Shark Tank: Hardware problem

Late one night, support pilot fish gets a call from the foreman at the steel mill where he works. Problem: The printer has stopped working. As a result, they can't print shipping tags, coils of steel are backing up, and the parking lot is getting full of steel-hauling trucks. "After making several suggestions to help the foreman work through the problem, and after the air was turned blue by his colorful responses, I loaded up my tool kit and made the trek out to the shipping department," says fish. "I asked the foreman to show me the printer in question. He pointed to a 20,000-lb. coil of steel. Underneath the coil was a crushed-flat printer. After installing a new printer, the problem went away."

That would work

It's Saturday morning when this pilot fish is paged out of his sleep by a teller at one of the locations that fish supports. "She said the normal teller workstation was down and needed work," fish says. No problem, says fish; until it's fixed, simply move to the second teller station for the day. But my money is in the cash drawer, she tells fish, and I can't move it because it's a permanent money drawer, not the removable kind. "I told her, that's OK -- just move the money to the other drawer," says fish. "After several moments of thought, she said, 'Oh yeah, I guess I could do that.'"

There's always a reason

IT manager pilot fish for a restaurant chain gets a message from the operations director: Find out why this store's computer crashed. Fish calls the store, and the manager says it crashed in the middle of dinner for no reason. Fish digs a little: Any storms in the area? Did your lights flicker? Was anything plugged in where it shouldn't have been? Manager: "Well, we did plug a bug zapper into the same outlet as the server because of the fly problems we've had in the office. ... "

Why we ask why

User sticks her head in the office of IT coordinator pilot fish. "What are our size limits for e-mail?" she asks. That's a red-flag question for fish, who tells her they don't really have any limits for reasonable e-mail traffic, and why is she asking? "I have a PDF I need to send to a client," user says. How big? fish asks. "I don't know, about 500MB," says user. Reports fish, "I calmly explained that, due to our architecture, it would take about two days to send and all network traffic would come to a halt in the office, so it would probably be better if she burned the file to CD and mailed it instead."

Keep it under a megabyte for Sharky. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. I'll send you a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. You can also add comments by using the form at the bottom of this page.

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