Downtime: Are you there God? I need some help with my IT

The wacky world of IT.

Are you there God? I need some help with my IT

Downtime got more than it bargained for when it asked last week for examples of the Almighty lending a helping hand to sort out your IT messes. From the resulting mailbag, it seems clear the Creator is more than happy to get involved, and is even a bit of an IT enthusiast.

One reader, Michael Gerner, told us that when working as a systems manager early in his career, the company minicomputer was acting up so badly it prompted him to lay hands on it and pray.

Not content that would do the job, he also requested a prayer in a church prayer meeting – and told us that one women, who had no knowledge of computers at all, described a vision of vertical racks of computer components and the fourth one being lifted out.

When the engineer came to check out the machine, he ran some diagnostics then lifted out the fourth memory card and replaced it.

The machine ran just fine after that, so draw your own conclusions.

Do you know how much your sickies are worth? 

Thinking of taking a sickie to make the most of what is left of the summer before the hurly burly of September? Before you do, Bupa Health Insurance has stepped in to guilt-trip you over the damage you could be doing to the business.

To make its point, it has launched a website that tells employers the likely annual cost to their business from sick days. And it reveals that in IT the average number of days lost through absence per employee each year is just shy of six, and the cost of that absence is £640.

Offering up this detail is not pure altruism on Bupa’s part, of course. The subtext is clear: get yourself some private health insurance, as it might help to keep your staff healthy for longer.


Not even ex-hackers are safe from viruses

Hackers love viruses, which must make it particularly galling when they are struck down by the real-life variety. Downtime was tickled to read last week that famed hacker-turned-security consultant Kevin Mitnick could not attend a conference in New York after being laid low by a virus in Colombia.

Speaking from a hospital bed in Bogata, Mitnick admitted, “I tried to get to the airport to get the plane for New York but just could not make it.”

Mitnick, who was in Colombia undertaking consultancy work for a secret client, is on the mend now, after a penicillin shot in the behind that he described as “the worst thing that ever happened to me”.

Lessons from less-than savvy techno criminals

If you go to the trouble of setting up a complicated theft ring specialising in breaking into and clearing out cars parked at motels, you would have thought that you would take all necessary steps not to use any ill-gotten gains too conspicuously. But apparently not. 

In the US, a woman whose laptop was stolen from her car as it sat in a motel car park tracked it down just days later when she logged onto her remote access account and found the dastardly crims were also logged in. 

That gave her their IP address, and using an IP address locator and getting the police to contact the internet service provider, the criminal group was soon tracked down.

When the police paid them a visit they found half a dozen computers, including the woman’s, and should be able put the criminal gang behind bars in due course.

Downtime was thinking of turning this story into some kind of techno-fable, but is not quite sure what lesson should be drawn. “Criminal gangs – wise up to technology or get caught” somehow does not strike quite the right note.


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