Always do your reasearch!

As I sit in O’Hare (21st on standby for my flight to NYC) I can finally take a breath and relax a bit after a very hectic week! My Aunts are in town from Spain for two weeks so I have had my “Chicago Tourist” hat on since last Wednesday! In addition to that, my initial 6-month performance review was finally going to happen this week so I had to do the “self evaluation” portion of the review. The night before the review and a scant 2 hours after my Aunts had come to see my office, I was talking to a vendor about a new telephone system… while in midst of his “sales pitch” the phone went click and my phone lit up like a Christmas tree! My first instinct was to point it out to my Systems Administrator “Look at this! How bizza…” then it hit me. The phone system had crashed. The whole reason I had been looking into new systems is because our antiquated Mitel switch was on its last legs. I have been concerned about the system going down for a few months now, so I can’t say I was totally surprised. I just though it would take something more than “the usual day’s activities” to crash it! I immediately went into emergency recovery mode and the next 4 hours flew by very quickly. After speaking to the consulting firm that had worked on our system in the past they had decided that the floppy drives as well as the power supplies were most likely in need of replacement. (Yes, our system runs on two 1.44mb floppy drives – it’s only mode of storage!) This was going to cost us $175 an hour plus parts cost (I estimate ~$500 minimum in parts) and they couldn’t tell us for sure if they would be able to recover the configuration from the floppies. We decided to wait until the morning and get charged the more economical rate of $110 an hour. Yikes! I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to tinker with the system for a bit first. So I took our the floppy drives and started some parts swapping from nearby PCs. (Now 14th on standby) The PC parts didn’t work quite as I had hoped, but I somehow managed to get the beast running. (Made it on the earlier flight!) Granted I got it working as well as it was before the crash – which doesn’t say much. But it is enough to tide us over until we purchase a new system.

I have gotten quotes from quite a few vendors and the most enticing quote was from Inter-Tel. They offered us the first 6 months without payments, which is perfect for us as we have no money budgeted for a system this fiscal year. Well, as I was doing a bit of research today I discovered that Inter-Tel has been debarred from the Universal Service Fund by the FCC! The fund provides us with a huge chunk of our money for telecommunications! This was very disappointing as I had mentioned the fund to the sales rep on our first encounter. She didn’t even bat an eye. Thankfully I found this before making any decision – they were on the top of my list!

In the mean time I saved our organization a huge chunk of change by pulling a McGyver on the Mitel PBX. Hopefully it’ll continue to run until I decide on a new system – VoIP here we come! When it came time for my performance review the next day, which we were both sure we would have to cancel in order to take care of the phone system problems — my supervisor was thrilled with the work I had done!

But for now, I can put that all behind me as I’m in the air on my way to New York City – my 4th visit! I’m very much looking forward to spending time with Teresa and seeing her big show! It’ll be great to put the “Tourist Hat” back on again and soak in the sights (and the warmer weather) that the city has to offer! I’ll do my best to moblog while on the road!

4 thoughts on “Always do your reasearch!”

  1. Hm. Awfully convenient that your system went down and you were able to fix it right before your review.


    I kid, I kid. It sounds like you’re doing a great job.

    Have fun in NYC. Say hi to Scott for me.

  2. Yes, very interesting. Never believe the salespeople, my company has been burned by it before and probably will again. My favorite is when the business signs a contract to replace equipment (i.e. a money order machine) by a certain date without consulting IT to see if it will even work with our current systems. We had less than a month to get that fixed, fun times.

  3. Querido Pablo, me encantaria saber lo que has dicho, parece muy interesante pero no entiendo nada.Mi ingles ha desaparecido y el traductor lo hace todabia mas dificil.¿que puedo hacer?

  4. We had an 10 years Inter-Tel PBX phone system that died about 1.5 years ago. The voicemail system completely died, and there was no way to recover. Inter-Tel told us at the time that they don’t support our system anymore and offered us nothing to fix our system, but they were more than happy to quote us for a new system.

    My boss was still not comfortable with VOIP, and really for the size of our business, there really were not a ton of savings. So we got a hybrid system that can act as both PBX or VOIP. Much of the system management is like a VOIP system and I’m so thankful I no longer have to switch a phone extension by changing the rats nest of wires on the patch panel.

    Good luck with your search and your installation!

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