It was a JOKE, OK?

Pilot fish's workplace is upgrading to use smart cards, but he's not thinking about that when he sees a pop-up about an update -- one that strikes fish as a little, um, fishy.

"I thought, if something like that was to occur and need user intervention, IT would have sent a notice out about it," says fish.

"So a screen shot and email went off to IT security. They responded much faster than I expected, and in person: There was something wrong and they needed my laptop hard drives ASAP."

Fish turns over his machine, and the next day he receives replacement hard drives. But it turns out his backup wasn't configured for all the folders and file types he stores data in -- and now he's missing about a terabyte of data.

He contacts security about the missing data, and asks if he can have it copied off his confiscated hard drives. Security responds, asking for specific file names and locations. Off the top of his head, fish can't remember any of them.

The day after that, the pop-up appears again on fish's screen and he takes another screen shot, then compares it to the one he originally sent to IT security. It's the same except for one detail he missed before.

"The title in the pop-up window in my original screen shot read XXX -- Internet Exploder -- 2014 mod by BFR," fish says.

"When I had direct access to the registry years ago, I changed the IE title as a joke. When I lost access to the registry, I figured it would go away when my laptop was refreshed. Apparently it didn't."

So fish sends security another email, this time with two screen shots and an explanation of his joke from 2014 and exactly how he made the change.

He points out that the changed registry key includes his initials BFR, and that there's probably no virus or other security issue after all, which he realized after getting the smart-card pop-up again.

So can I have my hard drives back? he asks.

"No dice," sighs fish. "But they were nice enough to let me bring in an external hard drive, search the old drives and copy my missing data off them."

Sharky secures your anonymity by filing off the identifying marks from your story. So send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. 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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