Flashback Friday: Too smart for its own good

Things didn’t happen in the right order there.

It’s the 1990s, and this IT pilot fish works for a busy wholesale distributor. “We shut down on Sundays, but otherwise ran pretty much 24 hours a day,” fish says.

But one morning, fish walks in to find a crisis: The air conditioning unit has died, it’s 100-plus degrees in the computer room, and equipment is baking.

Some of the equipment is smart enough that when the heat got too high, it powered down. But other equipment isn’t so lucky, and it’s toast.

What fish can’t figure out is why no one was notified about the A/C breakdown. An automatic call should have gone out — but it never did.

After a bit of checking, a clue turns up: One of the pieces of equipment that’s smart enough to take itself down when the heat is high is the newly installed phone switch.

“Unfortunately, it did so before the emergency sensor was triggered and tried to call us,” sighs fish.

“Within a week, we had a dedicated phone line that didn’t go through the ‘smart’ switch.”

Sharky is dedicated to telling true tales of IT life. Send me yours at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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