Thursday, May 12, 2005


"Oh, SHIT" moments

You ever have a moment where you realize you just MAJORLY screwed up? That's an "oh, shit" moment. I remember one when I was working at my first real job, a big government defense contractor. I was doing upgrades of desktops from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. The basic steps were copy all their data to a shared drive, ghost the box and restore the data. This particular incident, the setup was a little challenging because the engineer had an unusual system configuration. I spent some extra time working out the details of the upgrade, getting everything ready, and then I slipped in the ghost disk and started reloading his hard drive from the image. "Wait... did I back up his data?" Oh, SHIT!

We had to buy a data recovery program to get everything back. He got back his important files and was back up and running with Windows 95. I had a great boss and everything worked out in the end so the worst part was the initial moment of dread.

These guys probably weren't so lucky. This is an incident that happened in 1993 while working on the Noaa N-prime satellite. On this particular day, the satellite was on a special platform that holds it in place and can rotate it from an upright to a horizontal position. Like any big company, there are a lot of procedures you need to follow when doing anything and they started going down the checklist of things to do. After everything was cleared, they started moving the platform to the horizontal position. When it reached 13 degrees of inclination, the satellite slid off the platform, got caught on the lip and tipped over. Oops! The person responsible for verifying the bolts that attach the satellite to the platform used a report to verify, rather than looking at the bolts. One report estimated that Lockheed may pay $400 million for the accident.

I like this picture. The guys in the background are looking at the fallen satellite, arms folded. Yep, it fell! Click to enlarge.

Some different angles with clicky goodness.

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