You can't do that!

It's the 1980s, and this public utility's engineering department has discovered that these newfangled PCs can be useful after all, according to a pilot fish on the scene.

"We had to have permits to cut roads for pipeline crossings, and had to send in a specific four- or five-part form to the state," says fish. "This would usually be to the tune of at least 15 to 20 per month.

"The forms were tractor-fed, so why not build a program to print them on a dot-matrix printer and record them into a database? We did a little development work with dBASE III+ and Basic to do that.

"We even, in the days before our Novell network was in place, set it up to sneaker-net the permit information into the department check registry to cut out retyping the information.

"After putting it in place and running successfully and very smoothly for months, we submitted the project to a corporate money-saving idea program that would pay out a percentage of the savings.

"After submitting the idea, not receiving any inquiries about it and not hearing about any investigation into it, we got the response back that it was rejected. The reason? The idea would not work.

"Really? we asked. The state doesn't have a problem with it, and it's saving the employees a lot of time on our end. How could it not work when we have proven otherwise?

"The $300 check arrived the in the mail shortly after that."

Here's something Sharky knows will work: Send me your true tale of IT life 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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