When settings meet reality, reality always wins

It's late at night and the office is empty, but this business analyst pilot fish is still at work creating a report that a customer needs by the next morning.

"The customer gave us a list of items to show on the report," fish says. "In order to make them all fit, I had to change the report orientation to landscape. Still all of the fields wouldn't quite fit, so I changed the paper size to legal.

"Once I had the information correct and had it looking good on the monitor, I then went to print it out. I walked over to the large printer, which is located by the secretary and is used by many users."

This printer has a big 2,000-sheet tray that usually holds letter-size paper, along with two 500-sheet trays, one for letter and for one legal. And the trays have moving slides inside to adjust for paper size, so the printer knows to pull paper from the correct trays when it gets letter- or legal-size print requests.

Fish is sure he specified legal. But when he gets to the printer, his page has been printed on letter-size paper, and the right side has been cut off.

He walks back to his desk and checks the printer settings. Everything says legal. He prints the page again, and walks back to the printer.

But it's the same result: Letter paper and a lost right-hand side of the report.

Fish starts working his way through the printer's menu. It confirms that tray 2 is legal-size paper.

Back at his desk, fish sets up the print job to override the printer's autodetect setting and pull paper from tray 2. He prints again and heads for the printer.

Same result: Letter paper with the right side of his report cut off.

"Finally I open tray 2," says fish. "I find that the tray is indeed set for legal paper. But someone put letter-size paper in and didn't resize the tray!"

Sharky's reality begins and ends with true tales of IT life. Send me yours 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.

The Best of Shark Tank includes more than 70 tales of IT woe submitted by you, our readers, since 1999. Which all goes to prove, conclusively, that hapless users and idiotic bosses are indeed worldwide phenomena. Free registration is all that's needed to download The Best of Shark Tank (PDF).

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon