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If You Can’t Work, Maybe You Could Play A Nice Game Of Connect 4?

June 21, 2018

So, they go into the Launcher tool like normal, but instead of taking them to the authorization page, it brings up a copy of Connect 4.

Excuse me?

Yeah, they are suddenly taken to a Connect 4 game. I’m totally serious.

I work in a large company. Our employees also connect up to a large client’s system. We use a remote desktop program. So, while the agents are sitting in my building, they are logged into servers at the client’s location.

My job is to make sure everything runs properly. The computers, servers, networks, etc. I can’t actually fix it if it breaks, but I know the people who do.

Last month I got a call from our production facility in Rockford. The agents were having trouble using one of the tools. This isn’t unusual and I started to gather the pertinent details so we could start troubleshooting.

Connect 4. . .like the game.

We don’t support any online games. We don’t allow our agents to play games during work. In fact, we block nearly all outside websites and agents can be repremanded or even terminated for playing games.

And now the game was showing up on it’s own.

Despite most science fiction movies, computers and networks are not particularly magical or mysterious. The great thing about working with computers is that they are so predictable. No, they really are.

Even if a computer, or a system breaks, in 99% of the cases we can find a root cause.

The circuit failed because the 2nd memory bank on the 3 card in server Xj712 shorted out.

It’s why many of us got into computers instead of “messy” professions. . .you know, the kind where you have to work with people.

Anyway, computers don’t really do random, or weird things. It might look weird, but there is always a reasonable explanation.

Connect 4 pops up when we get an error. Yeah, not like that’s weird or anything.

I had to inform the client since it appeared the error was in one of their systems. . .the Connect 4 system, apparently.

Hey, David, this is Rodney. Ah. . .do you guys by chance support a Connect 4 game?

Rodney, we’re an accounting firm.

Yeah, I know. Funny thing is. . .

He didn’t believe me either. He’s an IT guy just like me and we could not conceive of why a computer game would randomly pop up in the middle of our business applications.

We spent hours on the call. The client engineers were doing most of the work and David would reach out to me occasionally to give me a status update.

Eventually, it was resolved. The Launcher application was working successfully and all was right in our world again. I called David.

So, what was the deal with the game?

Oh, it was legit.

What do you mean?

I mean that our SharePoint system was set up so that if you could not reach a particular database because of an authentication error, the Connect 4 game would come up.


Yeah. So far no one is fessing up to putting it there.

So, the idea is if you can’t get into the database maybe you want to distract yourself with a game?

I guess so.

The one thing we didn’t try was to see if we maybe it was a test. Maybe the new database security required you to prove you weren’t a robot by engaging in a nice game of Connect 4?

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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