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iSeries/System i Blunder Hall of Shame

Welcome to the iSeries Blunder Hall of Shame. Here you'll find some of the best iSeries blunders around.

Whoops! I can't believe you did that!



We've all made mistakes at one time or another and had to answer for our actions. Chances are, once you've made a major blunder, you don't make the same mistake twice. Here's our collection of the "whopper of all whoops" for your reading pleasure.

Do you have a blunder that could top our 2007 charts? Care to share your biggest goof-up of the year? Don't be shy. (I promise to use only first names.) Send in your blunder!

Check out our entire collection of iSeries blunders!

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Here you have it, the best of the worst of 2006-2007!"

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His guilt was embossed on his forehead

December 2006 Winner

Greg writes:

Ages ago, in the days of the System 34, the programmers didn't have their own terminals. When we needed to edit, compile or test a program we had to use a terminal in one of the user departments. One summer afternoon, I was waiting for my program to compile (interactively of course) and I was feeling really, really, sleepy. My eyelids were drooping and my brain says to me "Look, you know this program takes at least 20 mins to compile and you can't leave until it compiles so you may as well go to sleep while it's compiling". "But" I say back "How will I know when to wake up?" "That's easy" says my brain "Just rest your head on the keyboard and when the compile finishes, the keyboard will start clicking".

I thought that sounded good so that is what I did. A few minutes latter I was woken up by the clicking. I logged off and returned to the IT department via the gents. As I walked in, the CEO was on his way out and he stopped and asked me how I was. "Fine" I said "and you", "fine" he said with a smirk on his face. I continued on thinking how weird he was behaving until I stood in front of the mirror and saw that my forehead had the pattern of a 5250 keyboard still embossed in it.

Lucky for me I was a good programmer!

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The command "Fix" is not all it's cracked up to be

August 2006 Winner

Steven writes:

A few years back, a few programmers and I were sitting around discussing the best course of action to take with a particularly difficult problem. After a rather lengthy banter back and forth, I jokingly commented, "Wouldn't it be nice to just type in "fix" and all this go away." Needless to say, I was also sitting at a terminal at the time and was actually typing that in. I pressed enter and waited for the inevitable "command not found" error, strangely enough, it didn't appear. It seems that somewhere in the original program build for the system; a programmer had created a program called "fix" that re-initialized all of the data files. It was a real problem explaining to management how we had managed to lose about four hours worth of data entry plus half a day reloading from tape. That program has long since been deleted.

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Logged off and let down!

July 2006 Winner

Tom writes :

As an AS/400 system administrator, I often borrowed other people's computers instead of going all the way back to my desk to handle problems. One day I signed on using an accounting clerk's computer. I finished my task and figured the user would sign me off and sign back on as herself. When I returned to my desk, the AS/400 suddenly shut itself down. I rushed back to the accounting department and asked the clerk what she had done before the system went down. She smiled and said she found a menu option to log me off, and power down her computer: PWRDWNSYS.

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Here you have it, the best of the worst of 2005!"

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Statically-charged admin creates hairy situation

June 2005 Winner

Timothy writes:

Early in my career, I was working as a systems administrator/programmer for a company that had a small B model AS/400. Those units came with a 1/4 inch tape drive in the front. Well, my problem begins, strangely enough, with fashion (or lack thereof). As a low-paid administrator, most of my pants were polyester Wal-Mart specials. The problem is that my legs are hairy. So every time that I walked, I generated static electricity...even on the linoleum floor of our IT department. One day, while taking the tape out of the drive, a static spark jumped the 1/2 inch from the metal frame of the AS/400 to my finger. Not only did it numb my arm for the next 15 minutes, but is fried the UPS in the AS/400, crashing it immediately. It took 24 hours for IBM to get a part in and installed. Needless to say, though my boss understood, he got an anti-static mat for in front of the AS/400 and required me to stand on it when I changed tapes.

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May 2005 Winner

How many programmers does it take to speed up testing?

Terry writes:

Many years ago there were a number of programmers gathered around the console of our development System/38, trying to do determine how to make the testing run a little faster. One of our programmers had the great idea to have fewer active jobs run. The idea being that the processing would speed up. So, having all agreed that it was a sound idea, we changed the system value to have *MAXACTLVL of 1. Needless to say, we realized or mistake almost immediately, but were forced to wait for several hours until the console freed up so that we could change it back.

Luckily, as I said, it was on the development system, not production. *****************************************************************************************

April 2005 Winner

Where has all the data gone?

Michael writes:

An operations manager at one of our software development clients was confused by a couple parameters on the nightly SAVOBJ command and specified storage (*free) instead of clear (*all). The next morning everyone in the place wondered where all the data had gone.

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March 2005 Winner

The flashlight is to blame!

Jim writes:

Years ago, back in our white box days, we were going through one of many system upgrades. Our backups took about six hours at the time. We had shut the machine down and started the backup process. Our customer engineer came in about five hours into the backup. Trying to make good use of the time, he was checking on some cables and card locations. He always carried a "Mini-Mag" flashlight --aluminum, but fairly hefty, none-the-less. Apparently the pocket protector was extra slippery that day; as he bent over to check another location, the light slipped out of his pocket and scored a direct hit on the emergency breaker. It got VERY quiet -- partly from the sudden lack of machine noise and partly from the silence of the customer engineer! So, not only did we get to start the backup over from scratch, we got to go through a long recovery from the abnormal shutdown. Needless to say, we were late getting home for supper that day.

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February 2005 Winner

You might want to think twice before hitting enter

An anonymous user writes:

Virtually everybody in the local iSeries IT shop has done this at least once during their careers. Use the prompter on the PWRDWNSYS command and inadvertently hit enter.

But we have one particularly creative person who TELNET from one system to another, then TELNET to another, then TELNET to yet another. This enterprising soul needed to do a PWRDWNSYS on one of our test systems. Unfortunately, he lost track of what system he was on and did PWRDWNSYS on three production systems before he realized he wasn't on the test system!

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