See, this is how we learn

Working the help desk at a bank, this pilot fish gets a request to set up a PC for the information security officer. "It was strictly for viewing logs, because his laptop choked on them," says fish. "Probably had something to do with the 256MB of memory in the laptop."

Fish heads up to the ISO's office to deal with the setup. There's a credenza in front of the network jack, but a patch cable was already plugged in. He gives that cable a try, but the Ethernet jack's link lights don't light up.

So he goes to the wiring closet to figure out which network drop needs to be hot get get the connection working.

When fish returns, the ISO has moved the credenza and has the old patch cable in his hand. "I figured out the problem," he tells fish. "This cable would never have worked. There are only two pairs of wires in this cable!"

Fish just stares at him blankly for a moment, then points out that there's nothing wrong with the cable -- only two pairs are needed, one for sending and one for receiving data.

ISO says that when he was in the Air Force, they always used cables with three pairs. What was the third pair for? fish asks. "Encryption," ISO quickly replies.

With a straight face, fish nods sagely and says, "Oh, I had never heard of that." Then he quickly patches in the cable, finishes the installation and returns to the IT department, where the story gets a good laugh from everyone.

"He called me a short while later to let me know that he was just jerking my chain," fish says. "We ran an Internet history report on his account and, sure enough, HowStuffWorks.com was where he immediately went after I left his office.

"I then printed out a blown-up CAT-5 wiring diagram and posted it outside of the help desk office, so he would see it the next time he came for help."

Sharky wants to learn all about your true tale of IT life. Tell me about it at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

The Best of Shark Tank includes more than 70 tales of IT woe submitted by you, our readers, since 1999. Which all goes to prove, conclusively, that hapless users and idiotic bosses are indeed worldwide phenomena. Free registration is all that's needed to download The Best of Shark Tank (PDF).

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