Technology – Beware of rodents and predators!

Old 7 Comments on Technology – Beware of rodents and predators! 74

This is another installment of my Technology posts, geared towards those of us who are technology professionals and support users or clients.

As you know, my company provides 3rd party IT support services to clients. Recently, I deployed a wireless link for a client who had 2 offices on different opposite sides of the street. They needed to connect both buildings, but would have had to tear up the road in order to lay down fiber optics, which can get extremely expensive in my area. So it was decided that we would deploy a wireless link instead, which would be much cheaper, and had an acceptable reliability risk.

We initially installed the dishes and ran the cabling, but were waiting on some other computer and server-side hardware before actually connecting the system up and making it ‘live’. Earlier this week, we completed the other tasks and were ready to try out the new wireless link. We fired the system up, and it connected no problem. We setup some new workstations, and away we went.

The next day, our client called us and said they couldn’t access the internet or any of the network drives. We headed on over, and sure enough, no internet and no network drive access. At first, we assumed something had happened with the wireless link. So we went to the other side of the road where the “master” dish is (the wireless link has a “master” dish and a “client” dish). We tried to log into the management interface of the dish, but could not access it. We tried pinging the dish, but got the dreaded “destination unreachable” error. We were beginning to think the worst, that maybe the wireless link system had gotten fried or something. I went over to the network switch to restart it, and noticed that the port LEDs on the switch weren’t lit up where the wireless link’s Ethernet was plugged in. This furthered my fear that something had gotten fried. Still not having any luck, we went outside with a ladder to climb up and look at the dish itself (the LNBF has status LEDs on it). Those LEDs weren’t lit up, again, furthering the fear that the system had gotten pooched. We were in the middle of taking the LNBF off, when for whatever reason, I decided to take a look at the cable and make sure it was OK (my thought was that maybe a worker had damaged it while doing something else with machinery or tools). As I traced the cable, I found this:

rodent
Normally I would assume that somehow, someone did this damage inadvertently, with equipment or machinery or something. But there were indents all over the cable, which made me wonder. So, we took a look at the video surveillance recordings that the client had (thankfully they have a ton of cameras everywhere), and sure enough, in the middle of the night, you can see a fox trot along, stop, and start chewing on the cable. He went at it for about half an hour, as could be seen on the rest of the cable. As the cable was outdoor rated, its jacketing is tougher than regular standard Ethernet patch cables, so it was harder for him to break through, but, as you can see, he eventually did.

This post is simply to remind everyone that what can go wrong isn’t always going to be technical in nature. In this case, a simple hungry critter brought an entire wireless link down. This also serves as a reminder that you need to methodical in your troubleshooting steps. Had I not checked all the physical aspects of the system, I probably would have assumed that the system got fried or went defective, and would have begun the RMA process. This would have taken time, and my client would have been down until a replacement system arrived. Instead, because I decided to check everything physical first, we got the system back up and running within an hour.

Author

Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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7 Comments

  1. Bobby Arneth August 6, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    You should put down “detective” as another job trait.

    • Martin Lehner August 7, 2014 at 10:50 am

      lol no doubt

  2. Michael Hanon August 7, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Must be some tasty wire haha. You going to run that through conduit now?

    • Martin Lehner August 7, 2014 at 10:54 am

      I’m actually waiting on a replacement outdoor cable. Being in a more remote area, no one in my city has anything like that in stock. We may put it in conduit, or we may run it higher up along the building. Not 100% sure yet.

  3. Eli the Computer Guy August 14, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Here in Baltimore rats are a real problem. They used to love the Siamese cabling we used for CCTV. (That was always a fun discussion about what the warranty covered) Apparently the low level electric field is something they are attracted to.

    On another note my Wife’s Prius was totaled by the insurance company after critters ate through the main electric feed for the car and it was going to be a $12K repair…

    I asked the repair guy if this happened often, and he said ever since the car companies started using “greener” materials it has become a lot worse. Apparently the old cable covering was toxic enough to kill the buggers before they did too much damage, but the new stuff is healthy as can be…

    • Martin Lehner August 14, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      I remember hearing in your daily blob about the Prius getting totaled, that sucks albeit amusing. We’re too cold here for rats, but foxes and other critters of that size, got lots of those ! On a side note, I wonder how the cable will hold up outdoors in -60 degrees F ?

  4. Stevie Stoud December 14, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe this amazing site
    needs far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the advice!

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