OK, maybe not THAT much more complicated

The vendor that this pilot fish works for provides services for video-over-IP in the form of multicast traffic, and with all those extra layers, troubleshooting customer issues can get more complicated than hunting down normal network problems.

Case in point: "I got a call from a group saying the channels they use were not working," says fish.

"To check it, I moved my network connection on my laptop to the corporate network and fired up my video app. The channels they were talking about were fine."

But the network connection? That appears to be broken. Fish checks his router. Sure enough, the link shows no traffic.

Check your end of the connection to be sure your router is alive, fish tells the user on the other end of the line.

"Where is it?" user asks.

One trip to that building later, fish log into his source router and loops the first fiber connection into the building. The interface shows UP/UP. So far, so good.

Then he loops the connection to the switch in the building -- and the interface shows DN/DN.

And that's when fish starts tracing the physical connections.

"In the end, I found that they had installed new fibers to this lab and moved the connection to the switch in the building, but didn't change both ends of the connection," fish says. "The switch was connected to one patch panel and my feeds were connected to another patch panel and the two were not connected.

"So the word to the wise is PHY, PHY, PHY. Check the physical layer first -- end to end. Then worry about the upper layers."

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