We wanna know.

I threw out this question on episode 66 of the podcast; What was the worst piece of technology you ever had to implement?

Drop a comment and tell us your story.



  1. 1
    September 12th, 2008 at 6:37 am

    I would say that one of the worst experiences I had started out with something simple and ballooned into a huge mess. I had a client with a new HP Design Jet 500 Plotter. He wanted me to set it up on the network so that all the workstations can access it. I set it up, printed a test page, and everything worked. A day later I got a call that it wasn’t working. 95% of their drawings were 42’x30′. They would get blueprints online and print them to the Design Jet. The problem was that when they would print anything over 40′, it would print portrait and not landscape. I spent about 2 hours trying to troubleshoot it myself before I called HP for help. Luckily the owner bought the extended HP contract so I was talking to someone right away. I spent about 3 more hours with HP and we could not get it to work. HP had me e-mail them a drawing and they were going to try to print it themselves. I got a call back an hour later from them with certain settings I needed to change. After changing the settings, it still wouldn’t work. I mentioned to them that the plotter was networked with the internal network card. They immediately told me that they do not support networks and refused to continue to help me. The next day I called back and talked to a different person who agreed to help. He talked me through several registry settings on the server in order to allow it to plot accurately. He had me change 2 settings that seemed harmless, so me like an idiot didn’t make a backup of the registry. After that, none of their printers shared by the server would not work. I called a colleague to help with the issue. He continued to work with HP while I now had to get the server back to a working state. I had to restore the system state from a backup drive and reboot the server. After I rebooted the server, it would no longer boot. It would freeze at the loading screen. So now while my colleague was trying to convince HP that the plotter needs replaced, I am getting heat from everyone wondering why the server was down. I spent the whole day but finally got the server back to a working state. At the end of that day HP refused to replace the plotter or even send an HP tech out to look it at. The third day I called HP and gave them a piece of my mind about the issue and my case was then escalated. I spent nearly 10 hours the third day on and off the phone with HP for this seemingly simple issue. I went through every setting, firmware, and driver known to man and it still would not work. HP refused to admit the plotter might be bad. Even after the business owner got on the phone with them and threatened to never buy HP again, they would not replace it. The fifth day of working on this, I installed a HP C6090Z plotter driver. I FINALLY got it to plot the drawing with 98.9% accuracy in a landscape mode. The employees said that they could compensate for the small error. I never fixed the problem but I came as close as I could. What also made this worse was that my client received a bill for my time that totaled about 40 hours. He ended up paying more for me to get it to plot correctly then for the plotter itself. That entire debacle makes me rethink HP products now.

  2. 2
    September 12th, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    The worst piece of technology I have ever had to deploy was a full server migration between instances of Small Business Server 2003. A real simple idea, move everything from old server to new server. Not exactly. There is no official sanctioned way to do this according to Microsoft. The technology in SBS is so feature limited, that migration is something I would not wish on my worst enemy. A third party product by Jeff Middleton was the only coherent path describing how to move Windows Server, Active Directory, Sharepoint, MSSQL, and Exchange at the same time.
    The process was not without it’s share of problems. I had to perform the migration three times before everything worked properly. Funny, the Exchange migration was the easiest part. Bleeping Sharepoint being the biggest stickler of all. To add insult to injury, we chose to install the latest security suite by the most popular security vendor. To that end, the suite broke everything. E-Mail, Web, and printing all went South, making me wonder had bad could a virus be if the medicine performed as such. Our traditional antivirus was no longer available for licensing by it’s original vendor. A three day job turned into two weeks and though we did not lose a single bit of data or a single message, it is process I swore never to repeat again.
    Today, I do not recommend Small Business Server to my clients and politely decline any work involving the same.

  3. 3
    September 15th, 2008 at 4:46 pm


    Small Business server is indeed a hassle to deal with. The majority of my clients are small to medium sized businesses. For pricing reasons they usually always go for SBS. Mostly because they all want exchange but Standard Server with Exchange is thousands more then SBS.

    I honestly gave up early on migrating ANYTHING to SBS 03. After many projects like yours above, it was decided that it would be easier to export the PST’s at the Exchange level then import them (or have to customer import them on big installs) on the workstations. The other Exchange settings are easily replicated. Sharepoint itself is one of the worst Microsoft products when it comes to backup and restore. I was called in as a consultant for a company that ran its business on Sharepoint. Their Sharepoint server was failing so the Network Admin’s made a backup copy just like Sharepoint explains. However, I was called in weeks after the new server was put in. They had the Sharepoint data but no database. After many hours on the phone with Microsoft, it was found that even though the Sharepoint documentation says to just back up the data, if you do not back up the database, you are screwed. I have had to fight Sharepoint more times then I would like when it comes to permissions between the data.

  4. 4
    Hal Rottenberg
    September 24th, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Oh, I have one. We deployed a SAN for 50+ servers. We installed new HBA cards and over time had all the cables laid and disks provisioned and so forth. A month or so later, there was a “SAN storm” which I guess is like collisions on an ethernet. Anyway, the chipset in the Agilent HBAs had a bug which caused EVERY SERVER TO REBOOT when these SAN storms occurred! This led to a many months long project, first to troubleshoot, then to attempt to fix, and eventually, to replace every last one of the >$1000 fiber cards.

    A few years later a funny thing happened (funny because it was after I had left). A hardware engineer was sent out to decommission a SAN belonging to an account in the same datacenter. He mistakenly _disassembled_ OUR SAN and the data was all lost. The damage was irreparable and our customers were down for three weeks. These servers were running customer’s outsourced Peoplesoft (HR/Finance) environments…


  5. 5
    Brad C
    September 24th, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    All I have to say is Adobe Reader 9.0. We use roaming profiles with redirected folder, and though reader 5, 6, 7, and 8 played very nice they changed something and 9 can not recognize the UNC for the redirected folders. Last I checked Adobe did not have a fix and were not really putting any effort info it. Their work-around was to create a folder in each users application data, plus a reg edit. We decided to stay with 8 even through we could script the changes because with having more than 5000 users over 40 sites we would just be asking for problems

  6. 6
    September 25th, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Brian, Jason, Hal, and Brad – Thanks for the “great” stories.

    The worst bit of technology that I have had to implement was the docking stations for squad laptops.

    In our squads, we have a docking station with a breakout box with all the ports (serial, usb, power, etc..).

    As I started adding USB devices to the docking stations, I noticed that the usb ports would lose power. Sometimes it was only one port, sometimes it was all of them. After talking to the manufacturer, I found that this was a known issue and that they would have to upgrade all the breakout boxes from our squads.

    In order to get the upgrade, I would have to send the boxes back in to the manufacturer. I asked them to front me a couple of breakout boxes, so I would not have to take cars out of service in order to send them back… No joy; they did not stock additional breakout boxes.

    In order to keep as many squad computers operational as possible, I had to swap them out one at a time, usually with a week to a week and a half turn around time per breakout box on the upgrade.

    They wanted to charge us for the upgrade, since we were just out of warranty; but, we got them to agree to fix them at their cost as the issue was known during our warranty period and they did not advise us.

    Since then, I haven’t had too many problems with the breakout boxes and most everything seems to be running smoothly (knock on wood).

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