There's nothing quite like trying to fix a tech problem on very little information. I have to admit this has happened at our company when people outside of the IT department -- say, the electrical engineers -- purchase a turnkey system from a vendor to perform a specific task. In their defense, they often figure out how to deal with problems that come up, so it's not usually a big deal.
But sometimes these systems fall between the cracks as far as any kind of support or maintenance structure. My first viewing of these systems may come when an employee approaches me for help -- after it quit working, of course. In certain cases, the information abyss stares right back at you in all its deep, unknowable terror.
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One such system was installed at our plant to manage recorded video from cameras on the shop floor. It involved a simple client/server application that allowed users to connect to the server, select a camera, and view either live video or replay the recording from a particular time frame.
This was not a mission-critical system. But it was a valuable tool that employees could use to investigate problems in tracking the product on the line or in understanding mechanical or other problems that occurred. For a while, it worked very well and didn't require special attention -- it was all so easy!
Luck runs out
One day, it all stopped. I was consulted because I was the only person in the department who had experience with Unix systems -- a skill not previously needed in our Unix-free support environment. I began the investigation.