The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, Debtember 10, 2007

This time, it really was broken

[Bad hub!  No token for you!]

Well, that was pleasant.

I got up this morning afternoon, went to check my email only to find myself logged out. Hmm, I thought. I wonder if there was a network issue? I went to another terminal window, and saw that I was logged out of linus, which isn't across the Internet, but just across the desk from the machine I was using. Now that's odd, I thought. What the heck is going on?

Hey! Who turned off the hub?

Yes, I use a hub. A 12 port 10base-T with AUI and 10base-2 port hub. I picked them up a few years ago, back when I was actively using older systems that didn't support the newer 10base-T Ethernet standard. I'm still using it because of a motto I live by: “if it ain't broke, don't fix it!”

So I reached behind the hub and flipped the switch.


I tried flipping the switch multiple times.

Each time, nothing happened.

I tried saying “xyzzy.”

Nothing happened.

I tried saying “plugh.”

A hollow voice said “plugh,” but the hub still didn't work.

“Well XXXX,” I said.

One major expedition to clear the desk later, I had the hub pulled out and open. The fuse was still good. Power was getting to the power supply. But power was not getting to the rest of the system. The power supply was shot.

“Well XXXX,” I said.

Getting a replacement wasn't hard. “Smirk,” I said on the phone, “do you have a spare switch or hub lying around?”

“Yes, I have this five port 10/100base-T switch. Will that work?”

“Perfect! I'll be over to pick it up.”

No, that was the easy part.

The hard part was getting rid of the 10base-2 portion of my network (remember: “if it ain't broke, don't fix it.” And until today, it weren't broke). The good part: linus' Ethernet card had a 10base-T port. The bad part: janet's (the firewall system) Ethernet card to my part of the network didn't.

“Well XXXX,” I said.

I scoured various boxes for an AUI-10base-T transceiver. Now, AUI-10base-2 transceivers are rare; you can still dig them up, but they're rare. An AUI-10base-T transceiver? Pretty much extinct. I've only seen two of them in my twenty years in this industry, but hey, you never know—I could have one buried somewhere.

Only I didn't.

“Well XXXX,” I said.

I was going to have to swap out a network card in janet. My old webserver, tower had a usable network card with a 10base-T connector. Pull that out. Shut down all the machines on my part of the network, pull janet out from underneath the pile of computers that sit on it. Swap cards. Then realize I have to recompile the Linux kernel on janet (which is a 486, but in the interests of keeping it out of a landfill, I'm using it for a firewall) to support the new card.

“Well XXXX,” I said.

Half an hour later, I got the new kernel working on janet and my part of the network is back up.

Just in time to hit The Melting Pot to celebrate The Older's birthday.

It's interesting to note that in searching for my hub, I found them for sale for anywhere between $20 and “if you have to ask, you can't afford it” (although several places had them listed for between $170-$220). It also seems worth it to fix the darned thing (actually, I have two such hubs, both have blown power supplies) and sell them.

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