April 28, 2003

The past haunting....

click to enlarge
I've been working OCS since the late 1980's. One of my first LAN installations was for a couple of workstations and a printer over at 2154. When it went in originally it consisted of a GDC-500c 56Kb/s 4-wire ADN feeder circuit, a Cisco 1000 router, and an Ungermann-Bass 24-port 10baseT hub. The specification for 10baseT was that it was designed to work on existing telephone wiring -- and that was what I used.

This circuit was bridged out of Hollywood, along with many others. After a couple of years the number of users on the LANs increased to the point where the heartbeats from all of the devices exceded the 56K bandwidth and effectively shut the LAN down. A quick upgrade to T1 feed circuits fixed that.

A few years later a group moved in on the 2nd floor and built a more modern LAN with a pair of T1s and a pair of Cisco 2500's and 3COM switches. A fiber was run to the downstairs closet and the UB2400 was replaced by a 3COM and the GDC and Cisco1000 removed.

Somewhere about the same time ASI moved into a part of the 1st floor and tapped into the LAN. Some cat-5 cables were run. Some cat-3 cables were re-used, and it looks as if there is still an existing connection on pairs 22 & 23 of a 25-pair KTS telephone station cable.

In the picture you can see the new 3COM hub on a wire shelf (pulled from a company van) sitting above the KTS units and power supply, the mix of cat-3 and cat-5 cabling. To the left of the shelf that ugly mass of wire is the feeder cable from the basement mainframe (this is an old operator services building with what used to be a small switchroom in the basement.) A close look will reveal a couple of the cables are carrying two LAN circuits -- not quite acceptable wiring practices.

I'll be upgrading to new Cisco switches in the near future, along with migrating and upgrading the wiring to a proper cat-5 patch panel that will meet current company standards. Not visible in the picture was a second KTS rack mounted on the wall above the Hub. I spent today removing that hub and now have a clear 27 inch wide by 3-4 feet tall clear backboard for mounting the cat-5 patch.

Posted by at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

Poor Attendence

Walk into work this morning -- the boss has a problem. The Word From On High is that attenence has to improve by 20%. Apparently SBC has a problem with people calling in sick, injured and/or dead. Unfortunetly for my boss, our organization, OCS, has the best attendence in all 13 states. Our workgroup has the best in the organization. One incident in the last 5 years. Going to be difficult to improve upon.

Boss was at a meeting where the program they use to explain tardies and absences was being discussed. He asked, "What if it's all zeros?" The other supervisors threw things at him.

I pity you folks who have to work for a living. I'm going to go my first cup of coffee and then hook up with the LAN Designer about my ugliest site and how it will be upgraded.

Posted by at 07:30 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2003

I'm beat!

Took off from work last week, which is why there were not log entries. Got back yesterday to catch up on everything that was put off 'til I got back. A dead printer, a misdirected printer, a laptop that won't boot -- the usual. The Laptop frustrated me, told the boss it needed to be rebricked, but that the CD's were with his other crew in North Hollywood.

So they arrived this morning. Dug out the ex-boss's old laptop so the Tech could have a working PC to log on with -- except it has the old brick and is rejected by the server. He takes the easy route, call dispatch. I go to re-brick two laptops. Interruptions:

Get a call from next door, LAN is down on the 2nd floor. There is faint beeping from behind the locked door of the terminal room. Drop what I am doing and hustle next door. -- aside: normally when I walk into a room people cheer as I am there to fix their problems. Since the LAN is down I walk in to people playing TaiPai and solitaire and I get offers to be taken to breakfast before starting work. &*#$@* Engineers -- Open and enter the terminal room, hubs are dark and the un-interruptable power supply is beeping. Pull the AC cords from the UPS and plug into wall outlets. LAN restores. Go back out and announce in a room filling voice to Get Back To Work. "I still can't connect!" REBOOT you Idiot!

Bump into Bob on the way out -- the new Cayman is in, can I stop by to set it up? Sure, just have to finish bricking a laptop....

Back in my shop I am feeding the set of 5 CDs, Symantec Ghost, to the two laptops. Fourth disk errors out reading a file. You would think that it would say, 'hey, I can't read the disk, clean and retry!' No. It says wanna report on the A: drive? (no) fine, I quit.

Clean the lens of the CD drive. Start over 'cept I clean and polish each CD before inserting. Finish about an hour and a half later. Go over to see Bob and his new Cayman, which is another story.

Posted by at 07:23 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2003

Oh! my aching bones!

Every once in a while I do actual physical work. Yeasterday and this morning for example.

Yeasterday the disconnects for my T1 feeds to the old LAN were due. Called the NIC/NOC/NMC or whoever they are that monitor the network and them that the Old LAN was going to drop off the radar. They cheered.

Pulled the Encore DL200, the Phoenix, and the three GDC553's; and associated cables. Tossed the lot on the cart. This left the two Cisco 4000's with no WAN connections, so I pulled them out and tossed them on the cart. The Ethernet connections, now dead, lead to Ungerman-Bass 8-port AUI hubs. Rip and Toss. They fed Ungerman Bass Access One hubs -- five of them. Rip and Toss. Also led to the old Cabletrons. Got to the one in the 2.1 terminal room -- rip and toss. Also a 16-port 10baseT UB access stack, rip and set aside.

This morning I had a disconnect on another DL200 at the Torrance training center. Then back to Carson where I continued the rip and toss. Out of the 5.2 I pull the Cabletron MMAC8. Figure I might as well pull out the other dead equipment -- an old asychronous multiplexer and the four 9600bps feed circuits/modems.

Posted by at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2003


I tell young people:

Life is moments of highs and moments of lows connected by vast stretches of neither. A good life is when the highs outweigh the lows.

These last few days have been most un-memorable.

Posted by at 05:44 AM | Comments (1)

April 04, 2003

Helena Oakley

She said she told someone about her black dress and they wanted a picture of her in it. But if she is going to wear the dress she just has to wear her Tony Lama boots. And with the boots could she pretty please borrow my hat? {bat eyelashes} "It would really look cool if I were holding the carbine." {/bat eyelashes}

How could I turn her down?

For the record, that is a Browning 1892, made in Japan about the late '70's, IIRC. It holds 12 rounds of .44 magnum. It has only been fired a dozen times or so. It is too pretty to alter, and that steel buttplate plus light weight makes the recoil a bit uncomfortable.

She said she'll be putting up the full size picture on her website, nookiecookies.com

Posted by at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2003


It's not all the latest gigabit ethernet that I get to play with. Trouble comes first, and the trouble report on my desk this morning was for a PACE terminal. ("PACE" is an acronym for something to do with plug-in equipment inventory.) Tube has no display. Call customer, the display is an AT&T 705 dumb terminal -- two rs-232 comm ports, 80 columnx25 line amber display. So I go back into the storeroom and dust off the single boxed 705 we have -- it's been untouched for a couple or three years. Roll down to Wilmington, leave it in the van while I go upstairs (of course) to check the situation.

Yep, it's a 705, power is good, keyboard lights function, twiddle the brightness and contrast knobs without as much as a glimmer from the screen. Unplug, set aside, go down to the van and haul the replacement up. Plug in, power up, looks good:

That was the easy part. As you can see from the above photo, the terminal is connected to a barcode scanner and both a 9600 four-wire ADN point-to-point modem and a backup 14,400 dial-up modem.

Call PACE HotLine, get some options, plug them in, not getting linked. Switch the modem cable to the other comm port. When I hit keys I am getting a Send Data light; but no Receive Data back and no keyboard echo. Call the number that reported the trouble, who connects me to another, who bridges on another, who finally figure they don't handle that old stuff and referred me back to the Helpline that didn't help in the first place.

Hey, I know when I'm up against the wall -- but I have friends. Pull up WebPhone, look up Louis Morrow -- hell, I haven't talked to the guy for a couple of years anyhow. Chat for a while, catching up on family, "Louis, I have a small problem I need a little help on." Check the options, fine. Louis has me loop up the ADN modem, I can see myself typing. Release it and it kicks the modem on the far end back to life and I get a log-on prompt. People may think I know it all but it's a bluff -- I merely know those who do know it all (or at least that part of all that I do not know.)

Posted by at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2003

Ripout -- or try to

Who was it that thought he was King Kong? And why did he mount my jack panels with an impact driver?

Spent most of the day gently -- as in you do Not want to pull a working connection out -- removing the cables and patch panels for the old Cabletron. Cut the heads off the 25-pair cables and carefully slip out of the bundles of cat-5 cables and the fiber jumpers. Try to unscrew the patch panels. Get larger screwdriver, lean heavily into the screw, grip tightly, use forearm motion rather than wrist to turn -- ignore the pain of palm skin trying to rip.

Please, everyone -- electronics are not generally subjected to vibrations, the screws are not really required to hold back great forces, you do NOT need to tighten screws anywhere past 'snug'. If it is not loose it is good.

Posted by at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2003

New Project

The group got a preliminary design on the fax machine today -- supposed to add 26 phones and LAN connections into an existing building. After, of course, real estate gets the place cleaned out and rebuilt as an office. I didn't dodge fast enough and it's my project.

So I go over and scope out the place. There's an existing LAN, a pair of GDC553's matched to a pair of Cisco 2500's and three 24-port hubs, one of which is downstairs. I can extend the cat-5 patch panel to handle 26 more positions (run four 4-pair to each position), no problem other than needing conduits run when they construct the office. But the LAN needs upgrading to Cisco 2610's and 24-port Cisco 10/100 switches. Minor problem.

But downstairs.... yuck! The hub is just sitting on a wire shelf in the 1.1 with a mix of cat-5 cables direct hub to floor, some cat-3 cables, some cables split to carry two ethernet circuits on one 4-pair cable, and even some running on spare pairs of the 25-pair KTS (Key Telephone System - the antiques with light up button to select lines) cables.

Posted by at 03:32 PM | Comments (0)