Cubed and uncubed

FRAMINGHAM (09/25/2003) - This company's new policy makes departments pay for office space by the square foot. So IT staffers are hustled out of their offices and wedged into cubicles, grouses pilot fish. Then headquarters makes noises about getting rid of the cubes. "We actually thought we'd get our rooms back," fish says. "But we ended up losing our cubicle walls -- 'Open office space is good for teamwork,' they said -- and more than half the cubicle area. Some improvement."

He Lives

"I know you'll think I'm crazy, but Elvis keeps crashing my computer," this user tells support pilot fish. And she's right -- when she puts a CD-ROM in the drive, the screen turns blue, and Elvis starts singing. Fish finally figures it out: "Apparently, she put an Elvis CD in the drive on top of another CD, and it got stuck on the plunger of the CD-ROM drive," he sighs. "When she took out any CD, Autorun worked its magic, and the King lived again."

The Best of Both Worlds

University professor gets a promotion and decides he needs two new computers, reports IT pilot fish: "One a PC, and one a Unix machine 'for his research.' " But the prof just uses the PC occasionally for e-mail and never logs into the Unix box. "We knew that would happen," fish says. "So we quietly arranged for the Unix machine to be a back-end processor for Web applications. Thus, the cycles aren't entirely wasted, and the muckety-muck gets his fancy computer."

Worth A Try

Navy IT pilot fish is tapped to figure out why the network for this training center slows to a crawl every morning at 9. It's fine, insists the chief petty officer who runs the network. The problem? Turns out the chief starts each day with a complete virus scan and backup of the network. Fish orders an after-hours, automated virus scan and backup. But it won't work unless you do it manually, chief objects. Then stay late to do it, directs fish. Result: "He decided to try the automated process," fish says.

Alien Concept

The point behind this big video presentation is internal network security, says a pilot fish in the audience. "The chief network security officer stressed that only business-related software was allowed to run on any corporate computer, and software downloaded from the Internet was prohibited." But in the video, dozens of monitors are clearly visible in the background, says fish -- "all of them running the SETI@home screen saver."

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