Home Horror Stories Kind of like a landmine, only the fallout’s more expensive

Kind of like a landmine, only the fallout’s more expensive

Kind of like a landmine, only the fallout’s more expensive

Republished with permission from our friends at the Daily WTF:

He was greeted at reception by Manny, one of the upper-level directors. He got the tour– reception, sales, call center– and ended up in the kitchen. Over a free breakfast of free coffee and free muffins (all free), they signed the HR paperwork. Once he had creamed and sugared his “I”s and “T”s, Paul was shown to The Center.

“It’s the lifeblood of IT,” Manny said, “Development, IT, R&D– it all flows through here.”

The Center was a converted corner office just off the main hallway. Though it might have once been large and sunny, three of the walls were now packed floor to ceiling with computers. There was everything from off-lease black boxes from the big blue company to spatterings of various shades of sun-stained beige, all in various states of apparent disassembly. There were CRTs, two-button mice, and keyboards without that proprietary key between CTRL and ALT. “This…graveyard is where the lifeblood of development flowed through?”, Paul nearly thought out loud.

“Don’t you have problems scaling the code up from development machines to the production servers?” Paul asked, speaking over the distant clackity-clack of a lone developer on a Model M.

“How do you mean?”

“You know,” Paul prompted, “You can only stress test so much on the jalopy, so you never know if the code will handle the load the production servers can drum up.”

“Oh, I see,” Manny said, “No, the environments are identical for both. We use the same hardware, all the way from development to production.”

Paul couldn’t choke a response past the realization of that the production servers were also a cube farm of desktops with turbo switches. He didn’t want to see what the server room looked like. He took a sip of coffee to cover his shocked expression.

Manny waved at the developer at the other end of The Center, and she waved back. “Well, you just grab one of the Development computers, and get yourself familiar. Janice there will come up with your first assignment, and the rest of the team will be in shortly.”

Paul looked about, trying to pick a PC. He did on on-the-fly min/max calculation of closest to the lone window versus least covered in dust. He put down his coffee on the desk/ledge, and stabbed the power button.

The shrill shriek of the manager cut through him– but a millisecond too late.


Paul froze. He’d already pushed the POWER button, but hadn’t let it go. Only then did Paul see the tiny, envelope label stuck to front of the case. On it was handwritten:


Manny was suddenly at his side. “If you let that button go, the company loses ten million dollars!”

via: [The Daily WTF]



  1. Sounds like the times of AT power supplies, where the power button was wired directly into the PSU and had 120V/240V going through it. When pushed to turn the computer on, it would toggle the circuit closed. When pushed again, it would toggle the circuit open. The toggling happened as you let the buton go.

    • “(…) the production servers were also a cube farm of desktops with turbo
      switches.” – seems to confirm my suspicions.

      Also: “buton” – fffuuuuuu…

  2. “Paul closed his mouth, and counted to ten. At the six second mark, the computer was still on. No ACPI. Small blessings from old hardware.”

  3. With those old AT power supplies/switches, he can probably let go of the button and push it again really fast and all would still be well. Did that several times back in the old days…


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