Shark Tank: Don't DO That!

It's years ago at this busy circuit-board manufacturing facility, and the new component-insertion machine goes bonkers one morning. "It was sticking capacitors and resistors everywhere but where they belonged," says IT pilot fish. What changed overnight? "Maintenance thought someone might trip over a data cable," fish groans. "So they nailed it to the concrete floor."


Dust isn't the only problem for this U.S. Army communications unit in the desert. "One day, out of the blue, a senior officer who has no relationship to the operation walks into the tent and announces that there are too many electrical cords strewn about -- and starts disconnecting them," says a pilot fish on duty. "Eight hours and four hard drives later, the systems are up and running again. And the senior NCO who is also the sysadmin is finally calm enough to get his weapon back."

Not Exactly

User tells help desk pilot fish that when she reboots the server, it says that it "can't find some drives." "It took several minutes of coaxing, coaching and cajoling to get her to read exactly what the message really said," fish grumbles. "And it turned out to be about missing drivers, not drives. Said the user, 'Drives, drivers -- same difference!' "

Ergo Error

Support pilot fish gets a call that this remote office needs an ink-jet cartridge for its outgoing fax machine. When he arrives, he tries printing a report, and it looks fine. "I ask the user why he thought it needed a new cartridge," says fish. "He replied, 'I got a request to resend a fax because part of it was blank. So I assumed our machine was out of ink.' "


At this pilot fish's company, power users get new high-end machines, and their old PCs go to users with lower requirements who can use the upgrade. "My reasonably new PC was scheduled to be upgraded, but the old and barely adequate box of the guy next to me, who did the same programming I did, was not," fish says. Why not? "They wouldn't upgrade his PC because it wasn't sufficient for the needs of anyone else in the company either."

Nothing New

After three days of hearing admins complain about a smell in the server room, support pilot fish investigates. The room does stink of sulfur -- and there's a red light on the rack-mounted UPS. "That can't be it," admin tells fish. "That warning light has been on for three weeks."

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Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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