Flashback Friday: Trial by error

What you don’t ask can hurt you.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

As the supervisor of the help desk, this pilot fish is in on the interviews of new applicants.

“And I've decided to learn from my mista— I mean, my experiences,” says fish.

Case in point: Fish’s department hires a tech from another part of the organization. She’s worked as a tech at the other department for a few years, has the right certifications, knows the organization and will be able to hit the ground running — which makes her an apparently perfect candidate.

A few weeks into the job, a fix is released to enable use of a VPN. The change: just modify two registry entries. Simple enough, right?

But when fish tells the tech to apply the fix to a user’s laptop, she tells him that she has never edited a registry entry.

“Never? Years at that other branch and she never edited the registry? Wow,” fish says.

“I went to my list of questions I ask new applicants, and added ‘Have you ever edited a registry entry?’”

Some weeks later, fish assigns tech to check out a networking problem in a different building. The work order includes the suggestion from the sysadmins to try pinging 127.0.0.1, so she does — at her desk. Then she leans over the cubicle wall to tell fish it pinged fine.

Fish explains that pinging 127.0.0.1 is really just a loopback test, and tells tech about a comic strip he remembers seeing, in which an admin tells a gang of hackers that her IP address is 127.0.0.1 and says, “Come get me,” at which point the hackers knock themselves off the network.

“Gee, I'm surprised anyone got that joke!” tech replies.

Sighs fish, “I went to my list of new-applicant questions and added ‘Do you recognize the IP address 127.0.0.1?’

“She'll develop into a good tech eventually. In the meantime, she’s helping a lot with my efforts to weed out future applicants.”

Sharky’s address is sharky@computerworld.com. Use it to send me your true tales of IT life. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

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