In the late 90s, in my very first career IT job, I found myself (a die-hard Mac guy) working in a design house that was 99% Windows, and a Microsoft “Preferred Vendor” to boot. I barely knew my way around Windows, and sure did not know the dark arts needed to manage a few NT 4 servers. There was no way I was qualified for this job, but in the late 90’s in Seattle you only needed a pulse to get a job in IT.

One of these servers (the Exchange email server) only had a single processor - I thought it would be a great idea to add a second processor. So on Good Friday evening, after everyone went home (and a backup had run), I shut the server down and added a second processor. Little did I know what was in store for me.

After installing the processor, I started the server back up - and right into the Blue Screen of Death. Being the Windows novice that I was, I had no idea what that was - only that it was bad - very bad. Some cryptic error taunted me from the screen, in some kind of magical language (invented by Bill Gates, I thought). After some online troubleshooting, I realized I needed to change a HAL (really? I swore that Microsoft was trolling me at this point) to a multiprocessor one, located somewhere in the “system32” folder.

At this point I was way over my head. Way over.

Fuck it, I said. Install a fresh copy of NT 4 and restore the Exchange Server from backup. That is the only thing to do. Yep. I had no idea that there was a utility that could have done the processor upgrade for me, and a few other ways to get up and running with minimal effort. Like I said, I was in way over my head. So reinstall and restore from backup I did.

Now, did I know that the backup was good? Nope. Did I have any idea how long it would take a DAT 4 to restore an Exchange Server? Nope. Did I let that stop me? Nope.

It took me from Good Friday to very late on Easter Sunday. I never went home. I got take out, and barely slept. I drank quite a bit of coffee. Made it home late Sunday. Took a bath, fell asleep, and woke up bright and early to be the first one in the office on Monday morning.

It worked. I was amazed. I was fortunate that no one needed to work that weekend, and no one ever knew the extent of the issue - just that I was working on an email server issue over the weekend.

When I got home from work on Monday, my wife presented me with an air freshener- in the shape of a cross. I hung that air freshener on the server, and it remained there until I left that company.