Stories by Anonymous

When servers crash and burn

I work for a small bank and several years ago my boss decided it was time to upgrade our loan sales software to a client/server system running on Windows. As the one-man IT department, I was given the task of designing the network, specifying hardware, and installing the new system.

Development project becomes 'march to hell'

I started out as a developer but quickly moved into project management, process development, and training. Eventually I became an IT director, but when the bad times hit a few years back, all of us mid-level managers became hands-on again. That's how I ended up heading the project we came to call the March to Hell.

How to get rewarded for incompetence

Several years ago I found myself working at a manufacturing company where, after years of neglect, the apps that ran the Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable departments were in desperate need of replacement. The IT director selected two managers, Steve and Bob, to head twin redesign projects. I won't tell you which of them was me.

Good bug beats spy's worm

My speciality in computers is security and it leads me to deal with requests for all sorts of checks on hacks and worms many of which have serious ramifications beyond technology*.

A drive-by hacker's diary

Being an approved, yet anonymous, hacker is a new experience. The mission is to reveal the ease with which it is possible to access the wireless networks which companies set up. With a reporter in tow we tackled the high-rent areas of Sydney's lower north shore.

Survivor: Only the Names Have Been Changed

I must be one of perhaps five people in the United States who hasn't watched Survivor, the CBS summer replacement series about 16 contestants (castaways) dropped on a remote island to compete for $1 million. It isn't for lack of time, although finding more productive things to do is never much of a problem, and I'm not one of those pretentious nudniks who are proud to announce to anyone who'll listen that they don't watch television. I'm a pretentious nudnik for other reasons.

CIO Confidential: Time Warped

You are about to be put into a time machine and sent back 1,100 years, never to return. You must make your way in a hostile, alien environment, armed only with your wits and three books. You can choose any books you like--as long as you've actually read them sometime in the last five years. What three books do you take?

CIO Confidential: Dressing in the Dark

Things never get simpler. Even the process of making something (anything) simpler inevitably makes that thing more complicated, less defined and more burdened with real and potential problems. The certain entropy of our business lives is not chaos by decay or disintegration, but chaos by layered ambiguity. A steady, inexorable decline marked not by a series of remarkable events but by a nearly frictionless downward spiral.

The Art of Computer Science

I got stuck in the Phoenix airport today, along with thousands of other America West Airlines passengers, because the computer that the airline uses to file its flight plans crashed (oops, sorry--failed). For most of the afternoon and evening, every fueled up, airworthy airplane in Phoenix (and others cities, I presume) sat on the ground and went nowhere while otherwise polite-looking people in business suits recreated the village mob scene from Frankenstein, and gate agents tried in vain to make themselves small behind their counters. Through all of this, the only thing I could think was "that poor CIO."

CIO Confidential

I'm standing 20 feet above the ground on a 1-foot-by-1-foot piece of plywood attached to the top of a telephone pole planted in a south Georgia pine forest. It's August, and I'm sweating like Microsoft Corp.'s Bill Gates at a Janet Reno testimonial dinner under this silly helmet (like wearing it will do me any good) while a horsefly the size of a dog practices touch-and-gos on the back of my neck. Peering down while my fellow executives on the blessed ground yell encouragement, I'm expected to leap off this little platform and catch a trapezelike bar suspended a few feet in front of me. If I miss, my "teammates" hanging on to the tether rope will stop my fall and lower me slowly and gently to the ground. This metaphor for the workplace would be accurate only if the rope were around my neck.

Complying with COPPA Rules Causes IT Headaches

Like motherhood and apple pie, children's online privacy is an issue that everyone supports in theory. However, Web publishers are discovering that meeting the requirements of a new federal law designed to protect children on the Internet is much more time-consuming and expensive than originally anticipated.