Feel the pain

This SAP admin pilot fish isn't really supposed to be troubleshooting problems with the SAP client on users' desktops — that's desktop support's job. "But I occasionally get calls from bewildered techs who don't know how SAP works, so I try to help them," says fish.

"Since I started out as a desktop tech, I feel their pain and understand the issues they face."

Thus it is that fish gets a call from Rick on the help desk, who has user Linda on the phone. Linda's getting a load-balancing error when trying to connect to one of fish's SAP systems. Fish runs a quick check and is soon convinced it's a network problem.

"Can I remote into Linda's system?" fish asks Rick. Rick gives him the IP address. No luck. Rick can't remote in either, and suggests that Linda reconnect her VPN connection.

"VPN?" fish asks. A few questions later, it turns out that Linda is working from home. And after making sure Linda's firewall is disabled and the VPN is restarted, fish is able to remote in.

A few pings after that, fish sees the problem: One out of every five or 10 packets is timing out, and some of the packets are taking seconds to make the round trip.

"Rick, are you seeing this?" fish asks.

"Yeah," he replies, "I am. But how good a connection does SAP need?"

Something clicks. Fish checks Linda's system tray. Sure enough, she's connected wirelessly. He checks the status box; her speed is 1Mbit/sec., with a signal strength between 1 and 2 out of 5.

"OK, I know what the problem is," says fish. "Linda, do you have a network cable? That thing that looks like a telephone cord only with bigger connectors at the end? We're going to need to plug you directly into the router."

"You're losing me with all this technical talk," Linda tells fish. "I'll have to go get my son-in-law and have you ask him. All the equipment's at his house, so I don't know what he's got."

"Wait a minute," says fish. "What do you mean, all the equipment's at his house? Where does he live?"

"He lives next door," Linda says.

"So Linda, you're telling me that you're using a wireless connection in someone else's house?"

"Yes, he bought some sort of fancy antenna so I could."

Fish mutes his phone for a long, hysterical moment. Then, choking back his laughter, he unmutes. "Rick, can you take it from here?" he asks.

Rick, who has suddenly become very quiet, simply says, "Thanks for your time; sorry to have bothered you."

"Goodbye, Linda," says fish. "Good luck, Rick."

Sharky wants to feel your pain, then spread it around. So 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.

Now you can post your own stories of IT ridiculousness at Shark Bait. Join today and vent your IT frustrations to people who've been there, done that.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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