mechanism to change it other than for them to we-write it.

My first (and only sensible) guess is that the very first version I installed several versions ago had a beta or prototype feature for dynamic ports in it, that feature was never revoked and has remained installed, persisting through updates since 2008.
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:59 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
@Chrispy_ - Sounds like it could be a race condition. Maybe the license manager defaults to port 80, but switches to port 81 if port 80 is already in use. If the new license manager starts up a little faster, it could be grabbing port 80 before the web server does. Can you delay the startup of the license manager by a few seconds?

That's what I thought initially but no. Even with the service on manual rather than auto or delayed startup, it always uses 80. This is why I (and they) are confused. It's quite literally hardcoded with no mechanism to change it other than for them to we-write it.

My first (and only sensible) guess is that the very first version I installed several versions ago had a beta or prototype feature for dynamic ports in it, that feature was never revoked and has remained installed, persisting through updates since 2008.

Sandbox the license manager in a VM and wash your hands of the issue.
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Chrispy_
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:23 am

That's exactly what I did, immediately after talking to McNeel.

Thanks to licensing changes, spinning up additional VMs costs us nothing - the first 16 VMs on any single piece of hardware all come at a fixed license cost, so there's no point in trying to get conflicting software to coexist anymore. I know it's not new and I've been doing it for the better part of a decade now, but I am still amazed that I can have a patched, domain-joined production-ready application server up and running in under 10 minutes from scratch, without even leaving my desk chair.

Every time I do it I can't help but remember the days of feeding 37 floppy disks into a new physical server and praying to every deity that none of the disks had a read error.
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:46 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
Every time I do it I can't help but remember the days of feeding 37 floppy disks into a new physical server and praying to every deity that none of the disks had a read error.

Ahh, a former Netware admin, I assume? Old school! (Been there, done that too. :lol:)
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:34 am

Number of years ago (2008?) I come into work. My manager, 2 network admins, and our VP were all in the back trying to get this really important server to boot (don't remember what it was).

VP calls Dell. I take a look and don't see anything. I take a second look just as our VP gets a Dell tech on the line and I notice a floppy drive in the machine. Pop that out, bounce the box once again, and the OS is loading...

How many techs does it take to notice a floppy disk?
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Re: It's worked like that for years...

Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:59 am

At one of my previous jobs there was an incident where we had one of our engineers rent a car and drive over an hour to a customer's site to troubleshoot a system that wouldn't start up.

Turned out someone had tripped over the power cord and unplugged it.
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