They're all gone!

Teacher at this large school tells an IT pilot fish that he's got a problem with his laptop: All the files he had stored on the desktop are gone.

"Quite often, we get corrupt user profiles, though this is mainly on the student systems," says fish. "It's most likely because of the way the systems are continually powered off -- students just mashing the power button until the system finally kills itself."

Fish figures that's the source of the teacher's problem too, so when he logs into the laptop he's ready to do some file system repairs. But when he goes hunting for the corrupt profile, all he finds is a single profile for the teacher, and it's fine.

While poking around on the machine, fish also comes across more than a few student profiles -- not what he expects on an instructor's laptop.

Fish is stumped so far, but he keeps looking for the source of the problem -- and the oddities keep piling up, including software versions that don't seem to be right.

He asks the teacher to log in so he can check a few more things. As the teacher does, he tells fish that his biggest concern is that he can't open his email any longer, because the shortcut to Outlook is gone. If you can just restore that for me, I'd be happy, he says.

Not a problem, fish says, and quickly restores the Outlook shortcut. Then he opens Outlook using the shortcut -- and discovers there's no profile for the teacher's email.

That's when the penny drops.

"I asked him what color the icon used to be for his email," fish says. "He said it was blue. That's the icon color for Outlook 2013 -- not orange, like it was now.

"Sure enough, he was using the wrong laptop. It was one of the student systems from his room."

You know what Sharky is looking for: true tales of IT life. Send yours to me 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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