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Hardware Hacking IT

What Bizarre IT Setups Have You Seen? 874 874

MicklePickle wonders: "I was talking to a co-worker the other day about the history of our company, (which shall remain nameless), and he started reminiscing about some of the IT hacks that our company did. Like running 10BaseT down a storm water drain to connect two buildings, using a dripping tap to keep the sewerage U-bend full of water in a computer room, (huh?). And some not so strange ones like running SCSI out to 100m, and running a major financial system on a long forgotten computer in a cupboard. I know that there must be a plethora of IT hacks around. What are some you've seen?"
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What Bizarre IT Setups Have You Seen?

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  • Re:the U-Bend (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ninjaesque One (902204) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @11:52PM (#17454056) Journal
    I would think that running the water for 5 minutes while using it(exempli grata:to wash greasy face after long day at work) would cost less than leaving it dripping.

    But I guess you guys aren't responsible for utility bills and stuff.
  • U.S. Navy's NMCI (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 04, 2007 @12:31AM (#17454374)

    Try this:

    • Determine your network needs to be worked over
    • Spend millions before realizing its a big job
    • Ignore you in house staff and bring in a contract org whose primary focus is milking the money out of Uncle Sam
    • Accept decreasing deliverables from the contractor as they raise the price
    • Ignore your user complaints and jimmy the surveys to show 98% satisfaction
    • Deal with security issues created by the contract org and their sub-contractors
    • Accept more decreases in deliverables
    • Consider turning over more of your network to the contract org
    • Have your legacy staff cover all the local complaints generated by SNAFUs created by the contract org
  • by ars (79600) <assd2@dsg[ ]com ['ml.' in gap]> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @01:31AM (#17454798) Homepage
    You have it backwards.

    The problem is not the low voltage cable - it's that since it's meant for high voltage cable someone could install some later not realizing that there is some low voltage stuff there.

    Yes, there really is a code about that - not mixing high and low voltage in the same conduit.

    You can, I guess, claim that the conduit is "low voltage". But if it looks like it's for high voltage you might not get away with that.
  • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @01:34AM (#17454824)
    While I've chopped patch patch cables in half and turned 'em into crossovers, this one place I toured got a good deal on pre-made crossovers and chopped & spliced them into patch cables for over 50 PCs;

    Why not just hack off the ends and crimp new ends onto one end? Once you've done a few, this should take less time than splicing wires together and insulating the connections? And ends are literally a dollar a dozen if you get them in bulk.


  • As I'd hope you know, security through obscurity (which it *sounds* like you have, at least in part) is not in-and-of-itself bad. But I hope you also have security systems which don't rely on people simply not knowing how they work, as that is bad policy. A combination of the two is gonna be your best bet.

  • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @05:34AM (#17455806)

    but we couldn't find it. So we ran

    until we heard the disk rattling.
    Hah! find not only finds files, but also machines! ROTFL!

    (I usually use while : ; do echo ^G >/dev/tty1 ; sleep 1 ; done)

  • by Col. Bloodnok (825749) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @08:58AM (#17456836)
    I dunno, not so sure that it's good practice - if someone has managed to 0wn one of those boxes, he could write an nvramrc script that would seriously mess up the other one and make it very hard to diagnose. Not saying that a remotely accessible terminal server doesn't also have this problem, but you can at least put that on a separate network, with separate access rights.
  • Re:the U-Bend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qwijibo (101731) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @10:19AM (#17457466)
    I'm glad you don't design server rooms I use. You've solved one problem while introducing various others based on a single superstitious belief.

    Air conditioners are a common feature in server rooms. The ones used in this context maintain a certain humidity level. If the humidity is too high, there's risk of damage to the hardware, if it's too low it's easier for static to build up, which is bad for the hardware. When the humidity is too high, the air conditioners remove water from the air. This water needs to go somewhere, so a drain is a good choice. If the humidity is too low, they need a supply of water, for which tap water is sufficient.

    Drains are also a common feature in server rooms because if water does get in there, they do not want to have the room flooded.
  • Re:the U-Bend (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:14AM (#17458176)
    Science has dismissed the notion that "noxious odors" from sewers or swamps cause disease for well over a hundred years now. SARS (and viruses in general) aren't spread by rising up into the air.

    Now having someone sneeze or bleed on you is another matter.
  • by ajs318 (655362) <> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:16AM (#17458208)
    I've been installing sshd on all machines on our works LAN as a matter of course. There was one time when one machine out of about 30 was generating HTTP requests fast enough to knock over our Apache2 server. Solution? Use "ssh", "su" and "poweroff" in that order! (The problem later turned out to be a faulty keyboard; the f5 key, meaning "reload", was stuck. Of course, there was a web browser running, because we use custom web applications; and the mouse cursor was over the browser, so sending keystrokes to that application, because it was the last thing anyone had used.) I've also used the following:

    for i in /usr/*; do eject && sleep 2 && eject -t && sleep 2; done
    which is pretty effective for locating a machine.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:32AM (#17458404)
    Even worse, I've seen morons trying to use email as a file server.
  • Re:the U-Bend (Score:3, Insightful)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:38AM (#17458496)
    I'm glad you don't design server rooms I use. You've solved one problem while introducing various others based on a single superstitious belief.

    Apparently you have never heard of Central Air Conditioning. The condenser sits outside the building, so water drainage isn't really an issue for the server room. Even if you use a wall-unit to add additional cooling, the condenser drainage should ALWAYS be outside the server room. Never ever ever have a water drain going into your server room. Oh, and as far as flooding is concerned, Your server room should always have a slightly elevated floor (about 3-6 inches) in case of a drainage backup from any nearby bathrooms. Any flooding more than that and a drain won't help you. Frankly, the risk of sewage backup from a direct-connected drain is far greater than a small-flood risk anyway. Again, no good reason to have a drain in the floor, and certainly no reason for a sink in the server room.

    Also, since when is "Water + Electricity = Danger" a "Superstitious Belief"? Exactly what universe are you living in again? Because in mine that's not superstition, it's a basic saftey rule you learn in elementary school. Apparently you can bathe with toasters in your dimension. It must be nice when you want some toast during your bath.
  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Deadstick (535032) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:50AM (#17458662)
    Yeah, well, I've had a trap go dry in an unused bathroom in my house in a month.

    And if such a time period had passed, all the sewer gases in your home would have long since been evacuated from the piping via your stack anyway.

    Not if other toilets in the building are in use.


  • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @01:25PM (#17460394) Homepage

    ...There is esmtpverbs control parameter in AD which by default does not play very nice with some other smtp servers(its arguable whose fault is that - every party claims its other party to blame) .

    Easy enough to deduce: On the one side we have all the other MTAs which, unsurprisingly, are able to communicate well with each other. That leaves, on the other side, one system the odd man out which does not play very nice with the others.

    What's wrong with admitting that it's still broken or don't normal rules of any kind apply to that one vendor ?

  • Re:the U-Bend (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bob Uhl (30977) <> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @01:41PM (#17460780) Homepage
    Data centres don't use central air conditioning--I imagine that it's too inefficient for the sort of cooling. They all use in-room air conditioning units (generally Lieberts, for some reason or other). And data centre floors aren't raised a mere 3-6 inches--more like a full foot or more (hence the term 'raised floor'); the underfloor area is used for cable runs and such.

    From your apparent ignorance of data centre design, I wonder if you've ever actually examined, or even been in, an industrial-quality centre. Managing thousands of hosts is not the same thing as keeping a box or two running at the local Snack & Shop...

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