Not all true DBA bloopers involve running errant code or deleting live production databases with a single keystroke. This collection shows that sometimes technical difficulties occur when communications go awry, practical jokes turn sour, or someone turns on the lights.
Backup and recovery
Marilyn Marble, an application support specialist with Minnesota Counties Information Systems, recalled making a request, and getting a suprise, while assisting a customer with a backup.
"I was at another company then. I asked the field support person to send a copy of the backup tape. They did. I got a photocopy of the tape itself!"
This anonymous prankster recounted a moment of glory.
"In the early days of EDP, I was working at a remote site using an IBM 360 system. I was new at it, but another trainee was even newer. The disk drives (4370?) had three lights: Green: ON, Red: DATA CHECK, and Yellow: LOADING. The front pieces of plastic were rectangular and interchangeable with each other.
So as a joke, as I finished my afternoon shift, I swapped the ON piece with DATA CHECK. I passed the incoming operator, bid him a quiet night, and went home to bed. The next morning, the "shirt hit the fan." IBM was called out overnight to the site, which was more than a two-hour drive from the city, to swap the bits of plastic back into their rightful positions." And now for the funny part: "I went onto be an Ops supervisor."
Finding the light switch
This submission does not quite fit the definition of a DBA blooper, but it's certainly something for which no IT pro would want to be held responsible. The author requested that he be identified by his first name, Bob.
"An alarm technician was upgrading security in the Operations Center of a large regional bank. In a misguided effort to turn on the light in a storage area, he hit the emergency kill switch instead. Doing so not only disconnected power to all systems, but also discharged the expensive Halon fire suppression system. While he did manage to keep his job, he was never again assigned to that bank."
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Have your own tale of woe to share? Submit your backup/recovery snafus, tuning disasters and ugly upgrades. Stories of good intentions gone bad, over-ambitious and under-trained newbies, clueless consultants, and even more clueless managers will all be accepted. The submitter of the most amusing or wince-inducing blooper of the month will receive a free copy of Craig Mullins' new book Database administration: The complete guide to practices and procedures. Send your bloopers to us today!