Foot in mouth mode...

Strange things happen, sometime they are welcome and make life just that little more pleasant, it can be a simple gesture, something funny, a misunderstanding or just about any event. I suppose a lot depends on the circumstances at the time.
Other times these stange events can sort of spiral in an unexpected direction that leads to something maybe not so nice but usually not too serious.
Below are a few stories of weird things that happened to me (an ISP) that at the time probably didn't seem to funny but with 20/20 hindsight are now quite amusing.
No names, no insults, no accusations and certainly no intention to slander or defame anyone.

The articles are in no particular order.

The modems that bite...

Keeping up with modem technology is a must for any ISP. Users expect the ISP to provide the latest technology AND to accept connections from a wide variety of makes and models of user modem.
Since mid 1998 KC had already been offering V90 dial in modems via a Cisco as5200 modem server. The model of modem in the as5200 was manufactured by Microcom and was generally very stable and had about a 97% connection success.

Later in 1998 Cisco started to provide a new type of digital modem for their modem servers. This was a MICA modem and over a few months several versions of firmware and DSP software were realeased. Each later release resolved connection issues with further makes/models of user modem. >P> Due to various upgrades at KC a new Cisco as5200 modem server with MICA modems was installed in April 1999, eventually this replaced the as5200 with Microcom modems.
Shortly after this new server was commissioned there were several complaints from KC users that they could no longer get connected to KC. Over a week it became clear that there were about three models of modems that were having difficulty connecting to the MICA modems (but could connect to the Microcom modems). This problem affected about eighteen users of KC.
Of these about six were using modems over three years old, two were using outdated VFC modems and the rest had either pcmcia modems in laptop computers or had modems that simply needed a firmware upgrade to enable them to work with the MICAs.

Quite quickly most of the problems were resolved except for five users. They all had fairly new modems that would not connect. These modems were all from two manufactures and it was one model from each.
The five persons concerned were all business clienst of KC so after confirming there was a total non-connection situation and that no modem firmware upgrades were avilable I decided to replace the users' modems with new modems of a make/model I knew would connect to KC's MICA modems.
So with the users approval I purhased the new modems and exchanged for their existing modems.
After a few days, exchanges made, everyone was connecting again.

Over the next two weeks I repeated the exercise with three others that included one pcmcia modem.
I now had eight modems and decided to give them away to non-KC users and over a few weeks I noticed various people in the nz.wanted newsgroup enquiring about second-hand modems. I offered various people the modems as a free gift and soon all eight were gone. Each of the old modems was marked "KC" using an engraver on a blank section of the printed circuit board.
So far as I was concerned this modem business was over.

It was almost a month later, I received an email from a user on KC about a modem problem - no connection. The name was familiar, it was one of the people I had given a swapped-out modem. He was so impressed with the free gift that he had decided to use KC as his ISP. What he was not impressed with was that the modem I had given him would not connect to KC.
Rather than get into a difficult discussion I took back the modem and swapped it for yet another new one. This time I took a pair of shears to the modem card and disposed of it. One dud modem had cost me two new modems.

Two weeks after that incident another call from a business user on KC that his new modem would not work on KC. He had just upgraded from a v32 modem to a V90 56k modem and it would not connect at all. I quickly found out that his modem was one of the non-connecting models so I suggested he return it as incompatible and get one that would connect (I supplied a list of working modem makes/models).
No good, he had purchased it second-hand and could not return it so again after some agonising I decided to replace it.
One very pleased user later I had another dud modem, however on inspecting it I was horrified to see there was an engraved KC on the circuit board. A phone call later and the story was that the modem was purchased from a for-sale-ad in the nz.wanted newsgroup.
This was not nice, I had given this modem to someone who had convinced me they could not afford a modem and could really use a free one from me.
A phone call and I was told that the person concerned had found it necessary to sell his computer to pay University fees and the modem card was also sold seperately for the same reason. Somewhat annoyed by this I realised there was little I could do.
Was I eventually going to see all eight modems returned to me?

Yet again the only action I could take was to replace the dud modem.
Another dud met the shears. Over the next month I was fully expecting more of these dud modems to bite me, then a firmware for the MICA modems was made available on CIsco's web site. I downloaded this and the same day updated the MICA modems.
Reading the notes with the firmware the two modems brands were now supported.

So not only had I purchased twelve new modems to replace ten dud modems but I had also destroyed two modems that would now have worked and given away eight others that would also have worked.
Some people actually think that ISPs make a profit :-)

The warm power cord... ...later

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Last modified: 18 December 1999