Who am I again?

Contractor pilot fish is assigned to do desktop support for a small technical security services company. "One day, I get a call from one of the key problem users, someone whose chronic help desk calls have made him infamous for support," says fish. "I went to his desk to find out that he had placed the call with the help desk, then left for lunch.

"Annoyed, I logged into the network on my account using his system, and began checking that various necessary applications were working properly."

Fish can't find anything broken -- in fact, logs show that a network tech updated the user's firmware that very morning, and confirmed that everything worked before he left.

An hour and a half later, fish overhears a support guy taking another call from the problem user, and listens in. Eventually, they tease out the user's actual complaint: He can't log in.

That sounds like an issue for the security guys, not desktop support, but fish is puzzled -- he's just been at the user's desk, and logged in without a problem. And from the error message, it sounds like the user is using the wrong password.

"The help desk tech changed it multiple times, but the user still got the same error," fish says. "Network techs were occupied, so I made the long trek back to the user's desk.

"That's when I got a lesson in the value of thorough tier 1 tech support. It turned out the user didn't know how to change the 'user' field of the login dialog box. After the last tech installed the firmware upgrade, he just kept trying to log in with his password and the network tech's account.

"After I logged in to check his PC out, he did the same with mine. He ended up locking both of our accounts -- very embarrassing when you're supposed to be a tech support expert, but fortunately an easy fix.

"But how can you be that ignorant about user authentication when you work for a technical security company?"

Educate Sharky by sending me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. I'll send you an authentic Shark shift if I use it.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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