It seemed like a good idea . . .

Fast-food chain's new restocking system uses faxed orders that are fed into a handwriting-recognition system. And it tests out fine - until it hits the real world.

Fast-food chain's new restocking system uses faxed orders that are fed into a handwriting-recognition system. And it tests out fine — until it hits the real world.

"When the orders show up at the store, managers find that instead of 30 cases of hamburgers, they have 30 cases of scrub pads," says fish. "And 60 cases of fries didn't show up at all because the system did not recognise the numbers."

Everyone is working overtime to correct the mistakes. And the new system? Fish reports, "It's been temporarily put on hold."

Neat

When users suddenly flood the helpdesk with complaints of lost network connections, pilot fish quickly learns that two devices on the network seem to have the same IP address. But it takes hours of rebooting servers, power-cycling routers and pulling patch cables before he pinpoints the problem: A network patch cable is pinned under the leg of a desk. "The user said the cable kept getting in the way," says fish, "so she wanted to keep it in one place by placing the desk on the cable."

Lesson learned

Circa 1982: Government office, 5.05pm, and this IT pilot fish is alone — except for one desperate user. "It's not even my job," says fish, "but I agree to stay, write her report and run it for her as a favour." At 6pm, the system crashes and fish goes home. "Next morning, the IS director chews me out for not meeting the user's deadline and threatens to fire me," fish grumbles. "Lesson learned, though — in over 20 years, I've never taken another verbal request!"

Sound thinking

Client likes this vendor's financial application but wants one tiny change: The system must play a sound file when a customer's account is brought up. It's not easy, but programmer pilot fish works it out. Then he calls to double-check with the client: "Do your users have speakers connected to their PCs?" Dead silence. "That," says fish, "was the end of the client's demand for a sound file to be played."

Waste of money

This company's UPS batteries run out after 15 minutes, so network operations pilot fish suggests getting a generator for the data centre. Nope, says the company controller, that's a waste of money — we have insurance to cover outages and loss of revenue.

"Six weeks later, a major power outage hits," says fish. "Data centre is down for four hours, and it takes operations two days to restore data. And it turns out the controller cancelled the insurance, as there had been no outages recently."

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