Speed kills

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Flashback a few decades to this pilot fish's first job in IT: the day-shift operator for a minicomputer with several dozen dumb terminals.

"My first task for this particular day was to set up a terminal for a new hire," says fish.

"All the terminals were connected to an I/O board with rows of serial ports via the usual rat's nest of cables, which made it hard to route a new cable.

"But the very last port was unused and easy to reach. No brainer! I plugged in the new terminal's cable to that last port, configured it and walked away, satisfied.

"Less than half an hour later, my boss called me in and asked, "What have you done?" Everyone on the system was complaining about snail-like response times, and they were not happy.

"It turns out that the last port on the I/O board was reserved by the system for low-speed devices like dot-matrix printers. When I assigned a faster device to that port, it dragged every device on the system down to 300 bits per second.

"As soon as I disconnected the new terminal, everything sped up again, and I had to route the new terminal's cable the hard way.

"That was my first -- and best -- lesson in "Read The Fine Manual."

Sharky wants your fine story. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com, and I'll file off the identifying marks so your boss doesn't call you in. You can also comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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