And THAT'S why we have that lever

Manager at this electrical supply warehouse complains to his storage array vendor that two of the vendor's power supplies have failed, one after another, according to a support engineer pilot fish.

"The customer didn't have an onsite support contract, but was instead shipped replacement parts the next business day," says fish. "So we sent him the power supplies and eventually received by return mail his 'failed' power supplies. But I tested them and they both seemed perfectly fine. I shrugged and stuck them on the shelf.

"A week later, the same thing: Power supplies failing one after the other, replacements shipped, 'defective' power supplies returned and testing out just fine."

The third time it happens, fish's boss decides to send fish out, free of charge to the customer, to see what's going on. One cross-state trip later, fish arrives at the site. He's led to the IT closet through the busy warehouse, where he can see a nearby machine feeding heavy cable onto a massive spool.

The IT closet is dusty and cramped, though the power tests out clean. As he starts replacing the first power supply, fish notices that the lever that locks down the power supply in place isn't where it's supposed to be -- instead, it's in the up position, and being used to tie off power cords.

No big deal, fish figures -- the power supplies are usually snugly connected and won't work themselves loose.

"As I worked, there was a very loud THUMP from outside, and I literally bounced an inch or two off the ground," fish says. "What was that? I asked. 'Don't worry, that's normal,' the manager said."

He points to the cable spooler, which -- having finished filling the giant spool -- has just lifted it off the machine, turned it sideways, and dropped it onto the concrete floor.

It now takes fish only a moment to realize what's going on: With the power supplies not locked down, those "normal" violent vibrations have been working them loose until they're no longer seated -- and appear to fail.

He immediately explains the problem and shows the manager how to properly secure the power supplies. Then he urges the manager to relocate the equipment -- all those violent vibrations can't be good for the rest of the storage array, either.

"After much grumbling, he moved the array to underneath the receptionist's desk, where it doubles as a space heater during the long, cold winters," says fish.

"Our reward for solving the customer's problem? He showed up at the next user conference and complained to one and all that we had to send him six power supplies before he finally got good equipment from us."

Sharky only asks for one true tale of IT life from you -- but I don't mind if you send a few more. Email them to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt for each one I use. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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