They make the big bucks -- and the big boo-boos

This IT pilot fish is working on a project with several highly paid consultants from a very big computer company when he notices that some files have disappeared from his directory on the development server.

"That was strange because I hadn't deleted anything," says fish. "When I asked around, only one person spoke up -- she was doing some cleanup, but only in her directory.

"Then another one of the consultants exclaimed that some of his files were now missing too.

"We made a quick request to the first consultant to kill her rm command, which she was using to do the deleting. A moment later it was killed.

"Looking over her command history, we discovered that instead of changing to her home directory with a 'cd /home/herID' command, she had typed 'cd / home/herID' -- the extra space meant she changed to the root directory of the entire filesystem for the development server, and 'home/herID' was ignored.

"Then came the dreaded 'rm -r *' command, which deletes everything in the current directory and in all subdirectories.

"Fortunately, she was not running with elevated privileges, it was early in the day, and there was a valid backup from the previous night. We didn't lose much work and got to take an extended lunch.

"And the sysadmin made up a nice little certificate with the words 'No, no, Nanette! No more rm -r *'."

Sharky never deletes true tales of IT life -- but I'm still running short of stories to use. So send me yours at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt every time I use one. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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