Dust to dust

Don’t call us, and we won’t call you.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

It’s the late ’80s and pilot fish is a systems manager responsible for two PDP-11/44s with several large disk drives the size of washing machines. Three large window air conditioners provide cooling, and naturally they periodically need to have their filters cleaned to keep them running smoothly.

The company that provided this service for years goes out of business, so the new facilities manager contracts with another. New facilities manager/new contractor is a bad combo, though, and the bad that happens is that the facilities manager gives the AC company access to the systems room while fish is at lunch. When fish returns, he can’t log into the PDP, so he heads to the systems room to find out why.

Answer: The AC technician has dumped the accumulated dust from the filters on the systems room floor. The dust quickly filled up the filters on the disk drive units, causing them to overheat and crash. The removable disks are ruined (head crashes), and the heads themselves are damaged. Replacing everything gets expensive. Service technicians take an entire week fixing the disk drives and cleaning out the PDPs and all six racks.

Fortunately, the company’s service contract covers the expense, but they’re warned that the contract will be canceled if it happens again.

The new facilities manager survives this debacle, but that’s the end for the new AC company.

Why not dust off your old, true tales of IT life and send them to Sharky? I’m waiting at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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