back to article 'Idiot' pulls cables, downs ISPs at Telecity

A hamfisted worker at colo provider Telecity shut down "several" ISPs and their customers across the country when he started pulling plugs at one of its datacentres late last night. The hapless wire-scrapper then proceeded to make matters worse, by trying to fix the mess himself. El Reg hasn't been able to discover the …

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Thats what happens when

you allow an NT expert near comms kit

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Just like the old days....

...when we used to have a supplier who sent in their man every now and then to do an upgrade of something or other. Anyway, he had an annoying habit of just powering off machines by the power button on the front. Inevitably, it was the wrong machine.

He was affectionately known as Pokey Pat. He was so good at it that he managed to shut down a MicroVAX when he was supposed to be working on a Wintel Tower.

Subsequently, he was barred from the computer room (yet somehow escaped a beating)

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Happy

So the biggest threat...

.. to our internet security is not actually some terrorist organisation or enemy government....

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Paris Hilton

wot no web server

So thats why our webserver went offline overnight .. ta for the update :)

Paris as she likes to pull on long things too.

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Access Control

Being an engineer for an ISP I take access control in my stride, requiring multiple IDs, pre-authentication, the right badge etc etc etc..... THEN! Then let some idiot & Son in to pull cables.... Most datacenters are extremely tidy which is a total contrast to some customer end comms rooms with cables laying everywhere. I really wish some IT Managers would pull there finger out and sort out the mess I encounter everyday, no wonder things get accidentally pulled out. If it happens to you the 1st thing to do is tell someone and show them exactly what you did.

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A change of career

... ahead. Maybe to financial sector? Oh, wait ...

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Anonymous Coward

It is always them

they cannot keep their sticky little fingers off the frikin equipment.

This is the difference; developer's love the equipment and cherish it, they dance with it in a cyberbraced tribute to logic and intelligence.

Dave, the big red button pusher, though has no concept of the underlying beauty of how this is all orchestrated so they just rip cables, inbetween scratching between their buttocks and picking their nose, in a deperate bid to evolve from the subpar primeval soup they have just emerged from. Oaths.

Oh, they are always called Dave.

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Linux

BOFH

This is something I could have seen being written about in a BOFH article, where the PFY did it to piss off management, but not in real like. Who would have thought any IT personnel could be so stupid.

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Worthy of a prize

/me checks day... hmm still not Friday... This is worthy of a BOFH award... high powered catle prod where the sun don't shine ;)

Would be nice to see this enacted in BOFH...

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Comedy

Are you sure they weren't filming a segment for a David Mitchell sketch show?

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Paris Hilton

"Please make him stop!"

I've just had a coffee-monitor incident.

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Boffin

hahahahahahaha

Don't they have locked cabinets? How can such a muppet even have access in the first place? And as for plugging cables back in randomly, weren't they labelled?

Speaking as an ex-cable monkey who stripped a tier-1 hub and rebuilt it in a single maint slot :D

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Pirate

Cabling

I've stopped counting the number of time I've seen that sort of things happen in a data centre. The best excuse I ever heard was "we didn't know what this big yellow cable was so we cut through it" after we discovered that the hapless hacks hired by one of our customers to "clean up" the spaghetti junction that was their data centre had been slightly over-zealous. For some reason, the traders who couldn't get any market info until the ethernet backbone was replaced weren't very impressed.

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A&A

What's more worrying is the fact the guy even had a tech job, and was then let loose in a data centre unsupervised. A remotely controlled fire suppression system could have nipped this problem in the bud quickly. Gas the feckers next time. (Before they start fixing things)

Can't fault Andrews & Arnold whenever there is a problem tho. They blog everything so you know where you stand, and you can normally grab the techs in IRC if there is an ongoing issue. Compare that to the drones that service the lines of the 'big' ISP's, its pretty refreshing!

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Happy

CAUTION CONTENTS MAY BE HOT!

"Datahop staff then contacted Telecity and told them to make him stop, and banned him from touching anything."

Brilliant that just makes me laugh so much, picturing some perplexed looking bloke with a vacuum cleaner in one hand and a bunch of cables in the other.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm, coincidence or what ?

We had our service down for about 4 hours (shortly after midnight to shortly before 4am). But, we couldn't contact our ISPs local router so either it's a co-incidence, or our connection is trunked all the way to London which seems an odd way of doing it.

We have a fibre connection from Thus (previously Yourcomms). Knowing what I do about their local topology, I was sure there's a Cisco router at the local POP.

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Well, it happens at railroads

I hope the guy contacts his union on the double to claim his cruelly-exploited, thus-overly-tired-and-no-longer-responsible-for-his-own-actions worker status. He can then be reinstated after having been given a suitable monetary compensation for emotional distress.

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You just can't get the staff these days...

hahahaha

hahaha

haaa

WTF?

How embarrassing....

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Flame

Life Imitates Art? Or vice-versa?

What I want to know is did the local BOFH use the CAT5-Mains adapter, or self-locking comms cupboard?

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Stop

Job Posting "ID10T Cable Monkey seeks new employment"

obviously Qualified to sit about all night drinking lots of coffee, surfin 4 pron.

New Telecity job vacancy.

Critical qualifications:

1. To actually be truthfull on your CV.

2. Actually know what the hell your doing when wondering about near Racks stuffed with miles of cableing.

3. Ability to leave cat6 and fibre racks alone when bored. or using overhead cables and ducting as things to swing from.

4. Have at least 4 years hands on experience in data centres and in IT.

STOP..... Monkeying around...

Employ someone who is experienced instead of some monkey that has lots of worthless CBT qualifications and no real world experience. There's plenty of unemployed Good techies out there.

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Stu
Pirate

ISP Roaming!

Plugged them back in randomly eh!?

So this must be the first case of ISP data roaming - cue bad joke about roaming data charges.

.

I agree, the person responsible is an idiot, more so. Clearly somebody let entry into a 'comms' cabinet or two who is irresponsible enough to make it worse by plugging them back in at random. I mean, who nowadays who works in server/networking or even cable routing DOESNT realise that the correct ports matter? Did the prick also try plugging a fibre cable into an RJ45 port?

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TelevirginNTLwest Media had several major outages this week

maybe this was the cause of one of them?

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Joke

@ BOFH (Jamie)

"Who would have thought any IT personnel could be so stupid."

You have never been to a Telehouse / Telecity site have you..........

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Let he who casts the first stone,.....

Anyone who comments on here probably just feels guilty because they once did something equally boneheaded but they either got away with it or else they managed to cover it up.

I know I have done a bonehead before but not for a while now.

Nobody's perfect and anyone who has worked a night shift knows how easy it is to make mistakes when yer tired and overworked. It's easy enough to get the wrong rack in those warrens and some of the places I have worked just entering the server room was dangerous due to birds nest wiring.

So, go easy on the poor muppet as it could easily have been you.

And before you all tell me that you would never make such an obvious mistake, you are either lying or else you think you are God (in which case you should be in Sales!). <LOL>

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Coat

To quote THHG, 'oh no, not again'

This is depressingly predictable and well short of the worst case, just quite visible right now.

I could tell stories of the raised floor void being used as the pizza fridge by night shift, cable trays that nobody would work on because of the ops staff nasty habit of vomiting through the floor hole in the bottom of the rack after a heavy night out and it running along the cables until dry, large Internet systems you have almost certainly used being taken out by a VP deciding to shut a rack door on the bulging 'messy' cabling to clean up for a customer visit, vendor engineers who can't tell which is the failed PSU by the big red light on it and pull the working one with the big green light taking out a financial platform... But I won't...

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Anonymous Coward

At least is wasn't the wrong house

By happy coincidence, the BBC is running a story at the moment about some id10t builders who did something similar: they went to a house and ripped out the interiors ready for demolition... except it was the wrong house, and the occupier was just away on holiday.

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Pirate

I did it once...

A long time ago, in Outback Australia where nerds are rare, I was once called in to do a routine check on a rack for a largeish wholesaling / retailing ISP. I'd never done anything with these people before...

One of their tasks was to 'run a diagnostic' on their APC UPS and report on battery levels, etc.

There was a nice familiar looking 9 pin serial connector on the back of the UPS, and I just happened to have a nice 9 pin modem cable and a copy of HyperTerminal - so figured it'd be a 9600,none,8,1 connection followed by a ? to learn what commands the UPS knew..

Instead, upon connection of the cable I got a clunk, and a sudden drop in white noise as a number of fans ceased to fanerize. A quick trip to the front of the rack and press of a power button on said UPS returned the room to it's former white noisiness, which was soon interrupted by a number of calls to my mobile wondering what happened.

So, a lesson here is that just because it looks like the plug goes in the hole, it might not be the right type of plug! (And even today I wonder at the logic that someone would design a connector like that which if used with the wrong lead would immediately power down the UPS.)

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Happy

What an R'tard

Nuff said.

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Nothing new

Hey if cleaners can up plug machines in hospitals to hover up why not over night staff pulling plugs in a data centre?

You would at least expect them to leave him with a techie that knows what hes doing?

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Been there, experienced that

Gave a system admin a bundle of fibre cables going to the SAN during a lease return and told him to unplug them from the patch panel. I go around the other side to pull up cables from another returning storage array, I come around the front and he has a wonderful grin on his face of "boy did I do a good job". Unfortunately mine I'm sure was a look of horror, instead of unplugging the bundle of 15-20 cables I handed to him, he unplugged *ALL* the fibre cables in the patch panel. I grunt and squeek something in ununderstandable half words and run out of the datacenter (leaving him perplexed as to what happened but knowing that it wasn't good), on my way through the building I yell at the ops folks that "shit is going down" they say "what stuff?" I say "everything!". Get to my laptop pull up the cable report (that I luckily had updated 2 days before), run back in the datacenter tell him to get out of the way and I start plugging things back in. Spent the next 2 hours getting filesystems and databases happy again.

It's kinda funny now, back then it wasn't so much

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Unhappy

@Big_Boomer

"And before you all tell me that you would never make such an obvious mistake, you are either lying or else you think you are God (in which case you should be in Sales!). <LOL>"

OK, I'll bite.

About four years ago, tracing and auditing comm lines prior to a PBX upgrade at a large department store, identified and tagged all except two. For the life of us we couldn't figure out where they went, so we disconnected them, figuring that whoevers service we had just cut off would get on the phone sharpish.

Which would have been fine, had they not been the emergency phones in the lifts. And had one of the lifts not subsequently broken down over the weekend, trapping a box full of customers between floors for several hours until someone heard their plaintive cries for help and called the Otis engineers to rescue them.

Whoops.

Damn right I'm posting this one anonymously!

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Boffin

@big_boomer

Well done for being honest. And yes, I have done it too.

I was trying to sort out the mess left by the previous incumbent - I've eaten spaghetti that was tidier than his cable work. After having stripped out all of the co-axial cable that was running between walls, over ceilings, along gutters covered in green slime, through drains covered in brown slime, it filled up a 15 cubic metre skip and still had loads left over to nearly fill a second skip.

The best bit was the point where 2 cables were joined in an electric terminal block - he had jammed a 3 inch nail through to make the connection. And yes, there was also 2 live electric cables in the other part of the block!

Unfortunately, I also removed the cable for the CCTV feed. We only found out 2 weeks later when they turned it on for the first time in a couple of months. As you can tell, security was a high priority.

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Isn't this exactly...

...what that guy in San Francisco was afraid of. Looks like he was right, just a few miles off. I guess stupidity is more pervasive than we feared.

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Stop

@Big_Boomer - Sorry but no.

I might have been forgiving if he had stopped when told to stop. Not stopping by plugging wires back in randomly disqualifies him for any sympathy. He is a dangerous idiot and should be fired.

And yes I certainly have made a few boneheaded mistakes in my time. However, not knowing what "STOP! DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!" means isn't one of them.

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Customer service?

This is probably the same prat who when I was helping a client install linux and finding the rack KVM keyboard unusable, found that borrowing a keyboard was going to cost 250+VAT as a "support callout". Thankfully the client told the bod on duty "No thanks" and we then rummaged through the company lockers.

Lo we found a old kB and managed to continue with the install. When the prat saw us using a keyboard he stormed in shouting "where did you get that keybaord from!". Thsi time my client told this idiot to go F**k himself". He stormed off in a rage.

Really great customer service!

Jacqui

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Paris Hilton

Please don't make excuses

It's not a case of making a mistake, this is not having a clue

We have all closed the wrong port, pulled the wrong cable or even hit the wrong power button, shit does indeed happen.

However you do not pull a number of cables (even if you are convinced you know what they are) without tracing, marking and documenting them yourself.

You DO NOT rely on other peoples markings or documentation, because it will be wrong when it matters the most.

Once you do unplug them you secure them nearby (just incase you got it wrong), you finally remove the unplugged cables once you are sure things are still fine (leaving at least a full regular working day is best)

If told to stop then you do exactly that

I'm sorry but there are too many muppets in the IT business already, without trying to up skill the canteen staff with the thought of cutting costs.

I personally never had any issues when the some developers & server staff strung fibre and CAT5 at head height across aisles on a data centre, when they tryied to bypass the comms dept I previously worked in.

My shift partner and myself could work wire cutters perfectly well, and amazingly it only took 8 cables to be cut before they actually raised a work request to have their new boxes installed. Though the last 3 times we did cut it into several sections to make the point

Apparently the 1st five times where ignored becasue they only thought that somebody had caught the cable and had some sort of accident (yeah go figure)

Paris cos she stops after removing things from orifices

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Dead Vulture

Easier way to power down computers

My favourite is the contractor who changed the burned out light bulbs in the computer room. It seems that one of the steps on his step-ladder was the exact same height as the emergency power off (EPO) button beside the door. And, guess where he leaned his step-ladder on the way out? Any idea of what a room full of mainframes sounds like when the EPO button is pushed?

But, the even better part is the contractor who came in to put a shield around the EPO button so that random step-ladder leanings wouldn't hit the button. The first thing he did was to bring his step-ladder into the room and lean it against the wall beside the door. <CLUNK!> Yes, again. :-(

Dave

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Developers

"developer's love the equipment and cherish it, they dance with it in a cyberbraced tribute to logic and intelligence"

Another case of the look at me.. I'm important because I know perl/php <insert other simple language here> Ive been a sysadmin for 8 years and you wont believe the number of times developers have fucked up databases or web servers. Number of failures by NOC or by Sysadmin ... 0.

As for TCR, they are IMHO a shit ISP (we are at their prospect house facility). They have absolutlly no concept of security... dont believe me? Phone up their support tell them you are from say Discovery/Google and ask them to reboot your servers....

They NEVER ask for authentication of who you are... Bad move TCR!!!

And linx are in bed with them... we're doomed!

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APC UPS

-Yeah I found out that APC has weird pin out that if you use any cable other than their will shut the damn unit down. Bastards

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Paris Hilton

@BOFH

Err... didn't Simon just pen a nice story about cabling cowboys? My how life imitates art.

Paris because she's clueless too.

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Silver badge

Patch Panel Russian Roulette

Oh it's a fun game, can also be played with U-links in TV racks - whoever takes you off air loses...

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But seriously...

There's a lot of people expected to work long hours in the IT industry. I know what it feels like. I know what it can do to my mental state.

We don't know why this guy did what he did, but I've heard enough stories about Programmer Death Marches. And the sort of thing he did: it feels familiar.

I'd suggest that there is an institutional recklessness in IT management. Most of the bugs you curse in the software you use are probably down to the same ultimate cause: an excess of programmers running on pizza and Jolt cola.

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Why did they put the button there?

Tech going into one of our client's computer rooms saw it was dark, put his hand around the door to find the light switch, found a switch and pushed it ...

I wasn't there, but I imagine the silence emanating from a previously humming server / comms room when you hit the Master UPS Shutdown button would be deafening ...

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Happy

@Dave

EPO stories are my favorite.

i love the look on our data center's Facilities Manager when I tell new Ops guys that EPO stands for "Everyone Push Once".

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Heart

Dear Jim (boss)

Thanks for sticking up for me there. I promise not to tell anyone I was pinching the cables for your xbox 360.

Still. I think we got away with it this time.

It's not going to affect our contract to host the new ID card database is it ?

You are the best boss in the whole world.

Love you ! xx

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Paris Hilton

Nuff said...

Been there, not quite done that... It's an easy screwup to make but one that only a noob should make.

Document, document and document before you unplug anything, I carry a label printer for just that but I generally find the best thing is to get someone else to hit the big red switch or pull the requisite cables/fibres.

It's so much fun watching a sysadmin pull the mains on the *wrong* mail server or storage controller (it happens more often than you'd imagine).

Yeah, I'm the BSEH, Bastard Service Engineer from Hell. I'll be the one with a *huge* smirk on my face, arms folded and sucking my teeth when you down your SAN by accident.

Paris (yay, she's back), because I'd be smiling if she went down too....

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Done a few oopsies myself through the years...

Once back when we used leased 64Kbps lines and I learned(self taught. Leaving manuals near me is dangerous) how to switch on compression on the routers...

Talking a user through telnetting into a router and changing the port settings is... painful...

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No wonder this happened.

I was actually in HEX 8/9 when the chaos broke loose, although it was on a different floor AFAIK (we were on 3F).

The security at TC, on paper, looks good. Sign in at building reception to get your visitor pass, then to TC reception to get your card (and you need 2 forms of ID and a random number emailed to the cage owner).

In practise though, it's trivial to get into TC and start yanking crap out WITHOUT any of that. Hell, we got our delivery driver, with no ID on him, all the way into the cage without any checks at all. And HEX8/9 3F is completely unpatrolled.

So I'm not really surprised by this. Needless to say none of my own boxes are hosted at Telecity premises (my employer's are though).

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Redbus eh

I am not sure that the network admins in that place have actually ever seen a physical cab. I used to work in a datacentre and rebus was one of our clients. They had four cabs, with 2Mb connections. Eventually they filled all four cabs. They used to phone up and ask for port swaps. However I don't think they stopped to consider the physical nature of of nearly 400 2Mb co-ax connections. They certainly didn't stop to consider the consequence of repeated swapping from port 2 to port 45 on cab 1 and port 18 to port 50 on cab 3, and so on and so on.

We attempted to tell them their cabs were become a nightmare to work on. So we invited him in to sort it out. Ho ho ho. We had to strip all the cables out and start again, as it was impossible to do any more work on the cabs. The cabs resembled some kind of network bondage session.

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