Kids! Do NOT try this in 2018!

Fresh-from-school pilot fish gets a job as a network administrator in the late 1980s that includes importing data from 9-track tapes to a newfangled relational database -- preferably using Fortran.

"My manager was taught and knew Fortran, so that's what I had to learn," says fish. "I picked it up and was able to write code to read in the tapes, but it was very painstaking.

"I thought C would be better suited to the task, since it handled character strings better than Fortran, so I went about the task of teaching myself C. I thought, what better way to do it than to also learn low-level graphics programming for our Unix workstations?

"My 'learning project' ended up being a little program that cleared the display buffer to black and displayed a large red flashing banner at the top and bottom of the screen, stating that the computer hard drive would be erased if the user did not call the displayed phone number before a five-minute countdown timer expired.

"I placed the program on our admin's computer and replaced a commonly used command with it, and waited.

"Soon after I could see a look of concern on his face, then he wheeled his chair over to the phone and started dialing. As soon as Dial-A-Prayer answered, he turned and yelled at me, 'I know it was you!'"

Sharky knows you've got a true tale of IT life. Why now send it to me right now at 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.

Get Sharky's outtakes from the IT Theater of the Absurd delivered directly to your Inbox. Subscribe now to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon