Monday, February 19, 2007

Can't stand losin'

So I get a call over the weekend* from my regular staff member, who is freaking out because her workstation crashed and she can't bring it back to life. While normally such hardware problems simply boil down to plugging in an unplugged doohickey or a cold restart and a kick to the CPU, this time it's the dreaded Blue Screen of Death™, which means IT is more than likely going to have to swap out the machine. The fact that this leaves our desk with half its operating capabilities means that having two people at the desk all weekend is just plain silly; moreover, my staffer not having access to "her" machine is a morale issue in and of itself.

Unfortunately however our IT department doesn't do weekends, and it's a long weekend to boot, which means that we're going to be a computer down until Tuesday morning at the earliest. Since I was scheduled to come in today anyway, I decide to make an early shift of it and see if I can't coax the bloody thing into booting past the BSOD - I restart in Safe Mode, try to restore to the Last Known Good Settings, and even try to make a boot disk only to be rebuffed at every attempt. Almost ready to resign myself to sending my work-study student home and flying the desk solo for the day, it then occurs to me that I could simply swap out a CPU from downstairs, as the Circ Desk uses identical hardware to ours and has a ton of idle machines on a holiday like today.

IT will doubtless not like this solution, but then again they aren't exactly making house calls today, are they? And it seems silly to declare ourselves dead in the water and put ourselves at a staffing disadvantage when all I have to do is unplug the wonky CPU and replace it with a fresh one. So this is exactly what I do, and now I don't have to worry about extraneous desk help or an irate evening and weekend staffer. Besides, it's always better to ask forgiveness than permission when these things happen anyway...

I get a kick out of exactly this kind of problem-solving. It makes me feel like Captain Kirk in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, who found his way around the dreaded Kobayashi Maru no-win scenario by reprogramming the simulation to allow for victory. When asked by his son why he would do such a thing as cheat on what Starfleet regarded as the ultimate test of character, Kirk responded simply: "I don't like losing."

Me neither.

* Yeah, somehow I'm always on call. Go figure...

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