Profoundly Mystified (or WTF?)

Last night… ten minutes before 6pm… ten minutes before quittin’ time… on a Friday before a 3-day weekend… on the Friday before New Year’s…

The router died.

A quick primer on our network… in layman’s terms.

We have three separate internal networks, with varying degrees of access to the Internet. In the middle of all this—the most critical computer in our office—is the router. Take a look:
router.gif
I say it’s the most important piece of equipment on our network, because without the router, none of the computers on separate Nets would be able to communicate with each other, and nobody would have Internet access.

All network traffic travels through the router. When the router dies, everything on the network “is broken” (for the most part).

As important as it is, however, the router itself is really a quite simple machine. It’s a regular computer with no hard drive; it boots from a Linux CD-ROM; it loads its configuration from a floppy disk; it runs by itself until something goes wrong. It should be noted at this point that I neither built nor configured the router.

Last night… wouldn’t boot. I wondered what the problem could be. The CD-ROM disc is quite scratched… could that be it? Maybe it’s a hardware failure… is the CD-ROM drive flaking out?

Today, the CD-ROM loads up fine on any other machine, so I crack open the router in order to test (and possibly swap) the CD-ROM drive. Lo and fucking behold:
cdrom1.jpg
See that writing? Here’s a close-up:
cdrom2.jpg
Why in the hell would anyone put a possibly-dead-or-dying CD-ROM drive… that obviously began acting in a suspect manner in November, 2004… into a machine this critical?

Sure, it was an easy fix… but fuck me sideways… I’m baffled.

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