North American Network Operators Group

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Re: San Francisco Power Outage

  • From: Justin M. Streiner
  • Date: Wed Jul 25 02:44:53 2007

On Tue, 24 Jul 2007, Tuc at T-B-O-H.NET wrote:

(I remember two guys with VERY LONG screwdrivers poking a live transfer
switch to get it to reset properly, and was told to step back 20 feet as
thats how far they expected to get thrown if they did something wrong).
(I also remember them resetting the switch, then TRIPPING it again just
to make sure it could be reset again!)

Ahhh, a trip down memory lane :)

The ISP I used to work at had a small ping-and-power colo space, and we also housed a large dial/DSL POP in the same building. A customer went in to do hardware maintenance on one of their colo boxes. Two important notes here:

1. The machine was still plugged in to the power outlet when they decided to do this work.
2. They decided to stick a screwdriver into the power supply WHILE said machine was plugged into said power outlet. I guess those "no user serviceable parts inside" warning labels are just friendly recommendations and nothing more...

While the machine was fed from a circuit that other colo customers were on, the breaker apparently didn't trip quickly enough to keep the resulting short from sending the 20 kva Liebert UPS at the back of the room into a fit. It alarmed then shut down within 1-2 seconds of this customer doing the trick with the screwdriver. This UPS also fed said large dial and DSL POP. Nothing quite like the sound of a whole machine room spinning down at the same time. It gives you that lovely "oh shit" feeling in the pit of your stomach.

I do remember fighting back the urge to stab said customer with that screwdriver...