A pub denied: One man's tale of festive frolics postponed by the curse of the On Call phone

Just a little jiggle

12BoC On the first day of Christmas, the bork gods sent to me: a server they said had ceased to be. Welcome to the Twelve Borks of Christmas (12BoC): a collection of Register reader stories of amusing and frustrating tech sightings over the festive period.

Today's is a seasonally appropriate tale courtesy of a reader Regomised as "Roy".

Roy's story comes from around 2008, when he was working for a large and well-known telecoms company. "Our team managed manufacturing and asset management systems for a number of customers," he explained, "one of which was a multinational packaging manufacturer."

It was Boxing Day (26 December and a UK holiday), and Roy was preparing for well-earned expedition to the pub when a family member presented him with his work phone. It was ringing.

"I wasn't actually on call this particular day," explained Roy, who would naturally never dream of partaking in adult beverages while on call, however, the call centre had an out-of-date rota. "The person they had on the list didn't answer," he sighed, "so they called the next number - me."

Optimistically, he expected that this would be the customer "who was always calling for trivial stuff," meaning a quick solution and a juicy overtime payment (not that the latter occurred to him, of course.)

No such luck. It was somebody from the packaging manufacturer's Greek plant which absolutely had to kick off its end-of-year financial report, but had found the required server was non-responsive.

Feeling the Christmas spirit drain from him, Roy set about trying to connect to the server himself. No joy. He read the operating procedures, but still came up empty. He tried to call the alarm monitoring people, only to discover nobody had thought to register the server.

The hours ticked by.

Finally, he decided to telephone his manager, who was also not on call on Boxing Day. The boss happened to live quite close to the data centre and agreed to take a look at the dead server in the morning.

By now six hours had passed, when Roy could have been imbibing some festive cheer but instead had to break the bad news to the customer. No server action until morning.

There is no record of how the customer took the news, and we suspect that any wailing was more than drowned out by the call of the pub by now.

Job not really done, Roy trotted off to catch up with family and friends already cosy and warm in the local public house, "while totalling up the potential overtime payment in my head," he added.

When the 27th rolled around, all was revealed.

"The 'server' was in fact a clustered pair of HP blades," he said, "each with a pair of power supplies."

"All four power supplies had failed. My manager simply opened the back of the rack and gave them a wiggle, and the whole thing sprang back into life."

It's surprising just how many things can be fixed with a bit of a jiggle.

Naturally, Roy was also on the receiving end of spousal rage for spending much of the bank holiday glued to his work phone. The overtime payment for, er, not actually solving the problem, was both substantial and mollifying.

And so grateful was the customer for being kept up to date on the problem not being solved that Roy was given shopping vouchers to the tune of a few hundred pounds.

"Which paid for a new garden shed."

Happy Chrimbo everyone. ®

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