How Can It Only Be Partially Working?
This question was recently phrased to me by a customer who was having an erratic overnight processing communication problem. This scenario was one where the communication cycle was only going through one stage (get phase) of the communication cycle, but not the other (send phase). On the second phase, the file transfer would start, and the modems would almost immediately disconnect. All of the log files indicated that the transmission was being halted so abruptly that the communication software was still waiting for acknowledgment commands from the modem that never came.
Not getting very far with a technical explanation of what we thought was going on. I thought for a little while, and came up with the following two real life analogies…
Transmissions and Clutches…
One involved a car that I once owned which was temporarily loaned to an extended family member. Upon getting the vehicle back, I noticed that the vehicles 5 Speed Manual Transmission could no longer be put into reverse. However, the vehicle ran fine through all of forward gears without issues. I was later determined that a retaining bolt which held the reverse gear stationary in the transmission had broken cleanly. When the transmission was put in reverse, the gear would just spin round and round and round, never engaging.
Another recent event involved my truck… The clutch was behaving erratically. It would be OK for awhile and then I would experience some difficulty shifting, with the clutch assembly squeaking, the clutch groaning, and the clutch giving a slipping sensation in all gears. Then just as suddenly, the problem would go away without warning, only to re-appear later on.
On taking the truck in for repair it was determined to be two problems. The Clutch Fan Plate was partially caved-in, causing it to bind and not either seat or release properly when changing gears. Also, the bushings in the Clutch Pedal were significantly worn, causing both the pedal and the pressure piston to stick if I hit the pedal at just the right angle. After rebuilding the Clutch, replacing the Clutch Pedal and bushings, the problem went away.
Maybe it is the modem…
As I suspected, in our customers case, their communications issue was later determined due to problems with two modems (an older one at a remote store, plus a newer one at the main polling server). This situation was also compounded by general communication problems with existing telephone company phone circuitry. After replacing both modems, the problems went away.
The moral of this story is… It can be only partially working, and just because it’s new, or because it looks physically OK, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is… This is especially true with electronic communication devices, which are especially sensitive to temperature extremes.
The heat is on… So If you have some hardware that you believe to be possessed, please contact the CCS Retail Systems Support Department to schedule a technical support session