Re: Noisy phone lines in building
Here's an old post of mine from 2009, originally titled "That's just the switch, they do that!" ...
The scene: Old house in Mountain View, converted to Vet clinic.
The time: Late 1999.
The job: Convert the Vet's database from non-Y2K compliant PSI/Idexx on HP/UX to Cornerstone on Win98 (I know, I know, but that was what the Vet wanted).
Considering that Cornerstone included the database conversion in the cost of the 8 hour staff training session, my job was basically setting up the Windows boxes, installing software, and pulling wire. Easy. In fact, I did the complete network setup back in my lab, so all I had to do was make space for the computers, printers, label makers etc., plug it all in, and turn it on.
Unfortunately, the house was built in the post-war building boom, and originally had 2 prong plugs for mains power. Some had been converted to three prong, but not all. I had to convert the six locations where the Vet wanted the computers installed. Three new breakers, pull some wire ... Again, pretty easy.
Day of install, the Saturday afternoon before the Sunday the Cornerstone rep was to hold the staff training session. The Vet wanted me to plug a scanner into her personal machine. The floppies that came with the scanner didn't come with Win98 compatible drivers, so I used the new-fangled V.92 modem to dial into my ISP ... But the connection speed reported as 2400 baud instead of the expected 56K (or so). I broke the connection, redialed, same result. And again. Now, I had already used the modem from my lab, just to verify it worked, so I knew it wasn't my hardware ... I picked up the phone. Line noise. 60hz line noise, to be precise.
I turned to the Vet and asked how long the phones had been buzzing ... she brightly answered that "That's just the switch, they do that!" ... WTF? After further questioning, it turned out that instead of having six phone lines coming in, she had a small switch with six extensions. It was installed when she took over the practice about a decade earlier. (You can probably see where this is going ...).
She lead me to a storage and washing machine room in the back, and pointed at the wall. Hanging there was a dusty, cobweb covered, slightly sad looking $TELCO supplied switch. It had a three-prong cord ... plugged into a two prong socket. The $TELCO tech who did the install had cut the ground pin off the power cord to fit the availabe mains power. I asked her to go get me a cordless 'phone and grabbed a wire coathanger. With phone to ear, I grounded the case of the switch to the cold water pipe with the coathanger ... No more AC hum.
I explained the situation to her, and she went ballistic. After she calmed down a little, I asked if she wanted me to call $TELCO for her. (I could have put a new cord on it myself, and put in another 3-prong socket, but if you touch $TELCO gear, they will refuse to fix it if anything goes wrong in the future.) On further questioning, she allowed as to how in the last decade she had had techs out half a dozen times or so to service her telephones, including what sounded like a firmware upgrade to the switch itself.
Long and short of it, we had a $TELCO tech out 45 minutes after I hung up the phone.