Process of elimination

IT pilot fish at this hospital swaps in a laser printer for an aging dot-matrix printer used to print out tags in the blood bank. "I used the same power and network cable that were on the old printer," says fish. "Next day, the blood bank supervisor reported that users were complaining of an irritating beep coming from the new printer.

"I checked the printer out. Everything worked fine, with no beep."

The day after that, fish gets another call from the supervisor. The beeping still happens, but only with the first tag. Subsequent tags and reprints worked without the beep.

"Next time you print tags, call me just before you submit the job, so I can hear the beep," fish tells supervisor.

She does, and fish heads for the blood bank and listens as the print run begins. Sure enough, there's a beep coming from the back of the printer.

Fish rechecks everything. It's all fine. He rechecks the print queue -- nothing there.

He puts in a service call. Tech comes out, observes the start of the print run and hears the beep with the first tag on each print run -- and only the first tag.

But printers don't beep, he tells fish. "I know," fish says, "but this one does."

They print the same jobs to other printers -- with no beep.

Tech runs the printer through diagnostics -- and finds nothing wrong.

Finally, fish asks tech to bring a different printer to swap in, to see if the beep stays with the printer. Tech returns with the new laser printer.

"When he powered it up, there was the beeping noise," says fish. "We both realized, 'It's got to be the power.'

"Sure enough, hidden behind boxes of supplies was a UPS meant for a PC. The power drain on the UPS when the printer powered up was causing the UPS to beep -- and the way boxes were stacked caused the beep to sound like it was coming from the printer."

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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