Wait, software guy -- isn't this a hardware issue?

It's long ago, and this contractor IT pilot fish is the most junior programmer with a small mainframe development team working on a state-government project.

"After politics hit the project, the contractors were let go -- all except me," says fish. "I was hired, because I was the only contractor who was making less than the state pay scale."

The project team is moved to a different location -- an upstairs office in an industrial part of town, where they're split into two rooms with four developers each and an office for the boss.

But soon a senior data analyst, whose workstation is in the room that fish isn't in, starts complaining that she's getting headaches and her terminal isn't right.

Sure enough, the screen looks jittery. Fish carefully puts a piece of masking tape on the terminal's screen, and the text image is clearly vibrating.

A different monitor is brought down from the mainframe center to replace the jittery screen. But after a minute or two, that one starts slowly to vibrate too.

"Then I looked out the window behind the senior analyst, where there were six poles with big high-voltage transformers for the industrial neighborhood we were in," fish says. "The magnetism from the power transformers was reaching right through the industrial window three feet behind the workstation!

"We moved the workstation about three times as far from the window, and the monitor began to behave. Probably a good thing all around."

Feed the Shark! Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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