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Working 5 Hours For 5 Cents

September 5, 2018

Maybe it was longer than five hours. I may have lost track. But over the past few days I put in 5 hours for five cents. Actually only the second 5 hours was for 5 cents, the first five hours, which was more like 8 hours was free.

Let me go back to the beginning. My son’s car, a 1991 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue needed a new power steering pump because his leaks. It costs about $250 to have a mechanic put in a new water pump. My son’s car is probably not worth more than $500-$1000. It didn’t make sense to pay a mechanic. Especially when I could do it.

Of course, I could do it. . .twice.

The first time took longer than it probably should have. My son is riding his bike while the weather is nice. He’s not in a hurry to have his car back. In fact, he was thinking of selling it to help finance a mission for the Mormon church.

The power steering pump is buried way down in the bottom part of the engine compartment.

In fact, the mechanic would have replaced it from the bottom. The mechanic has a lift. I don’t have a lift. I have jack stands. I did it from the top.

After a couple weeks I managed to get the power steering pump out. You can buy replacement power steering pumps for a 91 Chrsysler, but you cannot get a replacement resevoir.

I switched the resevoir from the old pump to the new pump and eventually, over several days got it put back together. . .and it leaked. Worse than the old one.

I stared at that leaky power steering pump for a long time. It had taken hours to get that pump out and then more hours to get it back in. I didn’t want to do it again.

I did it again. Fortunately the second time I took it apart, it only took about 90 minutes to get the pump out. As I looked at the connection between the pump and the resevoir I realized what the issue was. A $0.05 rubber washer.

The old one was worn and wouldn’t hold a seal. I put the new washer on and put the pump back together with the resevoir. No leaks.

Another four or five hours later and I finally had the engine reassembled. We filled the power steering resevoir and . . .no leaks.

I thought about that rubber washer. If I’d simply replaced it the first time, I wouldn’t have had to redo the entire project. Failure to notice that small detail cost me hours and hours of additional work.

Is there a business application? I’ve had projects fail because someone forgot one small detail at the very beginning.

I was once working on a migration from Microsoft Exchange email to Novell Groupwise email. We migrated 3000 users over Labor Day weekend. We finished early. During our final validation steps we noticed that some of the images for one email were attached to a different email. We didn’t worry about it too much since the images were mostly from SPAM emails.

But, then, I noticed that not all the emails were SPAM. Some of them were legitimate email that was cross-linked.

We were migrating a hospital’s email.

HIPAA requires that you not allow anyone except a person’s doctor see their medical information. Like the medical information in the emails we had tried to migrate.

Our programmer found a tiny flaw in his code. He corrected it and we started the entire migration again.

The Devil is in the details.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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