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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: 1) by Hank the Lion on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:18AM

    by Hank the Lion (1775) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @09:18AM (#14551)

    Why should that have been a problem?
    Here in Europe, mains plugs are symmetrical.
    You cannot know in advance which pin will be live, and which will be neutral.
    If a device only works correctly with the plug in one direction, then that device is defective (and could cause safety problems if it is not properly grounded).
    The power supply must, under all circumstances, provide sufficient isolation between ground and live, but also between ground and neutral.
    How is this different in the USA?

  • (Score: 1) by SuperCharlie on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:41PM

    by SuperCharlie (2939) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:41PM (#14726)

    Here in the US, Hot, Ground, and Neutral are always discreet and seperate as well as in modern wiring specifically positioned in the wall plug. While I am not sure exactly what was wrong, I suspect that the hot wire was intermittently shorting to neutral, like one strand of wire occaisonally, which I managed to catch.