Sometimes it's just better to start over

It's just a few years ago, and this firm finally decides it really needs a fast Internet connection, according to a pilot fish that has the firm as a client.

"The bad news is that their offices are in the Monadnock Building in the south Loop of Chicago," fish says. "This building is an architectural beauty -- if you don't have to do networking in it.

"Dating from the early 1890s, it's essentially a massive pile of bricks with an iron frame. The brick walls are massive, over six feet thick at the base. But this construction continues to the interior walls -- they are thick and solid."

And while holes have been drilled over the decades to accommodate electrical wires, telephone lines and finally computer cable, the wiring all has to snake in byzantine pathways through holes drilled in these solid brick walls.

So when a tech from the ISP arrives to connect the new DSL line, he spends about four hours poking around in the wiring closet and dropped ceiling -- and then announces that he's used up his allocated time to do the job and can't get it to work.

Fish calls the ISP and insists the tech be sent back. And while fish doesn't want to step on the tech's toes, he figures it's time to see what the problem is.

Turns out the tech has been trying to splice together existing unused wiring. Some of it clearly dates from the 1950s or earlier, and there are at least a half-dozen runs of wire to the client's office that show the evolution of telephone wiring over the past half-century -- each carefully spliced in the tech's attempt to make one run that actually works.

Um, do you have a spool of Cat-5 wire with you? fish asks tech.

Why, yes, he does.

Reports fish, "I strongly suggested that he simply pull a single fresh run of new Cat 5 from the wiring closet to the client office. That way we're set for Ethernet too, and we'll know the wire is good."

"He said he was trying to save time and money, but OK.

"The job was then done in about 20 minutes."

You can tell Sharky your story even faster than that. So spend a few minutes and send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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