Shark Tank: Myth-conceptions

This minicomputer model's name translates into Chinese as "the curse," says a software pilot fish who works for the vendor. So when one Hong Kong customer reports intermittent crashes that seem to be timed to the phases of the moon, "everybody here fell over laughing at the Oriental superstitions," fish says. Until it turns out the Chinese techs are right. The customer's building is right by the bay, and at the high tides that come with a full moon, water in the basement is shorting out the building's wiring.

Pilot fish doesn't take long to figure out why this remote office can't connect to the corporate wide-area network: A lightning storm has taken out the router. "What could have caused this?" asks the site manager? "I tied knots in all the power cords to prevent any surge from getting through."

Intermittent network problems are driving this pilot fish nuts. After months of troubleshooting and $10,000 in replacement hardware, this remote site still has trouble every time it rains. "One day, finally, everything starts going haywire while I'm there," he says. He traces a power problem back to the circuit breaker box - from which rainwater is pouring. "The roof leaked right into the electrical panels," fish says. Do you know about this? fish asks local staff. "Oh, yeah," they say. "We figured when it fried, we'd get it fixed."

User's keyboard isn't working, and when pilot fish checks it out, it seems heavy. "When I tilted it sideways, enough water and food particles poured out, you could have made soup," fish says. We must have had a roof leak after that last big thunderstorm, user suggests. "On the seventh floor of a 12-story building?" fish asks. Co-workers finally spill the beans, he says: "A liter bottle of drinking water was the cause."

Overheating Priorities Air conditioning goes down in a school district office during a heat wave. But a quick-thinking IT pilot fish aims a fan at the server to keep it cool, so secretaries can continue to enter data. That works fine - until a principal walks by. He touches the fan's motor housing, decides it's getting too hot and switches it off. Sighs the pilot fish, "The computer immediately crashes."

Warm up my mailbox: sharky@computerworld.com. You get a stylish Shark shirt if your true tale of IT life sees print - or if it turns up in the daily feed at computerworld.com/sharky.

Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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