In this latest post, CEO and co-founder Jeremy Davies reflects on the IT infrastructure challenges during the first few years at CONTEXT.
One of the reasons why working at CONTEXT in the early days was exciting, was that our work combined the business side with deep interest in emerging PC technologies. Balancing budgets and wanting to keep ahead of the curve was both challenging and fun.
As we grew, and data processing requirements became more intense, we were in dire need of a network. When Windows 3.11 “Windows for Workgroups” was launched with built-in networking capabilities, it was the answer to our prayers, as we would not have to invest in any expensive third-party solutions. Network adapter cards were cheap by then, and thinking that cabling wouldn’t be an issue, we went to our local Radio Shack shop just down the road on Kensington High Street where I bought the coaxial cables and connectors.
But no matter how hard we tried, I could not get the network to work. It would perform for a few minutes, then all kinds of error messages would pop up. It took a few weeks, and a few trips to the Radio Shack shop, and it seemed that I’d bought cheap 75 ohm coax cables used for cable TV, and I should have used the correct – but expensive – 50 ohm type. Lesson learned.
Shortly after, we moved offices. We received a quote from a networking company to re-cable the new premises. No way. For that price, we’d do it ourselves.
The phone company had been in and laid an extensive network for our phone system, and we decided to wait until the weekend to use their ducting for our network cables. We were almost there when we came to a junction box stuffed with phone wiring blocking our path.
“This has to be the old system,” I said. “Give me those wire cutters”. I hacked through the phone wires and got our network cable through. Success.
Monday morning the phone company installer arrived at my office door. “Some fool has cut through the new wiring I installed last week, it’s all going to have to be re-done,” he fumed.
“Right,” I improvised, “I’m getting onto that useless network installation company right away.”