The more things change...

Flashback just a few years, to when the PC guru for this small business quits, and the job of supporting the company's network of ten PCs falls to a consultant pilot fish.

"The business was in an old converted home that had users scattered over three floors," says fish. "They were complaining that their network was slow."

After hiking up and down a few sets of stairs to examine PCs, fish realizes that they're all fairly new -- but they're all running Windows 98. Apparently the PC guru knew only that version of Windows and had been downgrading PCs as they arrived.

And the network server? It's another Windows 98 PC running Netware Lite. But the machine is also used for computer-aided design work, and fish quickly concludes that's the reason users' network file access is grinding to a halt.

There's no big budget to fix the problems, but fish has an idea. He and a co-worker talk the company into buying a router with an attached hard drive to work as the new central file share.

Then they upgrade all the PCs to Windows XP -- a cheap solution, since all the PCs are already licensed for the OS that came with them, and all the company's applications can run on XP.

And to keep things uncomplicated for the users, fish sets up the new XP desktops to log on automatically and to look like Windows 98.

"When all was said and done, everything worked very smoothly," fish says.

"But one user told our contact that we had not changed a thing, because everything worked just like it did when the old PC admin had left!"

Some things will always stay the same -- like the fact that Sharky wants your true tale of IT life. Send it to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

Now you can post your own stories of IT ridiculousness at Shark Bait. Join today and vent your IT frustrations to people who've been there, done that.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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