Monday, September 18, 2017

New Zealand - a chain of systempunkts

The sad fact is that NZ, as a long, thin, and increasingly poor country, is just chocka with what John Robb terms 'systempunkts' - points where a directed attack or natural causes can generate an effect wildly out of proportion to the original investment.

  •     Kaikoura earthquake severed the single rail line North-South in the Mainland,
  •     Xtra's Interwebs in the NI went west a few years back via a rat on a fiber optic on one loop, and a digger (them diggers should, perhaps, be Watched?) on the other
  •     I've always reckoned that a handful of clapped-out Datsun 180's, 'stalled' on a few strategic Awkland on or off-ramps or the Newmarket overbridge, would gridlock the sorry show for a day or more
  •     And let's not forget the weeks without power to Central Awkland a coupla decades back.

A leetle story about older infrastructure in a major Wellywood Gubmint building just before Y2K (remember that?):

The crew decided to test the resilience of the backup power systems in the building. Good call, because over three attempts, this is what they found each time they disconnected the external power via the Big Red Switch:

  1.     The UPS behind the mainframe floor had never been deep-cycled. It failed after a few tens of seconds. New UPS ordered.
  2.     Weeks later, feeling a bit smug, next disconnection. UPS works, genny fires up. Genny lasts about half an hour before one phase burns out completely. Turns out the building, as it was occupied, had all power wired to predominantly one of three possible phases. Mild panic sets in. Building wiring hastily re-jigged, New genny ordered
  3.     Genny arrives. Whoops, won't fit in the basement space. Needs a hastily erected external shed. Panic turns from mild to extreme (mid-December 1999). But third time lucky, it all holds together when the Big Red Switch is thrown.

One building, in one city.

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