Well, it WAS a battery...

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Consultant pilot fish gets a call from a client at a property management company who complains, "My battery won't stop chirping. It's really annoying. Can you replace it?"

Do you mean the backup power supply? fish asks. When the client confirms that's it, fish explains that the UPS is getting older and likely is warning about a defective battery, and the entire unit should probably be replaced.

Trouble is, fish is on the road, 120 miles away. But the client tells him, "I'll go down the street and buy a new one."

Fifteen minutes later, client calls fish back and complains that the new UPS is also making the chirping noise, just like the old one did.

It must not be coming from the new UPS, fish tells him. Client takes both UPS units to the rear office and plugs them in. Now neither one is chirping.

"It must be my computer that's chirping," says client. No, fish says, it can't be your computer. But it might be your new VOIP phone, alerting you to unretrieved voice mail messages.

Client agrees to check that possibility and call fish back.

Another 15 minutes pass, and fish's phone rings again. "Well, I unhooked every @#$%! piece of computer equipment, the UPS and my phone," client says. "I took them to the storage room and closed the door -- and the chirping is still going on. Oh, wait."

Fish waits -- and a minute later the client returns to the phone. "I found the problem," he says. "A tenant brought a defective carbon monoxide detector in yesterday. It fell to the floor under my desk and got covered by some file folders, and after 12 hours with no AC power it started chirping to warn that it was on battery.

"Now I have to put my entire @#$%! office back together."

Reports fish, "I had to put the phone on mute, and I laughed so hard I almost lost control of my car."

Got chirps? Tell Sharky about it. Send me your true tale of IT life -- with or without funny noises -- 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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