Then there was the time, at my first tech journalist job, when the entire network crashed right before deadline. Just died. –snick–

Pandemonium, everyone running around screaming (especially the ad sales people, whose commissions depended on the info in the servers), and the managing editor bravely dragging out the hot wax and paper for some old-fashioned newspaper-style layout.

Our parent company had wisely decided that onsite technical support for our publication was unnecessary when there was a perfectly good IT department about 500 miles away. They promised to hop a plane and be down the next morning, which was ‘way too late.

Since I ran the reviews lab, the publisher asked if I could “fix it.” Not having network admin privileges, I doubted it, but I headed down to the server room to take a look…

…and immediately discovered the problem. We were having the offices painted, the painters had finally reached the server room, and found all this equipment pushed up against the walls. Naturally, they unplugged it and moved it into the center of the room. They did ask…the publisher’s secretary, a bona fide member of the technoilliterati, who said, “sure.”

Took me about five minutes to persuade the painters to plug everything back in, another two hours to convince the home office that I could be trusted with the admin passwords to bring the network back up. Right after that our normally tight-fisted publisher authorized spending seventy-five bucks to put a deadlock on the server room door along with a great big “KEEP OUT” sign. And we started calling dumb moves “painters’ tricks.”

I mention this now because I just read about a painters’ trick by someone who should have known better. Seems this systems manager didn’t realize that the Xbox in the data center was actually a server…