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IT blooper #45: The seventh sense -- common sense

There's no doubt that technological advances make life easier for us. However, have you ever noticed yourself relying on spell checker to catch your careless mistakes?

There's no doubt that technological advances make life easier for us. However, have you ever noticed yourself getting lazy about spelling words properly, because you know spell checker will catch your careless mistakes? If you've ever been concerned that technology is taking some of the guesswork out of everyday life, then this technology mishap submitted by an IT worker at a large corporation in Delaware is for you!

I had just finished brushing my teeth and was getting ready to hop into bed when I heard the phone ring. A quick glance over at my alarm clock confirmed that it was well past midnight. My stomach did an unsettling back flip, as I immediately began assuming the worst -- a horrific car accident, a deadly house fire, the death of a beloved family pet. I slipped into my Ugg slippers and scuffled over to the phone, bracing myself for bad news.

Fully expecting to hear my mother's voice on the other end of the line, I was surprised, and quite relieved, to hear the high-pitched nasal bleating of our department director. After apologizing for waking me, she asked in what sounded like a series of baas if it was important to have all databases down before we completely lost power. Puzzled, I told her that it was extremely important and then asked why she wanted to know. "Well," she started, "it seems that the Delaware office was slightly affected by Hurricane Jeanne. There's a chance we lost power there, which I never would have thought of, since Florida is so far away...." She continued to hem and haw about driving in and making sure everything was okay until I pointed out that once power was lost, nothing could be done until it came back on. This seemed to be the excuse she was looking for, and after concluding that the people on duty had everything under control, she told me she was going back to bed.

I lay awake that night debating whether I should make the hour-and-a-half commute to the office but finally decided if the director wasn't worried, I shouldn't be either. If there was actually a crisis and I was needed at the office, someone would use a cell phone to call me. With that, I got back into bed where I eventually slipped into a fitful and restless sleep.

I woke up before my alarm went off the next morning and drove into the office, assuring myself the whole way that if we had really lost power completely, someone would have called me. The second I walked in the front door though, I saw handwritten signs informing me the computers were down. Uh oh. I wasn't even ten steps in the door, when one of my colleagues, Tom, pulled me aside and told me we had lost power for over eight hours! During this time, battery backup on all systems had been drained, as well as the UPS. I asked why no one had called me, only to find out that the nighttime operator had spent nearly two hours trapped between two doors that had shut and locked when the power went out. By the time he got out, there were only fifteen minutes of power left on the UPS to bring down over two dozen servers and several mainframe computers. Needless to say, this didn't happen and all systems fell down.

Now Tom and I had the task of restarting and recovering all of these systems, and the department had no disaster recover plan in place. Groaning inwardly, I began to mentally prepare myself for hours upon hours of data recovery. With a harried look on his face, Tom looked at me and with a half laugh asked, "So, don't you want to know how the nighttime operator finally got out from between those doors?" I started responding that I'd figured someone had found him and let him out when Tom interrupted to say, "No, no. He was stuck in there for over two hours while we were losing data, because he didn't realize the keys in his pocket worked just as well as his card key, which was disabled because of the power failure."

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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