Dilbert Contest: The Best Real-life Storage Insanity Story
Congratulations to Robert Schneider, whose entry was selected as the Grand Prize winner in our contest. His entry, Fix this Problem Once and for All (But Don't Make any Changes) reveals the problems that come when management is unwilling to implement strong file storage policies. Rob will receive a free pass to BrainShare 11, where perhaps you can meet him and swap horror stories.
A big thanks to all of you who took the time to share your real-world examples of Dilbertism. Hope you enjoy wearing your Dilbert t-shirt and flaunting your Dilbert mug. This was a highly entertaining contest, and we have had great feedback about it. Maybe we'll do it again sometime. The contest is over, but Pointy Haired Bosses go on and on.
About the Contest
We all know that Dilbert isn't the only one with a pointy-haired man in his life. We're guessing you've had some close encounters with your own absurd managers. Managers who dictate new policies that fly in the face of reason. Crazy decisions made without any thought for unexpected consequences. Pronouncements unburdened by facts, yet defended to the death. (This is why Scott Adams is a billionaire today.)
We thought it would be fun to see your Dilbert-esque stories dealing with strange ways that PHPs (pointy-haired people) have dealt with file management and file storage issues. We're launching a contest to find the best real-life 'storage insanity' story as told by our beloved IT professionals worldwide. Grand prize: a pass to BrainShare 2011 (Salt Lake City or EMEA)
Jason C. wrote: It was 1997. Windows 95 deployments were in high gear. I worked for a Novell partner that sold white box PCs. We had a contract to deliver 300 Windows 95 machines to a government client.
Back in March we sent out an announcement about the release of the new GroupWise WebAccess site to all users. We included specifics like how to modify browser bookmarks to the new WebAccess URL, including IE8 details. Here are some of the responses we received. Some of them are pretty funny.
This contest is great; it’s like a support group for IT folks. Here are some of the things that have happened to me in about 10 years in the field…
Our Mac users are our worst offenders for not cleaning out old email and data files that are no longer needed. (Some more than others). No one, and that means NO ONE including the President's office, is given unlimited quotas.
This PHB is one of the good guys. He used to be an engineer. He’s got good intentions. But, you know, management responsibilities are the corporate equivalent of a pre-frontal lobotomy in the best of cases.
The electrician shook his head and assured me everything was grounded properly and that I shouldn't worry my "pretty little head about such technical stuff". Strike 1 for Pointy Haired Electrician (aka PHE).
TM: I see 2 specifications in the Directory Services section
YM: That was more than a month ago, now there are about 8 specifications
Where can I put my most important files so I won't lose them?
I'll balance them on top of the trash can so the Janitor knows it's not part of the actual trash.
User: I need help, I have a important meeting and I'm unable to show my presentation, stored on my USB stick.
Here is your highly redundant, multi-million dollar, SAN running a highly-available cluster ensuring that all data and services such as GroupWise are always available to the business.
Just the other day a gentleman comes over to our desk with a rather large amount of papers stapled together. It seems that one of our divisional drives (almost 2 TB in size with about 14 million files and countless thousands of directories that are nested) was the victim of an unfortunate accident.
It was my 15th anniversary of working for my company. My manager/director at the time organized a lunch in my honor for his management group (about 10 people). A date and time was settled on and a meeting place designated to gather and travel to car pool to the restaurant.
I had implemented a quota system for my departmental server at a hospital. One of the social workers was continually running up against the quota and continued to complain about the lack of space. I explained that non-work related items should not be stored on the server as a it was a misuse of resources and perhaps she should consider storing those items off to a floppy or CD.
RR wrote: There's a Dark, Ugly Side of IT Guys too. Sample: Nobody really trusts anybody! I know a guy who was in the department for 8 years, and they never really gave him the ability to change passwords for the users he served. They wanted to keep the numbers down on who could do this to 2 or 3 people… If we all took vacations at the same time, it was a nightmare for the users who forgot or didn't change their passwords before they were forced to change them. Users were locked out until an administrator could be reach on their vacation.
One of my colleague was new to the office. He was given the task of installing the OS on multiple systems for few days to learn and understand the products.
Pointy Head: "I can't save files to the server."
IT Guy: "Hmm..It appears VP Fred has filled it up with his entire collection of birthday podcasts."
Hello. I have coursework to hand in by 3PM today but I deleted it. Can you help?
One day our Help Desk received a call from an irate teacher indicating that they were not able to save their report cards and they had no doubt that the problem was caused by "The Computer Guy" who had been spotted in the school the day before.
“No problem. Your I’ll reset your password to the word password with a capital P, and a zero for the 0. Once you log in you’ll be prompted to change it.”
( long pause )
“I’ll make sure I typed it right… OK… For your password type capital P, lower case a s, lower case s, lower case w, the number zero, lower case r, lower case d.”
TS: Umm... light are out, PC is out, surge suppressor is dead. What
does work in here?
PHP: Well, my fan (battery powered 2" high purple plastic fan), my
telephone, and this stapler.
TS: The stapler isn't electric.
PHP: Really? I requested an electric one. I wondered why I had to
push it so hard.
TS: Am I to understand that the only copy of your book manuscript is
small enough to fit on a floppy; and the only copy is now jammed in your
PHP: Well, you don't need to say it that way.
RR wrote: Oh this is just a little of my collection! Sample: "You're the IT guy, you should know how to do all this stuff.... NOW! By the way I need to re-arrange my office space, can you help me move this heavy desk?"
This is my own version of a Dilbert story. For Narration I'm using PHM to refer to Pointy-Haired Manager :)
When the primary file server at my Fortune 50 company ran out of file space and crashed, hamstringing some 6,000 employees, the Novell engineering team was called to the Director of IT’s office… the PHB. This was the first time “The Problem” occurred.
At a university law school there was a secretary that had managed to accumulate a file structure of 14,000 files in 9000 subdirectories. That woman can file!
It all started with "Bob, I need to see you in my office." Counsel decided that we needed to retain e-mail and user files for a potential litigation. So instead of implementing a system to, uh, "archive" mail and files it was decided to just take our backup tapes for each day, keep them. Buying new tapes as needed. Thereby solving the problem, once and for all.
While investigating the RFP for a backup vendor, an assistant manager explained that the current solution was not working, getting up, banging on the table and yelling "NDMP doesn't work".
Congratulations to Robert Schneider, whose entry was selected as the Grand Prize winner in our contest.
Submitted by: DilbertContest on Tue. 08.24.2010
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