Famous operational issues

Brian Knight ml at knight-networks.com
Fri Feb 19 00:10:18 UTC 2021

On 2021-02-17 13:28, John Kristoff wrote:
> On Wed, 17 Feb 2021 14:07:54 -0500
> John Curran <jcurrran at istaff.org> wrote:
>> I have no idea what outages were most memorable for others, but the
>> Stanford transfer switch explosion in October 1996 resulted in a much
>> of the Internet in the Bay Area simply not being reachable for
>> several days.
> Thanks John.
> This reminds me of two I've not seen anyone mention yet.  Both
> coincidentally in the Chicago area that I learned before my entry
> into netops full time.  One was a flood:
>   <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_flood>
> The other, at the dawn of an earlier era:
> <http://telecom-digest.org/telecom-archives/TELECOM_Digest_Online/1309.html>
> I wouldn't necessarily put those two in the top 3, but by some standard
> for many they were certainly very significant and noteworthy.
> John

Thanks for sharing these links John.  I was personally affected by the 
Hinsdale CO fire when I was a kid.  At the time, my family lived on the 
southern border of Hinsdale in the adjacent town of Burr Ridge.  It was 
weird like a power outage: you're reminded of the loss of service every 
time you perform the simple act of requesting service, picking up the 
phone or toggling a light switch.  But it lasted a lot longer than any 
loss of power: It was six or seven weeks that, to this day, felt a lot 

Anytime we needed to talk to someone long-distance, we had to drive to a 
cousin's house to make the call.  To talk to anyone local, you'd have to 
physically go and show up unannounced.  At 11 years old, I was the 
bicycle messenger between our house and my great-grandmother, who lived 
about two blocks away.  My mother and father kept the cars gassed up and 
extra fuel on hand in case there was an emergency.

Dad ran a home improvement business out of the house, so new business 
ground to a halt.  Mom worked for a publishing company, so their release 
dates were impacted.  The local grocery store's scanners wouldn't work, 
so they had to punch the orders into the register by hand, using the 
paper sticker prices on the items.

I clearly remember from the local papers that they had to special-order 
the replacement 5ESS at enormous cost.  I saw the big brick building 
after the fire with the burn marks around the front door.  In late May 
and early June, the Greyhound buses with the workers were parked around 
the block, power plants outside with huge cables snaking in right 
through the wide open front door.

When we heard that dial tone at last, everyone was happier than an 
iPhone with full bars. Lol

We're spoiled for choice in telecom networks these days.  Also, 
facilities management have learned plenty of lessons since then.  Like, 
install and maintain an FM-200 fire suppression system.  But 
nevertheless, sometimes when I step into a colo, I think of that outage 
and the impact it had.


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