More tales of IT terror: Personal disasters

In a Halloween special, Computerworld UK looks at what happens when it all goes wrong, and it's your fault.

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Last year, our sister pubilcations thrilled you with Terrifying Tales of IT Horror, which showcased the blood-curdling things that can happen to companies when their IT systems go wrong. This year, we decided to get a bit more personal and ask tech veterans near and far for tales of personal woe and destruction at the hands of IT run amok.

Read on, and feel glad that nothing like this has ever happened to you, or has it? If you can relate, feel free to share your own tale.

Nightmare at Napster

In 2000, Michael T. Halligan, (now CTO at BitPusher) was an overworked, underpaid grunt at Napster. "How cool!" you think. But remember, Napster's day had waned by the new millennium, and Halligan's horror story had just begun.

We had no money, and everybody in the music industry was sueing us. Suffice to say, we had very few technical resources. The day I started there was the last day of a systems administrator who had literally gone crazy working at Napster (but that's another story). That brought us down to a very senior administrator and me. A week went by, and the other system administrator called in sick for a few days, then he stopped answering phone calls, this left me on my own with no documentation whatsoever for approximately 350 servers.

After about six months, the stress started taking its toll on my health, and I caught a flu that took a month to kick. Unable to stay home to recover, I brought a beanbag and some blankets so I could sleep under my desk. One morning, I awoke at about 4:00am to a ringing phone and a beeping pager.

The voice on the other end of the phone was someone from CNET asking if Napster had shuttered its doors. I groggily said, "No comment," and started to go back to sleep when the question struck a chord. Shuttered our doors? I got online, and sure enough, we were completely down.

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