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Old 06-08-2011, 10:48 AM   #1
Robin Springall
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Ealing Common, London W5, where I duplicate CDs and DVDs.
Posts: 1,259
Default Computer troubleshooting

I do computer troubleshooting when I'm not artworking, though the way it's taking off perhaps I should say I do artworking when I'm not fixing people's computers. It can be a frustrating way to make a living but for some reason, I do enjoy it. Like yesterday, for example.

Local business rang up: internet not working, she said, and they couldn't get their tech support contractor to answer his phone. So I pedalled over and had a shufti. They have a client-server installation where their few PCs connect through an unmanaged switch to the router, then out to the big wide world. The server connects to the router, bypassing the switch because it's on the other side of the room. The lights on the router seemed OK, but I know these boxes can lock up, so we rebooted it. No joy. Hmmm... Odd.

Maybe the server's thrown a wobbly. It provides DHCP to the network: no DHCP, no IPs on the computers, so they can't see the network or the internet. The server's headless, and you have to log in remotely from another computer, but that's no good when they can't access the network, though. So I went to my studio, only 15 minutes away, and tried to log in from there, but couldn't connect to it.

Right, probably the server, then. I decided to pull the plugs from everything: server, router, switch, and turn off all the computers. Waited 10 minutes, turned on the switch, then the router, waited 2 minutes for it to boot up properly and for the internet light to come on steadily, turn on the server, waited 15 minutes for it to stripe (I assume it has a raid), turned on just one of the computers. Damn, still no joy.

Clutching at straws, I went home and borrowed little-un's netbook and an ethernet cable. Just for the heck of it, tried to connect remotely to the server, and succeeded! So that meant the router and the server were working now. Back at their office I plugged the netbook into the router and got onto the internet, which I wasn't quite expecting, but decided it was good news.

Perhaps it was the switch, then, even though all its lights were glowing (though one was flickering away merrily, which I thought was odd, seeing as how the computers were all off.) I then connected one of the PCs directly to the router using a very long ethernet cable, bypassing the switch, expecting it to work like the netbook did - but it didn't: still no internet!

You know how you get a niggling thought in your head - a worry, almost? I finally listened to it, and decided I should find out why that port on the switch was actively flashing away so fast when all the others were glowing steadily because the computers were off. OK, the cable goes to port 09 in the frame. Look up in the book to see where 09 is in the building: ah, it's in the back office. Toddled over there, and found the drop cable which goes from wall socket 09 to a PC was stretched tight under a desk because someone had chucked a rucksac over it, bending its connectors to nearly 90 degrees. I wonder if it's shorting everything out? Unplugged it, bent the plugs back, re-routed it off the floor, and went back into the comms room to have a look at that light: it was now glowing nice and steady. Wonder if that's fixed it?

Turned on the shop PC - it worked! NASA, we no longer have a problem - way hey!

Now for the tricky part: how much do you bill the client? It took me four hours, but most of that time I spent swearing blue murder instead of actually fixing their problem. I asked for an hour, which was the right thing, it seems: she happily paid me for two and asked if I'd like to come in next time they had a problem. Not 'arf, I would!

Intellectually challenged, alcoholically propelled

Last edited by Robin Springall; 06-08-2011 at 10:51 AM. Reason: Damn - can't fix the typo in the title :(
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