Throwback Thursday: D'you think that could be significant?

This large computer company is months into a new contract to replace IT equipment at a major government agency, says a pilot fish on the team.

But then a problem shows up. "With hundreds of desktops deployed and many hundreds more on order to be shipped, the manager at the configuration center reports system crashes frequently observed during testing after setup," fish says.

In fact, crashes are happening so often that fish is ordered to implement a complete retrofit plan for the desktops that are already in the field -- even though those deployed units haven't had a single failure.

Thus begins a series of daily phone conferences with a huge number of managers and technical staff, with rumors of VPs listening on mute.

Every day for a week and a half, fish hears the reports: Motherboards from the failed units are sent out for evaluation. Changes are made to the new motherboards to be installed. And the crashes just keep coming.

Then, midway through one of the conference calls, the manager of the configuration center casually mentions that machines tested during the day have had no problems. The only ones that crash are the ones that run their diagnostics overnight.

In shock, fish stares across the conference table at his boss and quietly says, "It's the diagnostics."

A few heartbeats later, one of the techs on the phone asks, "Has anyone checked the diagnostics?"

Reports fish, "Testing quickly revealed that the diagnostic program for the monitor was not completely clearing memory after each test. When left to run overnight, a memory overflow caused a crash.

"The good news: I got a commendation for designing a retrofit plan that was never implemented."

Sharky has plans for your true tale of IT life. Send it to me 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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