'Just drop off a phone,' redefined

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This IT pilot fish manages the company's cell phones along with his other duties, so he's the one who has to deliver a replacement phone to a remote site.

"This was close to my house, so dropping it off was not a significant issue," says fish. "A week before, the user was told I was going to be there on that day and to make sure the phone had a current backup.

"It's not a complicated procedure -- all three buttons on the phone just need to be pressed. There was no return call or email, so we presumed the request was understood and done."

But fish's first clue that this won't be a quick drop-off comes when he gets to the site and learns the user is too busy to meet with him. Instead, fish meets with the user's assistant, who assures fish that he's got plenty of IT knowledge himself.

Fish quickly discovers that the user hasn't bothered even to try backing up the phone and its data. The contacts and other data won't transfer to the new phone. This is going to take a little more time, fish thinks.

Then he learns that the user has forgotten the iCloud password -- and it turns out there's no easy way to get it because of some very specific circumstances.

OK, fish tells the assistant, at least get me the user's corporate email password. Assistant picks up the user's day planner from the top of the desk and reads fish the password. Fish keys it in -- nine time, in different variations, none of which work.

After 15 minutes of failed attempts, assistant looks back in the book. Maybe it's this other password, he says, and reads it out. It works.

Now what about the user's personal email account and password? fish says. Assistant reaches for the day planner again, turns to the last page and reads out user's personal email credentials.

Sighs fish, "As I was banging my head on the desk, I kept thinking about how users still don't care about security, and how to them it's a speed bump to simply drive around..."

Drop off your true tale of IT life with Sharky. Send me your story at sharky@computerworld.com, and you'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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