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Live from the Field

By David Poole,

My first job was when PC Virus's were still emerging.

One day I got a support call:

<USER>Hi Dave, you know these computer viruses?

<DAVE>Yes.

<USER>Can humans catch them?

The person ringing me up was famous for leaving the office Christmas party and forgetting his wife.  He only returned because he thought he had forgot his hat.

The other incident occurred in a government office.

Now in the UK, government departments have to put all work out to tender so that companies can bid for the work.  The idea being that the government gets the best service for the best price.

The reality is that they choose the cheapest regardless of whether it will do the job or not.  The local suppliers also get together to form a cartel (illegal in this country as well) to decide which one of them is going to place the lowest bid, which will roughly twice the real world cost.

The IT department needed a new air conditioning unit for their server room. Off went the request to the procurements department and eventually, after the standard bueraucratic farce a unit duly arrives.

Apparently it has cost a fraction of the price of the unit specified by the IT department and is "nearly new".   On inspecting the IT department notices that the new unit looks strange and not like any airconditioning unit that they have ever seen.  A high level rebuke is delivered to the effect of such a show of ingratitude might result in budget cuts to the difference between the requested air-con unit and the one actually supplied.

The air-con unit is installed on the Friday night and at 11:00pm all servers fail.

Support staff arrive to find a server room full of steam with humidity at 90% and temperature at 40 degrees.

The investigation into the incident revealled that the "weird looking air-con unit" was in actual fact a 2nd hand Sauna unit.

IT department received an increase in budget equal to

  1. Air-con unit.
  2. Top of the range server.
  3. New office furniture, with decent chairs.
  4. Eternal vow of silence.


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