If smoking, dial

“Look at this here on my monitor,” user says to an IT pilot fish who supports the registrar’s office at a university. Fish looks and sees a dark smudge on the screen about six inches in diameter. But before fish can lean in to make a closer examination, user pulls a magnetic clip off her file cabinet and presses it to the screen. “Yesterday I accidentally hit the screen with this and it made pretty colours,” user says. “So I did it again, like this. And then I went over to Zelda’s cube and showed her the pretty colours, and now her screen has a mark, too.”


Glib young support pilot fish gets in the habit, when users call in complaining that their PCs are broken, of asking, “Is there smoke coming out of it?” When they say there’s not, fish replies, “Then there’s nothing to worry about; I’ll be right up.” But one day the head of personnel calls up in a panic. “Is smoke coming out of it?” fish asks. “Yes!” Fish runs up five flights to find the glass-walled office full of smoke. “Go in and turn it off,” manager howls. “No chance!” says fish. Casualties: “Two hours-plus of lost productive time as the fire department is called in,” says fish. “And my glib phrase is ruined.”

Just say no

Trouble ticket received by a help desk pilot fish: “Problem description: I find myself spending more time on the Internet for personal purposes than is appropriate. Could you advise me on uninstalling or maybe just filtering Web site access to Internet Explorer, and possibly the Internet client for Lotus Notes, on my machine?”

You don’t say …

Administrative assistant calls the help desk and reports that a VP’s office is talking. It has spoken three times, but when she goes in, it stops talking. Puzzled support pilot fish checks it out. “I notice his cell phone has three missed calls on it,” fish says. “So I dial his phone number. Instead of a ringer, a voice comes out, saying, ‘You have a phone call, so why don’t you answer it?’ And outside the office, I hear the assistant say, ‘There it is again!’ “

Uncommon cents

It’s 1995, and this pilot fish uses a special character to strengthen his password: the cent sign on his mainframe terminal. “Just over a week later, I arrived to find that my terminal had been replaced with a PC using emulation software,” fish says. “When I tried to log in, I discovered that my strong password was now secure from log-on! The cent sign on the IBM terminal’s numeric keypad was missing from the PC keyboard.”

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