That's what in accounting they call a 'write-off'

This consultant pilot fish is taking care of the PC network at a citrus processing plant in Florida -- one where the head accountant considers himself a tech expert.

"It was the off season, so only minimal staff were working and plant equipment maintenance was being done by contractors," says fish. "I was doing PC upgrades in the main office when the head accountant flagged me down and said the shipping office on the other side of plant was having PC issues -- loud beeping, then it would shut off."

Fish and the accountant walk toward the shipping department, and on the way they pass an electrician testing a circuit -- "First clue," grumbles fish -- who joins them to see what's wrong.

At the shipping office, the beeping has mysteriously ceased and the PC boots right up. The electrician checks the outlet and sees nothing wrong, so they all scratch their heads and go back to work.

Half an hour later, the shipping department calls the accountant again with same complaint: "Make the beeping stop."

Accountant decides he can handle it himself, leaving fish and the electrician to do their own work. ("Second clue," mutters fish.)

Back at the problem PC, the accountant concludes the beeping is being caused by the UPS unit that the PC is connected to. He unplugs the PC and plugs it directly into the outlet that the electrician had already tested.

"About this time, the electrician sent a spike down the circuit that he had been troubleshooting," fish says. "It went directly to the PC and set the power supply on fire, leading the accountant to make a desperate call to yours truly to come and see what was wrong with the PC.

"When I arrived, the shipping department was still pretty smoky-smelling and the PC was missing in action. I was told it was in the parking lot -- still smoking.

"It only cost them a PC to 'make the beeping stop.'"

Sharky never stops. Or anyhow, I never stop asking for true tales of IT life. Send yours to me 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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