I’d drive 100 miles and drive 100 more just to be the man who drove 200 miles to … press Enter • The Register

Who me ? The best mouse plans or Register now readers can sink questionable connectors and wobbly cables onto the rocks, like this week’s Who, Me? discovered archives.

Regomized as “Chris,” our hero’s story unfolds long before the seemingly endless (and endlessly expensive) cloud storage of today. Even before NAS and SANs were ubiquitous corporate hardware.

Chris was one of the poor souls tasked with keeping an eye on the available storage on his company’s NT servers and making sure that no department needed capacity. “The weekly task of taking the capacity figures and inserting them into the reliable management spreadsheet was the highlight of my week,” he said.

Chris’s team was also responsible for IT on the company’s various satellites, one of which required a journey of over an hour on UK motorways, followed by a hike through a downtown to get there.

Inevitably, this remote office eventually needed some attention. The existing file server was chock full of data and could no longer accept disks. A new box was needed for Chris to make the trip, plug in the kit, and start the data migration.

After the usual back and forth required to get things done in the average business, Chris left with a boot (or “trunk” for American readers) full of material. The traffic itself was usually hideous, and Chris’ mood was not helped by security insistence that despite his photo ID, he had to be chaperoned in both rented floors of the block where the offices were hidden.

“Without a doubt,” he remarked bitterly, “just in case I wanted to drop off the best of Compaq that I was taking with me anywhere else.”

Everything was fine. The new server was installed, the scripts to migrate the data from the old machine were started, and Chris chose to return to the freeway. His physical presence was not required – his dazzling scripts meant that the work could be done remotely.

All that was required at the end of the process was a restart of the old server, everything was easily monitored from the comfort of Chris’s office.

What could go wrong?

Before going any further, it’s fair to point out that the process has been well tested: “It worked perfectly every time,” Chris told us.

And of course, by the day it went live, the scripts had done their job. The new actions were working. Everything looked good on the new server.

The old waiter, less. While all of the other servers in the rack responded with no problem, whatever it was able to get out of the old box came through a ping. Not a good look for Chris’s divine computer skills.

“I pretty quickly decided that a face-saving sprint in the car was the only answer,” he told us, and this being before speed cameras were as common on UK roads as they are today. ‘Yeah, I had a great time. Too good, because he again found himself having to wait for a chaperone.

“The cavalry has finally arrived, coffee in hand,” he told us, “wondering what I was doing there”. Mumbling something about the hardware, Chris returned to the server room to track down the culprit.

It turned out that his scripts had indeed worked. Until the restart when a problem had arisen without anyone knowing. The server was connected to a Compaq KVN switch that also had a questionable-looking keyboard plugged into it. The server BIOS had been configured to halt on all errors … including keyboard errors.

“So my urgent 200 mile round trip ended,” Chris sighed, “with nothing more than hitting the enter key and everything was fine. “

Early in the satellite office, he could have been. Late in his return to his office, he certainly was. We like to think of his answer to the inevitable “Where have you been, to do what?” of his boss was colorful and creative enough.

Has your intelligence ever been overruled by this weird hardware error? Or have you taken a long Proclaimers journey just to press a single key? Confess it all with an email to Who, Me?


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