tsqltuesdayIt’s an interesting topic this month for T-SQL Tuesday #53. When I read Matt Velic’s invitation, I became intrigued. I like jokes. I like messing with people, and I was thinking about the recent April Fool’s jokes I’d written and those in the past that have been fun. I’m going to enjoy this.

You can participate as well on any month. Just write a blog post and publish it on the second Tuesday of the month, linking back to that month’s invitation. Follow the #tsql2sday tag on Twitter or set a reminder and Google on the first Tuesday of the month.

If you hurry, you can participate this month.

Not So Serious

The number one rule is know your audience. I’d be very careful who I might play this joke on. Note that this is also a bit of a abuse of privileged accounts.

There are a few utilities from Sysinternals (owned by Microsoft) that are very useful for administrators. However they have also been very handy for practical jokes as well. Specifically I’ve used the PsExec and PSKill to amuse myself.

I once worked in a group that had four administrators to run our systems. We lost one of our people to a better job and the corporate management decided to "promote" an internal employee to replace him. This new person was a "paper MCSE", who had studied for the exams. He was making an effort to grow his career and that was something to admire.

However he was a jerk.

He had the mistaken impression, as many people that have achieved something they set out to do, that they know more than they do. In this case, much of his "book learning" and boot camp work wasn’t appropriate for the real world. What’s more, when we would work with him to teach him how things worked differently for us, or explain why the book recommendation wouldn’t work, he was arrogant and dismissive of us.

After suffering through a few months of his dismissive attitude and desire to avoid learning more in the real world, we decided to play a few jokes on him. We downloaded the sysinternals tools and also wrote a few scripts to command line launch tools with specific scripts or settings.

One day when he picked up the phone to work on a call, we watched him start to connect to a server. Using PSList and PSKill, we’d kill his connection. Then we’d quickly use PSExec to launch another connection to a different server. At times we could be creative and redirect him to a development server instead of a production server. He’d swear he was fixing something for a user, but since he was on the wrong server, the user didn’t see the item working correctly.

We were sporadic in our efforts, only causing issues a few times a day when we felt the problem wasn’t too critical. Eventually my manager realized what a few of us were doing and had us stop.

It was a bit mean, and not something we should have done maliciously. I was young, and let myself get irritated. In later years, I out grew some of this childishness and limited jokes to people that I genuinely liked, changing settings, altering wall paper, creating aliases that pointed to different systems, and even unplugging people mice and connecting my own in an adjacent cube.

Joking around at work can be fun, but remember that it shouldn’t be malicious and it can’t prevent people from getting work done. We certainly don’t want to get someone fired, as much as we might like to at times.