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Saturday my crew was taking apart the network at the school district central office (doing a technology refresh) and I was pushing new code into a number of our core network switches. Everything was going fine -- if a bit slowly -- until I hit West Middle Elementary School.

There's a two-step process for upgrading code on a Nortel ERS8600. First, you FTP up a new boot monitor image and command the switch to restart with the new boot monitor code. Second, you FTP up the new switch OS files, adjust the boot config file to point to the new code, and restart the switch again.

This works just fine for remote updates ... unless you are trying to work on two switches at the same time and get your order of operations out of step on one switch. Oops. I sent the West Middle 8600 down for what I thought was it's second reboot, not realizing that I had only FTP'd the new boot monitor without actually installing it.

Switch go down, switch not come up. Bad, bad news, as that switch also handles a fire department engine company. Doh. Much calling around. I found someone at Buildings and Grounds who found a Custodian who would meet me at the school.

On site the Custodian gave me a mournful look when I told him that the MDF was in a closet off the Principal's office. He didn't have a key. Only the Head Custodian had a key, and he wasn't him. We jiggled, we poked, I ransacked the school exec's desk for hidden keys (found several, none of them opened the door).

Finally, my contact at B&G said "if you have to break the lock, go ahead. Just call me if you do."

We did some more prying with heavier tools to no avail. Then I took a good look at the vintage 1931 wooden door frame. The jamb was just a thick piece of molding. Three minutes of careful prying and I had the molding off ... albeit in two pieces. Anther couple minutes of jimmying the tongue of the latch and open sesame!

Getting into the office took an hour. Correcting the switch took twenty minutes.

I left the Principal a note and a business card taped to the door. I called B&G and let them know that they needed to send a carpenter over first thing Monday.

Seriously, I love this stupid job.

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