Not certified, but very possibly certifiable

A client of this consultant pilot fish complains that his token-ring Novell network has gotten really, really slow.

How slow? "He said a print job submitted Monday would spit pages out on the printer over the next two to three days," says fish.

"After some discussion, I went onsite with a time-delay reflectometer and some doubts. Days?"

Turns out it's a fairly new installation in a refurbished building. All the network jacks are in-wall and very neatly labeled. Fish starts by checking the Novell server -- nothing wrong there. Nor is there any problem with the configuration of the network printers.

Then he checks the networking itself. Whoa -- lost or irregular signal, dropped packets...

Fish decides to take an actual look at one of the jacks. He unscrews the faceplate, pulls it away from the wall -- and the co-ax connector falls off the wire.

"I checked three or four others," fish says. "All fell apart when I touched them. Looking closely, it looked like someone had tried to crimp them on with a pair of pliers. And failed miserably, of course.

"OK, that explained the delays. The Novell server kept trying to push the jobs through...a few packets at a time."

Well, I found your problem, fish tells the client. Uh...who did the wiring?

The electrician who was here to do the power and lighting, client says.

Was he certified for data cabling? fish asks.

He said he was, client tells fish, and he was a lot cheaper than the data networking company that quoted the job, so we told him to go ahead and do that, too.

"They ended up being able to keep all the pulled co-ax," says fish. "Well, except for one run that actually went outside, on the roof, and back in. The cable had been too short for the whole run, so the electrician had spliced it with a non-waterproof connector, which of course was outside on the roof. There was standing water inside that cable run.

"But every jack and termination in the building had to be re-terminated. I did the couple hundred jacks -- properly crimped and tested -- and their network was back on line and behaving properly.

"And I suggested they might want to make sure they checked out anyone working on their networking a bit more carefully."

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