Just When I Thought I’d Heard it All…

I’ve been building, troubleshooting and supporting computer networks for close to two decades. I’ve encountered some very strange explanations for a hardware failure in that time, but this one topped them all!

I was in a meeting with my cloud services provider discussing availability strategies when I receive a notification that we were having trouble reaching our sites (how’s that for irony?). Within 2 or 3 minutes, the issue was alleviated barring a few stragglers here and there. When I returned to the meeting, I was told that failure resulted from a spontaneous router reboot (say that three times fast!). The service provider contacted Cisco to investigate, and the issue turned out to be parity error caused by…


A. Ninjas.

B. Agents of SPECTRE who proceeded to hold the offending bit ransom for…One MILLION Dollars!

C. The ghost of Colonial Sanders.

D. Cosmic Radiation.

E. All of the above.

F. None of the above.

While “F” seems to be the most reasonable, the answer provided by the Cisco Engineer was “D”, Cosmic Radiation. Yes, he really said Cosmic Radiation flipped a bit in the memory, causing a cache error and subsequent system halt.

I’ve never encountered this phenomenon, nor had I ever heard of this happening to anyone else (or at least the cause wasn’t cited as such). Nevertheless, there’s a Cisco support article that discusses this, and other sources to support the notion that this could happen!

What’s the most bizarre explanation some of you have gotten for unplanned downtime?

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