Ellis Morning

Ellis is a Computer Science graduate who fought in the trenches of Tech Support, occasionally crossing enemy lines into the Business Analyst and Project Management spheres of war. She's now a freelance writer and author of sci-fi/fantasy adventure novels about a spacefaring knight errant on a quest for justice and enlightenment. Read more at Ellis' website.

Powerful Trouble

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FSC Primergy TX200 S2 0012

Many years ago, Chris B. worked for a company that made CompactPCI circuit boards. When the spec for hot-swappable boards (i.e., boards that could be added and removed without powering down the system) came out, the company began to make some. Chris became the designated software hot-swap expert.


Suffer Not The Virus To Live

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Computer virus illustration

Not so long ago in 2015, Carl C. was asked to give a talk to an amateur radio club. The venue was a local church that rented out their meeting hall to various community groups, businesses, and even the odd academic session. The space boasted a multimedia setup with several video screens, making it a great place at which to present.


Portage and Portability

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ST 225 20MB drive and WDC controller

Many moons ago, when PCs came housed within heavy cases of metal and plastic, Matt Q. and his colleague were assigned to evaluate a software package for an upcoming sales venture. Unfortunately, he and the colleague worked in different offices within the same metro area. As this was an age bereft of effective online collaboration tools, Matt had to travel regularly to the other office, carrying his PC with him. Each time, that meant unscrewing and unhooking the customary 473 peripheral cables from the back of the box, schlepping it through the halls and down the stairs, and catching the bus to reach the other office, where he got to do all those things again in reverse order. When poor scheduling forced the pair to work on the weekend, they hauled their work boxes between apartments as well.


The Three-Month Itch

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Compass in coil

It was March 2016, and Ian was in need of a job. Fairly early into his search, he was lucky to find a tiny startup in need of someone with Python architecture and design skills. By "tiny," we mean that there were only three other developers working for Jack, the founder.


Crushing Performance

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IBM-qwert keyboard

Many years ago, Sebastian worked for a company which sold self-assembled workstations and servers. One of the company's top clients ordered a server as a replacement for their ancient IBM PS/2 Model 70. The new machine ran Windows NT Server 4.0 and boasted an IPC RAID controller, along with other period-appropriate bells and whistles. Sebastian took a trip out to the client site and installed the new server in the requested place: a table in front of the receptionist's desk, accessible by anyone walking through the main entrance. Not the best location from a security standpoint, but one of the new server's primary tasks in life would be to serve the company's telephone directory, installed on CD-ROM.


2018: Shiny Side Up

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It's been many, many years since I've suffered a helldesk gig, but I always get a tickle out of silly helpdesk stories like this one. Always look on the shiny side! -- Remy

CD-ROM

It feels as though disc-based media have always been with us, but the 1990s were when researchers first began harvesting these iridescent creatures from the wild in earnest, pressing data upon them to create the beast known as CD-ROM. Click-and-point adventure games, encyclopedias, choppy full-motion video ... in some cases, ambition far outweighed capability. Advances in technology made the media cheaper and more accessible, often for the worst. There are some US households that still burn America Online 7.0 CDs for fuel.


Classic WTF: Power Supply

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It's Christmas Eve, and as per usual, we're taking the day off. As you're thinking about your gifts, think about unwrapping THIS present, from a few years back. Original. -- Remy

MRI scans, while neat, do leave something to be desired in the “fun” and “comfort” departments. After surrendering every sliver of metal and some percentage of clothing, the patient must sit or lie stock-still in a cold room for long stretches of time. As the giant magnets do their work, ear-splitting tones and rhythmic pulses fill the room. For those who lie down to enter the giant magnet-coffin, it’s easy to feel like the Frankenstein monster in some mad scientist’s German techno experiment.

The noise is so bad that most facilities issue earplugs to their patients- but some, as Evi relates, spring for $1,500 headsets, and $10,000 systems to play music through said headsets. Seem steep? No doubt the 1–3 year warranties, ranging from $1,500 to $3,500, raise eyebrows too- but it was well outside the warranty period that Evi learned the true extent of the fleecing.


Paper (Size), Please

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Samsung SPP-2040

Terje worked for an IT firm that serviced the purchasing department of a global corporation. To manage purchases, the department used an enterprise shipping and warehousing system that shall be called BLA to protect the guilty. The system ran on a Citrix farm in Norway with all the most impressive resources at its command.


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