Help desk staffer complains that her voice-over-IP phone calls are breaking up. So the network team puts a sniffer on the line and tracks down something on the network that’s using a lot of bandwidth. “The bandwidth hog is listening to an Internet radio station,” says a pilot fish on-scene. “And it’s the caller’s own PC.” Her response? “Ohhhhh. I did notice it started about the time I started listening to that radio station.”

All wet

Yes, this user did spill water in his keyboard. But he has dried it out pretty well, he tells help desk pilot fish. Still, when he tries to type using one of the keys that got wet, the system acts up or reboots. Is it because the keyboard is still damp? “I explained that by hitting a key, he was causing an electrical circuit to close, but because of the water, he was closing multiple circuits and sending bad signals to the computer,” says fish. User’s reply: “No I’m not. I’m just typing.”

Idiot? You?

The printer isn’t working for this auto mechanic, so support pilot fish walks him through the usual questions: Is it plugged in? Cable connected to the printer? Any alarm lights? “What, do you think I’m an idiot?” mechanic snaps. Next, fish steps mechanic through the process of printing a test page. Did anything print out? fish asks him. “Not yet,” says mechanic. “Let me put paper in it first.”

The front page

This user is furious — information is missing from an inventory report, and she needs it right away. “I stay late into the night poring through code for this complicated application,” says programmer pilot fish. “Finally, at 10 p.m., I run the report myself and find that the information she was asking about is in the report.” On the first page, in fact. Next morning, fish asks to see the user’s copy and discovers that the top page says “2 of 117.” “Oh,” user tells fish, “I must have left page 1 on the printer.”

That’s why

Everything is ready to roll out this company’s new digital video system — IT is just waiting for the VP who’s ordering the dozen PC-controlled videotape recorders. “I got a great deal!” VP brags when they arrive. “These were half the price of the model you guys suggested. I don’t know what you were thinking!” But fish knows. “When it came time to plug them in,” he says, “we discovered they didn’t have the necessary connectors to plug into the PCs!”

Optimized for ego

This hospital needs office space, so programmers are bumped to an office building. It takes a few years, but eventually a VP visits and notices that IT has nicer digs than he does. So IT moves again — this time to an old warehouse with chain-link cubicles that formerly held supplies and old equipment. “It felt like going to work in a jail,” says pilot fish. But some documentation is discovered missing, so one programmer goes back to the old office looking for it. What does he find in the nice old space? Says fish, “All the junk that was moved there from the warehouse.”

Nope, not me

It’s the mid-1960s, and this military unit is just starting to send files electronically from base to headquarters. “The only problem was that we had to connect through a switchboard,” says a pilot fish who was there. “If the operator would ‘plug in’ to listen, an error would be generated in the data.” Fish explains this to the operator — but the next time his unit sends data, the errors are back. “We called the operator and said that we asked her to not listen in to the transmission,” fish reports. “Her reply? ‘I didn’t listen in! Besides, it was just a lot of beeps and noise anyway.’”

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