I’ve been a full-time professional computer guy now for at least 12 years, and I’ve had paying jobs doing computer support back to 1988. So, it’s not very often that I can say “I did something completely new” today. Sure, things change, I grow professionally, and I take on new responsibilities, but the old mundane stuff is still old and mundane. Except today.

We have a pile of Dell PowerEdge 350 1U servers sitting around the office that we bought for testing and demo purposes a couple years ago. I hate the things–they’re unexpandable, they boot slowly, the front panel is basically a layer of vinyl over a bare circuit board, they use a PCI video card that pops out of its slot every other time you move the system, and they use a bunch of dinky little screws that are too small for reasonable screwdrivers. We’ve had to have Dell replace hardware on about half of the ones that we’ve bought. So anyway, we had to ship one a few weeks ago in what I’ll be charitable and call an “unapproved shipping container,” and USPS returned it a bit the worse for wear. Like, the rack ears were bent back against the case, the CPU heat sink was sliding around the inside of the case, and the hard drives had popped out of their retaining clips. Amazingly enough, it still boots, but we’d be insane to ever trust the system again. So, it sat collecting dust on one end of my desk for a few weeks, until we found ourselves needing another test system.

So, a few minutes ago, I finally re-assembled the system. When I went to put the cover on it, I discovered that the cover didn’t fit–the hard drive carriers had popped out of their little retaining clips, and the back end of the carriers was popping up far enough to keep the case from closing. The clips are really just metal pegs welded to the bottom of the case, but 3 of the 4 of them were visibly crooked, and neither drive would fit.

No problem. I know how to bend sheet metal. So, today, after 16 years of working on computers, I finally got to use a hammer as a computer repair tool. It worked, too–the pins bent, the drives fit, the lid went on, and the system is up and running in the test rack, where it’ll remain far away from any mission-critical work for the rest of its life.