back to article Packet switching pickle prompts potential pecuniary problems

Our warmest of wishes to you all on this fine Monday. Let us provide you with some of El Reg’s finest word sustenance, with this week’s Who, Me? This time, our trip down the cringeworthy memory lane is led by a chap we’ll name “Bryce”. In about 1989, Bryce made what was technically a rather costly mistake for his company – …

  1. Steve Kerr

    Talking of massive bills.

    Back in my first job, used to have to download oil drilling data from drilling rigs in the North Sea (back in 1987)

    Had a few ways of doing this, most involved setting up a comms link at the heady speeds of 4800, sometimes 9600 if managed to use the leased line link up to the goonhilly satellite base station.

    So trying to get a comms link running with over an inmarsat link, in those days, had to pay for the satellite uplink and downlink costs, so everything was double cost - at £5.87 a minute times two plus vat

    Spent 8 hours trying to get a comm link going with BP - we worked out that the bill was probably around 5 and a half grand minimum, and it never worked!

    Fun times

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge


      I know what the problem was, it was currently staring blindly through the Vogon constructa fleet ship hovering above it like a brick.

      Don't feel bad, nobody else saw them either.


      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Goonhilly?

        Nah, they were just having a grump as Dr Who decided to go play at Jodrell Bank instead ;)

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Goonhilly?

        Don't be silly, everyone knows that Vogon ships hang in the air in much the same way that bricks don't.

    2. jmch Silver badge

      At some point it would probably have been cheaper to have someone bung it on a floppy on the rig and helicopter it back to base.

      1. Glen 1 Bronze badge

        Never underestimate the bandwidth of a (metaphorical) truck full of hard drives

        1. Down not across Silver badge

          Close. As I recall, Andy originally said : "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway"

          1. jake Silver badge


            That was "Never underestimate the bandwidth capability of a station wagon full of mag tape" (as opposed to punched tape, presumably), often attributed to Taunannbaum in the late '90s ... However, it was a common expression when I was at DEC long before that ... and I remember a similar comment from a student at Stanford in the early '80s[0] when a professor expressed surprise at one of the vaxen already running the latest 3BSD build, released just a few hours before. Conversation went "How on earth did you get that code across the network that fast?" answer was "My motorcycle's latency might be sub-par, but it still has a much higher bandwidth capability than your network!".

            [0] Might have been as early as 1979. Was early-on in the 3BSD era, anyway ... Use of the VAX's virtual memory[1] system was an exciting thing back then, thus the 0-dark-thirty bike ride.

            [1] Why did you think they called it vmunix?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Quotes.

              "Taunannbaum"? I have no idea where the hell THAT came from, I didn't even have the excuse of a cat clambering over the keybr0ad as I typoed ... if ast is reading here, he's probably laughing his ass off! :-)

      2. swm Bronze badge

        A Xerox customer would create print jobs on some hard drives and then unplug them and move the drives to a printer to print the job. This was much faster than sending the print job through a directly connected ethernet.

  2. defiler Silver badge

    Back in my NetWare days

    We had a moderate-sized client. 5 UK offices, plus two or three overseas (which luckily didn't factor into this!). IPX across the board, with a bunch of 3Net routers linking the UK offices together. All worked pretty well until one day the phone bill came in. Thousands of pounds on ISDN calls. They called BT and requested an itemised bill, which turned up in a box...

    Turns out that one of the network printers had had its network interface replaced, and the new card was broadcasting its availability across the WAN every 2 minutes. All the lines came up to deliver a handful of packets, and they'd time out and hang up again. Then they'd dial and hang up, dial and hang up, every two minutes for three months until the bill was issued.

    Add them up and it's over 85000 calls, all at minimum charge. Ouch

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Back in my NetWare days

      We had the same problem - the UK accounting folks wanted direct access to the US accounting so we were ordered to install an ISDN connection for them ... after the first months $1200 bill they decided that it wasn't that important.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Back in my NetWare days

        "ordered to install an ISDN connection for them ... after the first months $1200 bill they decided that it wasn't that important."

        What did they say when they found out it was a ten year contract?

        I still have a couple clients who are locked into paying for low bandwidth BRI ISDN. One poor sap is still paying for 2B+D; he got suckered into a "low cost" 30 year contract in 1991 and $TELCO won't let him off the hook!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Back in my NetWare days

          Jeez, I won't even sign up for a 5 year contract with BT for anything. Things change fast and new technologies or ways of working come out all the time. It is almost always cheaper to put it on a 1 year contract and renegotiate each year for (dedicated fibre link) as the price drops so often, or you can get a speed increase for the same price.

          Even just the fact that BT sales guys and gals are so keen to sell you a five year contract (it will always be their first quote) that you know they are making loads of commision out of it and you know that is because you are likely to lose out over the long term.

        2. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Back in my NetWare days

          Anyone dumb enough to sign up for a 30 year contract for anything technology related deserves everything they get.

          Though one almost wonders if the person who signed that contract back in 1991 didn't get a huge kickback from the telco...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Back in my NetWare days

            let's see, 1991 signer probably in upper 50's, upper pointy hair zone to sign off on that, meant they were still hung up on understanding push button phones, still had rotary dial on their desk.....and strangely enough the roll of "excess" carpet in the server room storage disappeared that night and a muffled voice that "sounded" like said upper phb was received by his secretary next morning saying that he was taking a medical leave of absence of indeterminate length.........

        3. Olivier2553 Silver badge

          Re: Back in my NetWare days

          If that is the case, I hope that client of yours is making mandatory for $TELCO to provide the technical solution exactly as described in the contract, forcing them to maintain obsolete equipment only for him.

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Back in my NetWare days

      Same herewith ISDN. My then employer decided to hook the small Dutch office onto our system via ISDN lines. I did warn them! After the first period bill arrived they decided they'd bundle everything up and complete it all at once rather than keep checking the system every few minutes.

    3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Back in my NetWare days

      Been there, done that at home using ISDN. Made the mistake of setting the NTP server used by the ISDN router for a server at the remote end of the line. Worked fine until the NTP server went away for whatever reason.

      Try to find time, bring up line (5p), fail, re-dial shortly thereafter.. Reconfigured it to use a local NTP server, problem solved.

    4. silks

      Re: Back in my NetWare days

      My boss had the same issue with a Patapsco ISDN backup installation - it wasn't set up properly and wasn't monitored. The first time we knew of an issue was when a £20K bill arrived in a box - fanfold printed.

    5. joewilliamsebs

      Re: Back in my NetWare days

      I'm glad we're not the only company this happened to! Legend tells that the quarterly bill was delivered in the kind of box normally used for five reams of paper and was well into five figures.

      Our saving grace was that the system had been set up that way by the consulting arm of the Bruising Telco, and I believe so much hell was raised that we ended up with a large credit on the bill instead.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Back in my NetWare days

        Looks like this happened to a significant proportion of ISDN users.

        In our case I believe we had routers that spoofed the connection - representing it as up, but only dialling when there was data for the remote subnet. Works fine with TCP/IP. Less well with NetBEUI, which insists on telling the world it's alive every few seconds.

    6. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Back in my NetWare days

      one of the network printers

      Ah yes, the joys of ISDN dial-on-demand :-)

      Some years ago my employer opened offices in a couple of other European offices - well actually I think it was some form or either joint venture or merger, but that's not important right now. Anyway, I initially setup ISDN dial on demand - we already had ISDN in our main router at HQ so just needed an ISDN-2 line at each remote office. The application in use ran on a Unix (SCO OpenServer before SCO committed suicide) using text terminals and text printers. it worked fine, when someone accessed the system, the network dialled up and apart from a second or two delay initially no-one noticed what went on in the background.

      Until that is, staff decided that the way to cancel a print job was to just turn the printer off. Being hung off a networked printer server using reverse telnet, all that happened was the Unix box back in the UK kept trying to send more data and getting told by the terminal server that it couldn't take it yet - all weekend ! I happened to notice on Monday morning, can't remember why, probably because I was having a poke around the network to see what was going on, or perhaps noticed the active print queue job.

      After management were informed of the cost of the weekend long call (around £300 IIRC), staff at the remote sites were reminded (yet again) of the correct procedure for cancelling print jobs. When we got the proper network in place (Frame Relay, who remembers that !) it became mostly moot - except when one site regularly had to run over ISDN until the telco finally did some proper tests and found the split pairs causing failures on the FR connection.

    7. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

      Re: Back in my NetWare days

      My brother decided to do a webcam of the field outside his bedroom: every hour his Sparc would take a photo from the cam and upload it via ISDN. One day there was a fault on the line: 2000+ failed (but charged per connection anyway!) attempts to upload a picture of a field. Luckily, BT didn't charge him.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Back in my NetWare days

      It was working in Bell's ISDN operation that caused Scott Adams (Dilbert) to invent the term "Confusopoly" to describe how the telcos work, because as an economist he concluded they didn't understand ISDN and nor did their customers.

    9. RancidOrange

      Re: Back in my NetWare days

      In a past life, we were forced to use Lotus Notes.

      We managed to set it up so our local server attempted a connection to the Notes hub to check for emails (and whatever else was needing to be updated) every x minutes.

      Unfortunately, whatever we thought we'd done what actually happened was as soon as it completed any data transfer and the connection terminated it would already be time to connect again.

      Meeting with the accountant to explain the first month's ISDN bill was interesting.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Back in my NetWare days

      This happened to us, as well. I has specifically warned $mgmt that this was a risk, and although I had disabled the various synchronisation things I knew of, there may be others and I was woefully undertrained. They would not fund additional training for me.

      As it turned out, there was an undocumented setting required (known only to the CNE-certified) to disable the regular 5-min check of licensing throughout the network. I didn't know of this, so I had not set it - and so the ISDN cam up every 5min to verify the licenses on the various Netware hosts

  3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    And I thought my home bill was bad..

    I still remember when I managed £100 in a month from dial up and how my Dad went ballistic over that. Kids these days with all you can eat data available anytime at home or on mobiles... They don't know they're born.

    1. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

      We held off with dial-up for some time until BT started running their free evening/weekend service. Still remember very well waiting patiently until 6pm so I could get online without being shouted at for running up a big bill. Then of course the arguments started up because we had the family PC downstairs, but I had a modem in my own PC upstairs as well - and only one could be online at a time.

      Always-on broadband and networking throughout the house was a godsend after that!

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

        My folks waited 3 months until I'd moved out before they upgraded to 256k ADSL.. By that point though I'd moved 90+ miles away and was enjoying 2mb cable... Happy times (in a rented house with crap heating using an old 15" crt to keep my fingers warm)

    2. chuBb.

      Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

      Ahhhh the good old days,

      How my parents rejoiced when first the 0845 numbers became available so at least the cost was predictable to them, then when the village luddites refused a green box to let us get ADSL, i managed to wrangle an ISDN connection out of my folks, 64k for fixed price, or if i was being naughty 128k bonded :D

      Then low and behold as soon as the luddites precious darlings wanted tinterweb ADSL happened, even if they ruined it for everyone by jamming up the contention ratio with there use of the "unneeded" fast internet.

      As an aside i do wonder if a lot of the ills in digital natives are caused by an underdeveloped sense of delayed gratification, any one who downloaded anything > 10mb on a 36k dialup certainly learnt it the hardway.....

      1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

        Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

        As an aside i do wonder if a lot of the ills in digital natives are caused by an underdeveloped sense of delayed gratification, any one who downloaded anything > 10mb on a 36k dialup certainly learnt it the hardway.....

        Indeed. I vividly remember trying to download the demo of Soldier of Fortune (terrible game really) on a 56k dialup line. 95 Mb and it took 8 hours. What was worse was that at the end of it, I discovered I'd downloaded the Soldier of Fortune demo...

        1. chuBb.

          Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

          To be fair the SoF demo had all the good bits of that game in it, 4x CDR's should go on the delayed gratification list as well....

        2. Dave K Silver badge

          Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

          I was unfortunately unable to download stuff like that. BT's unlimited evening/weekend service was useful, but it kicked you off every 2 hours, so about 35MB was as much as was possible in that 2 hours unless you crossed your fingers and used a download manager which supported resuming from where you'd left off.

          Still, this was back when demo CDs with magazines were actually useful. Still remember opening PC Format and trying out the demos on the CD that would have been impractical to download over dialup...

      2. DuchessofDukeStreet

        Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

        Back in the mid-90's (whilst living in the middle of nowhere in central England - mains gas had only arrived a few years earlier and the nearest road markings were about a mile away) we had dial-up which I generally used for the high-tech task of playing backgammon online. HWMNBO was working in a job with random shift patterns that frequently involved overnights. Neither of us quite realised that the use of modem meant that the landline phone didn't work (this is looooong before either of us had mobiles). We discovered otherwise when he ran out of petrol on a single track road several miles away on route to work. Having walked a mile or so to the nearest house and convinced them to let him to use the phone (he didn't *look* like an axe murderer....) all he got was a repeated engaged tone.

        I was really surprised when he turned up on foot back at the house at nearly midnight...and somehwat less than sympathetic when it transpired that he'd known the car had no fuel and was hoping it would make it to the next town on fumes....

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

          I used to have call-waiting enabled, until I stupidly told "friends" who thought it was very funny to continuously disconnectg me..

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

            "I used to have call-waiting enabled, until I stupidly told "friends" who thought it was very funny to continuously disconnectg me.."

            Did you RTFM to discover how to turn off call waiting for the duration of the call? It's not like $TELCO hadn't thought of that ...

            1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

              Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

              The point of having call-waiting enabled was so that my dialup connection would be broken by an important phone call.

              The odd hang-up I could tollerate. It was when my "mates" abused it that it became an issue.

              Having call-waiting on the line, and then disabling it wouldn't be of much use, would it? Sorry I wasn't clearer, and apologies for striking down your smart-arse comment.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

          "working in a job with random shift patterns"

          He worked for British Leyland, then?

          1. DuchessofDukeStreet

            Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

            British Leyland? How old do you think I am???? :-P

    3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

      Ah yeah normally I got moaned at during Half Life patches where you would have to Queue on sites like FilePlanet and on a pre-Freeserve ISP.

      I do not miss those days.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

        Ah yeah normally I got moaned at during Half Life patches where you would have to Queue on sites like FilePlanet and on a pre-Freeserve ISP.

        Ah yes, Freeserve. I hooked up cisco 2503 to HomeHighway and configured it to drop the connection every so often to stay within the free call limit. It even worked bonded. For a while. Eventually Freeserve realised and stopped bonded connections.

    4. Jay 2

      Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

      When I was looking round universities I happened to mention to my dad that one of the local choices had the ability to dial in via modem. He asked what a modem was and I must have said something along the lines of "it's what a copmuter uses to talk to another computer over using the phone". As soon as he grasped the concept that it involved the phone he immediately said "you're not getting one of them"!

    5. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

      I racked up 2 quarterly bills in a row over £700 each.. To say my parents weren't happy..........

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

        Didn't hit quite that high but only had to ding the phone bill once before my brother and I were given the okay to bring in our own lines to our basement shop. Got enough from hobbyist clients to cover costs on the hookups.

        IIRC we ended up running a Hotmetal BBS on a IIGS and a Lava controller with a McGuyvered data cable to a shelf full of "retired" HDDs.

        Harry Harrisons fictional character was our hero back then.

        1. Ian Emery Silver badge

          Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

          AH dial up internet.

          I can remember spending 3 months downloading a dirty movie; basically every night from 00:00 to 7:59:59.

          (Free off peak calls and internet package).

    6. Old Shoes

      Re: And I thought my home bill was bad..

      Many years ago when I got DSL it was on a promotion with "unlimited data for 6 months". At the end of 6 months the used bandwidth totals were still 0. Emboldened I would download more and more.

      One day the ISP fixed the metering and I discovered a wonderfully high bandwidth bill as I had consumed many many times my allowance. I rang the phone company and was able to negotiate my way onto a higher tier with a larger allowance and they kindly back-dated the plan change - saving me thousands.

      That would be the end of the story except the next month my account was still on the low tier and the charges had not been reversed and I still had a massive (and now overdue) bill. I rang back, somehow got the same customer service rep, who then informed me that as he had been updating my account his computer crashed and he lost the change. He again back-dated my plan change, applied the credit, etc, and I was saved from Debtors Prison.

  4. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

    Government/defense spending

    S.R. Hadden (John Hurt) in "Contact": "First rule of government spending: Why buy one, when you can buy two at twice the price?"

    Look again at my handle. There are plenty of times we needed one of something (special test cable/box) and had two or even three built just for the heck of it, because the "customer" was gladly paying for it. We always justified it as "Well, if the first goes bad, we don't have time to fix it, so this could keep the testing going..."

    The best part is that the customer often doesn't know what they're paying for and lets the OEM keep all the stuff because it's not a contractual deliverable.

    Defense industry: wasted time or wasted money. Take your pick (or both, should they cancel the whole contract early).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Government/defense spending

      Been there but there is the other side of the coin that is oft overlooked.

      Literal last second updates to the specs or requirements that blow the whole project out of the water thus rendering all work done up to that point a total waste of time and resources.

      Example - ministry asks for quotes on a facility monitor system with the usual data security requirements and a tight budget. Two onsites to literal middle of nowhere .... they had only one Timmies ... and there was only two of us left willing to bid on the project by that point.

      Then the Facility manager drops the bombshell that any cables must be in conduit even though we can see all the loose cables zip tied to the cieling structure. Do as we say and not as we do. The conduit installation would have taken the whole budget. AFAIK the project is still under review after a decade since inception.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Government/defense spending

      Yes but if you have something like that custom built, it is usually the first one that costs all the money. They have to figure out how to build it, and how to test it. Getting a spare or two doesn't add a lot to the cost (unless it requires expensive parts) because those initial costs are already included.

  5. Sequin

    A company I worked for had two sites - one in Scotland and one in England. When they started up, they installed Microsoft Small Business Server in the Scotland office and joined the two sites with ISDN lines, with the Scottish end being the domain controller. A couple of months later (all of this before I got the job of IT manager) they saw the ISDN bills and the accountant hit the roof! To cut down the bill they disconnected the routers from the ISDN, meaning that the English end was cut off from the domain. This meant that nobody could add new users, disable the accounts of people who had left, change passwords etc, and the server logs were filling up with error messages, seriously impinging on disk space.

    After I got there we got ADSL lines in and set up a proper VPN between the sites, giving all users internet access at reasonable speeds and making system maintenance so much easier, especially as I was based in the English office.

    The ISDN lines were just used for credit card transactions after that, until we could bin the contract.

    1. Trixr Bronze badge

      So there was no domain controller in the England site at all, or no-one thought to configure it up as a separate site and change the replication interval to once or twice a day at a specified time? Which, yes, worked with SBS.

      I know that managers were stingy about hardware back in the day, but due to time wasted for the users and techs and that honking ISDN bill, the ROI should have been obvious. Even the good-old deskop PC-based DC in the office stationery cupboard would have been an improvement.

      My sympathies for being in that clusterf*ck.

  6. Amentheist

    I feel your pain, and I thought I had it bad nuking my international data (isnt)roaming allowance in a few seconds by opening a streaming application.

    1. Killfalcon Silver badge

      On holiday to Japan about five years ago, I decided to get one of those local 4G boxes that creates a wifi hotspot for your phone. However, as I had to kill some time at the airport before I found the place to buy said magical box, I thought I'd make use of my UK provider's kind offer of 25mb of data for £15.

      I mean, it sounds a bit much, but after a 12-hour, £400, flight you don't care. I figured "it'll be handy. Why would they even offer the service if it's useless?"

      Turned the phone on and by the time it'd finished reconnecting to the network and catching up on notifications, 20mb was gone. I switched it back off and went to find lunch.

      1. Old Shoes

        In the time taken to turn on my phone at the airport and find the name of the preferred network operator my BlackBerry managed to run up $40 worth of roaming charges. The company's preferred network operator would have been free, but the name was in my email and the phone just connected to the first network it saw.

  7. Mark #255

    Not in the same league, but...

    I had an Orange San Francisco, on a PAYG contract.

    After some time (2-3 years), they announced changes to the billing of mobile data, so there was effectively a daily connection charge, of 30-50p or thereabouts.

    And my phone (which had mobile data switched off), suddenly had daily mobile data charges (WTF!), with individual transfers of ~100 bytes.

    I narrowed it down to using GPS (I had offline maps); and it turned out that it was the A-GPS data which was the cause.

    And their snotty response of "you'll have to ask the phone manufacturer for details of switching off A-GPS requests" was met with a "well, as it's an ORANGE San Francisco, that's what I am doing *". They had to admit they didn't know.

    I asked for a PAC shortly after.

    * Yes, yes, ZTE blah blah whevs.

  8. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    Ah, the good old days

    Not comms related, but I remember fondly the time my home power bill came in and was over $300. The Mrs. was not pleased. This was 1999 or early 2000. I had around 20 old '486 and early Pentium motherboards and powersupplies screwed to the floor joists in the crawlspace under the kitchen. All happily chewing through SETI@Home units. I put them in the crawl space since it was cooler under there. As I said, the Mrs was slightly unhappy with my volunteering our money in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. Everybody knows there's no space aliens out there, anyhow. I wound up taking them all down over the following month. Then figured out how to slip the SETI@Home screen saver (and config file) into the Ghost image for the computer labs at the University where I worked. I eventually made it to the Top 500 for Academia.

    1. Killfalcon Silver badge

      Re: Ah, the good old days

      More modern types of underfloor heating are less processor, but have fractionally lower chances of finding alien life.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Ah, the good old days

        I dunno... Its difficult to put underfloor heating on old victorian floorboards so I'm hoping my 2 CPU server will make a good job of it in the basement.

    2. cassidy macfarlane

      Re: Ah, the good old days

      And how many times since have you wished it was bitcoin mining app?

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Ah, the good old days

        On 486s? Even the DX wouldn't be all that good at bitcoin mining outside of the first week.

      2. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        Re: Ah, the good old days

        Yeah, I completely missed the bitcoin train years ago. But as pointed out, those old CPUs would probably still be looking for the first one.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sonix Arpeggio

    Anyone remember Sonix Arpeggio ISDN router? Was at a customers site once when a tail-lift truck arrived with their telephone bill which half-filled it. Don’t know how many trees died due to a firmware problem with them but the manufacturer had to pay out a lot in damages to them and others.

  10. GBE

    IoT gone too far?

    I know we've all laughed at silly IoT products, but a packet-switching pickle really is a bridge too far.

  11. Griffo

    Once became an accidental peer

    One time in the early 2000's we screwed up the BGP config on our edge routers. We'd just installed a bunch of 155MB/s links to various ISP's for redundancy. At the time in the wonderful land down under, flat rate links were pretty much impossible to buy, so we were on metered connections.

    Unfortunately due to our screw up, we became a peer between the ISP's and started paying for the privilege of shuffling packets between the ISP's. We ran up $40k in traffic charges before someone noticed that the traffic seemed pretty heavy for a couple of routers with nothing behind them yet...

  12. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Moving offices..

    One company I worked for was moving offices - not far - about 5 miles but into another telephone exchange area. We paid BT the usual arm/leg/unborn child for a new 'high-speed' link (about 10MBit which was pretty high speed for the time) and a frame relay circuit over the top.

    All was proceeding swimmingly until BT actually went to install the new circuit and it didn't work. Much panic ensued as we'd given notice on the old office and all the senior management were coming over to open the new swanky office.

    I noticed that, next to the comms rack in the new building, we had an unused ISDN32 box and contacted BT who assured me that they could get it up and working in less than 24 hours - which they did. So, the evening before the grand opening, I spent quite a few hours (slowed by both a raging migraine[1] and the presence of a *really, really* annoying Belgian colleague who kept asking me whether it was working - he had ambitions to become European IT boss if our manager ever left but we'd all assured HR that, if he ever did, we'd all be tendering our resignations) configuring dial-on-demand between the new office and the old office over the ISDN32 (luckily we had capacity at the old office too) so that we could use the leased line there. I even managed to get it to add and drop channels according to demand.

    I was quite proud if it - especially as I was working off the manuals, never having done it quite like that before (although I'd done linux dial-on-demand but that was quite different from doing Cisco on-demand dialing and bandwidth management).

    Since we were on a different exchange to the old office, it didn't count as local calls. Which meant that the 3 weeks that it took for BT to fix our leased line cost quite a bit - although BT did waive a portion of the cost in compensation for not delivering the leased line on time.

    [1] Even using Sumatriptan it's not much fun trying to do techie stuff while if feels like someone is banging a tent peg through the left side of your brain. Fortunately, I was in the comms room and could control the light levels (although said Belgian kept complaining it was too dark) so the photophobia didn't kick in. And I managed to get into a techie-fugue where I could ignore almost anything except the technology.

  13. 's water music Silver badge

    internet time sink at work

    As a PFY in the early nineties I had to install Trumpet Winsock onto a Win 3.1 machine so it could connect to a new client server app in the US office of $bigco where I was working at the time.

    I installed it on a test system first and realised that the Computer Weakly Bits & Bytes column from last week about checking if your $bigco has an internet gateway might be worth try.

    Internet gateway security barely being a thing back then I spent a few happy hours connecting to BBS and downloading this and that, even getting as far as downloading mosaic and checking out the half dozen or so www sites that were available.

    Fast forward a few weeks and my boss wanders over to ask me about if I knew anything about a bill he was being asked to approve for the new client server app project. I almost shit myself imagining that I had unknowingly racked up some sort of metered bandwidth bill and wondering if they could tell what I had been browsing. Luckily if what just the licenses for the Winsock software...

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