Amusing IT Stories

Anybody that has done IT support will appreciate this post. Feel free to tell us your stories…

Early on when we first started shipping pre-built NetEqualizer units, the underlying Linux server shipped with the factory default password of “password”. The first line of our installation instructions, in big bold type, instructed customers to re-set this password. I am one of those people that will open a box, and plug things in without reading directions, so I really can’t point fingers at customers that did not reset their password. Never the less, it makes a good story…

It was only a matter time before we started getting support calls about strange behavior on our systems.

Since we had a standard customized unique setup, it was easy to tell if system files had been altered, and that is usually where hackers struck. One day, we got a call from an irate WISP. Evidently, his upstream provider had shut down his link to the Internet because he was spewing massive amounts of spam. When he tracked the spam messages down to the NetEqualizer, he actually thought we were deliberately running a rogue spam server. To this day, even though we promised it was not us, he still thinks we had a side business of rogue spam servers. We could not convince him that his box had been hacked.

For my all time favorite we have to go to southeast Asia where we had a NetEqualizer (bandwidth shaper) in place. The customer kept calling saying it was not doing anything.  We got a look at a diagnostic and were able to confirm the customers observation. He was correct, our box was not doing anything. There was clearly no traffic going through our box.  It was also clear that there was another path through the customers network, because his network was up and running fine. We pleaded with the customer to send us a diagram of some kind, but he did not believe us, and continued to blame our box for being useless. We could clearly see that neither network interface was seeing any traffic, so there was no sense trying to help him.  At this point we just refunded his money and took the unit back. Short of flying to Asia and figuring out his routing, there was nothing we could do. About 6 months later, he calls, and is desperate to re-purchase the box he returned. Turns out as we suspected all traffic was going through his wireless router, but I have no idea why it took six months to figure that out. And frankly I don’t really want to know.

Over the past 10 years we have had this scenario at least 3 times maybe more.

Caller: “I have read all the manuals, hooked up all the interfaces, but the box is not passing any traffic.”

Support: “Did you power the unit up?”

Called: “Oh sorry, I forgot that step.”

In fairness to the customer, when you plug the power cord in there are some status lights that come on, but you still need to press the on/off button on the front to get it to boot up. :)

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