A Penny Saved, and All That

Desktop support pilot fish needs to update the VPN software on a user’s laptop, so he visits her office to collect it. Sure, let me undock it, user says — and forcefully rips it from the docking station. “I asked her how long she has been doing that,” reports shell-shocked fish. “She said, ‘Oh, I got the laptop six months ago.’” Fish shows her the unlock button on the dock. Later, he asks his manager, “Do we train people on how to use a $3,000 laptop?” Manager: “Not since they cut the budget for training.”

Just One

This organization cracks down on user passwords to improve security. One new rule: A password must have at least one number in it, but two numbers can’t be next to each other. “One user called and said the system wouldn’t accept his new password,” says a pilot fish on the scene. “After going over all the rules, I finally asked what his new password was. ‘Mac10,’ he replied. When I explained that two numbers could not be next to each other, I was informed that ‘10 is just one number.’”

Can We Talk?

User calls help desk pilot fish to report that an outlet is sparking so she has unplugged the shared printer. Soon after, another user calls — to report that the printer isn’t working. “The other help desk person, unaware of the original call, sends a printer technician,” sighs fish. “He arrives and immediately sees that the printer is not plugged in. So he plugs the printer in, sparks shoot out, and the technician is shocked. That’s when all the lights go out.”


This pilot fish manages a university’s videoconferencing network, and during a conference with a remote site, the connection disappears. Any idea what could have caused that? fish asks when he calls the remote site’s office. Staffer: “Nope.” Fish: Can you verify that you have a network connection by opening a Web page? “I’ll have to wait for my computer to come up.” Did you just get to your desk? “No, the power just came back on.”

Hearing Voices

Secretary and HR rep come running into pilot fish’s office one day to ask if he’s making loud noises. “It seems the people in the conference room below us were hearing noises from the ceiling, and it was interrupting their meeting,” says fish. “I suggested they check the conference call equipment, which uses speakers in the ceiling. Turns out that someone was still on the speaker phone from an earlier meeting.”

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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