If we plug this in without telling anyone, nobody will know we caused the outage

The whole incident could have been avoided by spending some spare change on a fastener

Who, Me? What? Monday? Again? Didn't we do Monday last week? OK, fine. Welcome once again to your soft landing pad into the working week – the oasis we call Who, Me? in which Reg readers unburden themselves with tales of tech tribulations.

This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Padraic" who spent some time in the 1990s working in a manufacturing facility on the west coast of Ireland. The firm, which is now defunct (no fault of Padraic's we're sure) made various items of telecommunications equipment, some of it custom PCBs destined for call centers.

One fine day, Padraic and a colleague were required to install a PBX in the server room, to test new software. The server room wasn't really built for such things – the PBX was a chunky 32kg box, and the room was tightly packed with five or six racks of Sun SPARC Enterprise servers. As Padraic puts it, "there was barely enough room to swing a Celtic kitten."

Nonetheless, they managed to drill holes for rack mounts, heave the PBX into place and install some PCBs – all before lunch.

At which point they couldn't help but notice some frantic activity from sysops who seemed to be running about frantically.

The servers were down! The production line had stopped! Hundreds of thousands of punts (that's olde-timey currency for you youngsters who don't remember life before the Euro) were evaporating by the minute!

Well, thought Padraic and his colleague, we'd best be out of the way while you sort that out.

Returning from lunch, the place was still just as chaotic. Management was involved now, looking furiously at the sysops who were unable to restore normality.

Padraic and pal resumed installing PCBs in the new PBX and, as they did so, noticed a big fat SCSI cable on the back of one of the machines that was just ever so slightly off-kilter and therefore not making a clean connection. Clearly, one or the other of them had nudged it out of the way at some point during their morning's labors.

Padraic looked at his colleague, who looked back at him. They exchanged a quiet understanding between them, and pushed the cable the few millimeters required to get it back in place. Not a word was spoken – especially not to any of the frantic sysops.

When they finished installing the PBX, Padraic did venture to ask someone about the server situation. All fine! Everything just came back on line! No-one even knows why! A complete mystery – one of those things that's probably best left unsolved.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself "Didn't SCSI cables usually have clips on them to stop exactly this sort of thing from happening?" And you'd be right. But as Padraic explained: "In this multi-million punt, state-of-the-art installation, nobody had bothered to fit the little 10p clips on the SCSI sockets which are designed to hold the cable connectors in place."

So it wasn't entirely his fault, to be sure.

Ah the 10p saving that ends up costing thousands – classic. If you've ever found yourself in a mess that could have been prevented by some spare change, let us know about it by clicking here to send an email to Who, Me? and we'll use your story to soften some future Monday morn. ®

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