Some years ago I worked very hard to extricate myself from the “hardware” issues which I found myself having to deal with instead of developing — which (at least most of the time) I love doing! Dealing with “hardware” however I do NOT love doing. Then comes the panic call — customer down, application partially unavailable, state auditors coming in for 3 weeks of audit just after the Thanksgiving holiday!
Result? — deep into the throes of a hardware issue I go — day before the Thanksgiving holiday (timing is everything!), was looking forward to knocking off a bit early — but… not to be! So I meet with my friend (also their hardware guy) and we head to the site. It seems that communication between their office and main operations facility is not working. It is normally linked via a fiber optic cable running the 300 feet or so between buildings. Now, I inherited this installation which was done some 8-9 years ago, and until today hadn’t had to do anything with it. In fact, it has been at least that long since I connected my last site.
Our challenge for the day was to get the 2 very different media converters talking with each other — without being able to test either of the original units to determine which had gone bad. This would be somewhat of a trial and error operation. When replacing the unit on one end, testing for link and having none, we were dismayed since it had been a power “issue” in the remote building that had caused the original outage, which led us to believe that it was the unit in that building which “must” have gone south with the power. However, in desperation we decided to try replacing the unit we “thought” to be the good one. Well, imagine our surprise to find that by replacing that unit we had communication! It was a beautiful thing!
Moral of this story? Sometimes the independent software developer must wear other hats. Customer service is primary — while this long term customer of my friend is a relatively new customer of mine, the task they needed accomplished took the skills of both myself with my experience and knowledge set, and that of my friend “the hardware guy”. Together we were successful, and our customer who was seriously behind the eightball as a result of the failure is now able to work efficiently again. I expect they will continue to be a loyal customer.