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True IT blooper #36: Relaxed IT pro goofs

Don't relax in the server room, because you could lean against a big red button.

As IT pros know, keeping an organization's computer system running can be a stressful, nonstop job. Pros relish breaks because they can chat with colleagues instead of troubleshooting and solving technical problems.

However, IT pros might not want to completely let their guard down, like the subject of this blooper did a few years ago. No doubt after a challenging day, or week, the IT manager we'll call David, was "chatting up a storm" with his IT comrades in the server room, which powered hundreds of local and regional computers for a Canadian hospital, said system analyst Jeff Labute.

David was relaxed and enjoying the conversation so much he forgot where he was. Well, he was in the server room and more precisely, standing near an emergency "off" switch.

"The manager leaned back against the wall beside the door, depressing the most important button of all," Labute said.

Power in the main computer room shut off and hundreds of terminals and PCs throughout the hospital lost their connection to servers. David went from relaxed to panicked.

It wasn't as if the button sneaked up on him.

"It was a large, red, and very visible button beside the door, 5 feet from the floor," Labute said.

The button was installed to shut down all the servers and mainframes in an instant if necessary. The room housed 10 Data General AViiON mainframes that controlled the hospital's entire region, thousands of square miles, Labute said. The hospital served the area of Kelowna, British Columbia.

After David accidentally hit the emergency button, he and his chatty colleagues scrambled to reboot the mainframes.

IT departments constantly modify this and that to improve their systems and networks. After the IT manager committed the emergency button blooper, the button was modified.

"The button is still there today," Labute said, "but with an enclosure built around it."

Share your bloopers with us. E-mail them to Read more of our past IT Blooper Series, which originially appeared at, part of the TechTarget network.

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