22-carat catch-22

This jewelry store keeps reporting that its employees can't connect to the Internet -- and this field engineer pilot fish keeps getting sent out by the telco to fix the problem.

"It's been going on once a week for about three months," says fish. "A jewelry store in the local mall reports that the system must be down because nobody can log in.

"It's always a really quick fix: I show up and show that I can log in with the special credentials the telco gives me. Then I have the help desk check the status of all of the users. They are all disabled."

Fish then has the help desk tech re-enable all the store's user accounts, verifies that the users can log in, closes the trouble ticket and leaves. And because he's working as an independent contractor, he gets paid for a full work order for just a few minutes' worth of work.

It's not because fish isn't willing to get the problem permanently fixed. He can't -- even though he knows the source of the problem.

It seems that the jewelry store was down with a problem several months back. The fact that the store's network connection was down was duly logged. The problem was eventually fixed -- but no one at the telco properly labeled the store as being back up.

So about once a week, corporate network security notices that people from a down site are logged in. That shouldn't happen, so the security guys disable those user IDs. And the users can't get that reversed on their own because to get help they have to log in first.

And why doesn't fish's weekly fix stick? "The site gets labeled as up on the monitoring system, but then a backup network monitoring system keeps labeling it down and then echoes that back to the primary," fish says. "They can't seem to get the record fixed so that both the primary and the backup monitoring system have them up at the same time.

"So the security people keep seeing the site as down and the users from that site as breaking into the system, so they keep disabling them.

"It's been two weeks since I had to go out there, so they apparently have it fixed -- or some other field engineer is making some easy money."

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