'Tis the season

It's demonstration time at this manufacturing company, where the engineering department is set to show upper management two financial information systems, reports a pilot fish working on the project.

"It was a side-by-side comparison of the two systems," fish says. "One resided on the file server and was available to every wired desktop. The other, using Oracle serving Web pages, worked over a wireless LAN.

"The wireless LAN version was extremely unpopular -- only my supervisor, whose idea it was, liked it. Engineering took every opportunity to complain about it."

Fish is the one who sets up a wireless-enabled desktop PC to handle that side of the bake-off. And he has it running perfectly a few days before the demo, so the engineers can practice their comparison.

But 30 minutes before the demo is scheduled to start, fish gets an e-mail message from Engineering -- one that's been sent out to all employees, including upper management. The message says the demo can't be held because "once again, the wireless system isn't working."

Up until now, fish knows, the wireless network has been very reliable. He hustles over to troubleshoot the wireless desktop PC.

And a few minutes later, fish sends his own broadcast message to all employees and management: "By 'once again not working,' Engineering means someone unplugged the PC from the electrical outlet, pushed it aside and plugged in a Christmas tree that they just set up this morning."

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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