Tuesday, September 28, 2004

UPS blog.

Today I learned, the hard way, what a UPS unit is. Nothing to do with picking up packages, but instead a piece of electronic equipment: uninterrupted power source. Its job, I think, is to keep the system alive when Commonwealth Edison takes a break. A funny thing to call it, UPS, considering that my office’s Smart UPS 700 unit, a small but heavy box made by a company called APC, gave up the ghost on Monday morning, thereby interrupting all the power to our server and the assorted routers that provide us telephone, Internet and e-mail connectivity.

You try to run an office without those things. At first we suspected a problem with MCI, which provides those essentials to the office. The telecom giant’s service has been spotty at times, but never a total blackout. Still, we considered MCI the likely culprit, and our IT guy (in New York) got after them on Monday afternoon. They denied it, so this morning we turned our attention to the hardware, which is located in a back storage room. A server, a lot of boxes, a cascade of wires to the floor, others running up to the ceiling. Usually there are signs of life in all that mess, such as lights and the whir of fans, but all the lights were off and nothing was making noise.

I described all this on the (cell) phone to Sydney, our IT guru, and he decided that the UPS was the problem. He told us to get another one, 700 or higher. Calls (using cell phones) followed, to nearby computer supply stores. Everyone had 650s. Later Sydney clarified that two 650s would solve the problem. “That’s 1300,” I said. Then we took a field trip to the Office Depot on Grand Ave. to pick up two 650s. Turns out the clerks didn’t know their stock very well, since that store carried an APC UPS 1000. We bought it, on sale no less, for $150.

I was certain that we would plug it in – all the five or six different cords leading into it – and it would do nothing. The problem would be something else, something completely invisible to non-IT types. I was wrong. A few minutes later, everything was back to normal. That’s all I really ask from my electronics, normalcy.


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