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    Bad Data, Good Outcome

    | Seattle, WA, USA | Top

    Client: “My printer keeps printing junk.”

    Me: “You have to turn off the computer and the printer, then turn on the computer first.”

    Client: “Okay.”

    *pause*

    Client: “It’s still wrong.”

    Me: “Did you restart the computer first?”

    Client: “No.”

    Me: “Why not?”

    Client: “The computer is too far away. It saves time if I just turn the printer off and on.”

    Me: “That won’t fix the problem.”

    Client: “I don’t see why not. I don’t have time to go back and forth.”

    (We go through the procedure several times, with the client short cutting the directions each time.)

    Me: “Okay, I think I know what to do. There is bad data in your cable.”

    Client: “Oh. How do I get it out?”

    Me: “First, turn everything off. Then disconnect the cable.”

    Client: “Okay.”

    Me: “Lay the cable out in the hall. Then pick up one end and shake the cable two or three times. Shake it very hard.”

    Client: “Just a minute.”

    (Time passes with strange noises coming through the phone. The client comes back on out of breath.)

    Client: “OK, I did it.”

    Me: “Good. Now reconnect the cable to the printer and then connect it to the computer. Then turn everything on.”

    Client: “That did it! Thanks!”

    (About a year later, one of our trainers called to tell a funny story about the client who insisted on shaking the cable whenever the printer messed up. She said it was, ‘To get rid of the bad data’. I kept my mouth shut.)