The only thing preventing them from going home was two AA batteries

Raymond Chen

In the early 2000s, if the security representatives for Office, Windows, IIS, and Internet Explorer were all in the same Microsoft conference room, it meant either that you had walked in on a standard Microsoft security meeting, or something really bad was happening. (If they were all together not at Microsoft, then maybe you caught them on poker night.)

After Slammer, the security leads were required to carry pagers so that they could be summoned in the event of an emergency.

Yes, this was the era of pagers.

The pagers went off one Saturday morning, and the Office and Windows security representatives were called in due to an issue that potentially affected both products. They went through the usual procedure of assessing the situation, using the whiteboard to help understand the issue and plan their response to it.

The conclusion of the meeting was that this was not a security emergency after all. But before the meeting could be adjourned, someone had to take a picture of the diagrams on the whiteboard to go into the meeting notes.

As noted, this was in the era of pagers, which means it was also was not the era of smartphones.

The meeting room had a digital camera for the express purpose of taking pictures of the whiteboard. Unfortunately, the batteries were dead.

That’s right: The only thing keeping the Office and Windows security representatives from going home was a camera’s dead batteries.

The two representatives studied the camera. Hm, AA batteries.

They looked at each other.

They looked at their pagers.

They looked at the camera.

They looked at each other again.

Immediately and simultaneously, the Office and Windows security representatives opened their pagers, removed the single AA batteries, and put them in the digital camera.

Picture taken.

Now everybody could go home.

The MSRC representative in the room was left speechless for a moment, and then said, “I’m pretty sure the new company-wide emergency response plan does not allow for Windows and Office to simultaneously disable their emergency pagers!”

The Windows representative calmly replied, “We are already here. Where would you page us to?”


Everybody went home.

Bonus chatter: I hope they remembered to get not only new batteries for the camera, but also a set of spare batteries so this won’t happen again.


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  • Peter Cooper Jr. 0

    And presumably immediately after taking the pictures they put the batteries back into their pagers?

  • Brian Boorman 0

    Apparently the administrative assistant taking care of that conference room was named Meridyth and not Pam.

  • Harold H 0

    Around the same time as this story, I had a digital camera that I used frequently at work, that required 4 AA batteries and drained them very quickly, so I always kept a large supply of them in my desk. One day, I needed to take some pictures but I didn’t have my camera. I knew that the Maintenance Manager had the same model camera, so I borrowed his.

    Halfway through taking pictures, the batteries were out of power, as usual, so I quickly dumped them out and replaced them. I finished taking the pictures I needed and returned the camera to the Maintenance Dept.

    The next day, I got an angry phone call from the Maintenance Manager wanting to know what happened to the rechargeable batteries he had in his camera.


    • Erik Fjeldstrom 0

      Rechargables being what they were back then, I doubt that they had many cycles left in them anyways (unless they had just been replaced.) I followed the directions on my recharger to the letter and still usually couldn’t get more than about 5 full charges on most of my batteries: given that they cost almost 6 times as much as regular batteries, I elected to not get any more.

      • cheong00 0

        Rechargables… Once upon a time you need to fully discharge the batteries before you recharge them or it’ll harm the capacity of it.

        Then now you should recharge your batteries before it goes below 20% (varies) or it’ll harm the capacity of it.

        It made me puzzled on the years when both kind of batteries present on daily usage.

      • Roeland Schoukens 0

        I can’t remember ever getting this little use out of rechargeable batteries. Not even the really old NiCd batteries.

        You can now buy NiMh AA batteries which can keep their charge for years. The easiest to recognize are the Eneloop branded ones, but other manufacturers make them as well — look for anything which says ready charged.

      • Mike . 0

        This is more likely due to the chemistry of the battery than their condition. Ni-Mh and Ni-Cd batteries have a cell voltage of 1.2v rather than the 1.5v that normal disposable cells have. Most digital cameras of the time were designed to work with alkaline batteries and would assume the batteries were flat when they hit a certain voltage. Because of this (and the high drain cameras of that time put on the batteries) the camera would complain that the batteries were exhausted after only a few photos.

        You still see artifacts of this today, non-rechargeable lithium batteries are still advertised as being the best batteries for digital cameras (they have a cell voltage of 1.5v like an alkaline but have a much larger capacity) even though almost all cameras today use built in rechargeable lithium batteries.

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