Tricks of the Trade


I’ve been working with computers a long time.  Over the years, I’ve learned a lot of “tricks”.  Some I use all the time.  You need to enter the current date in an Excel spreadsheet?  Type [Ctrl] + [;] ([Ctrl] + [Shift] + [;] will give you the current time).  Some I don’t use that often anymore.  Need to know your TRS-80 program saved to cassette okay?  Type CLOAD with a question mark at the end.

I was onsite at a client not too long ago.  We were in the middle of an install to a new server and had to load up an application from a CD.  No problem, I was told by the IT tech I was working with.  He was going to stick the CD into the drive on his machine and share it with the server.  We wouldn’t have to leave his cubicle.  He set up the share and connected remotely to the server.  To his surprise, he couldn’t see the CD or his drive.  He tried it again.  Nothing.  He copied the contents of the CD to a flash drive and tried mapping a share to that.  Still nothing. 

He pulled in another tech from the cubicle next door.  Together they tried a couple of other tricks.  They hard coded IP addresses to each machine.  Didn’t work.  They tried logging as various users and administrators, each with different sets of rights on the network.  No, no, and no.  Together they tried to confirm which users had rights to what, but they couldn’t figure it out.  The network tech in charge of the active directory had used some tricks of his own.

After about forty-five minutes of troubleshooting, they finally gave up and said we’d have to install the CD from the server.  Imagine my surprise to discover the machine was physically located in the room next door!  The measure of a good trick is that it helps by making a task easier or faster.  In the time it took to troubleshoot the trick, we could have had the application installed, configured and even had time to run down to the nearest gas station for a well-deserved Diet Pepsi.  In this case, the trick was on us.

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