Comment On It’s Just a Wiring Problem

As a freelance web developer, Erik finds himself doing all sorts of odd jobs. Fixing up an Access application here, installing a firewall there – he’ll gladly help his clients out with whatever they need, so long as they’re paying and he’s comfortable doing it. [expand full text]
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Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:11 • by perper (unregistered)
How can washing cables be a bad thing? Walking on them, yes, rolling cards on them, yes, washing them? NO

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:12 • by Welbog
<span style="{sarcasm:thick;}">Hmmm. I wonder what the problem was...</span>

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:12 • by UraniumAnchor (unregistered)
145812 in reply to 145810
perper:
How can washing cables be a bad thing? Walking on them, yes, rolling cards on them, yes, washing them? NO


Because if they have a rupture in the outer layer, you might get water on the bare wires and then you get a nice zap...

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:16 • by KattMan
145813 in reply to 145810
Because walking on them and rolling carts on them can cause wear in the insulation. It's been like this for years. He's bound the have a bare cable in there someone soon if he doesn't have one already.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:17 • by dustin (unregistered)
145814 in reply to 145810
the real wtf is that the boss has to mop the floor.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:18 • by KattMan
on another note, I don't think I would have even touched the server. A situation like that can be detrimental to your reputation.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:21 • by Pap

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:36 • by RobIII
145817 in reply to 145812
UraniumAnchor:
perper:
How can washing cables be a bad thing? Walking on them, yes, rolling cards on them, yes, washing them? NO


Because if they have a rupture in the outer layer, you might get water on the bare wires and then you get a nice zap...

Assuming the mop had a wooden handle: fat chance.
Would I do it? Fat chance too ;-)

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:36 • by Anon (unregistered)
145818 in reply to 145816
Pap:

Yep. Instead of tripping over a cable and pulling whatever it was hooked up to onto the floor, destroying it, you'll just trip and fall on your face.

All in all, a net gain.

This seems to be yet another in the long line of "I want your suggestions on how to fix this problem that I've already decided how to fix and your solution had better mesh with mine" types.

There's nothing worse than someone who has already decided what the problem is and refuses to accept it might be something else.

("It doesn't matter how much pressure you apply, you're not going to get any blood out of that stone!")

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:41 • by 0x15e (unregistered)
145819 in reply to 145817
UraniumAnchor:
perper:
How can washing cables be a bad thing? Walking on them, yes, rolling cards on them, yes, washing them? NO


Because if they have a rupture in the outer layer, you might get water on the bare wires and then you get a nice zap...
Not to mention the "extension cords plugged into extension cords" bit. I bet at least one of those connections was a bit loose and just the right combination of mop+water+loose connection would be just as bad as ruptured insulation.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:42 • by pitchingchris
145820 in reply to 145818
once I saw the "perky" secretary, I was too distracted to notice anything else :)

Back on topic, bad wiring jobs are one my pet peeves. And this one has power cables on the floor, taped along the network cables. I'm very surprised they didn't zap all the computers when they mopped.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:44 • by Obi Wan (unregistered)
Now there's an "unrecoverable" ID-10-T job!

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:46 • by Zygo (unregistered)
145822 in reply to 145818
Anon:
Pap:

Yep. Instead of tripping over a cable and pulling whatever it was hooked up to onto the floor, destroying it, you'll just trip and fall on your face.

All in all, a net gain.


In my experience with those things, they tend to stop carts gently, but firmly, dead in their tracks.

Still a net gain.

Then again from what I've read so far I wouldn't be surprised if they had double-decker carts that fall over in a gentle breeze...

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:47 • by Zygo (unregistered)
145823 in reply to 145817
RobIII:
UraniumAnchor:
perper:
How can washing cables be a bad thing? Walking on them, yes, rolling cards on them, yes, washing them? NO


Because if they have a rupture in the outer layer, you might get water on the bare wires and then you get a nice zap...

Assuming the mop had a wooden handle: fat chance.
Would I do it? Fat chance too ;-)


So you stand with one foot on wet concrete (i.e. ground) and the other foot on damaged wet power cable (i.e. hot) and voila, one complete circuit, with your crotch in the center...

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:51 • by Crash Cash (unregistered)
Shoot, I'd drop a dime to OSHA on these folks in a heartbeat. They deserve nothing less.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:57 • by Anon (unregistered)
145825 in reply to 145824
Crash Cash:
Shoot, I'd drop a dime to OSHA on these folks in a heartbeat. They deserve nothing less.


++

I was about to say the same thing. You'd be doing all this fool's employees a favor, even if he ends up shutting down.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 15:58 • by TimmyT (unregistered)
They should go all wireless, that would help a little bit I think.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 16:03 • by Anonymous (unregistered)
A few months ago, we had a similar customer. Our sales guy was on holidays, and i did his job on the side.

A customer called and wanted "a new server". I offered him to visit and talk about what he exactly wants, but he insisted on ordering the server right now - i offered to shuffle my appointments to get to him at 16:00, but he still refused and just wanted a "very fast server, for Windows with 64bit and 8GB of ram".

I asked him if he wanted a rack mount machine or a tower - "rack sounds more professional". I asked to make sure if he had an IT rack, deep enough to fit a server. He assured me that this was the case.

I made an offer, he faxed the paper work back, i ordered the server, with direct delivery to the customer.

A week later, this client called me up again. He had troubled fitting the server in his rack. I tried to talk him through doing this on the phone, but i was seemingly getting nowhere. I offered him to come on site for free, he accepted.

When i arrived, the place looked quite similar to this one. And then i saw the rack: It was two pieces of wood (with a few big holes in them), in a 19" distance, where a few switches were screwed across.

He told me that he was unable to fix the server to the two pieces of wood, that the server was to heavy, and that i sold him the wrong server.

The solution was that he also bought a rack from us, but he still insisted that i sold him the wrong server :)

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 16:25 • by WyrdOne (unregistered)
145829 in reply to 145826
TimmyT:
They should go all wireless, that would help a little bit I think.


Yep, with all those credit card transactions flying around you'd be plenty secure.

What this company needs is a serious rewiring job that meets city/county codes and a rebuild of the backend systems with proper system security. (There is no reason a server should have anything except the server software installed on it. And, proper account/policies setup.)

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 16:34 • by Gaffer Gamgee (unregistered)
Gaffer tape?

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 16:35 • by Ben4jammin (unregistered)
There are so many things wrong with this that I don't know where to begin...so I won't.
The worse that I have personally seen is a small company that had on their computer the Peachtree accounting software that had ALL their financial info AND active P2P file sharing. This was a Windows 98 box.
I still see it in my dreams sometimes...

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 16:44 • by Mike (unregistered)
Am I the only one terrified at the thought of working in a second story cube built out of 4x4 and plywood? With the way the rest of the company seems to work, I'm not sure I want my office in a tree-house.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 16:46 • by anon (unregistered)
145834 in reply to 145833
Mike:
Am I the only one terrified at the thought of working in a second story cube built out of 4x4 and plywood? With the way the rest of the company seems to work, I'm not sure I want my office in a tree-house.

I'd be more afraid of being UNDER a second storey cube :P

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 16:49 • by Renan_S2
"The worse that I have personally seen is a small company that had on their computer the Peachtree accounting software that had ALL their financial info AND active P2P file sharing. This was a Windows 98 box."

That is nothing. I have seen someone use a box with a pirated copy of Windows XP, without any service packs or updates, as a proxy, print and file server, all of this while running (not at the same time, of course) MS Office, MSN/ICQ, IE, Photoshop, Corel Draw, Winamp and sometimes a few games.

Their definition of "print server"? Save the file over the network, log-in by VNC, open the file on the "server", print it.

And the proxy server (WinConnection, by a Brazilian developer) often goes down, leaving them on the dark, without any Internet access.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 16:50 • by Dave C. (unregistered)
145836 in reply to 145833
Am I the only one terrified at the thought of working in a second story cube built out of 4x4 and plywood?


No, no, the plywood is great and stacking up is even better. See, when the owner has had enough and sets fire to the place, the plywood will go like gangbusters. Of course, all those cables on the floor will help, too. They're like fuses.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 16:56 • by Robert Hanson (unregistered)
Why walk out? This sounds like a cash cow. You stop in every couple of days on you lunch hour, "fix" something (remove some spyware, reconnect a cable, replace a cable, etc) and bill at a big hourly rate.

A nice, mindless, paying diversion from a real job.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 17:06 • by Myself (unregistered)
145838 in reply to 145816
Pap:


Those are more permanent, but I'm sure "Steve" would've preferred this: http://cableorganizer.com/cable-path/

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 17:06 • by EvanED
145839 in reply to 145833
Mike:
Am I the only one terrified at the thought of working in a second story cube built out of 4x4 and plywood? With the way the rest of the company seems to work, I'm not sure I want my office in a tree-house.


I wouldn't want to be in there, but heck, if the ceiling was high enough, and I had to be in a cube anyway, that'd be pretty sweet if it was built right.

I'm with the guy who said he'd be more worried to be under.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 17:14 • by James (unregistered)
All of this sounds like something an immigrant entrepreneur would do. Or at least not someone named Steve.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 17:21 • by kettch (unregistered)
145841 in reply to 145831
Gaffer Gamgee:
Gaffer tape?


Yes, I was going to suggest that. Or the boss could use his superior construction skills to build a raised floor. That should solve the problems with damaging the cables. As an added bonus he would never have to mop the floor down there again. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 17:22 • by Russ (unregistered)
145842 in reply to 145829
WyrdOne:
TimmyT:
They should go all wireless, that would help a little bit I think.


Yep, with all those credit card transactions flying around you'd be plenty secure.

What this company needs is a serious rewiring job that meets city/county codes and a rebuild of the backend systems with proper system security. (There is no reason a server should have anything except the server software installed on it. And, proper account/policies setup.)


First of all, there is nothing wrong with wireless if you have WPA enabled. Also the cc info should go over some sort of secure channel like ssl.

They really should just add wireless, and for the computers that need to be wired, get a bridge that wires them together and connects to the main AP wirelessly.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 17:28 • by nerdydeeds
145843 in reply to 145840
James:
All of this sounds like something an immigrant entrepreneur would do. Or at least not someone named Steve.

Where did you get such a preposterous hypothesis? Did Steve tell you that?

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 17:49 • by Goldie
145845 in reply to 145820
pitchingchris:
... I'm very surprised they didn't zap all the computers when they mopped.

Yet...

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 17:54 • by Oliver Garraux (unregistered)
145846 in reply to 145823
Unless you're barefoot or something, it shouldn't be that big of a problem. Rubber soles on the shoes should insulate it. Not that it makes it any less of a WTF to have cables running all over the floor and mop over them.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 18:09 • by Garp (unregistered)
145847 in reply to 145842
Russ:
First of all, there is nothing wrong with wireless if you have WPA enabled. Also the cc info should go over some sort of secure channel like ssl.


I'm sorry but thats just not true. Both can still be hacked. Wireless is insecure, end of, and it should only be implemented in a situation where that is acceptable. I wouldn't rate CC transactions as being acceptable. Sure WPA takes longer to hack, but you're still talking possible especially in the common setup, WPA-PSK. For the most part tools like AirCrack will even do the hard work for you.
http://blogs.ittoolbox.com/wireless/networks/archives/cracking-wpapsk-6730
for a little more detail on the procedures involved:
http://docs.lucidinteractive.ca/index.php/Cracking_WEP_and_WPA_Wireless_Networks#WPA_Crackin

You would be hard pressed to find any financial standards organisations that will authorise CC transmission over wireless networks.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 18:27 • by Russ (unregistered)
145848 in reply to 145847
Garp:
Russ:
First of all, there is nothing wrong with wireless if you have WPA enabled. Also the cc info should go over some sort of secure channel like ssl.


I'm sorry but thats just not true. Both can still be hacked. Wireless is insecure, end of, and it should only be implemented in a situation where that is acceptable. I wouldn't rate CC transactions as being acceptable. Sure WPA takes longer to hack, but you're still talking possible especially in the common setup, WPA-PSK. For the most part tools like AirCrack will even do the hard work for you.
http://blogs.ittoolbox.com/wireless/networks/archives/cracking-wpapsk-6730
for a little more detail on the procedures involved:
http://docs.lucidinteractive.ca/index.php/Cracking_WEP_and_WPA_Wireless_Networks#WPA_Crackin

You would be hard pressed to find any financial standards organisations that will authorise CC transmission over wireless networks.



I don't think you know what you're talking about. Sure WPA can be theoretically hacked. I've tried it and it wasn't that easy. I also said that all the cc info should be transfered over a secure channel like ssl. So after the guy cracks the wireless (which will take many hours and he has to be in close proximity to the router), he will have lots of fun cracking the ssl, which should take ehh about 10 years.

Are you saying that you've never bought stuff using your laptop while you were on wireless? That's just preposterous. CC companies even have wireless CC processing units which work over the air (probably a cell phone unit or something).

Once again, there is nothing wrong with wireless. When you're on the wire people can listen in almost as easily, so in either case you shouldn't trust the network, but trust your encrypted channel. Saying wireless is not secure just because WEP and WPA can theoretically be cracked is crazy.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 18:37 • by DAR (unregistered)
I have to say, part of the WTF here is why it never occurred to the consultant to recommend they switch over to a WiFi network. Kind of a no-brainer, really. And he would have made a mint off the job!

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 18:56 • by Rootbeer
<i>part of the WTF here is why it never occurred to the consultant to recommend they switch over to a WiFi network. Kind of a no-brainer, really.</i>

Yes, switching to a WiFi network would be the recommendation of a consultant with no brains. (I.e., a consultant.)

Sure, that'll solve the network-cables-everywhere problem, but what about the power cables?

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 18:56 • by Eric (unregistered)
I would've taken that job with pride, really. That's the right sort of employment for me if I was a freelancer, totally clueless clients, a situation so evil you can start anywhere and still make giant leaps forward.

I mean, it's just like the West once was, free and untamed, where you could set up whatever you like and there was no obstacle anywhere except those Indians :)

Really, that sort of job is where every hour of even mild professionalism makes a real difference. And they bill hourly, lost or scared away all other contractors - they are ripe for the picking. If you use only half your brain, they probably will still praise you decades from now as The Wizard Who Made It Work(tm). A shop like this is an offer of hourly-billed easy work for years on end.

The mere fact that this shop still existed with all this crap going on means its business fundamentals must be overwhelming, they just had not a single spark of clue how to use technology and build infrastructure. One can only guess how many customers, data and time they lost because of that sorry excuse for proper infrastructure - but no, they didn't go belly-up, they needed a second floor for even more employees. A company still flourishing with that kind of handicap is a hidden gold mine...

Imagine what this shop could do if you - the magic wizard in tie and suit who slayed the mighty bonziBuddy in just five minutes - would have a proper infrastructure laid out, with real backups, working net connections, access controls, user account management. Their profits should go through the roof.

Even better: just fix what needs immediate fixing, gain a reputation there, fix some more and watch them outgrow their current office building quickly. Then offer advice on moving into a larger office and take care of the wiring there from the start.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 19:27 • by vt_mruhlin
145852 in reply to 145837
Robert Hanson:
Why walk out? This sounds like a cash cow. You stop in every couple of days on you lunch hour, "fix" something (remove some spyware, reconnect a cable, replace a cable, etc) and bill at a big hourly rate.


I'm pretty sure the electrocution hazard is enough to keep any smart people out.

And these guys seem too 'clever' to be taken advantage of by selling them more stuff than they need. Hell, they're clever enough to not even buy the stuff they do need.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 19:42 • by Andy (unregistered)
WPA-PSK is only insecure if you choose a stupid password. If you use a long random key that fully uses the 128 bit key space it's fine.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 19:50 • by Darien H (unregistered)
145854 in reply to 145851
Eric:
The mere fact that this shop still existed with all this crap going on means its business fundamentals must be overwhelming


Or they've been in a death spiral (due to crappy tech) and are barely surviving by further cannibalizing from a tech budget ("it doesn't really work anyway") and most of those second-floor employees are off transcribing paper receipts for daily inventory reports...

Captcha: Muhahaha

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 20:29 • by Evan (unregistered)
145855 in reply to 145851
Imagine what this shop could do if you - the magic wizard in tie and suit who slayed the mighty bonziBuddy in just five minutes - would have a proper infrastructure laid out, with real backups, working net connections, access controls, user account management. Their profits should go through the roof.


You assume they're "flourishing" because they have a lot of employees. I'd assume they're not paying their suppliers, employees, taxes, or doing something else shady. "Steve" is mopping the floor and taping down cables because he doesn't see the value in paying someone else to do it-- he certainly won't see the value in proper infrastructure.

In my experience, every prospective Customer I've seen in that kind of shape got to where they were because they were cheap. Once in awhile you can win a "soft costs" and "productivity increase" argument and get one of these to actually spend some money-- but most of the time they're just looking for the next cheap hack.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 21:27 • by Top Cod3r (unregistered)
The "consultant" in this story was the biggest WTF. He said himself that the building was 1500 sq feet, but 100Base-T has a physical distance limitation of around 100m, so the intermittent network problems were most likely caused by physical distance of the cable runs, not some guy mopping the floor. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100Base-T)

Sounds this this guy was about to get canned for a job where he got in over his head and decided to bash his former client on Worse Than Failure to get back at them.

Nice one.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 22:27 • by Mike (unregistered)
145859 in reply to 145857
Top Cod3r:
The "consultant" in this story was the biggest WTF. He said himself that the building was 1500 sq feet, but 100Base-T has a physical distance limitation of around 100m, so the intermittent network problems were most likely caused by physical distance of the cable runs, not some guy mopping the floor.


What am I missing? 1500 sq ft is 30 ft x 50 ft. Sounds to me like 330ft of Cat 5 would stretch that distance.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 22:32 • by EvanED
145860 in reply to 145857
Top Cod3r:
The "consultant" in this story was the biggest WTF. He said himself that the building was 1500 sq feet, but 100Base-T has a physical distance limitation of around 100m, so the intermittent network problems were most likely caused by physical distance of the cable runs, not some guy mopping the floor. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100Base-T)


Dude, you might want to check your math. 100m is over 300ft. Let's be generous to your theory to the point of blatant absurdity and say that the 1500 sq ft room is 5ft by 300ft, and the server is at one end. Multiply it out--1500 sq ft. And yet that STILL isn't far enough from the server to the far end of the room to cause network problems. (Okay, maybe it is once you add slack in the cable. Still, that'd be 30 ft of slack before you reach 100m.)

A square 1500 square foot room is roughly 40 ft by 40 ft, or 13m by 13m, which means that you could string a cable across the long diagonal of the room, back across, then across and back again, then across one more time and you would STILL be slightly under 100 meters.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 22:32 • by Jay (unregistered)
145862 in reply to 145857
He said that the building was 1500 sq feet, but he also said that it was split between office and warehouse.

Perhaps the total distance of the office space was less than 100m, and the rest was warehouse space?

Nice one.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 22:35 • by EvanED
145863 in reply to 145855
Evan:
You assume they're "flourishing" because they have a lot of employees. I'd assume they're not paying their suppliers, employees, taxes, or doing something else shady. "Steve" is mopping the floor and taping down cables because he doesn't see the value in paying someone else to do it-- he certainly won't see the value in proper infrastructure.

In my experience, every prospective Customer I've seen in that kind of shape got to where they were because they were cheap. Once in awhile you can win a "soft costs" and "productivity increase" argument and get one of these to actually spend some money-- but most of the time they're just looking for the next cheap hack.


Hey! Who are you, and why did you steal my name? ;-)

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 22:36 • by tin
145864 in reply to 145831
Gaffer Gamgee:
Gaffer tape?


Only if it's proper Nashua Gaffer tape. Anything else is rubbish.

Also, I'd have considered it dodgy but not bad enough to dob them in... Until the mopping. Then I'd be letting OH&S regulators know that there's someone needing a surprise inspection.

Re: It’s Just a Wiring Problem

2007-07-17 22:47 • by Mr Steve (unregistered)
145866 in reply to 145857
Top Cod3r:
The "consultant" in this story was the biggest WTF. He said himself that the building was 1500 sq feet, but 100Base-T has a physical distance limitation of around 100m, so the intermittent network problems were most likely caused by physical distance of the cable runs, not some guy mopping the floor. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100Base-T)

Sounds this this guy was about to get canned for a job where he got in over his head and decided to bash his former client on Worse Than Failure to get back at them.

Nice one.


I don't get it - 1500ft^0.5 ~39 ft ~12m

if the office was a square each wall would only be 12 metres - that's a small office hence the tree houses. You have to get really creative in order to use 100 meters network cables ;]
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