Shark Tank: Good advice, bad advice

USER COMPLAINS that her PC's monitor is slowly dying. "It gets dimmer and dimmer as the day wears on and then, after a night of rest, is a bit brighter," she tells support pilot fish. Fish's diagnosis: "As the sun comes over your shoulder during the day, it's washing out your screen. In the morning, it's dark enough to be readable." His prescription: "Try turning your desk around."

THIS PANICKED user's digital camera has a problem, she tells IT pilot fish. The camera's floppy disk drive keeps spinning and makes an awful noise even without a disk inserted, and the off switch isn't working. "I don't want to send it over to you with it continuously running, because that might cause more damage," she says. Fish says, "I suggested she remove the battery and send it over. Sometimes the simple solutions escape us."

IT PILOT fish is installing a specialized software package and carefully follows the manual's instructions. But at one point, he enters the command as shown in the manual and gets back the response "Denied." He pores over the manual to find what he's done wrong, but he keeps getting "Denied." Fish calls the vendor's local support rep, but after two days he can't get past "Denied" either, so he turns fish over to tech support guru in Germany. Fish walks through what he's done. "Then," he says, "the response I got was 'Denied.' " "Yes," says guru. "That's the normal response." After a long pause, he adds, "Maybe we should put that in the manual."

IT TAKES a while, but pilot fish finally fixes all the problems that crop up on his laptop after a network upgrade. Then he reboots - and that takes a very long while, so he calls in a help desk wizard. Wizard watches fish's log-on script execute at the rate of one line per minute, then delivers his suggestion: "Don't ever turn your computer off and everything should be fine."

THIS AIRLINE ticket office in Pittsburgh really needs a color printer for printing out graphs and reports in color, says pilot fish working there. But cheapskate boss comes up with a, um, "better" solution: Since the office in Charlotte already has a color printer, he says, just send them the file electronically, so they can print it out in color - then they can fax it back to Pittsburgh.

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