DON’T RTFM

Do you believe everything you read?

Pilot fish’s Army job is maintenance of electronic equipment, including a transmitter. Because his unit had been one of the original deployment sites for that transmitter, all of its operators have either gotten training from the manufacturer or learned from those who did.

That probably explains why the unit has only minor problems with its transmitter, whereas some others have troubles like failure of the final amplifier tube.

Because that tube is a very expensive item, a senior operator and fish are assigned to visit one of the problem units and see if they can figure out what the problem is. Once there, fish’s colleague observes the operators for a while and then tells fish that they’re doing something very backward to what fish’s unit has been doing.

The thing is, though, that the operators show them that they are just doing what the manual says to do: At shutdown, they turn the final gain fully clockwise until it reaches full power, and then they shut the power off.

Could this be causing the problem? asks colleague. Oh, you bet, says fish. The gain should be turned fully counter-clockwise (to low power) to minimize current in the tube before the power is turned off.

Before leaving, fish and his colleague make sure that they edit all of the manuals to say “counter-clockwise” instead of “clockwise,” and then they send a message to all the other units around the world to do the same.

Transmit your true tale of IT life to Sharky at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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