Here's an interesting solution to a cluttered inbox. IT contractor working at a big suburban water and sewer company installs a user's new PC, and when he tests the e-mail client, he discovers more than 3000 unread messages. Could that be right? "It is," user says. "When I started here a few years ago, the systems people set me up with an e-mail account, but they wouldn't or couldn't give me a computer. People have been sending me messages for a few years, and I've never read or replied to any of them."


User calls helpdesk with a data-entry problem. "He claims the application is penalizing him for trying to enter 17:75 in a time field," sighs IT. "I ask, 'How many minutes are in an hour?' User responds, 'Sixty. But I thought we were supposed to enter it in military time'."

New employee at this chemical company is a highly-qualified PhD, so IT figures he shouldn't need a lot of hand-holding. "First thing we did was tell him his telephone extension number," IT reports. "He put on a very strained face and asked if we could perhaps change it to a number that was easier to remember. I couldn't stick around when the discussion moved to selecting network passwords."


Sometimes it just gets downright ugly. Truck hits a power pole down the street, and IT is working feverishly to shut down all the servers in the darkened building before the UPSs run down. As IT heads for the main computer room, a user from accounting asks, "Is the network still down?" IT figures she's kidding, but she's not. Don't you know we just had a power outage? he asks. "Yes," she says, "but my laptop is still on. Why isn't the network? Don't you have it on battery?"

But gets even worse. Nasty thunderstorm takes out this company's phones, after which IT support soon receives an e-mail from a departmental user: "Cannot obtain a dial tone on telephone internal and/or external. Please call me at extension 1234 and advise the problem so I can inform other employees who may have the same issue when they arrive this morning."

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