WEBdeLDN: Horror stories

Daniele Esposti's Blog
, in 04 February 2019

WEBdeLDN is small but very cool monthly meetup organised in London. I recommend it to everyone, the topics ranges from technology to management to mental health, so everyone interested in the present and the future is highly welcome.

In the last session the topics was “Horror stories”, stories about failures in tech and non-tech industries.

This is the transcript of my contribution as a lighting talk:

Melting point

It was almost a decade ago, just before moving here in the UK form Italy.

I was working as a freelance software engineer and had a some small business as clients.

One of them was a company renting lorries and drivers for bigger logistic companies.

My job was to manage the small network of one server and a bunch of computers and developing an ad-hoc software to manage the business.

On the time when I was organising the handover to the new IT manager he moved the offices into a lorry park.

The office was actually a container modified to be an office, with desks and air conditioning for warm up the place in the winter and cooling it down in the summer.

So, try to visualise it:

What can possibly go wrong, in summer time?

It happened a month after, I was already in UK and the new IT manager of my former client contacted me. He told me that he had issues with the software I built, so I started with the classic diagnostic steps:

Me: “The first is obvious: is the server up and running?”

IT: “No”

Me: ”Can you turn it on?”

IT: “No”

Me: “No, you mean that there’s no power?”

IT: “No, there’s power but the machine is not turning on”

Me: “Did you check if the power supply unit is broken?”

IT: “Yes, its obviously broken, the fan is melted, same for the fan on the CPU, and I cannot disconnect any part of the hardware because is kind of melted together”

Me: “Wait a sec: did you said melted?”

IT: “Yes, they shut down the AC every time they are not in the office but leave the server on, and in the weekend was so hot inside the container that the hardware melted and failed”

Me: “Oh boy!”

IT: “Can you connect to the server remotely with Internet and fix it or at least download a copy of the data please?

I never knew if they were able to recover any data, from the drives or from previous backups, but the business is till running, hopefully not in container.