"No more heroes any more," goes The Stranglers' refrain, but perhaps that is not really true. Not in IT anyway. We have always had heroes in this business. One thinks of Turing, Codd, the recently departed Backus and of course (you have to be dead to get your real name in this column) Towvalues, Learners-Tee and Edgar Blondale.
Of course some villains are touted by the stupid and mercenary as "heroes" as well. This gives rise to the kind of debilitating cynicism reflected by the punk bands of the late 1970s. Not that I want to knock that, you understand, for without its debilitating cynicism who would bother to read this stuff? But I digress yes, we still have heroes. Take, for example, the Lone Jedi.
"Look Dave," I shouted in his ear. "You and I go back a long way, right? But if you don't sober up and get that web server sorted by lunchtime... well, I'll do something you won't like."
It pays not to be too specific with Dave. He has a tricksy way of avoiding my management incentive actions. It was no good though. His flat was knee-deep in empty whisky bottles and I wasn't even sure he was still alive. He certainly wasn't stirring.
So I called an ambulance and watched as they carted his inert form off to Bogcaster General Hospital.
As Dave's team were all still scratching their heads and looking less than confident, I asked Mavis to power up the bat searchlight, fire the beacons, put out an appeal on radio etc. Just to cover all the angles, she also e-mailed him.
By late afternoon the Lone Jedi had phoned and promised faithfully to be here tomorrow.
Our hero no-showed today. Something about the dark side being very strong and needing to be struggled with. A new Vista implementation I expect. Meanwhile, we are still offline.
The Lone Jedi turned up this morning at 6.30am (on his way through to another job) and by 8.30am we were up and running. I asked him how he did it and he just smiled and said, "I used the force."
One of our systems engineers told me later what actually happened. He powered the box down, shook it violently for 30 seconds and then restarted it.
Meanwhile, the hospital reported that Dave has woken up and started demanding whisky. I filled one of his empties with weak tea and had it smuggled in.
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This was first published in April 2007