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True IT blooper #100: Twister, anyone?

A network engineer gets himself in a twist while peforming routine maintenance of a server.

Several years ago, David Yarnall was working as a contractor for EDS in Michigan's old Buick World Headquarters building when the network engineer, whom we'll call Melvin, to protect him from jabs and jeers from current co-workers, performed a daredevil party game impression.

As residents and visitors of the Blooper Zone well know, routine maintenance of a server often becomes very un-routine in a hurry. Melvin had already alerted the users of the small server that logins would be halted for about an hour while he crouched in the server room and performed the maintenance. This particular room had groups of 10 or 15 servers bunched together with KVM switches. Melvin finished the task and was prompted that it was "safe to turn off" the computer. His downfall was not reading the label on the front of said server. He pressed the power button and immediately realized that he was shutting down the wrong server. The label on the server he had his finger on said it was one of the main file/print servers for the network and Melvin knew it housed data for over 200 users, home directories and printers.

Always the semi-quick thinker, Melvin realized that the server had the kind of power button that shut down the machine when you pulled your hand off it, not when you pressed it in. "There sat Melvin with his finger on the power button and unable to remove his hand from the server," wrote David. If he was within reaching distance of his mouse and monitor, he would have been fine and this would be a pretty short and boring blooper. He was not.

Alas, the phone! Only - four - feet - away (as Robin would say to Batman), and so Melvin, virtually glued to the server, stretched out his leg and dragged the phone toward himself. Success! Sort of. It probably would have been a bit easier for Melvin if he had used his left hand to push the power button instead of his right, but still, Melvin managed to twist himself around and dial for help.

Fifteen minutes later, a rescuer arrived on the scene and another co-worker contacted the departments that were housed on the server, so they could power down appropriately.

Now, if this was the end of the story, we'd all have a good laugh. But this is the Blooper Zone, people, and you just know there's an ironic twist in here somewhere. Don't be disappointed -- the servers were mislabeled. The server of the power button with which Melvin had become intimately familiar was actually just a virus scanning box.

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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