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posted by Cactus on Saturday March 08 2014, @02:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the is-it-plugged-in? dept.

martyb writes:

"Remember that one bug that had you tearing your hair out and banging your head against the wall for the longest time? And how it felt when you finally solved it? Here's a chance to share your greatest frustration and triumph with the community.

One that I vividly recall occurred back in the early 90's at a startup that was developing custom PBX hardware and software. There was the current development prototype rack and another rack for us in Quality Assurance (QA). Our shipping deadline for a major client was fast approaching, and the pressure level was high as development released the latest hardware and software for us to test. We soon discovered that our system would not boot up successfully. We were getting all kinds of errors; different errors each time. Development's machine booted just fine, *every* time. We swapped out our hard disks, the power supply, the main processing board, the communications boards, and finally the entire backplane in which all of these were housed. The days passed and the system still failed to boot up successfully and gave us different errors on each reboot.

What could it be? We were all stymied and frustrated as the deadline loomed before us. It was then that I noticed the power strips on each rack into which all the frames and power supplies were plugged. The power strip on the dev server was 12-gauge (i.e. could handle 20 amps) but the one on the QA rack was only 14-gauge (15 amps). The power draw caused by spinning up the drives was just enough to leave the system board under-powered for bootup.

We swapped in a new $10 power strip and it worked perfectly. And we made the deadline, too!

So, fellow Soylents, what have you got? Share your favorite tale of woe and success and finally bask in the glory you deserve."

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  • (Score: 4, Funny) by gishzida on Saturday March 08 2014, @06:24AM

    by gishzida (2870) on Saturday March 08 2014, @06:24AM (#13109) Journal
    In the 1980s I worked as a QA Tech Analyst in the Space Shuttle Main Engine [SSME] QA organization. We were a three shift operation. We had a a guy that loved to talk and go to meetings on day shift, I was the "doer" specializing in measurement procedures and data reduction / calculation applications on second shift, and we had a CNC machine programmer on third.

    One day "Talky" went to a meeting concerning weld thickness verification of the intake torus of the SSME Low Pressure fuel pump. The Pump cover was a machined titanium casting which had a torus made of titanium sheet metal welded to it as the fuel intake. Weld thickness measurements were required to verify that the torus could withstand the pressure of the liquid hydrogen fuel that was being pushed into the pump.

    The weld joint was such that that it seemed to be impossible to get a physical measurement of the thickness. So as a work-around they had taken to taking X-rays of the weld joint at 20 or so "stations" around the weld then comparing the "color / brightness" of the weld to a "calibrated thickness" of titanium in an X-Ray image.

    After six years of taking X-rays the head of the QA radiology group announced that he would no longer allow X-ray images of the weld joints to be considered valid measurements. So a meeting was called to discuss the issue. So when I got in that afternoon the "Talky" said "Hey I went to this meeting, see?..." and then explained the problem. He continued. "I told them we could do thus-and-so.... Can we do thus and so?"

    I stared at him for a moment then said. "Get me a part and I'll let you know."

    At the time I was working out of the Precision Measuring Room at the Canoga Park plant of Rocketdyne. [a.k.a. "the rocket factory" and probably the inspiration for Buckeroo Banzai's "Yo-Yo-dyne"]. The PMR had Three multi-axis precision coordinate measuring machines [CMM]. One was a Sheffield machine which was effectively a precision boring machine with a electric rotary table. It had Digital Readouts (DROs) making it a 4 Axis machine. Its accuracy was about .0002 inches. The second machine was a Zeiss CNC machine controlled by a typewriter sized HP9825 [Programmed in HPL!]. Its accuracy was ~.00005" . The third machine was an Italian made D.E.A. 4 axis CMM with a PDP11C [16k of 12 bit core]as its computer system. Programs were loaded by paper tape. Data could be output by either DECwriter or punched tape. Accuracy about .0005".

    The DEA was clunky but accurate enough and of the three machines CMMs it was the most available. So I set the part up and began to look for ways to make these measurements happen. After a few hours I came up with a method to measure not only the weld thickness but the contour of the torus at each of the radial locations we were required to verify the measurement. I breathed a sigh of relief and shipped the part on its way and forwarded the results and a procedure how to do it to "Talky".

    A few days later "Talky" came to tell me the results of the review of my work and the measurement procedure I had developed. "Everyone was very happy except the guy from the Stress Engineering group." The engineer had said. "We haven't measured this is *SIX* years and *NOW* we suddenly can measure it? What will we tell the Government?" My Talky counterpart replied to the engineer. "If they ask we'll tell them we had an advance in technology."

    At this point I interrupted "Talky". "What are you talking about? We've had that machine in the PMR for almost 10 years. What is this advance in technology?"

    "Talky" looked at me, and laughed. "I told them that the advance in technology was that we hired *YOU*."

    I started laughing too.
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  • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Saturday March 08 2014, @01:20PM

    by mhajicek (51) on Saturday March 08 2014, @01:20PM (#13175)


    The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08 2014, @01:43PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08 2014, @01:43PM (#13179)
    Thanks! Many of these posts remind me of the old Slashdot years ago.

    Nowadays Slashdot is full of smartasses who can barely use Google properly.