Unlike some other industries, IT tends to be quieter during the holiday season than at other times of the year. Clearly this is dependent on the main business focus, but many IT folks get to enjoy a break around Christmas and New Year's. This year I decided to do the same, swapping activity for passivity, essentially only responding to actual data center problems, of which I encountered mercifully few. But I had some help in my goal to disconnect, and it gave me a glimpse of a different perspective, though it wasn't so relaxing.
On New Year's Eve, the fates decided I should be stricken with a bizarre set of technological problems that defied logic and reason. At roughly the same time, both of my data circuits dropped and my analog phone lines went dead. According to my monitoring, this all happened within the same five-minute window.
We're talking about a business-class cable connection and a backup DSL connection through two different companies, using two different technologies, riding two different wires, terminated by different hardware devices. The only logical explanation was that a tree had fallen and cut off these services, or the physical cables had somehow been severed. However, the power was still on, and cable TV worked fine. Visual inspection of all lines showed no disturbance.
Thus, on the cusp of a new year, my afternoon was spent on my cellphone with Fairpoint and Time Warner Cable trying to figure all of this out. Phone support for both was clueless; they initially tried to blame my equipment, then later acquiesced and decided to send out a tech -- on Jan. 2.
I was still puzzled by the coincidental nature of the problem and wasn't entirely sure we could rule out a physical problem with the line somewhere, perhaps in a frozen conduit or the like. The phones, cable, and cable Internet worked fine for adjacent customers, and the odds of two different service providers having an outage that affected only my circuits at the same time were too high. However, that was the only viable answer I could come up with, and both companies swore it wasn't their fault.
There was naught to do about it. It was the last day of 2012, and I spent it cut off from the Internet, except for my cellphone, despite my planning and best intentions.