Throwback Thursday: Trend, defined

Support pilot fish gets a call from a user complaining about a printer that has failed to print a job. "This isn't the first time this has happened," she tells fish. "It's an ongoing problem that's getting more and more frequent."

Fish reruns the job so the user can continue working, then begins investigating possible causes. A quick look at common problems turns up nothing, so he calls her back to get more information.

You said this was an ongoing problem, right? fish asks.

"Yes," she replies. "It can delay a shipment, so it's very important that we get this solved. We can reprint manually, but this keeps getting worse and we should figure out what's causing it."

Fish agrees. How many of these jobs do you run in a typical day? he asks.

"Oh, at least a couple hundred."

And how many times do you run into problems?

"Well," she says, taking time to think, "the first time I know of was about three months ago."

That could help us narrow this down, says fish. And how often does it happen?

"Well, that time and this time."

What? says fish. How many times has this ever happened?

"Twice," user says, "once about three months ago and then again yesterday."

You said this was happening more and more frequently when you called it in.

"It is."

If it's only happened twice, how can it be more and more frequent?

"Well, before, it had only happened once in the past three months. Now it's happened once in the past two days."

Sighs fish, "I never did figure out what the problem was. I told her to keep a logbook on this issue so we could 'put together a trendline to assist in the investigation.'

"She liked that idea."

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