‘I’m a doofus’

Caïn by Henri Vidal, Tuileries Garden, Paris, 1896
Flickr/Alex Proimos

Not me, at least not in this instance. The self-described doofus here is a contributor to Reddit’s section devoted to networking, who says he acquired his doofus bona fides while troubleshooting his company’s VoIP system. Mr. Doofus explains:

I've been struggling with nasty packet drops occurring on VoIP calls at our data center for a few weeks now and for the life of me I couldn't find the source of the issue. I thought at first that the servers I have running our custom VoIP applications were just overloaded, but the issue would show up on just a single active call. Restarting the VoIP servers didn't help, all of the QoS markings and switch/router prioritization were spot on, the ISP was returning a clean bill of health on the circuit, etc., nothing was making sense. I made a few internal VoIP calls that stayed on the LAN which were crystal clear, and made some calls that also traverse the router to another internal subnet which were also clear, so I now knew the ISP connection was where the trouble was beginning.

Yesterday evening I decided to go over every inch of the router until I found the issue, and when I finally found the issue my head hit the desk. My ISP requires that I manually set the speed and duplex of the circuit, and yours truly didn't do that, so the interface was defaulting to half duplex.

Now every VoIP call is crystal clear. I feel like a total doofus for missing something so fundamental.

Generally speaking, when someone makes a confession of this nature on an Internet forum one or two things happen: the doofus is consoled by the been-there, done-that crowd or he is lambasted for being a doofus.

In this case, we get the former.

Example 1: “Working for an ISP, I feel like they should have checked your interface for errors. Generally there would be some RX CRC and Frags if there is a duplex mismatch. I'd say it’s as much on them as you.”

Example 2: “You aren’t a doofus. Happens to the best of us. … Good job in finding the problem!”

Example 3: “Few are the engineers that haven't been burnt by that a time or two.”

Reddit’s networking section is one of the nicer corners of the Internet.

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