How to become a specialist

It's the 1990s, and this support tech pilot fish handles desktop problems with DOS and Windows -- and that's it.

"The advertising department, however, was Macintosh-based," says fish. "But another guy in IT handled them. When he left the company, no one was trained to replace him."

But one day, shortly after the Mac guy has gone, the help desk gets a crisis call: The lead graphic designer's external hard drive, the one storing all her graphic work, isn't responding.

The support techs look at each other -- none of them has ever worked on a Mac. Fish finally agrees to take a look.

On his way to the designer's desk, fish begins to get nervous. He doesn't know anything about the Macintosh OS, or how the drivers are installed, or what kind of file system it uses. This could be a catastrophe.

So when he gets deskside, he does the only thing he can: start with the obvious. Power cord connected? Check. SCSI cable connected? Fish pushes on the connector just a little -- and feels it slide in a bit.

Then he hears the drive start to spin up. He steps back.

About a minute later, the designer announces, "There it is!" The drive icon is on her screen -- and all her files are fine.

"When I got back to IT, I was asked what happened," fish says. "I explained about the loose cable and everyone laughed. The VP of advertising called the IT director to thank her.

"From that point on, I was the designated Mac guru."

Sharky specializes in true tales of IT life. Send me yours 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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