There IS such a thing as too many user options

Programmer pilot fish gets the assignment to write a specific application for his company's shipping department, and the specs are pretty specific too.

"Not web-based," says fish. "Ability to print labels and interact with scales and scanner. Ability to assign sounds through a setup menu. You get the idea.

"I wrote and tested the application, wrote up a quick user's guide, installed the application on the customer's computer and demonstrated it to the manager so he would verify all was working."

And that's that, fish figures. But a few weeks later, his boss tells him there's a problem: The customer is complaining that the application is slow.

Fish contacts the manager, who tells him that it takes up to 30 seconds for the label-printing function to start printing even a simple label after the user selects PRINT.

So it's time for a visit to the shipping department -- and two things quickly become clear to fish. First, it really is taking that long. And second, it really isn't the application that's to blame.

"When I selected PRINT, the application played a long, rambling sound clip that I recognized from the TV show The Walking Dead, and eventually printed a label," fish says. "I checked the setup. Sure enough, there were sound clips assigned to the various actions and from the names I recognized that they were all from The Walking Dead.

"I reported the issue to the manager, who told me to reset everything -- and had me change the program to password-protect the setup, and then only give access to it if the logon ID was part of an Active Directory group."

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