SHARK TANK August 16

Tales from the world of ICT

Sore point sours boss Contract programmer pilot fish gets a job supporting an airline that has just gone bankrupt. "One of the first things they asked me to do was to generate a listing of every vendor they owed money to," fish reports. "'Certainly,' I said. 'Would you like that in alphabetic or numeric order?' "The manager jumped from his chair, turned red in the face and said, 'Don't talk to me in all that computer mumbo-jumbo! Just give me the report!'". Clearly he didn't take kindly to the suggestion that the list might be so long that how it should be formatted was an issue.

Pop-ups confuse director A company merges with another one, and that means work for pilot fish who supports the training system. "We migrated users from the merged company off their learning management system to our corporate standard," says fish. One of the most common problems turns out to be pop-up blockers, fish discovers. Sometimes the blockers prevent training content from coming up at all. In other cases, the content player is blocked from sending course-completion data back to the database. Fish is on a conference call, explaining the problem to a big group of participants from HR training, HR operations and IT, when an executive director in the training organisation cuts in. "Well," the director asks, "can't you put a pop-up on the system to tell users to turn off their pop-up blockers?"

There's always an explanation Pilot fish is in charge of repairs for a computer store.

"One of our new systems came back into the shop after just two days," he recalls. "The user told us that the mouse wouldn't work." Fish puts the PC on the bench and starts with the easiest possibility: He replaces the mouse. It doesn't work. He puts in a new card with a serial port and tries the mouse. No luck. He checks the Windows settings. They look fine. He starts replacing components, one by one: memory chips, video card, modem, sound card, floppy drive, hard drive, CPU. Still no joy. Then the repair shop owner walks in. Fish tells him the story. Owner: "Replace the case." After installing a new case, fish attaches the original mouse, powers it up ... and the mouse works fine. "The original case was delivered to our shop empty except for one key component: the power supply," fish says. "The power was spiking just enough that it was killing the serial connection to the mouse!"

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