That's unusual?

Sitting at home one evening, sysadmin pilot fish gets a frantic call from the manufacturing plant where he's the only person doing on-site IT support.

The call is from the night supervisor, who tells fish, "All the computers have stopped working."

Fish knows that's not very likely, so he presses for details. Turns out, the PCs are all reporting that they can't communicate with the database server.

Fish tells the supervisor to have the security guards let him into the server room, and soon the supervisor is describing every monitor message, blinking light or other indicator he can see.

The server is clearly down, so fish talks the supervisor through power-cycling it. It starts to come back up, but dies again halfway through boot-up with no error messages.

Is there anything else unusual going on? fish asks.

"Like what?" says supervisor.

Anything, says fish -- janitors or contractors near the server, flickering office lights, a meteor in the middle of the room, anything at all unusual.

"No," supervisor replies, "nothing like that."

So fish heads for the plant, and 20 minutes later he unlocks the server room, opens the door and instantly knows what the problem is.

"A blast of warm air hits me in the face," says fish. "I turn on the light and look at the thermostat to see that it's 96 degrees in the room.

"The climate controls had failed and this server was just the first to kick out on over-temperature protection. I had maintenance help me open windows -- it was 24 degrees outside -- and put some fans up so we could get running again until morning.

"I asked the supervisor later if he didn't find the sauna-like room to be 'unusual.' He said, 'I don't know, I'm not that good with computers.'"

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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