Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 20/7/2004We're in the middle of reconfiguring our network connectivity here at ZDNet Towers, switching to a fab 100Mbps fibre that will propel our thoughts and words onto the Internet faster than we can type them (we type at roughly 50 bits a second, so we could employ two million journalists before the link gets sweaty). Of course, it's not as simple as just phoning up Megabitz'R'Us and getting a bloke to pop over.

Tuesday 20/7/2004
We're in the middle of reconfiguring our network connectivity here at ZDNet Towers, switching to a fab 100Mbps fibre that will propel our thoughts and words onto the Internet faster than we can type them (we type at roughly 50 bits a second, so we could employ two million journalists before the link gets sweaty).

Of course, it's not as simple as just phoning up Megabitz'R'Us and getting a bloke to pop over. Lots of things have to be co-ordinated both technically and commercially, and there is inevitably a fair amount of sitting around waiting for company A to do something so that company B can proceed.

This week, it's been waiting for the BT Man. We have the termination equipment in, we have the fibre all ready, the patch leads are patched… but the BT Man is needed to check the link, check the router configuration and -- most importantly for the quality of service part of the contract -- make sure that when something goes wrong with the router, it reports back to base automatically. The rest of the checks they say must be done seem commonplace --- we'd be more than able to comply. But not the router failure test. We're looking forward to his arrival: what arcane device, what special skills will he deploy to check?

At last, his hour is nigh. At last, the white short-sleeved shirt and fully-loaded tool bag of our man is sighted above the horizon. With respectful gestures and dutiful motion, we beckon him on: come, come into the comms room and practice your art!

He sizes up the situation with an approving nod, a test meter and aplomb. He calls up his minions, crouched deep in the bowels of whatever chamber of mysteries is at the other end. All is well -- time to do that final, mysterious check.

We press round as he reaches into the packaging the router came in and pulls out a sliver of discarded plastic. With the air of a matador pressing in for the kill, he thrusts it firmly into the fan at the back of the router: there's a momentary silence, then a muffled bleep.

"Get that?" he said into his mobile. "Yep. Fan failure. Good."

"There we go," he said to the spectators. "You're done."

"Was that it?" said a seriously miffed IT guy. "We could have done that days ago!"

"And ruin your guarantee?" said the BT man. "Hardly. Bye, now!"

Truly, there are things about this business I will never fully understand.

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