Rather than look at specifics sometimes it’s helpful to look for patterns. I did it as part of my job for a long time and it served me well. Goes along with the other most useful troubleshooting tool – your pockets. Gives you a place to put your hands so they don’t get into trouble while you just observe for a while. So here’s an old war story with a point. Probably the early ‘90s. Started getting emergency service calls from a fairly new customer with a maintenance contract. In that business model they paid for and got the Cadillac service. So you’re sitting at your desk and the phone rings. To your surprise it’s 911, the local Fire or Police Department, Chinese and pizza places, the FBI and (really) Rudolph Giuliani’s private residence. This came and went but was causing serious trouble for all involved. Frustrating and damned unusual. This was a large building that was 90% unoccupied. Family owned business, the founder was some sort or military/defense contractor. Most of the place was dark with big drafting tables and obscure looking machines all covered up. The man’s son was running a business from a small part that had been converted to office space. This escalated and we had the manufacturer involved creating a logging application and loading it on a PC with a big enough drive to store what was needed. They were prepping it to be flown to site with an engineer. Bear in mind at the time that what PCs looked like, how common they were and what they were used for. Not exactly what it is today. Telephone systems and computer networks – such as they were at the time – were two different animals. Yours truly was assigned to this place for 40 hours and I sat there being the operator. I took a pad and pencil, made a sketch of the place that showed every single telephone. Sure enough it started happening to me. While I was there I got called into several meetings. Senior was just pissed. Junior was an electrical engineer and started offering his technical opinions. I got a lecture about ‘tri-state electronics’ in which a state is somehow between 0 and 1 and yada yada yada. I remember asking him how this could cause the problem and he alluded to whatever defense contract they were filling and how ‘the right resources’ could be applied. I asked “like what, an unmarked van out on the road with some sort of antenna?” and he gave me a grim look. From the looks of it they were probably designing something as critical as the toilet paper spindles used on military bases, but that’s what I heard come from the man’s mouth. He also trotted in his buddy the local police chief who lectured me on abuse of 911 (correctly) and told me all about Senior and Junior’s stellar reputation as pillars of their community. Lovely. It happened to me several times and one day and by chance I caught a glimpse of an extension on the LCD display. Grabbed my map, ran out into the darkened part of the facility and caught the office secretary doing it. Deliberately. She found a glitch that allowed her to very, very quickly dial and transfer a number. Classic case of “we traced the call and it’s coming from inside your house!” In some of the meetings I had to endure Junior treated her like crap. Called her brainless, all sorts of things. Obviously some bad blood there. I caught her red handed and he said “she didn’t have the brains to pull something like that off.” Uh huh. I duplicated it for them and the problem stopped. I later found out that they were both married (not to each other), had an affair that didn’t end well, and this was the result. Quite the shitstorm. I was a hero because what had been a looming financial obligation for my company turned into a bill for services. So, here’s the pattern: · unusual event (s) · investigation that produces few (if any) facts solid enough to be useful · escalation · statements of witness credibility designed to add weight and gravitas to a situation which remained elusive to a number of people who dedicated quite a lot of time looking into it · technical statements and speculation · allusions to some government-military conspiracy Any of those things sound familiar? The answer turned out to be completely mundane. Salacious, but totally understandable when looking at it from a human nature p.o.v.