Too easy, apparently

It's the 1990s, and a new HP LaserJet 5000 has just been installed at the desk of this accountant, reports an IT pilot fish on the scene.

"Unlike most printers, which feed the 8-1/2-inch edge of the paper first, the LJ 5000 fed the 11-inch side first," says fish. "After the install, we showed her how to put the paper in. I created a test printout from Word and proved that it worked just fine."

But three days later, the user calls IT, complaining that the printer is too hard to use, she can't get anything to print correctly, and she wants another printer.

Fish makes a deskside visit and begins by making a test print. It comes out fine.

Now you print something, fish tells user, who brings up a Word document to print. It comes out landscape mode, and the margins and tabs are all strangely formatted.

Did you intend to print the page in landscape mode? fish asks. No, user says, I wanted it to print right, just like all the other printers. But I've tried for three days to format my documents to get them to print correctly, and I can't.

Why exactly did you have to change? fish asks.

Well, user says, because the paper feeds sideways, I had to change the way it printed so it would print my pages upright.

Sighs fish, "And when that didn't work, she started playing with all the other formatting in Word -- including changing the defaults. She had it so messed up that I had to reinstall Word just to get the default formatting correct.

"I then explained that the printer knew how to print even with the paper going in sideways. It took a while to get her to understand.

"We still had to replace her printer so as not to confuse anybody else, and I got a free LaserJet for my department that the accounting department paid for."

Sharky's counting on you to send me your true tale of IT life 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.

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).

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