Hey, it's a LONG way up to the 26th floor!

Flashback to the days when there were still IT trade shows -- remember them? -- and this pilot fish is providing hardware support for one vendor's software demonstrations.

"One of the marketing suits got the bright idea of having an 'executive briefing' for customer bigwigs on the 26th floor of the large hotel where the trade show was being held," says fish.

"In those days they were using terminals that connected to a control unit with coaxial cable. Naturally, the control unit was on the ground floor, with no way to run a cable up to the penthouse."

That's the problem fish has to solve. Fortunately, the hotel contact mentions that they just installed a TV coax cable to the 26th floor, and it's not yet in use. Could that help? he asks fish.

It's the wrong type of cable, but fish takes a terminal up to the top floor, hooks it up to the house cable and is happily surprised to discover it works.

The day of the executive briefing, fish connects a longer cable to the terminal so he can move it to a table in the demo room. But when he turns it on, he finds to his horror that it's not working!

Fish tries another cable. Still no good.

He moves the terminal back to where it was when he first tested it and reconnects the original cable -- and now it works again.

Then he has a brainstorm. He runs back to the ground floor where the control unit is. It's connected to the house cable with a 20-foot length of coax, and fish replaces that with a three-foot coax that will just reach the house cable connection.

Then it's back to the 26th floor, where he reconnects the longer cable.

"And with that, the terminal was working again," fish says. "The cable length combined with the wrong type of cable turned out to be at the critical point.

"I was just glad that the hotel didn't have 27 floors!"

Sharky's happy to get true tales of IT life of any length. So send me your stories at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt every time I use one. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

Get your daily dose of out-takes from the IT Theater of the Absurd delivered directly to your Inbox. Subscribe now to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Computerworld's IT Salary Survey 2017 results
Shop Tech Products at Amazon