Ah, My Mistake

Traveling employees are literally destroying their laptops, this pilot fish says. So when one vendor rep says his laptop can be thrown to the floor without damage -- try it, he says -- fish is impressed and asks the agency head to come see. "The head guy walks into this office without a word, picks up the laptop and slams it to the floor," fish reports, "just as my assistant informs him we are in the next office."


User has set up her new computer at home, but there seems to be one part left over, she tells support pilot fish. It's a small box with a power cord and a little round hole, and after 20 head-scratching minutes, fish still can't identify it. Finally user puts her 13-year-old son on the phone, and fish asks him about it. "What?" he says. "The fish tank pump?"

So It Must Work

Support pilot gets a call from a user whose new PC is shutting down at random. User suggests the cause might be a virus-laden e-mail but then mentions that the monitor, printer and fax machine are shutting down, too. Are they all plugged into the same power strip? fish asks. "Yes, but that couldn't be it," user says. "I've had that for years."

Wake-up Call

This DOS-based mail-routing server keeps locking up for reasons unknown, reports pilot fish. Boss's fix: Put a kitchen timer on the PC to force a hard reboot once an hour. And it works, sort of. "Never did get used to it, though," fish says. "I'd be standing next to it and all of a sudden the screen would crackle and snap with the sudden power hit."

Blow Out

Pilot fish doing tech support for the U.S. Army in Kuwait says the biggest culprit for computer problems there -- besides users -- is sand. "All the computer stores sold out of canned air long ago," he says. "So being an old soldier myself, I told the soldiers to use the air hoses on their trucks to keep their systems cleaned out. As long as they keep the pressure low, it works like a champ."

A Long, Long Time

After pilot fish upgrades a scheduling system, it looks fine until his test job hits March. "Then everything started running on the wrong days of the week," fish says. Turns out the software isn't recognizing the extra day in a leap year. But vendor support tech seems hazy on the problem. "I'll have to bump this one up higher," tech tells fish. "Can you tell me how long this leap-year thing has been going on?"

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Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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