back to article BOFH: The Great Patch Mismatch

"It's just a minor ROM patch." the service engineer bleats "It'll only take five minutes." "Yeah... Nah," the PFY says. "It's minor - just addresses a couple of memory leaks and and cookie issues in the web interface." "Yeah. Nah," I repeat. "It's just the interface - the UPS will be completely unaffected!" "Nope," the …

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Halon inspires striptease

"I think the most important question in response to that story is was she attractive?"

She worked in IT.

Nuff sed.

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UPS Clusters, who'd have 'em?

Also helps if the engineer that comes in to service UPS1 of your very expensive UPS cluster is told by the UPS company that the recent firmware update now means that when he pushes the big red shutdown button it turns off BOTH UPS in the cluster, rather than just the UPS he is working on like he is used to.

Ahh the sound of silence.....

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Mushroom

HAAAALLLLOOOONN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

how's this for fun? we had a pcb plant server with super-clean specs to go with our super-clean area ; in which we made nasa and defense ind boards. the designer sold the company on a system that would protect the server from fire using halon, and a hermetically sealed room to keep everything unfiltered out. marvy! it was designed so that positive pressure from the aircon system kept the door sealed airtight , and in time of fire, airtight baffles would shoot into place to seal the ducts to prevent halon from venting into the production zones.

the cdc would have been proud to use the setup as a lab. about a year into operation, lights and sirens erupted due to a short caused in an external upgrade of the server wiring system [ adding yet another strobe]. our current ITLord's habit of getting his coffee-cup [and wick] wet in hr saved his life. the halon fired, the resulting pressure being calculated for the ORIGINALLY DESIGNED server enclosure of nearly three times that size....

someone could probably calculate the pressure/tons per squre inch for us, doesn't matter... the door could not be opened, the clever "in case of fire power-interruption circuits" inside the enclosure couldn't be reset, and the stupid allen-key lock-release for the door was useless because it couldn't be pushed in the quarter-inch to slide it over.

they were forced to bust through one of the very costly walls with a sledge, putting concrete dust everywhere, and spreading it throughout production along with the halon. my roundly ignored , low-man advice of drilling a vent-hole and then patching the priceless door was roundly nay-sayed. so i didn't suggest drilling the wall [ half meter concrete with 1cm epoxy resin sealer-coat ]. costly clean-up , and a weeks production lost... because they jackhammered through the wall to get to the circuits..

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Re: HAAAALLLLOOOONN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some years ago, I was up to date on all work, everything was running smoothly and I had nothing to do. So, I decided to help out the desktop crew, as they were shorthanded and overwhelmed with work.

So, I proceeded to the old mux room, which only had one rack of servers in it, the onsite backup tapes stored and the desktop service crew.

It still had its halon system operational, which is part of one's briefing when one first starts work at the IS shop of the hospital, where all halon systems are and where the inhibit button is located.

I began looking at a problematic model of portable nurse station cart. It had been a problem since it was first acquired and was losing ground quickly.

I fired up one cart and within seconds, it appeared that I used real fire to fire it up. Smoke billowed merrily up from the motherboard, curling happily toward the halon system smoke detector.

Three of us dove to the inhibit button, myself with one hand on the door opener. Our hands hovering over the button, we waited and were rewarded with silence.

And so was born a new respect for Lowest Bidder Engineering Services.

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IT Angle

Foot note should not be included in an otherwise excellent article. I've never worked in IT like that and yet it was still immediately obvious what the halon was for.

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Silver badge

Where I work they use an argon/nitrogen mixture

branded with the proprietary name argonite.

Supposedly, if the oxygen concentration drops below 15%, almost all fires are extinguished.

The system is calibrated to drop the oxygen content to about 12.5% by displacement, which will keep you alive if you are caught, but is probably quite uncomfortable.

I don't intend to try it, not after going through an oxygen depletion experiment at school many years ago (probably not even allowed now), where I breathed the same air over and over through a CO2 filter. You don't start breathing heavily (it's the CO2 that makes your body believe that it's suffocating) and you just can't think or do anything. I was told that I looked very silly by the rest of the class not able to answer even the simplest question. Fortunately, the teacher liked me enough to take the mask off before I passed out.

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Bronze badge

Re: Where I work they use an argon/nitrogen mixture

>I was told that I looked very silly by the rest of the class not able to answer even the simplest question

Airplans are pressurised to 8,000 ft (2,400 m), giving about 75% osygen levels compared to sea level. Even at that level, writing reports and answering email is probably a mistake. More recent airplanes are pressurized to lower levels (the Airbus 380 runs at 5000ft equivilant).

Pilots have an idependent oxygen supply they can use, but even so, it's probably lucky that they come down to a lower altidute before attempting to land.....

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There are two main problems in a datacentre

Fire and ugly bags of mostly water.

Halon or C02 takes care of both of these problems...

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underfloor

Our halon discharge happened when a student stepped on a heat detector while running wires in the under-flooring. Heat detectors trigger when they notice an open circuit.

We didn't obtain new halon afterwards. Although, the heat detector was originally a good idea, given the 50 cm thick layer of ~1600 mainframe cables under the three dozen port concentrators.

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Halon or halonite

The first place I worked at had a Halon 2402 system and at the far end of the room opposite the door was had a emergency exit trap door thing. Was told normally the red lights would flash and the fire alarm sounders would sound then 5 seconds later whoost . But they had just found out were was no 5 second delay after they had the system checked out by another vendor who serviced the rest of the building's fire systems.

Nice.

Was also told if it ever did trigger the replacement gas would be different as "this stuff decomposes when it gets hot and likely kill you".

Funny they had a smokers area 50 feet from the main building in the back next to the on-site archive tape store.....

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Headmaster

Pedant alert

A ROM patch? Surely the engineer meant an E²PROM patch?

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FAIL

RTFM

APC UPSs don't need a reboot when you change the battery - hold the power button in (the one marked "I") and it will commence a self-test (or start a self-test from the management interface). That clears the fault.

I've never had to reboot one for a battery replacement.

Young people today know nothing...

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Re: RTFM

The reason young people today know nothing (and I place myself squarely in that category) is actually pretty simple; it boils down to documentation.

First, documentation today is generally terrible. It used to be that you'd get a giant manual with everything from a bag of case screws to the newest software; these days, you're lucky if it comes with a web address printed on the box. Or a box, for that matter. And good luck finding something that wasn't translated by someone using Google Translate.

Second, in the 'old days', there were hobbyists that held on to documentation (or wrote it themselves); these days, there are so many versions of things, not to mention off-brands and knockoffs, finding complete documentation is almost impossible. Even the manufacturers don't know how their own products work. (1)

And third, we have the Internet. What used to take hours searching stacks of books and dialing obscure BBS's now takes a two-second Google search - and that's what The Boss expects. Need eight hours to find the documentation to turn off an annoying beep? Ha! Live with it or reboot it!

(1) In trying to debug some ancient, arcane hardware, I was given the private home number of a septuagenarian hobbyist - the only person in the world who knows how their hardware worked. Turns out he actually worked for their competition 20 years ago...

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Anonymous Coward

different fire suppression angle

once worked in a room with FM200 gas for fire suppression.

Guess what all the Administrator passwords (complexity requirement: two or more letters, two or more numbers) were on the servers?

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Always remember

All important patches on mission essential equipment should be applied one hour or less before COB on the last day of the work week.

This will ensure your efforts will be awarded with the maximum amount of high rate overtime.

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