There's always got to be a reason

VP at this midsize non-profit organization calls the IT department to complain that her printer is printing erratically, says the pilot fish who is the IT department.

"She said it never prints when she sends a job," fish reports. "There's no orange light indicating a problem with the printer. But 'out of nowhere' it would start printing things she wanted printed two weeks ago, and then it would stop again."

Fish knows the VP's office is about three feet from the area's network printer, which is working fine, even though she thinks that's too inconvenient. And with other users with larger problems -- PCs that aren't working at all, for example -- fish doesn't immediately respond to her request.

Not long after, fish gets a call from his boss, the COO. Not having gotten the desired level of service from fish, she has complained to the COO about the unreliability of the printer.

"Please just look at it," he asks fish with an eye roll.

Fish heads down to the VP's office and immediately notices that there's no orange error light on -- or any other lights either.

A closer examination reveals that this older HP printer has a power button on the side, and the VP keeps a stack of folders stuffed between the monitor and the printer, which are side by side.

And it seems that every time she refers to the folders and pushes them back in place, they hit the printer's protruding power button and turn it on or off.

"I removed the folders and moved the printer even closer to the monitor," says fish. "I put the folders between the printer and the tower so they wouldn't be near the power button. Then I printed a couple short documents to show her all was fine now.

"When the low-tech VP asked what I did, I told her that the printer was having a hard time getting the information from the monitor and moving it closer had solved the problem. That made perfect sense to her. And it's been over a month and her printer hasn't been erratic even once!"

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

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