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One day, while visiting my aunt Shelley, who works in telecom, I found a strange contraption in her apartment. It was a BNC T-connector, with three short BNC wires coming out of it, each of those cut a few inches from the connector. On either side of the top of the T were two halves of a broken pencil, each lashed to the wires with a wire tie. I brought it to my aunt, and asked her about the bizarre device.

She explained to me that she had recently had to figure out why a network at a small office had gone down. After much searching and consternation, she found the connector and broken pencil halves I described above hooked into the wiring of the network. She was initally as perplexed as I was, but eventually was able to deduce what had happened:

The last person to diagnose and repair that office's network tracked down the problem to a bad T-connector. It had some physical problem, wherein the connector would only function if the wires jacked into it went straight in. So, unlike a good network administrator who would simply replace the connector, this intelligent fellow used the pencil, attached to the wires with the wire ties, to keep the wires straight. The network worked again for a while, but...

When the pencil finally broke, the network went down.

My aunt had the connector replaced and kept the old setup as a souvenir.

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