Ring of truth

This East Coast bank has West Coast offices, and one of them has a user who keeps seeing the same problem with a terminal-emulation program -- and he doesn't hesitate to call it in, reports an IT support pilot fish.

"Each time we got a repeat report of the same problem from this person, he had less and less patience with us until he finally asked us if we knew what we were doing," fish says. "Reinstalling the program made no difference, and his PC was replaced through an unrelated desktop refresh project but the problem persisted.

"One day this user called to report the same problem, and though it was long past 5 p.m. on the east coast, I happened to be in the office. When I heard we got another call, I stopped by my co-worker's office to see if I could assist.

"We opened up a remote support session where we could see what was happening on the user's screen while he typed what he had to enter. Sure enough, after two or three minutes the problem came up again. We had him close the program, relaunch it and try the same sequence again.

"This time I was watching the corner of the screen that displayed the strings of what was being entered. When I asked the user why he entered a certain sequence, he told me he had not typed that in.

"I asked him to specifically type in the last sequence in again, but carefully this time. We all heard an 'uh-oh' on the phone. It turns out the user had some sort of large pinky ring, and when he stretched his hand to enter in a certain sequence, his ring was entering additional characters that modified the data he was entering.

"We asked if the user needed his ring when performing this data entry. He had much more patience with us after that."

Help Sharky ring in the new year by sending me your true tale of IT life right now at sharky@computerworld.com. That way I won't spend New Year's Eve looking for stories. Besides, you'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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