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Boy, gun!

I hate people. No, let me refine that. I really, deeply, thoroughly despise people whose sense of self-entitlement motivates them to do things that harm others, and then respond with towering rage when they're stopped. You know exactly the type of person I'm referring to.

Yesterday someone broke the network at King school. Kevin, one of my engineers, went out and discovered that no one could see our DHCP server, and that as workstation's leases were aging out or they were rebooted, they were effectively falling off the network. No DHCP = no IP address. No IP address = no work.

I can't recall a single time that we've had a problem with the DHCP server not issuing addresses, and the DHCP request forwarding mechanism in the routers (that forwards a DHCP request from a PC on to the central DHCP server) has never spontaneously "unconfigured" itself. The symptom usually means that someone has setup a rogue DHCP server in the building. But that's usually signaled by people getting bogus addresses (a la 192.168.0.xx), not no addresses. It took a little while for the true nature of the problem to become clear.

After about twenty minutes on site, Kevin's laptop got an address: 192.168.110.xx. Ah ha! Part of the information your PC gets from the DHCP server is the IP address of the DHCP server. From that you can find the MAC address of the server's network interface, and from that you can look into the network switches and identify exactly which port the server is on. With the switch port identified, you trace the patch cable to a port in the patch panel labeled with the room number and jack number.

The culprit? As suspected, a crappy Linksys wireless AP / firewall router. Why were people getting no IPs? There are over a hundred PCs in the school, and the Linksys box probably only has a DHCP scope with 16, 32, or 64 addresses defined in it. All the addresses were taken up, hence the rest of the people were getting no address. It was random chance that when an address freed up in the box's scope, Kevin's laptop got it. We would have found the problem eventually, but this lucky break sped things up considerably.

Kevin, at my direction, went to the classroom with the rogue AP and seized it. There was no one there, so he left a note directing the teacher to contact me about the problem he or she had caused on the school's network. He then headed off to his next assignment.

Minutes later my phone practically leapt off the desk. Ms. L. was on the line, and she was on a tear. The facts that her actions were a) a violation of published policy and b) responsible for causing the entire data network at her school to grind to a halt meant nothing to her. We had taken her thing and she wanted it back. And she wasn't going to let me get a word in edge-wise while she was ranting, either. I can't recall the last time I had to shout someone down on the phone. I'm still so mad that I could chew nails. What on Earth happened to people having at least an iota of contrition when they f*ck things up?

If anyone has an antidote for this epidemic of entitlement, send me a case, will ya? Thanks.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 18th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
The rub is that the box wasn't just a wireless AP, it was wireless AP + firewall/router. The teacher plugged the "private" side of the box into the school's network, so it started serving up DHCP to both wireless laptops and wired PCs in the building.

...A device that's acting as a DHCP server on the local subnet is going to respond faster than a server that is on the other side of town. So, even though the backbone router in the school was forwarding the DHCP requests into the core network for our DHCP server to handle, the little Linksys box was answering requests quicker. Once it had used up it's tiny range of addresses, it started sending out the DHCP rely packet equivalent of "no soup for you!"
Mar. 18th, 2006 03:28 pm (UTC)
I wish there was an antidote!
Mar. 19th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
Antidote for an epidemic of entitlement...
Responsibility... that is what it would take. This sense of entitlement arises when people have authority over something, but not the corresponding level of responsibility. A reconciliation between power and respnsibility needs to be repaired. If their actions screw things up, nothing happens to them, so they can ignore any problems they cause. This teacher sounds as if she is under the impression that there is nothing that will befall her for this little f*ck-up.

Unfortunatly, I suspect that teaching responsibility at this late date is a wee bit like house-breaking a dog, and would require rubbing her nose in her screw-up and, metaphorically, some sort of "paddling" or whack on the nose. Given she is in a union and probably protected from anything and everything, including harsh language, you're better off handling things within your own chain of command. If you really want to nail her to the wall for this foolishness, push it to the highest bureaucratic level you *KNOW* you can rely upon and drop in down on her, metaphorically, from above. Just make sure it is worth the A) effort and B) hate and discontent that will arise from bringing this one back to reality-land.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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