Contest #4: Helpless User Stories

Here's your fourth and final chance to win an iPod or one of 36 other prizes in the Great Tech Call-'Em-Like-You-See-'Em Contest. Share your weird user tales to win!

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

June 27, 2005

4 Min Read

It Takes A Secretary

From a member of the support team for a major national bank:

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Three of us IT staffers were in St. Louis demoing a brand-new software system that used a jury-rigged touch screen. The problem was that, when we set it up, nothing would display on the screen.

We checked out the hardware. The power seemed to be on, but nothing would display.

We checked out the drivers -- no help there.

The main office had had some super-tech sent out from New York, but when the guy checked it over, he simply said, "It's broken. You're not going to be able to do the demo."

So we decided we'd have to cancel it, and the VP in charge called in a secretary to start arranging things. While we were all talking about what we needed to do and whom we needed to contact, the secretary said, "Excuse me a moment," got up, and flipped the switch that turned on the monitor.

What Do They Teach Them In These Colleges?

An IT manager relates:

I once had a young, fresh, MIT college student who swore he was a master at servers and RAID.

One time we had a hard drive failure on one of our servers that had RAID 5 with a hot spare (which means that if a hard drive fails, the hot spare kicks in and all is okay after it does so). While the hot spare was rebuilding itself, the clearly labeled Rebuilding light was on.

For some inexplicable reason, young Mr. MIT Server RAID Whiz thought the hard drive's contacts were dirty and that was why the Rebuilding light was on. So he decided to remove the hard drive, thus destroying the rebuild and the complete RAID 5 system.

The server just happened to be the e-mail server for a large, internationally known recording studio. Needless to say Mr. MIT was suddenly not there.

Maybe They Should Teach Them To Read

This one from a network manager:

In addition to being in charge of the network group, I was also the baby-sitter for about 25 summer interns. We were moving our offices to another floor and boxing up various junk.

We also had to move 10 years' worth of DLT backup tapes for the company. I put the tapes in several large boxes, and in bright red magic marker wrote DO NOT THROW OUT all over them. A blind person could have seen the writing. Then, just to be safe, I moved the boxes far away from the trash to be thrown out.

What happened? The interns threw out the boxes with the DLT tapes. Besides the fact that the tapes cost $50 each (a loss of $10,000, as there were about 2,000 tapes), anyone who happened to go through the garbage could have gotten their hands on 10 years' worth of company data.

The killer was that while they threw out the boxes clearly marked DO NOT THROW OUT, they didn't throw out the boxes packed with garbage. Biggest firing frenzy I ever had to do.

Thanks to Jim Freund and Michael Montayer for sharing these stories.

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