Tales from the world of ICT

Stop that email The president of a company calls the IT department to ask how to recall an email, reports pilot fish. Impossible, techie tells him. Once an email has been sent to the server, it can't be recalled, and trying to do so will just draw attention to the email. The president does not want that. "The next day, my boss calls me and two other members of our department into her office," says fish. "She says that we have to get that email back. And we can't let any of the 70 people it was sent to know what we're doing. Oh, and it was sent two weeks ago." So fish starts calling the 70 employees, asking them for their passwords and IP addresses and explaining that their computers have to be checked for "viruses and stuff". One by one, fish remotely controls the employees' PCs to enable remote desktop. Then the other IT staffers, following fish's instructions, log on to each PC using remote desktop, which locks the PC so the user can't see what's going on. Then the IT people search through in-boxes, out-boxes, deleted items and computer folders, just in case the file attached to the email was saved. "It took us a day and a half," grumbles fish. "What was in the email? Apparently, the payroll information for the entire company was accidentally included on the second tab of a spreadsheet attached to the email."

Peril from above

Pilot fish whose business specialises in keeping datacentres clean gets a frantic call from a customer.

"It turns out the whole place was being renovated, and the construction workers on the floor above that day had the task of cleaning up," says fish. "It seems they found what they thought was an unused hole in the floor. So instead of sweeping up loose dry wall, nails and other construction waste and removing it, they dumped it all down the hole. "It landed right on top of racks and racks of servers."

Wrong place to test app Pilot fish works in a factory, and one day an engineer comes running over, frantically looking for help. "He was exclaiming that I had to help him now, as his laptop had stopped working while he was in the warehouse testing an application," says fish. "I followed him to the warehouse and he took me to where he had set his laptop up on a pallet — a pallet of boxes full of heavy-duty magnets that were labelled with warnings about intense magnetic fields."

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