A fellow bastard in Wales who doesn't have cable TV turns out to be the ideal excuse for procuring some extra bandwidth

Year 1998 - Episode 41


I'm tunnelling a few episodes of an extra- terrestrial TV drama series down the Internet because a good-bastard acquaintance of mine in Wales (OK, a poor-bastard acquaintance as well) hasn't seen them all and wants to get up to speed before he rents the movie.

As a result of the (albeit compressed) video and audio stream, our connection to the rest of the world isn't performing up to what we laughingly refer to as scratch.

And there's NO POINT in getting into a discussion with the new boss about bandwidth requirements, as he's been trawling through the notes of his various predecessors (including the ones in crayon from the loony academy saying "THEY'RE OUT TO GET ME!") and has already informed me that there IS no upgrade path...

However, this doesn't solve the perceivable lack of response of transmission, but with any luck it'll pick up once I patch the video onto a live redundant bearer that our network carrier company ran to our building but neglected to configure as 'down'.

I mean, that's just GAGGING for it, as all of their competitors wouldn't have left a spare NTU in the building in the first place.

Of course, I justify the temporary unofficial upgrade by telling myself how much the carrier company is screwing us for. Who says I'm not the sentimental type?

I liven up the link and run a test. Sure enough, it's even on an active router port! I route the video through it, thanking the gods for a provider with more ports and money than sense...

It's just a matter of time of course, so I make sure that external caller-ID and subscriber look-up are configured into the phone. Sure enough, in a couple of hours, I get a call from our network carrier's customer rep.

"Hello, Belgian Steak and Waffle House...do you need a reservation?" I say carefully, in an accent somewhere between eastern Europe and East London.

"Sorry, wrong number," the caller mutters, then rings off. Two seconds later, he's back. "Belgian Steak and Waffle House...do you need a reservation?"

Now he's confused. He verifies the number he has in front of him against mine, then asks if we have computers on the premises.

"I theenk you mean the peepill upstairs," I say. "Day haf many computers."

He verifies that the company name is right, then asks how I'm on their phone number.

"Oh, that ees a long story," I say. "There was a beeg accident into the building, and now all the phones, they don't go so good seence dee man came to feex it..."

Realising that my accent is rapidly heading towards Mexican, I make my break. "So sorry, I haf some customer - can you call back afder lonch?"

So now I'm on limited time. I know that they're not going to disconnect me in case the problem's a result of work that THEY have done - or worse still, the connection is supposed to be in place but no one's told them about it - but I also know they're not going to let me have free bandwidth for long.

A sneaky plan is called for.

I call our customer rep (after disabling caller-ID look-up) and ask him what the hell is going on with our link speed.

"What do you mean?" he asks.

"Something's using all the inbound traffic!" I blurt. "Just after one of your guys came and fixed the link for us and screwed up our phones at the same time."

"But we don't supply your phones!" he blurts.

"I know you don't!" I cry, "but now they're all mixed up with the other companies in the building and no one's able to do anything!"

"But we never had a service call for you!" he wails. "Have you got a job reference?"

I switch my phone line to modem and flick it into manual connect so he gets an earful of garbage, then switch it back and forth so it sounds like a dalek reaching puberty.

"You haven't got a service call?" I ask.

"No," he blurts, while I check the CCTV to see if the boss's company car is still in the basement.

"But it was just recen..." I blurt, then switch in the modem for the rest of the call and slip off to the basement.

A quick spray of matt-black on the security camera lens later, I've got the boss's bonnet open and a pair of vice grips on his wide-open accelerator cable. Now all that remains is to slip the vehicle into reverse and disconnect the start-in-park-only switch.

Barely half an hour later, the boss's car rips into the telecomms room at about 30mph, more than sufficient to terminate all network and phone connections.

I rip down to the basement and help the boss from the car to a point where he won't see me retrieving Systems and Networks tools from the vehicle.

While he's in shock I add a couple of finishing touches to the NTUs with one of the few remaining fire axes the US company owners supplied as part of their corporate safety plan.

"It just ran away on me!" the boss cries. "Well, the whole building's out!" I say.

"Can't you get it live again?"

"Yeah, but it'll take all night at least and we'll have to enable the redundant link just to get the throughput. Besides which, both NTUs are destroyed, and they only make faster models now and..."

A day later, I'm watching the video of the aforementioned TV series as it comes to me from Wales. Link speed perfect.

"How long will we need that redundant link?" asks the boss.

"Phew," I mumble, "I don't know - how long is the complete Star Trek series?"

"Why?"

"No reason."