We asked for your best IT and computer-based revenge pranks — you answered. You are all a bunch of brilliant bastards.
Unless you sent in a commenter name for attribution, I’ve identified you by an initial to protect the guilty. If you’d like a different credit, just send me a follow-up email at [email protected].
Horrible bosses and coworkers get their comeuppance
I was working for a college bookstore company and we decided to do an Internet startup in the late 90s to buy and sell college books online.
I transfer to the new company and start working in the new building to create the infrastructure we needed. I go to the new building and the guy who had been working at the place was very proud of himself because he had already placed an order and had a frame-relay circuit installed … a 56k frame-relay. 😉
I immediately ordered new circuits and more bandwidth, but we had to wait about a month while we were ramping up with new employees to get more Internet bandwidth.
While we were waiting, this one douchebag marketing guy would come in and scream at me every other day or so because his fantasy football was too slow.
When the new circuits came in, before we even installed them, I tracked down the ethernet port in his office to the switch and rate limited his port down to the speed of a very slow modem.
I installed the new bandwidth and everybody was happy. He would come into my office bitching about the slow Internet and I would pick a random computer and show him how fast the Internet circuits were running.
This drove the dude nuts and he would get me to go into his office and make me watch how slow it was and I would say …. “It must be your laptop. You need to wipe that thing and start again.”
He lost all his data because he couldn’t restore his backup. I left him like that for months and never let him have any relief until he got demoted and moved to a new office.
I didn’t bother rate limiting his new switch port, but I did remove the rate limiting on the old port before some innocent guy got stuck with it.
I worked afternoon shift at a print shop and on top of running printers I also handled IT if any issues came up after 5. One of the 4 remaining workers at night frequently asked me to “fix his internet.”
He’d constantly be infected with some kind of virus or spyware and had popups all the time. I’d clean them out, and a couple of months later it’d happen again. Eventually I decided to check his history. It was chock full of good old fashioned bestiality porn. Whatever, I don’t judge. But I told him to knock it off because whatever he was downloading or looking at was screwing his computer up.
He ignored my warning. One day he missed work, and I simply screencapped the front page of his most recent site (featuring horse dick) and made that his desktop background. I pretended to play dumb the next day by clicking the fake X button to no avail. We sent for the regular daytime IT guy (whose shift overlapped mine), which turned into a pretty mortifying experience when the manager was informed.
He quit a couple months later, mostly because any time he came out of the bathroom the folks at work would neigh in his direction.
I worked in IT for one of the largest investment banks in the world. I worked on a very small team with 1 to 2 other people. We helped the traders in NYC at the stock exchange. As in the guys on the actual floor. They way that things worked there, I had complete power, and could do everything remote. I could do anything I wanted to any personal system I wanted. And I was remote from most of the people
We had this guy that was a real pain the arse. He was a real jerk to the IT staff. I always seemed to talk to this guy whenever anything went wrong. I hated dealing with him because he acted like the most important person in the world. He made the firm A LOT of money, but he was still a huge douche.
One day he called me up saying that he was having a problem with one of his UNIX systems that we used for tracking trades. I immediately, like the good little slave dog, fixed the issue that he was having. But in addition to handling this issue, I ran a quick script that would pop up 2 eyeballs every approx. 10 minutes and they would sit for about 30 seconds and follow the mouse around. So he would call me up, report the problem, but I wouldn’t find an issue when I checked it out. It drove him nuts for a long time, until someone else had the problem and I did have to remove it.
I thought my fun was over.
We have a specific way of handling employees desktops. They are virtual machines that are all based in a data center that could be in several locations throughout the US. There were no desktop PC’s. There were micro systems that would allow a person to log into their virtual machine to get their work done.
So this guy started having problems again with his desktop. Any little tiny issue, I would get a call. I was not hired to cater to this one arseholes every need. One day, in a fit of rage, I decided to do something else to him.
Since I had access to every file, every folder and literally every piece of data on this guys VM, I did the best thing I could think of. I loaded his desktop full of 2000 image files of My Little Ponies. I spent most of my work day finding several images, copied them over and over again and put them on his desktop.
To say he blew a nut is an understatement. I got a very scared call from him that he had a virus. He was not sure where this images came from. I very kindly removed them from his desktop, went to lunch, and put them right back. Again, a call from him. He is swearing that he has a virus. This time, I have him on speaker so the others that know what I am doing can hear. As he rages and says that he does not know where this virus came from, we are all snickering in pure amusement.
I continued to do this off and on over several days, until he contacts my manager who figures out what was going on. Obviously I underpay the whole thing and say that something was wrong with this VM. That I would delete the files and they would be somehow restored. My boss knows I am spilling complete bull, but goes along with it.
He reports back to the user that we had found the root cause and that this should not be happening again.
Hapless coworkers should learn to befriend IT
Back in the days of the Amigas I worked for a retailer and we used to get a lot of mail and phone orders (before this newfangled Internet thing). It was the job of two guys to transpose scribbled notes and letters to orders in the system.
Our prank demonstrated that touch typing uses muscle memory but that visually sighting the keys overrides that muscle memory without raising alarm bells.
Workbench (the Amiga OS) came with a tool to customise your key map. So one day while one of the guys was out to lunch we popped the I and O keys off his keyboard and swapped them.
Then we fired up the keymap tool and switched them there too.When he came back to work he’d be merrily touch typing away until he got to an I or O and of course it’d be wrong. So he’d backspace and try again with the same result.
Then he backspaced, looked down at the keyboard, typed the letter he wanted, looked at the screen and it was correct. So he went back to touch typing. Until the next I or O. It took him over half an hour to work out what we’d done, by which time he was ready to jam his keyboard through the screen. Subtle but oh so effective.
Who can deny that computer pranks are the most effective to directly access someone’s frustration zone?
One of my favourites include taking a snap-shot of the users desktop. Setting it as a background.
Then “hide” the desktop icons.
The next thing would be to change the mouse settings to swap left click and right click.
Out of all my victims, my best record was a scream of frustration in about 4 seconds.
Virtually all of them started slamming their mouses.
One person turned the monitor off and on again.
My desk sits across from my coworker’s, and we’re facing each other. I plugged a wireless mouse receiver into her computer and then shoved the mouse under my keyboard (we use the ergonomic ones with the big bulge in the middle — apparently it’s just the right size).
The result was that, for a week, every time I shifted my keyboard to do some paperwork (which was often), I got to watch her exasperation build. I also got our i.t. department in on it, who would ask her things like “Did you eat a breakfast with a lot of iron? That might be causing things like this” when she would call them for help.
Herr Walross Bart:
I used to supervise a help desk, where one of the employees was less that technical. We called him King of Password Resets, as that was all he did.
One day we created a simple batch file that opened up Word when he logged in, when word was closed it opened a new one. It would do this 400 times, he was so not technical he shrugged and solved the problem by never closing Word.
We later also used a simple Auto Hotkey script to replace “I” with his name so all his emails and tickets had him speaking in third person. He also ended his email’s with “thanks very much” which we changed to “Thanksarooni”. He got so upset and didn’t know what to do he escalated to an IT manager to get everyone to stop pranking him.
He still never figured out the Word thing.
The One With The Happy Ending:
I used to work systems support for a mid-size physical rehab hospital. The IS Dept boss was a gigantic, self-taught man named Bob who, while fair, could be gruff at times. He was also the lead designer and coder for the entirety of the hospital’s info management system, home-brewed to fit its unique needs for intake, records, HR, billing, housekeeping, etc… so he’d well-earned a rep as a kind of savant as well. He could be tricky to read, so you always played it safe.
One day while working a ticket over the phone I idly plucked at the keys on my keyboard, and realised that despite their well-fastened “permanent” assembly, they could indeed be cleanly removed and rearranged, with effort – kind of like an old IBM Model M, but nowhere near as obvious.
I decided this could help break my nasty sight-typing habit, so I removed all the keys and rearranged them katty-corner / backwards (“q” to “m”, “p” to “z”, “0” to “9” and so on). Yay, productive boredom!
A couple weeks later, we released a system update and fresh new bugs, some of which were proving tricky to catch live. Bob was pretty stressed about it and we were all keeping a safe distance. Eventually I was helping a nurse on the phone when one of the elusive bugs finally emerged – even better, Bob just so happened to be walking by at the time. I quickly flagged him over to watch the remote session on my screen… after a few moments he briskly motioned for me to get up and let him drive.
He sits down at my workstation and starts to type… pauses, glances down at the keyboard and grunts, types some more… stops, glares at the keyboard for a moment, picks it up, turns it 180 degrees and sets it down… starts to type again… stops, looks… then crosses his arms in seemingly rare confusion as he considers letters which were (mostly) back where they should be but now upside down?… then turns to me stone faced with arms still crossed.
I was panicking and trying to stifle a grin while mentally preparing to be fired. Bob simply says with an air of detached bemusement: “I don’t think it’s the problem, but get a new damn keyboard… I will look at this from my office.” Then grinned as he got up… I think he was laughing at himself for falling prey to that one, unintentionally, and when he should have “known better”. We had that weird kind of unspoken bond over an in-joke for a while after that.
I kept that keyboard hidden and presented it to him when he retired a couple years later, which made him laugh.
Next time, we want to hear about the most terrible tech support calls you’ve fielded. Can you top commenter Sprzout’s experience of speaking to a caller who insisted they were a cyborg in need of wetware connectivity help?
We know you’re full of stories of weird, wacky and wonderful calls from cyborgs and otherwise. Tell me all your secrets: [email protected]
Image: Andrew Liszewski turned Applejack evil for our purposes