Wanna bet someone just learned the word 'degauss'?

Pilot fish at this big consulting company is tapped as operations manager for an outsourcing engagement. First priority: Implementing a new software package on the client's desktop environment.

"Review of the vendor-supplied hardware and software prerequisites indicated that the existing CPU speed and memory requirements were not met," says fish. "New machines and larger monitors were purchased and installed."

That leaves the problem of what to do with the old hardware. It's not leased, so the obvious thing to do is have it recycled commercially -- and that's going to add to the client's bill.

But one of the client's staff members has a better idea: donate the PCs to the youth group affiliated with his church. That way they'll go to a good cause and there won't be any added cost -- right?

Not quite. When fish runs the idea past the client's management, the bosses have two concerns: operating system licenses and confidential information on the hard drives.

Turns out the OS licenses can be transferred without much difficulty. And the confidential information, which in some cases includes trade secrets? Help desk personnel are willing to delete everything before reinstalling the OS.

Not good enough, the bosses say. Either the hard drives will have to be magnetically wiped with a degausser, or they'll have to be removed from the PCs before they're donated -- which would make them a lot less useful to the youth group.

"The help desk staff came up with the solution," fish says. "They would 'degauss' the drives, and they volunteered on their own time to rebuild the units with OEM software. Our consulting company rewarded the help desk participants with a floating holiday."

It's summer, so Sharky can use some help too. Before you hit the road for vacation, send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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