Well, ALMOST nothing different

It's just about Y2k time, and this IT pilot fish is asked to set up a new sheet-feed scanner at a state agency.

"It was to be used by a secretary in another city to take a multi-page printed document from another state agency and scan it, OCR it, and save it to a Word document so it could be indexed on a network drive," says fish.

"I set up a custom scan job that worked well with the document font style and size, and everything worked great for months."

Then one day fish gets a call from the secretary -- the scanner is not working. A few minutes' worth of questions clarifies the situation: "Not working" means the Word documents are full of junk text.

Secretary e-mails fish a copy of the latest document she's processed. Sure enough, it's completely gibberish. "It worked fine last week," she tells fish.

Hmm, says fish. Has the document's form changed in any way? "No." Has anyone changed settings on her computer? "No." Are you doing anything at all different this week? "No."

Fish finally ask the secretary to scan the document again, but this time to send the result to him immediately -- no OCR, no saving as a Word document.

As soon as the e-mail arrives, fish knows what's wrong. He calls the secretary back and asks, why are you scanning the document upside down?

"She said the top corner of this week's batch of documents had torn off when she removed the staple," fish says. "She was worried they would jam if she tied to feed the torn corner in first, so she put them the other way.

"She asked, 'Can't the computer see I'm feeding them upside down and just rotate them by itself?'"

Sharky will try his best not to turn your true tale of IT life into gibberish. Send it to me at sharky@computerworld.com. 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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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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