The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Scenes from a fast food drivethough

“Chzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzbrzzzzzzzzzelp you?”

“Yes, I'd like a number one—”


“Number one!”


“Yes, with a Coke.”

“Crzzzzuperduper size it?”

“No, I'll just take it the regular ludicrous size.”

“Bzzzzzzzour fourty-seven. Drive around please.”

“Thank you.”

I drove to the first window and hand over a $10 bill. The cashier makes change, and hands it and the receipt over. I scan the receipt and notice that it's not for the number one I order, but a number seven, megaduper humongous size. “I'm sorry, but this isn't my order,” I said, handing back the change and recept. The cashier looked puzzled. “I ordered a number one, regular ludicrous size.”

“Oh,” she said. She called over another worker, and both started talking in a patrois that I did not understand. The second one then started slamming on the cash register and by the tone of her voice, I could only assume that she was swearing in whatever langauge she natively spoke. She then called over a manager.

He walked up, and between all three of them, in somewhat hushed tones and slightly broken English, an explanation of what happened transpired. The cars were backing up behind me. The manager furiously punched buttons on the formerly abused cash register, recounted out my change, and handed it to me. “Next window please,” he said.

At the next window, the fast-food worker held a bag towards me. “Number one, regular ludicrous size with a Coke?”

“Yes, that's my order,” I said, taking the bag and Coke from her.

At least I didn't end up with a hamless ham and cheese without the cheese sandwich.

The server platform that can not run unattended

A customer calls up, and asks if we can reboot his colocated server because he can't “PCAnywhere in.” Windows box. Of course. “It's, in a tall tower case,” he said.

“So all I need to do is hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and shutdown then, right?” I wanted to make sure here.


So I go into the server room, and hook up the crashcart to the system in question. The few mice I try don't work, but the keyboard does, so at least I have that much going for me. The screen is, for the most part, blank, and the task bar at the bottom looks like it has an outbreak of the Chicken Pox. I hit Ctrl-Alt-Del, a few windows flash, then the infamous “I can't stop this task” message box comes up.

By now, I can see that there are at least a few dozen message boxes from some application complaining that it can't send email and to try again. And it's this application that Windows is having difficulty killing, since the message boxes are apparently keeping the program alive until I click Okay to dismiss it.

And each message box is backed up with its own process.

Which is filling up the task bar with so many programs, making it look like the aformentioned Chicken Pox.

So for a solid five minutes I'm there alternating between killing tasks from the task-killing message box (which doesn't seem to go away) and hitting Okay on the “I can't send email” message boxes, and I swear the number of tasks is not decreasing. I'd like to shut down this server cleanly because, well … it's Windows (turns out it's Windows NT 4.0 release 1381—circa 1996 I believe).

But there's no way I'm going to play button-monkey to Windows, and I hit the Big Red Switch.

It's a server! I shouldn't have to hit Okay on a message box to get it to continue. It should run unattended.

Bloody Windows.

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