Paging common sense . . .

Mission-critical Windows NT server goes down in the wee hours, and none of the NT admins answers a page, so a support tech has to come in at 4 a.m. The downtime costs thousands of dollars. What happened? "In a cost-cutting effort, someone changed the pager plan to a limit of 500 pages per month, which had been reached," sighs pilot fish on the scene. "And instead of a plan where additional pages would be 25 cents, they saved a few pennies by cutting off all additional pages."

How to Save

This IT pilot fish is puzzled when he spots an old acquaintance in the building — a programmer who was laid off a year before, when the company retired its Honeywell mainframes. "When I asked him, he told me that he had been hired to support a conversion of the Honeywell applications to IBM mainframes," says fish. "Turned out that our newly hired VP of IS had spotted these no-longer-needed systems on inventory and was going to 'save' money by converting them to IBM."

Call the Teamsters

This college bookstore's point-of-sale computer needs upgraded software to connect to its printer and bar-code scanner. And pilot fish thinks that's what he's asking for when he calls the vendor's support department and says, "I need to see if you can help me find some drivers for a bar-code scanner and a receipt printer." After a long pause, techie tells fish, "Well, we sell the software — but we really don't provide any transportation services."


In the early 1980s, techie at this Army data centre is pulling a bulky cable from beneath the raised floor when he snags another cable and takes down the mainframe. After that, the IT manager tells staffers to abandon all old cables under the floor. Result: Within months, so many unused cables have accumulated that no new equipment can be added, says a pilot fish there. "So over a long weekend, we removed all the equipment, reinstalled everything — and disposed of hundreds of pounds of unused cables."

Security Max

User can't get onto the Web, so he calls his ISP's help desk. "After checking all the normal things, I asked him if he had activated the Windows XP firewall," says support pilot fish at the ISP. "He had. I asked if he had configured it properly, and he assured me he had. I asked him how, exactly, and he said a friend had advised him — for maximum security — to set all ports to deny both inbound and outbound traffic."

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