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Techie with outdated documentation gets his step count in searching for non-existent cabinet

5-minute job? We've heard that old chestnut before

On Call Have you got that Friday feeling? El Reg does, mainly because we're bringing you the latest instalment of On Call.

Every week, we trawl through emails recounting the times readers have been faced with a particularly tricky call-out, searching for the best one to take you into the weekend.

This time, we meet "Wayne", who got rather more exercise than he'd bargained for when asked to do a "five-minute" extra job after finishing an upgrade to a pair of network routers.

The upgrade was all standard stuff, and he'd finished within a few hours. But an old manager from a different department asked him to configure a network port for a new starter's PC, assuring him it wouldn't take long.

"I'd since moved on from a customer-facing role, so it wasn't my job but I said, 'Sure, no problem.'"

This, he would soon realise, was a big mistake.

The request ticket mentioned "cabinet A2" and the documentation matched so off Wayne went, seeking out the cabinet on the third floor.

"I found the computer room and cabinet A2 but no sign of any of the switches on the diagrams," Wayne said.

Thinking that was a bit odd, he asked the local facilities engineer for help.

"There's a cabinet A2 on every floor," came his cheery reply.

"Wonderful," said Wayne, rolling his eyes. "I'll check the closest floors first."

There was still no sign of the switch so poor Wayne headed off to check all of the five floors.

Out of luck and out of puff, he returned to the facilities guy to get his take.

"Have you tried both computer rooms?" came the reply. "There are two on each floor."

Wayne bit his lip, questioning why neither the facilities chap nor the document mentioned this.

"I suppose there's a cabinet A2 in each of those rooms as well?" Wayne asked.

"Yup," answered the, as Wayne put it, "now annoying" facilities guy.

Wayne headed off to check all those rooms, starting on the third floor again.

"I noticed there were still no matching names on the diagram and, suspicious, I consoled onto each device I did find for confirmation," said Wayne.

"Sure enough, some other engineer had renamed all the devices but failed to relabel the switches."

At this point, Wayne decided to relabel the switches as he went – "for future engineers' sanity" – and plodded back to the original set of A2 cabinets.

"It was in the first bloody cabinet I'd looked in."

Wayne proceeded to select a network port for the new starter but the switch was full, and all the other switches were over 100m away, which was the maximum distance supported.

"To cut a long story short, I needed to order a new switch, new power rails and deploy a new vlan and subnet," said Wayne.

"I also had to have new fibre cables run between floors and break/reseal the fire stops."

On top of that, the job wasn't just for one new starter, but nine. His former boss had deviously neglected to tell Wayne about that, later telling him: "I thought you might say no!"

As Wayne told us: "I would have!"

Eventually it took four weeks to provide a single network port. "Five-minute job my arse!"

If you think you can beat that fiasco, tell On Call about your longest "five-minute" favour and your tale might be featured on these hallowed pages next time. ®

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