Technically, you CAN do that, but...

This school district gets its PCs from a local computer company that won a state contract to supply PCs to all state agencies, says a PC tech pilot fish who has to support them.

"Admittedly, they didn’t build a bad PC," fish says. "They used a fairly sturdy case with name-brand components and they did a good job of routing the wires inside.

"The problem was their keyboards. They must have purchased an entire factory's output of cheap keyboards that were constantly giving issues. The most common problem was that the keys stuck due to little plastic knurls on the sides of the bottom of the keys."

Fish and his co-workers surmise that the keys probably originated on a plastic sheet and were then removed without being properly trimmed. So in their toolboxes, each tech carries an emery board and a polishing cloth.

Whenever a user complains about a sticking keyboard, the tech removes the sticky key and files the knurl down with the emery board, then moves the key briskly back and forth on the polishing cloth and reseats the key. Problem solved.

One day a user calls fish to complain that her computer has started spewing gibberish on the screen as she types. The mouse works fine and everything else seems to work, but no matter what she types, it's complete gibberish, she says.

Fish tells her he'll be right over, and as he drives to the site he runs through the possible problems in his head: bad keyboard, bad motherboard, virus...

But when he gets to the user's desk, he sits down does a double-take: On the keyboard, all the letters have been rearranged alphabetically.

"I asked the user how the keyboard got that way," says fish. "She explained that she had observed me repairing a co-worker's keyboard and noticed how easy it was to pop off the keys.

"So, since she had problems typing, she decided to remove the keys and arrange them alphabetically!

"I explained with a straight face that you couldn’t do that. Then I replaced her keyboard with a new one -- but I kept the old one to show my co-workers, as I knew they wouldn’t believe my story."

Sharky wants you to rearrange letters into a true tale of IT life and then send it to me at sharky@computerworld.com. 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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