Flashback Friday: They’re due someone’s undying gratitude

For making the impossible possible.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

President of the company calls the IT department to ask how to recall an email message, reports a pilot fish in the loop.

Impossible, tech tells him. Once an email message has been sent to the server, it can’t be recalled, and trying to do so will just draw attention to the email. The president does not want that.

“Next day, my boss calls me and two other members of our department into her office,” says fish. “She says that we have to get that email back. And we can’t let any of the 70 people it was sent to know what we’re doing. Oh, and it was sent two weeks ago.”

Then the boss gives this little pep talk: “That’s nigh unto impossible, right? Well, we regularly have to make the impossible possible.”

So fish starts calling the 70 employees, asking them for their passwords and IP addresses and explaining that their computers have to be checked for “viruses and stuff.”

One by one, fish remotely controls the employees’ PCs to enable remote desktop.

Then the other IT staffers, following fish'’ instructions, log onto each PC using remote desktop, which locks the PC so the user can’t see what’s going on. Then the IT people search through inboxes, out-boxes, deleted items and computer folders, just in case the file attached to the email was saved.

“It took us a day and a half,” grumbles fish. “All the while, I’m getting the regular calls for help that usually come in.

“What was in the email? Apparently, the payroll information for the entire company was accidentally included on the second tab of a spreadsheet attached to the email.”

Sharky doesn’t ask for the impossible — just that you send me your true tales of IT life. Send them to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

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