Why don't they just DESIGN those buttons that way?

It's long ago in a gentler age, and this pilot fish is working at an engineering site in the U.K.

How long ago? "We had a mainframe in a wooden portacabin surrounded by IT offices and manned by a likable bunch of old guys, a couple of whom had been miners when they were younger," fish says.

"Night shift was boring, and one of the jobs was to watch the printers churn out boxes of reports, check that the fanfold paper folded properly and periodically load new stationery. One of the operators had put a stool in a comfortable position behind the printer so he could watch -- and doze.

"One night he leaned back against the wall to get more comfortable, and realized that the sound in the room had changed. There were about 30 thunk noises, followed by a gradual silence.

"And the paper stopped, so he changed the box.

"A couple of minutes later, the site fire brigade forced open the emergency door, fully kitted out with breathing gear.

"Turns out that on the wall behind the operator was the big red emergency-off switch, which also rang through to the site fire station. The thunk was the sound of heads forcibly retracting from the disk drive units when the power went off.

"A few days later, the emergency switches were surrounded by plywood boxes so you had to reach in to punch them, and elderly operators who needed a nap were safe from being disturbed."

Don't let Sharky get bored. Send me your true tale of IT life 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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