Convenient switch hides an inconvenient truth

Techie solves the mystery as traders go into meltdown

On-Call Welcome once more to On-Call, your weekly dose of tech support head-scratchers sent in by Reg readers.

In this story, we meet “Marvin”, who tells us that, some years ago, the US brokerage firm he was working for decided to spruce up one of its rooms.

The room in question was the classroom, used for all-hands daily briefings and continued education sessions.

“Part of this project entailed installing an automated drop-screen and a high resolution projector,” Marvin told us.

On looking at the drop-ceiling tiles, Marvin found a “conveniently located electrical junction box” right above where the projector would be located.

“Checking the wires showed that one was neutral and one was phase, with expected ~115V, and was traced to a corresponding circuit breaker in the electrical panel,” he said.

With the breaker in the "off" position, the projector was wired up to the junction box.

The circuit breaker was then switched "on and using a remote control, the team attempted to power-up the projector.

Electric spark jump between silver wire isolated

Attempt to clean up tech area has shocking effect on kit


Well, things couldn’t have gone much worse for Marv.

Because, although the projector wasn’t responding to any of their infuriated jabs on the remote – someone else appeared to.

“It was the whole population of the adjacent trading floor,” Marvin said. “The simultaneous shouts of multiple expletives would've been quite amusing if someone else had been holding the remote.”

Undeterred by the angry traders about ready to wage war on their neighbours, Marvin put his thinking cap on and was able to solve the mystery.

“The circuit breaker in question, while unlabelled, was a remnant from the time when the room that now acted as a classroom was a dedicated ‘Computer Room’,” Marvin explained.

That room housed the firm’s mainframe and was – in those days – “connected to a Big Red Button trigger for an emergency shutdown procedure…”.

What's the quickest solve you’ve ever made in a tech support crisis? Tell On-Call and we might publish your proudest moment on these hallowed pages. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022