netcurmudgeon (netcurmudgeon) wrote,

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I got the kind of support call today that you can only get when you've been somewhere for a good long time. One of our rent-a-techs who works three days a week in the Health and Human Services department calls me. "Do you know of any changes made over here at two Holcomb?" (I love calls that start that way.) Um, no, what's the problem? "Well, two floors of the building can't get on the network. It started late Monday." Oh Hell, I know exactly what the problem is.

Of course, to get to the technology part we must first traverse the people being numbskulls part. The tech then proceeds to tell me that he's got the wiring closet open and is ready to dive in to fix the problem. No. Desktop techs are not to touch anything in any wiring closet anywhere. He proceeds to make those unhappy noises at me that people who are unused to hearing the word "no" emit when someone with the authority to tell them "no" and make it stick does, in fact, say no. I tell him that I will have one of my engineers come out in the early afternoon.

Apparently my assurances that I would have someone on-site in a few hours did not satisfy young Mr. Technology, for not more than forty minutes later one of the Deputy Directors of HHS calls me (on speaker, and I can hear Wonder Tech in the background) to tell me that this tech is qualified to fix the problem. I will admit to taking a certain pleasure in restating very clearly no [Wonder Tech] is not trained or qualified to work on this network. He is not to touch anything in any wiring closets. Once assured that, yes, I will have an engineer on-site before two PM the Deputy Director went away.

So what happened? A little history is required. Back in 2001 we were wiring up youth centers and offices for YO! Hartford (a Federal Department of Labor program for reaching out to "at risk" youth to give them extra help so that they're ready to get jobs when they graduate from high school) all over the city. There was a center in the North End, one in the South End, a satellite program at the Kelvin D. Anderson Community Center, and some offices at no. 2 Holcomb St. As was our practice, we used the ATM network to put them all on the same IP subnet -- four sites all over town effectively on the same LAN, with the router (ATM attached) sitting at the district central office.

Years passed. The offices at Holcomb were vacated. The program at KDA dried up and blew away. The North End center closed last year. The one survivor was the South End center adjacent to (and fed from) Bulkeley High School.

As our great ATM-to-Gigabit upgrade moved around the edges of the network in October and November I remembered that KDA was still on the YO! subnet -- we moved it onto the IP subnet of the adjacent school when we took out the ATM switch in the school that feeds both of those sites. That left YO! South, running off of Bulkeley. Monday night my crew was at Bulkeley taking out the ATM switches in the satellite closets and getting routing for the site and for YO! South moved into the new gigabit switch/router. And that's where the light went on when Wonder Tech said "it started late Monday."

I (and the one other person on my team who was around back then) had forgotten about no. 2 Holcomb. After the YO! office closed in 2002 we never put that part of the building back on the regular Holcomb subnet. Over time HHS glommed that vacant space. When my engineers killed the YO! subnet in the central ATM router and moved it over to Bulkeley, the folks at Holcomb still on the YO! subnet were left high and dry. The fix was easy -- grab the ports on the Holcomb ATM switch that were assigned to the YO! subnet and reassign them to the Holcomb subnet. One of my guys went out to do some hand-holding and make sure that people got back on track. An open-and-shut case once my memory rendered up the appropriate history.

The kicker is that Wonder Tech sent an email to his boss (my counterpart who runs the desktop support group) complaining about being told to stay out of the wiring closets. His boss cc'd me on his response -- telling him that networking is the province of Tech Services (my crew) and that his job is to make sure that the problem gets reported to us as quickly and accurately as possible.

Perhaps next he will make an appeal to the Pope.

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