2006-02-23

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad...

Did you ever have one of those days where whatever good news/progress you get seems to have to be tempered with some bad?

Get the feeling there's a story here? Well you're right.

The early stages in my revamping of the door control system have been moving on nicely: We have injected the outer perimeter guards with RFID tags, claiming they were vaccines for a new biological weapon that leaked outside. We have installed new door control panels in the outer perimeter doors, and issued new key-cards to the perimeter guards.

Everything was working well, with only one or two false-alarms when guards would borrow each other’s keycards if they forgot their own. The access control system was loaded with rock-salt shells instead of actual buckshot shotgun shells so the staff would have a chance to learn their lesson.

Did I mention the shotgun shells before? They are mounted just behind the keycard panel, hidden by a paper cover and fire if the system detects an intruder, great stuff. All that is required in the case of an intruder setting the system off is the removal of the spent shell and the insertion of a new shell and paper cover and the panel looks brand new.

Yup, everything was going well. In fact, this morning I get into work in time to see a guy with a nasty rock-salt injury being dragged down the hallway to the boss's antechamber. Score one for me! Just as expected, he knocked out a guard, put on his uniform, and tried to use his keycard. When the RFID tag that matched the keycard was missing, BLAMMO! The intruder takes a gut full of rock salt and the other guards are alerted automatically.

So that's the good news. And the bad news? Well, I was sitting in the server room working on a project when I feel this powerful heat coming from behind me. I turned around to see one of the servers has a two inch smoking hole right through it. Not only that, there are two-inch holes in the walls beside it, and I can see through a series of two-inch holes right into the boss's antechamber!

I talked to one of the guards later that day in the cafeteria and found out that after the intruder had been dragged before the boss, he claimed to know all about the boss's new plasma cannon and his plans to use it to assassinate key political figures. He then tried to convince the boss that he was of more use to him alive than dead, because his agency would expect to hear from him at regular intervals and would send in the troops if he did not report back, as they also knew of his plans.

My boss's reply was apparently along the lines of 'if they knew about what I was up to, they would have already sent in the troops, I'd rather kill you'. The intruder then asked for a last request. My boss replied to by shooting the intruder in the head with the new plasma cannon.

Now that's fine, sounds like a good way to deal with a spy and all, but he forgot to turn the power down on the damn thing before he fired, sending a plasma beam through the spy and four bulkheads before it went through my server, through four more bulkheads, and right out the side of the volcano.

As far as such problems go, it was not such a big deal due to the fact that the server in question was one of the new Linux machines I was provisioning as a proof-of-concept and was not a production machine, but it really opened my eyes to the level of redundancies needed around here: the machine was dual-processor, dual PSU, RAID 10, ECC RAM, everything I could get to make it reliable, but one plasma blast and the thing was offline.

Even a redundant machine would have been worthless if it had been sitting next to the primary. I think I'm going to check around the areas on the other side of the island and look into setting up a second server room. While I am at it, I think I'll make sure the next one is less conspicuous, with no 'Master Control' sign on the door and no picture windows that show off the various server racks (from what I have heard from the techs who work nearby, the room has practically begged to have a grenade or two tossed into it in the past).

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