Kick off Halloween with these tech horror stories

- select the contributor at the end of the page -
What's a better way to kick off Halloween than a few spooky stories? Your mouse begins moving on it's own, the screen starts flickering and you receive an unknown error message. The horror!

We asked our fans to submit a few of their tech horror stories for a chance to win some sweet prizes. Here are the winners and a few of our favorites. Read on only if you dare...

3rd place (winner of a one-month Pluralsight subscription):

Jeannine Scavo

"I was working on my desktop when everything starting acting screwy. Thinking i need to reboot I did just that. When it came back on all it had was a blue screen. We tried everything to fix it to no avail. All my pics/videos from when my son was born to age 3 years were lost and no way to get them back. We even took it in to someone to try. I have learned my lesson and now backup."

2nd place (winner of a $100 Amazon gift card):

Thulasi Rangan - Chennai, India

This happened a few years ago (probably six years) and it was narrated to us by our Technical head in my previous company.

We had a system to deliver messages to customer to inform about their product delivery. This was done through a third party SMS partner. We had a dedicated link network to our SMS partner and when we send text messages over this network, we would receive an acknowledgement (ACK). If it is not received within a certain time frame we would resend the message.

On this fateful day, the link connection was so slow that though the message was sent, we didn't receive the ACK before the time limit. We had resent the message around 25000 times to a poor customer whose phone couldn't handle more than 100!

There were no resend limit on the third party 'black box' that we used and the customer called the customer support in panic. They informed our boss and he rushed over to the switch room and pulled off a miracle - just kidding, he pulled off the network cables! Only later were we able to remove the message queue on the customer's phone with the help of our SMS partner, service provider and the bemused customer.

1st place (winner of a Kindle in order to read the horror stories of their choice):

Hunter Bonner - Denton, TX

I was working for one of the major accounting firms in Dallas, TX. It was really my first time working with accountants, and I soon began to learn that they knew how to work with the computer, but outside Word and Excel, it was “no man's land.” I also learned early on, that the slightest thing out of the ordinary, i.e., breaking the routine, would send your average accountant into a tailspin emotionally and psychologically.

Tax season for accountants typically begins on January 1 and then it is a mad dash till April 15 deadline. I was reviewing my emails for the day, when I happened to come across an alert from our security software that there was a critical update to their EPO software. This particular update specifically dealt with the encryption aspect of their product. Since our workforce was highly mobile, we used their product to encrypt our laptops to protect information. Since this was a critical update, I approved the patch, installed it to the server, and then it would get pushed to the agents on the laptops. This was around 3pm.

The next morning came....World War Friggin 3 man!

I had staff accountants, seniors and managers waiting at the door to the IT Room and all of them with their laptops. They were highly upset and then the onslaught began. Apparently, the "critical update" critically hosed the secure boot sector and thus, I had in front of me 8 different laptops, all of them giving me an NTLDR corrupt message. I thought it couldn't get any worse. But as Han Solo famously stated in "Star Wars" while in the Death Star trash compactor..."It's worse!"

That is when I looked up and saw two partners of the firm standing there. These were the people that owned the joint. Their looks were cold, they were glassy, and I knew that the whole time they were giving me “the look”, they were mentally disemboweling me. They had the same problem as everyone else. Corrupted secure boot sectors, and all due to the update. I felt dead already.

I quickly got them spare laptops for them to work on and although they said that they appreciated it, I knew down deep inside they had already chopped my head off, and launched it with a trebuchet, and most likely a great number of times. I wiped off the cold sweat of my fear and bucked up to the challenge. I would find out that I would have to decrypt the drives with a boot disk before attempting to repair the OS. Each laptop was going to take the rest of the day and night to decrypt as it was a slow process.

Well into the night, and all by myself, I barely survived on fast food, some honey buns from the vending machine, and enough coffee and Dr. Pepper to keep me awake while I worked. My wife called and asked me when I was coming home. I told her that if I was not home by 4am, to please send out a search party and tell our kids that I love them.

Fortunately, things worked out. Once the encryption was removed, the native boot partition for Windows fired right up. The next morning I had the same angry mob waiting outside the IT office, but I was able to give each one of them back their machines, all data safe and sound, and the encryption safely back on the laptops.

I have never really been the same since then. I've sought therapy, but Star Trek Online is much cheaper and I get the same results

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