With enough help, anything fits

?It's the late 1980s, and all the mainframe developers at this big company have been given PCs to replace their programming workstations, reports a pilot fish there.

"My boss was really 'technical,' or so he thought -- he had his own PC at home, after all," fish says. "And being a manager, he was able to get away with some unapproved upgrades including a 28.8 Kbps modem that he used to dial out to various bulletin boards.

"After a year or so, the managers were upgraded to IBM PS/2 systems. In the manager ranks, there was great rejoicing -- except in the office of my boss. The new machines didn't come with modems."

One morning about two weeks after the managers' upgrades, fish is called into his boss's office. The new PC won't come on for some reason, boss tells him.

The area on the desk around the PS/2 is unusually clear, and fish notices an odor of smoke in the air as the boss explains that all he did was to install a modem in the new machine the day before.

Fish takes the cover off the PS/2 and immediately spots the problem. The modem card has been installed, all right -- and it's the same modem card that worked fine in his old PC.

But the PS/2 uses IBM's new proprietary Micro-Channel Architecture bus. The slots are different, and the modem card won't fit.

At least not without help.

"Being fairly cheap but also being a really 'technical' guy, my boss took wire cutters and cut slots in the old ISA card so that he could mash it down into the MCA card slot," says fish.

"Needless to say, things went south when he turned on his system. Panicking, he unplugged the smoking box and left it for for me to deal with.

"I never did hear how he explained things to the official support guys when he called them."

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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