Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2022

Breaking into Barclays – true tales from an ex-IT support man Episode 18

Not that the following couple of anecdotes about Canary Wharf, although genuine, are actually a first-hand IT experience, but they are still worthy of recounting here. For example, the incident in the works canteen whereby a couple of the security staff were caught in flagrante delicto with one of the canteen staff, causing a couple of dismissals and necessitating a deep clean of the canteen. Or the one where a couple of scallies with the brass front to drive a low-loader up to the gates, asked the security staff to let them in to collect a 100-ton crane, dismantle it in broad daylight (unchallenged - ok, so it was a Sunday, but even so...), load it onto the low-loader and even have the balls to ask the security guard to hold open the gates as they drove out. Unbelievable. You may recall from a couple of episodes back that the head of the Canary Wharf project in London had all but called me a thief because I had lost my receipts for a trip to New York. At the time of the trip, he wasn&

Bombs, tides and torsos – true tales from an ex-IT support man Episode 17

Back at Canary Wharf, I struck up a friendship with the guy who was the communications consultant for the company – a freelancer who was extremely knowledgeable in everything comms. He and I just hit it off and we were often working together at the Wharf. The move of the admin offices from Wardour Street to Docklands was a major project. We were given a building shell (4 Harbour Exchange Square – known as 4HX) on 1st of January 1989, with a deadline of fitting it out one of the floors within three months. The more observant among you would note that the date on which we were expected to go live was 1st of April – inauspicious, or what? So, we knuckled down to the task – the plan had already been drawn up at the admin office and we were just supervising and implementing the plan. This included moving an enormous uninterruptible power supply (UPS), effectively a huge array of batteries needed in case there was a power cut, so that we could shut everything down properly rathe than just

Oh, no, you’re FAR too old for IT – true tales from an ex-IT support man Episode 16

So, picking up from where I left off in the last episode, during the three months I was under notice of redundancy, I was allowed to look around for another job. I remember that the first job fair to which I was directed was at the Intercontinental Hotel, Mayfair, and all the then major players in corporate IT were there. Banks, consultancies, computer manufacturers – they were all there pitching for candidates to join their ranks. This was just before my 31 st birthday, the significance of which will become evident. I armed myself with several copies of my CV, updated to the hilt, and trudged around the exhibition plying myself to anyone who I thought might be a good fit for my skillset. At the time, there were a few BIG consultancies, the foremost of which was Arthur Andersen (AA for short) – they were one of the companies responsible for convincing the government to develop the IR35 law.   Thanks for that, you bastards. Anyway, I arrived at the AA table and was greeted by what

Pick a window – you’re leaving – true tales from an ex-IT support man Episode 15

This is less of a techie piece, more a walk down an ageing memory lane, but I hope you enjoy it, nevertheless. Having moved over to JCB (see Episode 14), I began a new technical chapter in my career. I was trained in the use of a networking software system and I was responsible for keeping it going so that JCB staff could dig themselves into more holes. The chap (Tony) I for whom I worked at the company had a team of people – some of the most talented people I have had the pleasure and privilege to have   worked with, proof of which is the way their own careers progressed. One of the techies, an Asian guy (let’s call him Ahmed) was adamant that he could out-eat me as far as hot (as in spicy hot) food was concerned. We used to have green chili pepper eating contests, with a bag of the peppers having been procured from an Asian supermarket just off Petticoat Lane, a few doors down from our favourite Indian Restaurant, the Dilchad. There’s a knack of eating these vegetables without bu

Because they dug themselves into so many holes - true tales from an ex-IT support man Episode 14

At the end of the previous episode, I mentioned that I was moving on to another company within the group of companies that owned the American Bank for which I worked. The initials of the firm were JCB.  No connection to the firm that created the diggers and construction plant, other than we reckoned it was appropriate, given that they dug themselves into so many holes, as the title of this piece suggests. The offices were in a modern set of buildings in the heart of the City of London, with my office being on the 1 st floor, directly overlooking the only patch of grass in the area, measuring approximately 50’ by 20’. The technical staff, a mix of technicians, analysts, and management, were situated in a large room adjoining the server room in which were housed the network servers and various other pieces of equipment, all of which were now under the control of yours truly. When I joined the company, it was in the depths of winter and the potential of the view didn’t dawn on me at

Yes, I AM an employee of the company - true tales from an ex-IT support man Episode 13

If you’ve ever seen the UK TV series “The IT Crowd”, you’ll be familiar with a support department, unloved and sited in obscure rooms in the basement of an otherwise well-appointed building. While this is more a caricature of the actual situation, quite often the IT support team is ignored, taken for granted, treated dismissively – call it what you will, but we are ghosts who work in the shadows.  Elves, if you like… A perfect example is when my little boss and I (and by “little” I mean vertically challenged, at least compared to me!) were installing various pieces of equipment, we were treated by certain users as external contractors and with the associated contempt usually suffered at the hands of snotty full-time employees of the client company. The dress-code of the company for which we worked was to be suited and booted, as it was a bank in the City of London, but crawling around under desks and, even worse under the false flooring under which all the data and communications c

Keyboards should be used as disciplinary tools - true tales from an ex-IT support man Episode 12

Intriguing as the title of this episode might be, and obviously a keyboard COULD be use to bludgeon the offending end user into unconscious oblivion, what I would love to see is something that would shoot red-hot needles out of the keys and up the fingernails of the numpty at the keyboard. Cruel? Maybe. But, if there WERE such a device, the numpty in question would certainly learn fast not to make the same error more than once… We’ve all heard the urban myths like using the CD tray as a coffee cup holder, but there are others in the ether that I have personally encountered.   For example: Floppy disk storage by using fridge magnets to hold them on a whiteboard “f or convenience” Corollary: one particular creative numpty place three of the diskettes as though they were a set of flying ducks as per Hilda Ogden’s “muriel”, thus  screwing up the data of three disks – a genius masterstroke worthy of mention Floppy disk stora ge by stapling a set of diskettes together to make sure that