Shark Tank: Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

FRAMINGHAM (07/24/2000) - SIGN BY THE COMPUTER ROOM door reads, "Please press button to exit." An arrow points to the small red button that momentarily disables the door's security alarm. A foot away in the other direction is a larger red button under a plastic cover - it shuts off all electricity in an emergency. A non-IT manager on a visit sees the sign, ignores the arrow, forces open the plastic cover, hits the big red button and plunges the place into silent darkness. Then he rushes out the door - setting off the alarm. Once calm (and power) is restored, a pilot fish asks him why he did it. His response:

"Red button? What red button?"

NEW "HIGHER SECURITY" Web-based document-retrieval system goes online, and everyone gets training. One hand-out gives this pilot fish a chuckle: a screen capture with a note beside one of the links, reading "Do not click on this - the server will shut down." The fish asks about it, and the instructor confirms his suspicion: There's no way to determine who's responsible if anyone should click on it. Accidentally, of course.

TECH SUPPORT PILOT FISH gets a call from a frequent help desk user ("You understand me and know that it's the machine, it's not me," she says). She's trying to pretty up her terminal emulator with colors, fonts and backgrounds, but it won't stay customized. The fish watches as she fiddles for 10 minutes to get it just right. Then she clicks on the Cancel button. "See," she says, "it goes away!"

IT MANAGER GETS CALLED on the carpet for "overzealous" cell phone use. Seems he's been responding to customer pages on his cell phone, and he's told to stop. When he points out that besides making customers happier, the amount they're billed more than covers the cost of the cell call, the boss just says, "That's not company policy."

CONSULTANT PILOT FISH and his team are given new PCs with ergonomic keyboards - the broken-in-the-middle kind that drive techies nuts. The boss explains, "We need to standardize our equipment to cut maintenance costs. Unless you have a medical excuse from your doctor, this is what you use."

Forget the excuses: sharky@computerworld.com. If your story prints, you get a snazzy Shark shirt. And get more daily at computerworld.com/sharky.

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