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Nostalgia
#286603 08/20/07 04:12 PM
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OK, I suppose Ed is correct, that thread went out the window and down the street during its' drift 'off-subject'. So I'll take a shot at a nostalgia thread. Should there be rules? Subject is telcom related only. DUH! About obsolete, odd, and/or out of production equipment. Doesn't have to be specifically about equipment. Just odd and weird and 'wonderous' stuff that happened to or around you in the telecom business. Any suggestions about this 'rule-set'. I'm going to let this sit 48 hours for comments, then satisfy SilverSam's curiosity about installing an OMNN S1 in the only privately owned building on a U.S.Army Fort. smile John C. (Not Garand)


When I was young, I was Liberal. As I aged and wised up, I became Conservative. Now that I'm old, I have settled on Curmudgeon.
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Re: Nostalgia
#286604 08/20/07 04:39 PM
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Moving to the Booth.


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Re: Nostalgia
#286605 08/20/07 06:00 PM
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John -

I'll start us off with a "best Overtime story" I ever heard.

Back in the '60s, the Cuban mission to the UN called in a line trouble. Now understand - no interconnect back then, but many UN missions installed their own phones and Ma Bell bit their tongues and just dropped DT off at the embassies.

Now the Cubans were sure we were tapping their phones (wonder what gave them that idea?) and mistrusted all Americans, especially the phone men. Apparently a couple of lines had been out for days (not unusual ANYWHERE in NYC in the '60s) and they finally bit the bullet and called for repair and NYT sent out a repairman. Call him.....Bob.

It may come as a surprise to some of you, but many (all?) NY Telephone employees drank. Some considerably. This particular fellow was one of the considerable drinkers. So he shows up at the embassy half in the bag and gets a ration of s**t from the Cubans for being a lackey, running dog, imperialist AND a drunk. Bob proceeds to tell the Commie, Pinko, mother-jumpers what he really thinks of them, and they lock him up for being a CIA Spy.

He's locked up in a cell in the basement of the Cuban mission to the UN for about a week and everyone (State Department, White House, NY Tel) is trying to avoid a major International incident. In the end the Cubans get DT back and release him.

What's the first thing Bob does? Put in for Overtime for being locked up the entire week.

NYT refuses it on the grounds that he was drunk and precipitated an international incident that almost brought the world to war (and caused all the executives much grief)and Bob grieves it with the union.

In the end some agreement was reached and all parties agreed to keep quiet about the whole incident and never discuss it again.

Not being party to the agreement, I'll tell the story. What the heck - the statute of limitations must be over by now.

If you liked that one, I've got a number of other oddball UN stories.


Sam


"Where are we going and why are we in this hand basket?"
Re: Nostalgia
#286606 08/21/07 03:54 PM
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Sam, you know the saying about 'the first liar doesn't have a chance'. Well, I CANNOT top that one, but I'll bet somebody'll take a shot at it! smile John C. (Not Garand)


When I was young, I was Liberal. As I aged and wised up, I became Conservative. Now that I'm old, I have settled on Curmudgeon.
Re: Nostalgia
#286607 08/21/07 06:07 PM
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All right John -

How about a classic bad debt customer who won't pay their bills?

How about the Ugandan Mission to the UN.

When Idi Amin had finished raping the country (financially as well as physically) the mission didn't have any money. They couldn't pay their staff or their bills. The staff wouldn't/couldn't go home, but kept on living at the mission. They continued to order everything as if they were still viable but weren't. The State Department didn't want any major embarassments and encouraged the vendors to continue to supply goods and services. Who knows what the moral status of the Ugandans was, but the bottom line was they could not be prosecuted for nonpayment because of diplomatic immunity. And they knew it.
Finally it was all coming to a head. No many how many calls you get from the Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for African Affairs, eventually you have had enough. The Ugandans were not quite reduced to begging on the streets of Manhattan - but almost.

One of the bills they neglected to pay was the monthly bill for Telephone service. NY Tel cut off their long distance and international, but left them local. My company had the PBX installed. When they stopped paying the monthly maintenance bills, eventually we stopped servicing the site.

Eventually the switch stopped working.

When the principals of my company went out to see them (for the 3rd time!) the mission staff finally came out and explained how they didn't know when (if ever) they'd be able to pay their bills, but they REALLY needed telephone service and would we please fix the switch.

The boss, disgusted with probably 18 months of bad debt he was going to have to write off looked around the conference room (that was decorated with many local (Ugandan) artifacts - Masks, shields, spears etc.

He said he first suggested that they sell off some of their artifacts to help pay their bills, but after they explained that they couldn't because they were merely caretakers for the Uganadan people, he had enough.

Spying a huge 3 foot high drum he said "You've got your own communication system - use that."

We never went back.


Sam


"Where are we going and why are we in this hand basket?"
Re: Nostalgia
#286608 08/22/07 06:16 AM
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Reading about Africa reminds me of dealing with Lagos, Nigeria when I was at Goonhilly (that's the main satellite station in England which handles overseas links on the Atlantic and Indian Ocean routes). I was only a TTA (Trainee Technician Apprentice) with BT at the time, somewhere around 1983.

Part of my duties at that point were to make the regular checks on the carrier systems, measure pilot levels and log the results, follow up anything which needed attention, checking down to group or supergroup level if necessary, etc.

I soon learned to "expect the unexpected" when checking the incoming mastergroup(s) from Lagos. Most others stayed reasonably constant unless there was an obvious fault, but Lagos could be all over the place. You could check in the morning and find it within 2dB of the nominal level (close for Lagos!). Check back in the afternoon, and it could easily be 6dB down, 10dB, or even more. Sometimes we'd even get a call from London if the international exchange there had received enough complaints.

Calling or telexing Lagos was an experience in itself trying to get somebody who knew what you were talking about, but sometimes we could make somebody understand, leave a meter plugged into the Lagos pilot and keep an eye on it. Anything from five minutes to an hour later the level might increase to something approximating normal.

But then you could check back later in the day, or next morning, and find that the level was then 8 or 9 dB too high, and the process of getting it corrected started all over again.

I remember on at least one occasion Lagos was so high that it was starting to cause real problems splattering onto adjacent channels. Repeated attempts to have them correct it failed, so we sent a telex ultimatum: Fix in five minutes or we disconnect you. They didn't, so we did! Strangely enough, about two minutes after we pulled the link on the outgoing carrier to Lagos, the phone was ringing.....

Anyway, eventually a story made it's way back to us. As we heard it, the satellite station in Nigeria was running on surplus equipment they'd acquired from somewhere in Australia. In "Oz," the elevations to pick up a geostationary orbit aren't all that high, but Lagos is pretty much on the equator, and apparently nobody considered proper drainage for the dish. So every time they had a rainstorm out there, the dish turned into a gigantic swimming pool and the signal level plummeted as water got into the feedhorn.

I'll leave it you to decide whether it was true or not, but that's the way it was told to us.

Re: Nostalgia
#286609 08/22/07 06:10 PM
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Ok, I'll buy that one, IF you buy this one. About '87, the Co. I worked for bought out the Honeywell interconnect division in the Kansas City area. We inherited some GTE OMNI's they had sold in the area, and 1 certified tech. AND 1 proposal to install an OMNI S1 in a privately owned building on Fort Leavenworth Army Base. The company was 'Armed Forces Insurance' or something like that. They started out on the base and eventually built a building on Eisenhower road in Lansing (?) Kansas. Anyhow the idea was to install an S1 on the fort tied to the S1 in Lansing. They went for it!?#*!?(&*%$%^&!!! Set up the cabinet in the phone room, T1 installed and connected @ operational between Lansing and exhisting system 25 on fort. Monday night @ 9 PM we start the cut by putting the building on the OMNI with 3 copper lines. Then we try, and try, and try, and try, to make the OMNI run with the T1. 3 AM, prints all over the floor, tech support calling us everything but liars, SWB reps there and saying it's our problem and they're right, why are they hanging around! Only 2 of us can read schematics and understand them, me and Galen, and he's P O'd because the whole install has been a circle jerk. Every time I think I almost have the problem skulled out somebody opens their big mouth and distracts me. Finally, I swear a blue streak and go outside for a smoke. 15 minutes later, everybody else is out there, like they think I need company. I tell them to stay outside for 20 minutes so I can have some peace and think and look! 5 minutes and I found it! Mis-wire on the switch backplane, RX pair, both wires are WRAPPED AROUND THE SAME PIN! Unwrap, land on correct pins, and WALA, T1 sync's up and we have life! I refused to tell the GTE tech support what I did 'cause they had acted like total -ssh-oles. I just told them their QC and final test are junk and they never fully tested the switch, or the problem would NOT have arrived in KS. The 2 on site that really cared, I showed on the print because I buttoned up the back of the cabinet after the T1 went green, like a good boy. Ken in Leavenworth, is that insurance Co. still there? As I recall, the lead SWB tech's name was Buck something or other. He's probably ducking hurricanes in retirement in TEXAS. Well, that's my story, man can I get verbose! smile John C. (Not Garand)


When I was young, I was Liberal. As I aged and wised up, I became Conservative. Now that I'm old, I have settled on Curmudgeon.
Re: Nostalgia
#286610 08/23/07 04:58 AM
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A privately owned building at Ft. Leavenworth!?!

I wonder sometimes how this sort of stuff happens. Someone's brother in law, I'm sure.

I'm surprised that OMNI QC screwed up, but that was a good catch on your part!

Sam


"Where are we going and why are we in this hand basket?"
Re: Nostalgia
#286611 08/23/07 05:31 PM
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Actually, the scuttlebutt I got from some of the workforce was that the building was built with the understanding that the Army could confiscate it if they felt the need for it. In retrospect, that building had some weird construction, semipoor access from 1 area to another, and other drawbacks. I suspect they were there on purpose to discourage possible takeover.

Here's more: the 'stockade' (Ft Leavenworth is 1 of the Army's long term incarceration stockades) denizens were used for all sorts of 'chain gang' activities on the fort. Our company uniform was brown jeans, brown and white pinstripe shirt, and a brown zip-up jacket as needed. The denizens were wearing brown pants and white t-shirts, as they came by pushing lawnmowers, 'manicuring' the Post. So, I'm talking to another guy that had been 'living' on the fort for a couple of weeks. He says, "put on your jacket". I say' "why". He says, "JUST DO IT". So I do. The pushers/guards were looking at me wondering what detail I had slipped away from, and how much trouble I was going to be to subdue. Once I put the jacket on, I became just another civilian on the base, especially after Gaylen walked me over for an introduction and they looked at my MO driver's license!
As for OMNI QC, the OMNI sales weasels had told our sales weasels the OMNI could do that and this and , oh yeah, that's just a little programming. YEAH, RIGHT! Tech support was always saying, "They said WHAT!". Fortunately, I wasn't certified on it, but the co. wanted me to learn it by reading these HUGE volumes in my 'spare' time, while following around the 'certified' tech, who was NOT a teacher-type. He was a doer, not a can't do it so teach it type. Six months later, the kind of job I was looking for opened up in Salina, KS, and I was GONE WITH THE WIND! smile John C. (Not Garand)


When I was young, I was Liberal. As I aged and wised up, I became Conservative. Now that I'm old, I have settled on Curmudgeon.

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