Shark Tank: You've Got Mail!

IT BOSSES RIP OUT users' conventional e-mail clients and substitute a Web-based mail system. Trouble is, with the new Web clients, users can read only plain-text e-mail, so unreadable messages pile up. This organization's most prolific senders of now-unreadable messages? The IT bosses, who're still using the system they've banned for users.

ROAD RULES Tech-support pilot fish gets an urgent call from a traveling user who can't access his e-mail. "Can you set up a remote mailbox so I can read mail off-line?" the user asks. "No problem," says the fish. "Just dial into the e-mail server and download your mail." "No can do," says the user, "I'm at a pay phone at a rest stop on the interstate."

MARKETING COMPANY'S IT staff has to change the IP addresses of all its external hosts. To make sure everything goes smoothly, they trigger the changeover on a Saturday, so there's at least 24 hours for domain name servers (DNS) across the Internet to be updated. But Monday morning, calls start coming in from customers whose mail isn't getting through - apparently some DNS servers don't refresh every 24 hours after all. Agitated customer service rep folks go to the IT boss, demanding to know why they weren't warned - and, more important, exactly whose e-mail isn't getting through.

TRY, TRY AGAIN Product manager sends an e-mail with an executable program file attached. He gets an automated reply: "Your e-mail was automatically deleted because it had an attachment that ended with .exe." It's a security thing, IT manager pilot fish explains, to protect against viruses and Trojan horse programs. Sure, I get it, responds the product manager. "But will it go through if I e-mail it again?"

USERS CALL the help desk to complain that it's taking forever to log on to the network, get their e-mail and download files. Pilot fish investigates. Turns out the whole department had gone to a conference and had shut down every system except a laptop with a 33.6K bit/sec. modem. Grumbles the fish, "Guess which machine had become the master browser?"

OK, you got your mail. Now it's Sharky's turn: sharky@ There's a sharp Shark T-shirt in it for you if your true tale of IT sees print - or if it shows up in the daily feed at

Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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