Tuesday, 13 September 2011

You canna change the laws of physics

I do not watch a lot of television but I do watch some sci-fi occasionally, and series like stargate and the like...

One of the things you see a lot is the characters faced with something impossible, and coming up with some cunning way around it. Happens all the damn time. And you wonder if ever things would be like that for real in such scenarios. Of course then then explain the bullshit techno-babble with a silly analogy just for fun.

Well, what got me thinking was the FireBricks. Sadly I have not worked out a way to use one to construct a working wormhole or time machine yet, but they are a product we know a hell of a lot about.

What strikes me is what you can do when do do know a system inside out. We have had people do the craziest things with them, and then worked out a way around the problem. This is especially the case where people would otherwise have to go drive somewhere. Things like working out what IPs would be allowed and engineering for the right traffic from the right interface remotely so as to let us get to the web control pages or command line and make some change to fix the problem. Some times jumping through convoluted hoops and reconfiguring DSL lines remotely and routers and so on. I think last time we did something like this was for a member of staff who had DSL lines and 3G backup and complicated firewall rules.

Then suddenly you realise you are doing something just as crazy as they would be doing on some sci-fi series stuck in the back end of the galaxy with nothing more than a pack of bubblegum and a sonic screwdriver.

So maybe, if they had engineers that really knew their stuff, it would be like that!

Who knows?

5 comments:

  1. To me, it's one of the biggest things small companies have going for them compared to their larger competitors. Less of this escalation crap that never seems to get you to the people that REALLY know the system. Having designed & built the thing from the ground up helps too :) That's one of the things I like about A&A support. Granted, you can occasionally be a bit short/arrogant, but at least I speak to someone who knows their shit. I'll take that option any day. Maybe you should reinstate the "No Bullshit" logo on your website again? :)

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  2. He he it is there on http://aa.net.uk/support.html still though...

    Sorry about short/arrogant. It is tricky some times. Just occasionally we get people being really annoying like someone today insisting that when one of his two lines is down, and he almost certainly reset the damn router himself, it is an MSO so texting and emailing as such (and hassling a lot of staff as MSO texts should)...

    But yes, we want to have people handling faults that know their stuff - it is important.

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  3. To be honest, I hadn't looked at that page for a long time. I assumed you'd got rid of it when you did the website redesign a while back. Glad to see it's still there :)

    I can imagine it must be tough. The 'no bullshit' policy definitely has to work both ways. I bet some people get a bit of a shock when they find out they're not 'always right' and you're willing to let them know.

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  4. I had not thought of it like that, but it is a good way of putting it. Yeh

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  5. 'Things like working out what IPs would be allowed and engineering for the right traffic from the right interface remotely so as to let us get to the web control pages or command line and make some change to fix the problem.'

    IPv6 is great for this. Several times I've changed a firewall and shut myself out, but then managed to get back in by using the other protocol (IPv4 if I was changing ip6tables, and vice-versa).

    I don't know what I'll do when it isn't possible to buy IPv4 routing any more. :)

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