Sometimes it just takes a little leverage

It's the turn of the century, and this pilot fish is providing support for a big hardware manufacturer's motherboards.

"I got a call from a computer builder who was unable to get his new motherboards to boot reliably," says fish. "I had to spend a minute or two reading the large volume of case notes to get up to speed.

"Being fairly new to the team, I wasn't sure I could help this customer. The case had been escalated many, many times to both of our subject-matter experts and two engineers at the parent company, without success."

It seems that sometimes the customer's motherboards will boot and sometimes they won't. There doesn't appear to be any logic to the failures, and he's sent back six motherboards -- all of which checked out fine after they were returned.

Fish figures there might be something very basic that everyone else has missed, so he grabs his life-size photo of the motherboard and tells the customer they're going to start from the very beginning and try to nail down just what's going wrong.

OK, fish says, you've got the board on the table in front of you?

"Check!"

The processor is in your hand?

"Check!"

OK, so let's start by lifting the little lever on the side of the socket.

Long pause. "What lever?"

Sighs fish, "Turns out he started building computers when processors were packaged with the heat sink and fit into the boards like a card. He had never seen a zero-insertion-force socket -- and he hadn't read the instructions.

"The best part was the grin on my subject-matter expert's face when he realized I had solved a months-long problem in just a few minutes!"

Solve Sharky's perpetual problem by sending 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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