Darn newfangled technology!

This city's parks department is responsible for taking care of the grass in the city's parks and the median strips along roadways -- which doesn't sound like a potential source of technology issues, says an IT pilot fish who helps support the system.

But it is. "Years ago, they had manual boxes that controlled sprinklers, and you had to go to the box to change timing," fish says. "About eight years ago, they converted the boxes to have a phone line and modem in them, which you could dial into and control remotely from the City Yard building."

The system works pretty well -- it cuts unnecessary visits to the sprinkler systems and allows workers to check the sprinkler status at any time. Best of all, the vendor normally supports everything. Only when the underlying computer dies or the phone line stops working does Parks call IT.

One day, something stops working. Parks calls the vendor. The consensus: The modem is broken and needs to be replaced. Parks supervisor sends a worker to an electronics store, and he comes back with a modem. When that doesn't work either, Parks finally calls IT -- and fish takes the call.

Fish knows no one has even looked at these modems for years, so first he wants to make sure the phone line is plugged into the correct spot on the modem.

"But the Parks guy said he couldn't plug it into the phone, since the computer was already plugged into the phone," says fish. "What? Why wasn't he plugging it into the wall? It wouldn't work, he said; the modem only had an Internet connection.

"I asked him to read the labels on the available connectors on his new modem. He did: Ethernet, Cable...

"I had to contain my laughter and suggest that he return the new cable modem to the store, and take the old one with him so they could help him find one that would match his level of technology."

Sharky likes any level of technology as long as it involves a true tale of IT life. Send me yours at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

Now you can post your own stories of IT ridiculousness at Shark Bait. Join today and vent your IT frustrations to people who've been there, done that.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon