You'll see queer sights on the late, late nights,
There are tales you'd not believe,
But the tale that's told that makes blood run cold,
Is the SysTest of Twenty-Oh-Three.

We'd never shirked a night of work,
For the overtime was sweet,
And the double pay would always sway
Men nigh dead on their feet.

When we were asked to complete the task,
We set to it full of glee,
We'd run that test, we'd get the best
Of the SysTest of twenty-oh-three.

It found SysRoot, we saw it boot,
The image file was loaded,
The Login screen ran nice and clean,
So that processor we goaded.

The stout hearts failed as routines failed,
We watched it, sad, dejected,
Our DLLs were shot to hell,
And a hard drive was ejected.

We cursed Goddamn and patched the RAM,
We made that mother run,
The hard drives whirred, we smiled and heard
The motors gently hum.

A puff of smoke and a smell that choked,
We saw the system hang,
Things burned and popped, the .exe stopped,
The processor went bang.

Men should not fool with the rules of Boole,
Be content with Either, Or,
Beware the snare of the fuzzy 'don't care',
But these things we ignored.

A drive was chewed as the log files grew,
The bearings overheated,
We smelled it scorch, flare like a torch,
And behind desks we retreated.

Peripherals began to stall,
The CD-ROM flew out,
Took off Bill's head and left him dead,
The toll began to mount.

The drive was trashed, the system crashed,
The Flash was turned to slag,
Poor Fred had choked on toxic smoke,
Our spirits sank and sagged.

Disks flew down the hall, bounced off the wall,
Before they flew apart,
Too slow to duck and out of luck,
One disk took out Bill's heart.

That left just three, and one was me,
I'd bruises, breaks, contusions,
Two ducked the disks, but the analyst,
Was killed in the confusion.

Then with evil glee I hit those keys
To halt the fatal test,
But the chips were burned and bits were turned,
The system was possessed!

The screen glowed red, 'twas a thing undead,
I tried to cut the juice,
But the USB shot its drive at me,
And the mouse cord formed a noose.

I must confess that wireless
Was an option we'd ignored,
Ensnared, entangled, nigh on strangled,
I clawed free of the cord.

Just two remained, then Lou got brained,
And that left only me,
To make men quail at the eerie tale
Of that night in Twenty-Oh-Three.

I've seen queer sights on the late, late nights,
I've heard tales you'd not believe,
But the tale I've told that makes blood run cold,
Is the SysTest of Twenty-Oh-Three.

(Involved a cluster of VAXen nicknamed Bilbo, Frodo, Merry and Sam in the 1980s)

Twas a glorious dawn on the Monday morn
And the sun was shining bright,
But a groan of doom from the computer room
Said something was not right,
From the door we could see the floor
Was spread six inches deep
Where consoles spewed their printouts, chewed,
While the Ops staff got their sleep.

For all weekend they went round the bend,
And chewed their ribbons through;
In disbelief (that turned to grief)
We knew not what to do.
With faces sour we cut the power
And began to phone around,
"We need you here," but the engineer
Was nowhere to be found.

The disk was clogged with unprinted logs
Of ten thousand blocks or more,
We hit 'reboot' and saw paper shoot
Six feet across the floor.
The printers moaned, overburdened groaned
And ground to a noisy halt,
And we took one look at the gobbledegook
And we too paused for thought.

Mid-morning neared, we had barely cleared
The paper jammed in tight
Between the lid and the printing head
And we thought the time was ripe
To try again (no doubt in vain)
To get that cluster running,
So we turned the key and machinery
Began its gentle humming.

Surprise, surprise, before our eyes
Into life leapt SAM,
Then FRODO too, and before we knew,
Node BILBO also ran.
Then MERRY hell the net befell
Down came that cluster, crashing,
As all around, the nodes went down
And left the printers thrashing.

"Let's try this way" the boss did say
"And now we'll have some fun"
The disk drives whirred and the first node stirred
As they booted one by one.
A seven-eight-five sprang into life
Two others followed shortly
So far so good, they did as they should
And nothing acted naughty.

The printer thumped its way through dumps
The network rose victorious
Then things slowed down, to a halt they ground
And silence reigned inglorious.
Then too late we saw disk eight,
The system disk, was ailing,
Before our eyes we watched it die,
The 'Ready' light was failing.

"Leave this to me!" and gallantly
An operator tried,
At his own risk to save that disk
Before the network died.
In stark fury he hit those keys,
Deleting by the score,
And at our urging started purging
Logs and dumps and more.

At first we sniggered, then lights flickered
And with our fingers crossed,
We saw the drive return to life -
The network wasn't lost!
We turned the switch and without a hitch,
The final node responded,
Its console clattered as DECnet chattered
And lights flashed off and on.

Twas a glorious dawn on the Monday morn
And the sun was shining bright,
And a gentle vroom from the computer room
Said things were now alright.
The cluster hummed, the disk drives thrummed
And printers stacked hardcopy
In tidy piles, so with pleased smiles
We crept away for coffee.


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