The Scary DBA

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  • A "token clamp"? ROTFL!!! Nice one! My one colleague and I got into a mini war over this type of thing. Everything from changing the colour schemes to me actually moving his chair to our walk-in safe while he was out for a smoke break. He retaliated by removing my keyboard, but since I had a laptop I just carried on working, if you can call pressing a key in between fits of laughter working...

  • I think these are as old as civilisation itself. Every industry has them - perhaps especially in the building trade.

    The wiki below has some great examples.

  • I must admit I love these "tests" for new starters. A place I used to work used a couple which had us in stitches for a while.

    Firstly they were asked to go up to the stock room, 4 storeys up with no lift/elevator, and ask for a box of "infinite capacity disks" because we'd "run out" !! Why he never thought that "how could you run out if they were infinite capacity", I'll never know but off he trotted to the store room. We phoned ahead to warn them and when he got there they asked if he wanted 3.5" or 5.25". He said he didn't know and came all the way back downstairs and we told him we needed 3.5". Off he went again at which point the store room asked if he needed High Density or Double Density. And so on it went. I think he got it after the third trip but had a bit of a sweat on by then.

    Another one I remember was played a particularly mischevious support guy who worked overnight in a 24x7 call centre I worked in. Obviously he was bored overnight and so sent this new guy an email (BCC'd to the rest of us) saying that overnight he had had a fault and had to replace a users cursor. Unfortunately they were now out of stock and could he phone our supplier to get some more. They had to specifically be FastFlash Hypertech cursors and came in bags of 50. He even left a part code, which was all the stock guy concentrated on anyway, of URANO1NOB i.e. You Are A Number 1 Nob. When he phoned the supplier we were able to silently listen in on the telephone conversation using the call centre switch admin software. Needless to say we weren't that silent when he kept reading the part code out to the supplier who was crying with laughter on the other end of the phone.

    God I feel like a BOFH. Thanks heavens for new starters.

  • "This year we have a zombie and two soldiers." Sounds like someone from our goverment!

    In the telecoms industry guys were sent out for bottles of "Dial tone"

  • Been on the receiving end of some of these

    i.e. Left Handed Screwdriver (I tried 5 hardware stores before someone took pity on me)

    Got my own back though, Was sent out for a skyhook. Now in the army, that equates to a lump of metal used for hanging phone lines onto trees (mobile signals unit). So the requesting party was a bit suprised when he got 100 6inch skyhooks dumped onto his desk!


  • This is along the same line as Dan's.

    I used to work at an electrical retailer. We would regularly send a new starter to another branch a couple of minutes walk away through a busy shopping mall to pick up a TV with the model number ID TEN T. The guys at the other store would find a big box (just awkward enough to manange at a struggle) and write in big letters the model number on it. You can imagine the howls of laughter as the young sap struggled through the crowds of people with a box about the same size as him with ID10T written accross the front.

    My brother turned up at his new job and was sent to the butcher to buy a bag of chicken lips for the manager's morning break...

  • Sending the newbies to stores for "A long stand" or "A short weight" are British institutions.

    A colleague inadvertantly did this one morning to an awkward user on the phone by telling them they needed to reboot the machine to fix the problem so yes that meant they had to shut it down. Several hours later the user rang back to ask if they could turn their machine on yet.:)

  • Back in 1999, I was a part of a Y2K preparedness team at a local bank. We had spend the whole year reviewing applications and making changes where we could and coordinating changes with vendors. This project, of course, had a project manager who was great on keeping us on schedule. A co-worker and I had an idea for a prank: We knew that on January 1, 2000 our project manager would be in very early to ensure that everything was ok, so we altered the project manager's login script. The script would allow a normal boot until right before Windows loaded. It then displayed a random "error" message and forced a reboot. It was great when we arrived the next day and see the project manager's response.

  • A few years back I was working as a developer in a custom software house. One week we came up with a prank to play on some of out more clueless developers. We were using Win 98 at the time. I don't recall if there was a way to lock the machine, but none of us ever did.

    What we did was wait for a developer to go for coffee, take a screenshot of how they left the machine, save that and then set it as the wallpaper. We would also hide the task bar and move the icons to a corner. Was so funny watching people clicking on the desktop, trying to get the app to respond. Most people caught on after a few seconds, but there was one lady that we took pity on after about 10 minutes.

    Someone tried the prank on me a few days later, to find I wasn't using the standard explorer shell, and they couldn't find either paint or the control panel. :w00t:

    Back at university there was a greatly disliked comp sci lecturer. He was terribly boring and had a habit of wasting our lab time with more boring lectures. My friends and I found a way to liven up one prac.

    I got permission from him before to run a unix session with FTP while he was demonstrating the prac (read - boring us out of our minds). What he didn't notice was that I had 2 unix sessions open.

    All the machines in the lab were running win 3.1 with Trumpet Winsock, and that version of winsock had a bug in that it could not handle ping packets over a certain size. One ping crashed winsock (probably a buffer overflow) and the second would crash windows

    For some strange reason ( :Whistling: ) his machine crashed about half the times he tried to save, and almost every time he tried to run the demo. This went on for 3 hours. He didn't even suspect that someone was intentionally crashing his machine.

    Fun days. 😀

    Gail Shaw
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
    SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

    We walk in the dark places no others will enter
    We stand on the bridge and no one may pass
  • As network admin for our mill several years ago, I used to send out gags by email every April 1st. Here are three of my favorites:

    I informed everybody in the mill that we were experiencing a high failure rate with pointing devices. It appeared that if a user left his/her mouse stationary too long, the mouse ball would develop a flat spot. I said that replacement balls were very expensive and consumed valuable time replacing them. So, I asked everybody to please turn their pointing devices "belly up" when not in use, to avoid creating these flat spots. I had quite a bit of fun walking around the offices that day looking at all the mice lying on their backs.

    In another case, I sent everybody a safety notice. It seemed that recent reports indicated that CRT computer monitors were emitting quite a bit of electromagnetic radiation and there was some concern that those levels could be harmful to human brains. Special electromagnetic shields had been ordered for our monitors to block the potentially harmful radiation. In the meantime, however, it was recommended that all users make hats out of aluminum foil and wear them while using their PCs. I even included instructions on how to make the hats.

    Finally, one year I told everybody that we, in IT, had noticed an increase incident rate of file corruption. We had traced the root cause back to static electricity buildup and discharge. April 1st is still winter in Maine and the air is very dry in the winter. As a user moved his/her mouse around on the mouse pad, static electricity would build up in the mouse and then suddenly discharge, traveling up the mouse cord, into the PC, and randomly corrupt files. To remediate this, I asked users to make little grounding straps to attach to their mice. I included detailed instructions on making a grounding strap out of aluminum foil, which the user was then instructed to tape to the trailing edge of the mouse so that it dragged across the mouse pad and discharged static.


  • Many years ago when my mother got her first job (1940s), she was told to order c-clamps, but having never heard of these, she typed the order for sea-clams. They let the order go through that way, and amazingly c-clamps arrived. Apparently she was not the first.


    -- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --

  • Where I worked, they hired a new developer who carried in his own water; this was before you could buy bottled water everywhere. He would bring in one of those large bottles (the kind you place on top of a dispenser). He forgot to take his first empty bottle so I took it, filled it with water from my fish tank and placed a goldfish in it. The next day, after he poured his first glass and left the room, I swapped bottles. When he started to pour his second glass, he freaked out. :sick: He was ready to call the water company before we stopped him. 😀


  • I thought this editorial was about how scary we are as DBAs, especially since I dressed up as Dog the Bounty Hunter this year and which scared our Oracle DBA.

    Mind you in a past job at a grocery store we would always trick the new hires into paging the store for someone with a ridiculous name.

  • One of my favorite pranks was replacing the screen saver on a coworker's machine while he was away from his desk. The screen saver of choice was the Blue Screen Screen Saver from SysInternals. (A newer version is still available from Microsoft). When he returned, we watched him stare in disappointment at his machine as it "rebooted" and then "bluescreened" again repeatedly. He was about to hit the power button (and actually loose his work) when we took pity on him.

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