It's a miracle!

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Pilot fish's company is hired to install new PCs with AutoCAD for a customer that designs custom conveyor systems -- a relatively simple job that's taking much longer than it should.

And that's not even because this is happening decades ago. "The customer used AutoCAD to design and check inventory on their mainframe for required parts, and order them if needed," says fish.

"We installed the PCs with an add-on board that interfaced into the mainframe. We needed to configure each PC's memory usage during boot to load software in a specific order to fit into the huge 512KB memory available during booting."

That part works fine. But for some reason, the PCs crash every time they switch to the mainframe screen.

Fish's team works for days beyond the planned schedule, searching for the cause of the crashes. They check everything, try different load sequences, leave out anything not absolutely required, and use every troubleshooting trick they know. Nothing helps.

But while fish is crawling under desks to make sure connections are tight, he notices something odd about the network cabling that runs back into the computer room.

"I asked who installed the cabling, and was told they had done this in-house," fish says. "Was the cabling checked for proper connections at each end -- eight wires, RJ-45 connectors, with pin requirements at each end? I was told it was done correctly. OK, onward and upward.

"I left for the day. When I returned the next morning, suddenly everything was working properly. What happened overnight? Did the computer fairies have pity on us and magically solve our problems during the night? I didn't think so."

Fish returns to the office -- and goes straight to his boss. He explains he's sure he knows what happened: After he raised questions about the installation of the network cabling, the customer concluded fish was right and the cabling was bad.

And as soon as fish left for the day, the customer's own wiring guys went back to each cable end and fixed the connectors. In the morning, it all worked. A network miracle!

Fish's boss calls the customer's boss and requests that the customer pay for the extra time it took fish's group to troubleshoot the cabling issues that were above and beyond the original scope of the contract.

"They argued for a while, and finally agreed to pay for additional time it took to get the system up and running," says fish.

"Our boss learned a valuable lesson: Always include verbiage in a contract that requires the customer to pay for any additional time to complete a job due to the customer's actions before or during the job's installation."

The only verbiage Sharky wants to include is your true tale of IT life. Send it to me at You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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