Crash coarse

Shouldn’t plumbing and electrical systems be kept separate?

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

At one of the plants operated by a bedding company, the computer system keeps crashing, so this pilot fish heads out there from HQ to lend a hand to the flummoxed field engineers. They note that the system seems to run for days on end without a problem, but when it does crash, it keeps crashing every 15 to 30 minutes. They put meters on the power lines but don’t capture anything for a week. In fact, there are no crashes for a week.

The problem isn’t solved, of course; it’s merely gone dormant, for unknown reasons. When it does start up again, someone notices something: When all of the plant managers are hanging around waiting to see if the system will fail, nothing happens. But every time one particular manager leaves the group, the system crashes within the next 10 minutes. The pattern is too consistent to be coincidence, but what’s going on?

The engineers interview the manager to determine what exactly he does when he leaves the group. Top of the list: He heads to the wash room. His own private wash room. A wash room that, when he’s not around, never gets used.

Root cause of the crashes: When the manager flushes his private toilet, the grounding changes, causing a system — nope, I’m not going to say it.

Sharky feels flush when my inbox is full of your true tales of IT life. Send them to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

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