Who, Me? Welcome to Who, Me?, The weekly history of The Register about misdeeds of readers, accidental or otherwise.
Today's story is set thirty years ago in a time of mainframes and limited computing resources.
The reader "Ivor" was working for an American truck company that was so promising that he realized he needed 24-hour programming support to keep things in order.
Ivor explained, "A team was formed to cover the second shift and a lone programmer volunteered to provide support for the midnight shift at eight in the morning."
He continued: "As with most support teams, sometimes things work as they are supposed to." and you sit around with your thumbs. "
Regular readers nod their heads wisely at this point, suspecting what that lonely programmer did.
" After reading all available technical manuals, the third person shift took an interest in developing gr based on aphics characters for terminals on our mid-range IBM servers, "said Ivor," he realized that he could move the images across the screen by rewriting the screen several times "
Animation at the terminals! Great!
Being a loyal employee, the programmer came up with an animation that showed an image of a delivery truck with the company's initials. to another on the screen.
A productive work night, we are sure you will agree.
The programmer naturally wanted to share how smart he was with the employees. The company and, since he was the only person in the support shift, had administrative rights for all systems.
"Then he thought it would be fun / fun to install his code in the login process and after entering his credentials, a user will be presented with a truck that moves slowly through the screen of his terminal.  "On the two of the three almost exhausted servers that admitted Headquarters."
Of course, everything looked great in the early hours. The pants programmer was called home by a domestic emergency, which means no I would be close to witness the surprise and joy of the company's users in their work.
Those first users began to appear around four or five in the morning while they watched the truck spend about 5 Conds moving around the screen, they thought it was "cute."
"But," said Ivor, "as more and more people came to their desks and tried to log in, the support table began receiving the calls they received. stuck on the credentials screen and "WTH" was underway "
At this point, the truck was taking a minute to complete its journey. And as more users tried to log in to work, the animation" finally stopped somewhere in the middle on the right side of the screen. "
" Managers started calling saying that their people could not access and this was a "MAIN CRISIS !!!!". (It was a trucking company and most calls were much more colorful) "
" After a frantic hour, "Ivor recalled," someone looked at the records of the previous changes, discovered that changes had been made to the components of the system and finally they found and reinstalled the manufacturer's code. "
A quick reboot, and everything was fine. Although, as Ivor noted sadly:" IT's reputation had not been the best before and now it was broken. " .
In what will be a familiar experience for many readers, "Any small inconvenience in performance flooded the support lines." With calls asking & # 39; what the hell have you done now? & # 39; "- we can Imagine the impact of the animated truck.
Ivor was found in the review team for the incident: "Performance data showed that the delay in writing to terminals had reached limits never seen before by IBM technicians. Systems were maximized with less than 2 MB of RAM and the operating system had eliminated the vast majority of queues, so I / O were contributing to the problems. "
As expected, the offending programmer was stripped of administrative privileges and You were asked for application support work.
"The developer ended up going to greener pastures because he had few opportunities in the company."
Ivor remained for another twenty years or so and I saw the system grow far beyond what was knocked down by a humble truck animation in the 80s.
"I think," Ivor reflected, "the fact that stopping was what really aggravated top management "
" It was assumed that trucks, real or digital, should not stop for longer than necessary to deliver a package. "
Have you ever done something that you thought would delight and surprise your users, only to be greeted by screams of horror and despair? Of course yes. Send an email to Who, Me?
The comprehensive Vultures in The Register are ready to hear your confession. ®