Friday, 24 April 2009

Power down - Power up - Power down

Well, I got out of work early today because there was nothing I could do.

At 3pm I was with the rest of the Faculty IT team just starting our monthly meeting when ... ping! We were plunged into darkness. All you could hear was a descending hummmmm.... from the air conditioning. Then eerie silence. Someone pointed out the obvious, "powers gone off". I looked behind me and noticed "the emergency lighting's on". Boss says "Er, right. Meeting postponed.", and off we all shoot. Big Mike was just behind me muttering the word "servers" in a worried voice.

Those of us not connected with 'servers' gathered outside and we were looking round. Lights off in that building, lights off over there, lights off all round. Even the Belisha beacons on the zebra crossing were off. Students and staff passing us in droves, going home.

After about 15 mins we noticed some signs of lights, and it wasn't reflections from the basement where the GM mice are. We went back inside.

Power's on but no computer networks. "DS is down" says one guy (DS is the main University network) - I should have twigged then. "BMB-LEEDS is down sez I" (that's a local network I need for my job).

Nothing else I can do so I fielded the Help Desk phone. It was strangely quiet, most folk were sensible enough to call it a day and go home. One young lady really, really, really needed some data NOW! So I had calm the situation and explain about UPSs and failsafe, and no I didn't know when the systems will be working again. Another guy, given his professorship, should have known better than to phone to say his email wasn't working after the power cut. Just wait man, reboots all over the place.

Then I learned that the power outage had been all over the Leeds campus. University wide! So Leeds Uni was offline. Heads will roll! Over the next few minutes some networking did begin to percolate back to life , then... ping!

Power off again.

Leeds Uni campus is the size of a small town (bigger than a large village anyway), people live onsite. There are shops, cafes, sports facilities, bars, a pharmacy, an opticians even. A renowned music venue too.

I can't do my job without computer networks, so I went home. Via The Wickham Arms. WooHoo.

As I write this at half-past nine, the Leeds University website is still down, email is down and I can't ping anything.

Oooh this is serious :)


cupofassam said...

I walked around campus trying to find somewhere that was not blanked out, and to see if anyone knew what had happened. The Parkinson building looked like a scene from The Survivors. The local news has nothing to say. I'm guessing it's a contractor who has cut through a main cable. They tend to do that kind of thing, in between ogling students.

NobblySan said...

Sounds like an inside job to me.

A bit of overkill in order to facilitate the guzzling of an early pint or six.

leedsunistudent said...

How big must the cable have been to put the whole campus in darkness?! Concerned about this one - should I go to my early Monday semindar or not...definitely can't do the work for it - everything's on the VLE.

Katherine said...

In such a short time, haven't we become so dependent on electricity?

Me, I have a wood-burning stove, a gas hob, three kero lanterns and jars full of preserves. Bring it on!

Andy Holroyd said...

I still have no news on the cause of the problem but the computer networks are finally back online. 1st thing this morning all I could get was webmail and was wondering why there was such a long delay. I guess a lot of people had their weekend plans reshaped somewhat.

And that includes the VLE, sorry leedsunistudent looks like work for us both on Monday (enjoy the sunshine first though).

Katherine you lucky, self sufficient person you. I've got an open fire and burn a lot of wood too. It's so cosy and makes the best toast ever. My next thought though is to buy a small generator to run the computer (entertainment) and the fridge (beer and pizza).

Now, just got to deliver this plain brown envelope to Murphy McAlpine and I’m done for the day.

leedsunistudent said...

any details on the cause yet?

Andy Holroyd said...

@ leedsunistudent
Nothing yet on what caused it, but I've just posted what I learned today.