Forgetting Where You Parked

Here’s a random (but true) story, inspired by a story someone linked to in Slack this afternoon…

Back in the late ’90’s my brother worked at a small local ISP/DSL provider in Olympia, WA. In those days DSL lines usually topped out at 128-256kbps. A few senior people at his company had dedicated T1 lines at home, so they could get online and resolve outages without the hassle and delay of showering, getting dressed, and coming in to the office. (The T1 lines presumably made sense because an outage might also affect a DSL line on the same infrastructure as their customers’ lines.)

That ISP was eventually sold to another ISP in Santa Rosa, CA, which promptly purchased a fully-outfitted TelCo-style service van for the small team in Olympia. The folks in Olympia apparently used it exclusively to go out for pizza and Chinese food for lunch, since they never actually needed to touch any wires out “in the field”, and probably wouldn’t know how to repair anything even if they did.

Eventually the Santa Rosa company was itself acquired and the people with the T1 lines left the newly-merged company. But somehow in all the transitions the new company completely lost track of what infrastructure was running on those T1 lines that were set up by the original ISP. Since they didn’t know what they were for, they were afraid to turn them off.

So they just kept them running… For years… and years… and years

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