It's two days before Christmas shutdown, and this IT pilot fish happens to step into a lab -- where she notices an orange fault light blinking on a server's disk array.

"This is a Unix server with two RAID sets, sent to us by a customer," says fish. "Because it's in the lab, it's not regularly seen by the IT staff. Nor is it on a network, so there's no email notification if anything goes wrong."

But clearly something is wrong, so fish sends a message to the person who regularly uses the server. User's reply: "The system seems to tolerate the faulty disk. It just beeps once in a while. As long as it keeps beeping, I think I'm OK."

Fish sends another message explaining that, because it's a RAID set, one disk can fail and things will keep working. But when a second disk fails, he'll be done for.

No response back.

Next day, fish contacts the user's manager, who gets it. In fact, he insists that the problem be fixed immediately.

"Trouble is, we're a Windows shop and our one Unix sysadmin is on vacation now," fish sighs.

"Which leaves me to find a hot spare and replace the disk on a system I know almost nothing about.

"Eight hours later I have replaced the disk and it is rebuilding, one hour before Christmas shutdown begins.

"And by the way, there's no tape drive on this system to back it up. That's my next project."

Sharky wants your next project to be sending in your true tale of IT life. I'm busy this week soldering together some furniture from Ikea, which is why today's holiday-themed tale is from the Sharkives. But email your story to me at, and you'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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