Today was not the day I had planned to have. I had planned on meeting with people from Nortel and Ergo at nine to go over our summer and fall project plans/purchasing. This was to have been followed by a meeting at eleven in city hall of the "wireless committee" to talk about the Mayor's desire to have Hartford glow like a small star with free WiFi for the citizenry.
My day-plan gave its first indication of immanent derailment at 8:30 as I was fighting with the copier to get my handouts ready. One of the phone people called me over and told me that she couldn't call several of the school sites. Everything looked good in NMS, so I left it for them to figure out if they really had a problem, or if Maureen's phone was just possessed by demons.
Then, at 8:45 as I was helping Shawn (one of my guys) inventory the pile of gear retrieved from Burr Elementary yesterday, two people called me to say that the helpdesk was getting flooded with calls from the 9th floor of the Board of Ed office across the street: slow network performance, applications locking up, can't log in the usual bad news jazz.
I left Shawn to meet my 9:00 meeting guests and scooted over to the BoE offices to see what was the matter. I must say, I have never seen an ATM switch spit errors like those before. At 9:30 I told Shawn to "please convey my sincere apologies to our guests and send them home". Somewhere in there the phone crew called me to say "yes, we really do have a problem". I told them, "you're number two in queue behind a sick switch call back in ten minutes". To their credit, they actually waited ten minutes before calling me again, and to my credit I think I said something nicer than "buzz off I'm working" when they did.
I got the switch problem narrowed down to a bad 24-port Ethernet card sometime around 10:00. There were just enough open ports on the surviving Ethernet card to transfer all the things that had been plugged into the bad one. We still have to go back with a replacement card, but the 9th floor is up and running. This is important. The 9th floor includes payroll, and this week is a pay week!
After assuring my continued solvency, I headed down to the 8th floor to see what was wrong with the router that handles most of the IP phone traffic. Pat (my other guy) joined me and we started poking at the recalcitrant router. Somewhere around 10:30, with things still looking grim, I fired off an email to the Mayor's chief of staff "I'm sorry but I won't be able to attend the 11:00 meeting, I'm tried up with a technical emergency". A few minutes later we determined that one of the cards in the router wasn't exchanging traffic properly with the other two cards in the router. A soft reboot didn't clear it. A reset from the big honking red reset button on the front panel didn't clear it. So I frobbed the pair of circuit-breakers on the back of the beast and counted to thirty. Power on, much self-testing later, et voi la we are a happy router now.
Somewhere in there Shawn called me to say that Ron (the Nortel engineer associated with our account) wanted to know if we needed help. I told Shawn "tell Ron that if he wants to come over and stare at obsolete equipment he doesn't understand, he's more than welcome". Thankfully, Ron is the kind of man who can appreciate the truth and the humor in a remark like that.
With both problems quelled at 10:47 I really did have time to beat feet for City Hall and make the meeting. Instead I told Pat: I'm hiding for the next thirty minutes. Not that I really needed an excuse, because in short order the third problem of the day rose up to claim some of my time. And after that came the fourth problem of the day (I accidentally crashed one of my own servers, and it was not happy coming back up it's a long story don't ask).
Eventually, of course, I managed to escape Hartford and make my way back home. Asha asked me how my day was, got a whimper for an answer and decided that the best plan was to leave me alone with a glass of milk and a tub of Oreos. Some time later I recounted the foregoing saga over a mug of tea.
This brings us to the Boojums and the Wood Nymphs. Upon being told of the not with a warm boot, not with a reset, yes with a cold-boot router problem resolution she explained about the Boojums. Boojums are trapped inside electronic devices, you see. If the thing is powered up, the EM field keeps them captive. So, you need to power down completely before they can escape. She also offered that one of her Professors had a theory that computer problems are due to infestations of Wood Nymphs. You see, deforestation and rampant development has destroyed the nymphs' natural habitat. These poor mythological refugees seek out the warm, dark, hidey-places that are PC cases and network equipment, causing all sorts of mischief if not properly worshiped, entertained or tithed to.
As you can plainly see, the Wood Nymph idea is just malarkey. Boojums. I'm sure it must be Boojums. What else can fit the facts?
ETA: The 3rd problem of the day wasn't really mine per se. It's a desktop problem that the End User Support manager asked me to do some network surveilance for. It's just bizarre. Random Dell PCs (all of a type, with one of two BIOS revs) are resetting their system clocks to 7/25/2002 and promptly crashing. Six so far; all have been "cured" by flashing the BIOS to the latest level (A06). Strange. And, hopefully not communicable. I mean, there have been viruses in the past that wiped people's BIOS settings, but that was a long time ago. And, McAfee finds nothing on the affected PCs. Kind of a desktop version of mad cow.