All trick, no treat

Flashback to the autumn of 1995, when Windows 95 has just been released and one IT guy on the server team at this company is more than a little smug about being first to get it, reports a pilot fish on the scene.

"He was very avid in his support for Microsoft and gung-ho about getting 'Chicago' on his bleeding edge system with its powerful new 200MHz Pentium Pro CPU," fish says.

His co-workers from the Unix and Netware teams quickly get fed up and devise a plan. First they wait until Mr. Gung Ho is away from the office. Then they log into his PC and run a command to output the directory and file names from the entire hard drive to a text file.

Next, they open the tower and add a surplus hard drive in an unused bay, then move the cable to the surplus drive.

Closing up the PC, the co-workers install Linux on the surplus hard drive and add a simple shell script that reads from the text file full of file names, then outputs a line to the screen -- first the words "Windows to Linux conversion for file..." and then the file name followed by "...Completed!"

"Next morning, Gung Ho was back in the office and booted his PC, pleased to be getting back to the bleeding edge," says fish. "His enthusiasm changed to horror as he saw his screen report each directory and file being converted to Linux.

"Panicked, Gung Ho tried hitting Ctrl-C, but the pranksters had locked out the keyboard while the script ran, just to amp up the stress. After a three-finger salute and other attempts to stop the script also failed, Gung Ho dove under the desk and yanked the power cable out of the PC."

The pranksters watch over the edge of their cubicles as Gung Ho inserts his Windows disk in the CD drive and boots, then begins trying desperately to repair his Windows installation.

But nothing seems to work. Windows 95 appears to be completely gone, and Gung Ho gets more and more stressed and angry as his efforts to fix it fail.

Finally the pranksters and everyone else who's in on the gag converge on his cube with grins on their faces.

"Gung Ho was livid, and began chewing out his colleagues for destroying his whole PC and file system," fish says.

"The pranksters finally got him to open up his PC, where he saw the second drive. Once he switched the cable back and the PC began to boot up normally he was greatly relieved, and cooled down enough to join in the laughter at his own expense."

Sharky's only scared of one thing on Halloween -- not getting enough true tales of IT life. Send me yours at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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