C'mon, how long do you need that for, anyway?

IT consultant pilot fish is driving back from a remote job, and he stops along the way at a realtor's office to visit an old friend who works there.

"As she introduced me to her fellow realtors, her boss asked if I could look into an issue that was causing all sorts of troubles for them," says fish.

"This particular company didn't have a server -- just a half-dozen PCs connected to the Internet through a router, and a modem supplied by their ISP. The problem: They used a web-based program for their business, and it seems they would lose their connection quite frequently, losing any work they had started at the site."

Fish asks a few questions, looks at the networking and telecom gear, then takes over a PC to poke around inside the network. First he opens a command-prompt window and runs the ipconfig /all command. Then he logs into the router to see what he can find.

At first glance, it all looks normal. The router is handing out IP addresses and all the right information is there. But something does catch fish's eye: The lines for leases being obtained and leases expiring are almost identical.

Turns out the router is automatically handing out IP addresses to users' PCs, just as it's supposed to -- but they only last a mere seven minutes.

This can't be right, fish thinks -- usually an IP address lasts a week. He goes back into the router. "In the box where you put the desired lease time was a 7, presumably to provide a seven-day lease," fish says. "But right next to that box was an instruction saying that numbers entered were for minutes, except for a zero, which would mean one day.

"I entered 10080 -- a week's worth of minutes -- and all has been well since. The boss was extremely impressed, and told me that she had several techs in to look at the issue. including techs from their ISP. No one could figure out why they were constantly losing their Internet sessions."

Loan your story to Sharky. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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