What are the biggest facepalm moments you have ever experienced?
Answer by Clell Harmon:
I work in banking software, specifically the ATM side of the house. While the ATMs themselves run on a variety of OSes (Windows variants, OS2, even a few proprietary systems) the interface between the main accounting systems on the AS400 machines and the physical ATMs are, at least for the systems I worked on at the time, based upon a relatively popular UNIX variant called QNX.
I was performing a system upgrade for a fairly large bank, which involved a full clean install because of file system changes between the 4.35 release and the 6.1.5 release when I got a call from the bank’s CIO (Chief Information Officer, in other words (supposedly) the head Geek).
He was concerned about my upgrade, because he had read up on the security vulnerabilities of Windows XP that didn’t have the Service Pack 3 installed. He wanted to make sure I was installing Service Pack 3.
I explained as patiently as I could (I’m Navy trained. I’ve had to hold the hand of many a Junior Officer while calling him ‘sir’ no matter how stupid he was being), that the new Operating system was NOT windows based, was not Windows XP, and Service Pack 3 not only would serve no purpose, but was utterly incompatible with QNX.
This inspired a phone call to my company’s President about my attitude, so I found my happy ass in his office along with half the company brass.
Again I explained the situation.
Then I explained it again.
Then I logged into one of my test servers and showed everyone that the OS in question was not windows. Was not a Microsoft product.
Then I explained it again.
Finally my boss stepped in and said he’d take care of it.
My end instructions were to put Windows XP Service Pack 3 on the server. In a directory clearly labeled Windows XP Service Pack 3 in the root, and all execution privileges inhibited, just in case.
My time on site was billed by the hour, something like $1200 per. Because the Bank in question would not allow me to access their network, I had to download the service pack via the servers’ paging modem, 33.6 kbaud.
It only took three tries and 6 hours. All of them billable.
And this is only the second most stupid thing I’ve ever done professionally.
The first was during the Y2K hysteria. In October of 1999 I was working as a hardware tech, and got handed the contract to certify all of a local hospital’s systems were Y2K compatible by putting a stamp on the face plate of each system I verified.
At $75 each.
I spent four days going from office to office in the hospital, verifying their Computers and connected printers, and racked up something like $5k in billables. Then their head IT guy lead me back into an storeroom.
Where he showed me 200 IBM Selectric II typewriters.
I pointed out they were typewriters and not computers.
He needed them Y2K certified
I pointed out that the typewriters didn’t have calendar functions.
He needed them Y2K certified.
Fine. I went around all 200 of the no longer in use typewriters and stamped them Y2K certified, padding out the bill another $15k.
THAT is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done professionally.