Originally posted by "DrillSgtK"...

In the late 90’s, I worked for a small, “start-up/spin-off” dot com company. We were originally The University’s distant learning department, but had been re-constituted as a for-profit company, owned by The University to service The University. A year and a half old, the company had grown from six people working out of a trailer on campus to a seventy-five person operation with three offices and large co-location site in a data center. The IT staff, however, remained the same size: three of us.

The sales department consisted of three people and was located five hours away in New York City. One of the salespersons – let’s call him “Michael” – was a “problem child.” Every computer that Michael touched became infected, corrupted, or had some other random problem that likely resulted from deleting anti-virus software and visiting porn sites. I should note that Michael, who also happened to be the CEO’s neighbor, demanded admin privileges on whichever computer he used. And the CEO always concurred.

A year and three whole sales later, the CEO was “resigned” and a new CEO was appointed by The University. One of the first things he did was appointing a CTO (“Brian”). And then he added a new salesperson (“Jeff”).

“I’ve got a big issue,” Jeff said when he called the IT helpline on his second day, “I can’t get to the web site! I have a prospective sale coming in a few minutes!” A few quick questions later, and the issue was resolved. As it turned out, he had just misspelled the company name. It was an understandable new-person mistake.

The three of us in IT had a habit of answering calls on speaker phone, such that everyone in our closet-sided office could hear the question and pitch-in if needed. After hanging up, we all looked at each other and said “noob!” Brian walked in a moment later, just as the phone rang again.

I hit the speaker button and answered. It was Michael.

“I’m having the same problem as Jeff.”

“Oh,” I replied, “you’re misspelling the company name, too?”

“What? Uh,” Michael said confusedly, “no. My computer is slow. It keeps opening programs like crazy. I had to power it off.”

Programs were Michael’s word for Internet Explorer windows, Javascript pop-ups, etc. I replied, “What web pages did you visit when this started?”

“Uh,” Michael hesitantly answered, “I don’t remember. I’ll call back when it happens again. Bye!” He hung up.

One of my co-IT guys pulled up Michael’s web activity logs. There were some rather interesting URLs (most with several X’s in the title) that had access times between the login time earlier that day and the support call minutes ago.

Brian, who as watching us as we did this, was rather surprised. He asked that we open the historic activity logs, and we found lots and lots of sites with lots and lots of X’s going back four months. Brian then asked to see the number of trouble tickets we had logged for Michael.

Two weeks later, Michael was let go. Shortly thereafter, the number of trouble tickets from our the New York City office dropped by about seventy percent.

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