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Why we love REAL power users

Flashback to the late 1990s, when this pilot fish has landed a job supporting PCs and a Novell network for a manufacturer that has engineers onsite.

“Most of the workstations had switched to Windows 95, which was the company standard at the time,” says fish.

“One day my supervisor gave me a ticket to go install a new laser printer in the office of an engineer. I had rarely interacted with him and had never stepped foot inside of his office, though I knew he was well respected among his peers as being incredibly knowledgeable.”

Fish knocks on the office door and says, “Fred, I have your new laser printer.” The door flies open and the engineer says, “Come in! Come in! Lets see where we can put it!”

Fish does — and his jaw drops as he realizes what he’s looking at. There are four large PC cases, stacked two high and sitting on a large table in the corner with a heavy-duty UPS beneath it. Each PC is tied to a KVM switch, with cables leading to his desk and a large monitor.

The PCs are also connected to a parallel port switch box that feeds a dot-matrix printer — the one that will be replaced by the laser printer on fish’s cart.

“That’s right, you’ve never seen my setup,” Fred says. He sits down and walks through the screens for fish. Each PC is running DOS — one with a spreadsheet, another with a word processor, the third with an email client and the fourth with a CAD program.

To send files, Fred explains, he saves his documents on a floppy, switches to the workstation running email, composes his message and attaches the file from the disk.

Why don’t you want to run Windows? fish asks. Fred replies that he just doesn’t care to get distracted with fancy windows and icons, and feels he’s more productive with his setup.

“I couldn’t argue with him,” fish says. “Every engineer in the building typically went to Fred to get help, and he rarely needed help from my department.

“A year later he finally switched to a new workstation he ordered. It ran OS/2 Warp, with each of his existing programs in a DOS window — and he was still known as the most productive engineer.”

Got power users? Tell Sharky about ’em. Send me your true tales of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You’ll snag a snazzy Shark shirt every time I use one. Comment on today’s tale at Sharky’s Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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