It's easier that way

IT director pilot fish orders up a new cellphone for on-call support staffers to use for after-hours emergencies, and he has the voicemail system configured to page the phone whenever a message is left for the helpdesk...

IT director pilot fish orders up a new cellphone for on-call support staffers to use for after-hours emergencies, and he has the voicemail system configured to page the phone whenever a message is left for the helpdesk. "Three days later, I learned that the on-call support person was asking to have the voicemail paging feature reconfigured to match the old system," says fish. "Turns out the old system was configured to page only during normal business hours!"

Patience

User has trouble attaching a document to an email message — she keeps getting two or three copies. Show me, says support pilot fish. User clicks once to attach, but the attachment doesn't appear quickly, so she keeps clicking. Be patient, fish tells her. The process is working, but you need to give it time. "No," says user. "I put my ear right beside the computer after I try to attach, and it's completely quiet. It is not working."

That'll do it

In this factory, coaxial cable connects 200 terminals to the mainframe. When another 100 are added, the old connections start going flaky, and IT pilot fish can't spot why — until he has someone trace the cables. "The hole coming into the computer room through the cement blocks is 8.5 in. in diameter," he says. "The hole in the stainless steel finish plate was 8 in. As more cables were strung through the hole, the older ones on the bottom were pushed against the thin sheet metal — shorting some of them out."

Next time, trust me

Boss comes to this IT pilot fish with a floppy disk that's completely unreadable, and fish spots the problem immediately. You have a brand of floppy drive that routinely fails and destroys disks, fish tells her, so don't use it. "Later that day, she presented me with another blown floppy," grumbles fish. "How did it happen? She said, 'Oh, I wanted to prove you were right.' "

Well spent

When support pilot fish gets a request to fix a malfunctioning server, he has trouble finding it. "It was actually one room over from the server room, sitting on top of a huge, well-marked transformer," fish says. "When I did get it up and running, it had the most distorted display I've ever seen!" He keeps it going, but no one ever seems to access it, so he does a little checking. "We were still paying $800 per month for a data feed," says fish. "But no one was actually using the data from it anymore — and hadn't in at least two years!"

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